7 FOUNDATIONAL EXPERIENCES FOR ALL BELIEVERS (PART 4)

What’s up everyone!

During our last installment in this in depth look at Hebrews 6:1-3 and what are known as the Seven Foundational Experiences for all Believers, we briefly delved into what is meant by “laying the foundation” and started to unpack the first of the seven foundational experiences which is “repentance from dead works“. Remember that “the foundation” we are exhorted to not lay again is considered to consist of the “elementary principles” of Christ. Kevin J.Conner in his work the Doctrine of Christ, refers to these as “steps” or “elementals” and as “the first principles of the oracles (sayings, Scriptures) of God (Heb. 5:12), the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1) and the Word of the Beginning of Christ (Heb. 6:1 margin). He says, “these are the steps unto perfection. It is the walk of the believer ‘in Christ’. Step by step (Psa. 119:133). And the steps of the doctrine of Christ are to bring the believer to the very throne of God, the throne of perfection.” I also value the perspective of Sam Soleyn, who in describing the culture of the family of God, says that these “Elementary Doctrines are the building blocks of this culture, meant to be cultivated in the life of every believer. From infancy to maturity, these principles unfold with greater and greater complexity throughout the believer’s life. The result is a unified corpus, with many parts, that is capable of presenting a standard of righteousness in the earth.” One can obviously see how critical these all are and the importance of going on from them to maturity or perfection in Christ.

Recall that the third of this particular series of posts for our insight pertained to “repentance“. Here we will invest our time looking at what are “dead works“. We are told specifically to repent of these; of “dead works“. Here are a few cross references for this phrase (Heb 9:14; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 2:1,5). But what are these “dead works” from which we are to repent? Let’s look at each word separately.

Dead (3498) (nekros from nékus = a corpse; English – necropsy, necrophobia, etc) refers to that which lacks life and spiritually speaks of works that “have no life” for they will not endure the test of God’s refining fire. They are works wrought by the flesh not by faith.

Works (2041) (ergon; used 10 times in Hebrews) refers to toil as an effort or occupation . Hebrews 9:14 gives us insight into what the writer is speaking of here. It reads, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” As humans we tend to resort to fleshly works to alleviate our guilty consciences hoping we can do something that will make us acceptable to the Lord. But this verse warns us to trust in the finished work of Christ knowing that His blood will satisfy the requirements of the Father and by faith in Him cleanse our conscience from dead works and enable us to serve the Living God by and through His means.

Conner in his exposition of the Book of Hebrews says “dead works” have a twofold aspect: a) The “dead works” of the sinner concerning recovery of self, works of the flesh (Gal. 5:17-21) and b) The “dead works” of the religious, but unregenerate, at recovery of self, the works of the Law. All are lifeless forms, works of self-life. Dead works are works done before salvation in order to earn salvation and righteousness by works. The works of the Law, ceremonies, rituals, ordinances – dead works – could not produce righteousness or life.” So, in essence a dead work is anything not done in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A dead work is anything we do, even though they may be good things, in any effort to win the favor of God. All of our works, which are not done in union with Christ or from our dependence on the Holy Spirit are nothing more than works of the flesh! Any effort or attempt we make in and of ourselves and minus Him is a dead work!

So, the writer to the Hebrews was instructing his hearers to turn away from dead works and to put their faith in God! They were being told not to trust Old Covenant rituals and beneficent acts as a means of making or proving themselves worthy before God. Christ had done the work! They now had to accept His work and live out of its reality and no longer attempt to “work” their way into salvation or the good pleasure of the Lord.

Several places in scripture address this as well. The Apostle Paul wrote in Gal. 3:3-6, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Paul also writes in Eph. 2:8, 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

The bottom line becomes visible to us: we are cease from doing anything not born of faith and place the gift of faith that we have been given in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anytime we find ourselves engaging in dead works, those not of faith in Christ, we must REPENT to God. One more way, we can all stay on target!

 

BONUS POST – 7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers (Part 2a)

What’s up Everyone!

We are continuing our study of the Seven Foundational Experiences for All Believers, I believe it is helpful for us to also see what the writer is saying as he articulates these elementary doctrines. I was led to add this additional teaching focusing in on the portion of the verse “...not laying again…Listed below is the initial verse in various translations.

