Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Jesus Christ

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


The Danger of an Unbelieving HeartIn 1996, the book Farewell to God,  the author, Charles Templeton, stated:

‘I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society.’3

Who is Charles Templeton? He was one of a group of young men who were on fire for God in the 1940’s. He was acclaimed as a gifted young evangelist, and was more “famous” than his friend Billy Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.4

Charles Templeton How important is beliefHe pastored rapidly growing Avenue Road Church in Toronto, which he had started with only his family and a few friends. He became vice-president of the newly formed Youth For Christ International organization in 1945. He then nominated his good friend, Billy Graham, to be field evangelist for the new ministry. Templeton, Graham, and a few others regularly spoke to thousands, winning many to Christ both in America and in Europe.

Newspapers and magazines carried reports of his meetings informing readers he was winning 150 converts a night. In Evansville, Indiana, the total attendance over the two week campaign was 91,000 out of a population of 128,000. Church attendance went up 17%.

All was not well with Charles Templeton. He was beginning to question the essentials of the Christian faith, because he could no longer believe God’s Word beginning with Genesis.

In a conversation with Billy Graham, Templeton stated:

‘But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.’5

In his autobiography, Farewell to God, Charles Templeton lists his ‘reasons for rejecting the Christian faith’. Most of these relate to the origins issue and thus the accuracy of the book of beginnings—Genesis.

How important is Belief?

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

Belief is important for RestA whole generation of Jews died in the wilderness because they refused to believe God.

Two Things are Evident in Hebrews 4:

1. There is a (Secret) Rest of God that people can find on Earth.
2. Most people live their entire lives without finding God’s rest.
Why do I say most people will not?
  • Because God tells us most people will not…

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.

In the Exodus we find the real life story of God using Moses to bring the Jewish Nation out of Egypt and into the Land which God had promised Abraham over 400 years earlier. God worked miracle after miracle on behalf of His people. The Plagues, the death of the first born, the Passover meal, the spreading of blood, the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing on DRY ground, the death of the mightiest Army on Earth by drowning in the Red Sea. Then we have the miraculous manna, quails, fire, cloud of smoke, and thunderous voice from the mountain.

You could not have made a more tremendous movie to demonstrate the REALITY of the LIVING GOD! If you would have been there you would have told those Jews that wanted to give up and go back to Egypt that they were crazy! Didn’t they see that God is real and all-powerful?

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 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. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

 My Daddy used to say that hind sight is 50/50. Truth is, that of at least one million people over the age of 20 desired evil rather than believe God! Only two (and maybe their families) believed God! That’s like saying that out of the roughly 7 Billion people on Earth, only 14,000 are real followers of Christ!

These Jews who experience so much, instead of reaching the Rest which God had promised, as symbolized by the Promised Land, fell in the wilderness, having been overcome by their desire for evil.

How Do You Reveal an Evil Heart?

How do you reveal an evil heartNow how did the Jews illustrate their evil hearts? Through what they did? Through heinous crimes? NO!

Evil hearts are revealed by what you believe about God and what He promises!

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12

No! They revealed their evil hearts by not believing God! No way, you say! Surely it took something much worse, like murder or assault or robbery! No, they did not believe God was with them! They did not believe God would do what He said He would do.

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.”

Numbers 14:3-4

 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

These Jews failed to believe the power of the Word of God, even though they had seen mightier miracles than anyone ever had! God promised to be with them as they went to conquer the land, but they focused on the size of the inhabitants rather than the size of their God! Only Caleb realized the Power of God, and his life was marked by a “different spirit!” Caleb represents the believer who sets his mind on the Spirit of God rather than the world!

Life with Jesus Christ is different than life without Him

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?

Life with Christ is differentHebrews 4 uses another word for victory and overcome, the word REST!

God paints a picture of Rest in Exodus and Joshua. God paints a picture of Rest in Ephesians.

