In Hebrews 6:1-2, we have a list of 6 lessons that the first Christian leaders taught to new Christians.
Today, Christians usually agree about most of the contents of the first 2 lessons. We read about those lessons when we studied Hebrews 6:1.
However, the 4 lessons in Hebrews 6:2 cause real difficulty for many Christians today. People in different churches have different opinions about these things. Sometimes people in the same church have different opinions. Sometimes a church leader feels unable to teach what he himself believes because of his churchís official statement of beliefs.
That is a sad situation. Our desire should always be to know what the Bible teaches. So let us study what the first Christians taught in those 4 lessons.
(1) Baptisms. The word is plural. The first Christians believed both in baptism in water (Acts 10:47) and baptism in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5).
Baptism means a ceremony that uses water. The first Christians actually went into the water for baptism (Acts 8:38). This ceremony happened as soon as possible after a person became a Christian (Acts 2:41; Acts 16:33).
The meaning of baptism is important. John used baptism to show that people wanted God to wash away (remove) their sin (evil deeds) Ė Mark 1:4. But Paul taught that Christian baptism was different. It must also show that the person is trusting Christ (Acts 19:4-5). So baptism shows a personís relationship with Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from water baptism (Mark 1:8). When the Holy Spirit fills someone for the first time, that is the same as baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5 and Acts 2:4). Another way to describe this is that the Holy Spirit comes on a person (Acts 1:8). Baptism in the Holy Spirit also happened soon after a person became a Christian (Acts 8:14-15). People knew it because the Holy Spirit was working through them. So, in Acts 2:4 and Acts 10:44-46, the Holy Spirit gave Christians the power to speak in languages that they had not learned.
(2) The ceremony to lay hands on someone. The first Christians had the simplest ceremonies. They washed a person in water, and that was baptism. They shared bread and wine, and that was their special meal to remember Christís death (1 Corinthians 11:23-32). They placed their hands on someone. And that showed that God was placing his hand on that person, too. In other words, God would be active in a special way in that personís life.
There were two reasons why Christians laid hands on a person. Sometimes they did it to separate someone who would carry out special work for God (Acts 13:2-3; 2 Timothy 1:6). That was how they appointed a church leader.
But they also did it when they prayed for someone (Acts 9:17; Acts 19:6). Especially, people did that when they asked God to cure someone (Mark 7:32). God cured many people when the first Christians prayed (Hebrews 2:4).
Sometimes the first Christians used a little oil when they prayed for someone (James 5:14-15). Oil is a word-picture for the Holy Spirit in the Bible. So they used oil to show that the Holy Spirit was working in that personís life.
(3) The resurrection of dead people. The first Christian leaders believed that every Christian should know about life after death. So they taught people about resurrection. In other words, God will cause dead people to live again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14; Mark 13:18-27). This is Godís promise for every true Christian.
The first Christians did not believe that this was merely a word picture. And they had a good reason for that. God had caused Christ to live again; and they were witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). So he would certainly cause Christians to live again, too (1 Corinthians 15:12-26). And when that happens, God will change them completely. They will never die again (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). So this is not like the belief called reincarnation. The Bible does not teach reincarnation (see Hebrews 9:27).
Christians believe that, at death, their spirits are immediately with God in heaven (Luke 23:43). But the first Christians believed in the resurrection of the body, too (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:42). And they believed that God will rule earth, as well as heaven (Matthew 6:10; Acts 1:6). In the end, there will be a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13).
(4) Eternal judgement. Judgement means a judgeís decision. And Ďeternalí means that the decision will never change. Here the judge is God. Only his decisions really are permanent. The Bible has always taught that God is the greatest judge (Genesis 18:25; Job 23:1-7). And he always does what is right and proper. He will end the rule of wicked people over this world (Revelation chapter 18). And he will punish evil people (Luke 16:19-26), with a punishment that never ends (2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 20:13-15; Isaiah 66:22-24).
I am sure that many of you, my readers, will not agree with everything in this article. So, I have given a Bible reference for each statement that I have made. I do not ask you to believe everything that I say. But the Bible is Godís word (2 Peter 1:20-21). So I would encourage you to study what the Bible says about these things.
Next part: If God permits (Hebrews 6:3)
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2013, Keith Simons.