12 Although you should have been teachers by now, you need someone to teach you an introduction to the basics about God’s message. You have come to the place where you need milk instead of solid food. – Hebrews 5:12 CEB
When it comes to the Scriptures, I am learning not to say “I have learned” but rather that “I am learning”. Every time I think I have “learned” something, the Holy Spirit opens up more of the Scripture. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get out of kindergarten. But we all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. That is a good start, but we have to build from there. The basics of God’s Word is the plan of salvation. Paul is saying there is more to our relationship with Jesus than that. After we have accepted Jesus and our salvation is secure, it is time to start to study Scripture and develop habits that will help us to mature in our walk with Jesus. Meditating on God’s Word, prayer and time alone with God is how we grow. The world is our classroom and the Holy Spirit is our instructor. We can take the short route to the Promised Land by studying and being obedient or we can be like the children of Israel and spend 40 years making an 11 day trip. And, remember, of all of those that spent 40 years making the trip, only two actually got to enter into the Promised Land. Let us choose to be like Joshua and Caleb. God has prepared us to take the land and it is time to move out.
30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” — Numbers 13:30
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Paul compares our salvation to a seed that is planted. When a seed is planted in dry ground, it must be watered regularly and continually. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He plants a seed of His love in our heart. For that love to grow, it needs to be watered by the washing of the Word on a regular basis. The soil needs to be exposed to the sun so it will be warm enough for the seed to germinate. The seed that is planted in us must be exposed to the Son for it to germinate. If we spend time in the Word, God the Holy Spirit will cause that love to grow. Our hearts will become more tender toward God and our fellow human beings. How fast this change takes place depends on how much time we spend taking in the food and the water of the Word. If God is the one who makes the seed sprout and grow, then doesn’t it make sense that the seed has to be exposed to God on a regular basis. We do that by spending time alone with God. While the names of the people that we allow to plant and water the seed are not important, their words and messages are very important. Be sure the seed is good (only the name of Jesus) and that the water does not contain impurities that will hurt the young plant.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Over the centuries, Christians have received a lot of criticism because many have tried to predict the time when Jesus will return. Jesus specifically told us in His Word that no one but the Father knew the day and the hour. Even so, it is our eternal hope and we look forward expectantly for His return. It is certainly true that regardless of when, we know that the completion of our salvation “is nearer now than when we first believed”. We don’t need to waste our time and energy on trying to figure out when Jesus will return. We don’t need to waste out time trying to gratify the flesh which can never get enough. Yes, everyone needs to earn a living and take care of those things that God has made us stewards over, But, and much more importantly, we need to spend a lot more of the time God has allotted us here on earth in worshiping God, praising God and disciplining others to be ready at all times. We are never on neutral ground, we are in a war zone constantly. We need to fight the good fight clothed with the armor of God and the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”— Hebrews 10:36, 37 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
When Paul came to a new town, it was usually his practice to preach first to the Jews, if any were living there, and then to the Gentiles. This was the case in Galatia. Of course, the newly converted Jews would be under pressure from the religious leaders to turn back to the law and the old covenant. The newly converted Gentiles would be pressured by the local leaders to turn back to their practice of worshiping idols. The leaders were zealous in trying to turn the people back to these old ways but for the wrong reason. Both the religious leaders and the local leaders were dependent on the people for their livelihood. Paul says it is good to be zealous for the right reasons, but they must be strong enough to stand even when he is not with them. Since they were not able to stand alone, he must now treat them again as babies in Christ. Today, we have the same situation because we “go and make converts” and then we leave them to fend for themselves.Jesus said to “go and make disciples”. Receiving Jesus as your Savior without any further instructions is not likely to make many disciples. Mentoring others takes a lot of love, patience, kindness, and time.
Sometimes, even when you know what someone thinks of you, it hurts to hear them verbalize it. After three years of being with the disciples, I wonder how Jesus felt when he heard Philip say that he still needed to see the Father to believe that Jesus was who He said He was. You can almost hear the disappointment in His voice as He asks; “Do you still not know me, Philip?” If you can’t believe what I say, at least, believe because of what you have seen me do. When we have walked with Jesus for years and then we deny Him by our words or our actions, I imagine He feels the same hurt and disappointment that He felt then. I think if we could see His face at that very moment, it would bring tears to our eyes and us to our knees in repentance. Still, we are forgiven, just as Philip was that day. We can rejoice in the knowledge that His great love for us will never allow anyone or anything to take us out of His hand. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.–John 17:12 (NASB) He is still holding onto each of us that God has given Him to keep. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees.—Romans 8:24 (NASB) So, just believe!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. — Hebrews 12:7-11 NIV
As babes and young children, we submitted to the discipline of our human parents. We accepted their teaching and corrections on a daily basis. Our human parents corrected us using the standards they thought to be best for us. As we grew older and our own personalities developed, some of us tended to disagree with some of the points and rebel to some degree. In some points, we may have been right and in some points, we were probably wrong. As we grow older, we no longer look to our human parents to discipline us.
