Hebrews was written by the Holy Spirit to a people who believed they knew Jesus Christ as Savior. Most everyone who read this letter had heard the voice of Jesus, whether in reality or spiritually. Most everyone had made a decision to follow Jesus. All the readers attended church, and probably gave a tithe, said a prayer, read the Old Testament, and took communion. By man’s measure of salvation, they were there, they could stand up and testify they knew they were going to heaven when they died. Some say it is hard to understand, others say it has some passages that are difficult to interpret. Everyone says there are passages that are hard to explain to young Christians. Hebrews is not normally the book given to new believers to study. However, this book is exactly what new believers need. I believe that the writer had young believer’s in mind as he or she penned it. They need to understand this truth, and learn the importance of living in it.
This letter is powerful but difficult to understand. Plain but obscure. Pointed yet vague at times. Before we dig deeper into Chapter 4, I must be very honest and blunt with you, for our author is very blunt as well. Most preachers do not preach honestly about what we are going to begin discussing in Chapter 4. They either ignore it, spiritualize it or gloss it over with a thick coat of marine varnish so it appears shiny. I will not gloss it over, and if this truth makes you uncomfortable, a little squirmy, then great. This is what the Holy Spirit wants. In order to grasp the truth of Chapter 4, we need to understand the underlying purpose of Hebrews. Hebrews presents several Contrasts to bring home the truth:
A. Hebrews is a Study in Contrasts (differences)
- Jesus vs Angels – 1 & 2
- Jesus vs Moses – 3
- Jesus vs Joshua – 4
- Jesus vs the Old Testament High Priest – 5
- Jesus vs Abraham – 6
- Jesus vs Mechizedek – 7
- Jesus vs the Old Covenant – 8
- Jesus vs the Earthly Temple – 9
- Jesus vs earthly sacrifices – 10
THE KEY CONTRAST IS: DO YOU SHARE OR NOT?
B. Those who share in Christ and those who do not
(they have no life, no rest-now and forever)
- Christ came to bring many sons to Glory-He had to do what was necessary to restore this world to the Glory of God and to bring many sons to God
PROOF THAT HEBREWS IS ABOUT WHETHER YOU SHARE IN CHRIST OR NOT
Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
- Christ had to become exactly like us in flesh and blood so that we could share in His Life and victory
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
- Through Christ, we share in a heavenly calling, whereby we can hear the Voice of God
Hebrews 3:14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
- We share in the Holy Spirit, and He brings certain assurances with Him.
Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
- We share His holiness through His discipline
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
- We share with others
Hebrews 12:1 We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
C. How do you know if you share in Christ?
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD?
The Writer gives us the Key and it is the Word of God.
I want you to look at something that will at first appear obvious, but then I want to bring it a little closer to your heart:
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Right away the author lets us know that all of creation understands the Power of the Word of Christ! You will never realize the power of His Word without faith.
Hebrews 4:2 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.
Hebrews 4:6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
Lack of Faith and Disobedience are tied together. Evidenced by refusal to hear the Word!
The Jews in the wilderness actually begged Moses to stop speaking the Words of God to them! They stopped their ears and “NO MORE!” Hebrews 12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
- The truth is that many people hear the Word of Power, but most do not know its power, because they are unwilling to believe and obey
How Do You Know if you share in Christ?
The Word is Alive to You!
Hebrews 4:12 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.
- The Word is only powerful to those who are honest in their heart, and willing to submit to the power of the Word
- Faith and Obedience to the Word of God extends to those who preach the Word for they Evidence the reality of Faith by their Lives
D. The Greatest Contrast has to do with your Heart. (Chapter 3 & 4)
Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
Yes, the truth is that regardless of your view of Salvation, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whether you can lose your Salvation or whether you believe in once-saved always saved-the truth is that your heart is the KEY to whether Jesus Christ makes any CONTRAST in your life!
God does not sit up in heaven and say “yes, you are saved because you said a prayer when you were 8.” That is how we tend to judge whether we are saved or not.. That is a man-centered view of Salvation.
God has a different determination of whether you are saved or not. He details it in the Letter to the Hebrews. It has to do with your heart-whether it believes or not! God doesn’t just listen to your confession of belief, He looks into the darkest corner of your heart and sees how that confession of belief interacts with your life.
God wants to see contrast, a contrast with your life in comparison to the lives of those who don’t care. You say you care and you are saved, but God wants to see a contrast.
Belief that actuates the Power of God to affect your life everyday is the aim of Hebrews.
EVIDENCE OF A BELIEVING HEART
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
You can say a prayer, you can join a church, you can get baptized all in the strength of your flesh and will, but if the Word of God and the Holy Spirit have not touched your life in such a way that you obey in faith, you are dead.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Here is evidence that you share in the Life of Jesus Christ:
1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Rest in Christ. Does that mean you don’t do anything? No, what it does mean is that you are yoked to Him and He is your primary focus. He gives rest to your souls no matter what news you are hearing, or what situation you are facing.
