July 1, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I heard on our local Christian radio station a broadcast of Discover The Word, an outgrowth of Radio Bible Class ministry. The three hosts were discussing what they called being “a Columbus Christian.” Columbus ‘discovered’ America in 1492, and claimed these lands for the crown of Spain. But in four voyages between August 1492 and November 1504, the explorer ventured only to the islands of San Salvador, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica, and a few smaller islands in the Bahamas. He also touched upon coastal areas of Central America (the modern countries of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras) and South America (what is now Venezuela). Columbus most likely never knew he had discovered new continents. He died in 1506 thinking he had found a transatlantic route to the West Indies.
But Christopher Columbus never saw 99.99 percent of the two continents – the Americas – he ‘discovered.’ He never knew about the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon, the forests of the Allegheny Mountains, the Great Lakes, the southwestern desert, the Great Plains, the Pacific coast, the tropical forests and jungles of central and South America – and a million other spectacular locations spreading over 162,245,000 square miles!
Too many Christians are like this: they have landed on the ‘coast’ of Christianity, but they have never gone ‘inland’ to explore the depths of their faith! Hebrews 6:1 through 3 deals with this subject:
Therefore leaving 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 will we do, if God permits.
The writer of Hebrews in 5:10 started to discuss Melchizedek, the mysterious figure who appears in just three verses, in Genesis 14:18 through 21:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the
priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said: “Blessed be
Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be
God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he
gave him a tithe of all.
Melchizedek is seen in Hebrews as a type of Christ – eternal king and priest who blessed Abram, the father of the Jewish nation (see Hebrews 6:20-7:21). But the author says he cannot teach such a hard subject. “…it is difficult to explain because you have become too lazy to understand.” (Hebrews 5:11 – International Standard Version). These immature believers would rather stay on the Coast of their Christianity than enter in and explore all the internal wonders of the faith!
It is telling what the Hebrews author identifies as elementary principles of the faith in Hebrews 5:1 and 2: “…repentance from dead works…faith toward God…doctrine of baptisms…laying on of hands…resurrection of the dead, and…eternal judgment.” These are suppose to be the basics of the faith! These are to be mastered early on in the believer’s walk! Let’s look at these basics for a moment:
• Hebrews 6:1 – “…repentance from dead works, and…faith toward God….” Every true Christian ought to have a good understanding of these first two. It is as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:2 and 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.” Works that try to gain enough favor from God to earn salvation are dead! We are saved only by faith in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf! So we repent of our worthless efforts and trust only in Him through faith believing!
• Hebrews 6:2 – “…the doctrine of baptisms….” Notice that baptisms is plural. So how many baptisms are there? And what are they? And if there are more than one baptism, then why does Paul say in Ephesians 4:4 and 5, “There is…one baptism…”!
• Hebrews 6:2 – “…laying on of hands….” In the Old Testament, it was part of the inauguration of priests (see Numbers 8:10). In the New Testament, the Spirit was conferred upon new believers when the apostles laid hands on them (see Acts 8:14-19; 19:6). After the first seven deacons were chosen, the apostles commissioned them by the laying on of hands (see Acts 6:5, 6). Saul and Barnabas were commissioned the same way (see Acts 13:2, 3). Timothy received God’s gift with such a display (see II Timothy 1:6), and Paul warns his protege, “Do not lay hands on anyone quickly.” (I Timothy 5:22). Do we practice this today? Why and how?
• Hebrews 6:2 – “…resurrection of the dead….” How many resurrections are there? Not counting individuals resurrected by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus and Paul, there are at least three resurrections, and maybe four – Jesus, the Church, tribulation believers and unbelievers! Do you know when and how they take place?
• Hebrews 6:2 – “…eternal judgment.” Do you understand there are degrees of judgments for the unbelievers? Do you know that Christians will be judged for their works? Are you aware that we – believers of this Church age – will help the Lord in the work of judgment?
No, I am not going to solve all these questions I raise now. It would take several blogs on each subject to do it. I may tackle that in the future. But, I hope this blog on Coastal Christianity will challenge you to dig deeper into your faith and discover more than just the bit of Coastal land – of accepting Jesus as your Savior!