1 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,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (NIV).
There is something fundamental, but something lofty; something called “the doctrine of Christ,” yet something that must beleft (v.1) at a certain point in time, in spite of its magnificence, because it is something that is capable of hindering the pursuit of something else much more glorious; something else beyond doctrines; something else called “perfection.”
We are enjoined here to “go on,” beyond the dogmatic celebration of doctrines, “unto perfection.” This exhortation to “go on [from doctrine] unto perfection” appears to suggest that the two issues of which the passage speaks, the issues of “doctrine” and “perfection,” belong to two opposite ends of the ladder. It appears to be saying that to hold tenaciously unto the one kindergarten end of “doctrine” is capable of preventing a person from proceeding “unto” the other ultimate adult experience of “perfection.”
In the previous chapter, from where the subject spills over into chapter 6, the ‘kindergarten’ preoccupation of “doctrine” is synonymously described as “first principles” (KJV) or “elementary truths” (NIV) (5:12); as “the principles of the oracles of God,” implicitly also as “milk,” in contrast to “strong meat”; it is pictured as the nutrition of the unskilled and the immature “babe,” who is contrasted to “them that are of full age,” who have been perfected by the rigorous exercises of the experiences that their “senses” have endured.
Important as they are, those Introductory “first principles” (5:12), by which there is a “laying” of “the foundation” (6:1-2), may be described, in the language of contemporary academics, as ‘Foundational Courses’ (FND). As listed in that ‘curriculum’ (verse 2), the ‘courses’ may be described as: FND 001: “Repentance from Dead Works”; FND 002: “Faith Toward God”; FND 003: “The Doctrine of Baptisms”; FND 004: “Laying on of Hands”; FND 005: “The Resurrection of the Dead”; FND 006: “Eternal Judgment.”
Several years ago in my younger days, I was told one day that I would teach the Monday Bible Class in our fellowship the following week. I prepared and taught on the subject of Water Baptism. The teaching was so insightful and edifying that I was urged to continue the subject the other week. After the meeting, I went back home feeling very pleased with myself as some great teacher of the Word of God. I could almost say to God that evening, “My God, You can see what a profound teacher of Your Word I am.” But just then, I heard the voice of God in my spirit urging me to read Hebrews 5:12-6:3. I opened anxiously to the passage, wondering what I would find. What I found mortified me. I discovered that water baptism was reckoned as one of the “elementary teachings” (NIV) or ABCs of the Gospel, from which I had been expected to “go on” to higher things. The rebuke was sharp: I had been thinking of myself as some great professor whereas what I had done was merely elementary ABC, one of the 1+1s of spiritual kindergarten arithmetic, not some great and unspeakable mystery. I felt so ashamed of myself that I literally crawled under my bed to hide myself.
Depending on the school of thought (or church of thought), the list of prevalent doctrines may be longer: the doctrine of holiness and righteousness, the doctrine of baptisms, the doctrine of demons, the doctrine of salvation and restitution, the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, etc. Doctrines are good, but those who have nothing but doctrines alone to sing, might be announcing what kindergarten classes they run, their great congregations notwithstanding.
Those who wish to put a roof without “laying” these vital “foundations” will crash with a mighty fall when the storms come; yet those who spend all their sermons laying the same foundations, polishing and re-polishing the same old stones, will have no roof when the storms come.
Doctrines are fundamental, but they are not in themselves the end; yet ultimate “perfection” without these doctrinal foundations would be a lie.
From The Preacher’s diary.