The Betweener and the Victor
By Gary Denbow
Dec. 9, 2012
Prolonged adolescence is a problem today. I have especially noted a desire among a few graduates to continue to be students, with no added responsibility and a reticence to face the need to get permanent jobs and properly support themselves.
Likewise, I believe, there are believers who, for one reason or another, have never grown up spiritually. They are what I would call “betweeners.” Here’s how one conversation explains it.
I once heard a preacher say, “Most Christians are ‘betweeners.’”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“They are between Egypt and Canaan — out of the place of danger, but not yet into the place of rest and rich inheritance,” he replied. “They are between Good Friday and Easter Sunday — saved by the blood but not yet enjoying newness of resurrection life.”
For the Children of Israel, victory was not complete when they escaped Egypt and wandered toward the Promised Land. Victory was ultimately found in Canaan, the land of their inheritance. And for the believer, victory at the Cross is only the beginning. Yes, it is the blood of Christ that washes away our sins. But the Cross is part of a process. The next step in that process is newness of life. I don’t want to live between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I want to walk in newness of life every day.
Hebrews 5:11 through 6:1 addresses people we can call betweeners. There was so much of life in Christ that they were not experiencing. The writer of Hebrews had experienced the fullness of Jesus and His love. He strongly desired that his readers would also experience the fullness of life in Christ.
Hence, the writer chides them. He corrects them. Here is a summation of his corrective statements to them.
Open your ears!
The writer of Hebrews is trying to teach the recipients of this letter all about the high-priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. But before he can finish the lesson, he finds the people have become “dull of hearing.” He is not making reference to their acuity. The implication is these people are unwilling to open their ears to learn.
Nearly 30 times in the Gospels and Book of Revelation, Jesus challenges those who can hear to be willing to hear. Being willing to listen to Him speak is vital to the process of doing His will.
Note also that so much of our faith comes through listening. Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV). And when Paul enumerates the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11), over half of them have a verbal element. Without listening, we will miss out on what God is saying to us.
Establish the basics
To grow up in the faith, to become spiritually mature, it is necessary to settle on a statement of faith. Hebrews 6:1,2, provides a list of six items that, when believed by faith, will help in the process of moving from a betweener to a victor.
Now is a good time to ask ourselves what we really believe about salvation, the operation of faith, water baptism, and the laying on of hands for prayer, as well as healing, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. My suggestion is to take your Bible, find a comfortable, secluded place, and wrestle with any biblical issues you might have until your faith is aligned with biblical truth.
Learn to chew and swallow
Every parent gets frustrated with the process of putting food into a child’s mouth, only to have that food end up on the wall, the floor or even the ceiling. Babies have to be taught how to deal with solid food.
Likewise, believers have to develop a desire to eat the “meat” of the Word of God. The Bible is a book that grows richer as we study it more and more.
If you will diligently read the Word, meditate on the Word, speak the Word, and stand on the Word, you will mature into what you commit yourself to study.
Review your contract often
The Bible is a book of covenants. We know them generally as old and new, but even within the Old Testament and the New Testament there are covenants made with individuals, groups and even nations.
This we do know: All of God’s covenants were offered on His terms. People in the Bible were given the opportunity to accept or reject.
The same is true today. I have decided I will accept God’s terms. Thus, I can expect God’s benefits to flow my way.
My walk with God and my trust in Him have led me to make a vow. I will simply believe what God has proclaimed to be so. I will claim what God has said is mine. And if God has made a promise in His Word, I choose to believe that promise over any other report I receive.
Train your senses with Scripture
Hebrews 5:14 states a person who is maturing in the faith needs to have his or her senses trained to discern good and evil. All five senses are mentioned in Scripture.
I already cited one: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11:15).
The Psalmist cried, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18, NIV). Victors are those who see, by eyes of faith, beyond what is readily apparent.
Psalm 34:8 records: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” The mature believer will have his or her tastes trained to savor the good things of God. He or she will also have become trained to be repulsed by the evil that tempts believers to turn away from God.
Have you ever cried out like the woman, cited in Mark 5, who stretched out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe? The mature believer will know how to pray until contact with Jesus is established. He or she will persist in prayer until the answer comes.
There is an interesting lesson in the first chapter of Leviticus. God was pleased with the aroma of the altar during the process of the offering of sacrifice. This says to me that I need to train my senses to delight in the things that please God. The mature believer must learn to delight in the things that please God and to enjoy the same things that God enjoys.
Press on to maturity
There is a wonderful experience waiting for you when you take your first step toward the promise God has extended to you. Moving out of comfort zones is never easy. But God has not called us to live on Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Our Lord has risen. And the power that raised Him from the dead fills us now — to give us power and strength to grow up, stand up and move on toward victory over that which threatens to defeat us. Join me. We’ll make the trip together!
GARY DENBOW is president of Central Bible College (Assemblies of God) in Springfield, Mo.
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