Going on to Perfection
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on
unto 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.
This very informative chapter of the Bible, like most of Hebrews, is very
often read without the reader understanding the meaning behind the words,
perhaps not willing to understand because of then needing to obey the commandments
Very few professing Christians even reach what the writer of Hebrews states
in these first two verses.
He states that we must go on from the principles of Christianity unto perfection.
He then tells us what these principles, or ground-rules are.
Repentance from dead works.
Faith toward God.
Doctrine of baptisms.
Laying on of hands.
Resurrection of the dead.
Let's get one thing straight from the beginning. The writer, maybe Paul,
was writing to professing Christians, who at the same time were
Jews, having been fed the traditions and curses of the Old Covenant by
their religious system since childhood. Today the book of Hebrews is read
by professing Christians who were most probably brought up in the
religious traditions of the "Christian" denomination of their parents.
The teaching that was applicable then therefore, is just as applicable
today, and if we can accept that, follow these ground-rules and progress
from there, we will be enriched by the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God
as we show our obedience.
Repentance from dead works
- Repentance means being truly sorry for past sins.
- Two English dictionaries describe it as:
to feel remorse (for); be contrite (about); show penitence (for).
to regret, or wish to have been otherwise, what one has done or left undone;
to change from past evil or misconduct; to feel contrition; to regret.
- Dead works are those that I do in my own strength; they might be pleasing
to God and even be righteous, but they are not what will get me into heaven.
I know an old lady in her eighties that has been a church organist in the
Methodist denomination for probably fifty years. However she has not repented
and is therefore not reborn, so her works are as dust in the eyes of God.
- We shall only receive God's grace if we repent of our past sins
and become Biblically reborn1, as this
is what He tells us through His servant , the apostle Paul:
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which
God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
- (Ephesians 2:8-10)
- We see here that works on our own will not get us into heaven, but
only if we are created in Christ Jesus. This means that we must become
reborn. The scripture goes on to state that God ordained at an earlier
time that we should "walk in" good works after being reborn.
- So, repentance from dead works means that we should become born
again and "walk in" or perform good works that the Holy Spirit, who now
lives inside us, can show us to do.
- Works without the guiding of the Holy Spirit are dead works.
- Just as bad is having the Holy Spirit inside us, prompting us
to do something, but we ignore the prompting.
- A fellow apostle and leader of the Christians in Jerusalem wrote:
- For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without
works is dead also.
- (James 2:26)
- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving
your own selves.
- (James 1:22)
- Faith toward God
- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through
faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so
that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. ¶
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by
which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his
gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated
that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated
him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased
God. But without faith it is impossible to please him:
for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is
a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- (Hebrews 11:1-6)
- This chapter goes on to describe more about faith; and the action
of people who believed.
- I know another old lady in her eighties, a professing
Christian and regular churchgoer, who, when we briefly discussed resurrection
from the dead as described in verse 35 of the above chapter, said
that the people concerned couldn't be dead, but must have just been in
a coma or something. Through her mouth and by using her tongue she professed
lack of faith. She in fact intimated that she didn't believe that God has
the power to raise anyone from the dead.
- We read once again:
- James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the
twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count
it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that
the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her
perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any
of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven
with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive
any thing of the Lord.
- (James 1:1-7)
- Doctrine of baptisms
- Does the denomination that you belong to or that you were baptised
into believe in infant baptism? By reading the scriptures we see that baptism
as practised by John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance, of washing
away of sins. We also see that when we become born again we have a better
promise than John because when we get baptised in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit our sins are washed away by the cleansing of
the New Covenant. In both cases in this act of faith, the person being
baptised willed to be baptised, they had knowledge of what it meant. The
act of wiping water on the forehead of a baby is not Christian baptism
but a deception of Satan; and it is not me that says so but God Himself
through His word and the Word.
