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!

 

7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! (Part 6)

Beloved, my prayer is that you are being encouraged, inspired and informed by what I have shared with you concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 6. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Separate unto God.”

Here is the sixth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. Today, we want to discuss “Strengthen or Solidify Your Biblical Convictions”. Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

A part of my motivation in this post is drawn from Rev. 3:2. In Christ’s Revelation to the angel of the Church at Sardis, He says, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” I believe this verse should exhort us in the midst of unsettling times to examine ourselves and seek to strengthen those things that should remain in our walk with the Lord. We have not yet come to the full stature of the Christ (Eph. 4:13). So, there is yet much work to be done in us. This examination of our will require the help and inspection of the Holy Spirit. God is not only shaken the earth and other things. He is also shaking us as individuals! But He promises to remove that which needs to be removed and to allow all else to remain (Heb. 12:26- 28). These are the things, I believe among our biblical convictions that must be strengthened or solidified in order for us to thrive during this present pandemic.

To Strengthen (4741) (sterizo from histemi = to stand) means to make firm or solid, to set fast, to fix firmly in a place, to establish (make firm or stable), to cause to be inwardly firm or committed, to strengthen. The basic idea is that of stabilizing something by providing a support or buttress (a projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building), so that it will not totter. The word implies fixedness.

The word “solidify” means “to make secure, substantial, or firmly fixed”. So as it pertains to biblical convictions we want to take advantage of this time to make those things we are convinced of from Word of God secure, substantial, or firmly fixed.

When we speak of “biblical convictions” we are referring to scriptural truths of which we have become convinced that are essential to our relationship and maturity in the Lord. These are those scriptural realities that are timeless and changeless that are necessary for our ongoing spiritual enrichment and edification. Among these can be the spiritual disciplines of the Word of God, worship, prayer, fasting, service, meditating the Word, fellowship, confession, separation, submission and sacrifice. These can also include the seven foundational or elementary experiences for all believers, which include repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. These are known as the Doctrines of Christ which are intended to lead us to maturity (Heb. 6:1-3). There are many others that could be included. But I only leave these with you for the sake of time. Take some time and prayerfully ponder, “What else should appear on my list?”

To sum this all up. I believe Rev. 3:2 is a great admonition to us during this current pandemic as it serves as a timely reminder to us as believers to strengthen or solidify all that which remains that is in a state of fragility due to potential neglect or a false measure. The Lord, even in this, is our Standard and is yet watching us to see how we will live.

 

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 2)

Family, as promised, over the next 7 days, I will share with you 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Please add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 2. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Surrender to His Will.” Love you much!

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

Seek His Face and His Hands – John Piper writes, “Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.” But why are we to seek God’s face? The answer lies in the translation of the word “face.” As we seek His face as His presence, we are more inclined to press into His presence now or no matter the occasion. This is a heart desire for His children, to behold His face! This speaks of times of intense seeking and intimacy not being satisfied with the ordinary and the routine. But pursuing Him with all that we are and not settling for anything less than seeing Him! This is the time He will evidence Himself and make Himself known! Seek His face beloved of the Lord! How do we do this? Praise, worship, prayer that asks but which also waits and listens and searching the scriptures, seeking to see Him! (See Psa. 27:8; Psa 24:6; Psa 105:4; Isa 45:19; Isa 55:6,7; Hos 5:15)

Where as His face represents His presence, His hands represent His power. His hands typify His actions and His authority. God’s hands upon our lives will cause us to thrive and to succeed! His hands upon us ensures that we have His power, ability and authority at work in and for our lives. His hands also are indicative of His protection, His provision and that which fulfills His purposes. (See Isa. 41:10; Ps 16:8; Ps 18:35; Ps 89:21; Isa 42:6; Isa 49:4) So, in order for us His children to thrive during a pandemic, we desperately need both! I implore you to seek both the face and the hands of our God in order that we may thrive together during this pandemic! #Thrive!

7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers (Part 3)

Greetings All!

