Freezing TimePastor Jerry Gillis - May 8, 2016
As our heavenly father, God has designed us to mature. He doesn’t want His children to be frozen in time, stuck in spiritual immaturity. He wants us to progress in relationship with Him through time.
Community Group Study Notes
- What is the importance of Scripture in how we mature in our faith in Christ? Why is this so foundational to our growth as disciples of Jesus?
- Regardless of how often or how seldom you spend time reading God's Word, what is one step you can take this week to ensure consistent time in the Bible? Share this with two people who can encourage you and keep you on track.
- Does your obedience level match your Bible-knowledge level? Why is it important that our lives as disciples reflect the truth that we know from Gods Word?
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14)
So we will be Hebrews chapter 5 in just a moment. But I was reading something interesting this past week on the BBC Futures Website. And on there they were telling a story that was really interesting of a gentleman who, when he got into his shower one day, the beads of water that were coming out of the shower began to slow down almost to a halt. If that happened to you you'd be like what a mmmm The Matrix, remember The Matrix, right? Where those Neo was kind of dodging those bullets and they were all whoa, really slow. Well this man's perception of what he was seeing with the actual drops of water coming from the shower head. He realized that's probably not a good thing and so he went and got checked out and ultimately found that he had an aneurysm in his brain in a very specific part that caused him to process time and speed in a very unique way. Had it surgically repaired and the good news of the article was he's fine, he's not seeing everything in slow motion and you know, all of that, but it was almost like for kind of a brief period of time that he had frozen time. I mean it was a really odd kind of weird thing and they actually reported, this article talked about a number of other instances, it's very rare, but a number of other instances in the world where things like that have happened because of some peculiarities that happened within the brain, usually because of things like an aneurysm or something like that.
Now obviously none of us are capable necessarily of freezing time, time really waits for no one. But I imagine that it is fair to say that there have been some times in your life where you wished you could freeze time. Now, it may have been when that child was really, really small, so Moms, I know I'm kind of pulling at the heart-strings today, right? It may have been when that child was really small, and you kind of look back at some of those pictures around Mother's Day and you're just like, ohh, I just wish, you know. Now for others of you Moms that you look back at their little baby pictures and you're like oh, no. Because they were colicky for like two years, right and you're like no, no, I don't want to freeze it there. I want to freeze it when they're like you know, four or five, you know, just before going to school, but they started to become communicative and they began to be curious and they were imaginative, and you're like I wish I could just freeze them right there.
Or maybe for you it's not about a child or anything, maybe it's just a time in your life where maybe you met that girlfriend or that boyfriend or that you know, who would become your spouse or whatever and you wish you could just kind of freeze that moment in time.
Well, whenever you start thinking about those kinds of things it gets to be a little bit sentimental and nostalgic especially for moms and especially on a day like today. And so I'm imagining that you'll be able to feel through what you see and what you hear those very things. So look and listen.
All right, so as every mom starts drying their tears. And every dude wonders what just, is there dust in my eye, what just happened? There's no question that we've all felt this way at some point and some time in our lives and specifically if we are, if we're moms, we, if you're moms, I'm not a mom, I've never been one. You feel an intense love and there's something very true in that moment, right, that in that very moment you feel this intense love for this child and so it causes you to do certain things. You want to just freeze it in time. Have you ever been around or been one of these parents or grandparents, don't raise your hand, who have ever said at a certain point in their lives, maybe when they were little or whatever, you're just like, I just wish they could stay this way. I just wish they could stay just like this, right?
Well, here's what I want to just remind you of today if I can kind of pull you out of the heart, and pull you into the head for just a second, no you don't. You really don't. I want to say this super-lovingly, okay, because it's going where I'm trying to go. You don't want to freeze them in time because they weren't made for that. And in fact your desire to say I just want to freeze them in time is really all about you and it's not about them. And at that point we'd be willing to trade our comfort and sentimentality and nostalgia in freezing them in time in exchange for their future. We really wouldn't want to do that. We really would not want to take a place with our children where we, in the reality of our intense love, that's why we want to freeze them in time, it's not that we want to sabotage their future, but we just, we love them so much and we want to freeze them right there. Except for if we did that, that would mean that the very love that we feel for them they would not get to experience feeling for somebody else. You don't really want to do that. You don't really want to freeze time, because the truth is we were made to mature. We were actually made to grow, to develop.
