We Must Mature in the Faith
The Preacher is talking about serious matters. He wants these believers to understand what benefits come to them through our Lord’s high priestly ministry at the Father’s Right Hand, such benefits as should encourage them to persevere through the fiery trial that awaits them. Our Lord has not only forgiven us through his shed blood but empowers us to stand in the day of temptation and trouble and with such promises to carry us to life eternal. But he must pause for a moment in his sermon to admonish and warn them. We need to hear warnings from time to time. Why? Because our sinful natures tend towards complacency. And when we are complacent, we drift, and can eventually fall away without even being aware of our slide—so subtle are the devil’s stratagems. He is just as happy to lull us to sleep as to launch with a frontal assault.
The Christian is to grow in grace, not remain a babe in Christ. He must be about the work of killing sin and cultivating virtue within. And his progress must be visible to the brethren and even to those with eyes to see on the outside (1 Timothy 3:7; 4:15).
But to do even this much, there must be teaching in the doctrines of the Christian faith. I know there are people who think “theology” is boring and even unnecessary—that all we need to do is love one another. But we have seen in our society, and even worse in churches, how words such as “love” can become empty shells which the ignorant fill with their own meaning. There is also a fear that “doctrine divides.” Yes, it does. But that makes it no less necessary if we are to grow in the faith. “But,” someone else may say, “it’s so impractical.” Not at all. If one were to study the doctrine of the Trinity, for instance, and the work of each person in the work of redemption, he might be amazed how eminently practical is this noble revelation. Or, as I shared just yesterday, how the Holy Spirit’s filling of our Lord guarded his human nature and thereby wonder how the Spirit’s filling of ourselves might guard us. Or, in the case of the Preacher, how our Lord’s priestly ministry at the Right Hand bestows strength and power that we dismiss at our peril.
The Preacher tells us that growth in grace (which I am defining as both knowledge and application of doctrine to life) is how we mature—the measure of which is that we acquire “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” And he thinks a right understanding of our Lord’s priestly ministry aids this. How very theological!