The starting point if our faith - what is it? What is our 'foundation'?
The gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17) makes us slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:18) so we produce the fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:11).
We are 'babes' in Christ, unskilled and immature, if we do not grasp the message of righteousness (Heb 5:13). If we don't understand this message we do not understand the first principles of the gospel (Heb 5v12) and although there is much to learn about this subject, we cannot because [we have not started at the right point and have become confused] and dull of hearing and we no longer even try to understand it (Heb 5:11).
Without the first principles we remain as mute babes (or should!) - if we don't understand the first principles, how can we claim to know anything; how can we discuss the 'deep' things of God or even present the gospel to others? When building a house, the foundation must come first or the completed house will be rickety and fall when storms come... How can we even think of passing on to others a foundation of faith like this? (Yet we do, all the time.)
Hmm, these verses seem to be quite an indictment. But, it seems to me that they are directed at those who 'should already be teachers' of the gospel - church leaders, pastors, teachers. It is obviously important for these people to know and teach the 'first principles' correctly. A new christian starts from the revelation given them and most often develops along the lines of the leaders' preaching. Starting at the right point is really, really important.
Here's where the whole thing goes funky - ask ten pastors what the 'right' starting point is and we'd probably get ten different answers; ask ten laymen and we'd get 20! We could possibly all agree on the 'basics', saying the right words, but does the preaching, the lifestyle, the spiritual walk evidence the 'true foundation'? Sad to say, my experience doesn't show that very often.
I've been through a bunch of teachings on this and never been totally satisfied and I'm sure it's a source of many troubles for many of us. What I have come to believe is that this starting point is so important. We need to know what it is, deeply, spiritually and in truth, making these principles the foundation of all else in our lives. My understanding of this is still developing but has given me great peace and security, a real foundation is being laid and an image of 'my' house has been forming.
So what are the 'first principles' of the message of righteousness?
Quite simply, I believe that when we start to accept and believe that we actually are what God and the gospel says we are, we have our foundation.
There are many scriptures that tell us our new position in God's kingdom, but they are so 'wild' it is hard to believe them. We are 'begotten of God', we have His Spirit in us, we have the fullness of God in us, we have the character of Christ, we have abundance of life like rivers flowing from us, we exude the fragrance of God, we are made the righteousness of Christ... and on and on. Repentance, essentially, is 'a change of mind' to agree with God...
Instead of debating, studying, seeking out new theories, asking everybody else about these verses, I tried just accepting them and believing that the 'fruit' would manifest. It's hard to stop trying to force the fruit out, but as I 'force' myself to rest in Him, I see how it really is Him in us and us in Him, as Jesus prayed. It's not a religious or intellectual game - we can walk in step with the Spirit and live the abundant life. We are His sons and daughters whom he will 'never forsake, even to the end of the age'.
(We seem to be so ready to embrace scriptures (often out of context) which appear to deal with problems - us being inadequate, insufficient, faithless, sinful, weak, et cetera - for a change, how about focusing on the gospel which tells us what we have already received in Christ!)
With this as the foundation, being 'right' with God (righteousness) and accepting it as a fact; accepting who we are in Christ and refusing to backtrack to worldly thinking on this, I believe will shape a house that survives the storms.
If you identify with what I've said here, please share your experience that I and other readers may be blessed and strengthened.