The Manifold Wisdom Of God
Let Us Go On To Perfection?
"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 teaching of immersions, of laying on of hands,
of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
And this we will do if God permits," Hebrews 6'1-3.
Why should the heading of this study, "Let Us Go On To Perfection?", have a question mark? The actual scripture doesn't. The reason is that it's been added simply to draw attention.
The full wording that the question mark is pointing to is: ... let us go on to perfection ... And this we will do if God permits.
The point is, that these words need closer attention. That's because they are read by some as referring to striving to be perfect. However, if that was intended, where does "and this we will do if God permits" fit in? Would God not give His permission to Believers who want to strive for perfection?
Traditionally this idea of striving has been thought to be a commendable thing as part of earning a good place in the after-life. (Even non-religious people think it's a good thing to strive to be better.)
But the writer of the letter to the Hebrew Believers is not saying that they should live their lives striving to be perfect because later in his letter he makes a wonderful statement. Referring to Jesus he says that ...
"... by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified," Hebrews 10'14.
Perfected forever! His words show that true Believers have been perfected. We don't have to strive to reach anything. Having been perfected (spiritual perfection) we are now being sanctified (being made more and more saintly growing in Christ).
But, the idea of striving comes from not reading the context properly, or not at all, and that results in confusing perfection with sanctification.
Again 1 Corinthians 6'11 says:
"... you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God".
In addition to being perfected all born again Believers are washed, justified and sanctified. All completed in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
There it is, we are spiritually clean (washed), right with God (justified) and set apart from the world (sanctified). From that moment on every true Believer is placed alongside "those who are being sanctified". What's more ...
"... both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” Hebrews 2'9-13.
Those words are amazing!
Just think about what the Lord prayed for His Called-Out Ones:
“Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.
As You sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth," John 17'17-19.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thessalonians 5'23.
"IF GOD PERMITS"
So if going on to perfection is not striving to be perfect what is the writer referring to? The answer lies in the context of the letter which indicates that he is saying: let us go on to the topic of perfection.
It's significant that, after saying "if God permits", he doesn't wait for permission, he simply carries on writing. That's because he's been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write to these Hebrews, and therefore expects Him to lead. He is writing what he feels the Spirit wants him fo convey to them, topic by topic.
At the start, in chapter 1 verse 1, he reveals the understanding that underlies the context the whole letter:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son ...".
From there he follows on, topic after topic, highlighting Jesus and the New Covenant Kingdom compared with Old Covenant, people and things.
He moves along to a point where he reveals that the Lord achieved perfection, which he credits freely to every one who is born again:
"... though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him called by God as High Priest 'according to the order of Melchizedek',” 5'8-9.
But, when he refers to Melchizedek he stops as if he recalls his readers' lack of attention on an earlier occasion when he spoke about Melchizedek. So he says:
"... of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing," 5'10-11.
Being upset about their lack of spiritual growth he finds it difficult to continue. Although he rebukes them he also encourages them and teaches them some wonderful things. No doubt inspired by the Holy Spirit.
He also conveys that he has God's permission to continue with Melchizedek because he knows he is crucial to "perfection", the topic he had in mind originally. So he begins with this:
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek," chapter 6 verses 19-20.
And He leads him to explain from here on that the Law cannot make any one perfect.
"Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek and not be called according to the order of Aaron? Chapter 7 verse 11.
"... for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God," Hebrews 7'19.
"It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience," Hebrews 9'9.
"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation," Hebrews 9'11.
"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect," Hebrews 10'1.
"God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us," Hebrews 11'40.
"... to the general assembly and called-out people of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect," Hebrews 12'23.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings,” Hebrews 2'9-12.