Chapter 10 | Table of Contents | Chapter 12

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews wrote,

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto maturity; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2 KJ2000, emphasis added)

How many times have we heard these same six doctrines rehearsed over and over in our church gatherings? We have even seen this passage used as an outline to go on teaching these rudimentary things yet again. So how do we get on beyond them? By following Jesus.

The author of Hebrews goes on to describe where we are to go on to saying,

Now we are yearning for each one of you to be displaying the same diligence toward the assurance of the expectation until the consummation [conclusion]...that by two immutable matters, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may... lay hold of the expectation lying before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul [pneuma spirit] both secure and confirmed, and entering into the interior beyond the curtain, where the Forerunner, Jesus, entered for our sakes, becoming Chief Priest according to the order of Melchizedek for the eon [forever]. (Hebrews 6:11-20 CLV)

First we must fully go on into Jesus and being fully into Him we go with Him into the Holy of Holies into the presence of our Father where the goal of our spiritual maturity lies. Only there will we no longer walk in our carnal dead works, because we do only the works we see our Father doing. This is the true meaning of "faith toward God." We no longer speak of faith toward God, but rather abide in the faith of Jesus Christ who is in the Father. We no longer argue over different forms of water baptism or just what words to use because we are immersed in the presence of God. We lay on our hands as He does it through us. There is absolutely no question in our minds that the dead live because we remember from where we came and where we have risen in Christ in the presence of our Father. We have been judged to have fallen short of the glory of God, but now we know Him as Father and walk in the light of the Son in His presence. We know no condemnation because we live and move and have our being in Him. Yes, by all means, let us go on!

Paul in a heart searching moment wrote of His life in Christ when he penned:

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [ which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. (Philippians 3:10-11 AMP)

This is what going on is all about! There are limestone caverns in the east and mid-western US that are so huge that they have not yet been fully explored. Paul found himself in such a search, trying to explore the depths of the Father in Jesus. The power that came to us when we were raised up into heavenly places in Christ is unsearchable.

That was not all; Paul wanted to know a deeper fellowship with Christ in His sufferings, for they are part of Him, too. Many want to know resurrection power in their lives like the early believers walked in, but are not willing to go through the suffering and death of their old natures to get there. Paul wanted to be so like Christ in his relationship and grow into Him that he could be conformed to Jesus in his death. God granted that wish and Paul died a martyr for his faith. He wanted to attain the fullness of the riches that are ours in the divine Pattern Son in whatever form the Father chose to reveal it in him. This is true faith, faith that does not limit God for fear of its own fleshly discomfort.

How many of us at the first sign of difficulty and suffering are so easily turned away from our commitment to fully know Christ? In our immaturity, many of us have a fairytale mentality that God will send down Tinker Bell with her magic wand and make us into super-Christians without having to go through hardship and sufferings. Paul and the early church knew full well that this was not the case, yet they pressed on through persecution and death that thy might attain to the fullness of Christ.

In Hebrews we read of Moses who walked by faith and rejected the wealth of the house of Pharaoh as a Prince of Egypt, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; esteeming the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." (Hebrews 11:25-26 KJ2000) He goes on to write, "Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Hebrews 11:35 KJ2000) There is a "better resurrection" for those who embrace Jesus' sufferings in themselves, but how many of us just want the power without all that?

I, Michael, once heard a story of a traveling evangelist that came to a church to hold some meetings. On the last night he had an altar call and asked the people to form two lines. "I want all you who want the power of God to line up on the left side of the church and I want all of you who want the sufferings of Christ to line up on the right side." About 95% went for the power line and only 5% went to the sufferings line. After they were all through lining up the evangelist said, "Now, I am going to pray for these people on my right side that they may know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and these are the ones that will know His power."

When the writer of Hebrews wrote in chapter five, "Let us go on," this is what he was talking about. Read the rest of the book and you will see it. These true believers were found "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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2 KJ21) Paul wanted all the saints of God to know and explore the depths of Christ in this way. To the Ephesian church he wrote:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19 KJ2000)

Yes, let us go on and fully know the fullness that our Father has for us to walk in.

