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From Milk to Meat

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2023 6:00 pm

From Milk to Meat

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 5, 2023 6:00 pm

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Have your Bibles turn with me, if you would, to Hebrews chapter 5. We're looking at verses 11 through verse 14. The one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we pray this morning for our sick and infirmed. We pray for Madison Latva, my granddaughter, who is having surgery tomorrow on her arm.

We pray that the operation will be a success and her pain will be limited. We pray for Bernie Lowes, who will have knee replacement surgery done Tuesday. We pray for Jim Palmer, who's got a shoulder replacement surgery coming up in two weeks. We pray for Lisa Menzel, who's having brain surgery on the 30th. We pray for Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belk and Renda Torrance, Kim Oudy, and Nicole Lowes.

We pray for Betty West, Carol Starkey. Lord, have mercy on all these and bring healing. Heavenly Father, the passage that's before us today is humbling and almost embarrassing.

We claim to be spiritually mature, but our thinking and our actions sometimes say otherwise. Help us to move on from spiritual milk to spiritual meat. Help us grow up, not yearly, but daily. Give us a heart for Jesus.

Give us a hunger to obey you. We love you, Lord. We need you, Lord. Grow us up in Christ. Lord, keep my lips from error this morning. Keep my eyes on you. And I ask this prayer in the holy, wonderful, and precious name of Jesus. Amen.

You may be seated. My dad got saved when he was 12 years old. He was in a revival service. And Vance Havner was the pastor in that service. And my dad said that he had never experienced conviction like he did that night. That his sin never seemed deeper and uglier and more powerful than it did that night. And Jesus never seemed more loving and more forgiving and more wonderful than he did that night that Vance Havner was preaching. My dad turned from his sin that evening and trusted the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Savior. And I said, Dad, what was Vance Havner's preaching like?

And he said it was phenomenal. He said he would be telling a funny story one minute, get us all laughing, and said the next minute he'd be describing our sin and everybody would be crying. He said, you know, he said some preachers have that ability to to just peel back the onion of your heart and give you a warning that is so great that you look at them and say, that preacher has quit preaching and gone to meddling.

He said that's the way it was with Vance Havner. He was a great preacher because he was a great meddler. And Hebrews, the book, the writer of Hebrews is what I would call a meddler. He didn't care who liked him or who didn't like him. He didn't care if if they approved of what he had to say or whether they disapproved of.

It didn't matter to him. He just wanted to get across the truth that the word of God is the pure, perfect, wonderful, glorious word. That it was important and that we could not be nonchalant about God's word. This week, Judy Andrews sent me a text. She had seen the title of our message today from Milk to Meat. And she sent me a quote from John MacArthur.

Thought it was good. Let me share it with you. The pastor's goal is not to please the sheep, but to feed them, not to tickle their ears, but to nourish their souls. He is not to offer light snacks, spiritual milk, but the substantial meat of biblical truth.

Those who fail to feed the flock are unfit to be shepherds. The writer of Hebrews is writing to people who he knows and some of these he knows very well. Some of the people that he's writing to were saved on the day of Pentecost. When Peter stood up on Jerusalem Square and preached the great sermon, three thousand people were saved.

Those who were saved on the day of Pentecost had been Christians at this time for thirty-four years. And it would seem that they would all be mature in their faith and yet some of them are not. The writer of Hebrews has been teaching them about the priesthood of Christ. And he's telling them that Jesus is not a Levitical priest who is sinful and powerless, but Jesus is a Melchizedek priest. He is a Melchizedek priest who is perfectly sinless and he understands us perfectly. He knows when we're going through grief or sorrow or trouble or temptation.

And he's able to do something to help us because he's not just fully man, but he is fully God. That teaching goes right over their head. They just don't get it.

It shouldn't go over their head, but it does. So in the rest of chapter five, the writer of Hebrews explains the problem and then gives us what we need to correct it. I've got four points that I want to share with you today. Point one is dull of hearing. Look with me at verse eleven.

About this we have much to say and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. He's talking here about the Melchizedek priesthood and he says we have much to say and it's hard to explain. That term hard to explain is only found one time in the New Testament.

