Posts Tagged ‘baptism’

Hebrews 6 – Elementary Teachings

“Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s’mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do” (Hebrews 6:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible).  

Sin that Leads to Death

“The wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23).

Sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 as breaking the commands of God.  Yeshua refers to this lawlessness as living contrary to Torah, his Father’s instructions for living in this world and preparing for the Kingdom to come  (Matthew 7:23, Luke 13:27).  The consequence for sin is eternal spiritual death.  This was the result of Adam’s sin in the Garden and as his offspring, the consequence for our own sin.

After Yeshua was tested in the wilderness by the Adversary, he went back to the Galilee to live in Capernaum and began preaching the gospel, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

In Hebrew, ‘repentance’ is teshuvah and means ‘to return to God.’   By repenting from sin and lawless deeds, we turn away from actions that lead to eternal spiritual death and return to God, His ways and life.

“Yeshua who answered them: “The ones who need a doctor aren’t the healthy but the sick. I have not come to call the ‘righteous,’ but rather to call sinners to turn to God [teshuvah] from their sins.”” (Luke 5:31-32).

This first and basic gospel message is considered one of the elementary instructions. This is what was preached by Peter on Shavuot (Pentecost) in Jerusalem.   

“Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God [teshuvah], and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit]! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:38-39). 

The same gospel message was preached by Sha’ul (Paul) to Jews and gentiles who were putting their faith in Yeshua.

“You know that I [Sha’ul] held back nothing that could be helpful to you, and that I taught you both in public and from house to house, declaring with utmost seriousness the same message to Jews and Greeks alike: turn from sin to God; and put your trust in our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah” (Acts 20:20-21)

Faith in God

“Be assured, then, that it is those who live by trusting and being faithful who are really children of Avraham” (Galatians 3:7).

Abraham believed he was too old to have an heir, but God promised him he would have an heir.  He told him to count the stars in the sky, if he could, and his descendants would be as numerous.  “He [Abraham] believed in Adonai, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:4-6).  God tested Abraham with this heir, Isaac.  He was told to take his son, his only son who he loved, to Mount Moriah and offer him on an altar.  Abraham obeyed God because he believed God could raise his son from the dead, the greatest example of his faith (Romans 4:17).  This unwavering trust in God’s promise made Abraham ‘our father of faith.’ 

Faith or emunah is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  Our certainty of God’s existence is basic to the gospel message and considered the second elementary teaching.  

Yeshua taught that those who followed him must put their faith in God, first and foremost (Mark 11:22).  They must love God, first and foremost (Matthew 22:27).   This is a foundational aspect of his salvation message.  Separating faith in Yeshua, from faith in his Father, the Creator, makes for an incomplete and misdirected faith. There can never be two gods.  Yeshua’s purpose was to glorify his Father,  to bring salvation to the world, and to show people the correct way to have a relationship with God (1 John 4:14, John 14:6, John 17:1,6,22).

During Hanukkah in Jerusalem, Yeshua clearly states to his Jewish brothers and sisters, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  In Hebrew, echad means ‘one’ in unity.  He made this statement to make sure they understood that he was not another god to be worshipped or even a separate ‘person.’  By understanding Yeshua’s relationship his Father, our faith can be put in the “visible image of the invisible God” because that is who Yeshua is (Colossians 1:15).

Once a person turns from sin, they put their faith in God who gave His Son Yeshua as the Savior of the world who became our substitute sacrifice. Sha’ul explained that repentance and faith in God is for both Jews and gentiles.

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Yeshua”  (Acts 20:26).

Instruction about Washings

“While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened; the Ruach HaKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you” (Luke 3:20-22).

The Complete Jewish Bible translates ‘baptism’ into instructions about washings or a mikveh.  mikveh is a Jewish ritual immersion for purification.  This bath was done numerous times throughout a person’s life for various reasons.  During the month of Elul (August/September) there was a ritual purification for the repentance of sins before the Days of Awe and the Day of Atonement.  This was the immersion happening at the Jordan River when John was preaching repentance from sins. It was nothing new and why men from all of Isra’el were coming to John to be mikveh-ed. 

“Now before the coming of Yeshua, Yochanan [John] proclaimed to all the people of Isra’el an immersion [mikveh] in connection with turning to God from sin” (Acts 13:24).”

After Yeshua ascended to heaven, another dimension was added to the mikveh.  Immersion became a personal illustration of entering Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection.  It was an expression of being set free from the law of sin and death and entering into a new life.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism and into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we, too, may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4,5)

Apart from being a public display of being a new creation in Messiah, immersion was the path to receiving the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh.  When the whole house of Isra’el were “stung in their hearts” upon hearing about Yeshua who is Lord and Messiah, they asked Peter what they should do.  He responded with the first three elementary teachings.