When we became (or become) babes in Christ, we need to submit ourselves to the teaching and corrections of the Holy Spirit. His discipline is always for our good, even though we may not agree with it at the time. We may question the timing and the why of some of the discipline that God allows us to go through. We need to understand that what we are going through is a part of the sanctification process The two big differences in being children of human parents and being children of the living God are these:
1. Human parents are sometimes wrong, God is always right.
2. As humans, we grow more and need our parents’ corrections less and less. We study to get our degrees in various occupation. As Spiritual children, we mature and in that process, we learn that we need Jesus more and more, not less and less. When it comes to learning about God and His Word, I seriously doubt than many of us ever make it through kindergarten, much less earn any degrees.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.–John 16: 7, 13,14 NIV
Jesus had been a Friend, Teacher, Mentor, and Guide for the disciples for the better part of 3 years. Now in In preparing His disciples for His departure, Jesus tells them He is leaving for their good. What could possible be better than walking with Jesus? Who would lead them in His absence? Who would talk with them? Who would strengthen and encourage them now? Jesus told them there is an Advocate coming to do all this for them. The Spirit of Truth that would guide them into all truth. Just as Jesus had said about Himself, He also says about the Holy Spirit.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.–John 5:19 NIV
Why would this be better? As a human, Jesus could only be in one place at one time. He could only teach those within the sound of His voice. The Holy Spirit is not bound by human restraints. He lives inside of each of us and can be everywhere at once. Just think of it, God’s Powerful Spirit (GPS, if you will) with His own network that reaches everywhere and is never out of contact with you or His home station. Powerful enough to direct every human on earth at one time. So, if you are feeling lost, confused or needing encouragement, just stop and listen to the GPS inside you.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?—1 Cor. 4:18-21 NIV
Paul is really concerned about the puffed up and arrogant attitude some of the Christians at Corinth have developed. This example of the things happening at Corinth is a great reminder for us not to bring people to Jesus and then leave them as “babes in Christ”. It is very important that we take the time to mentor and disciple them in a Holy lifestyle. New converts do not understand the dangers of following the flesh any more than a newborn understands what he/she needs. They just know they are hungry and they need a parent to give them the right food. So do new converts. They need someone to make sure they are getting the right message until they get past the “milk of the Word’ .The Kingdom of God is not just a matter of talking and walking but it is a matter of the power of God and that power must be understood and used properly. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.—1 Cor. 2 :4,5 NIV
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”–John 10:17,18 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as our guide, but He will never make us do anything against our own will. We have the power and the authority to make the same decision that Jesus made. We can decide to hold onto our earthly, physical lives if that is what we want or we can decide to put our lives on the cross that Jesus gives us to bear. We will never do this as long as our own pride and other people’s opinions of us are more important than pleasing God. There is one funeral that we all need to attend and that is the death and burial of our fleshly desires. Anything that we put above our love and obedience for God has to be removed. It is a decision that Jesus had to make and so must we. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus ended His prayer with “not My will but thine be done”. So should our prayer be as well. 44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.–Luke 23:44-46 (NIV)
Are we ready to commit our whole lives, mind, soul, body, and spirit into the hands of God? The way of the cross leads home, but we have to go through the cross, the blood and the darkness to get there.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews.—Gal. 2:11-14 (NASB)
Paul continues his crusade to help people to understand the freedom they now have since Jesus fulfilled the law. New converts then and now are not compelled to travel to Jerusalem and make sacrifices each year nor are we expected to meet any requirements of the law. We are required to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, strength, mind and body. If we do this, we will see changes in our lifestyle. Not because of some written laws but because the love of God constrains us. We respond to the love of God. It is His love for us that keeps us. 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.–Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6 (NASB)
Our focus is not to be on requiring others to take communion as often as we do or if they worship more reverently or loudly than we do (I could go on but you get the picture). We should be focused on making disciples that obey Jesus because they love Him, not in making clones that worship and/or serve like we do.