Acts + Letters Lesson 14 Day 3

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Hebrews 5:11-6:3

Questions for Acts and Letters of the Apostles Lesson 14

Beyond the basics and pressing on to perfection

In this case, the elementary principles to move beyond are all items in a common ground of belief between Christianity and Judaism. This was a safe common ground for these discouraged Jewish Christians to retreat back to.

Of course, these Jewish Christians did not want to abandon religion, but they did want to make it less distinctively Christian. Therefore, they went back to this common ground to avoid persecution. Living in this comfortable common ground, one did not stick out so much. A Jew and a Christian together could say, “Let’s repent, let’s have faith, let’s perform ceremonial washings,” and so forth. This was a subtle yet certain denial of Jesus.

This is entirely characteristic of those who feel discouraged and wish to give up. There is always the temptation to still be religious, but not so fanatical about Jesus. (Enduring Word)

6. The basics

“A foundation is something you walk on every day . . .” (Rick Joyner)

Foundation of Repentance

Repentance from acts of sin and dead works

  1. Turning from sinful acts
  2. Turning from pious acts that we put our faith in
  3. Any goodness of our own that we think grants us right standing with God (AWLC)

As noted above, some Jewish believers held on to their former religious practices.

The Greek word translated repentance

μετάνοια metánoia . . . especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Faith toward God

The NIV, NLT, and perhaps others translate this phrase as “faith in God.” The AMPC translates it as “the faith [by which you turned] to God. Many other popular translations use the word “toward.”

Another foundational principal of faith, though, is trusting the finished work of Christ. We did not earn our salvation, and we cannot earn continued right-standing with God. Jesus justified us.

Faith is the gift of God.

for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes. (Acts 3:16 NLT)

To walk by faith and not by sight, daily trusting God comes with spiritual maturity.

Baptisms (plural)

New believers baptized in water to symbolize in the natural what takes place in the spiritual. (This is not the baptism of John the Baptist.)

Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit.”

Jesus baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, John 1:33)

The Greek word translated baptisms (baptismos) is not the word typically used in the New Testament for Christian baptism (baptizo). It’s the word for Baptismos is the word used on three other specific instances to refer to Jewish ceremonial washings (Hebrews 9:10, Mark 7:4, and Mark 7:8). 

Since the writer addressed this letter to the Hebrews, he may remind them not to revert. 

Laying hands on someone

  1. Healing the sick by laying our hands on the person. (Luke 4:40 and others)
  2. To impart spiritual gifts (1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6)
  3. For someone to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17)
  4. As a part of setting aside someone for a special task (Acts 6:5-7),which may include imparting a spiritual gift as it was in Timothy’s case.

Resurrection of the dead

A foundational doctrine of true Christianity is the resurrection of all the dead. There will not be any partial resurrection. Every person who has ever lived will live again for all eternity. Some will be resurrected to life and others unto death, but no one will just cease to exist. (AWML)

Eternal judgment is coming.

A judgment is coming. After everyone is physically resurrected, God will judge us all. Those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior will be judged righteous because of what Jesus did for them. Those who did not accept Jesus by putting their faith in Him will be judged unrighteous and condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire, which was made for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Notice this is an eternal judgment. There isn’t any ultimate reconciliation for those who go to hell and the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15). (AWLC)

Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; (Matthew 25:41)

Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)

7. Maturity – Growing in our faith

In this context, the writer refers to going beyond the basic principles. A spiritual infant drinks milk, but an adult can digest meat and other solid food. 

The mature have the following characteristics according to this passage:

  1. Able to instruct others
  2. Experienced and skilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action) (Hebrews 5:13 AMPC)
  3. They have learned through practice to recognize the difference between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

Hebrews 8-10 goes into more detail.

8. Personal challenges to spiritual maturity

II desire to “conform to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action.”

Some days are better than others.

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Unless noted, all Scripture from public domain WEB translation.

My answers to BSF Bible Study Fellowship questions Acts + Letters of the Apostles Lesson 14 Day 3