While the Promise Still Stands

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.”

I hope that everyone reading this today comes to an understanding of what this is teaching and that you take this to heart and apply its truths to your lives – the truths that will save you from your sins and give you a true hope of eternal life with God. For not many people these days, at least here in America, are teaching this. Many are ignoring it or passing it off as applied to someone else other than to them. And so they are not listening to the Lord and they are hardening their hearts against the truth of these words.

Okay, so what is this teaching? It is not teaching “Once Saved Always Saved” as many are teaching today. It is teaching the same thing that Jesus and Paul and the other apostles taught. It is teaching progressive salvation. Providing that our salvation is genuine, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present active), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, which is when our salvation will be complete, and not until then. In the meanwhile we are more like in an engagement period.

[Matt 24:9-14; Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5]

But there are provisions (stipulations, conditions) that must be met for us to have that salvation from sin. And no, this is not “works salvation.” This is the message of the gospel that Jesus and his apostles taught. We must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and we must be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and then sin must no longer be what we obey, but righteousness and obedience to our Lord are what we must obey. For if we continue living in deliberate and habitual sin, the Scriptures teach that we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 John 3:4-10, etc.).

And the Scriptures also teach that we must persevere, steadfast in our faith until the very end if we want to have eternal life with God. We can’t just pray a prayer or make some public acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives and then feel as though we are good to go and now salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life with God are ours to claim regardless of how much we keep on sinning from now to eternity. Now it doesn’t require sinless perfection, for if we could do that Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. But it does demand walks of obedience to our Lord.

[Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 11:17-24; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 2:24-25]

Yet so many people are buying into what has been termed “the cheap grace gospel.” And so they are presuming that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is enough to secure them heaven when they die regardless of whether or not they forsake their sins to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). And this is partially why we have so many people in America professing Jesus as their Savior and heaven as their eternal destiny while they continue in deliberate and habitual sin without regard for God.

So, the call here is to not take God’s grace for granted. And remember that God’s grace, which is bringing us salvation, instructs (trains) us to renounce (say ‘No’ to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14). And God’s grace delivers us from our slavery to sin so that we can now live as slaves of God and of his righteousness (Romans 6:1-23). And God’s grace will supply all we need to live godly, holy, and pure lives on this earth.

And understand here, too, that the faith that is required for us to have salvation does not come from ourselves, but it is gifted to us by God (Ephesians 2:8-10). And it is authored and perfected by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2). And we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ (John 6:44), i.e. unless he first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness, and of our need to turn from our sins and to follow Jesus in obedience.

But many people are ignoring the bulk of what the Scriptures teach on this subject, and they are relying on many Scriptures taught outside their context – which are being made to say what the Scriptures do not teach – to tell them the truth. But much of what is being taught is not the truth, for it is designed to tickle itching ears and to say what people want to hear, not what they need to hear. Thus, many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are indeed hardening their hearts to the voice of God’s Spirit and to his Word.

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.”

Now, again, this is not teaching “works salvation.” It is teaching what Jesus taught. For he said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self we will lose them for eternity. But if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, then we have the hope of eternal life with God. And all this is done in the power of God (Luke 9:23-26).

And Jesus also taught that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. Many are going to stand before Jesus one day, and they are going to enumerate the many times they did things in the name of Jesus, but Jesus is going to say back to them, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:21-23). And this is because their righteousness was in performance only and not in truth and in obedience.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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