Imagine if God took the same posture with us that sometimes we take with our kids in terms of wanting to freeze them in time. If when we came to know Him and we were born into His family, if He just froze us in time and just oohed and aahed over us, it would actually put a ceiling on our ability to know God. It would actually put a hindrance in our relationship that would functionally be just one way, God to us. We would certainly still show dependence like any child would, and that's always a good thing. But we wouldn't be able to grow in our knowledge and our understanding of the nature of who He is. But God has actually made us for that. That's what He's intended for us to be able to do. So we would rob our children or we would rob ourselves if we just were frozen in time in a place before we actually had the opportunity to mature. God doesn't design us to be frozen in time, He designs us to mature in time as we know Him. That's how He's designed us.
So, the reason that I bring that up is because the writer of Hebrews, when he's writing to this audience that he's writing to, he's actually trying to get after the same thing that I'm talking to you about now. That actually what he wants for them is he wants for them to be able to grow and to mature so that they know God. Not to be stuck, not to be frozen in time somewhere. In fact, when the writer of Hebrews is writing to this particular audience, the audience is a group of Jewish people who became believers in Jesus, thus the name of the book, Hebrews. Thanks, professor. That's why it's called that. It's a group of people with a Jewish background who have become followers of Jesus.
Now, there's a few things that we know about these people from the book itself. The actual, it's more like a letter, but from the letter itself we find out that because of all the Old Testament references in here, we know that he's writing to a bunch of Jewish people because they have an appreciation for that kind of thing. This book is probably more replete with Old Testament references than any other book in the entire New Testament. It is constantly referring to the Hebrew Scriptures because these are people from a Jewish background and they understand that, they get that and they respect it. And so the author is connecting that to help them see the beauty of who God is in Christ and what He has done through Messiah Jesus, and how that changes everything in terms of a new covenant from an old covenant. This is what he's intending to do.
We also know that these people that are being written to in the book of Hebrews probably have not met Jesus personally. You remember at the time of the writing of the New Testament there were a number of people and a number of places that had the opportunity to have seen Jesus and to have met Jesus. These were not some of them. In fact, in Hebrews chapter 2 listen to what the author says. He says: "How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him." In other words we weren't the ones that initially heard Him. Others like the apostles heard Him and confirmed to us what the Lord had said.
We also know at this time in the life of these Jewish believers that they had faced some sense of persecution but they had not yet had to die for their faith. Listen to what Hebrews 12 says, verse number 4. It says "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." See the idea there is that ultimately they have while faced persecution, they haven't yet gotten to the place where they're having to die for their faith. That likely would come in the years to follow the writing of this letter, but it hadn't occurred yet.
But what we see here is we see in this book constant repetitious warning, exhortation, encouragement, command, whatever you want to call it, to move forward and to not be stuck frozen in time. It's constant through the whole of the book of Hebrews, in fact just a quick survey if you look in chapter 2 verse number 1 the author says: "We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away". And then when you fast-forward into chapter 3 it says: "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." And then he talks about encouraging one another in that process. And then in chapter number 4: "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it." And then in chapter 12 it says: "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many".
So they're constantly warned, constantly encouraged, constantly exhorted not to be frozen in time or to fall back into a place, but to advance for the glory of God and for the sake of the gospel. Now why is this important? Well, what was the issue Jerry, what was going on, why were they doing these things? Well, the issue was, is that they were content to fall back and just roll themselves back up into the comfort of their culture. That was what they were content to do. Here's why. You see, as a Jewish person, which they were, who had become followers of Messiah, Jewish people in that particular time and context were not persecuted by the Roman empire. Those that were Jews actually had, the Jewish people had somewhat of an agreement. They were oppressed, certainly, but they weren't necessarily persecuted like those who were claiming to follow Messiah Jesus. They were looked at as a sect. They were looked at as dangerous. And so they were the ones that were being persecuted, not the Jews. So it was easy for those with a Jewish background to fall back into the routines and rituals and rhythms of what it meant to be a Jew instead of what it meant to follow Jesus who is the fulfillment of everything that the Jewish rituals had pointed to. Because now they can kind of avoid all of that. So, it was comfortable to them to kind of fall back into that area and as a result they were now stuck, basically frozen in time.
