“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. 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” ( Hebrews 4:1-2 )
Did you know that faith is the only way to enter into the rest that God offers. This rest is still available today but it remains that some will enter and some will not. The deciding factor is faith. When we choose to believe and solely trust in Jesus then we enter into the rest that God promised His people.
Once again we look back on the Israelites as our example. The writer of Hebrews reveals an amazing truth about them, they also had the gospel preached to them, just as we have but if was of no effect because they did not combine the message with faith. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that it is the power of God. Paul spoke of this very thing in Romans, he said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” ( Romans 1:16 ). When the gospel is presented the words go into our hearts and release power, the correct response is one of faith. Faith looking toward Jesus for His grace and mercy. Grace plus faith equals salvation ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ). Salvation through Jesus equals entering into the Sabbath rest of God, because Jesus is that rest. This is why the gospel is so powerful.
The Israelites heard the good news message but did not combine it with faith. This caused them to wander the wilderness distrusting and provoking the Lord continually. The message they heard was their deliverance from the bondage in Egypt. God brought them out and wanted to take them into immediate possession of the land He promised Abraham but their disdain for Him blocked any attempts to do this. The root was a heart issue. They did not lean on God in absolute trust and confidence of His power. They had no understanding of His character, nature and goodness toward them. They did not respond in faith and the result was being shut out of the Promised Land because of their unbelief and unwillingness to enter in ( Hebrews 3:19 ).
This lesson from Israel’s past is a foreshadow to our deliverance from the bondage of sin. Jesus has brought us out from under its rule and dominion by His victory on the cross. Sin was defeated once for all. When we hear this good news message the correct response to have is one of faith. Looking to Jesus and putting our entire trust and confidence in His saving grace. This brings us into the rest that Hebrews 4 is talking about. It goes on to say later in the chapter, “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” ( Hebrews 4:9-10 ). What we rest from is trying to work out our own salvation because Jesus provided this for us. He is the true Sabbath Rest and remaining in Him brings us rest on all sides.
The promise of entering into this rest is still freely offered today. All that is required is faith because Jesus’ part has been completed. We simply respond to the good news message of Jesus. We trust solely in Him and rest in absolute confidence that He will preserve us until the end. When we stop striving in this life is when we truly start to live!