Repentance from Dead Works

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe on [into] him whom he has sent. (John 6:28-29 KJ2000)

What is the connection between repentance from dead works and faith toward God? Jesus put it this way:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 KJ2000)

When a farmer prunes his grape vines, he cuts off the growth that is wild and untrained. He trains the vine to grow along the grape arbor by pruning it. Branches that do not produce fruit are also severed. The severed branches still want to cling to the arbor or other branches, so they have to be removed by force. This is a parable of the nature of the church and how Father deals with it. Jesus said that unless the branch abides in the vine it cannot produce any fruit. His Father prunes back the productive branches so that they will bring forth more fruit. All fruit bearing trees and vines have to be pruned or they will put most of their energy into making fruitless branches and leaves. This is the nature of our natural flesh. Our Father is a good husbandman and knows what has to be pruned away in each of us. He is after fruit.

Where does the Father's fruit come from? It comes from pruned branches abiding in the Vine. Jesus is that Vine. He said, "Without me you can do nothing." When we go out and do something for God instead of abiding in Christ our Vine and letting Him bring forth the fruit in and through us, we are doing dead works. So many of us read something in the Bible as all the authority we need to run out and start doing "good works" for God. But this is not what it means to abide in the Vine. Paul was doing what he thought was commanded by God while he persecuted the church. After a life-giving encounter with Jesus, he repented from his dead works and lived in obscurity for most of fourteen years as he was being pruned by the Father! Finally, Barnabas had to go get him and bring him to Antioch where after some more time, the Spirit spoke and sent the two of them out with the gospel. Paul's dead works were pruned, but the Spirit was alive in Him and the fruit that he bore was ordained by God.

A. W. Tozer once said that God seems to be more interested in what He can put into a man than by what He can get out of him. So many of us in our youthful zeal want to give Jesus our best efforts and make fruit, but most of our efforts end up making rotten fruit at best. No one in the church has ever had such a broad and powerful impact on the world as Paul. Why? Because he was learning an important lesson during all those years of isolation, being pruned by Father. He was learning to abide in Jesus and to only do the works he saw his Father doing and to only speak what be heard his Fathers saying.

If we fail to learn what Paul learned, any fruit that we do produce will not remain. Pollsters found that less than five percent of Billy Graham's crusade converts were still going to church a year later. Bill Bright's campaign, "Here's Life America," found that only three percent were still going to church a year later. Jesus had twelve disciples that His Father gave Him, and eleven of the twelve went on to live and die for their faith in a hostile world. The one that was lost was foreordained and prophesied to betray Him. Jesus was able to pray, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name: those that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12 KJ2000)

Shotgun evangelism is very hit or miss, but those called forth into the kingdom of God by God's design will abide in Christ forever. Of his conversion Paul wrote:

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)... But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ... But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. (Galatians 1:1-17 KJ2000)

Here is a changed life. Paul once persecuted the church and was a bloody man who learned his Jewish faith from the best teachers in Jerusalem. This all meant nothing to God. Paul himself went on to count it all dung. What does Paul glory in? Christ in him whom the Father revealed by placing him into Christ. Paul knew first hand that he need not that any man should teach him . (See 1 John 2:26-27)

Have you ever wondered why there is no record of John, Peter or Paul going out and building church buildings everywhere they preached as is the habit of church missionaries today? It is because they knew that the things of this earth are temporal and will not cross over into the kingdom of God so they put their energies into building a living temple made of living stones. When he was describing his heavenly vision, John said, "And I saw no temple there." All that money poured into the church building funds has no eternal value to God. More dead works. Only the souls of men go on for eternity and only the souls and spirits of men who are in the Son go on into the glory and eternity of God. The greatest time of church growth recorded in history (the first three hundred years) harvested millions of souls without the help of one church building. The early church was not about an endless calendar of scheduled meetings as is the case today; they were about Christ's life in them whether they were gathering in a home as the family of God or they were at the market place shopping. They knew that apart from the Vine, they could do nothing.

