Posts Tagged ‘training in righteousness’

Hebrews 6 – Maturing in Messiah

“Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s’mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do” (Hebrews 6:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible).  

The Maturing Seed

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

In the Parable about the sower, Yeshua mentions four ways the seed of God’s Word is planted in the hearts of people. The first seed lands by the path, but is stolen by the Adversary who keeps the individual  from hearing the message of salvation and receiving it by faith.   Another seed lands on rocks, but never takes root.  When this individual’s faith is tested, they fall away from the truth.  The third seed is choked by thorns. The fourth seed falls on rich soil and the individual hears the message with a receptive heart and through perseverance brings forth a harvest.

The third seed is choked by thorns.  Because of the worries of life, desire for riches and personal pleasures, the seed in this individual’s heart does not mature.  The phrase ‘they go on their way’ implies they do not follow the ways of God, but their own ways or the ways of the godless.   In Matthew 6:31-33, Yeshua describes what the godless worry about:  food, drink and clothing.  God knows we need these things, but we must have the proper perspective of seeking God first so we follow the Way that He has designed for our lives.  When we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, the thorns will not longer choke His Word from our lives and we will mature.

Infants and Milk

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  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!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

A physical infant needs the nourishment of milk.  It can either drink from its mother’s breast or have formula.  Even without parenting, an infant will grow up into adulthood.    A spiritual infant, however, can remain a spiritual infant.  Formula, manmade milk, will never mature a spiritual infant.  They need the spiritual milk of the Word that teaches them about righteousness and righteous living to transform from being a baby into a mature adult (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In the Hebrew ‘righteousness’  is tzadek and means ‘honest, right, and true.’ In Greek the word is dikaiosyne and means ‘doing what is right’.   The word ‘training’ in 2 Timothy is the present progressive tense showing that righteousness is not given to us automatically, but is an ongoing process throughout our lives while we learn to live rightly, to be honest and true.  After years of knowing the faith, these Hebrew believers should be teachers, but are still stuck in the elementary teachings.

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Messiah…. You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly and are you not walking like mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

In Corinth, Sha’ul addresses the believers as infants.  They are still babes who cannot digest the solid food in the Word. They are unspiritual worldly immature men and women. They have not learned to discern good from evil.  They remain untaught, unable to be corrected and definitely not trained in righteousness.  Like toddlers, they throw tantrums that are rooted in a lack of discipline (discipleship) jealousy and quarrel.  The only way for them to grow up into maturity is to digest the spiritual milk and begin to chew on solid food.

The Maturing Believer

“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” (Ephesians 4:14).

An infant is tossed around by every ‘wind of teaching’ and ‘cunning craftiness’ of those who lead them.  This deceitful and scheming work of the Adversary consistently tries to kill the seed of the Word.   Foolish arguments do not advance the work of God nor bring unity of faith; they are unprofitable and useless for maturing a believer (Titus 3:9).

“So Messiah 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 Messiah 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 Messiah” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Only sound doctrine gives an infant what it needs to grow into maturity. A growing believer will not listen to those who teach what their ‘itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  They will study the Word of God and learn to discern false teachers, prophets and messiahs and not be led astray by their feel-good teachings.  They will come to understand that a walk of faith encompasses more than Yeshua’s death on the cross. They will study his Words in the context of his Father’s instructions and learn to walk in His ways just as Yeshua did.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

A maturing believer depends completely on the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of God) not only to  transform their heart, but also their mind and soul  (Philippians 3:20-21).   They will stop living according to the evil ways of the world and leave behind their godless traditions and lifestyles.  Old thought patterns will be discarded until they can see God’s will for their lives – the good, pleasing and perfect will of their heavenly Father.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:4-6).

The power of God’s Spirit in Yeshua enabled him to walk fully in the Spirit with the wisdom of his Father.   Because of the Spirit of God in him, he was able to oppose the Adversary, heal those who were sick, and raise the dead (Acts 10:38). The power of God’s Ruach HaKodesh gives us the same wisdom to overcome sin and discern good from evil.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Messiah Yeshua took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 3:12-14).

Maturing believers press on toward a heavenly goal that has a reward.  Sha’ul is not talking about being justified before God because he was already born again into the Kingdom. He is writing about growing into maturity and receiving the reward of glory, the Bride of Yeshua, that will be given with our Bridgroom’s return.  Sha’ul strains (and trains) for what is ahead.  Straining implies struggling, laboring, toiling, and making every exhaustive effort to reach a goal.  Sha’ul desires the prize of Messiah more than anything else in his life.

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).

When Yeshua returns, he will reward each person according to the work they have done on the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets.  He will test each person’s building materials with fire.  If an individual builds using gold, silver and costly stones, their work will stand; but if an individual builds with wood, hay or straw, their work will be destroyed.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah. Some will use gold, silver or precious stones in building on this foundation; while others will use wood, grass or straw. But each one’s work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire — the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire(1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Persevering Through Trials

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Maturity comes through persevering through trials, the seed that has not fallen on the rock, but taken root in good soil.  As we focus on the prize, family, friends, well-meaning pastors, teachers of elementary truths and the Adversary will try to inhibit our race to the goal line. To stay on track, we must always look to Yeshua, the Rabbi of Rabbis, who taught us that ‘man doesn’t live on bread alone,’ but on the solid food of the Word of God – the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings.   As we leave our spiritual childhood, we must leave behind the milk toast of infanthood so we can receive a glorious eternal reward.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:32-36).

Maturing believers in Messiah live in the assurance of what they have attained in their walk of faith through effort, persistence, perseverance, and progression. They eat the meat of the Word by using the whole counsel and wisdom of God’s Word to learn His good, pleasing and perfect will for their daily life.  They walk in the power of the Ruach HaKodesh putting behind the ways of the world and their fleshly desires.  Even when trials are placed in their path, they don’t stumble and fall or lose their way.  They look to Yeshua who is their hope for resurrection.  They run the race toward the goal focused on the prize the Bridegroom will bring with him when he returns to marry not an infant tossed around by every wind of doctrine, but a mature Bride who has trained herself in righteousness.

“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:12-16).

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