One of the great challenges in the Body of Christ is whether obedience or liberty will rule in the manifestation of our discipleship. And when rules are discussed, they are usually done so under the framework of doctrine. For the record, doctrine is more about why we do what we do more so than how we do what we do, or what we do, itself.
Doctrine was never meant to be rule bearing or burdensome (Galatians 4:1-5). But it has become so. It has become the heavy-handed taskmaster of discipleship. Today, I pray, we will break that bondage forever.
Hebrews 6:1-3 (ESV) 1 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 of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
This passage of Scripture is foundational because it is the gateway to deeper understanding. It urges us to grow beyond what gets us into the Kingdom to how we take the Kingdom into the world to influence and reshape it.
The author of Hebrews is communicating to the reader that we should not get stuck in Kingdom Kindergarten. We need to be in a mode of continuous growth so that we can become teachers.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the preacher is not the only one to give instruction. We are all ministers of the Gospel and, at some level, we should be teaching others. That’s discipleship 101!
Check this out:
Hebrews 5:12-14 (ESV) 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
If we remain in the spiritual nursery, we never become mature or strong enough to go out and preach the Gospel. And, if we don’t preach the Gospel, we fail in the Great Commission.
The Big Idea of discipleship is that we take on the nature and character of Jesus and impact the world with it. There are scientists that suggest that when man travels to Mars, that we implement a plan of “terraforming.” In this process, we take advantage of the fact that Mars’ atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, we can plant trees and vegetation that breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, thus making the atmosphere suitable for human life. Likewise we plant seeds of God’s unconditional Love and Grace to breathe in sin, law, and religion and breathe out love, peace, and liberty!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Doctrine is important — but must be kept in its proper perspective. Doctrine is the explanation of why we do what we do, not a stepwise approach to doing it. When doctrine is viewed as instructional instead of explanatory, it tends toward legalism and works. Improper understanding of doctrine keeps saints on the treadmill of religion.
The author of Hebrews speaks of things near salvation and greater than it:
Hebrews 6:9 (AMPC) 9 Even though we speak this way, yet in your case, beloved, we are now firmly convinced of better things that are near to salvation and accompany it.
So what are the better things that are near salvation and accompany it?
Love. Love is greater than salvation. Love illustrates the goodness of God, which leads men to repentance. Love is the Chief Fruit of the Spirit. Love is greater than faith or hope. Love never fails. Love is is the identifying characteristic of the disciple of Christ to the world.
Grace. Salvation is the manifestation of God’s Grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward us and His unlimited power imparted to us. Grace is what empowers forgiveness. Grace is what empowers tolerance. Grace is what came by Jesus to fulfill the law that came by Moses.
Liberty. Jesus came to make us free. He came to deliver us from the yoke of sin and to break the bondage of religion. Jesus came to give us the door to go in and out to pasture. He gave us His Spirit, because wherever His Spirit is, there is Liberty.
And these three things are bigger than any doctrine. Because if you miss these, all the doctrine in the world cannot help you. Paul said the letter kills but the Spirit brings life — let me help clarify this: if you have the letter (your Bible) and no Spirit, all you have are meaningless words; if you have the Spirit and no letter (your Bible), you will have utter confusion — because you will have no way of knowing whether what you hear is of God or not.
Doctrine — when seen as the explanation of why we do what we do and how the Spirit of God works through us — is vitally important. But it can never be bigger than the things that are near to and greater than salvation.
© 2017 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)