According to family legend, my dad got expelled from kindergarten. As the story goes, he snapped some other child’s bow tie. Kindergarten teachers emphasize fundamental lessons that set the stage for further learning, teaching basics like how to follow directions and how to get along with others.
The Christian faith has basics too. The author of Hebrews mentions a few of them in verses 1–2: repentance, faith, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. A couple of the items may not seem that basic. Why does he mean by “cleansing rites” and “laying on of hands”? The Greek term translated cleansing rites is the word for baptism, but in the plural. The writer may be referring to water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps he is speaking of cleansing from sin. The practice of laying on of hands was associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18). In general, these fundamentals have to do with salvation by faith in Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
Verses 4–8 have troubled many readers. But their warning about the danger of turning away from these basic truths is meant to disturb. He seems to be describing the marks of false faith. A lack of spiritual progress is a cause for concern. The fact that we have no interest in growing in our faith may be a signal that we have no real faith to begin with. We should note, however, that where his readers are concerned, the writer is “convinced of better things” (v. 9). God’s grace produces growth. When that is not the case, something is wrong. Often, however, it is because we have grown lazy (vv. 11–12).
>> Salvation is a gift of grace. We do not get it through our own effort. Spiritual growth is a gift also, but it does require a measure of cooperation from us. To grow spiritually requires both diligence and study.
Do we truly belong to You, our names in Your Book of Life? God, we implore You: Do not let a single one of us believe we are right with You if we are not. Grant us true repentance, belief, and assurance.