Hebrews 6:1- “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,” (NASB: Lockman)

Wuest: Therefore, having put away once for all the beginning word of the Messiah [the first testament in animal blood, i.e., the Mosaic economy], let us be carried along to that which is complete [the new testament in Jesus’ blood], not again laying down a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Eerdmans)

Amplified: THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

We want to pick up where we left off in the previous post and take a close look at what is meant by “…not laying again the foundation…”

Spurgeon says of this phrase, “Let us make sure that the foundation is laid, but let us not have continually to lay it again. Let us go on believing and repenting, as we have done; but let us not have to begin believing and begin repenting. Let us go on to something beyond that stage of experience. The writer desired to proceed to the exposition of the doctrine of Christ’s priesthood, but he takes a “short detour” explaining to them that Christian maturity is not to be attained by going back to subjects which belong to the ABC’s, and which in context seem to favor primarily teachings of the Old covenant.” The original recipients and those of us who read this passage today are being urged to have the proper foundation, the one and only foundation which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself laid into us and then to build accurately and biblically from there.

Specifically, they are admonished to “not lay again…”. The word for laying (2598) (kataballo from katá = down + bállo = throw cast) means to cast down, to throw to the ground, and here figuratively of a spiritual foundation to be put or laid down. The idea was to lay something down with the implication of permanence. The present tense speaks of this as what should characterize one’s lifestyle. Our stability as believers takes its rise out of our foundation which is the Person of Jesus Christ Himself and nothing else!

Again (3825) (palin) means to return to a position or state, and as here denoting a falling back into a previous state or a return to a previous activity. We do not want to be guilty of seeking to lay Christ again as the foundation for who we are in Him unless the initial efforts where inaccurate or incomplete.

Foundation (2310) (themelios form théma = that which is laid down) means something laid or put down, that on which a structure is built or a stone used in the construction of a foundation. It was used literally of buildings foundation (foundation stone Rev 21:14). Thayer adds “metaphorically, the foundations, beginnings, first principles, of an institution or system of truth (as what is necessary for belief or practice): 1 Cor 3:11, 12; the rudiments, first principles, of Christian life and knowledge, Heb 6:1; a course of instruction begun by a teacher, Rom 15:20… the Septuagint several times also for a palace (Isa 25:2, Jer 6:5, Amos 1:4, etc).”

So the Hebrews were being exhorted to not keep on putting down or laying down that which comprise the first principles of Christ. They were to get it and get it right and then build from there upon the doctrines of Christ!

To properly raise a structure, a solid foundation must first be set in place. This foundation in order to be solid and stable must rest upon a proper “bedrock” or “footing”. For the believer, the one and only “bedrock” is a revelation of the Person of the Father Himself and His Fatherhood. And the one and only foundation is a revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ Himself and His Sonship. The Person of the Christ, as the one and only foundation, takes His rise out of this proper and accurate and comprehensive revelation of the Father and His Fatherhood. Scripture teaches us that there is no other foundation which can be laid except Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). We understand that the Church is erected, built upon the revelation of Christ laid by the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Christ is at once the foundation, the cornerstone and the capstone. And all biblical growth or building must take its rise from Him as the one and only foundation!

Here are some additional references on “foundation” which help to bring greater understanding as it pertains to the first principles of Christ as well. (Mt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49; Mt. 16:17-19; 1 Cor. 3:9-15; Num. 32:22-33; Rom. 15:20; Luke 14:29; Psa. 11:3; Isa. 28:16; Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21:14-19)

My friend and mentor, Christopher Patrick Johnson writes concerning the primary work of apostles and prophets of laying Jesus Himself as the foundation first, according to Rom. 16:25-27, “Jesus Christ must be firmly established as the foundation and cornerstone from the scriptures themselves before prophets confirm and add to that biblical revelation through prophetic revelations of the Christ given to them by the Spirit.” Meaning, the Hebrews were being commanded to follow the order of building defined by the Chief Architect Himself (see 1 Cor 12:28) and to not stop with or continue to lay again that which should have been foundational and initially laid by the work of the apostles and prophets. They were to submit to His sequence for building and to go on from there.

Just like in a construction project, it is efficient and proper to only lay the foundation of what is being built once. After that, unless the original foundation was faulty, we do not continue to dig up, destroy and begin again with a new or another foundation. No, quite the contrary! We go on with the remainder of the building from the foundation up. This is exactly how the Father builds. From the foundation up and from the inside out. So much more can be shared concerning this. My prayer is that you get the general thought by now.

