Journal Heb 6 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Therefore, let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity—not laying again a foundation of:
- repentance from dead works and of
- faith towards God; (and) of
- instructions about washings,
- the laying on of hands,
- the resurrection of the dead, and
- eternal judgement.
And this we will do if God permits.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit; and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come—and then have fallen away—to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt…” Heb 6:1-6
Observation: Repetition is the mother of knowledge. When I see the word “therefore”, I should see what it is “there for?” So why is the writer of Hebrews talking about leaving elementary subjects and moving on to maturity…when I don’t even know what he is talking about?
Analysis: I know I have not made any attempt to unpack Heb 6 beyond verse 10, where a promise and nice observation is: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have shown for his name in serving the saints (as you still do).”
I have tried (in my past) to define the beginning as stuff I need to know, but candidly, these six subjects don’t get talked about much and certainly not in an organized structure.
Then again, if I categorize these subjects in the broader description “Doctrine”, then the murkiness becomes clearer and the emphasis is better understood. If I had to describe it further, the Writer is describing a catechism.
As I grew older as a Christian, I have often wondered why the subject of ‘catechism’ is so often resisted. I sort of know that this came developing attitudes in the 1900’s about “religion being a private matter of a person” and thus, doctrinal teaching is irrelevant—anybody can believe anything they want.
But what does teaching doctrine do? Like the Writer is implying, it grounds a believer in certain things so that other, more mature subjects and attitudes can be layered upon that foundation. At that point, Faith is not based upon a “gritting of teeth” or any particular stubbornness of mental energy. Faith becomes stronger because the doctrines of God’s Word are planted and are growing where I become more knowledgeable and (gasp) mature.
Learning is that function where I am transforming my mind (Ro 12), preparing for the work of service (Eph 6), and becoming able to make a defense for my hope or correcting a brother but with gentleness and respect. (1 Pete 3 and 2nd Tim 2). Doctrine is that systematic approach that makes learning efficient.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, it seems I am always juggling between two factors: being Spiritual and being Pragmatic. I am finding out that these are not exclusive, but inclusive—but handling the two is a mental chore. Thank you that being “spiritually guided” is not separate from being guided by the Word. What is more difficult is relying on my own experience and worldly, fleshly knowledge to make spiritual decisions. Sometimes I can’t help being in that position and that is where I cry out to you.
But the more I pack your Word in my heart AND brain, organize it properly according to sound doctrine, then I can rein in my fleshly experience and submit it to godly Wisdom. AMEN