power train

July 10, 2016

thinking over feeling

Christian growth requires laying a foundation of doctrine and then building on it.

In Hebrews 6:1, the author exhorts his readers to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ” and “press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation….” Then he mentions six things that comprise the foundational, elementary teachings. By leaving these things, he is not suggesting that they are no longer important and should be left behind. Rather, he is saying that once you lay a proper foundation, don’t go back and dig it up again and again. Move on, building your life on that foundation.

There are differing views of how to interpret these six things. Some argue that they refer solely to Jewish, Old Testament issues. Others say that they relate to the basics of Christianity. Still others mix these categories. They are arranged in three pairs.

*Repentance from dead works and faith toward God—The phrase “dead works” occurs only here and in 9:14, which talks about the blood of Jesus cleansing our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. All spiritual works of the unbeliever are dead works because they either originate from souls that are spiritually dead or they result in final spiritual death if the person trusts in them for eternal life. In a Jewish setting, dead works refer to “external and self-righteous compliance with the requirements of the law” (P. Hughes, p. 197). If the Jew boasted in his keeping the ceremonial law, or even in his outward compliance with the Ten Commandments, and thought that those works would gain him eternal life, he was in for a rude awakening (Mark 10:17-22; Matt. 5:27-48).

Repentance from dead works and faith toward God are at the heart of the gospel (Mark 1:15). You cannot separate the two. You cannot trust Christ as Savior without turning from sin. The person who turns from sin trusts Christ as his only hope. As to why the author says, “faith toward God,” rather than “Christ,” Philip Hughes answers, “the purpose of Christ’s coming was to bring mankind back to that attitude of spontaneous trustfulness toward God, departure from which led to our condition of fallenness and alienation. It is through the mediation of the Son that we return to the Father…” (p. 198).

*Instruction about washings and laying on of hands”—These phrases are difficult to understand. Some say that “instructions about washings” (Greek = baptismon) refers to teaching about the various ceremonial cleansings in the Old Testament, along with the various baptisms in the New (the baptism of John, of Christ, of the apostles, of the Holy Spirit). “Laying on of hands” would then refer to the conferring of spiritual blessings or gifts early in one’s Christian experience. Charles Simeon (Expository Outlines of the Whole Bible [Zondervan], 19:227) has a different view, that these two phrases are parenthetical and explanatory of the first two. By “washings,” he understands the various cleansings of the law, which pointed ahead to cleansing from sin and dead works through repentance. By “laying on of hands,” he understands the laying of hands on the head of the sacrificial victim before it was offered, pointing ahead to the believer’s faith in Christ as his sacrifice for sin. I would not be dogmatic, but it is an interesting possibility.

*The resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment—These are basic teachings of the gospel, that everyone will be raised, either to eternal life or to eternal judgment (John 5:24-29). As Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15, if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised and our entire faith is in vain.

But the point is, as a believer you must learn basic Bible doctrines and then build upon the foundation. Studying one of the classic catechisms or statements of faith will help you lay a foundation. But then go deeper. Read some books on doctrine or theology.

Don’t be silent, share your faith, wear Christian Jewelry, tshirts, bring your bible to work, learn the basics, be ready to share, argue, point out, but don’t be silent.

Christian lives matter

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com for comments, questions, prayer requests.

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