The Letter to the Hebrews gives us wonderful insights into the faith and practices of Jewish people who had come to believe in their Messiah, Jesus and before Gentile (non-Jewish) influences began to shape the Body of Christ. We can see through Jewish eyes what it’s all about, how this community of Messianic believers saw themselves and their Messiah.
Last posting, we saw that all believers were expected to be able to teach. But biblically, the only office of teacher is held by the Lord himself when he, Jesus, says call no man Rabbi, (teacher) for you have one teacher (Mat 23:8). So we should avoid titling anyone as “Teacher”. Rather all should be able to teach one another.
Our author has warned his readers against reluctance to make progress, desiring safety and being content with a little assurance. Instead, they, we, must grow up, keep on, forsaking all other, being a real help and bringing true life to others—conforming to Christ.
In chapter 6 the author wants them to go on to maturity’ on to solid food, his in-depth teaching on the high-priestly work of Christ—the heavenly Christ—which he has already introduced earlier in chapter 2.
So, instead of going over the ‘elementary teachings’ –the foundational matters– repentance and faith, teachings about washings, laying on of hands, resurrection and eternal judgment, our author wants his readers to press onwards, deeper—solid food, that will move, stimulate, challenge them onwards to maturity. They have to give up the repetitive elementary stuff and take up things more difficult to digest, but of immense worth.
Now these six foundational matters were not new to Jewish people. They are, in the most part, the foundations of Israel. And Israel’s foundation is the root of the Way of Jesus. So why dwell on these basics?
From personal experience I know how upset an architect would be if on arrival on site to find the builder had re-laid the foundation for his or her designed building. God must be grieved when we keep re-laying a foundation, trotting out basic stuff again and again, ignoring his brilliant design to actually complete the project.
Many preachers today keep teaching foundational things over and over again and their pet subjects. The deeper things of God are ignored as not being seeker friendly or not relevant for 21st Century sophisticates. Has the Holy Spirit been forgotten? Many people hear regular gospel sermons, kept silent observers under pastor or priest instead of being active, alive members of a many-membered body with Christ as Head and the Holy Spirit inspiring each one. Kept in babyhood.
The author does not explain or touch on these foundational matters again—he will go on to solid food. He wants them, and us, to move on from beginners’ matters and move ahead to mature things. Once a foundation is laid, it remains as a firm support for the visible and functional things of a building but if construction work stops there, it is a derelict blight on the streetscape. And subject to deterioration and decay.
It is surely God’s design that we cannot remain static—we must move onwards in Jesus who is both the author and the finisher of our faith (Heb 12:1-2). To remain a beginner on milk, and not go on to maturity spells failure: we have quit the race!
Like riding a bike, if we stop we fall over! Let’s not fall over—it looks, and is, really awful. Decay smells bad too. Many Christians truly stink.
Hey Ian, just wondering what the ‘solid food’ you had in mind is when you said “The author does not explain or touch on these foundational matters again—he will go on to solid food”? It seems that the author uses pretty much the rest of the book to explain how sure we can be sure of our salvation because of Christ’s work. He doesn’t seem to prescribe anything else to ‘do’. He seems rather to just be encouraging them to believe with perfect assurance that their justification is on the merits of Christ and that all that the law prescribed is no longer binding on them for salvation. And then to rest in that! I’m not sure if I understood you correctly…
Thanks Kate. All will be revealed in future posts just as the author gave lots of solid teaching to his readers–my aim in these is to to keep to this text with occasional references to other parts of the New Testament.