Hebrews 6:1-8 -- Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
I have a daughter who is a senior in high school, so our mailbox is full every day with information from colleges. She's taken her SATs and ACTs, and we visited a couple of college campuses over the summer. Soon we will be filling out applications and finding our way through that process. She is excited by the thought of leaving home and has even been looking at bedding and decoration ideas for her dorm room (mind you, this is a year away). She knows what she wants to study and do with her life, which is more than most young people can say. She has a vision and she can see herself graduated from college and working at what she loves. I am just not sure if she realizes what college is really like and the hard work that lies ahead.
College life probably sounds pretty glamorous to her and her friends. It was one of the best times of my life, but I don't know that I would call the first year glamorous. We lived on the basement level of the dorm in a room right across from the laundry room, which had its pros and cons. We had to eat cafeteria food or not, which meant ordering pizza nearly every night. Back then, we had one TV room on the floor that nearly 20 girls (and whoever was doing laundry) had to share. Our phones hung on the wall of our dorm room and you had to have a calling card to phone home. (Now the dorm rooms have cable and Wi-Fi!) The first year of courses largely consisted of what you might call beginner classes, like English 101, History 101, etc. That "101" designation beside a course name let you know it was the introductory level class. Once you passed that course, you could move up into a deeper study and understanding of the subject.
You cannot take the next level course unless you have completed, the "101" course. Some students are bored with "101" and want to "get on to the cool stuff", but they don't have their basics down. Then they wonder why they fail when they try to delve into the harder classes. Other students are too easily distracted and never really get it and end up having to take the course over, or worse, they give up and drop out.
As Christians, we are disciples, or students, of Jesus Christ. Many churches have a class for new believers to learn the basics of our Christian faith. You could call it "Jesus 101". We have to get the basics and know in whom we believe. We have to know who Christ is, what He did for us and who we are in Him. New believers are great to be around. They are like little children in their excitement for the Lord. They are ready to go out and tell everyone they know that Jesus has saved them. They also think they are ready to go out and slay the giants and take on anyone who would come against their God. They would do well to read in Acts 19 about the seven sons of Sceva who thought they could perform an exorcism. It didn't go so well. They were not disciples of Christ. They hadn't had "Jesus 101". It's not a step you can skip and "get on with the cool stuff."
2 Timothy 2:15 -- Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
New believers are great, because they help you remember how excited you were when you gave your heart to the Lord. However, new believers need to get those basics (Jesus 101) firmly rooted in their spirits so they can move into the higher things of God. You see a lot of new believers who will say that they know that God has told them they are called to preach, teach, sing, prophesy, pastor, etc. Knowing your calling is a gift in itself, because figuring that out is a struggle for most Christians. Before you can serve in that calling, you have to complete "Jesus 101" and start building on that knowledge. It's just like when you learned to read. You first learned to recognize letters, then words, and then phrases. Once you had those basics, you could put them together and you learned to read and write. It's the same in your walk with Christ. You know the plan of salvation and have accepted His invitation to eternal life. It's the beginning of a new life and you become the student or disciple. It doesn't mean you are going to be the pastor of the church the day after you got saved. It means you start preparing for that calling. It means reading and studying the Word of God. It means prayer and fasting. It means praise and worship. It means maturing in your spirit and growing in knowledge, faith and wisdom. It is understanding that life isn't always going to be a bowl of ice cream with cherries on top. There will be battles, which make those basics all the more essential.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have people who can't seem to get past Jesus 101. They keep running back to the altar and repenting for the same sins over and over. They think that every time they mess up it means their salvation has been lost and they have go get saved again. Apparently they were not paying attention in class. When you genuinely, sincerely ask Jesus to forgive your sins and be Lord over your life, it is done. When He was on the cross, He cried out "It is finished!", not "I'll think about it and get back to you." Yet they keep going back, and as Paul says in the above scripture from Hebrews, they are crucifying Jesus again. We have people who have been in church all their lives and still aren't sure if they are saved. If you are saved, you are saved and no one can take that away from you. No one is perfect we have all sinned and fallen short. When we fall, we have an advocate with the Father. We can repent, asking Him to forgive us and to set us back on the right path.
Somewhere in the middle, we have the majority of the church who have moved past Jesus 101, but are at different levels. Some have moved up a little and are getting a taste of what is possible with God. Others have moved up into higher spiritual realms, walking in their gifts and callings. The rate at which we move up in the things of God is directly related to how much we trust Him, how willing we are to let go of the reigns and let Him drive, and how willing we are to allow Him to use us for His purpose. We need to wade out into those deep waters. It may seem a little scary out in the deep, but we know that our Lifeguard walks on water!!
The Message version of Hebrews 6:1-3 reads like this: So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. But there's so much more. Let's get on with it!
Let's move beyond Jesus 101 and look ahead to our graduation day. Just like my daughter can envision working in her dream career, let's envision walking in our callings and doing the work of the Lord. Let's keep our eye on our graduation day, when we get to spend eternity with our Savior. The Church has a great work ahead of it. But it can't get done unless we get up and get on with it!