That's right here. And what does it mean? It means deep or difficult to spiritually comprehend.

Not impossible, but deep. And he tells these status quo Christians that they are not getting it because they are dull of hearing. Now you might have a Bible translation where it says slow to learn.

That's not a good translation of this term. Slow to learn would have to do with your intelligence. He's not saying here that these people are stupid. That they don't have enough brain power.

That's not the problem here. They are dull of hearing. They have lost their ability to discern God's guidance. To understand what his will is. We've got a good analogy of this I think in 1 Peter chapter 3 and verses 3 and 4 and then verse 7. As Peter is teaching us about the responsibility of the wife to her husband and the husband to the wife.

Let me just share this with you very quickly. 1 Peter chapter 3 verses starting in verse 3. He said, Do not let your adorning be external. The braiding of hair and the putting off of gold jewelry or the clothing you wear. But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart. With the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Which in God's sight is very precious. Likewise husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way. Showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.

Since they are heirs with you of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be hindered. I've shared this with you in the past. This is part of what I share when I'm doing premarital counseling. And I believe that if married couples would put this principle into practice. And be dead serious about it.

That we would see the divorce rate absolutely plummet. Peter tells the wife that there's something more important than the clothes that she wears. Or putting on her makeup perfectly.

Or the hairdo that she has. There's something much more important than that. And that is that she reveal to her husband the hidden man of the heart.

He says that's more important. What is the hidden man of the heart? The hidden man of the heart is what a woman truly is on the inside. It's what makes a woman tick. Now women are kind of like snowflakes. There's no two alike.

All of them are different. Every woman's inner man, the hidden person of the heart, is different than every other woman's. So it's very, very important that the wife reveal to her husband what the hidden man of the heart is. Now I'm a picture person and pictures kind of help me to understand things.

So I put it this way. Let's say down in the inside of this wife there's a panel of buttons, kind of like an elevator. And in that elevator there are all these different buttons that show where her emotions and her feelings are. There's a vulnerability button, a security button, an insecurity button. There's an anxiety button, there's a happy button, there's a joy button.

There's all these buttons but they're invisible and the husband can't see them until he reveals that to them. So when situations pop up in the wife's life, the husband steps forward. And if he knows what those buttons are, he can push the right buttons and he can relieve anxiety. He can relieve vulnerability.

He can relieve insecurity. And he can put in her heart contentment and joy. She has to be open though. She has to be open in order that he will know what makes her tick. If he doesn't know, then he'll not be able to protect her, defend her, and make her feel cherished.

Verse 7 tells us that the husband has a responsibility. He has a responsibility of studying his wife's heart. He has that responsibility to find out what's down inside of her, what makes her tick, where the buttons are.

And he spends his whole life with her just studying her heart so that he can be a help to her. When I'm doing marital counseling, I will share this with the couple that I'm counseling with and so many times the wife says, well, I've tried to do that. I've tried to show my husband where my buttons are and show him where my feelings are and where my affections are. I've tried to do that but he doesn't listen.

And so when these things come up, he just totally ignores it like he has no idea what's going on down in my heart. There's a great old movie that some of you that are my age may remember. It was called The Right Stuff. It was about the first seven American astronauts. And there's a scene in there about John Glenn and his wife that is my favorite clip in any movie I think that I've ever seen.

I love it. John Glenn is in Cape Canaveral. He's getting ready to go up. He's going to orbit the Earth three times.

He's already there. His wife is back home in Ohio. His wife has a speech impediment.

She has a stuttering problem. But she's back there. She's keeping the kids.

She's praying for her husband. And she invites her best friend, the next door neighbor over, to spend the night with them, stay with them, give her some encouragement. And so they spend the night there.

They get up the next morning. They hear some commotion going on out in the front yard. They look outside, and there's this big limousine, and there's all these cameras of people, and there's all these reporters, all these vans out there. And the limousine belongs to Vice President Lyndon Johnson. And so he sends his aide up to knock on the door.

