Vol.XVI No.VIII Pg.2
October 1979

Go On To Perfection

Robert F. Turner

In Neil R. Lightfoot's commentary on Hebrews (Jesus Christ Today) he has the following to say about "leaving the principles" and "going on to perfection" (6:1). "The maturity of which he speaks is not to be connected so much with the maturity of the readers (which was lacking) as with the maturity of the teaching which they needed. Let us ... go on, he says, to more advanced teaching, to such doctrines as the nature of Christ's priesthood, which they were scarcely able to grasp. They needed to push on to higher plains, to more advanced Christian truths than those to which they were accustomed." (p.119)

A.B. Bruce, on the same thought, says, this "may be regarded as an assertion of the right of the Church to be something more than an infant school, and ... against the intolerance always manifested by ignorance, stupidity, indolence, and prejudice toward everything that is not old, familiar, and perfectly elementary." That is pretty strong stuff, but it may rattle our teeth because it hits us squarely in the face. (Ibid. p.lll)

"Something more than an infant school. Is the teaching program in your church more than infant training? Does it challenge the members to spiritual growth; expanding their knowledge of Bible truth and increasing their ability to reason and apply? Or are we satisfied with infantile stock answers, repeated over and over, with no desire to "go on to maturity"?

"Deeper" water must not be confused with "muddy" water; with theological speculations, or pedantic lectures; or even with an overload of reading assignments and tests. We believe "deeper" truths are simply the putting together and application of simple, surface truths — and that this can be done in simple, understandable language. But such putting together requires thought, testing, evaluation — or in Bible language, we must "prove all things."

"Leaving the principles" (elementary doctrines) doesn't mean abandon them, but build on them — as one must "leave" the foundation and go on with the framing and finishing of a house. But sometimes brethren so poorly understand the so-called "first principles" that they can not build on this faulty foundation. All the more reason to re-examine our thinking. We must not fear such studies. Truth will only shine brighter under investigation, and each truly basic principle will serve as a stepping-stone to greater truths. Our knowledge and faith is weak indeed if it must be shielded behind sectarian pride.