"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Elementary Teachings, Part 2
Laying on of Hands, Resurrection, and the Final Judgment
Last month we started looking at 1 Corinthians 3. We began laying a foundation by looking at the elementary principles of Hebrews 6:1-2. We looked at repentance from dead works, faith toward God, and instructions about washings. Now we want to begin by looking at the laying on of hands.
Laying on of Hands
We see all through the Scriptures that the laying on of hands was quite common. Hands were laid on the heads of animals to symbolize the transfer of sins. The priest would lay his hands upon the ram for the burnt offering (Leviticus 8:18) and the goat on the day of Atonement. Leviticus 16:2-22 says that two goats are chosen: one for the sacrifice to the Lord and the other as the scapegoat who took on the sins of the people.
Hands were laid on a person when assuming the responsibility of leadership. We see this when Moses laid his hands on Joshua in Deuteronomy 34:9, which was given to Moses from God as we read in Numbers 27:18-19, 23: "So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hands on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight.'"
Jacob laid his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh and blessed them (Genesis 48:14-15).
Yeshua laid His hands upon the children (Mark 10:13-16).
Hands were laid on a person for healing (Mark 6:5, Mark 8:23, Luke 4:40).
Hands were laid on a person when called by God. We see this with the seven deacons in Acts 6:1-6. These were men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who were chosen for this task. We see this also in Acts 13:1-3 when the church sent out Barnabas and Paul, which states this: "Then when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
Hands were laid on a person to receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 9:1-17 tells us about Paul's conversion, his healing, and his receiving of the Holy Spirit. God tells Ananias to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul and lay hands on him to regain his sight and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19:6, Paul found some disciples in Ephesus who had not heard of the Holy Spirit, but only of the baptism of John; and Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. Acts 8:14-19 tells us that Peter and John were sent to Samaria when the apostles heard that they had received the Word, so they prayed that they would also receive the Holy Spirit, for they too only received baptism in the name of Yeshua; and when they began laying hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit.
The result of laying on of hands can be the receiving of spiritual gifts. 1 Timothy 4:14 tells us that Timothy received a spiritual gift when hands were laid upon him in a prophetic utterance. Also 2 Timothy 1:6 tells us that Timothy was to kindle afresh that same gift which was given through the laying on of hands. So we see that the laying on of hands was used in many different ways.
Because the laying on of hands was very significant, it was to be taken very seriously. The Bible warns us not to lay hands on a person without thought. In so doing we might become part of their sins (1 Timothy 5:22). What does that all mean? Well, this is what the elementary principles are all about! You see, in 1 Corinthians 3, the people were quibbling about the fact that one was taught by Apollos and another was taught by Paul and all of this was childish. The people were still worldly and not walking in the Spirit but in the flesh. They were building a foundation other than Messiah. In other words, they were looking to man instead of God. They were focusing on worldly things instead of godly things, and this resulted in sins like jealousy and strife.
Now, because the laying on of hands was used for different reasons, I think this warning pertains to overseers, deacons, and those commissioned to go out in Yeshua's name. We see this in 1 Timothy 3, which gives qualities and requirements for overseers and deacons, such as being above reproach, prudent, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach. He must be gentle and not a lover of money. He must be of one wife and able to manage his own household, keeping his children under control. He must not be a new convert. We see that if one lays his hands on a person who 1) does not have these qualifications, or 2) is a new convert (one who does not have the foundation of the elementary principles), that those who lay hands could become part of his sins because he will not be able to govern those who are under him. We see this in 1 Corinthians 3, how the people were more worldly and not walking in the Spirit.
It is important that we vote in people to govern and pastor our congregations who have a clear understanding of not only the elementary principles but the Scriptures and operation in gifts of the Spirit. If you see that your congregation is more worldly than godly, that should be a red flag to you that something has to change. Next we want to look at the next elementary principal.
Resurrection of the Dead
As believers, we believe that Yeshua was the firstfruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20), and we too will rise from the dead. This is a fundamental teaching that goes way before Yeshua died and rose. Isaiah 26:19 tells us, "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as dew of the dawn." So then why would this be an elementary principle? You would think this is a given! Well, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (Luke 20:27, Acts 23:8). Paul says this: "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor a spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all."
Many religions do not believe in a physical resurrection of the dead where we are reunited with our bodies. For myself, I don't know how one can cremate someone and then scatter his ashes. Though all things are possible with God, somehow I think the body should all remain together, just for the sake of the belief in the resurrection, for we know that Yeshua is our example in all things. In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul tells the Philippians, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
We must understand that the resurrection from the dead is an elementary principle, one that every believer should build His foundation on, and yet most of us do not understand these two verses. We are to die. We are to crucify. We must put death to our old self, our flesh, our will. We must join in on the sufferings of our Messiah. That may be in dying to ourselves, or maybe even persecution, and in some cases even martyrdom. In this we may know Him. Don't we know Him? Not necessarily. We may only know about such things, but not until we experience it for ourselves can we relate to our Savior. Only then can we appreciate Him. Only then can we know for ourselves the power in the resurrection, the power when Messiah raises us up from our dead selves and frees us from ourselves, from our flesh, from our worldliness. Only then can we mature as a believer. As a child of God we can now mature in our faith.
Paul said that he considered all things rubbish just to know this freeing experience. The power one has in this knowledge, that "though I walk in the valley of the shadow death I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. For you prepare a table before my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." This is what Paul was talking about attaining to the resurrection: the power over one's enemies, the blessings of our cup overflowing, the abundant life (this is not finacial blessing but spiritual blessings), for I will dwell with God for eternity. I will have the eternal victory in the resurrection of the dead, for I will dwell with God forever. This is the whole idea behind the feast of Tabernacles, known as Sukkot. Next we want to look at the last elementary principal: eternal judgement.
WOW! Paul put this last, I guess because if you don't repent or have faith or be cleansed or maybe not answer His call, you may not experience the resurrection from the dead, which will leave you to eternal judgement. Well, you may say that someone who is not a believer in Yeshua will not be saved anyway, but we must consider that Paul is speaking to believers about elementary principles. So Paul must have thought that believers need to at least be reminded about such things and at most he must have thought that a believer could one day face God's judgement.
Now, I know that right now you are saying that if I am a believer in Yeshua, then I am saved and you, meaning me, are a false teacher. So I say, let us walk through this topic and see what God's Word has to say to us about all of this.
1. This is an elementary principle.
2. Paul tells the Hebrews that they must press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of all of these six principles.
3. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
4. "And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:5-10).
5. "Do not love the world, nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17).
6. "Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:7-10).
7. "But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these two are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:16-21).
8. "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
9. Self- righteousness - "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Revelations 15-17).
10. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned… If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:5-6, 10)
There are ten reasons, and then there are many parables that were written to believers, and of course there are the other ten reasons called the Ten Commandments. So I say when Paul wrote about the elementary principles of a believer, you can see why he started with repentance and ended with judgement.
It is these very basic but important principles that every believer should build upon as he lays a proper foundation in Messiah Yeshua.
Next time we will continue looking at 1 Corinthians 3.