Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. And notice how he says, he says, not only should you be teachers, you have need for someone else to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, the ABCs of Christianity. I'm going to have to teach you again that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life. I'm going to tell you he died on the cross as your substitute. You see, I'll start with the gospel.
I'm going to have to teach you all the basic stuff again. Twenty years they were walked with Christ, they thought, and they didn't. They were just Peter Pan Christians.
They just simply weren't mature enough to handle it. And he says, in the imagery he gives here, think of it. He says, and you have come to need milk, not solid food. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana.
Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. There is a phenomena happening in America over the past 30 to 40 years. Early on, some people called it boomerang children. And these are the children that you raise and then you set them off and then they come back and live in a bedroom down the hall. But most of the experts that have looked at this now call this whole situation the Peter Pan syndrome based on J.B. J.M. Verrey's character from the 1911 novel Peter Pan. If you remember anything about Peter Pan, it's the boy who refused to grow up. And actually this week I read this article and it said, while there's no actual magic preventing children from physically growing up, some adults continue to cling to the carefree days of youth and find emotional and financial responsibilities.
In fact, almost all responsibilities too challenging as they enter adulthood. Peter Pan syndrome, the current name for this pattern of behavior, first appears in Dr. Dan Kiley's 1983 novel The Peter Pan Syndrome, Men Who Have Never Grown Up. While Kiley focused on the behavior of men, Peter Pan syndrome can affect people of any gender or culture.
Keep in mind, this isn't a recognized mental health condition. Still, many experts agree this pattern of behavior can have an enormous impact on someone's relationship and their quality of life. These people, as I read about them, have a tendency to have very shallow relationships. They are incapable of doing deep relationships. It's especially true, by the way, of millennials more than any other group. They have trouble keeping jobs. They don't like jobs with a lot of responsibility and work. They struggle in any stressful situation. And they tend to be very self-centered and narcissistic.
Maybe I described you and maybe I didn't. But I don't really care from my point of view about the Peter Pan syndrome out there. What I really care about is the Peter Pan syndrome in here. There are enormous numbers of evangelical Christians who spend their entire spiritual lives as Peter Pan syndrome Christians. They never grow up spiritually.
And they choose not to grow up spiritually. It's not new. It's been in existence since the church first began. If you remember last week, I started a series called Think About It. And the first thing I said was, Paul writes and says, look, the real battle of your life is between your ears. The real battle in your life is your thought life. And that we battle, he said, we don't war against flesh and blood. We battle in war against, he said, against speculations.
In other words, it's the thought process. Paul also said last week that we have to make a decision as a Christian that, from Romans 12, that I'm all in with Jesus. I have to present myself as a living sacrifice. I'm all in.
I want this to be done. After that, he said, then the process begins. You only become a mature Christian by the renewing of your mind. In other words, I have to learn to think biblically rather than think on the basis of how my flesh or the world I live in thinks.
So this week, I want to follow this up because I want to talk about the fact that many of us make a choice when it comes even to thinking that we want to remain spiritually childlike for our entire existence. You see, if you don't change your thinking, no matter how long you've been a Christian, you'll die. You'll die a Peter Pan Christian.
You'll never grown up. And I've seen it so many times. So first of all, I invite you to open your Bibles to the book of Hebrews, chapter 5. We're going to really look at it in verse 11, but I'll give you a context in just a moment. Hebrews 5. Hebrews is an extremely interesting book.
You never want to come to a passage and not understand the context of the passage. The book of Hebrews is written to a whole group of Jewish believers, messianic Jews. These are people from Judaism who converted to Jesus Christ and saw Christ as not only their Savior, but also their Messiah. And what happened was when they first got saved, they were like a lot of us when we first get saved, they were all on fire for Jesus and happy and really glad they found the reason and purpose of life and everything was going well. But what ended up happening to them immediately after that was a little different. First of all, their families disowned them.
