Agonizomai: Heb 4:4-7 Christ - Ever and Always the Only Way

Friday, November 27, 2009

Heb 4:4-7 Christ - Ever and Always the Only Way

Heb 4:4-7 Christ - Ever and Always the Only Way

Heb 4:4-7 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.”

By referring to Israelite history, the writer is making the point to the Hebrews that a return to the law of Moses, and to obedience, justification and salvation through works of the law - going back to their own particular brand of that "Old Time Religion" - does not even comport with what the scriptures of that time were saying. The progressive revelation of God’s plan in His dealings with the world in general and with Israel in particular clearly showed that mere membership in the nation itself did not confer salvation upon anyone.

It was faith in God through which man was justified - faith in God’s promise that He would justify the ungodly. So, just as in Moses’ time not all were spared, but only those who trusted in the God of the promise (evidenced by their obedience) - so throughout the history of Israel there were being added to the spiritual kingdom of God those who believed. Equally, in David’s time there was the call to hear and not to harden the heart by turning away. Being Israelite by birth did nothing for them if they were found unbelieving and disobedient.

This perfectly parallels the case of nominal church membership in our own age. Belonging to a church cannot save. Attendance, communion, being a teacher, going to the prayer meeting, serving on committees, baptism, doing good things in the community, giving to the church - none of this saves. They may be evidences of salvation or not. What saves now, as always, is faith in the God of the promise or, more properly - what saves is the God of the promise, through faith in Him.

So - in Moses’ time being Israelite did not guarantee salvation. In David’s time, being Israelite did not guarantee salvation. But what the scriptures themselves indicated was that God was calling people to enter into His rest from among the nation of Israel - a rest they were to enter by faith and by which they were to demonstrate that faith through obedience. Faith trusts God and, in trusting Him, is found preferring His will over their own. This, in turn shows in the earnest seeking and doing of God’s will.

Just as in Moses' and in David’s time, so there are yet people being added to the kingdom - being added in exactly the same way. So "today" is still the time. As long as God forbears, and as long as He extends grace to the world through the preaching of His salvation, then the call is for people to enter into His rest. The Hebrews could not turn the clock back and return to a sacrificial system and a covenant of law keeping that never worked for salvation in the first place, because that was never its intent. They were in grave danger if they were thinking about abandoning the "new" Jewish sect of Christianity and returning to Judaism. Christ was the end of the law for those that believed. Dire warnings about this would come from the pen of the writer of this epistle in Chapters 6, 10 and 12.

So obedience is necessary to perseverance - but it must be the obedience of faith; which is to say that the obedience must be the fruit of a right faith in God; and this, in turn, implies that it must rest in a right apprehension of Who God is and what He has revealed about Himself in His Word - both written and living. And this right belief can be traced back only to God, as a gift of His grace to those who are being saved.


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