“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” (Hebrews 6:1) In this passage, the Hebrew writer rebuked his readers for their failure to move beyond the elementary principles of the gospel. In order to please the Lord, Christians need to grow and mature spiritually (2 Peter 3:18). But what about the elementary principles; what are they?
Please consider the Apostle Peter’s words concerning our subject, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.” (2 Peter 1:12) Peter said they knew the truth; nevertheless, he intended to continually remind them of these things. Why? So they wouldn’t forget! We sometimes use the words first principles to refer to the basics—the milk of the word—contained in the Scriptures. Remember, those addressed in the Hebrew letter had not progressed beyond the milk of the word. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13,14) They had failed to grow spiritually by exercising their senses and increasing their knowledge of God’s word.
First Principles. While it is true that we must grow to be able to grasp the meat of the word,” at the same time we must not forget the elementary principles we learned and mastered as young Christians. To this end, we are using this special issue of the Messenger to address some first-principles topics for our readers. There’s nothing new, but we hope the articles will rekindle your interest in and knowledge of the basic tenets of Christianity.
Also, there is another reason to remember the first principles. This type of knowledge forms the foundation on which to construct the other information we need to mature. One cannot develop a proper understanding of the meat until he has a firm grasp on the milk. There’s another, even more pressing reason we need to understand the fundamental principles—many in the religious world do not. Faith, grace, baptism, repentance, confession, and faithful living (all are discussed in this issue) are subjects that the religious world, as a whole, has misunderstood for centuries. Yes, these are first principles, but the way some of our religious friends explain them, it is easy to see that they have failed in “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Please give these subjects a fair hearing and test your memory—could it be that you have forgotten some of what you once knew about these elementary principles and their importance in helping lead our friends away from error?