We are to be childlike in our faith, but not childish. Unless we mature we will fail to discern truth from distortions. We will miss the differences between right and wrong and slide back to the point that we actually need to have the simplest doctrines reiterated to us so that we might walk in the truth.
The third warning in Hebrews is to Jewish Christians who haven’t matured in Christ, and have even become dull of hearing. The author is lamenting that these Christians haven’t moved beyond the basics in understanding following Christ. “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.” (Hebrews 5:11-13)
These people, through the hardness of their hearts and the dullness of their hearing have forgotten the most basic things about God and His Word. They have lost ground, and have returned to an infantile state. “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again.” (Heb. 5:14-61a)
If we don’t continue to grow in God’s truth, we remain stuck in infancy, where we will not have the mind for discernment. “And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” (Heb. 6:3-6) There is no need for Jesus to be nailed to cross again. He finished His work for our redemption. We must make the commitment to take the next step.
As we grow out of our spiritual infancy and into “adulthood” we learn how to handle the Word of God. We learn to read, interpret, apply, and obey the Word, and to talk with Him daily in prayer. It takes wisdom to be equipped for His service, which comes as we deepen our relationship with Him. As our relationship deepens, He will continue to perfect us. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
As we are to be equipped to do “every good work”, we must mature. “So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph. 4:11-14) If we don’t mature we are in danger of discerning incorrectly.
Our works do not save us, but they will be tested. “Their work will be shown for what it is, because the [Judgment] Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:13) There is only way to come to the Father, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8)
We have a promise that if we abide in Him, He will complete His work within us. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6) So let us move forward in our faith so that we are able to be used in God’s service. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)