  • Rest doesn’t mean you lie back and do nothing. Rest means you stand and do everything in full reliance and full confidence of the Life of Jesus Christ in you.
  • Rest means when the boat is rocking and the winds are blowing your heart is calmly trusting in Christ, even while He is sleeping in the back of the boat.
  • Rest means that when you are facing giants, and you are swinging your sling, you know God is directing the stone.
  • Rest means that when a battle is raging, that you simply must rely on strength from God.
  • Rest means that whatever the pain, whatever the circumstance, whatever the pressure, that God will see you through it, and that it will benefit your Eternity.
  • 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?

  • 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

Let’s see what lessons God wants us to learn:

1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Are you sensible people? Then discern what God wants you to learn:

I want to talk to you about REST and How you obtain it!

Read Hebrews 4

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,1let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 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. 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. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 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.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 2Let ustherefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. 13 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. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, 3let ushold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 164 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:1-16

1. God’s Rest is Promised:

  • vs 1  “while the promise still stands!”

Enter into Gods Rest and promisesIt is promised, but it is not guaranteed. “fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Imagine what your Christian Life would be like if you would simply believed God’s Word…

Leonard Ravenhill:  I don’t want to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and God say to me, “I left you a book of blank checks signed in the blood of Jesus and you didn’t use half of them!”

Too often, we start and end our Christian walk with only this promise: And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

WHAT PROMISES ARE YOU NOT RESTING UPON?

If you can believe Him about that promise, what about these others? Does your daily walk reveal that you are trusting God in these areas of your life?

  • My-Joy-Your-JoyWhat about His promise of Peace.
  • What about His promise of Joy.
  • What about His promise to care for you.
  • What about His promise to clothe and feed you.
  • What about His promise to Love you.
  • What about His promise to cast our fear.
  • What about His promise to be free from the power of sin?
  • What about His promise of victory, about being more than conquerors?

If we were resting in His promises, we would be holy, for He says:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

2.  God’s Rest is His Plan for Man

Gods Rest is the Plan for ManGod has a plan for his people to join him in the wonderful restfulness of heaven where all weariness and burdens will be lifted. The writer focuses on five points in history to show how God’s plan is for mankind to find rest in Him.

  • Creation (Genesis 2:2) and says in verse 4: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
    • If God rested, what is the lesson for man? His people can rest and enjoy fellowship with him. He will call it a “Sabbath rest” because on the seventh day God rested.
  • Jews in the Wilderness: The promised land is a picture of God’s ultimate rest, and their unbelieving rebellion excludes them from it.
  • Joshua, who took the people into the promised land.

„  Is that the final, ultimate rest God in mind for his people? Verse 8 answers no: “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.”  In other words, even though Joshua gave some relief to the people of God in the promised land, that was not the final rest God has planned for them. How do we know that? God spoke of another day — another rest centuries later.

  • David writing in Psalm 95. Verse 7: “He again appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'” In other words, long after the people enjoyed the rest of the promised land, David says that God is still holding out to his people an offer of salvation rest: Don’t harden your hearts, and you will enjoy God’s rest (referred to at the end of the Psalm, 95:11 = Heb. 3:11 = 4:3)
  • The fifth time period is NOW — Verse 9: “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In other words, Today, the rest is still open.

And that is the foundation of God’s message to you today: There is a rest open to you today. God offers rest. The door is not shut. The time is not past.

3. God’s Rest is Present  Reality

Gods rest is present realityFor we who have believed enter that rest[1],

“not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers” Our enjoying the Rest offered by Christ is proof of our Christianity. It characterizes our Christian LIFE.

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30

Jesus offers TWO Rests…One is Conditional…

Christ offers us TWO rests. One is unconditional, and is offered to all who by weariness simply come to Him, admitting their weakness and need. The second rest is conditional. The rest for your soul comes only as you yoke your life with His, and then pay close attention and learn from Him! 

Hudson Taylor had a distinct moment when he entered into that second rest. He writes about it in his autobiography.