Now you and I both know that there's really no such thing as being frozen in time, even in our spiritual development. Either there's progress or there's regress. There's actually no standing still, right? You guys are here today, right? Okay, just making sure, because I'm actually just warming up the engines, I'm going to get loose in just a minute, alright? And I'm hoping that you'll stay with me. I promise to take my shoes off if I'm going to step on anybody's feet. It may hurt a little bit, but nonetheless I'm coming for you. Alright? Now, I don't think you'll be clapping later. I'm just saying. You might be, you might go yeah, no, no he's right. I'm not clapping. Not clapping. Alright, so, I just want to tell you the truth today, alright? And I want you to be able to receive it and be in a posture to be able to receive it. But I'm going to give you some things to be able to think on.
So here's what the author does. The author starts appealing when we start getting into chapter 4 and chapter 5 and chapter 6 and 7, the author starts appealing to something from the Old Testament to try and help his Jewish believing friends understand the glory of who Jesus is and what He's done. So they appeal to the idea of the Old Testament priesthood and they're trying, the author is trying to show these Jewish believers in Jesus why the Old Testament priesthood is very different from the great High Priest Jesus in terms of what He has done. They're falling back into some of these things, right? So he takes this idea of the Old Testament priesthood to try and help them see the beauty and the magnitude of what Jesus has done.
In fact, in chapters 7 he begins to articulate it. Listen to what he says in verse number, starting in verse number 11. Now stay with me here, okay? He says: "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood - and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood - why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar."
Pause. You remember that the priests were from a very specific tribe, right? From Aaron's line, from Levi, that tribe. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and no priest had ever come from that tribe. So he says, verse 14, "For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek (just a long story short, Melchizedek was with Abraham and Melchizedek didn't have a written genealogy of where he came from and all that stuff, so you didn't really know what tribe he was associated with or any of those things, and so he's comparing Jesus to the same type of priest that Melchizedek was who is not tied to a specific lineage. In other words, he can be priest of all, not just priest of some.)
So he says, "what we have said is more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. (The resurrected Jesus.) For it is declared: You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." And he's quoting from Psalm 110 here. "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless for the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope in introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but Jesus became a priest with an oath when God said to Him: The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind: You are a priest forever. Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of these priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely, or forever, those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever."
So you see, what he's doing here is he's helping them to understand. It's not a wise idea to fall back into the things that just pointed to the One who fulfills all of those things specifically as it relates to the Old Testament priesthood. But maybe you're in here and I just read that long passage and you just went what? Cool sort of. You would be the target audience of who the author of Hebrews is talking to. Because when he started this whole dialog about the priesthood, he had to stop right in the middle of it and explain why he's stopping. And this is what he said in Hebrews chapter 5 beginning in verse 11: "We have much to say about this," about what? About Jesus being along the order of Melchizedek who is going to be the great high priest and who can serve us perfectly and holy and sinless because He Himself gave Himself, not because He's continuing to give a sacrifice for sins but His person was the sacrifice for sins once for all and forever and for now the resurrected Jesus lives an indestructible life and He can intercede for you every single day. He's always present, always ready, always capable to be able to sustain you. "We've got much to say about this, but it's hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil."
So, I don't know if you would like this designation, the author of Hebrews actually refers to people in that particular position as basically adults with bottles. Grown-ups with diapers, men with pacifiers, whatever you want to say about that, he's basically not painting a pretty picture. He's basically talking about this is what the outcome of spiritual immaturity looks like. It actually inhibits you from being able to do anything. And he says we've got much to say about this but you're no longer trying to understand and some of your translations in verse 11 it says you are dull of hearing. Your hearing has been dulled. To what? To the truths of God. That's what he's talking about. To the truths of God's Word. You have grown dull in your hearing the truths of God's Word. And so ultimately he's saying if you don't get to a place where you actually know, understand and embody the truths of God's Word, you are going to be an adult with a bottle. You're going to be a grown-up with a pacifier. That's what you're going to be. And that will hamstring your relationship because even though you might feel like you're frozen in time you're not, you're regressing. You're regressing. And God's made you for more than that. He's actually made you to grow and to develop and to move forward, that's what He's made you for.
