For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have learned to discern good and evil…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…But beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb. 5:12-6:12)
This brings us to a close of the Another Gospel series. I have tried to show, via viewing it through many different aspects, the gospel of salvation we preach today may fill mega-temples with dues-paying members who have been converted to the faith of babes, but it can take them no further due to:
- An evangelical message exclusive of the cross that promises everything and asks nothing, and assures salvation merely through following someone through a 3-minute prayer followed by temple attendance,
- A system that promulgates a mindset where Christianity becomes a set of scheduled meetings within comfortable, secure, and convenient confines,
- No promise of meeting Jesus and experiencing the kingdom of heaven before death,
- A doctrine of grace and the god who offers it that yields pacificity and lukewarmth rather than passion and fruit,
- A leadership philosophy and structure that exalts professionals while relegating the masses to positions of casual observance and turns church services into stage performances.
On the contrary, the gospel of the kingdom Jesus preached, lived, and brought to this world is characterized by:
- An evangelical message whose door is the cross, where one must die to self and be willing to give up everything before getting anything, and teaches conversion as the beginning of a long journey of commitment with real challenges and real consequences insofar as obedience is concerned,
- A mind transformed to seeking and bringing the kingdom of heaven on earth through lifestyle, wherever it may be and whatever amount of personal sacrifice it may take,
- The promise of experiencing Jesus and the kingdom of heaven every day in this life,
- A doctrine of grace that grants forgiveness and conversion, but after that requires Holy Spirit-transformation made possible by grace that motivates us to love and good deeds as its natural byproduct,
- An apostolic church philosophy and structure that constantly challenges and edifies every member to be everything God has for them, so they can contribute their unique and critical gifts to the body. No seminaries or professionals required.
The fruits of both the gospels of salvation and the kingdom, and the philosophies that lead to them, are perhaps nowhere better stated than the passages above from Hebrews 5-6. The frustration in Paul’s tone in the beginning is evident, as he starts by warning believers who have had time to mature of needing to continue to suckle on “elementary principles” [remember these words] of God’s truths. He calls those “babes” who cannot seem to break free from a constant diet of the milk of those very principles. Citing these very same passages from Hebrews, the video series The Restless Church proclaims:
“Church has merely become an exercise in perfecting the art of preaching to the converted, a pointless ritual where a lot of time and energy is wasted weekly telling people things they already know. It may sound controversial, but for many mature Christians hearing another Gospel message is actually the last thing they need…If we simply keep going over the basics again and again we will never progress.”
After stating the problem with perpetual infants in the church of God, which sadly defines most occupying pews today, Paul then gives us the solution when a few sentences later he brings up the concept of elementary principles again in the interest of defining them: “repentance from dead works and faith towards God” which in turn is the definition of the conversion experience. Paul was asking these babes, “Really? Must I evangelize you all over again? Don’t you know you were saved for something, not just to be converted? Must we review gospel 101 for the umpteenth time?” Paul proceeds to define what those “better” things are we need after conversion that “accompany salvation.” They are good works, love, and being a contributing member of the body of Christ. He is encouraging—no, admonishing—us to grow beyond conversion in to a life of obedience living in the flow of God’s abundant love!
Mere knowledge cannot bring forth the discernment Paul says the spiritually mature gain through obedience, for it is in the fields of mission he encounters and learns to understand the difference between true good and evil. In Hebrews Paul calls that obedience “practice.” Jesus said His solid food was to do the will of the Father, and to accomplish His Father’s work (John 4:34) on this earth. His sustenance was found not only in hearing His Father’s will, but in practicing and accomplishing it. His final, triumphant words on the cross were, “It is accomplished!”
Jesus encountered Satan because He was about fulfilling the mission His Father gave Him to do. So shall it be for any man who gets off the sidelines of conversion and follows Him into the practice of faith. When we move past the elementary spiritual principles of conversion in to the fields of practicing the things that accompany salvation, we naturally learn to discern good and evil because Satan will resist us. No amount of head knowledge can teach us what experience must in “discerning good and evil,” for until we apply that knowledge we do not threaten evil’s kingdom. Lifetime converts present no such need for the Devil to resist, for they will never impact his kingdom.
What Paul is saying is you’ve been saved! Move on! News flash from God’s Word: there are better things in this life once you are saved to engage in, but the gospel of salvation and its preachers are just not equipped with their philosophy and system to take you in to the things that accompany salvation. Find any bored, wandering, passive people hanging out in temples once or twice a week for an hour or so who followed Jesus in the Bible? Of course not! That’s because they lived and preached the same gospel their Master did.
I hope you have enjoyed this series, and that it has motivated you to break free from the chains of the gospel of salvation and temple life, seek the kingdom Jesus brought and preached, find others who are doing likewise for some real fellowship, and start living the most exciting life imaginable through simply doing what Jesus is commanding in your heart through the Holy Spirit He planted there by amazing grace! Ask God to “transform you by the renewing of your mind,” and begin taking full advantage of “those things that accompany salvation.” No professionals required, “He has granted you everything pertaining to life and godliness!” He has given you everything necessary to have, find, and bring your unique gift to the body of Christ, and is just waiting to use you in miraculous ways. So get ‘er done! Stop buying another gospel and go all in on His gospel: the gospel of the kingdom!