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Hebrews Chapter Four


Hebrews 4

The apostle goes on to apply this part of Israel's history to those whom he was addressing, laying stress on two points: 1st, That Israel had failed of entering into rest, through unbelief; 2nd, That the rest was yet to come, and that believers (those who were not seeking rest here, but who accepted the wilderness for the time being) should enter into it.

He begins by saying, "Let us fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any should seem to come short of it," not attain to it. For we have been the objects of the proclamation of glad tidings, as they were in times past. But the word addressed to them remained fruitless, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it: for we which have believed do enter into rest. The rest itself is yet to come, and it is believers who enter into it. For a rest of God there is, and there are some who enter into it: inasmuch as it is written, "They," that is, those (pointing out a certain class who are to be excluded) "shall not enter into my rest."

God had wrought in creation, and then rested from His works when He had finished them. Thus, from the foundation of the world, He has shewn that He had a rest, as in the passage already quoted, "If they shall enter into my rest;" but this, shewing that the entering in was yet in question, shewed that into God's rest in the first creation man had not entered. Two things then are evident-some were to enter in, and the Israel to whom it was first proposed did not enter in because of their unbelief. Therefore He again fixes a day, saying, in David, long after the entrance into Canaan, "Today-as it is written-today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Here a natural objection occurs to which the passage gives a complete answer, without speaking of the objection itself. The Israelites had indeed fallen in the wilderness, but Joshua had brought the people into Canaan which the unbelievers never reached; the Jews were there, so that they did enter into the rest as to which the others failed. The answer is evident. It was long after this that God said by David, I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest." If Joshua had given rest to Israel, David could not afterwards have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. It is yet to come; but it is assured by the word of God-a truth, the bearing of which is immediately seen with regard to the connection of the believing Jews with the nation, in the midst of which they were tempted to seek a rest that, for the moment, faith did not afford them, and being enfeebled saw but dimly before it. To have God's rest was still to be waited for. Faith alone acknowledged this, and sought for none in the wilderness, trusting to the promise. God still said "Today."

The state of the people was worse than the rest that Joshua gave them; which, as their own Psalms prove, was no rest at all.

As to the order of the verses, the exhortation in verse 11 depends on the whole course of what precedes, the argument having been completed by the testimony of David coming after Joshua. After the creation God indeed rested; but He said after that, "If they shall enter into my rest," so that men had not entered into that rest. Joshua entered into the land; but the word by David, coming long after, proves that the rest of God was not yet attained. Nevertheless this same testimony, which forbade the entrance into rest because of unbelief, shewed that some are to enter in: otherwise there was no need of declaring the exclusion of others for an especial cause, nor warning men that they might escape what hindered their entering in. No parenthesis is needed.

Now, as long as any one had not ceased from his works, he had not entered into rest; he who has entered into it has ceased from work, even as God ceased from His own works when He entered into His rest. "Let us therefore use all diligence" is the exhortation of the faithful witness of God, "that we may enter into that rest"-the rest of God-in order that we may not fall after the same example of unbelief.

We should especially observe here, that it is the rest of God which is spoken of. This enables us to understand the happiness and perfection of the rest. God must rest in that which satisfies His heart. This was the case even in creation-all was very good. And now it must be in a perfect blessing that perfect love can be satisfied with, with regard to us, who will possess a heavenly portion in the blessing which we shall have in His own presence, in perfect holiness and perfect light. Accordingly all the toilsome work of faith, the exercise of faith in the wilderness, the warfare (although there are many joys), the good works practiced there, labour of every kind will cease. It is not only that we shall be delivered from the power of indwelling sin; all the efforts and all the troubles of the new man will cease. We are already set free from the law of sin; then our spiritual exercise for God will cease. We have already rested from our works with regard to justification,and therefore in that sense we have now rest in our consciences, but that is not the subject here-it is the Christian's rest from all his works. God rested from His works-assuredly good ones-and so shall we also then with Him.

We are now in the wilderness; we also wrestle with wicked spirits in heavenly places. A blessed rest remains for us, in which our hearts will repose in the presence of God, where nothing will trouble the perfection of our rest, where God will rest in the perfection of the blessing He has bestowed on His people.

The great thought of the passage is, that there remains a rest (that is to say, that the believer is not to expect it here) without saying where it is. And it does not speak in detail of the character of the rest, because it leaves the door open to an earthly rest for the earthly people on the ground of the promises, although to Christian partakers of the heavenly calling God's rest is evidently a heavenly one.