So what happens if we get to a place where if we don't know and understand, and embody the truths of God's Word, there's a few things that the author tells us will happen. We won't be able to first of all, direct others. Listen to what it says again in verse number 12, the very beginning of verse 12: "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again."
Here's the idea. The idea is not that everybody has to be a gifted teacher. In fact, the Bible actually warns about trying to go after doing that very thing, because it says not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters because you are going to face a stricter judgment, in case you wanted to sign up for that. I have to wear that backpack all the time. It's a heavy thing, right? There are people that will live and die believing what I tell them. That's why you find me always trying to stick to the text and stick it in your face and show you this is what God is saying. Because Jerry's opinions on life really are about as useless as anything else in the world. What matters is what God has said. And that's my responsibility to connect it to you.
Now, here's the thing. Not everybody is necessarily a gifted teacher that has a spiritual gift of teaching. But that's not what this is talking about. This is talking about our ability to take in the word of God and embody it in such a way that we can articulate to other people at the very least the basic truths of the gospel of what it means to know and follow Jesus. Hopefully even much more than that, but it also means not only can we articulate it, but we are embodying it and we can actually live it out. In other words, that you have an observable life that people can look at your life and say they live in a God-ward direction in the way that they have postured their very lives and I can learn from that. In fact, in some ways and shapes I can be influenced and even imitate that because I see them posture in a God-ward direction.
I mean think about it in your marriage, if you're married. Do people see a God-ward posture in your marriage? Do you know how to relate to one another? Do you know what the priorities should be in your marriage? Do you understand how to fight fair and how to deal with issues and not just deal personally? Do you know how to do all of those things? Because ultimately that's because we value the people that we're married to beyond just being a spouse but as a brother or sister in Christ potentially, if that's the case. And we show what the life of Jesus looks like in the context of a marriage in terms of how we handle ourselves, how we love, how we forgive, how we do all of those things.
What about in our business relationships potentially? Man, do you handle employers or employees in the way that you should or do you gossip and do you slander and you do all that? Do you show disloyalty, do you cheat them? Are you living in such a way that it's a God-ward direction where people can learn this is what the life of Christ looks like in this context.
Or maybe you're single and maybe it's a dating relationship and you're just kind of like yeah, we do what we want you know, we just kind of whatever. Do people actually glance at your life and go, ah, they just look like everybody else, they do what everybody else does. Or do they actually see a specific difference in who you are because of the way you are postured before God?
What about your stuff, your possessions? Do people look at your life and they say, you know what, they actually live with an eye on eternity. That they are not governed by their stuff and their possessions but they live with open hands to be able to fuel the work of the kingdom of God as opposed to just consuming it all on self, which is what everybody else does in the whole world.
Are you actually positioned to be able to direct others? That's what this is talking about because when we are in that kind of position we can positively affect the growth and expansion and revealing of the kingdom that's among us. But if we don't know, understand and embody the truths of God's Word we won't be able to do it.
We also won't be able to digest truth. Listen again to what the writer says in the second part of verse 12 and of verse 13. He says: "You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness".
You see ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, milk's good. I like it. I drink it, with cookies when I'm at Starbucks because I hate coffee, so that's what I do, right? Can I have a milk and cookie, they're like what? I'm like yeah, I don't want coffee, I don't like it. You're at Starbucks. I know, I had a meeting, I can't avoid it, so that's why I'm having milk and cookies. You got milk, right? They always look at me crazy you know, like well, I don't know if milk's really on our thing, oh you can put it in coffee, right? Why don't you take that and just put it in a cup. Hand it to me, right? I'll drink it. So yeah, I feel stupid doing it, but nonetheless.
