Having laid the first three stones in our faith structure we don’t want to stop there, it is important that we finish our foundation, that our foundation be fixed, immovable before we move on to building upon that foundation.
“The Apostle says the next step is “the laying on of hands.” Why, what’s that? The “laying on of hands,” you remember, was something they had in the early Church. The Apostles in the early Church laid their hands upon the converts and they received their measure of the Holy Spirit of God. Have we that practice now…?
“The literal act of laying on of hands ceased with the death of the apostles, but its symbolic significance has continued with the church throughout the age, and is a vital factor in the Christian life today. Those upon whom the apostles laid their hands received the Holy Spirit. This outward sign of approval was of great value in the Early Church; but the Lord’s people still need today that which the laying on of hands represented; namely, the approval and acceptance of God, which is manifested by the “witness” of the Spirit. (Rom 8:16) The doctrine, or teaching, which has to do with our being anointed by the Holy Spirit and being thereby recognized by the LORD as members of the body of Christ and authorized to be his ambassadors, is therefore fundamentally important.” (Studies in the Book of Hebrews, Page 35)
…But it is only those who have come to the point of being dead with Christ as a sacrifice, and have been raised to the spiritual life who have had this “laying on of the hands” spoken of in this chapter.
In the Tabernacle picture the “laying on of hands” corresponds to our receiving the Holy Spirit. This we received following our baptism, our consecration, even as it was with our Lord. After having fully consecrated himself to the Father, surrendering his will for that of the Father’s, he immediately went down to the river Jordan and was baptized by John.
“The significance here is that our Lord was baptized into death BEFORE he went into the water… he was already dead to his own will; otherwise he could not have gone to John at Jordan. Upon rising from the water the Father manifested his acceptance of our Lord’s sacrifice by anointing him with the Holy Spirit (typified by passing beneath the First Vail and entering into the Holy of the Tabernacle), from this moment forth the Man Christ Jesus was no longer, he was now a new creature, the first born of the new creation. (See Q36)
Even so it is with regards to us, first we must consecrate ourselves to the LORD, surrender up our wills, (this takes place immediately outside the door to the tabernacle, pictured by the two goats which were presented there, Lev 16:7) and upon acceptance of our consecrations we too are baptized, but not so much as individuals, but as prospective members of the body of Christ, thus we are “baptized into his death” (made participators with him). Rom 6:3
Water baptism is merely a symbolic representation of our true baptism, the burial of our will, the surrender of our earthly life and nature.
The next item is the “doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.” Are we required to understand this? Is this a part of the “milk of the Word“? Oh, yes, the Apostle says this is the next stone in the foundation of Christ; this is the next item of the milk of the Word. We are required to understand that Christ has died a great ransom and secured for the whole human family the glorious hope of resurrection. Why are we required to understand this in order to have a proper foundation in Christ? Well, my dear friends, if we don’t know about the resurrection hope we have no hope whatever in this present time…
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ,” writes Paul, “we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor 15:19) Surely the doctrine of the resurrection is a very vital one. This is true whether we think of it as pertaining to the “first resurrection” in which we hope to share; the “better resurrection” of the Ancient Worthies, or the general resurrection of the world. (Rev 20:6; Heb 11:35; Acts 17:31) It is the very foundation of our hope.” (Studies in the Book of Hebrews, Page 35)
… The most important matter here, my dear friends, is the great resurrection hope that is laying hold upon us in the present time as New Creatures, for the Apostle Paul says we are experiencing now the power of Christ’s resurrection. This is our resurrection hope in the present time as New Creatures,
From the time we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and God accepts the sacrifices and imparts the Holy Spirit upon our hearts, from that time on we begin to rise in the resurrection as New Creatures to the spiritual life. The Apostle Paul says he was endeavoring that now he might experience the power of Christ’s resurrection. What kind of resurrection is that? Why the “First resurrection,” of course, the spiritual resurrection, but if we are not being quickened by God’s Holy Spirit now, if we are not experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are not experiencing the power of this resurrection, Christ’s resurrection. It is very important that we should experience this resurrection now, my dear friends, because we must not only be begotten of God’s Spirit, but we must also be quickened into life, into zeal, into service. If we are going on to partake of the whole milk of God’s Word we will be feeling the power of the spiritual life raising us mentally higher and higher, to higher viewpoints of God’s plan and His call for us at the present time. It is very important, then, to know about this stone in the foundation.