Knocks on the door, and the neighbor goes to the door. And he says, the Vice President's here, and he wants to interview Ms. Glenn. He wants to give her an interview, and it's, you know, he's a Democrat. John Glenn's a Democrat.

This is going to be some great free publicity for him. So please just send Ms. Glenn out, and we're going to do an interview for Good Morning America. And so she says, let me go check with Ms. Glenn. She goes back. She talks to Ms. Glenn, and she says, they want to do an interview with you.

It's going to go nationwide. Would you do it? And Ms. Glenn says, no, I can't do that. She says, okay. She goes back. She tells the aide, I'm sorry, but Ms. Glenn says she can't do it. So the aide goes out. He talks to the Vice President.

He says, she won't do it. The Vice President goes nuts. And his face gets red. He starts cursing and swearing. He says, you go back in there. You get on their telephone.

Call Cape Canaveral, get John Glenn on the phone. You tell him what I want. Tell him that I'm mad, and you tell him to straighten his wife out. And so the aide comes back in, gets on the telephone. He calls Cape Canaveral. He gets John Glenn on the phone. He tells him exactly what Lyndon Johnson wants.

He says, this is what Lyndon Johnson wants. He is mad, and he wants you to straighten out your wife. He says, okay, let me talk to my wife.

He gets the phone and gives it to his wife, and she picks up the phone, and John Glenn starts talking to her. He says, honey, are you scared? And she said, yes. And he said, honey, do you not want to do this interview? And she said, no, no, I can't do it. He said, don't worry about a thing.

I got it covered. And so he said, get the phone back to the aide, and he does. And John Glenn proceeds to eat his lunch.

He says, listen, you tell the vice president, Lyndon Johnson, to get his sorry carcass off my property, and if he ever tries to intimidate my wife again, it will be me and him. And the next scene is that limousine taken off out of there, spinning wheels, and then all the other cars going right behind them. And then the next scene is my favorite. Mrs. Glenn goes over. She pulls the curtains back. She looks at all those cars taken off down the road, and she says, she breathes a sigh of relief. What has happened there? Her husband knew the hidden man of his wife's heart.

He knew what would cause her anxiety and vulnerability and insecurity, and he was strong where his wife was weak. Now, folks, that's exactly what the writer of Hebrews is dealing with, in Hebrews chapter 5, verse 11. These Christians have opted for mediocrity. They have refused the challenge to move on with God. God has been opening up their heart, or trying to, with these believers.

He has been revealing his will to these believers, but they're not picking up on it. They just don't get it. They're dull of hearing. You ever seen a situation where there's three people that are talking? Two of those people in that conversation know about a joke or a funny story.

They've heard it before. And then as these three are talking, something comes up. It makes the two remember that joke, and they start laughing.

And the third one that doesn't know the story gets kind of upset. He says, what's going on? Why are you laughing? What's so funny? What did I miss?

He just doesn't get it. Folks, that's what's going on in the spiritual realm with these status quo Christians. They have become dull of hearing. They lost their sensitivity to the things of God. God is doing things, but they're not aware of what's going on in God's heart, of what God is saying, of what God is doing. Back in 1 Peter chapter 3, in the marriage passage, Peter says in verse 6 that Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him Lord.

If you go back to Genesis 18 where that story came from, you read it in the Hebrew. It's very interesting because that word Lord doesn't mean sovereign master and ruler. It is another word altogether. In our culture today, if Cindy called me Lord Doug, she'd probably get laughed out of the house. She doesn't want to call me Lord Doug. I don't want her to call me Lord Doug, but this word is different.

This word is Adonai, and it means the one who sees me in my need, knows what my needs are, meets my needs without me having to say a word. Folks, that's so important, and that's exactly what Abraham did. He knew Sarah's heart so well that when situations came up in their life, he didn't have to ask how she felt.

He knew how she felt. Me and our wives desire that from us. They don't want to have to tell us what they want or what they need. They want us to know their heart so well that when situations pop up in life, we know exactly what they're thinking, exactly what's going on in their heart, exactly where their emotions are. In the spiritual realm, the status quo Christian can't make right decisions because he's immature, and why is he immature? Because he doesn't know God's heart, and he doesn't know God's will.

