These next two sermons in our “What I Believe and Why” series have to do with spiritual growth. Next week we focus on being a part of helping others come closer to the Lord. Today we speak to something even more basic to the faith—our own individual spiritual growth. The book of Hebrews is a “word of exhortation” (Heb. 13:22) sent to people who were in danger of giving up on the faith. Throughout the book there are challenging and encouraging words that are just as vital for us as we seek to remain faithful to our Lord all our lives. Today we will read a section from the book that deals with the lack of spiritual growth and calls on the hearers of these words to train themselves through constant use of God’s Word (Heb. 5:11-6:3). Here are some very appropriate thoughts on this subject from Certain Hope: An Encouraging Word from Hebrews by Dr. Gary Holloway of Lipscomb University.
The point is that our walk with God should be a consistent one. We should grow in faith, knowing that the alternative to growth is not stability, but stagnation and death. The Hebrews had stagnated in their spiritual growth. “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!” (Heb. 5:12) They had failed to grow as they should. They had neglected God’s word. They should be sharing that word with others but instead needed a refresher course themselves. They were slipping, in danger of falling away from God…Here our service to God is measured by our continued service to others. We will not fall away from him if we stay close to one another. We are to feed on God’s word—on meat, not milk. But spiritual growth is measured not just in how much Scripture we know, but how much we practice. We know God’s will by doing God’s will. His will is for us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and bring them the good news of Jesus. Few on earth may know the good work we do, but God will know…There are two ways: the way of neglect that leads to spiritual immaturity, falling away from God, and crucifying Christ afresh; or the way of growth that leads to solid spiritual food, service to others, and being remembered by God. All who are Christian have started down the second path of obedience. The question is: will we continue? What does it take to continue on the path to God? Faith, patience, diligence. “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Heb. 6:11-12)…Hebrews is a word of encouragement. The encouraging word here is that we can be sure of our hope. How can we be sure? By continuing our service to others, by showing diligence in our walk with God, and by continuing to trust Jesus for salvation until the very end.”
And then Dr. Holloway brings some important questions for us to ask and apply to ourselves.
How’s your walk with God, your run with Jesus? Did you begin well and then begin to tire? Have you taken your eye off the goal? Have you slowed or even stopped in your spiritual growth? Do you serve those in need as you once did? If you’ve stopped on the path, it’s not too late to start again. Assurance of victory can be yours, can be ours—but only if we shake off our sluggishness and turn back to God. (pp. 76-80)