Thoughts On Doctrine – Part VI

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A colorful array of dairy

“What is truth?” An interesting question Pilate asked, isn’t it? (John 18:38) Here we have a pagan judge who, as far as we can tell, was not terribly concerned with truth, as much as he was grounded in what he perceived to be the reality around him. I find it incredible that a pagan is asking this question, however, and despite his religious beliefs, comes out to the Jews and says “I find no guilt in him.” In order to make such a judgement would require discernment, which could be seen as an attempt to find the truth, at least to some extent or another. And yet how many Christians genuinely ask themselves the question, “What is truth?” Not only this, but “What is the truth according to God?” Very, very few care about such an endeavor, as they hear the truth of God and are either bored or offended at some point or another, allowing the Word of God to change them only in as much as they are comfortable. Thus such a thing as doctrine- God’s truth- is complete pointless in the long term, because it doesn’t appear to aid them in any way immediately. It always seems to convict rather than encourage, should they continue to apply all of it as it is laid out. And therein lies the primary issue: they do not know what to be encouraged from or to, and do not see the true conviction of the Word as a means to dying to self as being necessary. They will listen, but only as far as it makes sense to them.
But the Hebrews were in a much more particular position. You see, they did not merely claim to be Christians, they actually forsook their property, and that joyously, for the purpose of proving their faith as being like those who had come before, those whom the writer reminds them of later in Chapter 11. But they were at risk of spiritual loss and discouragement, not because of a bad feeling within them, but because they were becoming ignorant of the truth of the Gospel, not advancing further in the education of God’s doctrine. And here we find them in the end of Hebrews 5.
“Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” – vs. 11
Here we have something that summarizes the modern Christian with such detail, because they (like these Hebrews) do not seem entirely concerned with the details of doctrine, instead wanting to hear the Gospel consistently without much care for anything else in the Word of God. But as the writer makes clear here, even in regard to the Gospel, they were quite ignorant of what it was made up of, concerning the high priests, Melchizedek, the Law and so on. And I fear that many professing Christians today would read these important details and simply say “Well that’s neat, but I think I want to know more about the love of Jesus” and then point their finger to say that we are Pharisaical because of our attention to such details. Indeed, such as been the response, proving the point of the writer that there is much work that needs to be done. This is because they are “dull of hearing,” meaning literally “lazy” in their learning. It is like a runner, who gets up early in the morning, energetic and ready to test themselves to their limits, only to find themselves sluggish after a few minutes, slowing to a crawl and doing practically nothing. They move, but to no profit, if they limit themselves to their own level of comfort or self-perceived ability. And thus is the Christian, starting as though they could conquer Hell itself, only to wake up a day or two later hardly able to get out of bed, let alone take on the deep truths of the Gospel and its enemies. It is not as though God’s Word has suddenly become lacking or that it no longer applies, but rather a “deterioration on the hearers’ part” (Vincent’s Word Studies). And although such a condition of “stupidity” (lit.) may be deemed a small matter by some “professionals” in the church, it is far worse than this, for such a diagnosis is the same by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3, where they will not “endure” sound doctrine, but will instead find for themselves people who tell them what they want to hear. And though we may think of the extreme examples in the “Prosperity Gospel” teachers, as false as they are, they are not the primary ones we find there. Rather, it is those who are in the church who are unprofitable to the Christian, but instead bog them down with general encouragements, and not specific edification. Those who add program after program, who love music above preaching, and therefore reduce the Word of God to a reason to come to church, not the point of coming to church. And by that I mean that they come because “Hey, this place is Christian and they talk about God,” rather than “Let’s go to church to learn more of what God actually says.” They do not come to specifically hear what God said, but rather to hear about what people think of what God said. They will sing about what He said, they will reference and periodically quote certain things that He said, and they may even pull out their Bible and show people, but will they learn it? Will they pull it out and examine it, to see “whether these things are true”? Will they look not at how God’s Word talks about their specific circumstance (i.e. should I go to college, marry this person or take this job?) but instead what God’s Word says, period, and then apply it to their lives? Not likely. Because they have become dull of hearing, and the pastors have become dull of studying, and both collectively throw out the vast majority of the Bible, leaving only what they deem appropriate to 5 days out of the week. And what makes this all the worse is the reality that, concerning the Gospel, concerning your salvation, and concerning Christ Himself and those who pointed to Him, “there is much to say,” which adds to the reality that there is so much we are missing, if only we would look for it and look forward to it!