- The Word of God that penetrates your heart on a daily basis. (Manna)
- Power to overcome the Giants of sin.
- Courage and Confidence in the face of trials and hardships.
ARE YOU RESTING IN THE REALITY OF A LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST IN HIS VICTORY?
- The FOCUS of your belief is to actuate the REST we have in Jesus Christ.
- The FOCUS of the Jews in the Wilderness was to get to the Promised Land, a place of REST
Hebrews 4:3 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.
Hebrews 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
Hebrews 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive (1 below) to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
- “to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavor”
- Not working as if it depends upon you, but effort born from a sense of urgency and need.
- Knowing that our ways are opposite God’s ways
This is not talking about heaven. This is talking about NOW! God wants us to know and experience the Belief that brings the Life of His Son into our lives. This is eternal life. This is the Promise. This is the Rest!
Is Salvation confidence in a prayer, or even in a better life you think you are experiencing?
Not according to God’s Word. Salvation results in a change in your life and your desires!
Here is Evidence that you do not share in the Life of Jesus Christ:
1. Being overthrown in the wilderness (the world).
1 Corinthians 10:5-6 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
Hebrews 4:1 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.
Fail to reach – hystereō (see footnote 2) -to be last, behind, posterior in place or time. In the NT, figuratively of dignity, condition, strength and the like, to be behind, inferior, to lack (see footnote 3) - fall short of recognition by God.
- Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
- Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
- For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5
2. Having an Unbelieving Heart
- Look at what happened in the Wilderness because of unbelieving hearts:
Exodus 17:1-7 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
- Testing God by thinking He doesn’t care about your situation.
- Turning back to the world and what it has – Achan
- Relying on your own strength to get what you want.
- Not believing and obeying God.
3. Living in your Flesh
Numbers 13:30-31 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”
The Jews did not believe they could take the land, so they refused and desired to go back to Egypt, in spite of seeing all that God had done! Then Moses pronounced God’s judgment upon them, that they would never be allowed to enter the Promised Land. So they said, let’s go in and show God that we can do it!
Numbers 14:39-45 When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.
The REST of God is a REST that is supernatural, it can not be attained by fleshly efforts. They were doomed to encounter defeat!
TO GOD, THE PROOF OF YOUR BELIEF IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE ENTERED INTO HIS REST.
(1) Because Christ is Exalted above the Angels, being the Creator God and Managing this Creation with His Life:
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The Danger is that we miss out on LIFE by drifting away from our Savior He will roll up all the old and useless stuff in a coat-do you want to be rolled up too?
(2) Because Christ is our mighty Captain, having become a man yet still conquering sin and making atonement for us,
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling,consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
If we are to share a heavenly calling, we will focus our lives upon Jesus Jesus has shown us that He the truth from God. Jesus has shown us that He is our High Priest who can be trusted and find comfort in.
(3) Because Jesus is the Builder and Faithful of God’s House:
Hebrews 4:1 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.
We must watch our hearts, lest we fail to reach God’s house. The promise of rest requires our cooperation, desire and effort.
(4) The Rest which Christ promised is His Rest but it is not a passive rest.
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Romans 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
- 1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
More on how to obtain this rest in the next post…
1 ”to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour” James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “4704″.
2 James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “5302″.
3 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hystereō“.
REST: Usage Notes: signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care.William E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1940), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Eased”.
anapaúō; fut. anapaúsō, from aná , again, and paúō , to cease, give rest. To give rest, quiet, recreate, refresh (Matt. 11:28; 1 Cor. 16:18; Phile. 1:20); in the mid. / pass. form, to be refreshed (2 Cor. 7:13; Phile. 1:7, 20; Sept.: Prov. 29:17; Isa. 14:3; Ezek. 34:15). In the mid., anapaúomai, to rest oneself, to take one’s rest
(Matt. 26:45; Mark 6:31; 14:41; Luke 12:19; 1 Pet. 4:14; Rev. 6:11; 14:13; Sept.: Deut. 33:20; Esth. 9:16; Job 10:20; Prov. 21:16; Isa. 13:20, 21; 27:10; Mic. 4:4). In relation to 1 Pet. 4:14, compare the Sept. of Isa. 11:2, where anapaúomai is also applied to the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ. Deriv.: anápausis , inner rest; epanapaúō , to cause to rest; sunanapaúomai , to rest with or together.Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 156-157.
- Hebrews is the “Better Book” of our Surpassing Savior (mudpreacher.org)
- The Majesty of Christ vs. the Majestic Angels – Hebrews 1 pt 1 (mudpreacher.org)
- Hebrews One – The Majesty of Jesus vs the Majestic Angels pt. 2 (mudpreacher.org)