Paul walked and ministered by the direction of the Spirit. Once he was going into Bithynia and Spirit prevented him, so he took another route and finally the Spirit gave Paul a vision of a Macedonian man saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."

On another occasion in Thyatira Paul and the brothers were hounded by a woman possessed by a demon, yet he did nothing about it, though being troubled by her for many days. Why? He waited on his Father to act in his behalf. When the Father did act through Paul it was decisive. The spirit came out of her in that hour. He did not shake a bag of bones or wave garlic at her or scream and holler. He just said calmly, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."

Faith toward God

The secret to success in the work of God is to abide in the Father just as Jesus abides in Him. We abide there in His rest. In Hebrews 4 we read:

There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:9-11 KJ2000)

To cease from our own works is to cease from dead works. God rested on the seventh day and He still is resting because His works have been finished from the foundation of the world (see Hebrews 4:3-4). To do the works of God is to do His completed works and abide in His foreknowledge. He knows who are His and who are not. The writer continues in chapter 4 to declare,

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13 KJ2000)

John wrote in his gospel that the Word of God, the Logos, is Jesus. Jesus in us divides our soulishness from our spirit, His abode, that His Spirit might be the life source within us. He discerns the thought and intents of the heart and then shows them to us. He lays all things naked before Him and then shows us the true need of the person He wants us to minister to. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,

But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convicted of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25 KJ2000)

The Logos, the Son of God, desires to speak through us to the hearts of men, not their heads. Most people speak from their heads, posing hypothetical question and evading the issues like the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar did with Jesus. A sinner's sickness is a heart condition, not a head problem. Too often we try to argue and reason with their heads instead of letting that two-edged sword of the Father speak to their hearts through us. If we are to bear fruit that remains, it will only come through Christ who searches the hearts and speaks from His place of rest in the Father. It is the faith of Jesus in us that is true faith toward God. This faith believes in Father and Father's works and not in the works of the flesh.

We often quote Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It is a statement of spiritual fact that is defined by what follows. The important thing about understanding verse one is found in the examples given of those who walked by faith. These were men and women abiding in God, while He did miraculous things in and with them. Enoch was translated, Abraham saw Jesus' day and rejoiced, Noah believed that the world would end by a deluge even though it had never rained up until that time and he prepared for it. They did the humanly impossible. They shut mouths of hungry, veracious lions and lay down with them. They received their dead back to life again, closed wombs were opened, and they sought the invisible city of God. Jesus' Hebrew linage has a long line of barren wombs! How could this be? These women were able to conceive by faith in their God who acted in their behalf. Faith believes in God, waits and acts in concord with Him. Faith prays and waits until God acts, acting in accord with Him. Men go out and do dead works because of their lack of faith in God. Faith is not inactivity, but a cessation of the human origin of all activity, trusting in God to act. Herein is true rest in Him and abiding in the works that He has ordained from the foundation of the world for us to walk in. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJ2000)

When Satan was trying to get Jesus to act on His own initiative, turning rocks into bread for His hunger, Jesus replied, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4 KJ2000) He did not say "that has proceeded" (referring to the Old Testament) but proceeds in the present tense. Do Christians today live by every word that the Spirit is saying to them? Most that we have met try to live by the words they read in the Bible, but too many are oblivious to the voice of the Spirit speaking to them in the here and now.

Paul had to correct the foolish Galatians for going back to the written works of the law. He asked them a series of questions:

He sums up these questions with, "He therefore that ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:5 KJ2000) What is "the hearing of faith?" Church teachers say that if we hear the Bible over and over, that finally some of its principles will rub off on us and we will start to walk by faith. But is this really "the hearing of faith" or more hearing of the letter? We could believe in this methodology except for one thing. Those faith walkers listed in Hebrews 11--Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca (all barren women that conceived)--all had no Bible to walk by, but they did have a faith that caused them to walk by every word that came forth from the mouth of God. God spoke it, they believed it and God acted in their behalf according to His divine will.