So they're now members of the way or what we'd call Christians now, but members of the way. And so the Jewish families disowned them. The Jewish neighbors ostracized them. They couldn't even do business with other Jews. The Romans and Greeks always hated them because they just viewed them as Jews anyway. So they found themselves kind of isolated and they became extremely frustrated with this to such an extent that they came up with an idea.
Their idea was simply this. Why don't we just slip back into Judaism? We'll still believe in Jesus, but let's slip back into Judaism and become Jews. Then our families will accept us back. The neighbors will accept us back.
The marketplace will accept us back. And that's where the writer comes in. He warns them, you can't do this.
This is going to be catastrophic if you do it. The reason is, and he uses an analogy the whole way through. He said, if you do this, you will be like the Exodus generation. The generation of Jews that actually were taken out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery, in six weeks they went right through the wilderness.
They're right on the cuspid of the promised land, the land flying with milk and honey. They sent in the spies. The spies came back and said, 10 of the 12 came back and said, I don't think we can do it.
It looks too tough. So they said, we're not going in. That brought the wrath of God on them. And they spent 40 years wandering in the desert.
Everyone 19 and older, every one of the adult Jews died in the desert. And that's what the writer of Hebrews said. That's exactly what's going to happen to you. You're never going to enter, not the promised land. He calls it the faith rests life. That's the life of the mature Christian. That's a life that's filled with joy, hope, and peace. You're never going to get there. He said, what's going to happen to you is you're just going to die in the wilderness, and I'll add this, as Peter Pan Christians. That's what happens, because they never grew up.
So we come down to 511. And he says, and by the way, in the first few verses, and I'll give the immediate context. In the first 10 verses, he's talking to them about a superiority thing.
One of the things that the writer does all the way through. You think Moses is great? He's nothing compared to Jesus. You think angels are great? They're nothing compared to Jesus.
That's what the book does. You think the Levitical priests are great? You see, you think they're nothing compared to Jesus. Everything in the Old Testament, and he's right, is a shadow of the substance that's coming. So if you look up at the end of verse 5 and verse 6, he said, who has he said this to?
You are my son that I have begotten you. Just as he says in another passage, you are a priest, he says, forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. Now, they revered a Levitical priest. He said, yeah, but Jesus is the son of God, and he's Melchizedek. He's a Melchizedekian priest. The response that he got from them that he knew he'd get is the same response from many of you I'll get when I said Melchizedek here. Who's Melchizedek?
I don't know who he is, but he should. You see, that's what he's trying to say. You didn't get it. You don't even know who Melchizedek is.
I'm trying to make an argument here, and I can't even give it to you because you don't understand it. So he picks it up in verse 11. He said, concerning him, we have much to say. I would love to tell you all about Melchizedek. He is a king priest of Salem. He only shows up in Genesis.
Abraham paid him a tithe. Most scholars believe he is a theophany. He is an appearance of the Son of God, which is Jesus Christ.
He's an appearance of the Son of God. I have a lot to tell you about him. He said, concerning him, we have much to say. He said, and it's hard to explain.
Not because he doesn't know the material. Watch. Since you have become dull of hearing, you don't listen. You won't listen.
One of the great characteristics of a Peter Pan Christian, they don't listen. And you know what that's like. You're just trying to endure it. Some of you right now might be, I just need to get through this. I mean, we've got a Father's Day luncheon. There's a barbecue coming. I'm thinking about all these things. Let the guy go and go and go.
And then we'll get it done, and we'll be fine. Now, if you're a child, that's okay. But I'm talking to the adults. You see, they're dull of hearing. How many times did Jesus say, and this is interesting to me, let him who has ears, let him hear. Doesn't that seem like a little bit of an insult to you? Because if it does, it's true, he was insulting you.
You see, he was insulting you. If you have ears, why aren't you listening? You have ears, don't you? Listen to what I'm about to say. And they didn't know exactly how to respond to this. So he says, you become dull of hearing.
