Posts Tagged ‘unbelieving heart’


Hebrews_10_26-39_ lose_your_salvationThe Holy Spirit, in penning Hebrews 10, seems to present the scenario that believer’s in Christ can make a decision to willfully sin, and the result of that decision will be their shrinking away from God to the destruction of their souls. To understand this passage, it would be helpful to lay aside any denominational/doctrinal presuppositions of being “elect” or “once saved, always saved” or “perseverance of the saints” or even that your salvation is dependant upon your behavior. To understand Hebrews 10:26-39, it will be helpful to look at two other passages that carry the same message, and then look at the foundation of Salvation which Jesus laid in the parable of the soils.

Hebrews 10:26-39 is the “reflective pause” that Christians face when they are about to embark on a journey of faith that grows and powers ahead into the unknown. Such reflection is good for the heart and soul. God wanted His people to reflect upon their position and relationship with Him so much so that He declared a special time of doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles. We all need times of reflection so that we may renew our commitment and continue to step out in faith in following this awesome God! Understanding this pause is essential before leaping into the Faith Chapter!

First, let us consider the bullet points of three ‘difficult’ passages…

What_does_a_willful_sinner_doHeb 10:26 – “If we willfully continue to sin…”

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 

If we deliberately continue to sin, the Holy Spirit says:

  • There is no more sacrifice (forgiveness)
  • We will face judgment
  • You are an adversary to be consumed by fire. (cf James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”)

Does this apply to professed Christians?…They had “received the knowledge of the truth” Received is the word “lambano.” It means to take hold of, to grab. Here is an example of its use with the water of life:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Conclusion: This passage does indeed describe people who profess to be believer’s and even followers of Jesus Christ. For some reason, they have deliberately decided to turn away from Him and follow their own will, becoming an adversary of God. The implication of this implies they have made such a selfish and willful decision because of their love of the world. The result of their action is the revelation of 1 John-the Love of the Father is not in them, and they have turned toward their true lover-the world. Such love will result in their shrinking away from God and lead to the destruction of their souls.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Were these people Christians that merely backslid, or did they really lose their salvation? Or were they merely pretenders who were never truly born again?

Our next passage is…

2_Peter_2_20-22_entangled_in_the_world2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if… they are again entangled in them and overcome…”

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22

These verses indicate the following about these folks:

  • They are now entangled and overcome by defilements of the world
  • Their condition is worse than before
  • They had a deliberate turning away from the holy commandments
  • They are compared to how a dog and a pig reveal their true nature, they return to their vomit or wallow in the mire.

Were they Christians? They had at one time “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” Knowledge is “epígnōsis”

“It is more intensive than gnósis, knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner. In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement”[1].

This is the same word used in Ephesians 1:17, and refers to a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ that we should all seek. So the passage seems to indicate that they at least made a profession of belief in Christ after receiving knowledge of who He was and what He had done for them. However, like those in Hebrews 10, they could not resist turning back to their true love, the world. They too, were entangled by the world and overcome, to the destruction of their souls.

Hebrews_6_4-8_fall_away_from_GodHebrews 6:4-8 “then (they) have fallen away…”

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, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:4-8

The people in Hebrews 6 are described as:

  • Even though enlightened and sharing in the Holy Spirit, they have fallen away
  • Their falling away is evidenced by the fruit of their life – filled with thorns and thistles.
  • Their end is destruction by fire.

Were they Christians? They experienced all these: Enlightened, tasted, shared the Holy Spirit, tasted the Word and power…Cetainly sounds like they were professing to be Christians with all the characteristics of being a Christian.

Fallen is parapíptō:

“denoting a falling away, an abandonment. Some have suggested that this word indicates an error of weakness, fault or accident and does not represent deliberate, blameworthy or willful sin…However, the usus loquendi of the word yields no such meaning but in this case signifies deliberate acts of sin[2].”

Once again, here are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ because of some perceived knowledge of Him and what He had done for them, but in the course of their life made a deliberate and conscious decision to turn away from the Word of Jesus Christ. In this case, the proof of their decision shows up in the fruit of their life.

Before we look at the teaching of Jesus Christ in the Parable of the Soils, we must ask, “Does our Salvation come with responsiblity on our part?” Is our salvation in Christ a one time decision that is good for all of our life without any effort on our part? Or does the “New Birth” result in something which, like the wind, you cannot see, but like the wind, you can tell it is there?

