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DEVOTIONS FROM HEBREWS A PREVAILING PROBLEM Part Three Evaluating the
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DEVOTIONS FROM HEBREWS
A PREVAILING PROBLEM
Evaluating the Problem.
By Henry Jaegers
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have a need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5: 11-14)
In verse 11, Paul recognizes the need to discontinue this teaching on the priesthood because people are beginning to show signs of resistance. Fortunately, Paul understands the need to stop and discontinue the teaching and instead evaluate the reason for the resistance to his teaching.
It is a good sign when the pastor or teacher recognizes the need to stop when recognizing the disinterest of the people on the subject to which he is pursuing.
There is a word that I would like to emphasize at this time which is a very important word. It is the word "understanding". We may acquire a great deal of knowledge and truth, but if we do not have understanding it's like planting a seed in the ground that cannot germinate and bring forth fruit. So the first thing Paul needs to do is understand why the resistance is taking place. Of course, understanding does not always come through reasoning, debate or study. Understanding requires that we asked the question of who, where, why, when, what and how and sometimes it means that we have to ask all of them at the same time.
But now, think of what Paul is up against. He is speaking to a group of people who are thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament teachings. They hold them in high esteem along with the teachings of the prophets and the ministries of angels. They believe them to the point that they are willing to die to defend those truths (and that is not always bad).
What Paul is trying to do is transitionalizees their thinking and help them to see how their present knowledge relates to what he is trying to teach them. We all know, that the Old Testament ordinances were shadows of that which is to come, and we know also from our past understanding of Scripture that the body to which those shadows pointed was Jesus Christ. This is where the problem begins. Some of those things that they were taught were mixed with interpretations, speculations, matters of opinion and other human elements used to explain them. Of these things the new believers have been taught, they are unable to divorce those extra things that came along with the foundational truths to which they held.
When learning new truths in the Scriptures, very often we are forced to evaluate the things that we have been taught in the past and sometimes, we must remove them because they stand in the way of our embracing truth. You see, they thought those extra teachings and opinions were part of the foundational truths to which they held.
Over the years (60 in my experience) I have had to face this problem myself many times. In my desire to understand truth as God intended me to know it, it often involved re-evaluating the things that people are trying to teach me that are questionable because they do not line up with the clear teachings of Scripture. I understand it is a painful thing to have to change. Sometimes we suffer some type of persecution and rejection by those who taught them to us and we have fears of that happening. Sometimes those people who taught us those things lacked understanding themselves but they have become our friends and to forsake what they taught us is interpreted as forsaking them.
Have you ever had to face that experience? Perhaps that is an important part of our Christian growth. When we are convinced that embracing truth is the most important thing we have to do, then rejection by others who do not agree may be part of the trial of our faith. It takes courage to turn away from teachings that we find are interpretations of scripture that make clear teachings fuzzy. Before we evaluate others as "cowards", we must understand the difficulty there is in having to face change. That is what the word "compassion" means. And in these verses, Paul displays compassion by taking time to understand and evaluate the problem. I want to impart this idea. Understanding requires time, patience, sometimes soul-searching on our part, and sometimes evaluating our motives. We'll talk more about the importance of "understanding".
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