Agonizomai: Heb 3:16-19 Christ - To Be Received by Faith

Monday, November 23, 2009

Heb 3:16-19 Christ - To Be Received by Faith

Heb 3:16-19 Christ - To Be Received by Faith

Heb 3:16-19 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Prescriptive and not descriptive; that is what this admonishment is to the Hebrews. It is not saying that they can be lost again, after having been saved. It is saying that each person professing belief must examine himself to see if he is in the faith {2Co 13:5} and take appropriate corrective action based upon what he finds. An evil unbelieving heart excuses sin, is attracted to darkness, avoids correction and displays rebellions against God’s revealed wisdom. Believers can do this. That’s right - believers can do all these things. But they cannot do them for long and they certainly cannot do them and be happy about it. True believers will be truly miserable when they flee the light.

God wrote the story of Israel in history with His omnipotent finger. It is a real story - an historic series of events preserved for the benefit of all those who follow. He did bring the whole nation out of Egypt, but we must remember that not all who are Israelites are true Israel. True Israel is the children of the promise who live by faith and not by sight. They are spiritual and not fleshly. But how were they discovered to the world and to themselves? Was it not through their living? Was it not by means of their own cut and thrust, and their interaction with what God had to say?

The life lived, and the choices made in the light given will lay bare the heart of a person. Israel was given great light - far greater than any other nation on earth - and it is by this light that they were judged. God spoke most clearly to and through the nation and its leaders and the Word of God separated the light from the darkness. He did this in creation and He did it in Israel and He does it down to this very day. He separated light from darkness. He does it in the world and in the hearts of men. God’s word delineates, illuminates and pierces the soul.

Note then that it was always the Word that did the separating and the will of men that illustrated it by displaying their true nature. God gave grace and He gave commands to Israel through a covenant relationship and a leader. Men showed what their hearts were truly like by their inability and unwillingness to keep that covenant. Almost all Israel rebelled. Only two of the adults (Joshua and Caleb) and all those who were not of accountable age in the refusal to enter the promised land because of lack of trust in God, finally entered Canaan over Jordan. The rest perished for their unbelief. God did not fool around. God is both kind and severe. And this history lesson is laid before the wavering Hebrews.

Is Christ truly in them? Then they will heed and they will persevere. Are they fooling themselves? Are they false professors - self-deceived and finally exposed? Then they will fall away. But what will make the difference is for them to be found entirely in God, and not in themselves at all. If they are to enter into God’s rest then they must do so not by their own acts or attempts to please God - but through faith in God. They must simply trust in what He has said He will do - or, post-incarnationally, what He has already done in Christ. Neither should they put their faith in their faith. Faith is not what saves a person - but the object of that faith. Faith is merely the means by which the object is apprehended.

So the disobedience of man is the antithesis of faith in God. Disobedience is the fruit of unbelief, or even a wrong belief in God. Salvation is the fruit of a right belief in God. Who said that doctrine was not important? And how we conduct ourselves will depend on what we believe. Disobedience reveals an underlying evil and unbelieving heart which may or may not be evidence of perdition. So why take the chance (so to speak)? Why not root it out and bring it to God humbly and repentantly. The true children will do so because He will not allow them to fail. But God will preserve them through their perseverance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! It's so good to hear that it is God, and not me, that saves me. It is God who brings me back when I stray, and God who will keep me. I gave up trying to hide from God when I read He knows the number of hairs on my head. This changes from day to day,even hour to hour. And He will raise up our bodies, no matter what condition they may be in when He returns. Tying to hide a thought or act from God is laughable. So we may as well run to Him and stop being miserable in our so called hidden sins. God is good... so good to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

9:45 am  

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