“Kefa [Peter] answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:36-39). 

The purpose for the immersion was purification, not from physical dirt, but as a pledge of a good conscience towards God through Yeshua’s resurrection.  It was an immersion into Yeshua and his resurrection.

“This also prefigures what delivers us now, the water of immersion, which is not the removal of dirt from the body, but one’s pledge to keep a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah” (1 Peter 3:21).

It is significant that though there are many reasons for a mikveh, there is only one immersion that expresses Yeshua, our faith in him, and God who becomes our Father.  This mikveh makes us one Body through the one Ruach HaKodesh giving us one hope of eternal life.

“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4).

Laying on of Hands

Do not be hasty in the laying on of  hands, and do not share in the sins of others” (1 Timothy 5:22).

In Hebrew, the word sh’mikah means ‘authority’ and came through ‘laying on of hands.’  Throughout the Bible there are many examples of sh’mikah from Isaac blessing Jacob to Yeshua blessing little children (Luke 18:15-17).  One of the more significant sh’mikah is when Moshe passed his authority onto Joshua to take the Israelites into the Promised Land (Numbers 27:18-20).  Sh’mikah is the fourth elementary teaching.

“Tell me, which is easier to say — ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? But look! I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He then said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your mattress, and go home!” (Matthew 9:5-6). 

A powerful spiritual aspect of sh’mikah is physical healing through the forgiveness of sins.  Yeshua had the authority to forgive sins and soon after his resurrection, Yeshua passed this authority onto his disciples by breathing on him.   If they forgave an individual’s sins, their sins were forgiven.  If they didn’t, the sins remained on the person.

“Having greeted them, he showed them his hands and his side. The talmidim were overjoyed to see the Lord. “Shalom aleikhem!” Yeshua repeated. “Just as the Father sent me, I myself am also sending you.” Having said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Ruach HaKodesh!If you forgive someone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you hold them, they are held” (John 20:20-23). 

Yeshua gave his disciples the authority to release men and women from the bondage of guilt they had toward one another.   To hear “Your sins are forgiven” releases anger, bitterness, guilt, and removes the stronghold of the Adversary in our lives.  Once those deeply-rooted issues were removed, physical healing could begin.  The authority that Yeshua passed on to the apostles was so powerful that even their shadows healed the sick and set free the demon possessed.

“They went so far as to bring the sick into the streets and lay them on mattresses and stretchers, so that at least Kefa’s shadow might fall on them as he passed by.  Crowds also gathered from the towns around Yerushalayim, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits; and every one of them was healed” (Acts 5:15-16). 

After Yeshua ascended to his Father, the power and authority of the Ruach HaKodesh was received through laying on of hands.  Believers in Messiah rejoiced when they received this power, the next step after immersion in the elementary teachings.

“When the emissaries [apostles] in Yerushalayim heard that Shomron [Samaria] had received the Word of God, they sent them Kefa and Yochanan, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Ruach HaKodesh. For until then he had not come upon any of them; they had only been immersed into the name of the Lord Yeshua. Then, as Kefa and Yochanan placed their hands on them, they received the Ruach HaKodesh” (Acts 8:15-17).

The power of the Ruach HaKodesh  was so great that unsaved men desired it.  They even offered the apostles money to have the power because it resulted in healing they could use to become rich.  The Adversary always distorts the ways of God and uses ignorant men and women to achieve his goals.

“Shim‘on saw that the Spirit was given when the emissaries placed their hands on them, and he offered them money.“Give this power to me, too,” he said, “so that whoever I place my hands on will receive the Ruach HaKodesh” (Acts 8:18-19).

This is why Sha’ul warns Timothy about laying hands too quickly on an individual because there is always the potential of distorting the sh’mikah given to the apostles by Yeshua.  He also conveys the idea that when there is sh’imikah for forgiveness, there is the danger the sins of one person may be placed on another.

Resurrection of the Dead

Resurrection is the sixth elementary teaching.  Though Yeshua was the firstfruits of those raised from the dead, resurrection was not a new concept.  The prophet Isaiah spoke about the resurrection:

“Your dead will live, my corpses will rise; awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life” (Isaiah 26:19).

Daniel also spoke of those who would ‘awaken’ to eternal life or shame, 

“Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence” (Daniel 12:2). 