Here's the thing. I like milk, but I'm not just going to live on it. You can't live on a bottle for life. That's not what you're intended to do. You're intended to progress, because you develop teeth and you start to grow and you start to process actual solid food. Why? Because if you are just on milk, you are going to be extraordinarily emaciated and weak if that's all you do. What you need is you need solid food. Why? Because solid is for the mature. When we can begin to digest the truth of God beyond just the front end. And by the way, the milk is a beautiful thing and in fact in the Scripture it's called the pure milk of God. It is a beautiful thing not to be cast aside. But we are not meant to live only on that. We have to process. Why? Because when we are chewing and digesting solid food, we now have nutrients in our faith to be able to support us and to strengthen us in terms of what we are doing. We have to get to a place where we can digest truth, not just the milk but actual solid food, meat where we can eat and we can be sustained and we can be filled and we can be empowered and we can be strengthened. But if we don't know and understand and embody the truth of God's Word, we can't do it.
You know what else we can't do? We can't distinguish between good and evil. If we don't know and understand and embody the truth of God's Word, we can't distinguish between evil. Listen to what verse number 14 says. It says "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil."
You see, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes we go through life and we feel our way. That's just what I feel I'm gonna' do, that's what I feel I'm gonna' do. Hey, okay, great. Sometimes your feelings are going to be right, sometimes your feelings are going to be woefully wrong, but they are not absolutely the best guide. God has given us kind of a general revelation in terms of giving us a conscience so we do have some sense of what is right and wrong. Generally speaking, by His divine providence He's given that to us. But we also know that consciences can be warped and can be seared according to the Scripture. Because we let other voices in so much that our consciences get all jacked up, and as a result we need an objective standard by which we can measure truth and understand what God is trying to tell us about Himself and about life and about fulfillment and about satisfaction and about His plans in the world and about His nature and about His character. This is where we will begin to understand the Word of God because in doing that, we can now start to distinguish between good and evil and truth and a lie.
David actually, when he was studying the Word he got to writing, he wrote a lot of the Psalms as you know, King David. And in one of those, Psalm 119 he just wrote about the Word the whole time. I mean it's like honey, mean ahh, he just loves it, right? And he actually said this in Psalm 119 verse number 11: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you God". You see, David understood that only when he knows and understands and begins to embody the truths of God's Word is he going to be in a posture where he understands the difference between unrighteousness and righteousness and doesn't grieve the heart of God because God is revealing Himself through this.
In fact, Jesus said something that I think is absolutely, everything Jesus said is brilliant, but when He said this in His prayer, His High Priestly prayer before He went to the cross in John chapter 17 Jesus said this, He's praying for His disciples, He says: "Sanctify them by the truth, your Word is truth". Moms, grandmothers you want a prayer to pray for your kids or your grandkids? Here's one: Sanctify them by your truth, set them apart by your truth, your Word is truth. You see, we just can't distinguish in our culture between good and evil and truth and a lie if we do not press in to knowing and understanding and embodying the truths of God's Word.
So I say all that to say, how did they get there? They were obviously there, right? He had to pause kind of midstream and just go what is the deal? How did they get there? Same way we get there. Laziness. I didn't just make that up. It's in the text. Listen to what he says toward the end of his dialogue in chapter 6 verse 11 and 12: "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
Now here's something that's interesting because this kind of conversation started in chapter 5 verse 11 and then you get down to chapter 6 verse 11 and 12 as well and you've got kind of this excursion where he's kind of breaking out, he's trying to explain something, he's like I've got to stop, right? Because I'm dealing with adults with bottles. I've got to stop. And in the beginning, in chapter 5 verse number 11 or 12 when it says you've become dull of hearing, that's the same word in the Greek for lazy. Same word there as it is at the very end, we don't want you to become lazy, dull, unable to process. Unable to know, understand and embody the truths of God's Word. We don't want you to get lazy.
You know what, this isn't the first church, by the way that had to deal with this. This church, wherever they were located that's being written to that were Jewish believers, not the first one that's ever had to deal with this. Do you know, even in the Scripture itself there were other churches that had to deal with this. Here's one, Corinth. I still sometimes, Corinth was nuts, man.
