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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fundamental Teachings Part 1

Isaiah 28:9-10, “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept upon precept, line upon line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”

There is an old saying, but a true saying, that a house is only as good as the foundation upon which it stands. One can build a magnificently detailed home, but if the foundation is not stable and firm, if the foundation is not as it was designed to be, no matter how grandiose the edifice, it will soon come crumbling to the ground. Foundations are important, this is why one begins by laying the foundation of any new building, and then proceeds to build the walls upon the foundation.

Just as any home requires a stable foundation, our life of faith, and our doctrinal beliefs require a stable foundation. So many today find themselves in the position of building their spiritual home, without ever having built a firm foundation, and whether six months into the future, or six years into the future, serious problems begin to arise that endanger the entire construct of their faith. Throughout my years of ministry, and they are not few, I have seen the faith of many souls shipwrecked due to the lack of a spiritual foundation. I must forewarn you this will be a lengthy series, with no less than twenty four parts, but I believe it is necessary and vital, especially given the times of confusion and spiritual ignorance in which we are living.

One cannot have a good end, if they do not have a good beginning, and one cannot finish the race faithfully, if one began the race on the wrong footing, and is headed in the wrong direction. Yes, the foundational teachings, the fundamental teachings of our Christian faith, are as necessary today, as they ever were, and every generation has the duty and responsibility to make certain that the foundation is sound, that the foundation is well grounded in the Word, that the foundation is stable, and secure in Christ.

As a backdrop to this entire series, we will be using a scripture passage out of Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, which consists of no more than three verses.

Hebrews 6:1-3, “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.”

What Paul is attempting to convey through these three verses is that these elementary principles of Christ that he is referring to, and that he goes on to enumerate, must constitute the foundation of our faith, and our spiritual lives. His message to the Hebrews, as well as to us all was as simple as it was concise. You cannot grow in your faith, you cannot make progress, and you cannot build your spiritual house, until you have first laid this foundation. Only after these things have been established in your heart, and only after this foundation has settled in your spirit can you go on to perfection. These fundamental truths, these elementary principles of Christ cannot be bypassed, they cannot be ignored, they cannot be dismissed, because they are the foundation of our faith, that upon which we build the entire construct of our spiritual lives.

What Paul is saying to the Hebrews, is that they had already laid this foundation, they had already learned the elementary principles of Christ, and now that these things had been established in them, it was time for them to go on to perfection. And this, Paul said, they would do if God permitted. God’s desire is that the foundation be established in the hearts of believers, that they might then go on to perfection, but one cannot go on to perfection, unless the foundation is first and foremost firmly established.

I realize full well that by now some of you are thinking to yourselves, that you are far too mature in your faith to sit there and read a teaching about the elementary principles of Christ, but no matter how mature we are in our faith, it is always good to reacquaint ourselves with these things, to check our foundation and see that it is still as stable as ever, and built upon the rock which is Christ Jesus. In doing the research for this series, and reacquainting myself with these elementary principles of Christ, I too discovered some fresh insight, some nuggets of truth, and some new wisdom that had been dulled by the passage of time, from when I first laid my foundation of faith.

So what are these fundamental teachings that we will be discussing throughout this series? Well, we will be discussing those things which Paul listed as being the elementary principles of Christ, and we will do so in the order he listed them, beginning with repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, such as the baptism of John, the baptism unto repentance, the baptism of Christ, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, continuing on with the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and concluding with eternal judgment.

What I find amazing, is that Paul listed these doctrines, and defined them as elementary principles of Christ. Now we all know that the word elementary is defined as basic, essential or fundamental. The term elementary constitutes the simplest aspects of a subject in fact. So these things that Paul lists as the elementary principles of Christ are the basic, essential, and fundamental doctrines that every believer should have squared away, and established in his heart as a foundation for the spiritual life of holiness and righteousness unto God that he ought to live. In other words, these principles of Christ, elementary as they might be, are a necessary foundation for every believer. One cannot build a spiritual house, if this foundation is not firmly established.

I needed to get that point across, because for some unexplained reason doctrines such as repentance, faith toward God, eternal judgment and baptisms are rarely discussed in the church as though they were unnecessary or a hindrance in the way of the vastly more relevant topics of positive thinking, dynamic self-esteem, or balancing your checkbook in four easy steps.

What I wanted to do on today’s post as well as tomorrow’s post, is give a general overview of the entire series, and try to focus if only for a little while on this fundamental idea of having a stable foundation, a sure foundation, a foundation that cannot be shaken even though it might be battered by the storms of this life.

There are numerous passages in scripture where the Christian walk and a life in Christ are readily compared with building a house, and no other Biblical author does it more frequently than the apostle Paul. Perhaps it is due to the fact that he himself was a tentmaker that Paul makes so many references to a spiritual life being comparable to a house, but whatever the reason, the comparisons he draws are truly remarkable and awe inspiring.

1 Corinthians 3:9-11, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”

Now there are some powerful truths that we must highlight in what Paul the Apostle wrote both to the Corinthians as well as the Ephesians. First, to the Corinthians he declares that there is only one foundation. No matter what the house will look like once the house is done, the foundation must always be the same when it comes to our spiritual homes, and that foundation must always, without exception be Christ Jesus. Paul even goes so far as to assert that no other foundation can anyone else lay other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

If our spiritual journey does not begin with Christ and in Christ, then we’ve started off on the wrong path. If our foundation is not Christ, if it is not rooted in the truth of God’s word, if the cornerstone of our temple is not Jesus, then we are tilting at windmills, and are among all men most pitiable.

It is this foundation of Christ Jesus that makes us fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, and no longer strangers and foreigners. It is only in Christ that we are able to be built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit; it is only in Christ that we can have the life of God flowing through us, and in us.

Lest we believe it was only Paul that used the metaphor of a house or that of building a house when referring to our spiritual growth, maturity, and foundation, the Apostle Peter also spent some time on this topic, both making references to the individual as being a living stone, as well as quoting a passage from the book of Isaiah, in reference to Jesus, the chief cornerstone.

1 Peter 2:4-6, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

3 comments:

MaryL said...

I really appreciate this series because of the times in which we live. I have been a believer for 30 years...but my entire time as a believer has been during the times of false doctrines and very bad theology that is widespread throughout the world. I for one will be very pleased to double and triple check my foundation to repair possible cracks and fissures that I'm sure are there; if only because of being affected by false doctrine over the years.

Let us humble ourselves and not think we are beyond these foundational teachings... let us not think too highly of ourselves because of our 'maturity' and in so doing have an 'unteachable' spirit...

Nicole Watson said...

Amen Mary L. Thank you so much Michael for taking the time to do this. May you be blessed in every area of your life and ministry as you faithfully serve Jesus. You can be certian I am inspecting my foundations.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

Thank you ever so much for all the time and effort you continue to put into your postings. The insightful reaquainting and revealation you are providing us is truly a merciful gift from our Father Above.

May His Glory surround you and yours, always. In Jesus' Holy Name. Amen

Susan
Ohatchee, Alabama