Thursday, July 9, 2015, 1:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 3-4 (NASB).
Holy Brethren (chapter 3 summary)
The writer of Hebrews addressed these thoughts to “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling.” In other words, he wrote these words to believers in Jesus, which may have also included those who were Christians by name only, or whose faith was surface only, and thus not genuine. These, too, were primarily Jews by birth who had become followers of Christ.
The writer of Hebrews began this book by glorifying Jesus Christ, God the Son, who is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Jesus Christ is not only the only begotten Son of God, but he is God, he is our creator, and he is completely sovereign over all things. He sustains all things by his powerful word. And, everything is subject to him. He is also our Savior, Redeemer and Lord. He came to earth, became flesh, dwelt among humankind, and suffered and was tempted like we suffer and are tempted, yet without sin. He was crucified on a cross for our sins, although he had done no wrong. When he died, our sins died with him, were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he conquered sin, death, hell and Satan on our behalf. All glory to God! Great things He has done!!
When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24; cf. Ro. 6-8). Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins, not only to free us from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and to give us the hope of eternal life with him, both now and forevermore, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died so that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh (sin and self), but who conduct our lives now according to the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14).
The writer of Hebrews also began this book with many solemn warnings to these who were partakers of the heavenly calling, i.e. to these “holy brethren.” He told them that we are Christ’s house (his body) IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast, and that we have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Heb. 3:6, 14). He warned them who hear his voice against hardening their hearts and against having sinful, unbelieving hearts, which turn away from the living God (3:12). And, he spoke of how so many of the children of Israel did not enter into his rest because of their rebellious, stubborn, unrepentant and unbelieving hearts (3:7-19).
United by Faith (4:1-11)
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
So, what is this “rest” of which he spoke? He said we must be careful that none of us be found to have fallen short of it. This reminds me of Ro. 3:23, where it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all born with sin natures, and thus we all come up short of attaining God’s approval and of being found in relationship to him, apart from faith in Jesus Christ. He also spoke of this “rest” in reference to the gospel of our salvation, and how there were those who heard the gospel, but they did not combine it with genuine faith, so it was of no value to them, but how we who have believed do enter that “rest.” So, this “rest” of which he spoke here is our eternal salvation, and it is our eternal lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, by God’s grace, through faith in him.
So, what constitutes genuine faith in Christ? He said that those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their “disobedience.” As well, he mentioned the fact that those who enter into this rest, rests from his own work (works-based salvation). Yet, he coupled that with a caution that we must “be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” So, what can we take away from this? For one, I believe the Bible teaches that not one of us can be saved through human effort. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, but it is a gift from God, via Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins, and not of our own works, lest any of us should boast (Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, it does say that we are saved by faith.
So, again, what constitutes genuine faith? Well, for one, it includes obedience to Christ. Secondly, it involves diligence (attentiveness, persistence), holding fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (Heb. 3:14). And, I believe this is where many people get hung up, because these thoughts of “resting from works,” but having to be obedient and diligent, to some people seem contradictory. If understood in their proper context, though, I don’t believe they are. We can’t be saved by human effort and works, but salvation is not absent of works (Eph. 2:10). James said that faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:26). In other words, genuine faith is proved by what it does in obedience to Christ (See: Heb. 11). In other words, we are not saved just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. We are saved so that we no longer live for sin but for Christ’s righteousness. Yet, we don’t do this in our own power or strength or according to what we choose we will do or not do for God. We follow our Lord Jesus in obedience only in the power, working and strength of the Holy Spirit within us, as we yield to God’s work of grace in our lives.
Word of God (4:12-13)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
So, we are to be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For, the word of God is living and active and sharper… In other words, genuine faith in Jesus Christ is persistent and it is continuous. No one has the promise of eternal life with God on the basis of past belief. Only those who are believing (present tense) have the hope of eternal life. We don’t “get saved,” live our lives how we want, and go to heaven when we die. If that is what you are believing, then you are believing a lie, because that is not the gospel according to Jesus Christ and the apostles. They taught that we must die with Christ to sin, that we must put off sin, and that we must forsake our former lives of living for sin and self if we want to have eternal life with God. They also taught that this is a process of salvation which will not be complete until Jesus Christ returns for his bride – we are saved (past), we are being saved (present – continuous) and we will be saved (future). True faith in Jesus Christ is ongoing.
I see this passage of scripture here with regard to the word of God, thus, as both a warning and a promise. When we come to Christ, by God’s grace, through faith, God does not all of a sudden ignore our sin or think it is “no big deal,” nor does he smile on us, nor is he pleased with us when we are steeped in sin and in willful rebellion against him. He grieves over our sin, and so should we. His word cuts right to our hearts when we sin against him. It judges our thoughts and actions. Our sins are not all of a sudden hidden from God’s sight. We must all one day give an account to God for what we did with Jesus Christ and with his gift of salvation to us. Yet, this is also a promise to us who live by the Word of God, in that the Word is not just a history book or good lessons on how we should conduct our lives, but it is alive, and it is continually speaking God’s truths to our hearts in so many practical ways which are applicable to our world and to our lives today. So, we should take heed.
Draw Near (4:14-16)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When so many people today are preaching a diluted gospel message, absent of the cross of Christ in our lives, and absent of God’s requirement for godly and holy living, they make a mockery of what Jesus Christ did in dying on the cross for our sins so we could go free from slavery to sin and could become slaves of his righteousness. They do not walk in the fear of the Lord, as we ought, but they have a casual approach to faith in Christ which believes God requires nothing of us at all other than to believe, although this belief they preach is absent of repentance and obedience to Christ. James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder (Jas. 2:19). Even demons have the fear of God instilled in them, because they know who God is, and they know what he is capable of, yet so many humans treat God with such disrespect, and with such an entitlement mentality, when they believe they can merely pray some prayer to receive Christ, but they don’t believe they need to honor God with their lives, but that they can live how they want and still go to heaven when they die.
That would be a whole lot like getting married to someone with the idea that you can still live like you were single, and that you could still date other people, and go and do whatever you want when and wherever you want without regard for your spouse at all. What kind of a marriage would that be? Yet, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are married to Christ, and he is our husband, so we should treat him like he is our husband, or like we should treat our husband. We should love, honor, respect and obey him, submitting to his authority, and living to please him in all that we do. We should desire him above all else, and should want to be with him, and to talk with and listen to him, and to do what he says.
Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.