The apostle then sets before us the instrument which God employs to judge the unbelief and all the workings of the heart which tend, as we have seen, to lead the believer into departure from the position of faith, and to hide God from him by inducing him to satisfy his flesh and to seek for rest in the wilderness.

To the believer who is upright in heart this judgment is of great value, as that which enables him to discern all that has a tendency to hinder his progress or make him slacken his steps. It is the word of God, which-being the revelation of God, the expression of what He is, and of all that surrounds Him, and of what His will is in all the circumstances that surround us-judges everything in the heart which is not of Him. It is more penetrating than a two-edged sword. Living and energetic, it separates all that is most intimately linked together in our hearts and minds. Whenever nature-the "soul" and its feelings-mingles with that which is spiritual, it brings the edge of the sword of the living truth of God between the two, and judges the hidden movements of the heart respecting them. It discerns all the thoughts and intentions of the heart. But it has another character, coming from God (being, as it were, His eye upon the conscience), it brings us into His presence; and all that it forces us to discover, it sets in our conscience before the eye of God Himself. Nothing is hidden, all is naked and manifested to the eye of Him with whom we have to do. [1] Such is the true help, the mighty instrument of God to judge everything in us that would hinder us from pursuing our course through the wilderness with joy, and with a buoyant heart strengthened by faith and confidence in Him. Precious instrument of a faithful God, solemn and serious in its operation; but of priceless and infinite blessing in its effects, in its consequences.

It is an instrument which, in its operations, does not allow "the desires of the flesh and of the mind" liberty to act; which does not permit the heart to deceive itself; but which procures us strength, and places us without any consciousness of evil in the presence of God, to pursue our course with joy and spiritual energy. Here the exhortation, founded on the power of the word concludes.

But there is another succour, one of a different character, to aid us in our passage through the wilderness; and that is priesthood-a subject which the epistle here begins and carries on through several chapters.

We have a High Priest who has passed through the heavens-as Aaron through the successive parts of the tabernacle-Jesus, the Son of David.

He has, in all things, been tempted like ourselves, sin apart; so that He can sympathize with our infirmities. The word brings to light the intents of the heart, judges the will, and all that has not God for its object and its source. Then, as far as weakness is concerned, we have His sympathy. Christ of course had no evil desires: he was tempted in every way, apart from sin. Sin had no part in it at all. But I do not wish for sympathy with the sin that is in me; I detest it, I wish it to be mortified-judged unsparingly. This the word does. For my weakness and my difficulties I seek sympathy; and I find it in the priesthood of Jesus. It is not necessary, in order to sympathize with me, that a person should feel at the same moment that which I am feeling-rather the contrary. If I am suffering pain, I am not in a condition to think as much of another's pain. But in order to sympathize with him I must have a nature capable of appreciating his pain.

Thus it is with Jesus, when exercising His priesthood. He is in every sense beyond the reach of pain and trial, but He is man; and not only has He the human nature which in time suffered grief, but He experienced the trials a saint has to go through more fully than any of ourselves; and His heart, free and full of love, can entirely sympathize with us, according to His experience of ill, and according to the glorious liberty which He now has, to provide and care for it. This encourages us to hold fast our profession in spite of the difficulties that beset our path; for Jesus concerns Himself about them, according to His own knowledge and experience of what they are, and according to the power of His grace.

Therefore, our High Priest being there, we can go with all boldness to the throne of grace, to find mercy and the grace suited to us in all times of need: mercy, because we are weak and wavering; needful grace, because we are engaged in a warfare which God owns.

Observe, it is not that we go to the High Priest. It is often done, and God may have compassion; but it is a proof that we do not fully understand grace. The Priest, the Lord Jesus, occupies Himself about us-sympathises with us, on the one hand; and on the other, we go directly to the throne of grace.

The Spirit does not here speak positively of falls; we find that in 1 John 2. There also it is in connection with communion with His Father, here with access to God. His purpose here is to strengthen us, to encourage us to persevere in the way, conscious of the sympathies which we possess in heaven, and that the throne is always open to us.


[1] The connection between the word addressed to man and God Himself is very remarkable here.

