(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The next serving of Hebrew ‘Let us’ is found in Hebrews 6. Here are the first three verses:
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 we will do if God permits.
“…let us go on to perfection….” Does this sound like we can reach sinless perfection this side of heaven, as some churches teach? No! For we are told in I John 1:8 (written to believers), “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” However, when we become a Christian we receive a new nature (see II Corinthians 5:17), “…born…of God…born again…” (John 1:12, 13; 3:3). And this new nature cannot sin! (See I John 3:9; 5:18). But, until we get to heaven, we still have our old sinful nature, and that nature can do nothing but sin, nothing but be in rebellion to God! The idea is to learn to let the new godly nature domin-ate, which can be quite a battle! Paul tells us in Galatians 5:17 (Easy-to-Read Version):
The sinful self wants what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against the sinful self. They are always fighting against each other, so that you don't do what you really want to do.
Paul describes his own battle of the two natures in Romans 7:7 through 25. But as the apostle found through much struggle, he shouts out in I Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is what the writer of Hebrews means when he writes, “…let us go on to perfection….” The Greek word is τελειότης (pronounced tel-i-ot’-ace) and meaning, “…(the state) [of] completeness (mentally or morally).” Strong’s Greek Dictionary. So, we are to go on to how God wants us to be – complete in Christ! When do we arrive in such total completeness? I John 3:2 has the answer:
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
When will He be revealed? When He comes again!
- Acts 1:10, 11 – When Jesus had ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and told the disciples:
Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.
- Zechariah 14:4 – “And in that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives…,” the very place from which He ascended into heaven!
- Revelation 1:7 – “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him….” (See Revelation 19:11-16 for a description of His glorious coming).
What will Jesus be like when He returns to earth? We don’t know exactly, because it is as it says in I John 3:2 above, “…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be….” But some things we do know:
- In His resurrection body, Jesus was perfect, no longer subject to…
✞ ...the horrible beatings He took! ★ We are told in Isaiah 52:14 (Easy-to-Read Version), “It is true that many were shocked when they saw him. He was beaten so badly that he no longer looked like a man.” ★ But when He appeared to His disciples in the upper room after His resurrection, He looked whole and completely well – so much so they thought Him to be a ghost! (See Luke 24:37). However, He still carried the scars of the crucifixion nails and spearing (see John 20:27). ✞ ...death! “Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” (Romans 6:9). ✞ ...the limitations of earthly physical life! ★ Jesus could appear (see Luke 24:36; John 20:19) and disappear (see Luke 24:31) at will! ★ Gravity seems to have lost its hold on Him! (See Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9).
- In His glorified body, Jesus’ appearance was almost beyond description! (See Revelation 1:12-16).
- He was sinless in His earthly human life (see I Peter 2:22), and certainly He will remain sinless in His eternal state!
And “…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2).
In the meantime, God intends for us to grow more and more to be like Jesus Christ!
- Matthew 10:25 – “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.”
- Romans 8:29 – “Whom He [God the Father] foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son….”
- II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
- Ephesians 4:14, 15 – “…that we….speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head — Christ….”
This is the perfection, the completeness toward which we are to move! But, like the believers to whom the letter of Hebrews was written, too many of today’s Christians remain babes in Christ, still having to be bottle fed (see Hebrews 5:11-14), and not desiring to grow up into Him!
Now I will draw attention to something that has always baffled and bothered me. And it is mentioned in our featured Scripture of Hebrews 6:1 through 3. There are basic doctrines which we are supposed to have mastered early on in our Christian experience:
...let us...not lay...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.
There are six foundational doctrines mentioned:
- “…repentance from dead works….” Ephesians 2:8 through 10:
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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (see also II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
- “…faith toward God….” John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (see also Acts 16:30, 31; Romans 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 11:1, 6;).
It is the next two which baffle and bother me!
- “…the doctrine of baptisms….” I know Jesus told His followers in Matthew 28:19 to “Go…and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….” But in Hebrews 6:2 it says we should have mastered “…the doctrine of baptisms…,” PLURAL!! How many baptisms are there? There is water baptism, the baptism of fire, the baptism of the Holy Spirit…. Are there more? Christians have been arguing about this ‘basic’ doctrine for centuries! I am still trying to fully discern this “elementary principle…of Christ”!
- “….laying on of hands….” – I understand that the laying on of hands was practiced in Bible times for…
✞ ...ordination into an office of service (see Numbers 8:9-11; Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 13:3; I Timothy 4:14). ✞ ...imparting Spiritual gifts (see I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6). ✞ ...blessing (see Matthew 19:13-15). ✞ ...healing (see Mark 5:23; 6:5; 16:18; Luke 13:13; Acts 9:17; 28:8; James 5:14). ✞ ...impartation of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 8:17; 9:17; 19:6).
While some churches and denominations practice laying on of hands for various occasions such as ordination, why isn’t it more widely practiced today for other reasons? For instance, many mainline churches do not practice anointing with oil for healing, as we are instructed to do in James 5:14 through 16.
- “…resurrection of the dead….” How many resurrections are there? From my perspective (pre-tribulation rapture, pre-millennial return of Christ), I count four major resurrections:
✞ The resurrection of Jesus Christ – the basis for all other resurrections! (See I Corinthians 15:20). ✞ The resurrection of believers at the Rapture! (See I Thessalonians 4:14-17). ✞ The resurrection of unbelievers to face judgment at the Great White Throne! (See Revelation 20:10-15). ✞ There seems to be a fourth resurrection at the end of the Tribulation of those who died for their faith during that terrible time of the antichrist’s perse- cution (see Revelation 6:9-11). It may be that Old Testament saints are raised from the dead at this time.
There are also what could be called ‘minor resurrections’ where Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter, and Paul raised individuals from the dead. There is also the puzzling Scripture of Matthew 27:52 and 53 when at the death of the Lord on the cross, “…and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints…were raised; and coming out of the graves after the resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
- “…eternal judgment….” (See Mark 9:43-48; Luke 13:28; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10-15).
I believe all of us need to not only “…go on to perfection…,” but we must also work on mastering the basics! So, ‘Let Us’…!