What is the Evidence of our New Heart and being a New Creation?

Evidence_of_new_heart“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:6

“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. 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. 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 4:14-16

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

The words “hold fast” are the translation of  which means literally “to hold down.” It speaks here of a firm hold which masters that which is held[3]. It implies that you have taken possession of your belief, and you hold it fast because you value it more than anything else. You never let it out of your sight!

Paul reveals the need to “hold fast” to the word which he preached, and says that if you do not, you believed in vain! Your belief was a selfish belief, and once it no longer worked in your favor, you let go and reached for something else! So Paul states we have a responsibility to “hold fast, ” a responsibility that grows from our conviction that this truth about Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything the world could ever offer!

Does this mean we must work to ‘keep’ our Salvation?

Only if you believe commitment is work. Hopefully your work and “holding fast” comes from the conviction that Jesus Christ is worth it, that you owe Him everything, because He sacrificed everything for you. Consider your marriage. Because you value your spouse and your life-long commitment to her, you “hold fast” that commitment and honor it by your fidelity. If you no longer value your spouse or your commitment, you will turn away, let go and be unfaithful. You marriage was “in vain”, which means it was fine as long as it suited your needs. You dishonor the marriage when you want to meet your needs elsewhere.

So, will giving your life to Jesus Christ result in a salvation that is secure, eternal and impossible to take away? Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:25-30

Parable of the Four Soils

What else did Jesus say about His sheep, and what insights can we gain about how we can know we are always in the Father’s hand and will never be snatched away? To better understand who is really “my sheep” we must look at the Parable of the Soils (or Sower):

 “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23

Four_heart_conditions_that_receive_the_word_of_GodI believe the best way to understand the 4 soils is to see them as our heart. Being ‘born again’ involves receiving a new nature, becoming a new creation, and Hebrews indicates that involves a new heart, one in which God puts His Word, and the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” Hebrews 10:15-16. 

Jesus says that some hearts hear the Word, but their hardness and self-will prevent the Word from changing them. It is stolen away and has no effect. Another heart hears the Word and gets all excited. This is something they need at the time. However, their heart was selfishly motivated, and the proof is revealed in adversity or harsh circumstances. The next heart hears the Word, receives it, allows it to work in their life, but that heart is divided, and gradually or suddenly turns to the world, because what they really love has choked out any effect the Word has upon them. The thorns and thistles grow and appear in the midst of any fruit they may produce.

The lesson that Jesus wants us to see is that there will be many who profess belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. However, many will be mere professors. They never really take possession (as in ‘hold fast’) of the Word of Truth for their lives. THey may look and act like Christians, but the proof of their conversion is revealed in their endurance and fruit!

This is not works based salvation, but simple gardening!

What about God’s patience and understanding with our humanity? Does He not have patience with our growth? Indeed He does, however, there is a limit to His patience, and that runs about 4 years, as evidenced in this passage:

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9

fig treeThe new birth will result in a salvation that bears fruit, not thorns or barrenness! If you are truly born again, one of Jesus sheep, but are backslidden or turning away, expect God to put some manure in your life! Things may get a little stinky until you humble yourself and re-commit to following His Word! If the manure doesn’t work, you are proven to be a pretender, and you were never given a new heart that is responsive to His Word!

Jesus showed His contempt for pretenders in this exchange near His crucifixion:

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Mark 11:12-14 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God”. Mark 11:20-22

I often wondered at this curing of Jesus on a fig tree that by Mark’s account should not have had fruit. After all, it was early spring and it was 6 to 8 weeks away from bearing fruit. Then I read this from F.F. Bruce:

taqsh on fig treeWhen the fig leaves appear about the end of March, they are accompanied by a crop of small knobs, called taqsh by the Arabs, a sort of fore-runner of the real figs. These taqsh are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear unaccompanied by taqsh, there will be no figs that year. So it was evident to our Lord, when He turned aside to see if there were any of these taqsh on the fig-tree to assuage His hunger for the time being, that the absence of the taqsh meant that there would be no figs when the time of figs came. For all its fair foliage, it was a fruitless and a hopeless tree.” [4]

This was confirmed by Keener:

“At Passover season in late March or early April, fig trees are often in leaf on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. At this time of year, such fig trees contained only green early figs (Arabs call them taqsh), which ripen around June but often drop off before that time, leaving only green leaves on the tree. A leafy tree lacking such early figs, however, would bear no figs at all that year,” [5]

Jesus was looking at a pretender, all leafy and full of itself, but there was not going to be any fruit! The fig tree was all about itself, and cared little for those around it, and its’ lack of taqsh revealed it would never bear any fruit for the benefit of others.

