We finally had the fourth week of actual study last night where we covered Hebrews chapter 6, sort of. We actually made it through the first six verses. I knew once we got into this part of Hebrews, we would be able to cover less ground in our 1.5 hr meeting. Chapter 6 is challenging. It's not necessarily the most intellectually challenging part of Hebrews, but it is definitely one of the most spiritually challenging. I don't know many Christians who can read Hebrews chapter 6 and honestly say they are partakers of the "solid food" referenced in chapter 5, and not "milk."
Do you wonder whether you are? Consider what the author is saying in the first two verses:
1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2 (NASB)
Has the church (collectively) left the "elementary teaching about the Christ"? Hardly. We discussed each item listed individually. "Repentance from dead works," still plagues the church - we battle with legalism continually, and repentance. There is simply no earning your way into heaven, yet we try our best to measure our salvation by work-related measurements.
How about "washings," or baptisms. There is still plenty of in-fighting about when, where, who, how, and how often to baptize. Is there one baptism, two, three, or multiple? The author clearly intends to communicate multiple, so which is he or she meaning? We collectively determined the potential for three: (1) water baptism, (2) the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and (3) the baptism by fire. I, personally, had never made the distinction between (2) and (3) until after our discussion last night, but I do now. We also concluded that the list might not be exhaustive, but those were the three we were able to identify.
And "the laying on of hands," how well is the church coping with that one? Do we? Don't we? Why do we? Why don't we? We determined four reasons for doing so still today: (1) healing, (2) commissioning or sending out, (3) impartation, and (4) baptism in the Holy Spirit. Not that the laying on of hands is necessary for each, or that the list is exhaustive, but these are certainly reasons for doing so.
Oh yeah, "and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." As sophisticated as we have become in the Western church, we are regressing in matters of the Spirit. We are able to get the word out better than we ever have, but the word has lost its power. It's no wonder there's a problem with "faith toward God."
I say only half jokingly, fortunate for us that so few of us "have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" otherwise we would be in danger of the condemnation contained in verses 5 and 6.
Hopefully we will finish chapter 6 next week and move into chapter 7.