the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2).
Last week we considered the place of theology in showing true love. We touched on some of the ways that people miss the mark and end up hurting others rather than doing what most benefits the other person. Indeed, we might have said that much of what passes for loving Christianity these days is really American Folk Religion - an emotion based feel good theology divorced from true godliness.
One of the reasons for this is that much of the Church has never progressed beyond the elementary teachings of Christ. There are many churches today where the pulpit ministry is a constant rehashing of the new birth, baptism, “confirmation,” the resurrection and eternity (or “end times” eschatology perhaps).
Now, it’s true that every Christian should always be ready to share the gospel of salvation in Christ with others. It is also true that every Christian pastor should make evangelism a pillar of his ministry. On the other hand it is wrong to expect new believers to mature if they are not taught the comprehensive nature of the Gospel.
You see, Jesus did not live, die, rise again and ascend to heaven just to save souls from hell. Rather, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19), because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21). And how is this deliverance realized? Is it something that happens after the second coming or is it a fruit of Christ’s first advent?
Throughout the centuries there have been many in the Church who understood that God’s promised covenant blessings are “yes” in Jesus Christ – in this age (2 Corinthians 1:20). As the great hymn writer Isaac Watts penned 300 years again his Christmas anthem “Joy To The World,”
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
This is simply a reaffirmation of the blessings promised to the covenant people of God in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Please understand; this has absolutely nothing to do with “works salvation” and everything to do with the fact that we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). And the result of working out your salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit? (Philippians 2:12-13).Simply, If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17. See also, Matthew 11:29, Luke 6:47, 8:21, 11:28, Philippians 4:9, James 1:22 and so on). In other words, Believers need to be taught that repentance from dead works and faith toward God is just the very first step in bringing one’s life and sphere of influence under the lordship of Jesus Christ. It is the very first step in realizing the blessings of covenant with God in Christ in this current age.
Next: the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.