Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Today at church we did a study of Hebrews 4:1-13. I did a little study of this during the past week because I knew we would be going over this today at church. I must admit, in my private study, I found it hard to grasp. I felt Pastor Brandon did a good job of explaining this difficult passage. I would just like to concentrate on a few verses and then maybe sum things up as I understood them.
In verse 9-13 of Hebrews 4, the writer talks about the fact that God RESTED on the 7th day, after He completed His creation. We also read in the Gospels that when Christ died on the cross, His work of salvation was finished. Both creation and salvation are finished works and will never need to be repeated. When God finished creation, it was perfect. When Christ said “it is finished,” there was nothing to be added. The word for REST here means “a complete rest.” One day, we will enjoy a complete rest as God did when He rested from creation. But we are not there yet.
I saw a piece of art in a Christian bookstore a while ago. It was a copy of a painting that depicted a man falling into the arms of Jesus. the man was totally spent and exhausted but Jesus was there lovingly holding him in His arms. What a great depiction of what it will be like when we get home! Our work will finally be over.
But we are not there yet. Yes, there is a rest of salvation that we have. But like the Israelites when they finally reached the promised land, our rest in salvation is not our final rest. Yes, if we are truly saved, we need never doubt our salvation or fall into a works mode to earn our salvation. We can rest by faith that we will one day be with Jesus. But in verse 11 the writer starts out by saying, “Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest….” What, I thought I was already saved and i had rest! That’s true, but again, it is not final. While we are on this earth, we strive to get to that final rest. In this context, I believe the diligence is not drifting away from the Lord like the Israelites did. Verse 12 is a well known verse that talks about the Word of God as being living, active, sharp, piercing, etc. I believe the writer is giving an admonition not to drift from God. How do we do that. Pastor Brandon gave us an answer. When we depart from God’s Word, when we depart from God’s people, we become isolated. And when we are isolated, we going to drift away from God.
So, is there labor and do we need to be diligent? Yes! Pastor mentioned that we need to find our rest in God and stop striving to please Him and work for him. But at the same time we need to keep striving because there is a final rest for us yet to come. Look at Philippians 2:12-13. It talks working out our own salvation because with fear and trembling, because God is at work in us to work out His good pleasure through us. Working for God should never be a burden. Yes, there will be striving and we will get weary, tired and we will need rest. But our labor should never be burdened. Our work and striving should be done out of love and gratefulness for what He has already done for us. If we strive out of guilt, obligation, people pleasing or any other motive except love, we don’t understand what Hebrews 4 is saying to us.
Let me end this with an observation. There is a man in our church named Toby. I “know” Toby a little because we greet together on Sunday mornings. I use parenthesis because I have never really sat down and talked with Toby so it is impossible to truly “know” him at this point. But I have observed him. He is a very friendly man and seems to know everyone who comes into church. Young kids run up to him to get a big bear hug. I sit in service and watch videos that the church shows on occasions, and there’s Toby. Toby serves in the youth ministry as well as being a greeter. That means he attends youth meetings on Wednesdays as well as works on Sunday as a greeter. He went to youth camp as a counselor recently and he wasn’t at the service this morning, because he was in Mexico visiting a school that a group of our men visit each year. He seems to me to be tireless, but I know that isn’t true. But I rarely see him without a smile on his face or acting like his service is a burden. It is evident to me that he serves, labors and strives for the Lord with a heart that is right before the Lord, and out of love and obedience, and not to please himself or the church. I hope a little of Toby rubs off onto me. He is a great example.
I hope this makes a little sense to you. I will pray today that we today will serve our Lord in Love and from our hearts. My admonition for us all is to be diligent and keep striving. Not because our Lord is a cruel taskmaster. But because He has chosen us before the foundations of the world to be his children and co-heirs with Him (Ephesians 1). I know in my case I need an attitude change. May God have mercy on us, sinners all, saved by Grace!