The prophets Elijah and Elisha raised people rom the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22, 2 Kings 4:32-35, 2 Kings 13:20-21).  Yeshua raised the son of the widow from Nain from the dead as well as the daughter of the synagogue leader (Luke 7:11-15, Luke 8:41-42, 49-55).  Peter raised Dorcas from the dead; Sha’ul raised Eutychus (Acts 9:36-41, Acts 20:9-10).

When Lazarus died, his sister Martha believed that she would see him again in the resurrection at the ‘last day,’ the Day of the LORD.   She also knew that she stood in the presence of the Messiah and her faith in God’s power through Yeshua brought her brother back to life.

“Marta said, “I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.” Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:24-26).

Yeshua was raised from the dead along with many holy people by the same power of God (Matthew 27:50-53).  This elementary truth about the resurrection, however, was not embraced by all the leaders in Isra’el.  Though the Pharisees believed in the eternal soul or nephesh and a resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees did not.  This is why they questioned him about the seven brothers who married the same woman and whose wife she would be in the resurrection (Luke 20:27-30).

These differing views caused conflict between the apostles and the leaders.  They became irritated that Peter and John used Yeshua as proof of the resurrection of the dead, even though there were others who had been resurrected during Yeshua’s time of ministry.

“Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim [Sadducces] came upon them, very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof” (Acts 4:1-2). 

In the Sanhedrin, the religious governing body of Isra’el, both the Pharisees and Sadducees were represented.  Knowing that he could create division between the leaders and cause them to argue among themselves thus clearing all charges against him, Sha’ul claimed his affiliation to the Pharisees and their view of the resurrection.

“Then Sha’ul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the won of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6).

“But if it is preached that Messiah has been raised from  the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Messiah has been raised.  And if Messiah has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

According to Revelation, there are two resurrections.  Those who take part in the first resurrection will rule and reign with Yeshua as priests of God and Messiah during the Millennial Kingdom on earth (Revelation 20:6-7).   The second death will have no power over them, they will have entered eternal life.  Those who desire to attain this first resurrection must share in and fellowship in Yeshua’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

Eternal Punishment

As Sha’ul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now!” (Acts 24:25)

Eternal punishment is the seventh elementary teaching that is almost a lost part of Christian theology.   There is eternal judgment for the heavens and the earth, the Adversary, false prophet, the beast, the wicked or lawless. In the days of Noah, the heavens and earth were judged by water.  In that judgment, wicked and ungodly men were destroyed in the flood.  This present heaven and earth will be judged by fire and destroy wicked, ungodly men and women.

“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).

The Godless

The godless will experience spiritual death or eternal separation from God.  On the Day of Judgment, books will be opened and everyone will be judged by their works.  Some will find their name has been blotted out of the book of life and are no longer listed with the righteous (Psalm 69:28).  Anyone’s name that is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the Adversary, the beast and the false prophet (Revelation 20:15).

“Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

Evildoers or Lawless

There is also a judgment that comes after the lake of burning fire.  These individuals receive eternal life, but lived contrary to God’s commands.  They remain in the outer darkness, outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12, Luke 13:28).  Gnashing of teeth implies these people knew the Truth, heard the Truth, but chose not to obey the Truth. They have escaped the lake of fire as through flames. They do not lose their free gift of eternal life, but lose an eternal reward (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

“Outside (the gates) are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15).

In the time of Yeshua, the gentiles were referred to as ‘dogs’ (Matthew 7:6, 15:26).  Though many gentiles receive salvation through Yeshua, they refuse to repent from the pagan traditions of idolatry based on lies and deception within the church. Sexual immorality from fornication to adultery to homosexuality is embraced rather than being judged as sin.

‘Evildoers’ and ‘workers of lawlessness’ are those who disobey Torah or teach others to disobey the instructions of God.  These people are the least in the kingdom spoken about by Yeshua in Matthew 5:17-20.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day [of Judgment], many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:21-23).

“Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:40).

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you! you taught in our streets!’ and he will tell you, ‘I don’t know where you’re from. Get away from me, all you workers of wickedness!’ You will cry and grind your teeth when you see Avraham, Yitz’chak, Ya‘akov and all the prophets inside the Kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside” (Luke 13:26-28). 

 “If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don’t judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. Those who reject me and don’t accept what I say have a judge — the word which I have spoken will judge them on the Last Day [of Judgment]” (John 12:47-48)

Believers in Messiah

“Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming. That Day will bring on the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt from the heat; but we, following along with his promise, wait for new heavens and a new earth,  in which righteousness will be at home” (2 Peter 3:11-13). 

“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:12-16).

©2005 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.