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January 31, 2016

"ENTERING INTO REST"

TEXT: Hebrews 4: 1-5
READING:
 Romans 10: 1-21

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SUBJ: The true rest of God realized in Christ and faith in Him whereby we consciously realize that all the work of salvation is finished and that we may be settled and assured in the face of all things.

AIM: That we might focus upon the finished work of Christ in all things and realize that the things of this present evil world shall not frustrate the grace of God.

INTR: When we encounter certain terms and wherein the Lord has laid emphasis on a particular truth the tendency is to believe it without assimilating it – we believe that we are at rest, but are we truly resting?
1. Of course this requires us to separate the idea of seeing a completed task as opposed to becoming idle. This is often difficult.
2. The urgency of some things such as Gospel necessity and the pursuit of righteousness in this present evil world seem to cloud the issue. We must seek to embrace the truth of sovereignty while endeavoring to be responsible and responsive Christians.
3. The writer seizes a narrative from the Old Testament to emphasize and characterize the reason to fear missing something of critical importance – we reference Hebrews 3.

THESIS: In the same sense that the God rested on the seventh day having finished all His work and having seen that it was all very good, so He has rested the matter of salvation in Christ and rejoiced at what He has accomplished. It behooved us to so believe and fully rest (trust) in the same way.

I. A reason to fear (v. 1)
1. We are to be afraid of not taking the Bible seriously – not that we doubt it, but that we tend to put it off as we do other things or that we place other things first.
1) Such things are placed in the Word, not to threaten but to direct us to things critical
2) Such is another example of encouragement to self-examination in the faith.
2. It is critical that we here give a name and substance to what we often generalize as promises without naming them. Rest is the promise!!
3. What is added here that is critical is that a process is described – entering
1) We have entered by virtue of regeneration, repentance and faith;
2) We are entering by applied faith and a continuous believing;
3) We shall enter at last into the unhindered presence of the Lord.
4. And, to be without these is a true reason to fear and so we look to be at rest as a matter of evidence and as that which is honoring to God and exalts Christ our Lord!

II. The Gospel preached (v. 2)
1. It has been observed that the writer of Hebrews does not reference the Words of Christ from His earthly ministry nor does he cite or even mention the other Apostles.
2. He does connect in that the matter of this rest is described in the terms of the Gospel itself.
1) He claims what we believe that the hope of salvation has always been registered in the accomplishments of the Lord God and so it was displayed in the Old Testament.
2) Christ was there in type, shadow and substance and so He was preached unto them.
3) We have the same message but we have as well the incarnated Christ as the ultimate witness.
3. There is no profit in merely hearing the Gospel or even in acknowledging that it is true. Thus, there must be a hearing accompanied by believing: 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:16-17

III. The believing entrance (v. 3a)
1. There is an emphasis given here by using extra words (periphrasis). It is not just that believers enter, but that they “do enter” as if to call attention to this specific action.
2. He would actually define that rest in the verse 4 by referring to the original creation.
1) It is come fully to grips with the fact that all that is required in salvation has been accomplished in Christ and we are in effect in the Sabbath!
2) To go beyond in the sense of the legalist and other human endeavors is to add to what Christ has done.
3) To fail to appropriate this wonder of wonders is to presume and that is fatal!
4) To rest in Christ is to cease from trying to get ourselves saved and fully submit to and receive all that He has done as ours – we enter and are entering His rest.
3. Such awareness engenders confidence as we face the turmoil and constant upheaval occurring in the world about us.
4. This rest does not encourage idleness any more that God became idle after the creation.
1) It is rather that we may follow after righteousness and holiness knowing that it is there and provided in Christ – the manna was there but they picked it up!
2) The unbelief of the Israelites was a matter of unbelief and failure to enter.
5. Do we have reason to fear?

IV. An emphasis added (vv. 3b-5)
1. The sufficiency of Christ is to be believed and rested upon as finished!
2. The example of God Himself is given to us
3. There is no other rest to be given and unbelief brings down the rejection of God.
1) Men may refuse but the ultimate refusal is God’s
2) Let us therefore fear accordingly!


“That sinner, who in the light of truth,
has seen the glory of Christ’s precious person,
the perfect obedience of his holy life,
and his everlastingly finished salvation,
by his agonizing death on the cross;
his mouth is stopped:
he has done talking arrogantly of
fulfilling terms, and performing conditions of salvation.
Of such haughty pride, and Christ dishonoring
language, he will say, get ye to hell, whence ye sprung!
For, the darkness is past, the true light now shineth. 1 John 2:8.”

William Mason (1719-1791)