Heb 6:1 Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.
To complete this series on the foundational doctrines I want to look briefly at this last phrase, "If God permit." At first it may seem strange, because if it is God's desire as expressed here in Hebrews that His people go on from these elementary doctrines then why would He not permit them to go on? The same could be asked of a teacher – what teacher desires to fail one of their students, and yet as much as they would love to pass a student if the work does not merit it they will fail the student. It is God that gives light, it is God that continually leads us on in Him. If we are willing to learn we will learn and go on. However if we refuse to go on we can eventually be no longer permitted to do so.
The first generation of the children of Israel were promised the land of Canaan. God's part had already been done, and indeed the whole journey was provided for by God from the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3). Of that generation, though, only two men actually entered into what was promised, prepared and provided for them. The others who were all equally delivered, called and lead by God died in the wilderness having failed the ten tests that God had lead them through. After the last test God forbade any of that generation other than Caleb and Joshua to go in. Some tried the next day anyway and were utterly defeated in battle. Having failed all the tests God had set for them, they were not permitted to go into the land (Deut. 1:39-46).
The permission of God is very important to understand. We can study the Scripture for years, but unless God opens our minds we will not really grasp it. This is also why we should not look down on others who we might think have less understanding of the Scriptures, because if God gives them light they could excel us, and God could even withhold further light from us or even take away what we have because of a prideful attitude. This is also why it is so important to obey what God speaks to us, because Jesus said in Mark 4:24-25, "Take heed what you hear. With that measure which you measure, it shall be measured to you. And to you who hear, more shall be given. For he who has, more shall be given to him; and he who has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has." What are we willing to hear God say? God told Balaam not to go curse Israel, then because he would not heed that He told him he could go if the messengers came to get him in the morning. When the messengers left without speaking to him in the morning, he went anyway, which angered the Lord who was going to kill him. After the talking donkey incident Balaam offered to go back, but God told him to go ahead and go. In a certain sense Balaam could say that God told him to go. God did, but only because it was what he wanted to hear. Balaam uttered some awesome prophecies and earnestly desired to die the death of the righteous, but yet he actually died in the camp of God's enemies.
Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the various vessels that are present in a household, and that purging is necessary so that a vessel can be used for every good work (2 Tim. 2:20-21). God uses His people and calls them higher in Him by His upward call, but if they do not respond to the upward call they may disqualify themselves from some of the works that God has for them. God needs people to expose errors in His church, and sometimes a bitter, and vindictive person is the best one to do that because they have the desire. However, as long as they are bitter and vindictive they cannot be of use in building up the body of Christ in a way which requires gentleness. Martin Luther was mightily used of God to bring in the Reformation, and yet as his life progressed he became a very angry person. By his own confession in his later years he could hardly pray without cursing the pope, and he once expressed the desire to be a ghost when he died so that he could give all the prelates a thousand times more problems dead then he could alive. His later years make for sad reading with much of them being spent attacking other reformers. Let this be a warning to us that we allow God to purge us so that we are fit for the tasks He has for us and we are not relegated to other lower though still good uses. Amen.