The Apostle Paul says regarding the same thing, “If we live in the Spirit.” What does that mean? To “live in the Spirit” means we are dead to the human plane of things. It means that we are dying day by day to the human line of thought and the human view of things here, and it means we are rising higher in the spiritual appreciation of the heavenly things. It means… a development of holiness of character, a development of God’s Spirit in the heart, a looking on things from God’s standpoint. And the Apostle says, if we live in the Spirit we should also walk in the Spirit. If we are begotten again and have experienced the power of the resurrection spoken of as the fifth stone in the foundation of Christ, we should walk according to the new life, the spiritual life.
Having consecrated our all at the door to the Tabernacle proper, we passed beneath the “first Vail”, sacrificing not only our will to God, but likewise sacrificing our earthly or restitutional life rights, hence forth we (as fleshy beings) are considered dead. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3) Here we received the “spirit of adoption”, and were begotten by the Father through the Holy Spirit to a “new nature”, a spirit nature, however at present it is only in its embryonic condition inhabiting the old earthen vessel, which is “quickened” and to be used up in service to the Lord and the brethren.
We died (figuratively) when through consecration we passed beneath the first vail, and are now raised beyond it “new creatures in Christ Jesus”, spirit beings residing within the first chamber of the Tabernacle, the “Holy” or spirit begotten condition.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. (Rom 6:3, 4; Col 2:12) Our life is bound up, and our union with Him is, in His death and resurrection. We look back upon that solemn moment when we were immersed beneath the water and then raised again from the parted wave, thereby declaring our conformity to His death and our fellowship in His resurrection. First the burial-death-in order to a resurrection to “walk in newness of life.” As one has expressed it: “We sign the death warrant to our natural man” – the flesh. Death not only to sin, but death “with Him,” who “knew no sin.” This means crucifying and putting off the old man, with all its human aspirations. There can be no entrance into the “power of His resurrection” except through conformity to His death.
The buried form is raised up again from the water in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. No sooner are we “buried with Him in baptism” than we have the word, “Now is Christ raised from the dead,” and “wherein also ye are raised with Him through faith in the working of God who hath raised Him from the dead.” (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, April 1946, Page 5)
The next and the final stone is the “eternal judgment.” It is very important to know that by and by God has for the world an “age-lasting” judgment, that “God has appointed a day” (the 1,000 years day of Christ’s reign) for the judgment and trial and blessing of all mankind, but that is not the thought here. It is far more important for us now to under-stand that this is our judgment day, and this present age is the “eternal (or “age-lasting”) judgment” for the Church. If we don’t know that we are on trial now, how can we “press towards the mark for the prize”? If we don’t under-stand that there is a mark set, how can we attain to that mark? Every day, and every hour, and every moment our judgment is going on and we are being developed and tested as New Creatures. It is very important to understand that. If we did not understand it, my dear friends, how could we make our “calling and election sure”?
All these things, then, the Apostle says, are stones, very important stones, in the foundation of Christ, but he goes on to say that having laid these stones we are not to stop there. This is only the “milk of the Word.” These are the purely doctrinal features of God’s plan. These are the things given us to enable us to understand God’s requirements, and having taken all these steps from the world right into Christ, into the full spiritual life, what comes next? “Leaving the first principles, let us go on to perfection” — let us partake now of the “strong meat” That means, my dear friends, we have got to grapple now with the great facts of the principles of God’s kingdom. We have got to begin to discern now the great principles in every action, in every word, in all our walk and conversation here. We have got to try to conform all things in our life to certain principles. We have got to see that we are cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts and bringing our whole lives into line with the great pattern set before us. We have got to get down to the principle of things.
We believe, dear friends, it was God’s plan that in the beginning of this Harvest Time He should set out very, very clearly all these wonderful doctrinal facts regarding His purposes; we believe, too, it is His design that towards the end of the Harvest it is more a question of principle and heart condition, that these will be the test among God’s people. The test in the past has been more or less doctrine, and we were all required to have some material to build upon. The babe, though it goes on to partake of “strong meat,” requires milk at the same time, and we as New Creatures still need the milk of the Word. But at the same time the important point is that towards the end of the course we shall have reached that stage of growth in Christ that we can partake of the strong meat, that we shall have grace and strength to understand how to conform our lives daily to the great pattern of Christ. The Apostle says in the next verse, “And this will we do if God permit.” In other words, we will endeavor, as far as possible, by the grace of God, not to stop there at the milk of the Word, but to make our calling and election sure by laying hold of the strong meat and proving ourselves men in Christ Jesus.”
(1912 Bible Students Convention Report, “The Milk of the Word and Strong Meat of the Word”, Page 873-874)