Could it be we're getting overwhelmed by the world around us? Developing some spiritual sluggishness? That's today's topic with Dr. Don Wilton. Today as we overcome that spiritual sluggishness, know that we're here for you. We'd love to speak with you at 866-899-WORD. Twenty-four hours a day, we're here for you.
866-899-9673. Let's connect. And now Dr. Don Wilton. God, by His loving grace, has been filling this place with lepers like you and me. And I'm grateful for the manifold expressions of love. Today, my beloved friends, we're going to be studying something that begins in Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 11 that carries with it singular significance. I share with you from my pastor's heart that I have agonized over this passage.
I have asked many of our faithful people to pray for us and to pray for you because I believe within my heart that if you are willing to open your heart and you are willing to submit yourself and your life to what God says to us on this Lord's day that God will give to you something that no man can give to you. Your life will never be the same again. Now let me show you why I say these things. Hebrews chapter 5 and verses 11 through 14, the writer to the Hebrews under the inspiration of the Spirit of God says, we have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, one could imagine that by this time, you ought to be teachers. But it seems to me the Spirit of God says that you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk continuing to be an infant is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. May God write His Word upon our hearts as we study His Word this morning. You might say to me, pastor, what is this all about? Well, I'd like to begin by sharing with you three very important principles. I want you to write these principles upon the annals of your heart. I believe that these three principles summarize what God is saying to His church right through these particular pages on this particular Sunday morning as God has spoken way back there at the institution of the New Testament church and to that Jewish audience to whom these comments are addressed. Here they are. They are vital and critical.
Number one, principle number one, religious tradition makes spiritual conviction hard to accomplish. That is the first principle that we're going to discover here this morning. I'm very grateful I get many, many letters. I want to go on record on saying to those hundreds upon hundreds of people who write to us how deeply grateful we are. I get letters about all kinds of things. I even get letters from time to time because my tie doesn't match my suit and I understand that. I get letters about my hairstyle and I've had one or two telling me just how good looking I am and I'm just very grateful for that. But I had a very special letter some time ago from a very special person. It was a sweet letter. It was a wonderful letter. This particular person reminded me that they worship with us Sunday by Sunday and they consider themselves to be a part of First Baptist Church as so many thousands of people do by way of television.
And that just warms my heart. And this particular person in complimenting the church and celebrating the Word of God that is the centerpiece on the mantelpiece of this church, told me all these things and then said, but. Now I don't know if you've ever had someone say a whole lot of nice things to you and then suddenly there comes that pregnant pause, but you know something's going to follow.
Well, there was absolutely no antagonism. In fact, it was said in great love, it was a warning to me. And basically, and I just summarize it, the warning was that even though this person believed in the Bible and was deeply grateful, that this person wanted to remind me that this person had grown up in a certain religious persuasion. That the tradition of this person's home centered around a particular religious persuasion and denomination. And then this person pointed out to me that as part and parcel of their religious tradition, there were certain things that they did.
There were substitutes that they made for the Lord Jesus Christ, but they certainly did not discount or deny that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. This person pointed out to me that because of the tradition of the church from which this person came, that they were taught from the youngest age that there were certain things that were quite okay because they were part of tradition and that I needed to be very careful not to leave the impression that because the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way that he indeed is the only way. Because there are many wonderful religious traditions that don't teach that quite exactly that way. Now, my beloved friends, when we come to Hebrews chapter five and verse 11, the first principle we're going to discover is this, that religious tradition makes spiritual conviction very hard to accomplish. Number two, that fundamentals are the feeders to our faith. But I'm going to submit to you that the elementary doctrines of our faith, the fundamentals of our faith are not within themselves the door that opens our way to God the Father. An understanding or a hearing of those fundamentals does not mean that I am a born again Christian. Fundamentals of our faith are simply feeders.
They are part of God's plan whereby God by his spirit opens our hearts in order to help us to understand the great truths of God in Christ Jesus. Principle number three, hearing the gospel and believing the gospel are two different things. Evidently here in the context in which this was written to a predominantly Jewish audience, there was no doubt that these people had heard the things concerning the Messiah.
In fact, I'm going to take it one step further. They were a very deeply, sincerely religious people. You could not fault the Jewish people on sincerity as far as religion was concerned. I'm going to tell you that for over 164 years, just in this church alone, there has been much hearing of the gospel from the younger stage to the older stage. We are a people of the book, but the third principle that we're going to learn here in this passage is that hearing the gospel and believing the gospel are two different things. You can go back to John chapter two as we lead into that great account of Nicodemus.
Believing men and an unbelieving God. Some people said, listen, we know you are the son of God because we've heard about you. And Jesus did not commit himself unto them. Nicodemus was a good example. Nicodemus was somebody who was well versed in all of the fundamentals of the faith, but he was not born again. Jesus said to him, Nicodemus, you must be born again. Now, if you'll draw your attention to verse 11 in chapter five, you're going to notice something here because the spirit of God says, we have much more to say about this.