In our last post we shared with you the context of the seven foundational experiences for all believers in Hebrews 5:12-6:1-3. In this installment, we want to begin looking at the first of the seven foundational experiences which is “Repentance from Dead Works” (See Hebrews 6:1). Wuest Translation: “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). We are urged by the writer to not lay again the foundation of these seven experiences which are then listed beginning with “Repentance from Dead Works“.

Repentance from Dead Works” actually features two distinct aspects: repentance from and then dead works. What is repentance? Before we delve into what repentance is, let’s take a quick look at what repentance is not. To confess one’s sin is not the same thing as repentance. It is true that proper confession of our sins is an aspect of repentance but confession of sins is not repentance. Also our being profoundly convicted of our sins is not synonymous with repentance. Many in scripture were convicted of sin but were never moved to repentance. The author Kevin J. Conner writes, “True repentance involves conviction of sin, contrition for sin, confession of sin, and abandonment or forsaking sin, being sorrowful enough to stop sinning! Conviction should produce contrition and sorrow for sin, then confession of it, then forsaking it. This is the test on all repentance, whether it is genuine or not.” See these scriptural references: Mark 1:15; Mt. 3:2, 8, 11; Luke 13:2-5; Acts 5:31; 17:30; 20:21; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10.

What is Repentance? Repentance (3341) (metanoia from meta = after + noéo = to understand) literally means “afterthought” or “to think after” and implies a change of mind. From the NT uses, it is clear that metanoia means however much more than merely a change of one’s mind but also includes a complete change of heart, attitude, interest, and direction. Metanoia is a conversion in every sense of the word. (Precept Austin)

Marvin Vincent states on the verb form (metanoeo) that this is “A word compounded of the preposition meta, after, with; and the verb noeo, to perceive, and to think, as the result of perceiving or observing. In this compound the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by after and different; so that the whole compound means to think differently after. Metanoia (repentance) is therefore, primarily, an after-thought, different from the former thought; then, a change of mind which issues in regret and in change of conduct. These latter ideas, however, have been imported into the word by scriptural usage, and do not lie in it etymologically nor by primary usage. Repentance, then, has been rightly defined as “Such a virtuous alteration of the mind and purpose as begets a like virtuous change in the life and practice.” Sorrow is not, as is popularly conceived, the primary nor the prominent notion of the word. Paul distinguishes between sorrow and repentance (metanoia), and puts the one as the outcome of the other. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance” (2Cor 7:10). (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-23)

Kenneth Wuest writes, Repent is the translation of metanoeo which in classical Greek meant “to change one’s mind or purpose, to change one’s opinion.” The noun metanoia meant “a change of mind on reflection.” These two words used in classical Greek signified a change of mind regarding anything, but when brought over into the New Testament, their usage is limited to a change of mind in the religious sphere. They refer there to a change of moral thought and reflection which follows moral delinquency. This includes not only the act of changing one’s attitude towards and opinion of sin but also that of forsaking it. Sorrow and contrition with respect to sin, are included in the Bible idea of repentance, but these follow and are consequent upon the sinner’s change of mind with respect to it.” (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)

The late Derek Prince defined “repentance from” as “an inner change of mind resulting in an outward turning back, or turning around; to face and to move in a completely new direction.”

Paul’s description of the saints at Thessalonica gives us quite the visual of true repentance:“For they themselves (other believers in Macedonia and Achaia) report about us (Paul, Silvanus and Timothy) what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come”. (1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10)

It is important to note that Jesus Christ and the Apostles’ message was “repent and believe”! It is also critical for us to see that repentance is the gift of our loving Father and that it initiates with Him and not with us. The Father in an act of grace toward man, engages His Spirit towards man, otherwise man is unable to repent. Psa. 80:3 illustrates the initiative of God: “restore us” means “cause us to turn back”. See also Lam. 5:21. Here are some additional verses which help us see that repentance is God’s gift to us: “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18, 16:14); “God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” = (2 Tim. 2:25); “the kindness (goodness) of God leads you to repentance“= (Rom. 2:4). As we can clearly see repentance is God’s gift. He moves towards man but we have the personal responsibility to create space for God’s wonderful gift.

