n our study of Hebrews chapter four, we will look at keeping the Sabbath and what it means to rest in the Lord. This chapter will help us to understand what Jesus meant when He said: "It is finished".
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
In chapter 3, we saw that Jesus was and is much more than just a "good man" in that he is the Way to enter into the rest which is in God. Paul continues by reminding us that the promise is the same for us as it was for the people of Moses' day. So, what does he mean by being careful and falling short? He is actually saying that we should fear ignorance of the word of God and falling from grace. The entire word of God speaks of the grace that was to come through Jesus Christ. Many people have a misconception of what is meant by "falling from grace" and the simple meaning is, when we attempt to add anything to grace (such as works), we no longer have grace which is a gift.
For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
The grace of God through Jesus Christ was not some kind of "plan B" and it has never changed. The good news was shared with the people of Moses' day and they did not believe it and put their trust in God. This is where faith comes into play, in that, we have to have faith that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient and that, when He said "It is finished", He meant it.
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared on oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest."' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.' And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.'
We enter this rest of salvation by faith and that has been God's plan from the beginning. When He rested on the seventh day, it was not that God was tired but that His plan (our Way of salvation) had been set in motion.
It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'
It is sad to say but not everyone will be saved. Entering that rest (salvation) requires us to let go of our own work and to trust in the work of Jesus.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
Joshua led Israel into the promised land that God had provided but they still looked to their works to give them salvation rest. They would strictly keep the Sabbath and the rest of the law but it did not have the power to bring them to a place where they could rest in the knowledge that they are saved forever. There is much debate today about the Sabbath and keeping the Sabbath. There are those who strictly hold to the fact that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath while many "churches" portray Sunday as the "new Sabbath". The simple fact of the matter is that, for those who are in Christ, the Sabbath-rest is every day. Every day we rest in the fact that the work of our salvation was finished when Jesus said "It is finished" while He was on the cross. We also have the rest of knowing that it is permanent and that God takes care of His children. We may not live in the land of Canaan but He still provides for the daily needs of His people.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from god's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The word of God whether spoken (as in the time of Moses and Joshua) or written as we have today is a tool to show men that we cannot be "good enough". It points us to the need for our Savior as there is no sin that is missed and we all fall short of the standard of perfection displayed in His word. Everyone will give an account of their actions. Those that are disobedient and try to be saved through their own works will be judged by the standard of the Word. They will fall short and deserve punishment which is being sent out of the presence of God and into Hell. Those that accept what Jesus has done (and is doing) on their behalf will be saved and live with Him forever. It is also important to note that, as we see in this passage, it is the Word that judges people and not us. Too many times, the word has been used to beat people up instead of being simply stated and trusted to do its job.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
The job of the high priest was to make sacrifices for the sins of the people because, as we saw, all sin will be judged. Jesus is the ultimate high priest in that He is the Son of God and gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice. Paul urges us to hold onto the fact that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient. Mankind continues to try to add works as if His sacrifice was not enough to pay for all of our sins but we must resist this temptation and the legalism that accompanies it.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.
Jesus came to earth as a baby and lived through the same temptations that we face every day. He did so without sinning so that He could be the perfect sacrifice. Because of the fact that He was tempted, He can understand the struggles that we face.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We can go to God ("the throne of grace") with confidence because we know that Jesus paid for all of our sin and He understands us. He does not count our sins against us (mercy) but instead gives us forgiveness & salvation (grace). When He said that it was finished, He meant that all of our sin was paid for and we can be sure of that and live in that victory. There are too many people (even Christians) walking around in fear of losing their salvation because they stumble and think that they have finally committed one too many sins. Our confidence is in the fact that Jesus paid for our sins of today & tomorrow as well as those of our past.