1Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, 2instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And we will do this, if God permits. 4For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,6and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. 7Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over. 9Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. 10For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.11And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, 12so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
As there is progress in one's spiritual growth in God (or, at least, there should be), there ought to be progress in one's understanding of Christ. In verses 1 and 2, six basic doctrines are noted. (1) "repentance from dead works," the turning away from sin; (2) "faith toward God," the other side of repentance, a turning to God; (3) "instructions about baptisms," the different baptisms or cleansing rites associated with Jewish baptism for converts to Judaism, the baptism of John the Baptist, the baptism commanded by Jesus, and possibly other ritual washings connected to first-century Judaism; (4) "laying on of hands," the act of prayer following baptism, or ordaining and commissioning, healing the sick, and impartation of a blessing; (5) "resurrection of the dead," the resurrection of all people in the last day; and (6) "eternal judgment," the judgment of Christ at the end of the age which will determine the eternal condition of every human being.
The author of Hebrews considers these matters "basic teaching about Christ." The point is to go beyond that -- as verse 1 says, "let us go toward perfection." The Greek word for 'perfection' could be better rendered "maturity."
Progress in understanding, i.e., progress in one's theology, is part and parcel of one's growing maturity in Christ. To be stuck in the basic teachings about Christ and Christianity betrays our lack of growth. This shouldn't be! It's like never graduating from middle school.
The challenge in this area of growing in our understanding is that it is not automatic. Mere passage of time does not translate into greater insight, greater knowledge, or greater wisdom. Theological growth takes effort and time. If the desire to grow in our understanding of Christ is present and if this desire is sufficiently strong enough so that we read books, ask questions, talk with others, then it is a realistic expectation that we can go beyond elementary teaching. We can be knowledgeable and wise about the things of God.
For today's devotional then, let me close with an exhortation: Let us grow in our understanding of Christ, by investing some time and effort, some prayer and reflection, some reading and conversation!
May the Lord help us in this theological journey! Amen.