First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, March 5, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“It’s Time to Grow Up!”
Psalm 1; Hebrews 5:11-14
If you examine your walk with the Lord, you will find yourself either growing up or going backward. There is no such a thing as being static in our spiritual development because we either move forward or slip back. It is almost impossible to stand still.
It was this very concern that prompted the writer to the Hebrews to interrupt his treatise on Christ being the believer’s High Priest in order to exhort his readers to grow up. It seems to me that this was of great concern to the writer. And why not? You and I know that one of the classic evidences of life (of any kind) is growth. When something ceases to grow it is usually dead, and this is the writer’s great concern.
The writer of Hebrews has warned his audience of the danger of neglecting so great salvation. The Hebrew community has heard the truth and it is now their responsibility to embrace the truth. Sadly, they have been sluggish in doing so, and so, rather than advancing in the faith, they are now regressing.
This, of course, is always a lurking danger for the Christian, for if we are not like Christian in John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress, then we may find ourselves like Demas in C. S. Lewis’, The Pilgrim’s Regress. The passage we are examining this morning, Hebrews 5:11-14, makes this abundantly clear. My goal this morning is to encourage, exhort and equip us to grow up in Christ, specifically by a willingness to openly identify with Christ, regardless of the cost.
The author of Hebrews wouldn’t let it go. He wanted to address this issue. “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing,” says the writer in Hebrews 5:11. “Sluggish in hearing … or dull of hearing.” As a preacher, and after all those years, I can tell when my audience lose interest or become sluggish in hearing.
Though the Hebrews writer is having one of those moments, he pauses to challenge them, among other things, to pay attention and examine their interest in Christ. Their dullness of hearing was hindering their ability to see Christ in the old covenant and was affecting their appreciation of the glory of the new covenant.
The problem is that dullness, that sluggish, that disinterest, will certainly hinder our growing up in our love for and devotion to Christ. We need to regain our appreciation of the gospel of the grace of God. Only then will we have the aptitude to grow up. God’s will for each and everyone of His children to mature in Christ. In our everyday life, we can be prone to a life of spiritual laziness where our desire and zeal to mature in Christ gets pushed to the back burner. Two observations as we reflect on this topic this Second Sunday in Lent:
First: To Grow in Christ, We Must War against Spiritual Laziness
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing,” says the writer in Hebrews 5:11. The Lord has so much in store for us, but we will never attain it unless we war against spiritual laziness. There is a discipleship crisis in the church that has left many Christians with an immature faith that fails to glorify God and starves them from experiencing the joy of salvation and fullness of life that Christ promised his people.
The dullness of hearing isn’t an ear issue, it’s a heart issue. It’s important to notice that the author of Hebrews says, “they have become dull of hearing.” That means they weren’t always this way, but it was something they had allowed to happen. And because they had allowed themselves to become dull of hearing because of their lack of urgency to live out their faith, something terrible happened in their spiritual growth. Growing complacent in our faith, floating along, giving little attention, giving less effort to following Jesus is deadly. May we war against spiritual laziness.
Second: To Grow in Christ, We Must Feed on God’s Word
The Word of God is instrumental in our spiritual growth. It’s our spiritual nourishment. When we were infants in the faith, the truth of God’s Word was our diet. Over time, we should be growing and maturing enough to start some solid food. We grow from the ABC’s of Christianity to the core doctrines that are foundation of our faith.
It’s the believer’s craving for deeper truths that enrich and deepen our understanding of the things of God. So solid food in the life of the Christian is not new theology, per-say, it is deeper, richer theology. Let me give you an example of what we mean by the milk and solid food. The milk would be the truth that Jesus atones for our sins. The solid food is seeing Jesus as our Great High priest who atoned for our sins once and for all, and therefore, He is superior to all the Old Testament priesthood and rituals.
The Word of God, the word of righteousness, helps us to discern good from evil. It helps us to discern right from wrong. It helps us to mature as followers of Christ and grow in Christlikeness. The more we study, the more we spend time in God’s Word, the more our powers of discernment will be trained. The more we come to church and hear the preaching of God’s Word, the more we will be able to differentiate good from evil. Don’t underestimate the cumulative effect of coming to church on Sunday, and on reading your Bible every day, and engaging in some spiritual disciplines. There is power in repetition and training that comes with that.
Friends, let’s keep growing in our knowledge of the truth. Keep growing as a follower of Jesus. The great enemy of the Christian faith isn’t apostasy; it’s stagnancy. There is simply no such thing as a static Christian. We either move forward or fall back. We are either climbing or falling. We are either winning or losing. Static, status quo Christianity is a delusion!” Spiritual growth doesn’t happen automatically; it takes deliberate effort along with God’s enabling. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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