Let me ask you something. Do you want to know God's will? Do you really want to know God's will? If you want to know God's will, you've got to know God's word. Are you willing to take the time to study the word of God? All right, point two, you ought to be teachers.

Look at verse 12a. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, what does he mean by that? Does he mean that every true Christian ought to be able to get in a pulpit and preach a sermon? That every true Christian ought to be able to stand behind a lectern and teach a Sunday school class?

That every true Christian should have this great desire to study theology and then disseminate that information to others? Does he mean that the Sunday school teacher is a better Christian than that one who has the gift of mercy and is going out and ministering to the poor and to the hungry? Does he mean that the Sunday school teacher is a better Christian than that one who has the gift of service or the gift of administration?

No, that's not what he means at all. And people, there's a big difference between the gift of teaching and the grace of teaching, totally different. Eugene and I are the pastors here in our church, or two of the pastors, and the Lord has given us gifts that we might be able to feed the flock. We call that the teaching office in the church. We're called teaching elders. But I know lots of Christians who would never feel comfortable behind a pulpit preaching a sermon or behind a lectern teaching a Sunday school class. But you get them by theirself, and you start talking to them about needs in their heart, needs in people's lives, and, man, they'll give you direction and guidance that comes right from the Word of God, and it's absolutely amazing. In Titus chapter 2 verses 3 through 15, Paul is talking about that type of teaching, the teaching of grace. And it has reverence to all types of people in the church.

Listen to what he says. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanders or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Bond servants are to be submissive to their masters in everything. They are to be well pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things, exhort and rebuke with all authority, let no one disregard you. That's the type of teaching that Paul is referring to here in Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 12. He is saying you ought to be able to teach with discernment, not necessarily from a pulpit, but with discernment one-on-one to others with the ability to know God's will and to express it. Now, Titus had the gift of teaching. He was a preacher.

He could do that. But he's talking about other groups in the church. He mentions the older women. He says they should be able to teach the younger women how to live godly lives that would bring honor to their husbands. He's talking about daddies and how daddies should be able to take the word of God and with their children teach them discipline and responsibility. How bosses ought to be able to take their employees and to teach them about honesty and integrity and the love of Christ. The writer of Hebrews is telling us that every Christian, every Christian should have the grace of teaching. Verse 12, by this time you ought to be teachers. What does it mean to be dull of hearing? It means a lack of spiritual comprehension, a lack of discernment about the things of God. R.T. Kendall said this, it is possible for the mind to stand still when dealing with the utterances of God. But the consequences are this. If the dark things do not become plain, then the plain things will become dark.

Boy, is that not true. I want to give you an illustration. In my former church, there was a young man that came to Christ and I would describe his conversion experience as a life-changing, mountain-moving experience. The Lord dealt with his heart in such a way that these habitual things in his life were just immediately broken. He was living with his girlfriend. He went the day that he got saved, took all the stuff that belonged to him out of the house and he moved out.

He ended up breaking up with that girl. I was amazed at what I saw going on in this young man's life. Man, he was at church every time the doors were open. He was so excited about Jesus, it was just amazing just to talk to him.

I mean, he had a sensitive conscience and he would fight sin in a heartbeat. But he left his girlfriend the day that he got saved and he walked away from her. About a year later, his girlfriend came back and she said, you know, I just don't want to live without you. And he said, well, you're not a Christian, I'm a Christian, we can't have an unequal yoke. The next Sunday morning, I gave an invitation and she came down the aisle. And she said, I want to be a Christian.

And I said, well, meet with me after the service is over. And so we got together. I went through the gospel with her.

I shared with her a lot of scripture. And she said, yes, that's what I want to do. I want to repent, I want to be a Christian. And I said, listen, I said, this is serious stuff. I said, please don't do this just to appease your boyfriend. I said, if you do that for that reason and your repentance is not sincere and your faith is not sincere, then this is nothing but a farce and it's going to cause a lot of damage and don't do that. And she said, oh no, I'm not doing that. She said, I'm just as sincere as I could be. I just did not feel good about this situation. And so the young man heard that she had come to Christ. He was ecstatic. He wanted to get married right away. I said, please don't rush this.

