The Elementary Doctrine
Hebrews 6:1-3 ESV
“Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.”
What is the elementary doctrine of Christ? It is that, by faith in Jesus Christ, in the power of God’s Spirit, we are to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:17-24).
For, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-persuaded faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him to be lived to him and to his righteousness. Our old self is crucified with Christ so we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
[Rom 6:1-23; Gal 2:20; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15]
It is also that faith in Jesus and our salvation are NOT one-time events that take place in our lives and then we are “good to go” to heaven when we die. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns, and our salvation is complete.
But this has conditions attached to it. We must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. For, if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh (making sin our practice), we will die in our sins. We will NOT have eternal life with God no matter what we profess.
And we must continue in Christ and in his Word and in our faith – provided it is the faith that dies with Christ to sin and lives to Christ and to his righteousness – until the very end, remaining steadfast and faithful in our walks of obedience to our Lord, doing what he has called us to do.
[Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Jn 15:1-12; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 15:2]
So, why do the New Testament Scriptures keep repeating the elementary doctrine of Christ? It is because the people either were not taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus, or they were being persuaded by charlatans to believe a “different gospel” and in “another Jesus,” or they were being led astray by the temptations of their own flesh to return to the ways they lived before.
And it is for these same reasons that we are having to continually repeat the elementary doctrine of Christ, because so many are perverting the gospel of grace and are changing it into a license for immorality, and many are not hearing the truth, but the lies, and many are being led astray by the lusts of their own flesh, and they need to be reminded of the truth.
If It Bears Thorns and Thistles
Hebrews 6:4-8 ESV
“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”
This is a difficult passage of Scripture, so I am going to simplify it for you. If you go back and you study the “elementary doctrine of Christ,” and you have the correct understanding of true biblical faith, and true biblical salvation, you will know that our salvation is not complete until Jesus Christ returns, and he takes us to be with him.
And you will realize, too, that there are conditions to us having salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For the free gift of God’s grace is not the freedom to continue living in sin without guilt. It is the freedom Jesus gave us from our slavery to sin so that we can now walk in holiness and righteousness in the power of God in our lives.
God’s grace to us, which brings salvation, in fact, trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return. And his grace delivers us out of our addiction to sin so we can walk in his righteousness. But if we remain addicted to sin, it will end in death.
Can a true believer in Jesus Christ fall away from his pure devotion to Christ for a period of time and be brought back? Yes! That is what the letters to the churches in Revelation are all about. They had fallen away (five of them), and Jesus was telling them to repent and to turn back or they would face his judgment. So, this is not saying we can never return to the Lord.
But notice what the last sentence says. Basically, if the “fruit” we are bearing for God’s eternal kingdom is “thorns and thistles,” it is worthless, and ITS END is to be burned (Cf. Jn 15:1-12). For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (death), but if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life.
[Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
Things That Belong to Salvation
Hebrews 6:9-12 ESV
“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Not everyone who professes the name of Jesus is living apart from intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, but many are. But for those who are walking the walk and not just talking the walk, this is for your encouragement. The Lord knows your work you do for him which he prepared in advance that you should walk in it (Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Phil 2:12-13).
And he knows the love that you show, not only to the saints, but to your enemies, who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and to the people of this world who need the Savior. Although other humans may not acknowledge your service to the Lord, which is fine, the Lord is not overlooking your faithfulness to him in doing what he has called you to do.
For, your lives give evidence that you are in genuine relationship with Jesus Christ because you bear fruit in keeping with those things that belong to salvation – such things as repentance, dying daily to sin and self, walks of obedience to your Lord, and humble submission to his will for your life on a day-by-day basis, because you love him and your desire is for him.
Although this is true of your life, you are being encouraged here to continue to show that same earnestness in Christ so that you have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but that you be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Here I Am, Lord
By Daniel L. Schutte
I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them –
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
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