Two Greek words, it's a compound. Literally, you have no push. I think that's funny. You have no push. And I thought, what in the world, you have no push. You have no energy toward this end. A good English word, you're lethargic. You're just lethargic. As soon as I stop speaking, you glaze over.
You're not interested. And by the way, the Church of Jesus Christ has been like that, wow, for a long time. When I was in Pennsylvania, before I ever went to the seminar or anything, I did a lot of interim speaking. And I spoke at one small church in Meridian, Pennsylvania. And they asked me to speak. I spoke there for a year. It was a very liberal church, and I went for a year and spoke there every Sunday. It turned out to be a wonderful group of people. And they even supported me the whole way through Dallas Seminary.
For four years, the church sent me a check to help us along our way. But every time I'd speak there, and I could still see it, I'd speak there, and there was a man right in there. And no matter what was going on beforehand, as soon as my voice come out after one sentence, he'd go... every single time.
As soon as I started, he just... And then you have to go to the door at the end. And Dr. Hendrick's called the glorification of the worm. That's where you have to stand at the door's pastor.
Good to see you, good to see you. Oh, it was a wonderful sermon. He was the guy that every time would tell me, what a wonderful sermon this was.
And I'm thinking, I'm watching the guy. I don't think he ever heard anything the whole time I was there. That's dull of hearing. He's conditioned himself to not listen. And he said, that's exactly what's happened to you.
That's one of the prevailing marks that they have. He said, you have become dull of hearing. That's what immaturity does. Then he says over in verse... He says in verse 12, for though by this time, you ought to be teachers. He said, you have need for someone else to teach you. The elementary principles and oracles of God.
You have come to need milk, no solid food. By this time, it's about 20 years. These people were saved about 20 to 25 years ago from this writing. He said, you should be teachers. He doesn't mean rabbis. He doesn't mean, oh, I have to be a teacher.
No, he doesn't mean it formally. He means that if you've been a Christian for multiple years, you should be able to bring the word of God to bear to your family, to friends, to people you work with. You should be able to give God's perspective on things. That's a teacher.
You should be allowed to do that. But you don't. He said, you've become so dull of hearing, you don't have anything to say to people.
There's nothing you can do. He said, and notice how he says, he says, not only should you be teachers, you have need for someone else to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, the ABCs of Christianity. I'm gonna have to teach you again that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life. I'm gonna tell you he died on the cross as your substitute. You see, I'll start with the gospel.
I'm gonna have to teach you all the basic stuff again. 20 years they went, they were walked with Christ, they thought, and they didn't. They were just Peter Pan Christians.
They just simply weren't mature enough to handle it. And he says, in the imagery he gives here, think of it. He says, and you have come to need milk, not solid food.
Wow. One of the most beautiful pictures of nature is a baby's desire for milk. And here he's not talking about bottled milk. He's talking about breast milk. It's a beautiful picture.
A mother feeding a baby. I mean, you can't look at it and think, oh, look at that. This little guy, that's amazing. They start out that way. We just start out with milk. These people have been Christians for 20-some years, and he said, you know what? You need milk. Someone was teasing me after the first service and said, hey, or, because he heard the whole sermon, he said, are those empty bottles out here for some of the people in the church?
And I said, yes, they are. And what we're going to do is we're actually going to have those people come up when I give them the bottles. But just imagine if you saw an adult come into any setting like this, and instead of having his mocha coffee or whatever, he has a baby bottle with a nipple in it with milk. And he just sits here and drinks it. What would you think?
Really? Something wrong here, right? I mean, there's something wrong. He's a full adult. Why is he drinking milk? Because he's a baby Christian. He never grew. You see, that's what Paul, I mean, the writer of Hebrews, is saying here. He says you wouldn't have need of it. He says then in verse 13, he goes on and he says, for everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hmm, here's what he said about him. We got a great English word for it. We have it right here in the church. Toddler rooms right back there.
