Hebrews 4:1-2 ESV (Read vv. 1-10)
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
The rest this is speaking of is God’s eternal rest promised to us who are trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. It is our salvation from bondage to sin and from the punishment of sin (eternal damnation). And, it is eternal life with God beginning at the moment we believe in Jesus, which is evidenced by our turning away from our lifestyles of sin to follow our Lord in walks of obedience to his will and to his ways.
But, it will not be complete until Jesus returns for us, his bride, and he takes us to be with him for forever, and our marriage to him is then consummated. That is when our salvation, our eternal rest, will be complete, when we enter into God’s Holy presence face to face.
So, how do we enter this rest? We do so by faith in Jesus Christ who gave his life up for us on a cross so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. This faith to believe in him is a gift from God and it is divinely persuaded by God, for not one of us can come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father in heaven first draws us to Christ.
Thus, this is not something we do in our own flesh or in our own willpower. We can’t do anything in and of ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Thus, this is the work of the Holy Spirit in persuading us to believe in Jesus and in transforming our hearts away from our sin to follow our Lord in obedience. But, it requires us to submit to the Lord and to cooperate with his work of salvation in our hearts and lives (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.” V. 7
For, combining the message of the gospel we have heard with faith cannot happen if we continue in lifestyles of disobedience to our Lord. So, this is a warning to all who think they believe in Jesus, and who think they have heaven secured, to not take God’s grace for granted, and to not take lightly his words to us when he says that we must die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness if we want to have eternal life with him (Lu. 9:23-25).
Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Ok, this sounds like works-based salvation, but it isn’t. Our salvation is the working of the Holy Spirit of God from beginning to end. We cannot be saved from our own sins or enter into God’s eternal rest by striving in our own flesh in trying to be good enough for God. We have to let go and let God. We have to humble ourselves, repent of our sins and trust the Lord Jesus now with our lives, and walk in his ways in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
For Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross, becoming sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God, just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. And, this is where a lot of people get off track, I believe. They have this whole wrong concept of God’s grace to us. It is not just a get-out-of-jail-free card. It is deliverance from our self-life, from our sin-life, and it is empowerment of the Spirit of God to walk in holiness.
This is the purpose why Jesus gave his life up for us that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. For, his grace to us is not carte blanche to continue in sinful practices without guilt. His grace, instead, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ to return (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 8:1-17).
We don’t “get saved” and then heaven is secured us no matter how we live our lives from that moment forward. God is not oblivious to continued sin in our lives, either. He still sees when we sin, which is evidenced by all the warnings and instructions written to the church in scripture regarding sin in their lives and within the church congregations. And, he says that if we continue to make sin our practice, we DON’T have eternal life with God, and we won’t enter into his rest (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
All of us are going to reap what we sow in this life. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit of God, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8). So, don’t take these warnings lightly. God means business about sin!
Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Since then 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 is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Our Lord is not without sympathy to what we go through every day and the struggles we face and the temptations which present themselves to us on a daily basis. For, when Jesus walked this earth, he suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in all ways in which we are tempted, yet without sin.
Yet, that is why he made that way of escape for us. That is why he put his life on the line for you and for me so that we don’t have to be in bondage to sin, but we can walk in victory over darkness. His grace provided that way out from underneath the weight of sin, yet not just the punishment of sin, but the addiction to sin. And, his grace gives us the empowerment to now live for God and to walk in his righteousness and to please him.
So, the grace we need to help us in time of need and in time of temptation is not a pat on the back to make us feel better, or an assurance that it is ok if we sin, or for us to just claim who we are in Christ to relieve the guilt of our disobedience. No! His grace that helps us in our time of need is that which strengthens us to say “NO!” to the flesh, to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to walk with God in holiness, in honesty and in purity.
So many liars and deceivers these days are trying to convince people they can be saved from their sins and still walk in darkness, i.e. that they can still hold on to their sinful practices. They teach God’s grace as though it is fire insurance against hell while they continue to operate their lives like hell. And, so they have a whole lot of people convinced they are saved from their sins and going to heaven when they die while they still live in the flesh.
So, this passage of scripture, and others like this, dispel that theory, and they warn those who profess faith in Jesus Christ to make sure they don’t fall short of entering into God’s eternal rest because of disobedience. For, genuine faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin and it lives with Christ to righteousness. It walks (in lifestyle) not after the flesh but according to the Spirit of God. So, we must continue to walk with our Lord in obedience to his will if we want to have eternal life with God and to enter his rest (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Tit. 2:11-14).
An Original Work / December 17, 2013
Based off Revelation 2-3
To the angels of all the churches write:
These are the words of your Lord and your God.
I know all your deeds, and your witness, too,
And who holds to My words and tells what’s true.
I know all your hard work and your perseverance,
Yet I hold against you: you’ve forsaken Me.
Listen to what I say to you.
You have people there who deny My name,
And who put the cross of Christ up to shame.
They entice the people to Me, profane,
And their worship of Me is all in vain.
They are so adult’rous as they chase their idols,
And you put up with them easily enough.
Listen to what I say to you.
You give off an image of godliness,
But what you present is so fraudulent,
Or else you lack passion for Jesus Christ,
So you look to others to tell what’s right.
I say turn from your sin, or you will face judgment.
He who overcomes will have eternal life.
Listen to what I say to you.
I know your afflictions and poverty;
How you suffer for your Lord patiently.
Do not fear the devil and company.
You be faithful to your Lord endlessly.
I know all your weakness and your dedication.
You have kept My Word and not denied your Lord.
I will write on you My new name.