Lesson 15 - Chapter 4:1-3

Lesson 15 - Chapter 4:1-3

Lesson for September 7, 2014

The Book of Hebrews

Chapter 4:1-3

Verse 1

“Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.”

Therefore is designed to remind us that this is the conclusion of the matter as far as the Exodus generation is concerned. We notice from our study of the last chapter that the Exodus generation was a failure generation and therefore a parallel to the generation to whom this was originally written. And it is a part of the Word of God to remind us that we too can be a part of a failure generation when we have negative volition toward or neglect Bible doctrine.

Fear is the Greek word“phobeo” which means in this context to beware or to be cautious. Here we have what is known as a dramatic tense. A dramatic tense states a present reality with regard to the certainty of a past event (the failure of the Exodus generation). What you ought to beware of (afraid of) is going into reversionism. So in the warning stage of divine discipline you get things that “frighten” you so that you will desire doctrine again.

Promise means a promise of great blessing. Remains is the Greek word “kataleipo,” which means to neglect, to leave behind, or to leave unclaimed and denotes an event which has not as yet occurred but is regarded as certain to occur. God has already provided these things for you. Therefore all you have to do is have the capacity to receive them and then claim them. The Exodus generation and the Jews of 67 AD failed through reversionism. All of God’s promises and all of God’s blessings come through doctrine. They are all related to doctrine and God is waiting to provide them.

Rest is the Greek word “katapausis” meaning causing to cease or repose. So it is a rest according to the norms and standards God has set up, a rest based upon the intake and application of Bible doctrine in the soul. We call His rest a relaxed mental attitude. In spiritual maturity, the believer reaps what God sows. God sowed in eternity past, and we reap it now. God does the “pouring out” of blessing, and we just simply have “a cup” (capacity) to receive it. By way of contrast, the believer in reversionism reaps what he sows (self-induced misery).

Should seem is the Greek word “dokeo,” which means to have subjective thinking (human viewpoint) and not objective thinking (divine viewpoint). To come short means to fail to attain a goal, to be below standard or to default. The reversionist defaults and fails to attain God’s goal of a relaxed mental attitude (rest).

Verse 2

“For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word preached did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard it.”

The good news preached to us is a reference to the entire good news of God’s Word and not just the salvation message of the Gospel. The issue for Israel during the Exodus and in 67 A.D. in Jerusalem was: “What do you think of Bible doctrine?” The Exodus generation failed to respond to God and His Word. They had the best doctrinal teaching in the world at that time, but they were guilty of negative volition and neglect of their spiritual lives. The same problem occurred to those to whom Hebrews was originally addressed. They too had heard the Gospel and were believers but had become negative toward Bible doctrine. Their problem was they lived in Jerusalem, and they loved to go to the temple and go through the ritual of the temple. They had accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but they still had great respect for the Jewish priesthood. Their respect for the priesthood was so great, and it was ingrained in them and inculcated in such a manner, that they observed the ritual of the Passover even though they were saved and the Passover was no longer pertinent. Therefore they would spend Sundays listening to the teaching of doctrine and spend Saturdays observing the ritual of Israel and they never really went beyond the salvation issue, although they had been saved for a long time. The Gospel was no longer to be an issue; the issue was Bible doctrine and they rejected it.

A believer’s attitude toward doctrine has always determined blessing or cursing. The Greek word for profit means to help or to benefit. They did not profit from what they were taught. They refused to transfer doctrine by faith into their human spirit, which is the meaning of “It was not united by faith.” God was very angry with the congregation of the Exodus generation because He had all of these fantastic blessings He was waiting to pour out and He couldn’t because they had no capacity.

Doctrine was available through those who taught it. The assembly was in existence then, the assembly of Israel in a different dispensation. Now we have the assembly today, only it is the local church which is meant to be a classroom for learning doctrine. So at every point God has preserved doctrine and those who communicate doctrine. God deals in a special way with those who communicate 1) false doctrine: double cursing 2) accurate doctrine: double blessing. The tragedy is for the believer to be in Bible class and at some future time to go negative, or to keep on going to Bible class to hear the Word but never transfer it to the human spirit, to be a hearer and not a doer.

Verse 3

“For we who have believed enter that rest, just 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.”

Believed means exercising faith and it is non-meritorious thinking, a non-meritorious system of perception. It is the basis for all of the knowledge. Everything that you have ever learned is based upon faith. Faith in its verb form is “to believe” and must have a subject and an object. In salvation, the subject is whosoever and the object is Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) In the Christian life, the subject is the believer and the object is the Word of God. (II Timothy 2:15) Faith is effective in the believer’s life only if faith has the right object. Faith is thinking. The content of what you’re thinking is what determines faith’s effectiveness in your life. There is no limit to the amount of faith that a believer can have, but doctrinal content in the soul is what determines the strength of your faith.

