Today's passage precedes one of the most hotly debated passages in all of scripture.
As Charles Spurgeon said of Hebrews 6, “We come to this passage ourselves with the intention to read it with the simplicity of a child, and whatever we find therein to state it; and if it may not seem to agree with something we have hitherto held, we are prepared to cast away every doctrine of our own, rather than one passage of Scripture. We had better far be inconsistent with ourselves than with the inspired Word. I have been called an Arminian Calvinist or a Calvinistic Arminian, and I am quite content so long as I can keep close to my Bible.”
Thankfully, the hotly debated verses are not the topic of our focus today, we’ll save that for another time. However, our passage today does provide the foundation for said debate, so it is important that we have a true understanding of the text. There are 6 “disciplines,” or as the writer of Hebrews states, “elementary doctrines,” listed here - Repentance, Faith, Baptisms (or cleansing rites), Laying on of Hands, Resurrection of the dead, and Eternal Judgement.
"Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
To the everyday American Christian in the 21st century, these 6 doctrines do seem quite “elementary” of the Christian Faith.
That seems to be the proper descriptor. However, we must remember the context here, and the context is that Hebrews was written by an unknown author to a group of Jewish Christians in the 1st century AD. The important part of the context? Jewish Christians.
You see, there is nothing distinctly “Christian” about these 6 doctrines.
To any orthodox Jew, these 6 teachings are just as “elementary.” So the question is, what’s the point? The point is in verse 1 where we are encouraged to “move beyond” these teachings, and “be taken towards maturity.” What does that mean? It means that there is Something richer and higher than these 6 doctrines, or “disciplines.” These 6 disciplines are simply a foundation, but they mean nothing without Christians moving “upwards.”
These “disciplines” are NOTHING without the Grace of God bestowed upon us through Faith in Christ Jesus.
That’s it! That is the “upwards” of these disciplines! Christ Himself! Without Christ in the picture, these disciplines cause us to fall back into religious ritual without any spiritual significance. My challenge to you today, and everyday, as we practice the disciplines of our Faith is to always “Fix our eyes on Jesus. Who IS the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.” Without Him, our daily disciplines are just dead religion.
Father, we thank you for sending us your Only Begotten Son Jesus. We are so grateful for Him, and for the Holy Spirit illuminating the Truth of Him in our souls. Lord, today as we spend time with you, would you help us to move beyond just the act? Would your Holy Spirit empower us to “be taken towards maturity,” and that maturity be Jesus Himself? God, we need you. Without you we so quickly fall back into old patterns of religious ritual. You are so much more than that. You have invited us to commune with You. We ask you today for the Grace to fix our eyes on Jesus. Amen.
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