Bear not a single care thyself,
One is too much for thee;
The work is Mine, and Mine alone;
Thy work—to rest in Me.[2]

From His Spiritual Secrets Autobiography:

hudson taylorTo let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; . . . resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy.

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus, and when I saw—oh, how joy flowed!”

He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work…[3]

Do YOU Have a New Heart?

Black_Heart_by_pushOK_12Ezek.18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

4. God’s Rest is our Prospect for Eternity!

  • anápausis vs katápausis

Gods rest is prospect for eternityChrist promised anápausis (inner rest) in this age, not katápausis ([2663], structural rest), the Sabbath rest of the age to come, which “remaineth…to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9–11). Anápausis is rest and peace of soul in the midst of hard labors, while katápausis is a periodic cessation from labor.[4]

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!” Revelation 14:13

VS

(Remember Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous)

 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11200px-Lifestyles_of_the_Rich_&_Famous

How Do We Enter This Rest?

Salvation is much more than a ticket to heaven. It is much more than asking Jesus into your heart. Actually Jesus wants permission to take over your life. He wants to be Lord!

lettuce


Remember Popeye? Remember what gave him his super strength? 
Well to enter God’s Rest, you need to eat plenty of LET-US!

God’s Rest is built upon a bed of LETTUCE!

A. LET US FEAR

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest a

ny of you should seem to have failed to reach it

.

This fear is  not the terror felt by a slave. This is deep reverence and respect. This is what Paul tells us in Philippians.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Plenty of Lettuce to enter Gods Rest

Why should we approach our salvation with fear & trembling?…because the thing we have to watch out most for is “unbelief or faithlessness.”  If 99.9% of people who saw the greatest evidence of God EVER can fall away through unbelief, how easy is it for us to fall away?

  • “there is only one thing to fear: faithlessness. Fear unbelief in the promises of God. Because as long as you are trusting in the promises of God you can be utterly fearless in the face of anything, even death, even God (see 4:16).

 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

  • Since so many have fallen, we have cause to fear (Heb 3:17-19 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

B.  LET US STRIVE

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,

  • STRIVE: to be diligent, earnest, or eager[5]..
  • Do our utmost to focus on the rest. There is no room for mental laziness. Think with all you have on Gods rest.[6]

so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  • Fall means that “everything is naked and open before God: opened — literally, “thrown on the back so as to have the neck laid bare,” as a victim with neck exposed for sacrifice. The Greek perfect tense implies that this is our continuous state in relation to God. “Show, O man, shame and fear towards thy God, for no veil, no twisting, bending, coloring, or disguise, can cover unbelief”[7]

Be in the Word of God!

  • bible-is-word-of-godIt is Living – (not dead) Alive!
    • It lives because it endures forever, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Ps.119:89)
    • It lives because it has life in itself, “God breathed.”
  • Powerful – (not weak) Energetic, active, productive, effective.
    • Activity which produces results. Often used for Divine activity which produces effective results! – It does what it promises!!!
    • Is.55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Sharper – (not dull) God’s Word can cut through anything!
    • The Sword of God is a sin slayer! – It has stains of blood all over it…even up to the hilt!
    • It is 2-edged thus it cuts us 2 ways – 1st deeply that we might die; then it cuts us again that we might live!
  • Piercing – (not sheathed)
    • (i.e.) the extreme power of penetration of the Word of God, to the very core of man’s being!
    • A man named Thorpe was a member of the “Hell-fire Club”. (a group of men in the 1700’s who tried to detract the work of George Whitefield) – One day Thorpe jumped upon a table & started mimicking Whitefield, delivering his sermon with brilliant accuracy, perfectly imitating his tone & facial expressions, when he himself was so pierced that he sat down & was converted on the spot!{he went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol}
  • Discerner – (not ignorant) God’s Word sifts through the hearts thoughts & attitudes w/unerring discrimination!
    • Do you ever feel I’m talking right to you & a situation that you are going through? I hope you take it personal. I hope you get cut from God’s word while I’m teaching…else I am not wielding it properly!
  • (13) naked & open – (not hidden nor veiled) there is nothing to hide in or behind.
  • Open – different suggestions to this words meaning.
    • Refers to the wrestler’s art of seizing one by the throat rendering him limp & powerless.
    • The meaning is clear, all creatures are in the grip of God, totally vulnerable, helpless, & laid bare before his eyes, of Him to whom we must give account!
    • Prov.15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
      • God sees everything…This can be discomforting…IF you have something to hide!