- Laying on of hands
- This is also a building block laid on the foundation of faith
and will only be effective if the person who has laid hands on him/her
believes that he/she will receive a gift of God, be it a spiritual
gift for the furtherance of the gospel;
- Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
- (1 Timothy 4:14)
- or for a healing;
- Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour
of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from
his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the
temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into
the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked
an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on
us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I
thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he
took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked,
and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising
God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
- (Acts 3:1-9)
- Resurrection of the dead
- Also part of faith, as previously mentioned.
- Eternal Judgement
- This is a nasty one for many people, one to gloss over.
- I know of an old man this time, who for many years has been a
prisoner of the denomination wherein he practices "Christianity". He goes
to much trouble to dress up to go to church, to get to church on time,
to attend Bible studies, but he does not show the fruits of repentance.
When discussing the pre-tribulation rapture theory he stated "thank goodness
I won't be here for all those plagues mentioned in Revelation." If there
is a pre-tribulation rapture and he is left behind, imagine his thoughts!
- You might say "what has this to do with eternal judgement?" It
is all part of faith and being a doer.
- What is meant by the phrase "being a doer"?
- Remember the works that we were created in Christ Jesus for, as stated
in the Ephesians passage? We must be a doer for our Redeemer, the Lord
Jesus Christ; for example:
Do you pray to God and read your Bible every day?
Do you carry the example of Jesus about with you all the time. If in
business will you give or accept a bribe for favours?
Do you witness to others; stranger in the lift, at the supermarket?
Do you give of your valuable time, such as visiting the sick?
Do you keep to the speed limits when driving and make an effort to be courteous
and remain calm in response to selfish drivers?
- We aren't doers because we have to be, afraid of the disapproval
of Jesus, we are doers because we love Him spiritually and know that this
is what He would like us to do.
- If we aren't doers, isn't it because we are selfish? Are we watching
as much television now compared to when we were unsaved?
- The writer of Hebrews states that these above-mentioned beliefs
are the ground-rules of Christianity and that we must go on from here.
- Are you ready? Am I?
- At this stage the whole of the relevant chapter is printed out, for
those readers who don't yet have a King James Bible.
- Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us
go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from
dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and
of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal
judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For it is impossible
for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift,
and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word
of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away,
to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves
the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth
which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth
herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is
nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. 9 But, beloved, we
are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,
though we thus speak. 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your
work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that
ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that
every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope
unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through
faith and patience inherit the promises. 13 For when God made promise to
Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14
Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply
thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is
to them an end of all strife. 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to
shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed
it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was
impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have
fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope
we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth
into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered,
even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
- (Hebrews 6)
- In verse three we see that we can only progress if God allows
it. Remember Esau, the man that gave his birthright away for a bowl of
lentils? He tried to repent later:
- Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau,
who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward,
when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found
no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
- (Hebrews 12:16-17)
- In verses four to six we see what happens to those who fall away from the
Truth once they have known it and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit2.
- Comparisons are drawn in verses seven and eight and in verse
nine we see that there are some things that go hand in hand with salvation.
In other words, verse seven applies to those who practice what happens
in verse ten.
- In verse eleven he caps it by saying that those who show the
diligence (earnestness) have the assurance of hope (faith).
- In verse twelve we come again to being the opposite of slothful,
in other words being doers and we see that faith and patience go together.
- Here once again God shows us His Covenant conditions and promises1.
The verse, in the vernacular, states " That you are not lazy, but follow
the example of them that went before, who through faith and patience inherit
- Who went before?
- He then gives the example of Abraham's Covenant.
- In verse nineteen we see that the hope of faith is the anchor
of the soul. We also see that this hope is both certain and unchanging.
It is there for us if we can attain to it.
- For example, if you or I are held up or mugged in this evil society
of Satan, are we afraid of death?, or do we have the confidence of salvation
through faith in God's promises.
- Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I
will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say,
The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
- (Hebrews 13:5-6)
- Are we obedient to God's Covenantal wishes?
- 1 See Heart of the Gospel
- 2 See Evidence of the Hand
of the Living God.