Jesus > Everything, Week 5, Come Boldly to Our Gracious God, Hebrews 4:1-16

Book of Hebrews, Week 5Jesus is Greater than Everything.001

Come Boldly to Our Gracious God

Hebrews 4:1-16

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

I. Failure to Trust—Failure to Enter God’s Rest

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. (4:1)

Last week we ended Hebrews chapter 3 discussing entering God’s rest. Today we are picking on the discussion where we left off.  Look at Hebrews 4:11, “So let us do our best to enter that rest [God’s restful salvation of forgiveness and hope now, and heaven when we die]. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” So it’s an urgent plea to be earnest and careful so that you don’t throw away the offer of God’s rest.

The verse says that if we are not diligent to enter God’s rest, then we are following an example of disobedience. Whose example? The example of Israel in the wilderness. Hebrews 3:19 says, “So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.” The disobedience that 4:11 is talking about is the disobedience of unbelief—a failure to trust. Don’t be like them, the writer says, because their failure to trust kept them out of God’s rest.  And it will keep you out of God’s rest.  We ought to “tremble with fear.”

II. Be Diligent to Hear God’s Word

2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. (4:2)

A. Failure to trust what? We see the answer in Hebrews 4:2, “For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.”

B.  What they failed to trust was the good news, the Word of God, that was preached to them in the wilderness—the promises of God that he would care for them and give them victory and forgive them and be merciful to them. They didn’t believe God. They murmured in their troubles and wanted to turn back to Egypt rather than follow God. This is their unbelief and their disobedience.  This is why they were kept out of God’s rest.

III. Five Points in History

Now the author of Hebrews takes time to illustrate the OT theology of God’s rest.  The text is very complicated, so let me just sketch a very brief outline for you. The writer focuses on five points in history to show how God keeps opening his rest for believing people.

1. First, he starts at creation (Genesis 2:2) and says in verse 4: “We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.’” So he sees in this a restful, peaceful, sovereign God who has a rest and a peace and a place of joy where his people can enjoy fellowship with him.

2. Second, he focuses on the period when Israel was wandering in the wilderness and rebelling against God. Verse 5 (quoting Psalm 95), “But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.” The promised land is a picture of God’s ultimate rest, and their unbelieving rebellion excludes them from it.

3. Which brings us to the third period of time the writer focuses on, the time of David writing in Psalm 95.  Verse 7: “God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear his voice, don’t 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.

4. The fourth focus is on the time of 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: “Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.” 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.

5. From this the writer draws the all-important conclusion about God’s Sabbath rest of salvation—and this is his fifth period of history, namely, today—verse 9: “So there is a special rest still waiting 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.   Verse 11 urges us to be diligent to enter God’s rest so that we don’t fall through the same sort of disobedience the Israelites showed in the wilderness.

IV. The Big Picture

Now let’s step back a minute and get the big picture. Some of you are analyzing people and you like to analyze the parts of a text. And some of you are synthesizing people and you like to see the synthesis—the big picture, when it is all put back together again. So listen up, all you synthesizers who like the big picture. There are four stages.

Stage #1

The aim of life, according to this chapter of the book of Hebrews, is to enter God’s rest—to be saved from our sin and spend eternity joyfully in God’s restful presence. That’s the great goal of life—and to lovingly take as many people there with us as we can (which is why this author wrote the letter!).

Stage #2

To enter this great and joyful rest we must trust God. Verse 3: “We who have believed enter that rest.” So the utterly indispensable means of getting to heaven is believing God. Trusting him.

Stage #3

To believe God, to trust him, we must hear his Word. We must hear the good news. We must know the promises that he makes for us to believe. That’s why verse 2 is so definite about this matter: “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also.” If they, or if we, didn’t have the good news preached to us, then we would not be able to believe the Word of God. So this stage is utterly crucial. The Word of God, the good news, the promises of God, have been preached to us. This is what makes faith possible.

Stage #4

Finally, we must now be diligent lest we give way to unbelief. This is the front-burner issue for the book of Hebrews.

?Hebrews 2:1, “Pay much close attention to what [you] have heard”—the Word.

?Hebrews 3:1, “Consider Jesus, the Apostle . . . of our confession”—Apostle = the one who speaks the Word.

?Hebrews 3:12, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart”—a heart not hearing and believing the Word.

?Hebrews 3:15, “Today if you hear his voice [his Word], do not harden your hearts.”

V. Warnings to the Faithless, Blessings to the Faithful

  a. Faithless Disobedience will not go Unnoticed

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

1. God’s Word is living, active, sharp, piercing and discerning.  His eyes expose those who are faithless and live in disobedience.

2. Nothing in all of creation is hidden from Him.  He is the one to whom we have to make account.

  b. Blessings from Christ

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

1. Jesus is seated in Heaven with God

2. Jesus is able to Identify with His People

3. Jesus cleared the way for us to Draw Near to God

 

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