Let this just take some time. Let's see if her conversion's real. And he wouldn't do it. And he got married to her. They got married and within a couple of months, she decided that she didn't need church anymore.

And let me tell you, you talk about a defeated man. This young man was being absolutely pulled apart. He was having to juggle trying to please his wife and trying to please the Lord. He quit singing. He'd been singing, had a beautiful voice in the choir. He quit going to church on Sunday night and he looked like a deflated balloon.

A couple of years later, she left him for another man. He never regained his joy, still goes to church. He still steals great conviction when he sins, but that level of discernment that he had just diminished. That sensitivity to God is nowhere where it once was. He had not lost what he was redeemed from, but he had lost what he was redeemed for. When it comes to your spiritual sensitivity, if you don't use it, you're going to lose it.

If you don't walk in the light, you're going to live in the darkness. All right, point three, go back to the milk. Look at verse 12 with me. Well, though, by this time, you ought to be teachers. You need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.

You need milk, not solid food. He says you have need for someone to teach you. Teach you what? Teach you the principles, the foundational principles of God's word, he calls it the oracles of God.

What is that? It means the elementary principles of God's word, the ABCs of the Christian faith. In Acts chapter seven, verse 38, it's very interesting that Stephen uses that word when he's preaching his great sermon or uses that term. He says this, he, talking about Moses there, was in the assembly in the desert with an angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai with our father, and he received oracles of God to pass on to us. It's also found in Romans chapter three, verse two, when Paul raised this question, what advantage then is there in being a Jew or what value is there in circumcision?

He says, much in every way. First of all, they have been entrusted with the very oracles of God. So the writer of Hebrews is saying that's what these people need.

That's what these people have to do. They have got to go back to the foundational principles of God's word. These principles are called the milk of the word. This is not the deeper things, not the solid meat, but the milk, absolutely necessary, truly foundational, but not that meat that will lead them into maturity.

What is the milk? We've got it laid out for us in the first part of chapter two. I'll spend a lot more time on this next week, but look at the first two verses of chapter six. Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, but of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

All right, point four. Very quickly, meat for maturity. Look at verse 13 through 14. For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness since he is a child, but solid food is for the mature, for those who have the powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. The meat of God's word gives the children of God the power of discernment. It gives wisdom for us to help make the right decisions that the Lord would have us to make, and it calls for constant practice. I think, for example, the meat of the word will help us to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to be able to rejoice when we are suffering for Christ's sake.

I tell you, when I see a Christian who's persecuted, criticized, and ostracized, and I see that happening, and I see him rejoicing, I say to myself, that's maturity. In that early church, the first apostle that was martyred was James, the brother of John. They took James, and they brought him out, and they pushed him down beside a chopping block, had his head down on the chopping block. The executioner gets ready to chop his head off, and before that ax comes down, he screams out, and he says, Jesus Christ is Lord! And then his head's chopped off.

What do you think the people thought? They thought, that man's got something that I don't have. I think of Stephen, when he is being stoned to death. He's got a big circle around him.

He's down in a pit. The stones start to hit him, and he looks up into heaven, and he says, lay not this sin to their charge. The people that are looking at that, they look at Stephen and say, that man has got something that we don't have. Folks, that's maturity. The early church had a slogan that is drenched in spiritual meat, and that slogan was this, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the gospel. The writer of Hebrews is saying, to them and to us, grow up, child of God. Mature in your faith. You were not saved just to get you into heaven. You were saved to get heaven into you.

But you want to be mature? God's got to get heaven into you, and he does that through the power of his precious word. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, I ask your forgiveness for my own spiritual immaturity. Our passage today teaches us that there's the possibility of being intellectually and theologically sharp as a tack and still be spiritually immature and living out our faith. Father, remind us that our faith is wrapped up in trust and obedience, not just in correct theology. May we all have the same kind of maturity that we saw lived out with James and Stephen, dying for Jesus, if necessary. And it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-05 14:12:32 / 2023-11-05 14:25:16 / 13

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