To say about what? Well, we know about the order of Melchizedek. We closed with that in verse 10, but all the things that God has already taught us just right here in this letter to the Hebrews, the writer begins with a need to explain the spiritual significance of what has been said. Why the new covenant is superior to the old covenant. Why Christianity is superior to Judaism. Why the new high priest is superior to the old high priest. Why the sacrifice of Jesus is superior to the old sacrifice of the Old Testament.
Why the new mediator is superior to the old mediator. Why Jesus Christ is superior to the prophets. Why in days gone by, God spoke through the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us through his son.
And the writer says, I have great need through the spirit of God to explain these things to you, but I cannot. Why? Why? There is a hot cry that comes out from the word of God.
Why? In fact, in verse 12, which is steeped in sarcasm, the writer even says, you would think by this time, after all the things that you've heard about all your upbringing, about all the opportunities, after all you've been taught, after all the opportunities you've been given, after all the time that has been invested in you, you would think that by now you would have become teachers. Now he's talking about teachers in the faith. A teacher is someone who has taken hold of the truths of God in Christ Jesus, who has matured in Christ, has become a disciple maker.
Evangelism my friends is incomplete until the evangelize become the evangelists. What is a teacher? A teacher is someone who has heard and believed. A teacher is someone who has paid the price through commitment and study. A teacher is someone who has taken hold of the truth.
A teacher is someone who is willing to invest in someone else. So why were these things so hard to explain? Well, there are three reasons that the writer to the Hebrews gives to us here in this text and God will write these things upon our heart. Number one, number one, these things are hard to explain because they were slow to learn. That's our subject today. Spiritual sluggishness. Don't you love that word? The word they're slow to learn. We derive our word sluggard or to be slow, sluggish. It speaks and reeks of a great reluctance. We use a modern day terminology.
It's like tapping blood out of a brick. Yeah, the writer to the Hebrews says these things are hard to explain all the truths about the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Number one, because they were slow to learn. My beloved friends, let me share with you some of the consequences of spiritual sluggishness. You know that it is possible that here today worshiping with us literally thousands upon thousands of people worshiping right now with First Baptist Church, Spartanburg seated at your TV set or in that room or in your home or in the sanctuary. Do you know that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people now within the sound of my voice that are guilty of spiritual sluggishness?
You've heard. Let me share with you a few consequences of spiritual sluggishness. Number one, spiritual sluggishness produces a gradual hardness of the heart.
Here's how it works. Many people like myself, you grow up in the church, you sit under the preaching of the gospel. Friend, if I was to take a survey of this congregation here in downtown Spartanburg right now, upstairs and downstairs, I would guarantee you one thing. Over 80% of us who know Jesus Christ would testify that we gave our hearts to Jesus at a very young age. That's why Jesus said, suffer the little children to come to me and forbid them not. Did you know my friends that the older you become, the less likely it is that you're going to give your heart to Jesus Christ. Do people give their hearts to Jesus at my age?
Absolutely. It's happening here every week, but it becomes less and less likely because what God is trying to say to us here, he looks at this Jewish audience and he says, you have subjected and submitted yourself to the teaching concerning God, Jehovah, and yet you are slow to learn. You have put these things aside. You have heard them, but you have refused to believe. The older you become, the less likely it is that you're going to be born again.
Did you know that? Spiritual sluggishness prevents growth from taking place. Spiritual sluggishness penalizes potential.
Did you note here in this passage that the writer says, we would have thought that by this time you would be teachers. That's potential. I have a family member in my own family, my extended family, who is one of the most gifted ladies you've ever met. I mean, this, this lady has got every gift you could ever imagine. She's got the character.
She's got the personality. Not only that, she has grown up under the teaching and preaching of the word of God. She didn't grow up on the outside of the church. She grew up on the inside of the church, but because she is spiritually sluggish, she has been robbed of her potential for Christ. Do you know that there are people in this congregation today that have got unlimited potential for Jesus Christ, but you are not being used of Him because you are spiritually sluggish. You have heard the things, but you have refused to believe.
I have met fathers who have got wonderful homes and swimming pools, have got all kinds of facilities, have got children and beautiful wives. They've got everything that open and shut and you'd look at them and you'd say, well, that daddy's got it all, but he is spiritually sluggish. He comes to church on occasion and he goes through the motions and from when he was the youngest person, he sat under the preaching and teaching of the word of God, but he has refused to turn his life over to Jesus Christ and to deny himself and take up his cross and follow Jesus Christ. He is spiritually sluggish and he is being robbed of his potential. What are the consequences of spiritual sluggishness?
It provokes sadness, heartache and even tragedy. One of my favorite subjects to talk about is dating. All the young people suddenly looked up. I have five golden rules for dating.
You want them quickly? All the moms and dads got out a pin. Five golden rules for dating. Number one, pray earnestly. Number two, preserve integrity.
You lose your integrity, you're in trouble. Number three, protect your spiritual principles. Number four, partner carefully. I'm going to tell you that the greatest gift God ever gave to me outside of my wife was my daughter. She is the love of my life. I have given her permission to start dating when she is 47 years of age and she knows when she turns 47, when some man decides that he wants to take her out somewhere, when he knocks on my door, the first thing he's going to do is look down the barrel of a shotgun.
