Just as a good foundation is important to a building in the natural world, a good spiritual foundation is important for the believer. Through the parable of the two builders we have learned that our spiritual foundations must be built on the Word of God. Hebrews 6:1-3 reveals that the foundations of the Christian faith are:
-Repentance from dead works
-Faith toward God
-Doctrine of baptisms
-Laying on of hands
-Resurrection of the dead
These are basic doctrines on which we are called by God to build our spiritual lives.
In Hebrews 6:1-3 Paul gives us an additional step which is necessary:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection. (Hebrews 6:1)
Repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment are all principles of the doctrine of Christ. Two extremes are common among believers and even more visually among churches. One is that they have a knowledge of the Word of God and His doctrines but do not apply that knowledge to daily living, they don’t seek to have a relationship with Him. The other extreme is that believers emphasize having a personal relationship with God and experience the Holy Spirit but ignore doctrine. Both doctrine and relationship are important. A proper understanding of doctrine results in a fulfilling relationship with Him. But any spiritual experience that is not based on Biblical doctrine is not trustworthy.
We must not only understand the basic doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-3 but we also have to experience them. Once we have built our lives on these doctrines and begun to apply them to our lives, we must learn how to "go on unto perfection.” Which is great because that’s exactly what we are endeavouring to do today.
The word "perfection" means complete, finished, and mature. A "perfect" Christian is one who has achieved spiritual maturity. This means his body, soul, and spirit are under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The word "perfection" is similar to the word "sanctification" or "consecration" which are also used in the Bible. "Sanctification" means holiness and "consecration" means to be set apart in righteousness. So relax, we are not being called to be perfect as in ‘flawless in our actions’ but perfect as in spiritually mature and under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Many people begin with God. They hear the Gospel, repent from dead works, and have faith toward God, but they never progress beyond this point. They never complete their spiritual foundation and go on to perfection. A partial foundation in the natural world is not functional. You cannot construct a building on a partial foundation or it will collapse under stress. You must complete the foundation and then construct the building.
Believers who have not completed their spiritual foundations will have difficulty under stress. They will live "up and down" lives spiritually. Their spiritual building will not weather the storms of life. They cannot go on to perfection [spiritual maturity] because their foundation is incomplete. I cannot say this enough; half a spiritual foundation will end up just like half a physical foundation. So how do we complete our foundations and move on to perfection?
Paul told the Corinthian believers that it was time they should be teaching others the Gospel. Instead, they had to be taught the first foundational principles of God. He compared them to babies who only could drink milk. By "milk" he meant the first principles of God. Milk is very healthy and brings growth, but there comes a time when a baby goes on to solid foods:
Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (Isaiah 28:9)
Just as weaning from milk is necessary in the natural world if a child is to develop properly, it is also necessary in the spiritual world. Believers must go beyond first principles on to spiritual maturity [perfection]. Spiritually mature believers are able to feast on the meat, not just the milk, of the Word of God.
There is only one example of what ‘spiritual maturity’, what perfection should look like. Jesus is the example of perfection for believers:
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (I Peter 2:21)
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, (Hebrews 5:9)
God planned believers to be conformed, made like Jesus who is our example of perfection:
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
Much of the history of the Old Testament records the inability of man to keep God's laws. God knew man would not be able to keep the law through his own efforts. But God had some specific purposes for giving the law. One of the purposes of the law was to show men their sinful condition. Another purpose was to show them that they could not become righteous by their own efforts:
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: For the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
We can no more achieve true perfection as Jesus is, then the Israelites of the Old Testament could keep all of God’s laws. We can however come into perfection as Paul meant it, spiritually mature.
One of the ways we can do this is by accepting God’s correction when we go off course; and the Word of God can provide correction which results in perfection:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Just studying God's Word will not perfect you, prayer, self-control, submission to the Holy Spirit, as well as study and positive response to spiritual correction are all needed to bring us into a right relationship with God. You must not only look into God's law, but continue to live according to it.
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (I John 2:5)
Spiritual maturity does not mean advancing in God's favour. It does not gain you access to Heaven, because this was done through the death of Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus you are justified before God. It is through Him you are saved and have the promise of Heaven.
Perfection does not come by maintaining a set of standards. It is possible for a person to maintain standards that give an outward spiritual appearance yet be unspiritual and maybe even unsaved.
Spiritual maturity does not depend on how you feel emotionally. It does not come automatically through years of being a Christian or by Christian service. Spiritual maturity comes through an increase in and application of spiritual knowledge. This increase in knowledge comes by study of God's Word.
This study results in understanding of the processes for perfection and the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ. Personal application of what you learn leads to spiritual maturity through the enabling power of God.
The Desire for Spiritual Maturity -> Study Of God's Word -> An Increase In Spiritual Knowledge -> When Applied Through God's Power -> leads to Spiritual Maturity (Perfection).
We have come to the conclusion of our study of foundations of the Christian faith. But in reality we will never really finish. As Paul said, we must now... ...go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1).
Our new objective, for the next chapter of our lives, is perfection...