Here on my blog, we’re going through a study of foundational principles. The writer of Hebrews tells us our goal is to become mature Christians who can handle strong spiritual “meat,” but first, we need to have a foundation in place that’s firmly grounded on Jesus Christ.
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. And this we will do if God permits. (Heb. 6:1-3)
Without these foundational doctrines, we aren’t able to grow. We need to make sure our foundation is stable, and then we can go on to maturity in Christ.
Repentance and Faith
Faith is closely tied to the previous principle on the list: repentance from dead works. Like repentance, faith is a prerequisite for coming to God, and it was at the core of Christ’s message during His earthly ministry.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
The Greek word “believe” (G4100, pisteuo) is derived from the word “faith” (G4102, pistis), and it means “to have faith in.” Repentance is about turning away from sin; faith is about turning unto the one who saves us from sin. We rest our faith upon Him.
I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:17-18)
This is from Jesus’ words to Paul when He first called him. The word “to” (as in “from Satan to God”) is the same word translated “toward” in the Hebrews 6 phrase “faith toward God.” It involves moving toward someone with the intention of staying there with them once you arrive (Zodhiates G1909, epi). That’s all made possible by the work of Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice made repentance possible and gave faith power.
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Col. 1:21-23)
Grounded in Christ
One thing that becomes very clear as we study the foundational principles of Christianity is how intimately connected what we believe is with the One we believe in. Our faith stands in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:5), and it is “faith toward God” that roots us to the foundation where Christ is Cornerstone.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7)
We can’t “be in the faith” unless Christ is living in us (2 Cor. 13:5). Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” By faith, we’re able to focus on a goal we can’t see with our physical eyes and trust that it’s really there.
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2)
In the Greek, the words describe Jesus as the originator or beginner of our faith (G747, archegos) and the One Who will bring it to completion (G5051, teleotes). He works with and in us from start to finish to strengthen our faith and make us perfect, mature Christians.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
The foundational principles build on each other. Once we repent from dead works, we walk in newness of life by faith. It’s the next essential ingredient for building the sort of relationship with God on which our lives depend.
More posts in this series: