If You Hear His Voice

Hebrews 4:1-7 ESV

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. For we who have believed enter that rest, 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 somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

He’s Our Sacrifice for Sin

Jesus Christ, who is the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, and when he was around 33 years old, he was crucified on a cross.

He was put to death on that cross because he claimed to be God, because he confronted people in their sins, because he told them they had to deny self, die daily to sin, and that they had to follow him in obedience, and because he healed people on the Sabbath, which some Jews didn’t like.

Those who called for his death hated him, they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, concerned that they might lose their own positions of power and rule over the people.

But it was God’s plan that Jesus should come to the earth and become a man, though still fully God, and that he should be our perfect sacrifice on the cross for our sins. For, when he died, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co 5:21).

Our Salvation

God designed it that we would be saved from our sins, by his grace, in him sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and through God-given faith in Jesus Christ which submits to Christ as Lord, surrenders our lives to him, leaves our lives of sin behind us, and walks in obedience to his commands (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).

And he also designed it that the Jews of the Old Covenant should serve as examples to us as to what it means to be saved, what is required of us if we want to have eternal life with God, and of what will happen to us if we do not follow our Lord’s requirements, but we go our own way instead.

For, not one of them were saved by keeping the law, which none of them could do, but they were saved by faith as we are. But we must understand what the faith means. For it is not some mere acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us on that cross. Faith involves obedience to our Lord.

So, in chapter 3 of Hebrews, we have a warning written to the church. We are to take care lest there be in any of us an evil, unbelieving heart, leading us to fall away from the living God. And then we are encouraged that we must exhort one another daily so that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

For, it says, we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. And, then it goes on to say that those who were not able to enter into God’s rest were not able to enter because of disobedience. And they were not able to enter, it says, because of unbelief, therefore coupling disobedience and unbelief together (See chapter 3).

The Good News

So, chapter 4 of Hebrews continues with the same thoughts as in chapter 3. And “entering God’s rest” has to do with our salvation from sin and our eternal life with God. This is our “Sabbath rest.”

So, again we, the body of Christ, are cautioned against taking God’s requirements for salvation from sin lightly. We are cautioned that there might be some among us who have failed to reach it, who have failed to enter into God’s eternal rest. And again, we are given the example of the Jews of the Old Covenant.

They had the Good News of salvation through the Messiah. Their hope was in the promise yet to come whereas ours is in the promise already fulfilled.

But although they had the good news, the message they heard did not benefit the majority of them (in the wilderness), because those who heard the message did not unite what they heard with faith. And again, it says they failed to enter God’s rest because of disobedience, again coupling obedience with faith and disobedience with lack of faith (unbelief).

But we who have believed (are believing) in Jesus Christ have and will enter that rest, which begins when we first believe, and which is completed when Jesus Christ returns for us, his bride, to take us home to be with him forever. Then our marriage to him will be consummated.

Yet, going back to chapter 3, it says we have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. We must continue in Christ, we must remain in him and in his word, we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and sin must not be our practice (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Jn 15:1-11; Col. 1:21-23).

So, the “Good News” is not that Jesus died on that cross merely to forgive us our sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. The “Good News” is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. The “Good News” is that he died to deliver us from the power of Satan and sin, that we might walk with him in righteousness and holiness (Lu 9:23-26; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Pet 2:24; Eph 4:17-24).

And the caution here is that if we choose to go our own way, and we don’t walk according to the Spirit, but we continue to live according to the flesh, we will not enter that rest. We will not be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God (Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).

So, we need to take this to heart. We need to take this seriously. For true faith in Jesus Christ dies to sin and self, and it lives to God and to his righteousness. And it grows in maturity, and it walks according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, for it honors God, not dishonors him.

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

Lyrics by Margaret Becker
Music by Keith Getty

“Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more…

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