Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Growing to Maturity | Part III

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, with teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.] If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].  Hebrews 6:1-3  (Amplified Translation)

As the writer gives us this exhortation, he suggests three things that are necessary if we are to reach Christian maturity.

1.    Maturity Requires a Great Departure
Paul begins by saying, "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on."  Before we can ever reach maturity we must leave the ABC's of the Christian faith.  We must leave the foundational stones so that we can go on in Christian growth. 

The word "leave" does not mean to abandon or to forsake.  It means leave as a tree would leave its roots to rise up into the air.  It is still attached to the roots, it is still based upon the roots, but it grows from the roots to become a tree.  The Christian life must have roots, but it cannot be all roots.  So, having built our lives upon the principles of the doctrine of Christ, we must then go on to become everything that God wants us to be.

What are the foundational elements of the Christian faith?  Six of them are listed in this passage of Scripture.
  • Repentance from dead works – The Christian life begins with repentance from dead works.  Dead works are the futile efforts to save ourselves by human righteousness.
  • Faith – Believing fully upon Christ for salvation.
  •  The doctrine of baptism – We are to be baptized as an outward and ceremonial expression of our commitment to him.
  •  The laying on of hands – Symbolic of receiving the Holy Spirit. The laying on of hands often preceded receiving the Holy Spirit in the first century.
  •  The resurrection of the dead Claim our hope of eternal life.
  • The judgment – This is the time we shall stand before God and give an account of ourselves to him.

These are the foundational stones of the Christian life.  We build our lives upon them. But we don't settle down there. We go on from there to Christian maturity.

A careful look at these six foundational stones is revealing.  The first two are the initial steps in the Christian's life.  The second two, baptism and the laying on of hands, are the external and ceremonial expressions of that initial experience.  The last two have to do with the end of the Christian life.  We must not get so caught up on the front end of the Christian life or on the tail end of the Christian life lest we forget the great in-between of growth and development.

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

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