I urge you to have one with a true apostolic grace to check your foundation. Ideally, you are built upon Christ and are building properly from there. Until next time, stay on target!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 4)

Hello Family!

We are making our way through this brief teaching concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! I encourage you to include exhortations in your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 4. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Search the Scriptures

Here is the fourth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. These will not appear in any order of priority.

Speak (His Word, to One Another and in tongues) – It is vitally important that now and always, we speak His Word, we speak (in edifying ways) to one another and that we speak or pray in tongues. The power of the Word of God is among many ways unleashed when we speak it aloud and hear ourselves speaking His Word (Rom. 10:14-17). It is important as we journey through life that we say what He has said and what He is saying. It behooves us to speak or confess or better yet, to same thing as He does. Our desire should be to have a uniform testimony with Him and His Word. The Lord Jesus Christ is our example in this (Matt. 4:1-10).

We should also speak to one another. Scripture teaches us in Eph. 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification (building up), that it may impart grace to the hearer.” It also tells us in Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” So, not only should we speak to one another, we need to be mindful and godly in our speech as well as edifying, encouraging and spiritually inspiring!

Lastly, we should speak or pray in tongues. Jude 20 does not use this phrase, to speak in tongues. But it does command us to build ourselves “up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:28) There are similarities between Romans 8:28 and other verses that specifically articulate our speaking in tongues. See Acts. 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:10, 11; 14:2, 15; Eph. 6:18). The point of all of this is that we will thrive spiritually if we speak His Word, speak to one another and speak or pray in tongues! #Thrive!

A Particular Set of Characteristics (Pt. 2)

What’s up Good People?

We have been progressing our way through Ephesians 4:13 – “till we all come to (attain to) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;“. Our aim continues to be the establishment of this verse as the TARGET for us all as it pertains to the work of 5-fold ministry and the Church. God our Father continues to desire a FAMILY OF SONS just like His Son, Jesus Christ. This verse speaks clearly to that aim! He also intends to provide His Son Jesus, with a BODY & a BRIDE. And He will bless the Holy Spirit with a TEMPLE & a HABITATION. Ephesians 4:13 then defines the direction His Church is headed, “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

As we have seen in the last several posts pertaining to this subject, there is a definite time frame – “til” or until, a specified people – “we all“, and last we saw an appointed destination – “come to or attain“. Last time, we began to look into “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” which is the focus of the remainder of the verse – “the unity of the faith and the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

We are utilizing the phrase “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” to describe this three dimensional destination for all in the Body of Christ. God’s people are not an aimless people, engaging in a endless series of spiritual exercises with no ultimate target or aim! No, we have been given a common eternal destiny which is captured by these three specific aspects. We are called to:

  1. the unity of the faith
  2. the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God
  3. to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

We shared concerning “the unity of the faith“ that “unity” (1775) (henotes from heís = one + genitive of henós = of one) articulates a oneness or unanimity. This oneness and harmony among believers is possible only when it is built on the firm foundation of sound doctrine. The only other use of henotes is Ep 4:3 where the unity of the Spirit is stated as a present position and possession that we must work to maintain. Also in this context the phrase “the faith” (the definite article “the” indicating not just any belief system but a very specific belief) refers to the content of what is believed. Although this is the Greek word “pistis” (4101) which means one’s trust or belief and thus their conviction of the truth of anything. Here “the faith” is the entire body of revealed truth or doctrine that constitutes Christian teaching. See Jude 3. Occurring 38 times, the specific phrase “the faith” is used nearly fifty-percent of the time to refer not to the EXERCISE of believing but rather to the CONTENT of what is actually believed by the saints. WHAT or the content which actually believed is the appropriate usage that the present context provides. The first mention of “the faith” referring to the body of doctrine believed by the saints is found in Acts, “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) Additional references include: Acts 14:21, 22, 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 3:9,4:1 5:8 6:10). Finally, we spoke this first aspect of this particular set of characteristics looking at the entire phrase: “To the unity of the faith” – the oneness our text speaks of is attained when a singular body of doctrinal truth (“the faith”) is embraced, and is implemented in the Body of Christ. Earlier Paul specified the importance of “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) being given to us and makes an additional point here is that the Church must attain the goal of appropriating all that is contained in the “one faith”. The divine aim here becomes practical in the sense that the Church can never attain unity apart from doctrinal oneness.  Summarizing this aspect: it becomes apparent to the reader that where the Church becomes divide is along the line of the faith. We require unity as it pertains to the faith and it is from this oneness that the Body is to be and become all the Father has desired. This requires the much needed and required ministry of the 5-fold gifts as well as the applied knowledge of this oneness of the faith being a target we all must attain.