That rest means rest according to a norm or standard. The norm or standard is God’s grace provision. As far as the Exodus generation was concerned rest was Canaan, and in order to enter Canaan they had to have capacity. They didn’t have the capacity so they didn’t have the blessing of Canaan

Just as He said introduces a quotation again from Psalm 95:11. I swore means to promise with a solemn oath. In My wrath is used for indignation. God loves the reversionistic believer but He is disappointed with him. Why? Because God has wonderful blessings to give him and he is not able to receive them because of his reversionism.

Although explains the disappointment of God with reversionistic believers. God’s grace provides something totally apart from anything else this world has to offer. No one in this world can do anything for you that is comparable to God’s grace and God’s blessing. His works refers to the divine provision of grace. i.e. His perfect plan of grace for your life. God loves to demonstrate in every generation to the devil who rules this world that He can take care of members of His family. He took care of them from eternity past and does a better job than anything the devil has to offer. No wonder Christ turned down the devil when he offered Him the kingdoms of this world. God the Son had something much greater. And God now has it for you, and He is disappointed when a believer doesn’t take advantage of it. You don’t have to wait until you reach Heaven to enjoy the blessings from God.

Whatever blessings God provides for you were completed in eternity past. And since they have already been provided for you, you cannot work for them nor do you deserve them. All blessing from God is based upon His grace and not your human works. God sowed blessings in eternity past so that you and I might reap them in time. But God’s sowing in eternity past is only fully reaped by spiritually mature believers. The reversionist cannot harvest what God has sown in eternity past, he can only harvest what he sows in time (human good). There is a choice therefore: receive what God sowed in eternity past by advancing to spiritual maturity or receive what you sow in time through your own human effort.

When a person trusts Jesus Christ as personal Savior, a potential is established for blessing from God. Salvation is based on the grace of God, apart from any human merit, as is the Christian Way of Life. (Titus 2:11-12) Therefore, the potential for blessing is based on the grace of God. A blessing is a benefit bestowed upon the believer by God.

Why does God bless or bestow benefits on believers? Since blessings were given to us in eternity past and based on the grace of God (Ephesians 1:3), it is impossible for the believer to earn or deserve the blessings of God. In others words, God does not bless you because of your works, even if they are legitimate divine production (i.e. witnessing, giving, praying, etc.). God blesses you on the basis of His righteousness resident in your soul (Matthew 6:33, II Corinthians 5:21). This allows God to be just and in keeping with His grace policy (even if you are not living your spiritual life). You cannot coerce God into blessing you by what you do or do not do. However, it is your choice to access or appropriate these blessings. The way to access divine blessing is to increase your capacity to receive blessing by learning and applying Bible doctrine under the control of God the Holy Spirit. And remember that the production of divine good is itself a divine blessing.

Increasing capacity in your life is a grace function. Under your right pastor-teacher, you study and apply Bible doctrine, which produces growth and increases capacity. Remember that God is not going to give you more than you can handle. Therefore, divine blessing comes as a result of compliance with God’s system of blessing. Is your volition involved? Absolutely! You are the one who must choose to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, you must choose to study and apply the accurate teaching of God’s Word to your life, and you must choose to allow God the Holy Spirit to control your life. Accordingly, God is waiting to send blessings to each of us. (Isaiah 30:18)

In order to understand the concept of increased capacity, we need to briefly review the Royal Priesthood and the Royal Ambassadorship of the believer. Your spiritual life is your relationship with God as a Royal Priest. Your Christian life is your relationship with other people as a Royal Ambassador. Together we call this the Christian Way of Life.

As Royal Priests, we represent ourselves before God, which is always a private matter. When we sin and remove ourselves from fellowship with God we are able to go directly to the throne of God in prayer and utilize I John 1:9 which restores our fellowship. The more time you spend studying and applying accurate Bible teaching under the control of the Holy Spirit, the faster your capacity will increase. This translates into spiritual advance and eventually leads to spiritual maturity (our goal as believers). The only way that we are going to increase our capacity to receive God’s blessings is to develop our relationship with God.

As Royal Ambassadors, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. (II Corinthians 5:17) This, of course, involves interaction with others. This representation is a spiritual service and does not contribute to your spiritual growth or your capacity for blessing as a believer. It is a result of your growth. It is a blessing in itself and a means for you to be a blessing to others.