The essential gospel 


Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)

After discussing the nature of Christ for five chapters, the writer turns his attention to Christian perfection, to what Christians need to do in this life.

There is given a list of foundational teachings of Christianity...

  1. repentance from dead works
  2. faith toward God
  3. baptisms
  4. laying on of hands
  5. resurrection of the dead
  6. eternal judgment

The writer of Hebrews chides the Christians for remaining at only a basic conception of the Christian faith...

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

The six foundational teachings of Christianity...

(1) Repentance from dead works. The basis of faith and salvation is repentance from sin. Apparently these immature Christians were having trouble with remaining free from sin.

(2) Faith toward God. Apparently these immature Christians were still looking to superstitions and, perhaps, idols.

(3) Baptisms. Note the word is plural. Certainly the early church believed sins are remitted during baptism, and the New Testament confirms this. Perhaps two baptisms are referred to: (1) the baptism by water and, (2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)

(4) Laying on of hands. The only use of the image of laying on of hands in the New Testament is in ordaining ministers.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)

(5) Resurrection of the dead. The idea that we each will be resurrected at some point after death is a foundational doctrine of the faith. It provides hope.

(6) Eternal judgment. After resurrection is eternal judgment. This hints at the existence of hell and eternal damnation which is to be avoided at all cost.

So here is the sequence of the foundational beliefs of a Christian...

  1. stop sinning
  2. turn to God
  3. get baptized in Christ (which remits sins)
  4. submit to church leadership
  5. look in hope to the resurrection
  6. look in hope to heaven (new heavens and new earth)