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of od, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” – vs. 12
Indeed, we have many who become well-educated in certain details (what is often referred to as “Reformed doctrine”), but are the complete opposite of teachers, instead condemning or else looking down upon those who are not so educated, not concerned with their learning, as much as they are proving their points. They view the sovereignty of God as a means to self-glory, not a means for the furtherance of the other individual’s walk with God. Even these Hebrews, who had up to this point proven themselves genuine, were fading because of laziness, not pursuing further that Truth which they had so quickly clung to at the first. They were becoming familiar to the Galatians, who had “quickly” forsaken the Gospel for the “not-gospels” of the false teachers, who sought their own glory, and not that of God. In fact, they moved so quickly in the wrong direction that it took Paul by surprise, causing him to be perplexed and shocked, because it is truly incomprehensible that one could take the Gospel so quickly and so distinctly, only to stop there and go no further. If this is truly the salvation of your eternal soul, that upon which you stake your eternal life, would you not go further than the simple, basic aspects of this salvation?
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.” – vs. 13
If we ate our food like we partake of God’s Word, we would die. Let’s just be honest and say it like it is. If we simply ate the things we liked when we were babies, we would fall over from malnourishment, starving ourselves of what we truly need. And yet in the church, the chef (pastor) makes a variety of bottles filled with milk colored in an array of fashions to impress the coming Christians, who drink the milk, thinking it is new every week. I once saw something on TV that fits this example quite well. They did a study where they had gathered empty glass bottles that were once filled with very expensive waters, and filled them with tap water, and offered them to the people who had come to see if they could tell the difference. And sure enough, when they drank the water, they thought each glass was different than the other, despite the reality that they had all come from the same source- tap water. And such is the doctrine of Christianity, doing nothing more than repackaging the same elementary things of the Gospel, causing the hearer to think they are getting something new every week. They are the infant who thinks one bottle is better than the other, despite the fact that they both hold the same milk and serve the same purpose, regardless of what animal is printed on the outside of the plastic container. And we as adults normally have this discernment, yet for some reason this does not carry over to the Scripture- that which we claim to model our lives after.
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” – vs. 14
Ah, but this is offensive, isn’t it? “Mature” being a word liberally applied now, lacking any meaning, often being delegated to the simple aspects of adulthood, like working full time or paying bills. But isn’t maturity more than that? Isn’t maturity the ability to perceive good and evil? Regardless of our vocational life, spiritual maturity does not change, nor does it vary from person to person. Spiritual, Godly maturity is found in the Word, only in as much as we are consistent with it. As soon as we drift from it, we prove our inability to actually be Christian, and the Bible is of no use to us at such a point, unless we are willing to submit to Him. And yet how often do Christians condemn such certainty? That level of comfort in the fact that what God says is true, so I will live by it regardless of my feelings? It is so very sad that we have come to the point of being so easily offended, isn’t it? One might expect such of the world, who do not care about the truth, but to now apply Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 2 to the church? It is devastating. Because so few are willing to listen to the Word of God. It has become a continual point of discouragement, this fact. So often I have presented the Word of God to Christians (professing other genuine alike), only to face harsh criticism and drastic offense, being countered only with preferences, not the truth of God’s Word. I would gladly have a discussion with anyone who disagrees with me when it comes to the Bible, but I have yet to come across one who does so based on their usage of God’s Word. They don’t even try anymore, instead running to people’s feelings and experiences as proofs against my points, as though feelings or circumstances prove anything. And these are those to whom the writer of Hebrews is addressing. Not simply those who do not know certain things about the priesthood of Jesus or the meaning of the Law, but also those who know such things, but are unwilling to advance because of some personal offense. Those who, quite plainly, hear the Word of God and do not care, so much so that when countered with it, they simply say “Oh well” and continue on in their damning sin and willful ignorance and arrogance before a just and righteous God. These are those who are found mostly in the church, those to whom Paul said to his disciple that these “[hold] to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” and are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” These are those who Paul said “Avoid such men as these.”

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have received them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:14-17


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