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 . . . (Heb 6:1)
What does the author of Hebrews 6 want us to understand by the word “perfection” as used in this verse? The Jamieson, Fausset & Brown (JFB) Commentary on Hebrews 6 says this about it:
perfection–the matured knowledge of those who are “of full age” ( Heb 5:14 ) in Christian attainments.
In the JFB commentary, “full age” can be understood to mean mature. Once a person is mature in Christian attainments, what does their life look like to others?
- This person is not easily swayed by false or erroneous doctrines; but it’s someone who ministers God’s love and mercy to others. (Eph 4:13-16)
- Their relationship with the Lord remains steadfast, regardless of the current circumstances of their life. (Col 1:23)
- A mature Christian doesn’t get anxious over things that they can’t control—especially about events reported in the news. (Ps 112:7)
- He or she will not allow any circumstance of life to disrupt their faith in God nor their daily spiritual habits of quiet time with the Lord, prayer, and Bible reading. (Act 2:42)
- They maintain their childlike sense of wonder and trust in God. (Mt 18:3)
- A mature Christian does not compare themselves with others. (2 Cor 10:12)
- This is a person who is rooted and grounded in love—the love of God for them and the love of God for other people. (Eph 3:17)
The verse at the top of this article (Heb 6:1) reminds each of us that the Lord doesn’t want us to remain stationary in our Christian walk but that we need to build upon the foundational principles of our faith and to grow in maturity in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13 – emphasis added)
The word fear in the above passage of Scripture means with reverence and respect. The reference to trembling can be understood to mean with great humility and the type of weakness that causes us to rely completely and solely upon the Lord and His grace. We should also have a huge desire to never offend God through disobedience, as well as a great awe for God’s majesty and holiness.
Now what could the author have meant by “work out your own salvation”? This is the concept of bringing something to completion or maturity, such as when Paul describes himself as straining or “pressing on” toward the goal of being Christlike. (Phil 3:13-14) It’s our responsibility to cooperate with the Lord by obeying His Word and following His plan for our lives. Part of that plan is for us to submit to our Savior by obeying His Word.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)
Obedience and submission to the God whom we revere and respect is only our “reasonable service” according to the passage shown above.
We work out our salvation, then, by going to the source of our salvation—the Word of God—which is the only instrument available to us to renew our hearts and minds as we reverently seek to walk the path of ever-growing spiritual maturity.