Like you know, every church has problems, including ours. We only have one and it's me. Other than that we don't have that many problems. Every church has problems because with, you know, in the words of some of the great theologians of the rap culture, mo' people, mo' problems, right? I just adapted that, it was mo' money, mo' problems. That can be the case too, but mo' people, mo' problems, right? Sometimes you just, if you study the great theologians like I do, you can have those quotes for your life too as well. That's just how it happens, right?
So, Corinth, they had some serious problems though. They were suing each other. They were involved in all kinds of you know, selfish ambition, trying to elevate their status among the, above other people. They wanted their gift to be really known and other people's to be less important. They were actually involved in all kind of sexual immorality to the point that they're talking about someone in the church who's sleeping with their mother. Happy Mother's Day. Welcome to Corinth. And that's why I still, sometimes I'm dumbfounded when I start thinking to myself as I'm driving through some kind of, you know out of the way places and I see these little churches in some little towns and it's like First Church of Corinth, and I'm going, for real? Like that's your best option at a name choice. First Church of Corinth, wow. I might have chosen something different.
So, what did he, what did Paul when he was writing to Corinth, here's the interesting thing, Paul founded the church, he left, he was gone for probably between two and four years and then he wrote to them a couple of different letters. And do you know that when he wrote to them his expectation over the course of two to four years, his expectation was that they were maturing, that was his expectation. But he was a little, he was a little upset.
Notice what he says, 1 Corinthians chapter 2, little bit of a long passage but stay with me: "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God's wisdom, a mystery that's been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love Him - these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him: But we have the mind of Christ. Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."
You hear the heartbreak in Paul's writing? His expectation over the course of between two and four years after he had founded the church there was that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, that they would grow in their knowledge and understanding and embodiment of the Word itself but they had lapsed back, they still remained spiritually immature and he still has to talk to them like they are infants and you can sense the heartbreak.
Now here's the thing. Paul actually in that when he's talking to Corinth quotes from the Old Testament when he says no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. And you're going wow, that's cool, He was just trying to encourage them about heaven. It didn't have anything to do with heaven. Nothing. You see, you probably understood that and you've talked about heaven in those contexts. By the way, it's still probably true when we talk about the idea of what's going to go on that that actually holds true, but that's not what Paul was using it for. In fact, if you read where he quoted from in the book of Isaiah here's what you'd see in Isaiah chapter 64: "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways". Paul wasn't talking about heaven, he was talking about Revelation. Not the book, but a revelation of who God is.
That ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, when we press in to the knowledge of who God is, the understanding of who God is and the embodiment of God in our life we have a revelation given by the Spirit that the world doesn't understand that this is what Paul is trying to help us to grab hold of, and what he wants us to be able to do is to get to place where we actually are forwarding the mission of God in the world because we are a people who are not still infants in our faith, but we have gotten to a place where we now because of our knowledge and our understanding and of our embodiment, our obedience to the truths of God's Word, we actually have lives that can direct other people to Jesus. We actually have kind of come to a place where we can discern the difference between truths and lies and good and evil. And we've gotten to a place where we can digest the richness of the truth of the glory of God and that that can be manifest in our life in such a way that the world around us can see it.
You see, this is really fundamental to our mission. This is fundamental to getting done what we are called to get done. We cannot get the mission of God done, that every man, woman and child withing our geography has a repeated opportunity to hear, to see, to taste, to touch, to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can't do that if we're all sitting around in diapers and in a playpen. We can't do it.
This is part of my concern. Part of my concern is that in the western church we are increasingly immature in our faith. Increasingly. And I'm all over the place in this country, I'm in a variety of different context, I'm talking to lots of people. I'm not saying this from a standpoint of just theory. I'm seeing it play out. And my concern is giving an accounting before the Lord in your own lives that we're not allowing us to just sit still or to be frozen back in time.