── John DarbySynopsis of Hebrews


Hebrews 4

Chapter Contents

Humble, cautious fear is urged, lest any should come short of the promised rest, through unbelief. (1-10) Arguments and motives to faith and hope in our approaches to God. (11-16)

Commentary on Hebrews 4:1-10

(Read Hebrews 4:1-10)

The privileges we have under the gospel, are greater than any had under the law of Moses, though the same gospel for substance was preached under both Testaments. There have been in all ages many unprofitable hearers; and unbelief is at the root of all unfruitfulness under the word. Faith in the hearer is the life of the word. But it is a painful consequence of partial neglect, and of a loose and wavering profession, that they often cause men to seem to come short. Let us then give diligence, that we may have a clear entrance into the kingdom of God. As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so he will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. It is evident, that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day, or that into which Joshua led the Jews. This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires. The rest, or sabbatism, which is the subject of the apostle's reasoning, and as to which he concludes that it remains to be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven. But those who do not believe, shall never enter into this spiritual rest, either of grace here or glory hereafter. God has always declared man's rest to be in him, and his love to be the only real happiness of the soul; and faith in his promises, through his Son, to be the only way of entering that rest.

Commentary on Hebrews 4:11-16

(Read Hebrews 4:11-16)

Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Hebrews


Hebrews 4

Verse 2

[2] For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

But the word which they heard did not profit them - So far from it, that it increased their damnation. It is then only when it is mixed with faith, that it exerts its saving power.

Verse 3

[3] For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For we only that have believed enter into the rest - The proposition is, There remains a rest for us. This is proved, Hebrews 4:3-11, thus: That psalm mentions a rest: yet it does not mean, 1. God's rest from creating; for this was long before the time of Moses. Therefore in his time another rest was expected, of which they who then heard fell short Nor is it, 2. The rest which Israel obtained through Joshua; for the Psalmist wrote after him. Therefore it is, 3. The eternal rest in heaven.

As he said — Clearly showing that there is a farther rest than that which followed the finishing of the creation.

Though the works were finished — Before: whence it is plain, God did not speak of resting from them.

Verse 4

[4] For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

For, long after he had rested from his works, he speaks again. Genesis 2:2.

Verse 5

[5] And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

In this psalm, of a rest yet to come.

Verse 7

[7] Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

After so long a time — It was above four hundred years from the time of Moses and Joshua to David.

As it was said before — St. Paul here refers to the text he had just cited.

Verse 8

[8] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

The rest — All the rest which God had promised.

Verse 9

[9] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Therefore — Since he still speaks of another day, there must remain a farther, even an eternal, rest for the people of God.

Verse 10

[10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

For they do not yet so rest. Therefore a fuller rest remains for them.

Verse 11

[11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Lest any one should fall — Into perdition.

Verse 12

[12] 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.

For the word of God — Preached, Hebrews 4:2, and armed with threatenings, Hebrews 4:3.

Is living and powerful — Attended with the power of the living God, and conveying either life or death to the hearers.

Sharper than any two-edged sword — Penetrating the heart more than this does the body.

Piercing — Quite through, and laying open.

The soul and spirit, joints and marrow — The inmost recesses of the mind, which the apostle beautifully and strongly expresses by this heap of figurative words.

And is a discerner — Not only of the thoughts, but also of the intentions.

Verse 13

[13] Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

In his sight — It is God whose word is thus "powerful:" it is God in whose sight every creature is manifest; and of this his word, working on the conscience, gives the fullest conviction.

But all things are naked and opened — Plainly alluding to the sacrifices under the law which were first flayed, and then (as the Greek word literally means) cleft asunder through the neck and backbone; so that everything both without and within was exposed to open view.

Verse 14

[14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Having therefore a great high priest — Great indeed, being the eternal Son of God, that is passed through the heavens - As the Jewish high priest passed through the veil into the holy of holies, carrying with him the blood of the sacrifices, on the yearly day of atonement; so our great high priest went once for all through the visible heavens, with the virtue of his own blood, into the immediate presence God.

Verse 15

[15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

He sympathizes with us even in our innocent infirmities, wants, weaknesses, miseries, dangers.

Yet without sin — And, therefore, is indisputably able to preserve us from it in all our temptations.