Scripturally, repentance is commanded of us. See Acts 2:38. Several verses dictate repent or perish! All those who are born again should live a repentant life. Take a look at these key verses: 1 Kings 8:47-50; Ezek. 14:6; 18:30; Acts 5:31; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; 2 Peter 3:9).

The point of all this is to encourage us as believers called to mature in the Lord, to recognize that biblically defined repentance is required! Not only should we know what repentance is and is not. But we must also engage in it! It is not merely to be known as a doctrine but to be experienced as a reality for us. Tragically, under the coming judgments of Almighty God, there will come a time in history where repentance will no longer be available (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9-11).

This leaves us to uncover what is meant by “dead works”all acts & activities that are not based upon repentance & faith. We will save this for our next discussion. We will also soon see that true repentance must always precede faith and how minus repentance, faith by itself is an meaningless profession. These are necessary experiences for all those seeking to stay on target with the Lord!

7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers (Part 2)

Greetings Everyone!

As we continue our study of the Seven Foundational Experiences for All Believers, I believe it wise to also see what the writer is saying as he presses into these elementary doctrines. 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)

Using the word “therefore“, the writer points us back to his prior statements concerning Melchizedek and dullness of hearing as well as spiritual immaturity of the believers. He reprimands them for not being teachers by now but those who are in need of being taught again these elementary principles. Heb. 5:12 refers to these as “the first principles of the oracles of God“. The “oracles of God” is a synonym for the Scriptures and refers to divine utterances as found in (Rom 3:2; 1 Pet 4:11; Acts 7:38). Heb. 1:1-2 tells us that Christ is now the ORACLE of the Father to men. Kevin Conner teaches, “The Son is the final word and revelation of the Father. When therefore these First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ were spoken then it was God speaking His Oracle, His Only Begotten Son, from the Glory veiled in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14-18).” It is not that they did not know these things which he calls elementary. It was that for some reason they were choosing not to function based on their had been taught or the knowledge they had been given. He further states that by now they should have been spiritually ingesting solid food but because of their condition they were still in need of or drinking the milk of the Word. It is from here that he exhorts them to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ“. But what is he actually saying?

To “leave” is “aphiemi Gk (863) (aphiemi from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send) and conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one’s self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. It means to send forth or away from one’s self. It refers to the act of putting something away or of laying it aside. Says Vincent, “Leaving or dismissing does not imply ceasing to believe in elementary truths or to regard them as unimportant, but leaving them “as a builder leaves his foundation in erecting his building”. In other words, these believers were being exhorted to “leave shadows, types, pictures, and sacrifices of the old economy and come to the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. To paraphrase it the writer is saying ‘Leave the pictures of the Messiah and go on to the Messiah Himself,’”

They are exhorted specifically to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ.” “Elementary” (746) (arche) means the first, the beginning (the things that occurred prior in time). It can mean supreme in rank but clearly that is not the meaning in this verse. In relation to time, arche refers to the beginning of anything, the first. The writer is telling his readers to leave the elementary teaching concerning the doctrines upon which their prior religious life had been based. Leave the milk! These elementary doctrines were those teaching that Christianity had in common with Judaism, the teaching they had received from the Old Testament. They had to move past those teachings that Judaism had in common with Christianity, or otherwise they would never move on to maturity. (Precept Austin) This points back to Heb. 5:12, the principles of the doctrine of Christ or the “steps” or “elementals”. As we will discover these are steps leading to “perfection”

The word “teaching” referred to here is “logos” (3056) (logos from lego = to speak intelligently source of English “logic, logical”) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. Although Lógos is most often translated “word” which Webster defines as “something that is said, a statement, an utterance”, the Greek understanding of lógos is somewhat more complex. In the Greek mind and as used by the secular and philosophical Greek writers, lógos did not mean merely the name of an object but was an expression of the thought behind that object’s name. Logos refers to total expression.

