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Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ, and go on to maturity.

~Hebrews 6:1

Lesson31-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel. Possibly note pads if you elect to break your group up for part of the lesson.

Notes to the Leader: This study is a “soft” attack on the attitude that neutrality is an acceptable place to stand in the Church of Christ. Dante states, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” Such is the stated goal of this lesson. Not so much to move those who do not believe but to move those who do believe just a little bit faster, as if their “eternal life” depended upon it.

This is a good study for letting your group break up into teams and work together. The exercise provides familiarity with the Bible and both the Old and New Testaments.

Introduction

How would you describe someone who is immature?

  • Webster: not mature, ripe, developed, or perfected.
  • What are some of the risks associated with immaturity?
  • Easily mislead
  • Makes mistakes
  • Easily hurt
  • Impatient
  • Short span of attention.

Read Hebrews 5:11-14 to your group. Have them carefully listen/look for the signs of spiritual immaturity. There are at least four:

What are signs of spiritual immaturity?

  • Slow to learn (v. 11) – Unable to listen, receive, and act on the Word of God.
  • You need someone to teach you (v. 12) – Unable to share God’s truth with others because of apathy and spiritual retreat.
  • Anyone who lives on milk (v. 13) – Unskilled in the knowledge and experience of the Gospel – resulting from lack of advancement in the Christian life.
  • Unable to discern “teaching about righteousness – Unskilled in discerning “good from evil.”

What are some of the risks associated with being an immature Christian?

  • Can be mislead by others claiming to be following Christ
  • In our ignorance, we can be disobedient to God’s commands because we don’t know any better
  • Our expectations of other Christians can leave us vulnerable to disappointment
  • We fail to lead a fulfilled Christian life
  • We are unable to help others understand the message of the Gospel.

Section One: The Evidence of No Growth

Re-Read Hebrews 5:11-14 to your group. Note the first verse 5:11 in several translations if your can by asking others to re-read their own Bibles. NIV refers to “this.” However, some translations refer to “him” in reference to Melchizedek.

How can you tell if you are not moving toward maturity?

  • Do not understand the message of the Gospel
  • Comfortable with status quo, not experiencing growth in Christian thought and life
  • Not capable of receiving deeper truths.

Can you be a Christian and not grow spiritually?

  • Salvation and leading a fulfilled Christian life are separable. However, in Hebrews, the points out that they were even loosing ground in that they needed to be retrained in the basics all over again. While we are saved through the grace of God, Hebrews points out that the only acceptable direction to our lives is forward. Neutral is not acceptable because of the risks.

Why is it important to understand the deeper truths of Scripture?

  • A mature Christian is far less likely to be deceived and led astray by false teaching than an uninstructed one.

Read Acts 21:20 to your group. These were people who accepted Christ but also retained their beliefs in Jewish law (both views conflict).

Section Two: Working Through The Differences

Read Hebrews 6:1-3 Try to build a chart on the elementary teachings of both the Old and New Testaments. Discuss each area on their differences. You may want to consider breaking up your group to work through these to save time. Assign the groups by doctrine so that each group can work through both Old and New Testament differences.

Doctrines Old Testament Belief New Testament Belief

Acts that lead to death Ezek. 14:6; Zech. 1:2-4 Matt. 3:1-2, 5:21-22; Rom. 6:21

Faith in God Gen. 15:6; Ex. 14:13; Hosh. 1:9; Isa. 7:9 Acts 2:20-21, 36-38; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Heb. 2:4

Baptisms – Washing Ex. 30:17-21; Lev. 6:27; Deut. 21:6; Ezek. 36:25 John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Mark 16:16

Baptisms – Laying on of the hands Num. 27:18, 23; Deut. 34:9; Lev. 1:4, 3:2; Num. 8:12 Acts 6:6, 13:3; 1 Tim.4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6

Resurrection of the dead Ex. 3:6; Job 19:25-26; Ps. 16:10, 17:15; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2 Luke 24:39; 1 Cor. 15:20-22; 1 Thes. 4:16-17; Phil. 3:11; 1 John 3:2; (Mark 12:18; Acts 23:6-8)

Eternal Judgment Gen. 18:25; 1 Chron. 16:33; Pss. 9:7-8; 96:13; 98:9; Ecc. 12:14; Isa. 33:22; Dan. 7:9 Matt. 25:41; John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:10, 15

Section Three: The Answers

Acts that lead to death:

OT – God called the people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways and to come back (repentance for sinful acts) to Him.

NT – Emphasis was on repentance for sinful thoughts as well as sinful acts.

Faith in God:

OT – People were taught to put their faith in God.

NT – People were now taught to put their faith in Christ.

Instructions about baptisms:

OT – Jews had various types of washings and taught the need for physically cleansing in order to have fellowship with God.

NT – Stressed deeper teachings, not of physical cleansing but of the heart. The washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is often thought of as remorse, sorrow for sin. The Greek word, however, means a change of mind.

Laying on of hands:

OT – Was for the commissioning of someone for a divinely appointed task.

NT – Associated with imparting the Holy Spirit and with healing.

Resurrection of the dead:

OT – Taught but not mentioned as frequently as other doctrines.

NT – Much fuller teaching because of Christ’s resurrection.

Eternal judgment:

OT – God was judge of all the earth and His people.

NT – Christ is the judge; the Cross was where judgment took place for all believers; and the wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God).

Section Four: The Life’s Consequences

Have someone in your group read Hebrews 6:4-10 This passage contains a stern warning.

How do you interpret this for day-to-day application?

  • It is difficult to interpret because we do not know whether the “enlightened” ones were believers or unbelievers. Several possible conclusions are:
  • They were professing Christians, not regenerated ones.
  • This passage is of only a hypothetical case.
  • The purpose, therefore, may very well be to shock us out of lethargy.
  • Motivation is often accomplished through both warnings and assurances. Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 1:13-21

What can happen to a church (body of believers) when they focus on only one motivating factor (joy/love versus fear)?

  • A focus on fear can drive people away, give up entirely, become overly judgmental, serve Christ for the wrong reasons.
  • A focus on assurances can bring us to seek our emotional feelings of joy rather than God’s will, loose sight of our responsibilities, become self-serving.

So what is the balance for the believer?

  • Lean hard on the promises of God when you are tempted to despair
  • Heed the warnings of God when you are tempted to self-confidence.

Re-read Hebrews 6:9-10 to your group.

How should we be comforted by this passage?

  • “God is not unjust.”
  • God is also merciful and in this we find our real comfort.

How then can full assurance and extreme warning coexist?

  • Being assured of our standing in God’s salvation is more important than a full understanding of a particular doctrine. A similar dilemma exists with the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

Section Five: The Payoff

Have someone in your group read Hebrews 6:11-20 This passage responds to the theme of Hebrews: “We should act on the basis of what we have.”

What do we have?

  • (vv. 13-20) God’s promise of inheritance, confirmed by an oath, demonstrated by the work of Christ (sacrifice) for our benefit.

How should we act?

  • (vv.11-12) Continue diligently until the end.

Have someone in your group read Hebrews 11:1-3

How is it that we come to believe (have faith) in something that we cannot see?

  • Prayer
  • The reflection of one’s faith in their daily life for others to see
  • The study of God’s word
  • Dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

Bible Truth Being Taught

Christ does not call us to seek common ground nor neutrality with regard to our faith. You are either with Him or against Him.

Our Response

To learn that those who inherit Gods promises do so through faith and patience but gained through the faithful study of God’s Word, always moving forward to maturity, lest we slip back and fall away.

 

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