Hebrews was written to the Jewish people who had trusted in Christ but were having a hard time letting go of the practice of their old religious system. They were called to die to the old way of life and learn to walk with Jesus in this new life. (See how it is described in Ephesians: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” Ephesians 4:24.) However, the people were not growing in their Christian faith. Instead, they wanted to return to the old ways.
After reminding them of the obedience of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews called upon Believers not to digress in their Christian walk. There was much for them to learn. These words were recorded for Christians to learn from today as well. “11. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Hebrews 5:11-12). It is a shame, but most Christians are “dull of hearing.” Dull means “slothful; sluggish.” Hearing means “of hearing doctrine taught and receiving it with faith.” Many Christians are ignorant of the Word of God, and instead of being able to teach others, they have to be taught, again and again, the simplest things that are written within God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews compared this to one who is like a baby: one who can only drink milk, as opposed to one who is mature and can handle strong meat. “13. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Exercised means “to train in godliness.” Each Christian is to train in godliness, then being able to grow by the “strong meat” of God’s Word, making one capable of discerning good and evil.
The basic foundational truths were not to have to be continually rehashed. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). Once one learns the basics of the Gospel message and doctrine, they should not have to be dealt with again. They were to grow into maturity:
- Salvation comes through faith – one has to believe Jesus died for man’s sin, and that salvation is by grace, not of works (“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” Galatians 2:16);
- that one must die to the old way of life (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” Titus 3:5), (see it also pictured in baptism: see Romans 6:3-8);
- the Holy Spirit is then imparted to every believer (“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13);
- there is eternal life in heaven for all who have trusted in Jesus (“12. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” 1 John 5:12-13);
- all will one day stand before the judgment seat of God (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” 2 Corinthians 5:10).
One should not have to be continually reminded of these foundational truths once one trusts in Jesus, having assurance of salvation in Christ (not a religion or religious system that one follows). Instead, these truths must be built upon, enabling one to handle the “strong meat” of the Word of God. It is then we are able to have our “senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
When a Christian needs encouragement to grow in their Christian life, one need only turn to the pages of Scripture that is full of examples of those who chose to walk with God. “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).
Are you “dull of hearing”, or are you striving to grow to maturity by learning to handle the “strong meat” of God’s Word?