You Ought to Be Teachers! (7)
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5.14
Into the deep water of truth
In chapters 1-4, the writer of Hebrews was galloping along at a brisk pace in his epistle, presenting the claims of Jesus Christ to be our great High Priest and Savior and His superiority over the old faith of the readers’ Jewish forebears. He was trying to keep his readers, who, because of persecution, had begun thinking about going back to Judaism, from falling away from what they had come to believe. He knew they were stuck on the milk of Christian instruction, and that this was not sufficient to help them endure as followers of Jesus in the face of trials. They needed to reaffirm what they had heard by putting into practice everything they already knew, not by slinking back from their confession, for only then would they be able to move on to the kind of maturity that stays the course for Jesus.
Apparently, they were not strong enough to encourage one another to persevere in their faith and hang in there for Jesus (chapter 3). Rather than teach and encourage one another, and bear witness to their persecutors, they were starting to lapse into quietude and to regress into unbelief. If they didn’t check this, they would be found out not to have been saved in the first place.
But they needed more than the milk of Christian teaching to persevere as followers of Jesus. They needed to learn the deeper truths of Scripture if they were to hold firm their confession of faith in Jesus Christ, come what may (Heb. 5). Yet the evidence was that they were not quite ready for it.
So, in chapters 5 and 6, the writer interrupted his eloquent defense of the doctrine of Christ to chide his readers for shrinking back from their profession rather than continuing to live and proclaim the faith. The disciples needed to press on in their own walk with the Lord, so that they would be able to teach one another and help their fellow disciples stand fast in their confession.
Then, having re-established their footing in the faith and encouraged them with the evidence of their assurance, in chapter 7 the writer launched into the deep water of the life of faith, fully confident that his readers – real disciples all – would be able to follow along.
An eight-letter four-letter word
He began to serve them, in other words, the solid food of faith, for this solid food was what they needed to grow in their faith and encourage one another in love and good works (Heb. 10.24), to follow in the footsteps of great saints (Heb. 11), and to stand firm as witnesses for Christ (Heb. 12.1, 2).
If we feel our own faith faltering, or if we’ve become too comfortable with just the basics of belief, we need to move on to the sound doctrine and solid food that alone can help us to become disciples who are making disciples.
In our day doctrine has become an eight-letter, four-letter word. Ask a believer what his favorite doctrine is, and he’ll probably wrinkle his nose and decline to respond. Some pastors openly rail against doctrine as not what the Church needs these days. Apparently, doctrine was what the Church needed in the first century, but now we don’t seem to require it as much?
Without sound doctrine, consistently taught, faithfully believed, and diligently lived, we shall not have the strength to persevere in faith and hold firm to the end our convictions concerning Jesus Christ. More likely, we will be tossed about and carried about by enticing but false winds of teaching, that will drive us off course in our journey with the Lord. Granted, sound doctrine can be tough sailing – “hard to explain” and understand (Heb. 5.11) – but that does not excuse the mature disciple from pressing on to learn it.
Feed on the solid food!
We need to hear, understand, embrace, and feed on the great doctrines of the Christian faith, so that we can grow strong in the Lord and the power of His might, and bear the fruit sound doctrine can produce in lives of holiness, witness, and mutual edification. Especially, we need to be instructed in the glories and greatness of the Kingdom of God, and of life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, taking every thought captive for obedience to Jesus, restoring the reconciled world, making all things new, and making disciples as we are going on in life.
Mature Christians hunger for solid food, deep and mysterious doctrines of faith that re-focus our minds, refresh our hearts, refurbish our consciences, revamp our vision, and revive our lives in true witness for Jesus Christ. Filled and nourished with the truths of God’s Word, we will be ready for every opportunity to encourage a fellow believer or speak the truth in love to an unsaved friend. This is because the truth on which we journey, which fuels our souls and fills our sails, cannot be contained. It will well up, overflow, and issue forth in rivers of living water, so that we cannot not teach the things of Christ to the people to whom He sends us.
We will not be able to fulfill our calling to teach others and to bear witness for the Lord until we begin feeding consistently on the great doctrines of God’s Word. Feed on the Word of God, daily reading, meditating, and going deeper into the great truths of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Search out reliable teachers from the past and present, whose writings can bring you through the deep waters of sound doctrine into the brighter light of a richer, fuller faith. Find some fellow disciples who will study with you. Talk often with Christian friends about what you’re learning, and give praise and thanks to God as your understanding of our great salvation grows.
When the Word of God is truly the joy and rejoicing of our heart (Jer. 15.16), we’ll begin to know more of the savor and power of that solid food, and we’ll be more ready and able to teach and share the Good News of Jesus with others.
1. Why do you suppose many Christians have a negative attitude toward doctrine? What is doctrine?
2. How would you describe the relationship between learning sound doctrine and fulfilling your calling to teach others?
3. What could you do to help ensure you had a steadier diet of doctrine in your walk with the Lord?
Next steps – Preparation: How might you improve your time in the Word of God to make sure you are always going deeper, learning more, and making good use of the solid food of God’s Word? Talk with some of your fellow believers about this question.
T. M. Moore
You can download all the studies in this series, “Disciples Making Disciples,” by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.