We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 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. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
“Milk” is for infants in Christ. It is the elementary teachings of following Jesus: faith, repentance, baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. “Solid food” is for those maturing in Jesus Christ, those who are older in the faith… who have walked a few seasons with the Lord. Solid food is the teaching about righteousness. By it disciples have “train themselves” to distinguish good from evil. Just as biologically we cannot remain as infants, so spiritually God’s intention is for us to grow. “And God permitting, we will do so!”
Some want to say that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and Scripture certainly supports that (Ephesians 2:8-10), except the ‘alone’ part. The New Testament has close to 20 different ‘things’ that ‘save you.’ “The blood of Christ saves you… baptism now saves you… you are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” These are easily all expressions of God’s grace. What’s striking about the text in Hebrews is that those things are all the elementary teachings of Christ. Those things are MILK! We are to move on from these things into maturity. Not that we forget or throw away those things, but we don’t remain transfixed on them day after day. They are the foundation. The Gospel that brings salvation is to be built upon, leading us into maturity in Christ. Leading us to ‘look’ like Him.
The ‘grace alone’ camp wants to (and does) say that there’s nothing that we do in this salvation… which is true, except when you apply it to spiritual maturity. There are all kinds of things that WE are to DO in the training of righteousness in our lives. The text said that through solid food the mature ones ‘by contant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’ (5:14). Trained themselves?? Apparently.
It might be helpful to use, or at least think about, those two really big theological words: Justification and Sanctification.
Justification happens in an instant when the blood of Christ is applied to a person’s life. By grace they are saved… right then! It is ‘just as if’ they had never sinned.
Sanctification is the growing process of becoming like Jesus. This happens over a life time. This is maturing in Christ. This is a huge expectation here in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament. The grace of God is so life-changing, remaining the same is unthinkable… it’s impossible! We grow into this righteousness that Christ has already provided for us.
In my reading of the New Testament, the sanctification process has salvation implications. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father” (Matthew 7:21). Read Hebrews 6:4-6.
Solid food is for the mature and by constant use are training themselves… everyday I need to be in God’s Word, constantly using it… growing in the faith and in righteousness.
Father, I pursue You today. Make me more like Jesus is my prayer.