Any more questions? With all the love in my heart, my friends and by God's grace, I want to be interested, profoundly, deeply interested in who my daughter partners herself with. Oh, I've heard it all. Oh, I'm just in love with him. But you don't seem to understand, he's a cutie pie.
I tell you cutie pie is only skin deep, darling. Oh, I know he drinks a little, but you know he'll get over that after I marry him. No, he won't.
Well, I know that he's got a temper, but you don't seem to understand. See folks, God's word says, do not be unequally yoked. You're listening to Dr. Don Wilton, our teacher here on The Encouraging Word. Don't go away, he'll be back with the rest of today's message in just a moment, but I want to encourage you to visit our website, TEWonline.org. Many folks are asking about the Call for Courage resource. In this day and age, we may be unsure about what the future holds for Christians in America.
This answers that question and you'll find it on our website, TEWonline.org. Now back to today's great teaching with Dr. Don Wilton. These are biblical principles. It's not a religious tradition.
It's not about hearing it. It's about believing it. Number five, persevere steadfastly.
Don't give up. You say to me, what does spiritual sluggishness do? Spiritual sluggishness means that a young person who is spiritually sluggish can even sit in this worship service. I'll guarantee you God forbid that there's at least one teenager right here, right now, who has sat under the preaching of the word of God.
You've got a mother and father who love you. You go to Sunday school. You've heard the truth.
You've heard Seth Buckley get up. You've gone on choir tour. You've been on mission tours. You've heard the word, but you do not believe.
You are spiritually sluggish. Let me tell you what that produces. It produces and provokes sadness, heartache, and even tragedy. There's a second reason why these things were hard to explain, and that was because they only wanted milk.
It's what the Bible tells us there in verse 12. What kind of person would only want milk? Such a person demands sermonettes instead of messages from God's word. Someone who only wants milk, wants stories instead of substance. Have you ever heard someone say to you, well, I want to go to that church because I just love all the stories the preacher tells all the time.
They make me feel so good. Such a person prefers entertainment instead of spiritual chastisement from God through his word. Such a person craves wonderment instead of worship.
Such a person insists on personal preferences instead of absolute truth. The picture that is painted here is a dramatic picture of the church. There is a third reason why these things were hard to explain because they were not acquainted with righteousness. That's what the word says in the second part of verse 13, which means number one, they have not believed in Jesus Christ, the righteous one. It means these things are hard to explain because these cannot distinguish between good and evil. These things are hard to explain because these people about whom the spirit speaks have not made themselves accountable to God.
What a tragedy. Now I want you to look back at verse 11 again. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, one would have thought that by this time you ought to be teachers, but evidently it seems to me that you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again.
You need milk, not solid food. Someone who lives on milk being still an infant is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness, but solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil. You might say to me, pastor, what is one of the goals and prayers that you have for your children?
I don't mind telling you one of them amongst many is that my sons and my daughter would grow up with the capacity through God to be able to distinguish between good and evil, to be able to know the difference between right and wrong based upon who God is. You see, my beloved friends, there's a message here to the church. There's a message that runs so deep. It's a message that religious tradition makes spiritual conviction hard to appropriate and to accomplish. There's a message that fundamentals are merely feeders to our faith. We are not saved by virtue of the doctrines we believe. What this is all about is that hearing the gospel and believing the gospel are two entirely different things.
And so we come down to a celebration like this. And I don't mind telling you, God is knocking at your heart's door. God by His Spirit is calling you to stand up and be counted. God is calling you into His heart. God is demanding of you that you lay aside all those things that so easily beset you, that you turn your back on self, that you literally say, just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me and that thou would bid me to come to thee.
Oh, Lamb of God, I come. I'll do it. I'll be there for you, Lord. I'm ready. You can count on me.
You can count on me. If you're ready, God is more than ready for you and using this broadcast to let you know He loves you and has a great plan for your life. You've heard Dr. Wilton as he's been preaching from the pulpit. Now hear him as he steps into the studio with this from his heart. Are you ready to give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Why don't you pray this prayer with me right now? Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner and I know that Jesus died for me on the cross. Today I repent of my sin and by faith I receive you into my heart. In Jesus' name. My friend, I welcome you today into the family of God.
This is exciting news. If you just prayed along with Dr. Wilton to give your life to Christ or rededicate your life to Jesus, welcome to the family and let us celebrate with you. You need to tell somebody. Give us a call right now at 866-899-WORD. Let us celebrate, pray with you and put some free resources in your hands. Dr. Wilton wants you to have. Our number is 866-899-9673 and we're online as well at TEWonline.org. We have many resources for you, including this one, Dr. Don, sharing with you next. You know, I'd love to be a part of your daily devotional. Love to be able to send you the encouraging word daily devotional and be a part of what God says to each one of us through his word every day. You can become part of that and receive one yourself from me. Just go online to TEWonline.org. That's TEWonline.org and get your copy of the encouraging word Bible devotion today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-14 07:37:04 / 2023-08-14 07:46:01 / 9