Verse 16

[16] Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Let us therefore come boldly — Without any doubt or fear. Unto the throne of God, our reconciled Father, even his throne of grace - Grace erected it, and reigns there, and dispenses all blessings in a way of mere, unmerited favour.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Hebrews


Chapter 4. Superior to Joshua

With Confidence
Approach the Throne of Grace

I. Rest for Believers

  1. We Who Have Believed
  2. About the Seventh Day
  3. Rest in the Lord

II. The Word of God Is Active

  1. Living and Active
  2. Penetrate
  3. Judge

III. The High Priest Sympathize

  1. Tempted in Every Way
  2. Our Weaknesses
  3. Help in Time of Need

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

The Rest That Remains (4:1-11)
1. In chapter three of "The Epistle To The Hebrews", we saw...
   a. A comparison of Christ to Moses
   b. How the comparison led to a warning based upon the example of 
      Israel in the wilderness
2. Appealing to the example of Israel's fall in the wilderness is a 
   natural one...
   a. For despite Moses' leadership, most died in the wilderness and 
      did not enter the promised land for lack of faith
   b. Now under Christ's leadership, we face a similar danger of 
      falling short of our "promise" through a lack of faith - He 3:
      14-15; 4:1
3. Chapter four continues the warning with a focus on the promised 
   "rest" which awaits the faithful Christian...
   a. This promised "rest" is actually one of several "rests" found in
      the Scriptures
   b. It is a "rest" that Moses and Joshua did not provide, which is 
      just another reason why the Hebrew Christian should not forsake
      Jesus and return to Judaism
   c. It is "The Rest That Remains" for the people of God today!
4. In this lesson, we shall address two questions...
   a. What is "The Rest That Remains"?
   b. What essential elements are necessary to enter "The Rest That 
[Let's begin, then, with the first question...]
      1. This "rest" is alluded to in Deu 3:20; 12:9-10; Josh 1:13-15
      2. This "rest" was given as God promised - Josh 21:43-45
      3. But in chapter four "His rest" (or "My rest", "God's rest") is
         clearly delineated from that which Joshua provided - He 4:8
         a. Long after Joshua died, the passage in Ps 95:7-8 was
         b. The word "Today...", indicates that the Spirit was warning
            the Israelites who had long before received the "Canaan" 
      -- So Joshua provided the "Canaan" rest, but there is still "The 
         Rest That Remains"!
      1. It is natural to think of the Sabbath day when one hears or 
         reads the word "rest"
         a. When first introduced to the nation of Israel, it was 
            spoken of as "the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD"
            - Exo 16:23
         b. This was the seventh day rest, patterned after God's own 
            rest following the creation - Gen 2:2
         c. It was encoded into the Law given on tablets of stone - cf.
            Exo 20:8-11
      2. But the Sabbath as a day of rest was given only to the nation
         of Israel
         a. It was not given to the nation's fathers (i.e., ancestors 
            such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) - Deu 5:2-22; Neh 9:13-14
         b. It was given to Israel as a weekly remembrance of their 
            deliverance from Egypt - Deu 5:12-15
         c. The only Gentiles ever commanded to keep the Sabbath were 
            those living among the Israelites in Canaan ("your stranger
            who is within your gates")
      3. The Sabbath day, like the rest of the Old Law, has been done
         a. It was nailed to the cross - cf. Ep 2:14-15; Co 2:14
         b. Those in Christ have died to the Old Law, having been 
            delivered from it that they may now serve Christ - Ro 7:4,6
         c. As part of "the ministry of death" (the Old Testament), it
            has been replaced by "the ministry of the Spirit" (the New
            Testament) - 2 Co 3:5-8,11
         d. It is now a matter of indifference to God, left to one's 
            individual conscience, and not to be bound on anyone - cf. 
            Ro 14:4-6; Co 2:16-17
      4. Finally, the argument regarding Joshua can also be made 
         regarding Moses...
         a. Long after Moses provided the "Sabbath" rest, Ps 95:7-8 was
         b. Indicating that there was still another "rest" to come
      -- While Moses provided the "Sabbath" rest, there is still "The 
         Rest That Remains"!
   C. IT IS "GOD'S REST"...
      1. Through this section of Scripture there are repeated 
         references to:
         a. "My rest" - He 3:11; 4:3,5 cf. Ps 95:7-11
         b. "His rest" - He 3:18; 4:1
            1) Which those who fell in the wilderness did not enter 
               - He 3:18
            2) Which Christians today have a promise of entering - He 