This is “the elementary teaching about the Christ” which these Jewish believers are being exhorted to move beyond. “The Christ” is the Messiah. Webster reveals Messiah is a title given to “the promised Deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.” Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word mashiach which means “anointed one” and which corresponds to the NT title of “Christ” (Christos = anointed one). “The majority of Jews (and this Gentile writer) have come to salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) as the Spirit unveiled the OT messianic prophecies (2 Cor 4:6, John 3:8) to clearly show “Jesus (is) the Messiah appointed for” them and for us, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek (anyone not Jewish).” (Acts 3:20, Rom 1:16). In fact the main purpose of John’s Gospel is that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.” (John 20:31) Jesus is the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the three OT offices which God anointed (selected and set apart for special service): Prophet (Psalms 105:15, Deut 18:18, fulfilled = John 7:40), Priest (Ex 29:7, Lev 4:3, Ps 110:4 fulfilled = Heb 6:19-20) and King (1Sa 2:10, Ps 2:2,6 shadows of Messiah fulfilled = Mk 15:26, Rev 19:16). Norman Geisler adds that the concept of MESSIAH (Christ) ‘is the key to the interpretation of the Bible, not only in that He is the fulfillment of OT types and prophecies, but in that Christ (Messiah) is the tie between the Testaments, the content of the whole canon and the unifying theme in the Bible!’ In short the entire Bible is “Messiah-centric” or “Christo-centric!” Beloved brethren, God’s Anointed is appointed, and we shall not be disappointed! “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!, Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all.” (Perronet)

Kenneth Wuest provides this analysis, “Now what does the writer exhort these Hebrews to abandon, and to what does he urge them to allow themselves to be borne along? Well, what does a mariner do when he is at a loss as to exactly where he is? He checks his position by his instruments. The aviator in a similar situation checks his course by the radio beam. An exegete in a similar situation will consult the historical background and analysis of the book. And that is exactly what we will do. We found that the writer proves twice over that the New Testament in Jesus’ Blood is superior to and takes the place of the First Testament in animal blood. After proving this, he shows that faith is the only way of appropriating the salvation which the High Priest procured for sinners at the Cross. In the light of this demonstration, he warns them against falling away. He exhorts them to go on to faith in the New Testament Sacrifice. Having left the temple sacrifices, and having identified themselves with the visible Church, from what could they fall away but from their profession of Messiah as High Priest, and to what could they fall back to but First Testament sacrifices? Thus the words, “the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” must refer to the First Testament sacrifices, for these Jews are exhorted to abandon them. Likewise, the word “perfection” must speak of the New Testament Sacrifice to which they are exhorted to allow themselves to be borne along. Our analysis has guided us to the correct interpretation.” (Hebrews Commentary online)

It is from here that these Christians are urged to go on. The scripture says, “let us press on to maturity“.  See these references verses: (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 12:13; Proverbs 4:18; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 13:10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12; Philippians 3:12-15; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 4:12; James 1:4; 1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 4:12).

What is this portion of the scripture saying? Twelve times this phrase “let us” appears in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer to the Hebrews is urging them all to press on to maturity. “Press on” (KJV = go on) (5342) (phero) is to be borne along like a ship by the wind. The use of the passive voice emphasizes the exertion of power on the individual from an outside source. passive voice also conveys the the thought of the need of the recipient to willingly surrender to this outside influence. In this case, the outside force is the Holy Ghost. The present tense emphasizes the continual need for this activity. Note the writer lumps himself in this group needing to be continually borne along. The idea is “Let us be carried along (by God’s Spirit).” Maturity (5047) (teleiotes related to teleios from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) describes one as being in a state of completion or perfection in the sense of maturity (and in contrast to the stage of elementary, ABC, knowledge). The related word teleios means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle. (Precept Austin)

To what location or aim are they to press on? To maturity is the destination to which they are to press. They are being urged just as are we to press on beyond the elementary teachings of the Christ and on to maturity in Christ. Our ultimate destiny is to be conformed to the image of the Christ. In other words, we are to become just like the only begotten Son of God! Kenneth Wuest comments, “Our Lord in His life of faith on earth, became the perfect or complete example of the life of faith. Thayer speaks of our Lord as ‘one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith.’” (Hebrews Commentary online)

Finally, these Hebrew Christians were being exhorted to hit the target established by the Lord – CHRISTLIKENESS! Until next time, hit His target!

7 Foundational Experiences for all Believers

Grace and peace!

