Hebrews 4 Sermon Notes

By July 10, 2022Sermon Notes

It feels like we’re living in an age of perpetual crisis: the environmental crisis, health care crisis, energy crisis, drug crisis, debt crisis, education crisis, and the marriage crisis. There is even a loneliness crisis.

The problem with everything being a crisis,
is pretty soon nothing is a crisis.

For most of us, crises like these are the big picture type,
they’re way above our pay grade.

But we all have had those micro-level crises, those difficulties that have a direct impact on our lives, the ones that may have shaken the foundation of our core.

I know the difficulties some of you are going through right now. I know how hard it has been for you personally. And then there are those here whom I have no idea of the hard stuff you’re currently dealing with.

But there is one thing we all have in common:
In this life, we will face many difficulties.

Peter makes this point clear when he says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you…
as though something strange were happening to you.”

Yet many times this is exactly what we do, we become perplexed and confused when difficulties arise. We begin to question what we believe to be true.

When you boil it all down, our response to difficulties
comes down to a worldview.

We all have one. It’s the sum total of our beliefs about the world and what we believe to be true.

Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian,
deals with at least these three questions:

1) Where did we come from and why are we here?
2) What is wrong with the world?
3) How can we fix it

A Christian worldview answers the three questions in this way:

  • We we’re created by God, designed to govern the world
    and fellowship with Him.
  • The worlds problem, is sin. We sinned against God
    and subjected the whole world to a curse.
  • God has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, and will one day restore creation to its former perfect state.

Sense a worldview deals with reality—with what’s true.
it’s vitally important that we get this right.

Today were in Hebrews chapter 4

The writer of Hebrews may not use the phrase worldview,

but he understood the impact of getting this wrong!

Remember He’s Writing to a small group of believers in Rome.
Their world was falling apart. This group of Jewish believers were suffering, they were being ridiculed and persecuted, their property was being confiscated. Their moorings were coming loose, and they were drifting away from Christ. They were scared stiff! And who wouldn’t be?

The tiny group of believers were asking some hard questions:
Doesn’t God know what was going on? Why is this happening to us?

Does he care? Maybe it would be better if we went back to what we know—just go with the flow. (Hughes)

The letter of Hebrews is written to both admonish and encourage believers to not give up and to decide TODAY to wholeheartedly rest in Christ.

The main idea in Hebrews and our chapter for today, is that Jesus is Better! So, don’t quit—persevere—don’t fall short of our confession, hold fast to it by faith, listen to God, and rest in Jesus, our great high priest.

Chapter 4 is a continuation of the warning against unbelief that began in chapter 3. The writer uses psalm 95 to make his point of Jesus being better!

So far, we’ve seen He’s superior in every way—He’s the final Word of God—The glorious King, our Apostle and Great High Priest,
He’s better than the angels, better than Moses, and as will see, he’s better than Joshua!

The writer has been urging the readers to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and don’t harden their hearts towards God.

In our text today, he finishes the argument by unpacking the idea of God’s promised rest.

A rest we enter by faith, with urgency, and with the word of God as we hold fast to our great high priest, Jesus.

My hope is that after today message we’d understand that this gospel truth spoken so long ago is just as urgent/relevant today as it was
2000 years ago when it was written.

1Therefore, since the promise to enter his rest remains, let us beware that none of you be found to have fallen short. For we also have received the good news just as they did. But the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith. (CSB)

The only way to enter God’s rest is by faith.

We’ll talk about Faith in a moment, but let’s first define rest. What is it?

Here’s what it’s not. It’s not this idea of kicking your feet up, chilling, doing nothing, like you’re on vacation. The contemporary idea of rest
falls way short.

Rest in Scripture refers to God’s blessings of safety, security, and salvation. Rest is a place of God’s design.

We enter his rest when we live in line with God’s will for our lives.

Christians understand that there is no rest for the soul apart from Christ. In fact, our hearts are restless till they find rest in Christ!

Those of us who have given our lives to Jesus can remember when we first came to Christ… for me it was as though a weight had been
lifted off me, I was free!

But it didn’t take long for the storms of life to break over me.

I became perplexed—I had thoughts like, “Why all this turmoil in my life, I’m doing all the right kinds of things, what’s going on?”

Why did God let my son, a ten-month-old baby, get burned over 70% of his body?