That's what the word means. He's a toddler. He's talking about people that have said they've been Christian for 20-some years, and they're toddlers. Now, what do you know about toddlers?
By the way, if you want to know, they always love volunteers. Volunteers go back and spend a Sunday with the toddlers. Just get a good feel for what toddlers are like. They're interesting. First of all, toddlers have the attention span of a gnat.
Okay? That's who they are. They're just toddlers. They have a very limited vocabulary, but their favorite word of toddlers, mine.
Just go back and watch. What's mine's mine. What yours is mine.
Mine. That's toddlers. Notice, they're completely self-perspective. Everything is about them, and it's cute when you're three years old. When you're 33 years old, it's not so cute. He said you act just like babies do, like toddlers do.
That's the way you act. In our country, probably over the last 100 years, there have probably been thousands of churches that have split, and almost always, I can tell you why. They're filled with toddlers. They're filled with Peter Pan Christians. Mine. This is mine. I see it this way.
I know of them will split and start too. They're just children. It can happen almost to any one of us because the point of a Peter Pan Christian is they choose to be that way. They're happy to be that way.
You see, you might be sitting here now thinking, I don't want to hear any more of this stuff. You see, I'm very content to the way I am, but you shouldn't be. You and I were saved to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We're to mature. We're to steadily mature.
That's what we're to do. We should never be content, and you know who gets hurt the most? If you stay a Peter Pan Christian, you do. I'm telling you never are going to experience ever the peace and joy and hope every day of your life. You're never going to get there because you just don't think that way.
You're going to be what I'd call a circumstantial Peter Pan Christian. If you take any teenager, when are teenagers really happy? When everything they want to have happen happens, right? And if it doesn't, they're miserable.
You see, they're completely, completely controlled by the circumstances of their life. Well, you and I both know Jesus said it. In this world, you're going to have tribulation. You're going to have a lot of terrible days. It's just going to happen. Are you going to be mature enough to handle them or not? For a lot of us, it's not.
I really can handle them. So as you go through this whole thing, you come to this idea that he says you're an infant. You want it your own way, and then he goes to the next verse, and he says in verse 14, he said, let me tell you what a mature Christian, a maturing Christian looks like. I want you to see what a maturing Christian looks like. He said, but solid food is for the mature. Four characteristics.
These will be four questions I want you to ask yourself this morning. Am I eating solid food? Do you eat solid food as a Christian?
I don't mean the milk. Now, there's a variety of ways you can eat it. You can have someone teach you solid food.
Hopefully, that happens occasionally from here. We can teach you solid food, but there's so much more out there than that. In today's world, a Christian who believes I can't get fed what the Word of God teaches is just uninformed. Every single teacher in the whole world that I would say I truly respect as great teachers, you can go online and listen to anything they want to teach on in 30 seconds. Thirty seconds.
I can pillow him up. Here's the subject. He's going to teach on it.
It's just amazing. We have access to everybody. Back here, they wouldn't have had that.
They have the teacher in front of them, and that's it. But we have access. Do I feed on solid food? But there's more to it than that. Do I learn from myself anything? Am I teaching myself anything?
Ask yourself that. Do you teach yourself anything from the Word of God? Honestly, I can tell you what a Peter Pan Christian will do even in a place like this. You'll open your Bible for this 40 minutes, and then you'll throw it in the back of the car and pick it up next week. That's not enough. You're not going to make it. You see, that's just not enough.
You have to figure out, how do I do this on my own? How do I let God... See, we all want to pray to God all the time. Prayer is me speaking to God. The Bible is God speaking to me. I want to have a conversation with God. I want Him to speak to me, and I want to speak to Him.
And we have to do that on our own. You've been listening to Pastor Bill Gebhardt on the Radio Ministry of Fellowship in the Word. If you ever miss one of our broadcasts, or maybe you would just like to listen to the message one more time, remember that you can go to a great website called OnePlace.com. That's OnePlace.com, and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online.
At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org.
That's fbcnola.org. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word. .
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