I always hear complaints when I preach long on a communion Sunday, which is also when we keep the kids in the service (mainly the complaints come from my wife!). As a last ditch (failed) effort to shorten the length of my sermon, I cut out two larger portions. Without additional comment, I’ll provide my manuscript of those “deleted scenes” here for you, with the verse references (in ESV).
Hebrews 6:1 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,
The word “go on,” in the original language of Greek, that word is a passive participle. It’s not just an active command. Pressing on, or going on, to maturity isn’t all dependent on you. The passive implies a sense of yieldedness to God and His Word. God matures believers. We don’t work out our own salvation apart from God at work within us.
What a beautiful thought! When you open your Bible to read it in the morning, you ought to pray for God to be at work within you. Yes, you’re actively doing the discipline of reading and studying God’s Word. But God is at work at the same time, sanctifying you, making you more like Jesus, growing you to maturity.
Sometimes you might feel like it’s all you, all alone, trying to make yourself better for the sake of Christ. You’re never all alone! Every time you open Scripture, every time you come to church, every time you bend your knees to the Lord, Jesus is with you! You press on to maturity by submitting yourself to His work in your life.
Hebrews 6:2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Third and fourth (in a list of 6 elementary doctrines of Christ), they needed to leave behind “instruction about washings” and “the laying on of hands.” The word “washings” here could be translated “baptisms.” I think it should be. It could refer to Jewish ceremonial washings, like purity rituals. But paired with “laying on of hands,” I think it refers to the many different kinds of baptisms back then in the early church.
The baptisms of John the Baptist, baptism after salvation, baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Oftentimes these baptisms were accompanied with the laying on of hands by the apostles.
For example, in Acts 19, Paul comes to Ephesus. And he finds disciples there. He asks if they had been baptized by the HS and they say no, they’ve only been baptized by John the Baptist. So Paul baptizing them in the name of Jesus, and the text says, “when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them” (19:6a).
So they had only been baptized by John, before Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Paul baptizes them in the name of Jesus. Then the HS spiritually baptizes them into the Church.
All this is accompanied by Paul laying his hands on them.