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11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:11-13
Hebrews was written to the Hebrew Christians who had, not long ago been saved. When Pentecost happened, when the Spirit of God came down, 3000 souls were saved. The word of God spread from place to place. God was doing a mighty work – taking His Word, by His Spirit, to men and women all over the region. The first Christians, in the main, were Jews, they were Hebrews. They had to leave behind their own religion. They were being taught something new.
In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 we see something that was happening to them. Something had occurred in their lives which, for many of them, was a new experience. At the same time, they were being dragged back into their old religion, into Judaism. One of the things that we must remember at all times, is that scripture is given by the inspiration of God, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is given to us that we may be complete. I love that word, ‘complete.’ In Colossians we read that as believers in Christ we are complete in Him.
This was the Hebrews dilemma – should they go to go back to Judaism, go back to the synagogue, to the temple, to something that was quite safe. One of the things they were experiencing when they came to know Christ as their Saviour was persecution. They were being thrown out of their families, they were being asked to leave. This still happening today. Many who turn to Christ will be turned out of their families, will not be spoken to. The writer of the Hebrews is encouraging them to pursue the new Christian doctrine, follow Christ, but in following it, you will suffer persecution. When we stand up for Him we will suffer; we will be called names. But we take those names and we take those who call us and we give thanks to God that we are able to stand up for Him and to suffer for Him.
Paul confirms and encourages the Hebrew Christians and Christians today, ourselves. He writes in Galatians 6:17, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” If you go back to the Book of Acts chapter 9 you will read about the conversion of Paul. From day one of his conversion until the day he died, Paul suffered persecution. Being a Christian is not an easy life. The Hebrew Christians had to make a choice – safety and miss out on the joy of Christ and the blessings of eternal salvation or go back. My friends, from time to time, are you encouraged to go back? There is a lot to drag us back because it’s safe. But the writer of Hebrews is saying, ‘Go forward.’
Being in Christ is far higher, far more exalted than anything we can experience in this life. There is no greater than Christ Himself, the hope of glory. The Hebrew Christian in chapters 3 and 4 were reminded by the writer that their forefathers, when they left Egypt, went on a wilderness journey. In that journey many died because of unbelief and disobedience. They do not enter the rest God promised them. What was that rest? That rest was the Promised Land, Canaan. But that was an earthly rest. The writer in chapters 3 and 4 is gently drawing them to a rest which is far greater, far more precious. The writer of Hebrews wants them to focus on the rest of Christ, eternal rest in Christ, a heavenly rest which is something far better. He refers to what David says,
“Today, if you will hear His voice:
8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.”
Psalm 95: 7b-9
David was speaking of that eternal glorious rest, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23). My final resting place is in Christ, in glory. Are you resting in Christ? I am resting in the finished and completed work of Christ. I am resting in all that He has promised. I belong to Him. Today may be my last day, your last day. Are you resting in Him to such an extent that nothing else matters? Eternal rest. Eternal love. To be in His presence. What greater joy, what greater blessing.
Secondly, I want to share some thoughts on the application to you and me. “God is love,” (1 John 4:8). If anyone asks you what God is like, He is love. We see in God the Son, whom He sent to become our Saviour, we see God manifest in flesh, God revealed in flesh, the love of God being shown and demonstrated. We hear His word,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Rejoice! Jump up and celebrate! Christ in us, the hope of glory. We can enjoy the rest of being in the presence of God. The writer of Hebrews was encouraging them to hold on to the truth of the word of God. My dear friends, I am encouraging you to hold on and pursue this life.
There’s a word in Scripture I love. It’s repeated time and time again. It’s the word ‘forever.’ Being in the presence of the Lord, something I’m enjoying now, something I will go on enjoying forever. “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19). I will never die because Christ lives. I’m alive, alive forever more. We have a home, we have a hope that is steadfast and certain because of the One who has gone through the curtain, who died on Calvary’s cross, who has given life – a ransom for many. What a wonderful experience, what a wonderful sight it was to believers on Christ when they heard the words, “He is not here, He is risen!”
One day He is going to stand and come for His own and bring them to glory. What a glorious prospect is yours and mine. We can rest in that certain hope. How blessed. This glorious word of God, “God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
Are you aware, am I aware of and appreciate the power and majesty of God? If we believe that God owns everything, the breath I breathe this morning, my children He has lent to me, they belong to Him? Where are you resting? In your home? But that’s only a temporary residence. Where is your home? Heaven! We must be diligent in the rest which is ours now. We need to work at it. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12). What does it mean to ’work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’? It doesn’t mean to attempt to deserve salvation on the grounds of what you do. There are many who try and work their way into heaven, trying to be a good person. Who saved you? Jesus. We’ve been saved by the grace of God, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8).
It is only by the grace of God. We can’t make atonement for our past sins. the Bible says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel.”
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.”
When the writer of Hebrews says to ’work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’? he means to break off from your sins. For the Hebrew Christians, it meant don’t turn back to Judaism, don’t look back. To us it means don’t turn back to the things that were holding you from Christ. Many of the things that you and I do so often take us away from Christ. We belong to Him,
“Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We belong to Christ. The writer of Hebrews was saying to the Hebrew Christians, ‘I want you to enjoy the rest of Christ, the glory and the wonder, the power and the majesty of God. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). Trust in it.
This Word changes and transforms. It renews. It rejuvenates. It takes us out of ourselves and brings us into the very presence of God. Let us come boldly to the throne of God. This is the power, this is the wisdom, this is the majesty, this is the glory of God.
It is a life-giving word, the source of all things. It has the keys of life and death. Satan, with all his powers, cannot do anything to you without God’s permission. Death has been defeated. How blessed we are! His word gives light to the repentant sinner. This word causes the devil to tremble, it causes demons to flee. It heals the sick. It gives sight to the blind.
God alone upholds this universe. He is the one to whom you and I have to give an account to. To the believers in Christ, God will honour us for the works we have done in His Name, for His glory and praise, not the works we decide to do for a pat on our back. There are many, many, many things that men and women of God do that we never hear of, but God does. To the unrepentant sinner, to those who have turned away, we read,
“To the unrepentant sinner, “Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
25 Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
27 When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.”
We read in Revelation 20 of the white throne judgement, where those who have refused God, who have rejected Him, who have refused His word, will be cast into the lake of fire.
My dear friends, heaven is my home. Where do you stand? Do you know Him as your Saviour? Do you trust Him? Are you resting in Him? Are you rejoicing in Him? Praise the Lord!