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Thoughts on foundations and faith (Hebrews 6:1)

Wherefore, having left the word of the beginning of the Christ, unto the perfection we may advance, not again a foundation laying of reformation from dead works, and of faith on God, (Hebrews 6:1, YLT)

The writer has not broken the thought process, but the translators have by inserting chapter and verse indications. Hebrews does not back down a bit from the superiority of Jesus Christ and why he is so.
There are two stages to our growth in Christ: babes or as one translation puts it, inexperienced and those who can be called mature.
".. who because of the use are having the senses exercised, unto the discernment both of good and of evil."1 Hebrews 5:14.

When I began attending a particular men's bible study, a man in the group quickly tried to attach himself to me because I said something that he latched on to. (Others in the group had been talking to him about his personal behaviors, and he was just arguing with them, and trying to justify what he was doing.) To listen to him you might have thought he was a young, inexperienced christian, merely struggling with life, but that was not the case. He demonstrated that he spent no time in the pursuit of God and made no effort to change his perceptions of the world by practicing the will of God. He asked me, the last time we conversed, if I went to nudie bars, and why that should be a problem. To be honest with you, I believe I was dealing with a demon and not the man, none the less I answered his question as to why you will not find me going there, and I unleashed some righteous anger toward him. I have never seen him since.

The point is that moving toward maturity requires that you make some effort. If you are in Christ you are his, and any moves that you make toward playing with the world are strictly you fighting off your desires for self destruction. It is only your investment in the Word of God, which scripture tells us is ALIVE, that will move you away from the deceitfulness of this world, and toward maturity.

The writer of Hebrews says we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity.

Here is what I see as a problem, religion tends to fight that process.
Why?, two reasons: 1. Perhaps because if your mega church has this tremendous draw (and that alone is filled with problems) then you may have a constant turn over of the immature, and the preaching may not go beyond the basics. I think that is why there are new believer classes. 2. Because stagnant people permeate religion today, just as they did when the writer of Hebrews wrote this letter. The church he was writing to was filled with old school Jews who happened to be Christians also.

Fighting off the old traditions is a theme running through many of the letters written to the early churches. It is no different today.

Scripture makes the statement, "and you need not that any man teach you.."
That's all well and good but there is an inherent problem with that attitude.
(Do not get me wrong, it is a true statement, and God's Word, therefore alive.)
The problem is this:
1. We, in general, do not let the Holy Spirit of God teach us.
(1a.) How does Holy spirit speak to us in an effort to teach us?
- (a.) Through the Word of God, which is the recorded scriptures;
- (b.) By speaking through a teacher, operating under the anointing of the Holy Spirit;
- (c.) By other Christians speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, even if they do not realize it.

2. The second aspect of the problem is that those whose take this attitude - no one can teach me - separate themselves from the support of other Christians. It is not just baby Christians but the mature, those that through practice have learned to discern between good and evil, that they are separating themselves from. The mature Christians are the ones that will challenge you when you are in error.

If you operate in arrogance, then what makes you think that you will not refuse the voice of the spirit when He speaks to you.

As I sat in the jury box, the attorneys began asking questions of the potential jurors, trying to weed out those that would be detrimental to their case. One lady, because of her response, got the judges attention, and he began to question her. She could not wait for him to finish the question, regardless of directions given. He admonished her twice within a matter of minutes.
How many times have we answered God's questions before he finished the sentence; ignored the instructions, and spoke over the voice of the Spirit, as it talked quietly with you, because you in your great wisdom knew better. How long did it take for you to find out how wrong you were? Perhaps you believe that you were right and God was wrong. What an extraordinarily wrong attitude that is.

Even though Proverbs tells us that wisdom cries out in the streets that does not mean that He stands there screaming above the din so he can be heard. God may be more like the wise classroom instructor who says, I will never speak any louder than this; what I am saying is vital to your success, and if you wish to learn then you need to listen. Separate yourselves from the distractions, and move closer to my voice.
Moses may have been on a quest to hear God's voice. Whether that is true or not God used an amazing situation to gain Moses attention. What Moses learned was that God was not in the loud, tumultuous noises. I think that this is the more accurate description of God's voice, calm, quiet, not competing for our attention, for who He is demands our attention.

"... not laying this foundation again:"
Buildings are typically built to stand the test of time. The architect who designs the building wants people to be able to count on his design meeting or exceeding the building codes; a building that withstands the earthquakes we endure, and in many states buildings that withstand some fairly intense tornado abuse.
All of these buildings derive their initial strength from a good foundation. That foundation required some thought, a wise contractor to oversee, and skilled laborers to build it. As problems are encountered (there is not a building out there that did not have to deal with a problem of some sort) the problems are corrected and dealt with. This can be no different with our spiritual state. Chapter 6 of Hebrews gives an overview of foundational concepts, and yes it refers to them as milk.

If we must progress beyond the foundational things, and you can see that your strength starts in the foundation, then what are the things that we progress onto? I do not think I can say this enough, who we are (kings and priests on this earth) is wrapped up in what happened from the cross to the throne. Jesus voluntarily became a man, suffered the cross as man, became the sacrifice upon the altar, and was appointed by God, once again, to be God's glorious Son, worthy of honor because of what he did.
In Him we have our identity. Pursue Him with everything that is in you.

Whether you call it foundational, milk or basic instructions is irrelevant. They are the things we build upon. We must either progress or leave these teachings so that we can move on.

What are we moving on from?
1. repentance from dead works. (The NIV translates this as: acts that lead to death.)

works - is the Greek word ergon, meaning to toil. The word toil carries several connotations such as: to labor or work out, but it can also mean to labor with pain and fatigue; labor the oppresses the body or mind. You should by now be able to pick up on some spiritual associations here.

repentance - The Greek word is metanoia, meaning by implication a reversal. It is easy to see why this could be considered the turning away from the things that lead to death.

dead - Is the Greek word nekros. It is a basis of our English word for death. You may be familiar with the term necrophilia, an odd obsession with dead people. Its primary meaning has to do with a corpse, and that would imply something with no life in it.

Webster's dictionary defines death as:
1. That state of a being, animal or vegetable, but more particularly of an animal, in which there is a total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions, when the organs have not only ceased to act, but have lost the susceptibility of renewed action. Thus the cessation of respiration and circulation in an animal may not be death, for during hibernation some animals become entirely torpid, and some animals and vegetables may be subjected to a fixed state by frost, but being capable of revived activity, they are not dead.
9. In theology, perpetual separation from God, and eternal torments; called the second death. Rev 2.
10. Separation or alienation of the soul from God;

So then, a repentance from dead works could easily be restated as a turning away from things that have the potential (and some are very strong) of causing the Christian to die physically, possibly to die spiritually, and at minimum cause you to fall into a fixed state where you are of no use to anyone, especially God.

This concept of dying spiritually is difficult for me, only because I do not see God letting go of those who are his. Paul even told us of turning one man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit might be saved. Is it possible that a human could so turn from God that God would let go, allowing him an eternal punishment by separation from God. I do not think so, but then where does the argument for choice come into play. Perhaps it is more a numbing of the spirit through repetitive actions, each one causing you to put more distance between God and yourself. Although God has never left you, it is so typical to think so, when it is you that are a million miles away.


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