See ladies and gentlemen, this isn't a matter when it comes to knowing and understanding and embodying the truths of God's Word, this isn't a matter of can't. It's a matter of won't. This isn't a can't issue. This is a won't issue. We just won't, not that we can't, we just won't. How come? Well, maybe because just like the Jewish believers that are being addressed in the book of Hebrews who were falling back into the comfort of their culture, we've done the same thing. We've just fallen back into the comfort of our culture because we just don't want the hassle because it seems like there's a growing hostility around people who claim the name of Jesus. That they're losers or they're freaks or they're out of their minds or whatever. And there's some that claim the name of Jesus that probably fit some of those categories. But generally speaking we're a little afraid, right of some of those kinds of things and so we just fall back into our culture and here's the thing. We let our culture have a significantly louder voice than the truth of God. A significantly louder voice. This is not a can't issue, it's a won't issue.
If I hear somebody else say to me, Pastor Jerry, I just, you know I just can't you know, I just can't remember the Word. It's just too big for me. Yet, they can sing every lyric to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen, can stand toe to toe with Eminem when he's singing 'Lose Yourself' and there's like 40 million words in there. Can repeat every lyric of every song on every album of Coldplay or Rihanna or Beyonce, but I just can't, I can't remember the words. It's not can't, you won't. Not can't, won't.
Listen. I'm trying to chill out, it's Mother's Day. It makes me lose my mind, because it's not a can't issue, it's a won't issue. I mean we've grown so comfortable in our 140 character twitter-verse culture and text culture that that's all we can handle. We can't start plumbing the depths of the food that actually satisfies us and start posturing ourselves before God giving attention to the deep things of God, the things that set us free, the things that break our chains, the things that, the things that release us from strongholds, the things that actually teach us the truth of who God is because we've been so busy listening to the culture that we've fallen back into. That's why we, that's why we scroll through our social media platforms looking for the inspirational pithy saying of the day that will last about seven minutes and won't change your life while your Bible collects dust when it has the power to eternally transform you. We are actually trading in eternal transformation in the likeness of Jesus for temporary inspiration that help us on our Monday. That's a bad trade and it's significantly immature.
It's no wonder that our churches in the western culture are on the decline. We've got too many leaders who are more concerned about attracting followers on social media in any way that they can, like hey, it's just a little thing I want to tell you about what I'm having for lunch today. I don't care what you're having for lunch today, you need to tell people about Jesus and learn how to preach the gospel. It doesn't matter how much you do that. You are wasting my time. You are wasting everyone else's time thinking that you're going to somehow develop a cult of personality around a celebrity status. We have not been called as leaders to become celebrities. We have been called to be sacrificial servants who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ unashamed of the consequences so that we might be able to join Jesus in the process of presenting this bride before the Father as she ought to be presented. That's the job. Now, I don't necessarily say that because you know, you're doing the same job I am, you're preaching to yourself. I'm preaching to myself but I'm also preaching to a bunch of guys who are watching me. I'm preaching to a lot of us, but by the way, since you needed in on the action, sometimes those who sit in these places are really content to just be spoon-fed nothing but milk and sugar for their whole lives. Spoon-fed. Here's four keys to how you can have a better Thursday. Stop it! That's ridiculous. Preach the gospel of the glory of Christ and watch Him by the power of the Spirit transform people into His likeness because He has pre-ordained in His sovereign elective predestinating purposes that we would be conformed into the image of His Son. This is what God's design on our lives is. He desires for us to be people who are mature.
Write this down, I'm going to tell you in one sentence what I'm telling you in the whole message. If we are lazy in the Word, we are losing ground to the world. If we are lazy in the Word, we are losing ground to the world. I've got more to say and I don't have time to say it, but here's the thing. The world which is actually fueled by the enemy of your soul, this system that's set up to oppose you and to oppose the things of God is going to try and put into your world every distraction imaginable and possible so that you will lay off spending time in His Word. He does not want us to be in a position where we can actually by the strength of the Spirit of God in our lives direct others to follow Jesus, digest truth in such a way that we can distinguish between lies and truth and good and evil. He doesn't want that because he knows that is the church on mission setting the world upside down. That's what he knows. So he's going to put everything he can put in front of you.
So here's my question to you. What are you going to do, what are you going to do about what I just talked about. What are you going to do, what am I going to do? Let me give you a couple of things. Just for you to think about. The first thing is repent. If you have spent no time, you hardly spend any time in the truths of God's Word you know for sure that you're one of those, who you care more about other things than you really do about the truths of God's Word, own it. Acknowledge it. Confess. Repent. That means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Repent.
