Going on to Maturity
From Gospel Translations
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1).
Over the past few days we have seen how the author of the epistle to the Hebrews had to deal with a congregation that was stalled with regard to its spiritual growth. Many of them should have been mature enough to teach, but because they had made themselves hard of heart, they were still infants in Christ (Heb. 5:11–12). These “infants” were unskilled in the handling of the Word, not able to discern good from evil (5:13–14).
Having expressed his dismay at the immature state of the readers, the author of Hebrews now begins admonishing them to grow up. The first way he does this is to encourage them to “leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity” (6:1a). Two things should be noted about this part of the verse. First of all, the author does not approach his audience as one who lords his maturity over the babes in Christ. Rather, he invites the immature to journey together with him into maturity in Christ. This is an important point for us to remember. We should encourage immature believers to journey with us and not lord our knowledge of doctrine over them.
Secondly, by not lording his maturity over the audience, the author creates a sense of community. It is not that it is the author who is carrying his audience forward into maturity. Rather, it is implied that both the author and the audience are carried forward into maturity by God. God — especially as the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit — is thus implicitly portrayed as the agent of spiritual growth. This is important because of the warning against apostasy the author gives. Though the author knows some might fall away, he is also confident that some will not fall away completely (6:9). The author knows that the Holy Spirit truly has regenerated some, if not all, of the audience, and he knows that those who have been truly regenerated will never fall away finally. Rather, those who have been regenerated will persevere.
Finally, going on to maturity means leaving the elementary doctrine of Christ (6:1). This does not mean we abandon the basic truths of Christianity, for indeed all Gospel truth is built on these fundamental principles. Rather, it means “not laying again a foundation of repentance,” which includes “repentance from dead works and faith toward God,” as well as other doctrines that we will examine as we study the following verses.
Oftentimes, those who possess advanced knowledge of the Christian faith look down upon those who are still babes in Christ. However, this was neither the attitude of Christ nor the attitude of the New Testament writers. Ask the Lord to give you humility when you deal with those who are less mature in the faith.
Passages for Further Study
1 Cor. 8:1–3
1 Peter 5:1–3