C.  LET US HOLD FAST

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Hebrews 4:14

  • hold fast — the opposite of “let slip” (Heb 2:1); and “fall away” (Heb 6:6). As the genitive follows, the literally, sense is, “Let us take hold of our profession,” that is, of the faith and hope which are subjects of our profession and confession[8]
  • Take Hold of Christ, even in your weakness.

Gary Eagle Take-OffFor we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

D. LET US DRAW NEAR

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Conclusion

Are you a Crazy Loon or a Majestic Eagle? Who are you believing in and relying upon for life?

Ever Heard the expression “crazy as a loon,”

Loon or Eaglewithout any wind blowing it was almost impossible for them to take off and fly. I took his word for it, but it didn’t seem to make sense to me until one evening some time later when my brother and I were out fishing. Not a breeze was stirring, and the surface of the small lake was like glass. The quietness of the moment was suddenly broken by the loud flapping of wings. Evidently we had scared “Mr. Loon,” and he decided to get out of there. Yet, despite his heroic effort, he just skimmed along the surface of the water unable to gain altitude. Reaching the other side of the lake, he still wasn’t high enough to clear the trees, and, executing a fancy turn, he came back toward us still flap-ping his wings with all his might. We held our breath as he reached the opposite shore, barely missed the treetops, and disappeared from view. He had made it — but what a struggle! Re-calling that experience, the thought came to me: what a contrast there is between that struggling loon and the majestic eagle which ascends high in the heavens with wings outstretched, gliding effortlessly to new and thrilling heights. The flapping loon and the soaring eagle portray two kinds of Christians. There are some dear souls who seem to be always “flapping” without making much headway, while others can truthfully and joyfully sing with the hymn writer, “New heights I’m gaining every day.” The latter are those who have learned to wait upon the Lord, have renewed their strength, and hence “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).


[1] Ἐισερχόμεθα categorical; not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4:3”.

[2] Hudson Taylors Spiritual Secrets

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “spoudázō”

[6] Kent Hughes; pg.113

[7] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary – Heb 4:1 Heb 4:1-16. THE PROMISE OF GOD’S REST IS FULLY REALIZED THROUGH CHRIST

[8] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “HEBREWS”.


Hebrews-study-in-contrasts

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.

Who-is-the-Christian

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:

CONTRASTS

A. Hebrews is a Study in Contrasts (differences)

  • „ contrasts-of-hebrewsJesus 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

Christian-heart-issueHebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

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.

  • Contrasts2We share in Jesus Christ

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!

faith_vs_unbelief - CopyThe 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

heart contrastHebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

  • 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.

Contrast-of-heart-belief-or-unbeliefYes, 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

evidence-of-believing-heartYou are either dead to God, or you have His life. I don’t care how alive you think you are. If your life has not been affected by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, you are dead to God.

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?

experience-Christs-power-to-restRest 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

overcome the world - CopyHebrews 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.

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!

1-ephesians-2-vs-4-61As Paul said, we SIT with Jesus in the Heavenlies! We REST in Him! That Rest is evidence of our salvation.

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;
overcome_the_world - CopyChristians are to Overcome the World by their Faith and Belief in God and His Word!
  • 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

Do-you-have-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

black-heart-89479 - CopyNumbers 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.

  • This REST is only possible in Jesus Christ!unbelieving-heart - Copy

(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.

Cure-for-unbelieving-heart-is-plenty-of-lettuceHis Rest is built on a bed of LETTUCE, as the next post will show.

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.