“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:11, KJV 1900)
Chris and I have been watching a fictional television show about a medical center in England. It is often frustrating to watch because the patients are so obstinate. They will see a doctor about some ailment. Then the doctor will prescribe a treatment or further diagnostic tests. The patients, rather than taking the doctor’s advice, become belligerent, refusing treatment, skipping appointments, not taking medicine, etc. If this show were true, I imagine there would not be a lot of people left alive in England.
In the show, obstinacy kills many of the patients. Likewise, obstinacy will also kill many people spiritually. Hell is full of obstinate people who refused to believe in Jesus. Even worse, these obstinate people even refused to examine the Scriptures with an open mind. The writer has been addressing this problem. Now, he gives some practical advice to the Jewish recipients of the letter.
First, he states that they should strive to enter that rest. He warns them not to be like their ancestors who fell because of unbelief. I mentioned in an earlier post, that the word used here for “unbelief” was the Greek apeitheia, which refers to obstinate opposition. It is a refusal to submit to the divine will.
Second, in this striving, they need to dig in to the word of God. He wrote this most famous verse in the context of this warning.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV 1900)
In the Jewish audience, there were likely people just like in our churches today. There were those truly regenerated believers. There were those who professed that they believed, having only intellectual assent to the facts of the gospel. There may also have been seekers, caught up in the movement of this new faith. Hebrews 4:12 is great medicine for all three types of people. For true believers, the word of God brings assurance. For those with mere intellectual assent, continued study of the word will reveal the true condition of the heart. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17). For the seeker, the word will give him the knowledge necessary to believe.
Once I was the obstinate man who somewhat understood the gospel, but did not want anything to do with it. One day, by God’s grace, it was in my heart to see what His word said. I committed to read the Bible from cover to cover in one year and do whatever it said. Weeks after I began this journey, the Lord touched my heart and I entered His rest.
You can do the same. Only you must turn from your obstinacy and take the medicine. Read the Bible with all your might. True believers will be assured. All who have made professions of faith should read and study as the word of God will help you make your calling and election sure. If you are a seeker, the word of God can set you free from fear, pointing you to eternal life.