This brings us to the second aspect of this particular set of characteristics, “the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God“. We are not only called to the unity of the faith, but we are equally called to the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God. We are called to be united in a similar sense as to the faith now to unity relative to the knowledge of the Son of God. But what does this mean? What does this look like? Let’s begin by saying that this is now a part of the work of the post-ascension gift apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. Specifically, to bring the Church to this destination of knowing the Son of God.

Knowledge (1922) (epignosis: from epí = upon + ginosko = to know) is a strengthened form of gnosis (1108) and conveys the thought of a more full, larger and thorough knowledge. Epígnosis also conveys the idea of an intimate and personal relationship. Epígnosis refers to exact, complete, thorough, accurate, experiential knowledge, not just abstract, intellectual, head knowledge of God or even facts about Him. Epígnosis always describes moral and religious knowledge in the NT and especially refers to full and comprehensive knowledge of God’s will that rests on the knowledge of God and of Christ found today in His Word (Precept Austin). This all means that the knowledge we seek is not mere facts about Christ. No, we are called to be unified or at one in the comprehension of the full, precise, accurate and through knowledge of Him. What we initially receive as a gift is now presented as an experience we are to attain. Keep in mind that this is not cognitive knowledge but this is experiential knowledge which is the knowledge which transforms.

This is knowledge is beyond salvation knowledge! See Col. 2:2, 3. This is knowledge that is ours as we plunge deeper into the revelation of who He is and that which is produced as we bring together and to bear the personal and individual knowledge which we are graced to receive from Him. This is the Father’s heart for us! Paul, in two intercessory prayers gives insight to several aspects of this experiential and accurate knowledge he wants the readers of this epistle to attain. See Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19.

The Father desires for us to know His Son in this manner! His will is that the Body of His Son arrive at this destination in unity! This is key because it is only as we come to know the Son that we can come to know the Father! The Son is the Revealer of the essential characteristics and nature of the Father. And the 5-fold, especially the apostles and prophets who have be given a unique revelation of Jesus Christ as Son and God as Father, are responsible to impart this knowledge to us!

Brethren, I really want to say more! But we will pick this up again in our next post. Just keep in mind, staying on target includes a pursuit of the full, thorough, and accurate knowledge of Christ!

Excerpt from the Forthcoming Book: “When Sons Become Fathers”

“At some point sons both natural and spiritual may more than likely become fathers. Preparing sons not only for the period of transition but their new role is the responsibility of the father whether biological or spiritual. Failure here has the potential of adversely effecting subsequent generations and ultimately aborting the destiny given to a family or a ministry vision” (An excerpt from When Sons Become Fathers by Apostle Reginald M. Holiday)

Leading or Loafing?

As a leader, are you leading or loafing? In other words, are you leading at your maximum potential or are you loafing your way through life and ministry doing as little as you can with what God gave you?

In the final analysis, the difference between good and great is only just a small amount more effort. Determine today to use all you have been given to be all you can be and to go from loafing to leading if that be the case. And if you are already leading at your maximum potential, who are you helping to reach theirs? #LeadingOrLoafing

“7 Questions to Ask God” from the CEO’s of Ministry Institute

“7 Questions to Ask God” from the CEO’s of Ministry Institute”

1) Where is my intimacy with You, God, based on Your desire for me personally?

2) Am I positioned correctly as a leader, to ensure maximum response Your mandates?

3) How effectively and consistently am I executing the 5 point CEO job description as an example to those entrusted to me?
– Provide Direction
– Obtain P, I, Rs
– Commission the work (yes, no or redirect it)
– Provide success (coaching, teaching and training)
– Obtain evaluation

4) How effectively am I carrying out the Great Commission and thereby keeping the core competent leaders You send?

5) How am I doing in ensuring a legacy with this work of Yours – by instituting effective succession coaching, a leader pipeline and leadership engine?

6) In the process of achieving Your vision am I adding value and empowering Your people through relationship, partnership and team building?

7) In the course of doing Your work, where is my love for people and how close am I to seeing things from Your eyes?

Stay On Target!