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. — Hebrews 6:1
When my brother was young, he began taking piano lessons. I remember the notes drifting up from the basement as he practiced, especially when he repeated the same phrase fifteen or twenty times! He started by playing simple lines with each hand, but gradually the pieces became more complex. Eventually, he could play works by famous composers.
One of the most important elements factoring into his improvement was the constant goals set by his teachers — they regularly challenged his ability with harder exercises and more difficult scales and fingerings. My brother rose to the challenges and steadily became a better player. His teachers also motivated his progress by organizing recitals that featured him. With every performance, he advanced in confidence and ability. Eventually, he became a teacher himself. The years of practice and performance helped him to teach his students how to progress in their personal study of the piano.
As Christians, it is important that we make progress, moving beyond an understanding of the basic doctrines of the Gospel into spiritual maturity. In our focus verse, the writer of Hebrews instructs believers to “go on unto perfection.” The word perfection means a state of mental and moral “completeness.” Clearly, after we have been saved, we should pray to receive our sanctification. When our heart has been made pure and holy through that experience, we should press on and seek for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Even after we receive these experiences, we should progress in our spiritual walk. We can regard every challenge as an opportunity to learn how to depend more on Christ. Each trial can become an occasion for deeper faith and trust in God. With every spiritual victory comes more confidence in God.
We can set spiritual goals. We can even push ourselves to meet those goals, as we would an earthly goal. Yes, we may find that Satan fights our progress! When we purpose to grow by increasing time spent in prayer and reading of the Word or performing any other spiritual discipline, the enemy of our souls is not happy. As a result, the challenges may increase, but with the challenges comes God’s supernatural power to help us win the victory over any situation.
This passage of Scripture emphasizes how necessary it is to make spiritual progress, moving beyond the elementary principles of the Gospel. The writer warned the Hebrew Christians against being dull hearers; dull hearing is a sign of spiritual immaturity and is marked by apathy or indifference toward the Word, a lack of spiritual discernment, and an inability to teach others.
The Hebrews should have been mentoring others in the Word, but instead, they were “unskillful in the word of righteousness.” Not only does dullness toward the Word keep a Christian from growing, but it hinders his ability to share with others.
In chapter 6, the writer moved beyond a diagnostic rebuke, and admonished the Hebrews to grow up from a state of childhood to the fullness of the stature of the new man in Christ, “leaving the principles of the doctrines of Christ” (Hebrews 6:1). The word translated leaving has the sense of “quitting with the view to engage in something else.”
The author enumerated the doctrines of repentance, faith, the doctrine of baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. He indicated that the Hebrews should progress beyond these, which were all taught in a rudimentary way in the Old Testament, to a full understanding and practice of the doctrines of Christ.
Verses 4 through 8 of chapter 6 give one of the stern warnings set forth in the Bible: a warning against apostasy. There is a great difference between backsliding and what is described in these verses. The Bible draws a distinction between backsliding and falling away from God.
For the backslider, there is every hope of his restoration if he will repent and renew his vows to the Lord. For the man who has fallen away from God and has reached the final stage that is depicted in these verses, there is no hope. The word that is translated fall away means to “apostatize from,” and implies an entire renunciation of Christianity. The one who has fallen away into a state of apostasy has rejected his only means of access to God and is cut off by the position he has taken.
The writer concluded this portion of text by likening Christians to a field for harvest. The field that is receptive to the rain and nutrients from heaven will be blessed of God. The field that is unfruitful and full of thorns and briars will be cursed of and rejected by God.
(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The argument: the preeminence of Christ in His person and work
D. The superiority of Christ to Aaron
3. Parenthesis III: admonition to maturity
a. The fact of immaturity (5:11-14)
b. The need for progression (6:1-8)
(1) The exhortation (6:1-3)
(2) The reminder (6:4-6)
(3) The illustration (6:7-8)
True commitment to Christ will move us out of our comfort zone and into areas where we will be stretched and challenged to grow as Christians. How will we respond?