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of July 1997
Next up-date: 1st August 1997 (God willing).
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine 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,
and of laying on of hands,
and of resurrection of the dead,
and of eternal judgment.
And this will we do, if God permit." Hebrews 6:1-3.
What do these words mean? Perfection - dead works - baptisms (in the plural) etc.
This letter to the Christians in the early church who had Jewish backgrounds endeavoured to make sense of the Old Testament laws and rituals in the light of the teachings of Jesus Christ. These particular verses set out the procedures which lead to Biblical "perfection" (Matthew 5:48), and make the statement that they should not be lingered over ("not laying again").
Three sets of two:
The first requirement of Christianity is "repentance from dead works"; indeed, repentance from any works which have been used in an endeavour to please God and claim salvation. Coupled with this foundation stone should be "faith toward God". Thus repentance and faith form two solid blocks on which to build a "temple" for God. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
These should be followed closely by "the doctrine of baptisms" (plural) and then the "laying on of hands" in recognition of a call to work.
Lastly comes the knowledge of "the resurrection of the dead", which sadly has been so misplaced today, and the final "eternal judgment". All these are but the BEGINNINGS of Christianity. Only after these are mastered can the pupil go on to the higher level.
In these words we have the definite promise that perfection is not only required, but can be attained. God's "perfection" that is, not what we so often think of as "perfection". It can be had by "building" on certain "foundation stones" which are distinctly laid out for us. They can be classed into three groups of two as above, and with them comes the understanding of Christianity.
Briefly: 2 Timothy 2:19
1. A turning away from the old life. Ezekiel 18:30.
2. A turning towards God. Hebrews 11:1-2.
3. Receiving three directions. (a) By water (b) By the Spirit (c) By fire. Matthew 3:11.
4. Receiving a work. Numbers 8:10-11.
5. Understanding God's problem regarding death. Luke 20:37-38.
6. Knowing that all must re-visit their deeds one day. Jude 14-16.
Only under these conditions can we appreciate what our Father is going through every day. Only under these conditions can we co-operate with Him in His great effort to save men and women from themselves. Without these "foundation stones" we are merely "sounding brass".
PERFECTION:(as God sees it)
Perfection is an attitude of mind reached by the "temple" builder after laying six "foundation stones".
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