“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Why Must We Strengthen the Foundation of Our Faith?
We can find the answer to this question in today’s Scripture passage drawn from Hebrews 6:1-20. Verses 1-8 in today’s Scripture reading teaches us that as we carry on with our lives of faith, all of us must lay a perfect foundation of faith regarding baptism, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment regardless of how mature or young our faith is. In other words, all of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior must be grounded in a firm foundation of faith.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is our Savior and God Himself who created the universe. It is absolutely imperative for us to at least have the basic knowledge of the gospel of the water and the Spirit to live out our faith. If we otherwise believe in Jesus without any proper understanding of this genuine gospel, then we will run into trouble and will eventually be ruined. Even if we were to believe in Jesus Christ for a decade, without the knowledge of the gospel of the water and the Spirit our faith will crumble in the end.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the only begotten Son of God the Father, and our Savior. He is God Himself who created the universe, made us, and saved us from all our sins. This is why we say that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Shepherd. He is your Savior and your Shepherd. This recognition is absolutely important. How did Jesus save us when He came to this earth? Born on this earth through the body of the Virgin Mary to save all of us humans, this Jesus Christ became our Savior by being baptized by John the Baptist to bear all our sins, dying on the Cross to be condemned in our place, and rising up from the dead again.
Jesus is our Savior and to save us from all our sins, He had to accept all the sins of this world through His baptism, just as the Old Testament’s scapegoats had to bear the sins of the Israelites through the laying on of the High Priest’s hands. So in like fashion the Old Testament’s sacrificial animals that accepted the sins of the people of Israel through the laying on of hands had to died in their place for their sins, Jesus accepted all our sins through His baptism, died on the Cross in our place, and rose from the dead again. That is how Jesus has saved us all completely, and we must grasp this atonement for our sins clearly. It is also very important for us to realize clearly here that we have a resurrection waiting for us now that we have been truly saved, but if we betray the righteousness of God despite receiving the remission of sins, then we will be condemned for our sins.
Like this, the foundation of our faith ought to be built perfectly with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Let’s turn to verses 1 and 2 in today’s Scripture passage: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2). This passage does not mean that we should never again speak of how we have been saved from all our sins, but it means that we should lay a firm foundation of faith and then to live out our faith. Put differently, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is admonishing us to lay a perfect foundation of faith and come boldly into the presence of God by a perfect faith.
What would happen if one were to build his house on a weak and faulty foundation? The house would lean to one side and perhaps even collapse. Here in today’s Scripture passage, the writer of Hebrews is speaking to the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit whose foundation of faith is still unstable, saying to them, “Who is Jesus Christ? He is our God, our Shepherd, and our Savior who has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord is our Shepherd. He is the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven who has saved us by bearing all our sins on His own body through His baptism, dying on the Cross in our place, and rising up from the dead.”
The writer of Hebrews is also telling this very same thing to today’s Christians: “What is the true salvation from sin? How can we be saved from all our sins? We are saved from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What is this gospel of the water and the Spirit then? It is the gospel of salvation proclaiming that the Son of God has saved us by coming to this earth, taking upon all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again. Like this, the Lord has fulfilled our salvation perfectly. Therefore, all of us must realize this Truth of salvation, believe in it, and live out our faith accordingly.”
You should not profess to believe in Jesus as your Savior without first building a perfect foundation for your salvation. From the very moment you first believe in Jesus, you must believe that Jesus took away all your sins once and for all when He was baptized by John the Baptist. If you otherwise believe in Jesus according to your own way of perceiving Him without this understanding, then you will eventually end up betraying Him. Such people whose foundation of faith is faulty will be corrupted down the road, for they do not know the righteousness of God. In fact, they will end up standing against the righteousness of Jesus. Such people crucify the Son of God again and put Him to open shame, and they will therefore be burned in the eternal fires in the end. This fate awaits them because anyone who does not build a perfect foundation of salvation is bound to betray the Lord later on.
Some of you might have seen the movie The Ten Commandments, which is loosely based on the account of Moses written in Exodus. At the beginning of the movie, Pharaoh orders all male Hebrew children to be put to death. This decree is issued because Pharaoh was afraid that if there were too many Hebrews, they would ally themselves with enemy forces and attack Egypt from the inside. Moses was born in such a treacherous time, but to save his life, his parents put him in a basket and floated him down the river. Moses was then rescued by one of Pharaoh’s daughters, who adopted him as her own son. So by the providence of God Moses grew up in the Egyptian palace, but he eventually discovered that he was a Hebrew, and when he saw one of his fellow countrymen being beaten by an Egyptian, he killed the Egyptian to save him.
Pharaoh then summoned Moses and said to him, “No matter what you might have done, I will forgive you all if you would just swear to me that you would never incite the Hebrews to attack Egypt. If you swear this to me, I will pardon you for anything you might have done, no matter what accusations are brought against you. Just swear to me that you will never incite the Hebrew slaves into rebellion to attack Egypt. I will then issue a blanket pardon.”
But Moses said to Pharaoh, “I will free my fellow Hebrews from this slavery.” Given the fact that Moses was Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, you can imagine just how betrayed Pharaoh must have felt to hear him say this. So in his anger Pharaoh banished Moses and ordered his name to be removed from all records.
My fellow believers, if you do not have a clear knowledge of the gospel of the water and the Spirit even as you profess to trust in the righteousness of God and believe in His Son Jesus as your Savior, then you are actually betraying Jesus Christ. The knowledge of the gospel of the water and the Spirit is absolutely indispensable for you to have faith in the righteousness of God. Although elementary principles may not seem so important, a weak grasp of such basic principles cannot sustain your life of faith to the end. When it comes to having the correct faith, understanding the righteousness of God is absolutely important. Just as it’s critically important to lay a firm foundation when building a house, so is it absolutely crucial for you to lay a firm foundation of faith.
First of all, you and I must have faith in God. I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is for all of us to say, “Although God has not been seen with my own eyes, He is nevertheless alive, and I truly believe in this God. Even though there are many gods and religions in this world, and some people even claim to be gods themselves, I believe in this true God who created the heavens and the earth, this whole universe and all its hosts.”
If We Have Faith in God, Then We Ought to Revere and Trust in the Righteousness of This God
No one should make a god out of his own. It is not we who have made God, but it is God who made us. Moreover, to save us from all our sins, eternal death, and destruction, God Himself was born on this earth with the name of Jesus incarnated in the flesh of man, accepted all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross in our place while bearing all those sins, rose up from the dead, and has thereby saved us all. This is the Truth of salvation that all of us must grasp fully and believe in.
Here in today’s Scripture passage it is written, “Of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:2). What does the word “baptisms” here mean? The word “baptism” means “passing of sins” or “washing of sins,” but at the same time it also implies death as it is written in Romans 6:3-4: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Baptism therefore also implies death. Jesus not only accepted and washed away all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, but He also suffered death on the Cross. The Lord bore all our sins and died in our place. That’s why the Book of Hebrews is speaking of “baptisms.”
Because of the fall of the first human beings, Adam and Eve, everyone must die once. Unless you die once for your sins with Jesus Christ and are brought back to life with this Lord, you can never be born again. It is for this reason that the Bible says that you must be born twice. In other words, once you are born in the flesh, you must also be born again spiritually. And to be born again, you must realize and believe that all your sins were passed onto Jesus; that He was crucified to death in your place while bearing all your sins; that He rose from the dead again and also brought you back to life; and that He has thereby washed away all your sins, made you sinless, and turned you into God’s own child. That’s why the writer of Hebrews spoke of “baptisms.”
The word “baptism” means “to be passed on” or “to be transferred,” and this word has the same meaning as the laying on of hands through which the Israelites passed their sins onto their sacrificial animals. It is absolutely important for you to grasp here clearly that just as the Old Testament’s sacrificial animals accepted the sins of the people of Israel through the laying on of hands and died in their place, so the Lord accepted all your sins through His baptism and died on the Cross in your place.
By accepting all your sins and mine through His baptism and dying on the Cross in our place, Jesus bore all our curses. But there still remains the resurrection of the dead—that is, everyone will be brought back to life again. However, while everyone will be resurrected, there will be those who will be resurrected to be condemned for their sins, while others will be resurrected to receive everlasting life and enjoy the splendor and glory of Heaven.
Some people in their ignorance of the gospel of the water and the Spirit describe this as reincarnation. This is what the Buddhists say, claiming that those who lead a virtuous life are reincarnated as higher beings while those who practice evil in their lives are reincarnated as wretched beings. So in a way, even Buddhists know that everyone is somehow brought back to life. The problem however is that they think mistakenly like this because their understanding is incomplete and erroneous.
Even those who don’t believe in the righteousness of God will be brought back to life to be sentenced to their eternal deaths on the Day of the Last Judgment. God will resurrect them all, but only to cast them into the fire of hell. In contrast, those who have received the remission of sins will be brought back to life to partake in the good resurrection—that is, to obtain everlasting life. It is very important for you to grasp here that upon resurrection, everyone will receive either everlasting salvation or everlasting condemnation. Those who belong to God will receive eternal salvation and everlasting life, while those who don’t belong to God will face eternal curses and everlasting condemnation.
If the foundation of your faith in Jesus is still weak, then you ought to study the Word of God again.
Are you leading a proper life of faith to move onto perfection, having built a firm foundation of salvation to put all your trust in God, in baptisms, in the laying on of hands, in the resurrection of the dead and in eternal judgment? Do you believe in Gods’ righteousness with this foundation of faith built perfectly? If you have laid down a perfect foundation of faith and are now leading your life of faith with the understanding of the righteousness of God, then your faith is worthy of emulation.
It is unfortunate that there are still many Christians who still have not reached this stage. Today’s Christians also have much to learn. There is so much that they have to learn about God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit through His Word. Most pastors just teach their congregations to live virtuously and do good things, but that’s not what God’s Church is supposed to teach. Such ethical teachings are espoused by practically every religion, from Buddhism to Confucianism and even animistic religions. Secular schools also teach their students to live a morally upright life. But that’s not why people attend God’s Church. People come to God’s Church to be washed from all their sins and receive everlasting life by believing in the righteousness of Jesus, to become God’s own redeemed children.
It is very important for you to know clearly why you are attending God’s Church. You should also know why you believe in the righteousness of Jesus, grasp the purpose for which you trust in Jesus, and believe according to this purpose. Of course, I am not saying here that God’s Church never teaches the congregation to live a morally upright life. It does admonish all the saints to do their best to lead a virtuous life, bear with one another in patience, be kind to each other, and live for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But these are just the basic norms that every saint ought to follow as a matter of course. Beyond these basic principles, all of us who have received the remission of sins must go through an ongoing process of spiritual growth, and as we go through this process, we ought to get nearer to God with a firm foundation of salvation already laid by faith, reminding ourselves of what the writer of Hebrews admonished us here in today’s Scripture passage: “Let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2). God will then tell us that the day is nearing for our bodies to be also completely delivered. And that is why we the redeemed saints are serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit with the full assurance of hope.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews and God is speaking to no one other than us. As we carry on with our lives in this world, it is wrong for us not to hope for the God-given Kingdom of Heaven and everlasting life. Rather than becoming sluggish, we should hope for these wonderful blessings even more, endure our trials and tribulation on this earth in patience, and lead our lives to preach God’s salvation to others. Did God then speak of such a life just to us? No, He had also spoken it to the saints of the old days by mentioning the account of Abraham.
It’s written in Hebrews 6:13-15, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans and commanded him to leave his country and go to the land of Canaan, God promised Abraham that He would bless him abundantly. At that time, Abraham was 75 years old, and he went through a lot of hardship when he left his country. But God had promised him that He would give him a son. And God had also promised him that He would give him a far better land. So Abraham endured patiently and obtained the promise. Abraham was called by God at the age of 75, and after a few years, he was promised by God that He would give him a son. Since Abraham begot his son at the age of 100, this means that he waited over twenty years for God’s promise to be fulfilled. God had promised Abraham, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you” (Hebrews 6:14), but Abraham had to wait patiently for a long time before his descendants multiplied into the nation of Israel. It took a great deal of patience for Abraham to obtain the promise.
What’s more, not long after giving Abraham a son, God commanded him to sacrifice his son up as a burnt offering to Him. So early the next morning, Abraham started his journey with his son Isaac to obey God’s order. But when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering in obedience, God intervened and said, “Do not kill your son. I have seen your obedience, and for this, I give you My promise that I will surely bless you to multiply and flourish.”
The nation of Israel sprang forth from one man named Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was faithfully fulfilled. Today’s Palestinians are also Abraham’s descendants just like the Jewish people. The name Israel was derived from Jacob’s account in the Bible. The word “Israel” means “one who has struggled with God and overcome Him.” He was given this name because he had wrestled with an angel (who was actually God Himself) until the daybreak even though he was a weakling. The angel then said to Jacob, “Let Me go. Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel. You have struggled with God and prevailed. I cannot resist but bless you and watch over you. From now on you shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel.” So when we speak of the people of Israel today, we are actually speaking of Jacob’s descendants. The descendants of Abraham come from a special lineage distinct from the Gentiles. Likewise, you and I are also special.
It is written in Hebrews 6:11-12, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
God has called us and saved us so that we would lead the same kind of godly life described in this passage, and He has told us to endure patiently, for He will fulfill everything He had promised to us. When people make a vow, they swear on something that’s greater than themselves. In contrast, God swore on His own name because there was no one greater than Him, saying to Abraham, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you” (Hebrews 6:14). So God cannot lie, nor can He help but keep all His promises.
Lying is something that God cannot do, and another thing that God cannot do is failing to keep His promise. These two principles are immutable truths. What should we then avoid to lay hold of the hope set before us? We must avoid the world. While we have no hesitation to rise up to any challenge, we flee from the world because we are not supposed to follow the currents of this world. God said here in today’s Scripture passage that He wants us to flee from the world for refuge so that we would have strong consolation.
The Bible also says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20). If we endure just a little more, we will go to the Kingdom of Heaven, enjoy everlasting life, and receive glory and splendor. It is written here that we have this hope as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, which will enable us to enter into God’s presence behind the veil.
Our God has promised us that if we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He will give us the remission of sins, grant us the Kingdom of Heaven, make us His own children, bestow us with everlasting life, and bless us with eternal resurrection and happiness. This is an immovable truth, for it is the promise that God has made to us all who believe in the gospel of the remission of sins. That’s why we say that we will enter the Kingdom of God thanks to our Lord.
Hebrews 6:20 says, “Where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” This passage means that because our Lord came to this earth, bore all our sins by being baptized, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and ascended to the Kingdom of God, all who believe in Jesus Christ will also enter the Kingdom of God just as the Lord has entered it.
This is a forever-immutable truth. It is an immovable fact. As long as we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is impossible for us not to enter the Kingdom of Heaven even if we do not want to; conversely, if we don’t believe in this genuine gospel, then it becomes impossible for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven no matter how much we desire to do so. That is why it is so important for all of us to lay a perfect foundation of salvation to enter Heaven. Jesus Christ has not only saved us perfectly, but He has also prepared everything to perfection so that we would all be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has saved us, and I cannot emphasize this enough just how important it is for all of us to believe wholeheartedly in this perfect gospel, in the God-given perfect salvation and everlasting life, His perfect blessings, and perfect resurrection; and to endure patiently by faith with the full assurance of hope until the day we enter the Kingdom of the Lord.
There is only one thing that we must avoid while living on this earth, and it is the world. Unless we flee from the world, we will end up being tainted by it, and once we are tainted by this world, it will be all over for us. A typical example of this is Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Although Lot had been saved, he went out into the world and his faith was ruined as a result. His descendants, the Moabites and the Ammonites (Genesis 19:30-38), then came to stand against God. In contrast, the people of faith such as Abraham stayed away from the secular world, they did not do so because they were cowardly, but they stayed away because they were not supposed let themselves be tainted by the world.
We are God’s children. We believe in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Some people have given up their faith in this righteousness of the Lord for various reasons, but do you also think the salvation that we have received is so worthless? Is this salvation that God has brought to us through His own righteousness so cheap? Is it so meaningless?
No, the salvation that the Lord has given to us is so precious that we can never change it for anything else in this world, even if the whole world were offered to us in return. Is it then so trivial to serve God’s righteousness? No, serving God’s righteousness is worthier than any human endeavor that has ever been done in the entire history of the human race, far more important than flying to the moon. Even though this ministry of serving God may seem trivial at first glance, it is in fact tremendously important. Is there anyone who is leading a life that’s worthier than this life that’s led to serve others? No, there is no one living a worthier life that we are.
We are serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit wholeheartedly, but people do not give us any recognition. On the contrary, many of them do nothing but continually discredit us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But is it so worthless for us to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, of course not! I have no respect for anyone who fails to recognize just how important it is to serve the Lord. Such people are so foolish that after admonishing them a few times, I just give up on them. It’s just not worth wasting my time on such people.
How about you then? What do you think is worthier—to serve yourself or to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Of course it’s far worthier to serve God, for His gospel and His righteousness are far more precious than anything else. Yet despite this, in the past there were some people in our Church who gave up their faith and went out into the world to live just for their flesh, saying that they were no fools. And they did this even though we had preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them, given them an opportunity to serve this gospel, and opened the way for them to live a truly worthy life. Sadly, these people ended up making the greatest mistake of their lives.
My fellow believers, we are now doing something that’s far greater than what any hero has ever done. We are saving lost souls all over the world. Even the greatest hero of all times could achieve nothing but fleshly matters, whereas we are working to save all the lost souls throughout the entire world. And we know that what we are doing is so precious that we cannot exchange our work for anything else. I am extremely proud of our work, and I am sure that you are also proud of what you are doing. Of course, there may be a few people here who do not take any pride in our work, but if they knew just how important this work is, then they would also be proud of it.
If you like the world and want to leave the Church, I will not stop you. Anyone who wants to go out into the world will leave no matter what I do. After all, it’s not as though you would stay in the Church just because I ask you to stay. On the contrary, trying to stop you from leaving the Church will only make you want to go out into the world even more. Some of you may then think that you can just return to the Church if things don’t go well after leaving it.
But can anyone who has left God’s Church return to it so easily? Once you leave the Church, it’s not that easy to return. Even though you have been leading a righteous life, once you set your heart on wickedness and revert back to your past sinful life, you simply cannot just return. It would be fortunate if you could somehow turn around at the last minute and confess on your deathbed, “God is my God, and I believe in this righteous God,” but this is nearly impossible, for once you succumb to wickedness, you are bound to hate anyone who is doing God’s righteous work. You will turn into God’s enemy. Something evil will spring forth from within your heart to make you hate the saints for no reason, oppose them for no reason, and consider them as your enemies for no reason. And this will happen because you would have been seized by the Devil and become his slave.
Such evil desires will spring forth right away unless you unite yourself with the Church. It’s in your human nature to be stirred up into such thoughts. It’s therefore absolutely crucial for you to realize and believe with thanksgiving that God has done every work of salvation for us to perfection, so that the doomed would be saved and the wretched would carry out His precious work.
But if you still don’t want to carry out God’s work in His Church, then you should just leave. By any chance, are you unhappy in God’s Church for whatever reason? Do you find it unbearable to deal with your fellow saints? Do you no longer want to work in God’s Church? Do you want to go somewhere else and find someone else to work with? If that’s what you want, then by all means feel free to leave the Church and go wherever you want to go. But before you make the final decision, you should think hard and ask yourself the following question: Is it really beneficial to your own life to leave God’s Church?
Rather than dwelling on such trivial issues as who is higher than whom, all of us ought to contemplate on the salvation that God has given to us, meditate on the righteousness of Jesus, lay a perfect foundation of salvation by faith, and go on to perfection. Although our hearts may sometimes be shaken for a short while, our lives must still be rooted in the Word of God, and therefore it is absolutely important for us to once again confirm our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, hang on to this rope of salvation, calm our troubled hearts, and look towards the Lord alone. The Lord will then renew our strength. Day after day our Lord will renew our strength whenever we are weak; He will give us wisdom whenever we need it; He will empower us whenever we are powerless; and He will bless us whenever we lack His blessings. Our Lord is guiding us all as our Shepherd.
I give all thanks to God. Halleluiah!