Hebrews 4:1-2 NASB
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.
In the previous chapter, we read that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are Christ’s house “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” (Heb. 3:6). And, then we are warned against having evil, unbelieving hearts which fall away from the living God.
Thus, we are to encourage one another daily, so that not one of us will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Heb. 3:14).
And, then we are given the example of Israel of old, i.e. of the Jewish people during the time of the Exodus and the 40 years in the wilderness prior to them (the ones who remained) entering into the Promised Land. Not many of them entered into God’s Eternal Rest because they provoked God with their rebellion, their continual complaints, their idolatry, and with their disobedience.
So, the encouragement here for us is that if we hear his voice, that we don’t harden our hearts as they did, and therefore we not enter into his eternal rest. And, this is speaking to those who profess to know Jesus as Savior of their lives. We must be careful that we don’t harden our hearts against God via disobedience to the point to where we fall away from God.
Now, for some people, this messes with their theology, but this is consistent with the teachings throughout the New Testament, not just in this one book. For, all throughout the New Testament we are taught that we are saved (past), that we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Christ returns and our salvation is complete.
We are also taught that it is those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh who have eternal life with God, and it is those who walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands, and who love others with God’s love who have the hope of eternal life with God, not those who have merely made a profession of faith but who have continued to walk in the flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 6:7-8).
Hebrews 4:9-11 NASB
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.
This is where “the rubber meets the road,” so to speak, where our faith is tested to see if it is genuine faith or if it is just emotional or intellectual faith.
Our “Sabbath Rest” is our eternal life with God, which begins at the moment we trust Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. But, that is not the end of it all until we die and go to be with Christ. We have to walk the walk, not just talk the walk. We have to live what we say we believe throughout our Christian lives. For, if we live to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we live to the Spirit, then we have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17).
So, some people say this is works-based salvation, and here it says we are to rest from our works. But, then we read that we are saved to do good works. So, which is it?
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we cease with human effort to try to “be good.” We cease with the works of the flesh, which get us nowhere, and which are sinful. And, we die to ourselves, to our flesh and to sin, and we are reborn of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and to be lived to His righteousness (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; Gal. 5:19-21).
We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. No amount of good works (of our own flesh) will ever gain us God’s approval or will secure for us eternal life with God. It is only by God’s grace that any of us are saved from our sins, and only because our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross, and was risen from the dead, that any of us can be delivered from our slavery to sin and walk in his righteousness.
Where the confusion comes in, oftentimes, is in understanding that word “faith.” Our faith is first of all God-given and it is divine persuasion as to God’s holiness and righteousness and of our need to walk in that holiness and righteousness, too, in the power of God at work within us. So, if God-given, and if we are divinely persuaded as to our need to submit to our Lord and his righteousness, then we will yield our lives over to Christ to do his will, and we will continue to do so until Jesus takes us home to be with him.
So, our faith in Christ does involve effort on our part to walk with him in holiness, but it is not human effort, but it is the strength and power of our Lord at work within our lives, which is taking place as we cooperate fully with his work of grace within our lives. So, works are involved in our faith, but they are not works of the flesh but of the Spirit. That is why the scriptures say that it is those of us who are walking according to the Spirit who have that hope of eternal life with God.
Hebrews 4:12-13 NASB
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.
We have been given the written word of God to convict us of sin, to teach us what is sinful and what is holy and righteous, to give us examples to follow and ones to not follow, to encourage us in our walks of faith, and to show us the way we should go, as well as to warn us against doing what is evil in God’s sight.
And, God’s Word is able, because it is his living word, to pierce through our hearts and minds, and to expose what is evil, and to encourage what is good in God’s eyes.
If the Holy Spirit of God is living within us, and we are open to hear the Spirit’s voice speak truth to our hearts, when we read God’s Word it should be just like Jesus is sitting across the table from us having a conversation with us, eyeball to eyeball. And, we should sense the Spirit’s voice giving us counsel, encouragement, instructions and warnings, too.
You may be one who is able to fool other people with your religious performances, and you may even be fooling yourself that you are good with God because you “believed” in him at some point in your life, or because you attend Sunday services at some local institutional church, or because you serve in some position of Christian service.
But, God looks at your heart, and he is able to see past all those performances and to cut to the chase and to examine the thoughts and the intents of your heart, and expose to you what is there, if you are willing to see it and to let him change you from the inside out.
So, God knows if you are faking your Christianity, or if you are relying on some kind of decision you made to believe in him at one point in your life in order to secure your eternal salvation. He knows whether or not you are truly walking the walk and not just talking the walk. He knows if you are truly committed to him and to his commands, or if you are living to please your flesh while putting on a religious performance.
So, know this! We will reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8). So, don’t be fooled. God cannot be mocked. If you want the hope of eternal life with God, you must walk according to the Spirit and no longer live your life for the pleasure of your sinful flesh, and you must endure with Christ to the very end, too.
An Original Work / April 15, 2012
Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.
Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
By His Spirit, from above.
Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.
Saturday, October 27, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for these encouraging words, but also for these words of godly counsel and warnings against being rebellious and hardhearted and unbelieving. Help us all to walk with You in truth, and to live in victory over sin and in your righteousness. Amen!