In the next several installations of On Target Equipping, we will explore and examine Hebrews 6:1-3 and the seven foundational or elementary experiences (doctrines) for all believers. They can also be known as the Doctrines of the Christ (2 John 9, 10). These doctrines are several of the foundational and fundamental truths of our faith. They extend from justification to ultimate perfection. Doctrine defined is “teaching, instruction, or to teach the substance.” It is vital to us because what we believe and what we are, as well as what we practice and where we ultimately end up are determined by doctrine. Doctrine is not merely to be known. It is also meant to be experienced. For it is through the experience that true transformation takes place. In other words, cognitive knowledge alone will not change us. Experiential knowledge of the Word of God is what transforms the believer. Our subjective experiences with His objective truth and the work of the Holy Spirit is what will ultimately conform us into the image of His Son.

Many today frown upon or devalue the imperative nature of doctrine to the Church and the churches. Christ was a Man of doctrine! His doctrine was consider astonishing (Matt. 7:28). It was classified as “new” doctrine (Matt. 22:33; Mark 12:38; Mark 1:27). Jesus utilized parables to deliver His doctrine (Mark 4:2). Christ, as the Pattern Son, taught His Father’s doctrine (John 7:16, 17). But sound doctrine and continuing in it is one of the many pillars of an apostolic community. Act 2:42 states that the early church were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, this which they had heard and seen in Christ and now were passing on to the saints. We too are to continue in sound doctrine. Thus the encouragement of this series of posts. To quote Paul writing to Timothy: “But you have followed my teaching. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you,.” (2 Tim. 3:10a & b, 14a) Sound doctrine is a MUST! We know that as we are living in the Last Days, men will not endure SOUND doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1, 2; 2 Tim. 4:3). We are admonished in Scripture to strongly advocate, insist upon and defend sound doctrine (Titus 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). The ultimate destiny of every born again believer is to be conformed into the image of the Christ. Paul would also say in Colossians 1:28, 29 “We proclaim him (Christ), warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.” We can see through these two verses alone the Father’s heart and desire for us as His sons is for us to mature and become just like His Son Jesus Christ! Our sonship is acquired and advanced through the full, accurate and thorough knowledge of Christ as Son and as God as Father. It is an accurate revelation of the Person of the Son and that of the Father that establishes not only our true identity but the measure for who we are to be and to become.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the subject of maturity is raised as the writer to the Hebrews confronts the Christians there concerning their immaturity. In Hebrews 5, the writer is addressing the High Priesthood. He contrasts this priesthood with the Priesthood of Christ and establishes the origin of this Priesthood being “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:5, 10). In Heb. 5:11, the writer expresses his desire to say many things about this Priesthood, some of which is hard to explain, especially in light of the Hebrews spiritual inability to hear well what he has to say. Kenneth Wuest translates this portion of this verse in this manner: “because you have become those who are in a settled state of sluggishness, es, of stupidity, in your apprehension of the same.” Wow! Thank God, he did not stop there!

This brings us to verse 12 where it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Again, I like the Wuest translation here: In fact, when at this time you are under moral obligation to be teachers by reason of the extent of time [you have been under instruction], again you are in need of someone to teach you what are the rudimentary things of the very beginning of the oracles of God, and have become and still are such as have need of milk, not of solid food.” Verses 13 and 14 push the point even further: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” This further presses the call to maturity which is being exhorted here. What we can see is how these first principles, these elementary doctrines or better yet, experiences are necessary for a proper foundation required for growth and maturity.

As we move to Hebrews 6:1-3, the encouragement here is that the saints leave “…the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Listed here are seven foundational experiences for all believers which we will take a closer and broad look into in the next several posts. Allow me to list these for us and we will return and discuss them further in our next installment.

  1. Repentance from dead works
  2. Faith toward God
  3. Doctrine of baptisms
  4. Laying on of hands
  5. Resurrection of the dead
  6. Eternal judgment
  7. Perfection

Keep in mind, that all of these take their rise out of an accurate revelation of the Person of the Father and His Fatherhood and the Son and His Sonship. Our aim as always is to help the saints hit His target! Knowing and experiencing these seven foundational experiences are vital as it pertains to that aim.

Blessings!