Today: [Hebrews 4:] Coming Boldly to God: In chapter four of Hebrews we are encouraged to enter into the rest of God because our approach to His throne is on the basis of who Jesus is and what He did for us 2000 years ago. Our boldness to believe in and anticipate answers from heaven is not based on religious performance or by our own merits but rather by the merits of the sinless nature of Christ mediated for us moment by moment by Jesus as our High Priest.
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[Heb 4:1-16 KJV] 1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it]. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
In chapter 4 the writer exhorts to godly fear of being excluded from what is described as the rest of God. What is the rest of God? What does it mean to us? Remember that Hebrews is written to the 1000s of Jewish converts who labored their entire lives under a religious system that demanded of them perfect obedience under threat of divine justice. In Christ the clemency of God is available not on the basis of continual animal sacrifice but on the basis of faith in the shed blood of Calvary as an abiding resource of total forgiveness. This is good news to the law-abiding observant Jew, but it comes with a condition of faith. In v. 2 we see that the existence of the sacrifice of Christ and the articulation of the gospel is not enough to secure salvation. This is being taught in Christianity today, and it is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament.
There are those who proclaim since Christ died for all then all are saved regardless whether they repent or have faith. These teachers depict a blanket clemency extended to all where even Satan himself is admitted into heaven eventually. This viewpoint is not new, and it is consistently contradicted throughout the New Testament. If we do not mix faith (our personal faith) with the message (v. 2), it profits us nothing. What are the implications of this? If we don’t hear the message or if we hear the message and choose not to have faith in the message of Jesus we are excluded, and in terms of the afterlife, it means that we will spend eternity in hell for no other reason than rejecting the gospel. It matters not if you are a good person. The tree Adam partook of in rebellion against God was not just the tree of evil it was the tree of good. Outside of Christ, your good condemns you as resoundingly as your evil. This is not a component of modern Christian teaching. It seems too restrictive. It isn’t cosmopolitan enough. It isn’t inclusive of other faiths or viewpoints. The fact is there is nothing inclusive about “depart you into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth…” but these are the words of Jesus to those who do not accept that no man comes to the Father except through Him.
If we do believe (v. 3) we will enter into the rest of God by an oath taken by the Father before the foundation of the world was laid. The concept of rest is expressed even in creation with the establishing of the seventh day as the rest of God. The concept of rest and the seventh day is found throughout the scripture. The number seven is a number representing completion. The Hebrew number is Zayin meaning sword, or to cut. Jesus gave the cup to his disciples at the Last Supper and called it the New Testament (or, covenantal cutting) in His blood. Religious adherence or performance does not complete us in the eyes of God.
Connection to Christian cultural infrastructure does not constitute us as children of God. That which settles our standing forever before God is what the Zayin, the cutting of God made available – i.e., the shed blood of Calvary. Lev. 17:11 tells us that the life is in the blood. The life of Jesus was in the blood and in that blood was his sinlessness, and his perfection poured out covenantally to cover our sin and imperfection. With our sin and imperfection covered in the eyes of divine justice, we are then rendered fit vessels for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who comes and produces God’s nature within us not by adherence to the law but by faith in Christ and by virtue of the relationship that indwelling of God’s spirit makes possible.
This is the message (v. 6) that was first preached to the Jew and since the Jewish people as a nation rejected it there then remained another people (even the ethnicities of the earth) who would yet hear and receive the preaching of the gospel and be grafted into the place that the Jewish nation proved itself unworthy of. It is necessary to mention that the rejection of the message of Christ was brought about by its leaders who rejected Jesus as the messiah and rejected the message of the apostles who preached the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion by these very leaders. What that gives us to understand is if our leaders reject the gospel, so our nation is held accountable. This is chilling given the anti-Christ, secularist, elitist culture of God-rejecting politicians who dominate our nation’s halls of government. God deals with a nation according to the character and disposition of its leaders with reference to the message of the gospel.
The message then for us is not to harden our hearts as the children of Israel did, and for that reason, they perished in the wilderness. The wilderness journeyings of the people of God and their entrance into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership was only a shadow of the rest of God that would be forthcoming under Christ therefore there remains an available rest to the people of God, to the Jews and to the Gentiles alike if we hear the message of the gospel, mix it with faith and yield up our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
If we come to the rest of God what are the implications? On the seventh day, God ceased from His own works. What does this mean? For six days God labored spinning the ongoing processes of creation into existence. Then on the seventh day after pronouncing that all was good and as He intended He rested in the process that He initiated. So (v. 11) let us labor to enter into rest. How do we do this? By faith. By adopting into our lives a total dependence on the finished work of Calvary and the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit whereby we cease from our own striving to make it through life and come to a place of trustful peacefulness in the unfolding daily grace of a loving Father. You can see then that rest is not inactivity. We aren’t sitting around waiting for everything to be handed to us. Instead, we are trusting in the finished work living in the Spirit and walking by the Spirit (progressing through the process of God as it is revealed to us).
Why are we at rest? In v. 12 we see that we rest because the word of God is quick so I don’t have to be. The word of God is powerful, so I don’t have to be. The word of God is sharp, so I don’t have to be. The word of God pierces and divides, so I don’t have to. The word of God is the discerner and will do all these things in me and through me if I will trust in its power to safeguard my life. Who is this word? None other than (v. 14) Jesus our high priest passed into the heavens. Because of who He is in us and through us we hold fast our profession. What is our profession? That Jesus Christ is Lord.
When our lives are in jeopardy, we declare the Lordship of Jesus.
When our bodies are ravaged with sickness, we declare the Lordship of Jesus.
What our families are struggling we declare the Lordship of Jesus.
When financial problems plague us, we hold fast to our profession of the Lordship of Jesus.
We hold fast verbally with our mouth and believing in our hearts that our lives are bounded by and controlled not by the ravages of this word but by the sweet influences of the kingdom of God that opens its treasuries to you not by virtue of our own goodness but by means of the ongoing priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
In all of these things, Jesus was tempted in all points as we are daily yet He did so without sin. Our sin separates us from God, but they do not separate us from Jesus, our High Priest by whom our sins are expiated not by animal sacrifice but by the sacrifice of Himself whereby we come boldly not on the basis of our own goodness. We leave our goodness at the door. In Christ, we are delivered from our goodness as equally as we are delivered from the inherent evil of our fallen nature. Our entrance and access to the throne of grace is on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ who stands there in the moment of our need mediating our approach to God on the basis of His blood and the life that is in this blood. Therefore because of the blood, the willingness of God to answer us is as full and freely available as if we ourselves were sinless because it is the sinless blood of Jesus that becomes the determinator by our faith as to whether or not we get a hearing at the altar of God before the throne.
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