Paul continues, "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know you therefore that they who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-7 KJ2000) We are the children of Abraham, the true Israel, if we believe and walk as he walked, by obeying that ever present Word of God that still speaks to our hearts today.

"Even as Abraham believed God" is what is important here. It is no coincidence that while speaking to the seven churches in John's Revelation, the Spirit of God has to repeat Himself over and over with one common phrase, "Let he who has ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches." The church by the end of the first century had for the most part gone stone deaf to "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Many of them had gone back to being good bibliolaters like the Jews, forsaking the voice of God among them for the written law. Before long the scripture was canonized. To these texts men added creeds, doctrines, books of prayer, and the writings of "the church fathers," all which are not necessary if we walk by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Spirit as Abraham did. But because the church had ceased to walk by the Spirit and became an organization created by men by the beginning of the fourth century, it needed these things and many more to prop it up.

Jesus promised His Spirit would be with us to lead us into all truth. He did not promise to leave us seminaries full of dead scholars. Through the endless teachings of men who emphasize the importance of what they teach instead of our ability to hear the voice of God, we now have over 200,000 Christian sects and denominations, all teaching that what they say about the Bible is true. Recently a young college student wrote, "All these different denominations teach that if you don't belong to their church, you are going to hell. Being that not everyone belongs to the same denomination, it only stands to reason that everyone is going to hell!" This might be humorous, but it shows the witness that fractured Christendom really has in this world. Jesus prayed, "That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21 KJ2000) Through all this division, carnal Christianity has handed the world to the devil on a platter. We can only know the unity of Christ as we each walk in the light of the Spirit as He walks in the light of the Father.

We thank God for the scriptures. God uses them and brings them to our memory often as we listen to His voice. But we are to walk by the Spirit and not by the letter. Reading the Bible without the Spirit's enlightenment can make you religious, but it can also make you deaf to the Spirit when He does speak if you limit Him to your carnal mind's understanding of what you have read. To the Pharisees Jesus said,

"You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."
(John 5:39-40 RSVA) Jesus said that He was sending us the Spirit in His place to lead us. How many of us have shut our ears to His leading by putting our faith in what men teach about the scriptures, making void the commandments (the inner voice) of God by their traditions?

The Spirit can speak to us through the words recorded in the Bible and often does, but He is not limited by that alone. How did the early church know that there was going to be a famine in the days of Emperor Claudius that would cover the world and prepare ahead for it? One of their members, Ag'abus, foretold it by the Spirit, not by reading the Bible. Have you ever wondered why Jesus and the disciples were always breaking the letter of the law and in trouble with the Jewish law keepers, yet we know that Jesus never sinned, but lived perfectly before His Father? He lived by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God and obedience does not get better than that! Go ye and do likewise.

Pray that the Spirit's voice would lead you in everything you say and do, just as Jesus walked in obedience to His Father's voice. If you are steeped in religious teachings, the first thing God will probably do with you is demand you sit in silence for a few years like Paul had to. This quiets our hearts and numbs our minds to all the teachings of men. Then after we are still long enough before the Father, we will be able to hear His voice more accurately without the din of the voices of our religious teachers interfering. Do you remember what Peter said to Jesus when he had a vision on the rooftop in Joppa? He was commanded to kill and eat unclean animals in his vision. To this he said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean" (Acts 10:14 KJ2000). Now that is an oxymoron if we have ever heard one, "Not so Lord"? Since when do we as believers tell God what we will or will not do and call Him our Lord? The traditions of men make us deaf to the voice of God. In the days ahead hearing His voice will be imperative to our survival as Christians.

Chapter 10 | Table of Contents | Chapter 12

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