I had thoughts like, “wait a minute, I gave my life to Christ.
Did I do something wrong? Was I being punished? Did God really care?

It didn’t seem fair to me.

Have you ever been there? Events like these can shake us to our core.
My worldview was being challenged.

Sometimes as believers, we forget that we live in the already/not yet reality of the Gospel.

God’s kingdom and the reign of Christ are already inaugurated in some sense, yet we are still waiting for the kingdom’s consummation.
As a young believer, I didn’t understand this truth.

Thinking back on that time, I was faced with a choice, was I going to trust Christ or trust in something else? I chose to stand in Christ!
Yes, I had unanswered questions. I was like that man Rodney spoke about who said, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-25)

In our passage the writer warns these shaken believers (Just like I was) not to fall short of God’s rest!

So how were they to do this? The same way we do today,
you enter God’s rest through faith!

Faith is not simply just hearing the gospel;
it’s “the attitude of trusting God wholeheartedly.” 

Obviously, Israel didn’t do this.
They heard God’s promises and warnings,
but they lacked an important ingredient—Trust!

“Wholeheartedly” is belief plus trust. This kind of faith pleases God.

Faith—wholehearted devotion to God—was the good news preached in the days of Moses, Joshua, and King David, and it’s the same good news preached in the New Testament—it’s always been about faith.

We enter God’s rest when we wholeheartedly believe and trust him by faith.

And we’re to enter his rest with Urgency!

God’s rest—a sabbath rest—is available today for all who wholeheartedly believe in Jesus.

For we who have believed enter the rest, in keeping with what he has said, So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest,” even though his works have been finished since the foundation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh day God rested from all his works. Again, in that passage he says, They will never enter my rest. Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, he again specifies a certain day—today. He specified this speaking through David after such a long time: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. 10 For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. (CSB)

The writer is basing his argument on Psalm 95. He’s reminding this small group of believers that the wilderness generation failed to enter God’s rest because they didn’t trust in God’s promises. 

It can be a bit confusing when reading these verses because twice he says, “They will not enter my rest.” The operative words are “My rest.”

He’s not saying this to imply that his readers will not enter God’s rest,
but rather to show that God calls the “rest” being offered “my rest,”
the rest he himself enjoys!

It means that when we are given God’s rest,
it is not simply a relaxation of tensions, but a rest that is qualitatively
the same rest God enjoys—his personal rest that he shares with us!

Think about that… since the 7th day of creation, when God rested, the opportunity to join in God’s rest has been available. (Hughes)

In verses 6-7, the writer leans into Psalm 95. Every Jew would have known this Psalm by heart because its opening line served as a call to worship every Sabbath with these words:
“Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Year after year, week after week, it was a call to carefully listen to the voice of God. (Hughes)

The Psalm counters some ideas about Joshua entering God’s rest. Some may have thought, “didn’t Joshua enter the promised land?” But the writer would say, “Joshua may have led the people into Canaan,
but what he didn’t do, was lead them into God’s rest.”

Even in Canaan, the people continued to rebel against God. (Mohler)
Rest as God had intended them to have, meant resting in Him,
not just in a geographical location.

In Psalm 95 David makes it clear that a Sabbath rest still remains.

Look at the word “Today.” It has a sense of urgency to it…
it’s the present, it’s right here, right now… it’s today!

Every day is a day of decision.
“Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart.”

God has not left us alone—God is always calling out to us—right now,
in this moment he is calling.

He wants us to trust him wholeheartedly and enter his rest. His rest isn’t found in a place; it’s in a person—Jesus Christ—he’s our rest.
We find rest in him alone and nothing else.

We can’t presume on another day; we’re not guaranteed anything.
All we’re given is today. God is not obligated to us. We’re either walking with Christ, or we’re walking away from him. Rest depends on hearing and heeding the voice of God.

We enter God’s rest Through faith, with urgency, and the Word of God.

11 Let us, then, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

These verses are sobering, and they’re meant to be. Too much was at stake. These believers were emotionally flooded with all that was happening. I can’t help but think of the writer’s tone this way:

He’s like a coach of a high-performing team who has suddenly found themselves on the losing end of the game at halftime. The Coach only has 12 minutes to rally his team. He chooses clarity over hurt feelings.

