Wednesday, August 7, 2013

By this time you ought to be teachers

Hebrews 5:12, “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 God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

Frankly, there is an appalling lack of knowledge in modern congregations.

There are ministers who cannot preach on a moment's notice. Most claim to need at least twenty hours to craft a good sermon. Yet even with such preparation, all that is usually proven is that they know how to do an internet search and how to copy and paste information. Very little modern preaching shows a command of the Scriptures. In order to "preach the word ... in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2), one must know the word ... in season and out of season.

Then there are the abundance of shepherds who have a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible at best. Even though such men should be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2) … even though it is their task to equip the saints for the work of service (Ephesians 4:12) … even though they should be “able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9) … most elders know very little of the Scriptures, and probably wouldn't be able to teach a Sunday School lesson without their teacher's quarterly.

Then there are the members of the congregation, many of whom have been Christians for years. How long exactly does it take for the Spirit to record “by this time you ought to be teachers”? One year? Five? Fifty? How long does it take to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ” and “press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1)? How long does it take to be weaned from the milk and take in “solid food”?

As Christians, we should be “filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). Being well trained by our leaders, we should “all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

What excuse then will we offer before heaven for remaining willfully ignorant of God's word? “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.[2] For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, [3] how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3).

How indeed? How will we escape this tainted world with our soul intact if the word of the Lord is not “a lamp unto [our] feet and a light unto [our] path” (Psalm 119:105)? Do you not believe that the Lord is serious about His word? Jesus Himself said, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).

The apostle's position in Hebrews 5 is one of chastisement for an improper position before the Lord. There is no excuse for remaining in a state of ignorance, especially when the Lord has worked so diligently to reveal His will to us. Therefore, “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The only ones who should still act like babies … are babies.

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