Then what? Then you do works to give evidence of repentance. In other words, you need a plan. So what's that going to look like? I don't know, we give you, we give you something every single week. Every week. You've got passages of Scripture on there where you can spend time in the Word connected to the thoughts that I'm actually teaching on a Sunday. You can actually do that. We've given you a plan, maybe it's not the best plan, but it is a plan. Maybe you can find a devotional book that actually uses the Word of God and not just people's thoughts about stuff. Uses the Word of God and you can let that sit on you and you can let that saturate in your heart. Maybe you could choose that way. Maybe it's a reading plan where you want to read through the Bible in a year, whatever. I don't care what it is, I've had so many people say to me, well, you know, they've asked me about that and I've given them options, I just don't know if that one fits me, I don't know if this one works, here's the thing. I like what I'm doing better than what you're not doing. A lot better. Do something! Whatever it is, just do something because until we get to a place where we know and we understand and we begin to embody and obey the truths of God's Word we are going to be sucking our thumbs in a corner unable to communicate with a world that desperately needs Jesus.
Lastly, maybe you're saying, wow man, I'm glad this message wasn't meant for me because I read my Bible all the time. Okay, cool. Believe me, I'm delighted that's the case. But let me offer you something. Does your obedience level match your knowledge level of the Word? Or are you all know and no do? The most dangerous people I know, the most dangerous people I know are not atheists, are not people who are just sinning rampantly who don't know Jesus. They're not the most dangerous people in this culture. It's people who know all about the Word and who look nothing like the One the Word reveals. They're dangerous. Don't be that person. Your job and my job is that our obedience level and our knowledge level are roughly the same.
That's a tall order for some of us, so maybe we need to come pressing back in and start asking questions about what idols we've set up in our lives, what other affections that we have in our lives, that maybe we need God to deal with because when you're in a process of repenting before God where you've chosen to believe a lie, or you've chosen to love other things and have affections for other things, those are idols that get set up in your heart and you need to ask Jesus just to tear them down. That you'd start taking every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus and then in doing that you know what you can also ask Him, and listen He's so good to us.
You can also ask Him would you give me a want to? You say that's kind of a weird prayer. Not at all. It's a really smart prayer. Would you give me a want to? You can dress it up in whatever you want. I want a hunger in a fest. If you want to go Shakespearean with God you can, He knows what you're talking about though. You want to want Him. God would you help me want to want you. And I can't do that just independently by feeling my way through life. I've got to do that with an objective standard of how you have led the prophets of old and the apostles that walked with Jesus empowered by your Spirit to leave truth that would saturate every generation. to teach us who you are. I want to want to know you, but I confess that I have loved other things and other gods before you.
Let's not give the world any more ground, ladies and gentlemen. Let's mature, let's grow, let's continue because we've given enough ground to the world. Let's pray.
Before you leave, if you've never trusted your life to Jesus, you've never come to a place of repentance of sin and faith in Jesus for what He's done on the cross, paying for your sin and rising from the dead, I encourage you to come by the Fireside Room in just a minute when we leave. We'd love to tell you, talk to you about what it means to follow Christ.
Father, for those of us who claim to know you, I pray that you would write the words of your own Word on our hearts and that we would hide your Word in our heart that we might not sin against you. But even greater, that we might actually be a light that's not hidden under a basket but that would demonstrate your glory in the world so that people can see our lives and learn from them. That we can actually direct others. That we would be in a position that we can actually digest the truth of who you are, God and not just sit as infants in a playpen and that we can distinguish between lies and truth, between good and evil so that we can hear the voice of the culture that we live in calling out for one thing but we recognize because of your truth and because of who You are that we're called to live differently. And we do this, God, because this is the mission you've called us to and this is to your own glory that the world may see. The world needs to see less of us and more of Jesus, so as we're conformed into your image, we know that that is to your glory so help us today, God. Grant repentance where we need it and grant grace to fill in what we are confessing and renouncing would you fill in with hunger and thirst to know you. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
God bless you folks. Moms, Happy Mother's Day.