Summary: True rest only comes when he place our lives entirely in the hands of Jesus Christ in faith. Then and only then will we have complete spiritual rest.
Entering God’s Rest
Hebrews 4 continues the warning to the informed, but unresponsive Jews from chapter 3. These Jews not only knew the basic truths of the gospel but had even renounced Judaism. Still they did not trust in Christ. The warning, of course, applies to anyone who is hesitating in committing himself fully to Jesus Christ, and can be summarized: “Do not harden your hearts like Israel did in the wilderness.” The Israelites had left Egypt, but they often longed to go back. They refused to trust the Lord completely and oppressive and disappointing as it was, the olf life still had an appeal. They halted at the crucial point of decision. Consequently, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land and into God’s rest. So it is with many who are drawn to Jesus Christ. Unbelief forfeits rest – that is the writer’s thought.
I. The Meaning of Rest
a. Both the English and Greek word for “rest” holds the basic idea of ceasing from work or from any kind of action.
i. You stop doing what you are doing.
ii. Action, labor, or exertion is over.
iii. Applied to God’s rest, it means no more self-effort as fast as salvation is concerned.
iv. It means the end of trying to please God by our feeble, fleshly works.
v. God’s perfect rest is a rest in free grace.
b. Rest also means freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you.
i. Some people cannot rest mentally and emotionally because they always feel easily annoyed.
ii. Every little nuisance upsets them and they always feel hassled.
iii. Rest does not mean freedom from all nuisances and hassles; it means freedom from being so easily bothered by them.
iv. It means to be inwardly quiet, composed, and peaceful.
v. To enter God’s rest means to be at peace with God, to possess the perfect peace He gives.
vi. It means to be free from guilt and even unnecessary feelings of guilt.
vii. It means to be free from worry about sin, because sin is forgiven.
c. Rest can mean to lie down, be settled, fixed, secure.
i. There is no more shifting about in frustration from one thing to another, no more running in circles.
ii. In God’s rest we are forever established in Christ.
iii. We are freed from running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from life-style to life-style. We are freed from being tossed about by every doctrinal wind, every idea or fad, that blows our way.
iv. In Christ we are established, rooted, grounded, and un-moveable.
v. That is the Christians’ rest.
d. Rest involves remaining confident, keeping trust.
e. Rest also means to lean on.
i. To enter into God’s rest means that for the remainder of our lives and for all eternity we can lean on God.
ii. We can be sure that he will never fail to support us.
f. The rest we here of here in Hebrews 4, includes all of these meanings.
i. It is full, blessed, sweet, satisfying, and peaceful.
ii. It is what God offers every person in Christ.
* God’s rest, His salvation, is based on three things, which we refer to as the elements of rest.
II. The Elements of Rest
a. Personal Faith (vv. 2-3)
i. The first requirement for salvation is faith.
1. Hearing the gospel is essential, but it is not enough
2. The ancient Israelites heard God’s good news of rest, but it did them no good since they did not accept it.
3. It does us no good to hear if we do not believe
4. Hearing the good news of the rest of God is of no benefit, no profit, to any person at any time unless the hearing is united by faith.
ii. It is tragic that hell is going to be populated with people who thought they were doing the right thing, but their knowledge and work were not united with faith.
iii. If you run a red light and a policeman pulls you over and starts to give you a ticket, you do not show him your copy of the state driving laws as your defense.
1. You don’t try to prove your innocence by telling him that you have read the whole book.
2. That won’t make you innocent, that would make you all the more responsible for living up to the laws and more guilty for breaking them.
iv. Being a true Jew under the Old Covenant was not a matter of having the law but of obeying it.
v. Being a Christian under the New Covenant is not a matter of knowing the gospel, but of trusting in it.
1. Having a Bible, reading it, knowing it, taking it to church every Sunday, and even teaching from it does not make us Christians.