The message of our difficult passages and especially Hebrews 10:26-39 is simply this: Your actions reveal your true character. If you have been born again through the Holy Spirit, you have a new nature, a new heart that is responsive to the Word of God. You hold it fast. The Word of God will always bear fruit for God, because the Word of God is Jesus Christ! If there is no fruit, if there is no continued “holding fast to the Word,” then your heart is revealed as a pretender, vain in your true desires, in love with the world (or yourself), and an enemy of God!

Evidence_of_apostasy_and_an_unbelieving_heartHebrews 3:12-14 reveals the truth of the importance of our heart and having a genuine repentance and coming to Christ with no reserves, no expectations, no fleshly considerations.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Heb 3:12-14

Is it possible to be born again and then develop an unbelieving heart? No. For if we are born again, we have a new heart, and God writes His Word upon it through the Holy Spirit. God then is responsible for our growth, and will use plenty of manure at times. If our heart turns out to be unbelieving or worldly or divided, then it is time to repent as Christ warned the Laodiceans.

“ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” Revelation 3:15-22

Adokimos

This is why Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, so that we would regularly check our heart to see if Christ is Lord. This is why Paul warns us to:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5

If one fails the test it means he is “adokimos” which means he is a pretender, one whose heart has failed the test of purity toward God! Only through our absolute trust in Jesus Christ and the total application of His blood can we be found “dokimos,” which means “approved!”

Hebrews_10_38-39_we_are_of_faith_and_do_not_shrink_awaySo our encouragement from Hebrews 8-10 is that because of what Christ has done, and because of His continued ministry and mediation and intercession on our behalf, there is NO WAY we can shrink away from Him and suffer destruction. Because of His ministry we have faith and therefore our souls rest safely in Him!

So what is the impact of this passage? What must we take into our hearts, our minds and work with our hands?

1. The “What” is for our Heart
The-What---the-way-into-the-love-of-God
        • This is what we take into our Heart
        • This reveals God’s Steadfast Love
        • This shows us the “Way” of Christ
        • What in this passage demonstrates God’s steadfast love, and grabs at your emotions?
  • God is faithful to Judge us according to His Word – Hebrews 10:27-31
  • He will keep His Word with all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
  • He will judge all those who reject His Son!
The-So-What---learn-with-your-head2. The “So What” is for our Head
  • We must take into our thinking – Head
  • We must follow the justice of God’s Word
  • We must believe in the “Truth” of Jesus Christ

What in this passage should we accept, receive and allow to transform our thinking so as to build the design of God into our lives?

    • I must examine my heart and soul to see if I am engaged in willful sin…
  • I must decide to turn away and then commit my whole being to being transformed by the renewing of my mind
  • I must examine myself by asking the following:
    • Am regarding Jesus as my Lord or as something “profane or common or powerless?”
    • Do I value the Blood of Christ as much as God?
    • Am I sensitive to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit?
    • How is my Confidence in the Word of the Lord?
    • How is my Endurance? Am I growing in patience?
    • How is my faith in God’s ability to do as He promised?
3. The “Now What” is for our Hands. What must we do to really learn this?

The-Now-what_learning_by_doing

  • The hands work the Righteousness of God
  • The hands demonstrate that we have the “Life” of Jesus Christ
  • What must I do this week to bring this passage to bear in my Life and grow in righteousness?
    • Daily confess confidence in the Lordship of Jesus!
    • Rejoice in any struggles or sufferings you are going through.
    • Find someone in prison (literal or figurative) this week, and show compassion to them.
    • Give something to someone in need to demonstrate your trust in eternal possessions to come.

 Heb 10:33-34 “you became companions of them that were so used (person suffering wrongly, or in affliction). For you had compassion of me in my bonds (shackles, a person with a disability) and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods…

Heart_head_hand_lessons

Take time this week to so glory in the presence of God that you are able to roll on the floor in laughter (or cry with tears of joy) over some loss that up until today caused you bitterness or great sorrow. Discover His goodness and love once again!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

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

[3] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 181.

[4] F.F. Bruce, Are The New Testament Documents Reliable? (Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove, Ill, fifth revised edition 1992), pp. 73-74.

[5] Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, July 1999), p. 504

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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”.