      2. It is a rest that God entered upon the completion of His 
         creation - He 4:4,10
      3. It is a rest that Joshua (and Moses) did not provide...
      4. God's rest is one in which...
         a. We must be diligent not to come short of it - He 4:1,11
         b. One who has "entered His rest" has "ceased from his works"
            - He 4:10
      -- "God's rest" is the "heavenly rest" of which of which we read
         in the book of Revelation...
         "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 
         'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'
         ""Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their
         labors, and their works follow them."" (Re 14:13)
["The Rest That Remains" in this passage is therefore "God's Rest", 
and in particular that "heavenly rest" one enters in which they cease
from the labors.
Now if we wish to one day enter this "rest", some things are 
      1. Note that both the Israelites and we today have had "the
         gospel" preached unto us - He 4:2
         a. The "gospel" (i.e., good news) proclaimed unto the 
            Israelites pertained to the promises of Canaan
         b. The "gospel" proclaimed unto us pertains to the blessings
            we have in Christ
      2. The Word of God is essential for at least two reasons:
         a. Without it we would not even know about our promised rest!
         b. Without it we would not know how to receive our promised
      3. Thus the Word of God (i.e., the gospel) is truly God's power 
         to save - cf. Ro 1:16-17
         a. For it tells us of God's salvation in Christ
         b. And how we might receive that wonderful salvation
      -- But as we proceed, we learn that the Word of God alone is not
      1. The Word of God did not profit many in Israel because they did
         not receive it with faith - He 4:2
      2. As powerful as the Word of God may be (cf. He 4:12), it's 
         power in our lives is hindered unless we accept it with faith!
         a. Of course, the Word is designed to create and nurture faith
            to a point - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
         b. But unless our hearts are good and noble, the Word will not
            find the proper soil needed to produce its intended fruit 
            - cf. Lk 8:15
      -- Without faith, then, the promise of God's rest will not be 
         experienced by us!
      1. The Hebrew writer stressed both of these essential elements
         a. "let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short..." 
            - He 4:1
         b. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest 
            anyone fall..." - He 4:11
      2. Fear (awesome reverence) has an important place in the life of
         the Christian
         a. Jesus taught us Whom to fear - Mt 10:28
         b. Paul taught that "fear and trembling" should accompany our
            efforts to serve God - Ph 2:12
      3. Diligence (strenuous effort) likewise is important - 2 Pe 1:
         a. We must be diligent to grow in Christ-like character
         b. We must be diligent to "make your calling and election 
      -- The need for such fear and diligence is understandable only if
         the possibility of falling short is very real!
1. "The Rest That Remains" is indeed a wonderful blessing...
   a. It is "God's rest", therefore a "heavenly rest"
   b. It is a rest in which one has "ceased from his work as God did 
      from His" - He 4:10
   -- It is the rest of which John heard a voice from heaven speak in 
      Re 14:13
2. But we have seen how disobedience led many Israelites to fall short
   of their "Canaan rest"...
   a. Though they collectively as the nation of Israel were God's 
      "elect", predestined to receive the promises made to Abraham (cf.
      Gen 12:1-3)
   b. But individually, they failed to make their "calling and election
      1) They had the "gospel" spoken to them
      2) But they did not receive it with faith
      3) And so they did not have the fear and diligence necessary to 
3. Brethren, what about us today?
   a. If we are "in Christ"...
      1) We are blessed to be God's "elect" in a collective sense as 
         Christ's body, the church
      2) We are predestined as such to receive the wonderful blessings
         of salvation in Christ, including the "heavenly rest" that 
         awaits us
   b. Yet individually we must still make our "calling and election 
      1) Are we receiving the Word mixed with faith?
      2) Do we have that proper sense of fear?
      3) Are we diligent in our efforts to remain faithful and 
   -- Only then can we have the assurance of entering into "The Rest 
      That Remains"!
May the words of the writer to the Hebrews sink deep into our hearts...
   "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall
   according to the same example of disobedience." - Hebrews 4:11


