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 toward God, and of instructions about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Heb 6:1-2
Observation: Even back then there was a call to press into maturity and not be satisfied with elementary doctrines.
Analysis: Once upon a time there was this guy named Felix. He was a high muckety muck for Rome in the area of Caesarea, and Paul was being brought to him. It was reported that Felix had a pretty accurate knowledge of the Way (Acts 24:22)—he knew his way around the shop-talk and scriptures and stuff. Perhaps Felix could hold his own in discussions and debates. I have known guys like that.
Paul was brought before Felix to plead his case. “And as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed…” (Acts 24:25)
I noticed that these 3 subjects (righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment) are remarkably similar to what are categorized as “elementary doctrines” (repentance, faith, washings, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment). Paul spoke about elementary things to Felix, someone who was noted to be more than acquainted with the doctrines of the Way…and he became scared. So scared that for 2 years Felix didn’t talk to Paul again.
Elementary doctrines are powerful; powerful enough to scare folks to hide and avoid the Gospel in fear. But the Scripture says we should not stay at the point of mastering elementary doctrines—but to press further in, press into maturity.
I was an umpire once, very familiar with the basics of the Game. You need someone to call balls and strikes, to make the judgment calls of reaching base safely or not. But I was called to take the umpires test to keep my license intact. I found that I couldn’t pass the test. It wasn’t the basics that I was being tested upon—no question that I was competent on the foundational things—it was the deeper issues of whether this or that was foul or fair, safe or out, interference or not, etc.
I used my gut convictions, based upon internal reasonings, and…failed the test. Not once, but 3 times.
Never mind that the teams I umpired had confidence that the games were going to be called fairly and with gusto/effort— “they liked me, they really did like me…”, but when it came to the finer nuances of the Game, I had to take my best guess and tough it out with a lot of bravado.
Is that how most people do the Gospel? Do they do it like painting a room: big, broad strokes are easy and fast, but who likes to do the trim? Do I do the big broad strokes of the Gospel but when it calls to learn the “trim”, no thanks, too detailed for me? Give me the broad strokes any day…
And let me live on milk alone. How sad…
Prayer: Father, I have ZERO desire to live on milk. And yet, I have to constantly review elementary foundations to assure I don’t go off the narrow path. The more I review the Gospel and its foundations, the more confident I am in staying on the path of righteousness.
What I miss are the faithful brothers who are watching my back, engaging with me, making me review and review the basic assumptions of the Kingdom and the Plan of Redemption so I stay true to Him who called me by His marvelous Grace.