No Faith, No Go

Scott Stevenson 

“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. 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. 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 4:1–3, ESV)

First of all, I would like to thank Pastor Sam for teaching the Hebrews class. The class has allowed me to have greater understanding of the promises given in this book.

God gives us a promise of “rest”, but how do we achieve this rest? The writer of Hebrews gives us a serious warning about what it takes to enter the Lord’s rest. As you see the word “therefore” at the beginning chapter 4, “therefore” is not just any word; in fact, whenever you see the word, please pay close attention to what comes after it.

οὖν oun therefore
4036 οὖν (oun): pt.; ≡ Str 3767—1. LN 89.50 therefore, a marker of result (Mt 7:24); 2. LN 91.7 indeed, surely, then; a marker of a greater emphasis than other markers (1Co 3:5);
DBL Greek

Context is very important in understanding the fullness of Hebrews 4: 1-3, we need to look at the preceding verse:

“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.” (Hebrews 3:18–19, ESV)

The writer was referring to exodus generation in comparison to us. In other words, faith is the proper response to a promise from God. That brings me to my next question. How do we practice faith? The question brings to mind another verse that rings true:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)

I know many times during discipleship/problem-solving meetings, I ask people if they read their Bible. The response I get astounds me, but I understand it; not understanding in an approving sense, but from the perspective of doing the same thing early in my Christian walk. God gives us the answers to life, but we ignore it. It is like covering the check engine light on the dashboard of your car.

I remember Pastor Jay saying that sin is stupid, and he is so right. I know stupid is a harsh word, but in this area, it applies. Example, how many times have you sat there contemplating a dumb move, and you let it happen anyway? The fact that you were contemplating means God gave you a way out, but you decided against it. (1 Cor. 10:13) A real friend will hopefully ask you what you were thinking, and you would say, “I don’t know”…that is the epitome of stupid.

We need to understand what Hebrews is telling us because sin's ultimate goal is our death; and I'm not talking death only in the physical sense, but more importantly, being separated from God for all of eternity, so you have to ask yourself, can I start to get things right when it comes to how I respond to God’s promises? If I’m going to die, I want to die succeeding in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit! (That’s another study)

If you are weak, confess your sins to God and ask Him to empower you toward obedience. Do you think God will not help you?! Do you have unbelief?

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24, ESV)

Once again, we need faith to respond properly to God’s promises. Faith comes by reading God’s word and knowing right from wrong. When faced with sin, you actively walk out your faith by obeying God instead of the old life. There is no other way to enter into the Lord’s rest other than to walk out your faith. If you don’t, the Lord sees it as unbelief. I’m sorry, but we cannot work around it and in all actuality we shouldn’t be thinking about getting around it. What do I mean by that? To contemplate your sin and deciding to carry it out banking on God’s grace to cover you (premeditated). What does God have to say about such a thing?

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1–2, ESV)

Let’s look at it another way, God sent His son Jesus to suffer one of the cruelest forms of death for me, and I want to marginalize this act of love by saying, “He’ll forgive me." Is that true love for God? We live as if we don’t believe in God. To profess (talk) to follow God is one thing, to follow (action) Him is something completely different.

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, ESV)

Do not fool yourself into thinking that God does not examine us now. Do like David and cry out to the Lord to examine you now, the Lord will show you some things:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1–6, ESV)

Let us look a little bit closer at Hebrews 1:2, “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.” Remember out of that whole generation two guys kept the faith…Caleb and Joshua. This reminds me so much of the following verse:

““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7:13, ESV)

The writer of Hebrews by showing a comparison to the exodus generation shows us that we as Christians have an inheritance awaiting us, but we have to put in the faith required to enter that rest. We cannot work our way to Heaven; Jesus did that heavy work, but the work of active faith is set before us, because without it, we cannot please God. Don't believe me, read it for yourself:

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)

Are you willing to put in the daily work?

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