First Things First
By David Wiseman
The first things of our Messiah and the Word of the Father, the most basic principles of The Way are outlined in Hebrews 6:1&2. “Therefore, leaving the discourse of the beginning of Messiah, let us be borne on to full growth, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the baptisms, of teaching, of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of dead ones, and of eternal judgment.”
These are the most basic principles of The Way, and yet there is controversy over them. What are dead works? What are the baptisms? What about laying on of hands? Is there a Hell?
These are the basic principles of The Way.
I: Repentance from dead works
Beginning with the first one: Repentance from dead works. Matthew 23:27-28 explains dead works. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly, indeed, appear beautiful, but within are full of bones of the dead, and of all uncleanness. So you also indeed outwardly appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (LITV)
Dead works are the outward appearance of obedience without a heart of obedience. This does not mean that all works are dead. James 2:17-20 states, “So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, you have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe God is one. You do well; even the demons believe and shudder. But are you willing to know, o vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?” (LITV)
Not only are works good, they are vital to faith! How else is faith acted on? Faith is not faith if there is not enough of it to act on. If faith is the substance of things hoped fro, works are the substance of faith.
II: Faith towards God
Habakkuk 2:4 explains faith; “Behold, the soul of him is puffed up and is not upright; but the just shall live by his faith.” (LITV) This refers again to the faith/works relationship. The soul of the proud, him puffed up, is him who does works without faith. But the just live by faith. The entire life of the just is wrapped up in faith. Faith in what? Romans 3:25 explains what this faith is. “…Whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood, for a showing forth of His righteousness through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God.” (LITV)
So it is faith in the death and resurrection of Messiah. But wait! Habakkuk lived before Messiah. Then what faith is he talking about?
Deuteronomy 32:20 “He said, ‘I will hide by face from them; I will see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation; sons in whom there is no faith. They have made Me jealous with a no-god; they have made Me angry by their vanities; and I shall make them jealous by a no-people; by a foolish nation I shall make them angry.” (LITV)
So this faith is pointed at Abba, the Father. How can these two faiths be the same? Are they both what Habakkuk was talking about? Yes. Deuteronomy 6:4 tells. “Hear, o Israel. Yahueh our God, Yahueh is one.” (LITV)
There are three parts here: Yahueh, God, Yahueh, and these are one; the Hebrew word is “echad”, the masculine form of 1. They are one faith. They are “echad.”
But this faith, where is its origin, its root? “For by grace you are being saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, that not anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (LITV)
So the origin of faith is the same person as the faith is directed to. It is the Father.
III: The Baptisms
The baptisms are one of the most controversial of these issues. Matthew 3:11 describes the two baptisms. It is John the immerser (sometimes called the Baptist) speaking. “Indeed I immerse you in water to repentance; but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, Whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and fire.” (LITV)
The idea of these two baptisms did not start with John. It goes back much further. Look at Noah. The flood was a cleansing of the earth by water. But in Genesis 9:14 Yahueh declares that He will never destroy the earth by water again. Revelation 21:1 says, “And I saw a new Heavens and a new Earth, for the first heavens and the first earth passed away, and the sea no longer is.”(LITV) This is after the purification by fire.
According to the Laws of Yahueh, there are two kinds of purification: water and fire. If there was an object that could survive fire it went through the fire. If it couldn’t survive fire, it went through water. But if it was clay, it was smashed. The body cannot be cleansed, so it is smashed, but the soul is purified. Numbers 31:23 “Everything that passes through the fire, you shall make it go through the fire and it shall be clean. Only it shall be purified with the water for impurity. And every thing that cannot go through the fire, you shall make go through the water.” (LITV)
And Leviticus 11:33, “And any earthen vessel into the midst of which any one of them falls, whatever it is shall be unclean, and you shall break it.” (LITV)
After all of that, what are these two immersions John and Hebrews are talking about? They are the cleansing by the word, by the literal words of Yahueh, and the cleansing by the Spirit of Yahueh. The word is the water of life, and the Spirit is the fire (Acts 2:3&4)
Some say that these are the same ‘baptism,’ according to Matthew 28:19, “Going, then, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (LITV)
It is important to see that it says in the name (singular) of the Father etc. they were to immerse into the one name. They are echad.
It is becoming clear that these are not complicated. It doesn’t take a doctoral thesis to explain these basic concepts. And not one of them involves counting dancing angels on the heads of pins.
In Matthew 23:8 Messiah gives a warning. “But do not you be called Rabbi; (my teacher) for one is your leader, Messiah, and you are all brothers.” (LITV)
II Chronicles 15:3 reveals whose duty it is to teach, “Yea, Israel has been without a true God many days, and without a teaching Priest, and without Law.” (LITV)
So it is the job of the Priests to teach. Who is the High Priest? Messiah. He alone teaches. However, Ephesians 4:11 says, “And He gave some to be apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; some pastors; and some teachers.” (LITV)
In Hebrew, the word Rabbi, which is what Messiah said not to call anyone, is a form of Rav. Rav means “teacher,” and Rabbi means “my teacher.” So Messiah is saying not to call anyone “my teacher” which is a term of respect. They are teachers of the Word, but not to be held in regard above anyone else.
But what are these teachers supposed to teach? Paul says in I Timothy 1:7. “Wishing to be teachers of the Law, neither understanding what they say, nor about which they strongly affirm.” (LITV)
Saying that teachers are teachers of the Law.
V: Laying on of hands
Laying on of hands is probably the most disputed item on the list. It is said that the first laying on of hands is in Genesis 2:7, “And Yahueh God formed the man out of the dust from the ground, and blew into his nostrils life-breath; and man became a living soul,” because Yahueh laid his hands on Adam to form him. Psalms 119:17 affirms this. “Your hands have made me and fixed me; give me discernments that I may learn Your commands.” (LITV)
There is a clear creation by laying on of hands.
Genesis 48:14 tells of another kind of laying on of hands. “And Yisrael sent forth his right hand and put it on the head of Ephrayim; and he was the younger. And he put his left hand on the head of Manashe, crossing his hands; for Manashe was the firstborn…” (LITV)
In the next verse we see that he imparts a blessing. This is not a new blessing he is giving. It is the blessing of the firstborn, which had been his, and he passed it down to Yoseph.
Leviticus 16:21 says something interesting about laying on of hands. “Then Aaron shall lay his two hands on the head of the living goat, and shall confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Yisrael, and all their transgressions, and all their sins, and shall put them on the head of the goat, and shall send it by the hand of a chosen man into the wilderness.” (LITV) So the sins were transferred by laying on of hands.
Mark 16:18 seems to put a new spin on this idea. “They will take up snakes; and if they drink anything deadly, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will be well.” (LITV)
What does this have to do with creating, or with transferring something? This is the transferring of the Spirit of the Father from one person to another, which brings healing. This passage is clearly talking about a pouring-out of the Spirit. It talks about speaking new language, which is what comes with the pouring-out of the Spirit in Acts chapter 2.
Apparently there are two basic parts of laying on of hands; Yahueh creating man by laying on hands, and laying on hands transfers something. This is why laying on hands often is done during an anointing.
VI: Resurrection of dead ones
“Resurrection of dead ones…” Paul explains this in I Corinthians 15:12-15. “But if Messiah is proclaimed, that He was raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is not a resurrection of the dead? But if there is not a resurrection of the dead, neither has Messiah been raised. But if Messiah has not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless. And also we are found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed as to God that He raised Messiah, whom He did not raise, then, if the dead are not raised.” (LITV)
So there is a resurrection of the dead, but what is it? Daniel 12:2 tells a little about it. “And a multitude, those sleeping in the earth’s dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting loathing.”
But when is it? Revelation 20:5 clearly tells when it will be. “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.” (LITV)
What about the living? I Thessalonians 4:16-17 answers this question. “Because the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with a commanding shout of an archangel’s voice, and with God’s trumpet. And the dead in Messiah will rise again first, then we who remain alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to a meeting with the Lord in the air.”
So the living will rise immediately after the dead.
VII: Eternal judgment
In the Greek the word translated “eternal” in Hebrews 6:2 does not mean “eternal.” It means a long, long time. There is a lot of evidence that the New Testament, (Matthew, John Revelation, Hebrews, and some of the lesser letters at least) was actually originally written in Hebrew. In that case, it was probably the word “olam.” This is the same word that was used in Daniel 12:2. Many people do not understand the Hebrew language. They try to make it Greek, which has an exact meaning for every word. But that’s not Hebrew. For example, the word “shalom” means completion; it also means great blessings, safety, peace, and hello.
Following that pattern, olam can mean as long as creation lasts in either direction, or an unknown period of time, or, literally, the vanishing point. It can also mean all of creation.
So there is the problem of what does olam mean in Daniel 12:2 and similar passages? Genesis 2:7 holds the answer. “And Yahueh God formed the man out of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils life-breath; and man became a living soul.”
This soul is from the breath of Yahueh. The breath comes from inside. This soul, this “nephesh,” comes from inside of Yahueh. It is actually a part of His soul. The word of soul, “nephesh” actually comes from the word to breathe, or breath, “naphash.” This naphash went into man and became his nephesh. So it cannot die. If, then, man is eternal, his life or death does not end.
Some will argue that when Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned and ‘died’ the nephesh left them. That is not possible, as it says that they only became living when they were filled with the soul.
This is the end of the beginning of things. But these are only the simplest things of The Way. The best is yet to come.