“Fellas, listen to me. You’re about to lose the game! Wake up, get your heads back into the game. You’ve got this.
Play like you’ve trained to play.”

The writer is doing the same thing; he’s been telling this small,
struggling group of believers to, “look at me, listen to me, pay attention! Your drifting…don’t drift! See to it, go back to the basics, to the fundamentals… make every effort to enter God’s rest”

We must make every effort to possess and experience what God has already promised and provided. In other words, we must work at resting.

This reminds me of Willard’s famous quote,
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.
Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.”

We’re not to take our salvation for granted;
but rather, every day we’re given,
we choose to draw closer to Christ.

How do we do this? Well one big way is through corporate worship.

Each Sunday we come together praying, singing, worshiping together, and hearing God’s Word expounded. The Holy Spirit is present, he’s speaking to us in the scriptures, illuminating our minds with his piercing voice so that we can understand and apply his word rightly to our lives.

The Word of God is living and effective—it’s how God communicates his ideas to us. It’s sharp like a scalpel, it’s able to penetrate deeply and reveals who we are and what we’re not. It discerns both the good and evil within us. We’re to listen to it, and let it transform our lives.

Nothing is hidden from God—everything everywhere is wide open…
He sees all we do and knows all we think. Even when we are unaware of his presence, he is with us. When we try to hide from him, he sees us. We can’t keep any secrets from him.

We can take comfort in the fact that although God knows us intimately, he still loves us—and he offers us his rest. And that rest is found in our Great High Priest! (Mohler)

Our Great High Priest—14-16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. (CSB)

Our great High Priest is nonother than Jesus!
This is the first time the writer refers to Jesus by name.
Jesusthe Son of God—Who has gone through the heavens and is seated at the right hand of God, makes it possible for us to
hold fast to our confession.

Our confession is a historical confession that’s based on faith—it’s grounded in the incarnation that took place in space, time, and history. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact.

Jesus—our great high priest—knows that we are weak. He knows how great our temptations are, because He Himself “has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.”  

Jesus knew depths and pains we can never know precisely because he did not sin! No human was ever tempted like Jesus was! (Hughes)

The final verse challenges us to approach the throne of grace with confidence and boldness and come into the presence of God Himself.

This is where we find grace and mercy to help us in our times of need. Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf.

Therefore, when difficulties come—and they surely will—we don’t run and hide from God; but rather, we run towards Jesus, and He’ll help us in our time of need. This is true… this is reality. (Hale)

Closing

With that, we’ve come to the end of the argument. You can boil it down to this: I know you’re struggling with difficulties right now,
but don’t give up on God. Trust him wholeheartedly with everything

There’s only one voice that counts, and that’s the voice of God—and so, don’t quit, Jesus is better than anything else you can think or imagine.

Make every effort to lean into Christ and enter God’s rest by faith,

as we hold fast to our great high priest, Jesus.

Application—

In closing, let me give you a few points of application.

You can start by examining yourself—are you failing to follow God’s promises. Are you holding fast to our confession?

What is it that’s standing in the way? You need to settle this question.

Maybe you’ve never placed your faith in Christ. If that’s you, you can do that today! Rest assured, the Holy Spirit is present, and he’s speaking and inviting you to come and rest in Jesus. Will you do that?

Maybe you’re a believer and you’ve realized your drifting further away from God. Those cultural voices have placed doubt and fear in your heart. Perhaps they seem to be making more sense to you right now.

But are they true? Will they answer the three main worldview questions—why am I here? What’s wrong with the world? And how do we fix it? Only one answer can be true. Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the life. Will you trust him?

Some here may feel like they’ve just messed up again and are filled with shame and regret. You want to execute some kind of self-imposed penitence on yourself. To you, I’d say, stop it! Don’t do that.

You’ll never be able to work hard enough to earn God’s favor. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Listen, God already knows everything there is to know about you.
You can’t hide from him. So, stop. If you’ve messed up, fess up.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

You don’t have to be timid about coming to God. Remember, Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because he was tempted in every way we were, but without sin. He now sits at the right hand of God mediating on your behalf. I challenge you to share your weakness, fears, confusion, and concerns with Jesus and ask him to lead you to understand his power.

This is true, it’s a fact, it’s reality—it’s like the air we breathe!

Will you rest in Him? That’s the choice.
Take a moment and talk with God.

Leave a Reply