A Full Foundation

Hebrews 6:1-3

Keep finger in Hebrews, turn back to Eph 4:11-16

key phrases: “edifying of [building up] the body of Christ”; “knowledge of the Son of God”; “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” or “a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” HCSB; “no longer be children”; “grow up in all things”; “growth of the body”; “edifying of itself” or “building up itself” HCSB

Don’t be a caricature – an exaggerated distortion; don’t be a bobblehead – figurine with disproportionately large head. We, the church, are to be properly proportioned, properly functioning mature body with Christ as her head.

“Many preachers, and multitudes of professing people, are studious to find out how many imperfections and infidelities, and how much inward sinfulness, is consistent with a safe state in religion but how few, very few, are bringing out the fair Gospel standard to try the height of the members of the Church; whether they be fit for the heavenly army; whether their stature be such as qualifies them for the ranks of the Church militant! The measure of the stature of the fullness is seldom seen; the measure of the stature of littleness, dwarfishness, and emptiness, is often exhibited.” Clarke (publ. 1810-1826)

Important addition: how much ignorance of Bible, of the doctrine of Christ “is consistent with a safe state in religion”. “Wheaton College professor Timothy Larsen comments that “it has been demonstrated that biblical literacy has continued to decline. … Gallup polls have tracked this descent to a current ‘record low.’”” Poor health of the church in general, individual Christians in particular, not due to lack of resources – have wider variety, greater accessibility to Bibles and Bible teaching than any other time in human history. Christ has not stopped giving to his church “pastors and teachers,for the equipping of the saints” – hangup is elsewhere.

Paul in address to saints at Ephesus assumes genuine Christians will grow to maturity. Writer to Hebrews assumed the same for his audience, was surprised and disappointed to discover that was not the case. Take-away for us: better be making forward progress, not stagnating or falling back into old childish ways. To move on to maturity, must build on full foundation – growing up from the right place, the elementary doctrine of Christ, in full dependence on Christ.

A. grow up from the right place v.1a

“therefore” – should be building up, not stagnating, for sure not decaying

look back at what he just said – “you have gone back to needing milk” (5:12) – they had at one time handled solid food, had advanced beyond the foundation but…had become slow to hear

at one point in previous history they showed spiritual growth, marks of true Christianity; assumption then that they were genuine believers who had gotten off track

this is call to get back with the program – a reminder that foundation has been laid oncee, shouldn’t need to do it again

like someone who has performed multi-step task….a long time ago; run through the steps, identify right order, ok, good to go

but with one difference: talking about spiritual truths and beliefs here, need to make sure foundation is solid and complete

Cuffeys, foundation under Al’s house – replaced one entire wall, repaired other sections, reinforced it all; didn’t just assume because two courses above ground looked ok that all must be solid

to have healthy spiritual growth: must have good footing, all the pieces there in the foundation, all in good condition

must build up from biblical basics

easy to make assumptions, then try to build structure without ensuring basics are properly covered – 2 groups in particular: children/grandchildren when leaving home, those we are introducing to the Gospel

if kids are to “keep the faith” when they leave for college, military, marriage – must make sure they have solid grounding on “elementary principles” built on right footing, and don’t just take it for granted

just because they went to Sunday School and youth group, can recite the Bible verses, retell the Bible stories means only that – they memorized the verses, remembered the stories

need to help them understand underlying principles, connections between them, how to live in light of them

need to go all the way down to the footing in evangelism – as with “Story of Hope” and Paul in Athens, start with existence of God and Creation and Fall and buid from there

and…for those who made profession of faith, then have followed their own way for years, don’t assume anything – go back to those elementary principles with them starting with:

B. elementary doctrine of Christ v.1b-2

for Jewish audience in particular: don’t fall back to your Old Covenant roots and its shadows, build on present reality, full foundation instead

repentance – no longer repentance and faith in God’s promises, now repentance and faith in Christ

Jesus, from beginning: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””Matt. 4:17

Jesus’ words: “unless you repent, you will all perish as well” Luke 13:5 Don’t have to wonder what Jesus thought, believed, taught

at most basic level, repentance = change of mind; in this context, about sin and standing before God

sinner thinks sin is ok, can get away with it, maybe God is wrong about it, not a big deal, just a mistake….

God has to take us as we are, grades on a curve, weighs good and bad, wouldn’t condemn anyone

true repentance = thinking about sin the way God does: anything we say, think, do that displeases God and breaks his law…deserving of death

standing before Judge of all the earth condemned to death and without hope apart from God’s grace and love

faith

goes beyond intellectual agreement that there is a God, Jesus was a real person, the Bible is God’s communication to us – Satan believes all that, has no hope of eternal life, only eternal condemnation

this kind of faith inseparable from true repentance if it is to lead to legitimate hope of heaven – repentance and faith opposite sides of same coin

turning from sin and self, embracing Christ and his works and his merit and righteousness and forgiveness as our only hope, ground of confidence – believing God’s promise and acting on it: “whoever believes on Him will not perish”

is impossible for us to turn from old sinful ways to nothing; God doesn’t expect that, expects we will turn to Christ – “​Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

baptisms/washings – no longer the ceremonial cleansings and ritual sacrifice of Old Covenant, now the New Covenant realities

don’t forget big idea of Hebrews: Jesus Is the Best! ceremonies and sacrifices of Old pointed to reality of Christ – shouldn’t go back into shadows when what they foreshadowed has been fulfilled

what are signs and symbols, ordinances, given by Christ to his church? what is their significance, how should they be practiced

Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20

“as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, in other words, all my sins.” Orthodox Catechism

Look to Christ to wash away your sinful, dead works, not hoping enough good works will somehow make up for sin

laying on of hands

Example: “the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1 Cor. 11:23-25

as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.” Orthodox Catechism

don’t need to do this: “And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar.” Lev. 3:2

instead: “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:6 Look to Christ, not blood of bulls and goats for forgiveness of sin

resurrection – no longer abstract principle of life after death but with little detail, now have the real deal – Jesus, way better than hints given by Enoch and Elijah

understand there will be bodily resurrection…for both just and unjust – Jesus is forerunner, showed us some of reality

is combination of New Testament teaching about foundation and hope of resurrection and New Testament teaching about Jesus, esp. post-resurrection appearances

because of Jesus’ resurrection, ours is absolutely certain…and…we know when it will happen: when he comes back!

know that will be resurrection to way different sort of life in different sort of place, not just a re-run of this one

we can and should look to Christ, the firstfruits, the guarantee of full harvest, our only hope of a good future

judgment – not the in-your-face kind of justice people experienced in OT, now have perfect once-for-all justice to anticipate

there will be a judgment – no trial, Judge knows all things; will simply be “sentencing phase” when Judge speaks final word

those who have not repented who do not possess saving faith have every reason to fear: without change, will face righteous Judge who will say “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41)

those who are one with Christ, who are like Jesus – children by adoption – “may have boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17)

they will hear the righteous Judge say “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34)

everyone – saved, lost, angels, demons – will know at end of that Day…perfect eternal justice has prevailed

Look to Christ who is not only the righteous Judge, he is the perfect Savior – “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb. 7:25

Was a time few decades back when quite a few people could afford foundation with cap over it but not whole house. Even a church in Cornish started that way. Usually would see house take shape…eventually. Once in a while, would only grow a roof; residents were content to live at foundation level. How about you? Is your spiritual foundation complete, in good condition? If not, are you working on it? If so, are you building up from the foundation? If you are, you can honestly sing….

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