Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
AS I BECOME OLDER, I ALSO SEEM TO BECOME MORE ENLIGHTENED
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
11 FEBRUARY 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
"I have believed in Jesus Christ almost all of my life, but as I become older, I also seem to become more enlightened."
This is a paraphrase of a quotation that I understand that someone in our church made, and I find it to be both enlightening and encouraging.
More often, I hear statements like: "As I get older, I also get more forgetful."
Do these statements contradict each other?
Let me pose something for you to consider: When we are young, do we have as much to try to remember as when we are older?
The answer is simply no.
So then, if we forget something when we are 10 years old, we just seem to pass it off.
But by the time we are 50 or 60 or 70, or even older, we should be able to forget 5 or 6 or 7 or more times as many things as we did when we were 10, correct?
But if we really think about it, we don't really forget that much.
Because of our enlightenment.
When we are young, and receive a taste of enlightenment, we often seem to also believe that we have all the answers and know best; and in so doing this, we close out further enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom.
And sometimes our parents and others who have influence over us hide the truth from us and even lie to us about certain things and situations.
An example of this is the horrible pain and suffering that all food and fur animals have inflicted upon them in order to satisfy human lusts and desires.
As a result, these children grow up to be indifferent to the pain and suffering of these animals, which excludes the truth and enlightenment.
It is only when we allow ourselves to receive full understanding, that wisdom develops and our enlightenment becomes even brighter, for our wisdom shows us how to apply our enlightenment.
And this can occur any time in our lives – when we are young or when we are old. It just requires our willingness.
Thus, through this expanded exercising of our minds, we seem to remember even more and become more enlightened.
In the book of Hebrews, beginning in chapter 5, verse 11, the writer is warning us about being careful that we do not fall away from Christ.
In other words, if we do not exercise our enlightenment in Jesus Christ, we may forget Him, or become indifferent to His teachings.
The writer is trying to explain about the priesthood of Christ being like that of the Melchizedek, a priesthood without beginning or end; and the people were obviously having a problem understanding, for he says:
11. Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
12. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Isn't this very much like the life of many people? They stop exercising their brains and their physical bodies, and they begin to deteriorate.
Sure, there are diseases that cause our deterioration, but our susceptibility to them is much less if we eat a whole plant food diet, and we are filled with the joy of the Lord and are actively living that joy.
But some people never seem to want to grow up:
13. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
14. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
But what is the milk and the solid food of our maturing and becoming more enlightened in Jesus Christ?
The answer may surprise you.
As we continue with verse 6:1, let's look at what we are told:
1. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2. of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3. And this we shall do, if God permits.
If we have once been enlightened into the saving grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we are to build upon it as one would build a house upon a foundation.
We are not to spend all our lives in the foundation, for we will become bored and slip away.
But we are to build upon it.
We are to learn new things and take pleasure in what we do, so that our joy may be made full.
As an example, it gives us such a wonderful feeling to know that no animal had to suffer or die for us to live and enjoy our abundant plant food diet.
And at the same time we have the pleasure of knowing that we are living in the heavenly will of God, for there is no suffering or death in heaven, and we are helping to bring our Father's heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven.
And our joy will be made full if all that we do is done to the glory of God.
4. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5. and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6. and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.
Our enlightenment, as well as our very life, is like a lit oil lamp that has the power to shed its light to others. But if additional oil is not added, it will eventually burn out.
Our true enlightenment comes when our wisdom tells us that we must continually add this new oil.
In other words, we must receive all that the Holy Spirit has for us, so that we might continue to build upon our beginning foundation and shed our own light in the process.
There is an old German expression that says: "We grow too soon old, and we grow too late smart!"
And there is another quotation that says: "Youth is wasted on the young!"
I can understand what my unknown friend means when she says: “As I become older, I also seem to become more enlightened.”
Even among the youth, I see enlightenment and wisdom and growth.
And I have become very encouraged by them, from their active participation on the council, from their desire to build, and the wisdom they have expressed at our meetings.
Youth does not seem to be wasted on them.
The writer of Hebrews continues:
7. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;
8. but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
This is a warning to those who do not want to receive of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and who live in the ways of the world; and it is an encouragement to all who desire to receive from the Lord and build upon it.
And since we are talking about enlightenment and wisdom of different generations, what do you think future generations will say about our generation?
In Deuteronomy 29:22-28, listen to what Moses tells us about other generations:
22. "Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it, will say,
23. 'All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.'
24. "And all the nations shall say, 'Why has the Lord done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?'
25. "Then men shall say, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.
26. 'And they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them.
27. Therefore, the anger of the Lord burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book;
28. and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is to this day.'
The Israelites, of whom this passage is speaking, knew all the truths about God, and those truths had laid a foundation for them just as has been laid for us; but they didn't build upon it.
These people, like many of us today, let the things of the world around them distract them away form the illumination of God, until the light grew dim; and with some it may even have gone out.
I heard those young members if our council say that: "With youth activities, it isn't just having teenagers with teenagers, but it should include teenagers with the younger kids, as big brothers and sisters, so that they could set a proper example for them."
That comment is like committing to the architectural plans of a big building
project, and it is also committing to a very personal building project within
themselves; for what they are proposing won't work unless they set the proper
example by living a Christ-like life themselves, both in church and out of
And this leadership that they are expressing, if they follow through with it, will set a pattern for them for the rest of their lives as leaders and encouragers.
But their expression of leadership is also a cry for our help as well. They have some wonderful ideas, and they want to find the avenues for carrying them out; and each of us holds the keys to the access routes.
Are we going to freely open up to them, let them enter in, and truly work with them to help their ideas become successful?
Then we all may become more enlightened! I pray that we will all become part of this and other spiritual building projects.
I really do pray this!