Floundering on the Foundation

Things that pertain to salvation (2)

The heart of Hebrews 6 is in verse 9: "Though we speak this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things - things that belong to salvation." The writer then proceeds to outline those "things that pertain to salvation," and we shall examine them in due course.

We may assume that whatever the writer is describing before verse 9 does not pertain to salvation. Now there are many good things mentioned in these verses. However, in the context - that is, in the light of verse 9 - regardless of how good they may appear in themselves, they do not individually, nor taken together, pertain to salvation.

Notice the first of these: "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 instruction about washings (literally, "baptisms"), the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment" (vv. 1, 2). Are these matters of no importance? Hardly. They are of utmost importance in gaining entrance to the Kingdom of God. We must believe in Christ, forsaking all efforts to earn our salvation; and we must submit to baptism and the proper order of life in the Church (Heb. 13.17); and we do hope that, at the resurrection, we shall escape the coming judgment through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one can become a Christian without embracing these most foundational truths.

But no one who has truly become a Christian should simply linger here. Believing these foundational doctrines is the starting-point but not the sum of saving faith. The writer continues by expressing the hope that God will move all true believers on beyond these foundational truths into the fuller life of faith, nourished by the solid food of Biblical truth, issuing in a transformed life.

Look at it this way: Was it good for Israel to gather at Mt. Sinai in order to receive the covenant and commandments of the Lord? Without a doubt. Would it have been good for them simply to have remained there? Not at all. God Himself said to His people, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey..." (Deut. 1.6, 7). Any who simply stayed at Mt. Sinai, relishing the memory of their redemption, chatting endlessly about the Law and how wonderful it is, but never moving on with the rest of the people, would find themselves soon enough separated from God, cut off from His people, and alone and perishing in a wilderness land.

Many who profess faith in Christ today are floundering at the foundations of faith. They've never heeded the call to be weaned from the pure milk of those elemental doctrines and practices and to begin pursuing the ever-maturing life of seeking the Lord, pondering His Word, walking in His presence, and carrying out the works He has appointed for us (Eph. 2.10).

If we're not moving on in the life of faith, building on foundational doctrines ever higher and stronger structures of understanding, faith, and practice, then we must consider whether we might be on the wrong side of the divide of things that pertain to salvation. Examine yourself, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians (2 Cor. 13.5), to see whether your floundering at the foundations has deluded you into a false sense of security. While the rest of the camp of God's people moves on in the life of faith, are you still lingering at the foot of the mountain?

T. M. Moore

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore