Leaving The Cross Behind - Part I
SAD TO SAY, THE Message of the Cross is viewed by most of Christianity as a simple foundational teaching meant only to introduce Christianity to the initiate. They maintain that once you have begun to mature in Christ, you must leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ behind. In their attempt to support this view, they look to Hebrews 6:1-2. They feel justified in leaving the Cross behind.
WHAT DOES HEBREWS 6:1-2 REALLY MEAN?
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, (speaks of the ‘first principles,’ which refers to the Old Testament; Christ is the centerpiece of the entirety of the Bible), let us go on unto perfection (speaks of the New Testament sacrifice, the Lord Jesus, and the testament He inaugurated with His work on the Cross); not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works (refers to these Jewish Christians going back to the old sacrificial system, etc.), and of faith toward God (refers to faith toward God in the realm of the Old Testament way, which God will not accept now inasmuch as Jesus has fulfilled the Old Testament law)” (Heb. 6:1, The Expositor’s Study Bible). This seems self-explanatory. So you would think. However, there are those opposing the Message of the Cross who still maintain that these verses instruct us to leave behind the Message of the Cross.
WHAT ABOUT THE RESURRECTION?
You cannot grammatically separate Verse 2 of Hebrews 6 from Verse 1. This is a continuation of the list started in Verse 1. In Verse 2, we have “the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” If we are to believe that the writer is advocating that we no longer preach and teach the Message of the Cross, then we are to also believe that we are to no longer preach and teach about the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. Likewise, without the Cross, there is no Christianity. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ separate true Christianity from all other religions!
THE JUDAIC SYSTEM IN VERSE 2
The doctrines listed in Hebrews 6:2 do not refer to Christian doctrine, but they refer to the Judaic interpretation and usage of these doctrines to obtain acceptance with God. The plural baptismon “by itself does not mean specifically Christian baptism either in this epistle (Heb 9:10) or elsewhere (Mk. 7:4), but ablutions or immersions such as the mystery religions and the Jewish cultus required for initiates, proselytes, and worshippers in general” (Moffatt) (Robertson’s Word Studies). According to The Expositor’s Study Bible, the laying on of hands refers to the Levitical offerings where a person would lay his hands on the animal to be sacrificed for association and substitution. The resurrection here speaks of the incomplete understanding of Judaism in reference to the resurrection and of eternal judgment.
FULFILLED IN CHRIST
All of these doctrines are fulfilled in Christ. We no longer attempt to please God through ordinances and laws but through the completed work of Calvary. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). Leaving the Cross behind and going onward means that you have reckoned what Christ accomplished at Calvary as no longer necessary. My friend, just as Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Bible (the Christocentric theme), the Message of the Cross is the central theme of all New Testament doctrines pertaining to righteousness (Crossocentric theme), if not the whole New Testament.