God's Powerful Word (4:12-13)
1. In He 4:11, we find a succinct summary of all that has been said
   in He 3:7-4:10...
   a. We need to be diligent to enter "the rest that remains", our 
      heavenly rest
   b. Or we may fall short of our rest, just as many Israelites fell 
      short of their Canaan rest...
   "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone
   fall according to the same example of disobedience." - He 4:11
2. To stress the need for diligence, we are reminded regarding the Word
   of God - He 4:12-13
   a. That Word which provided the example of the Israelites' 
   b. That Word which is now warning them not to emulate the 
      Israelites' example
3. In this passage, the Word of God is described in amazing terms...
   a. It is "living"
   b. It is "powerful"
   c. It is "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the 
      division of soul and spirit"
   d. It is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"
4. At a time in which God's Word is so often neglected, even by some 
   Christians, it never hurts to contemplate the wonder of God's 
   a. And so we take this opportunity to reflect upon what is said in 
      this passage
   b. With a desire to renew and increase our appreciation of the power
      of God's Word!
[We begin by noticing...]
      1. Not only in this passage, but elsewhere we read of the abiding
         nature of God's Word
         a. Notice Peter's description of it - 1 Pe 1:23-25
            1) It "lives and abides forever"
            2) It "endures forever" - cf. Isa 40:8
         b. Jesus said "my words shall not pass away" - Mt 24:35
      2. The "life" of God's Word is due to the nature of God Himself!
         a. God is eternal, He is "the living God" - cf. He 3:12; Jer
         b. He cannot lie, so what He says will come to pass - He 6:18;
            Ti 1:2
         -- Thus His Word will never perish!
      3. As Jesus said, "...the words that I speak unto you, they are
         spirit, and they are life." - Jn 6:63
      1. It has the power to accomplish its intended purpose - Isa 55:
      2. The gospel in particular has the power to save - Ro 1:16-17;
         Ja 1:21
      3. Through God's word we can be born again - 1 Pe 1:22-23; Ja 1:
      4. It works effectively in those who believe - 1 Th 2:13; cf. He
      5. It can build us up, and give us the inheritance that is ours 
         - Ac 20:32
      6. It can make the man of God complete for all good works - 2 Ti
      -- How could anything with such power be a "dead letter"?
[With such a "living" and "powerful" word at our disposal, we would be
foolish to neglect the blessings it offers, or the warnings it gives!
It's power is seen further as we note how...]
      1. The Word of God is often likened to powerful objects
         a. Here it is described as a sword - cf. also Ep 6:17
         b. Elsewhere it is it described as fire, and a hammer - Jer 
      2. To illustrate its sharpness as a "sword", the Word of God is
         said to pierce...
         a. "...even to the division of soul and spirit"
         b. "...and of the joints and marrow"
         -- i.e., the divine word is able to cut through everything 
            that is in man (Lightfoot)
      1. With its sharpness, it is capable of sifting through and 
         revealing the heart of man
      2. It's effect on man reveals his true heart...
         a. In some cases, that one's heart is sincere and open to 
            change - e.g., Ac 2:36-37
         b. Other times, that one's heart has no desire to change 
            - e.g., Ac 5:33; 7:54
         -- One cannot hear or read the Word of God without being 
[As stated earlier, the "life" of God's Word is due to the nature of 
God Himself.  In a similar way, the "power" of God's word is due to the
nature of God...]
      1. The word "omniscient" means "all-knowing"
      2. David extolled the omniscience of God in Psa 139:1-12
      3. Solomon also wrote of God's omniscience - Pr 15:3
      -- That is why "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but
         all things are naked and open" to His eyes
      1. As David counseled his son Solomon - 1 Chr 28:9
      2. It is before this Omniscient Judge that we must one day give
         an account
         a. There is a judgment day coming, in which God will judge the
            world through His Son, Jesus Christ! - cf. Ac 17:30-31; Ro
            2:16; 2 Co 5:10
         b. We read of that Judgment Day in the last book of Bible 
            - cf. Re 20:11-15
      3. The standard by which we will be judged are the words spoken
         through His Son
         a. As stated by Jesus in Jn 12:48
         b. Which should give special force to the warning found in 
            He 2:1-3
            1) If the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and
               every transgression was justly punished...
            2) ...then how shall we escape judgment if we neglect the 
               words spoken through God's Son?
1. Yes, the power of God's Word is derived from God Himself...
   a. God is omniscient, able to see into the hearts of men; therefore
      His Word is able to cut to the hearts of men and reveal their 
      true nature
   b. God is living, eternal, who will one day judge the world; 
      therefore His Word that abides forever will be the standard by 
      which we will be judged
2. In view of the power of God Himself and His powerful Word...
   a. How dare we neglect the warnings given in it, such as those found
      in He 4:1,11?
   b. How dare we neglect to even read about the warnings (as many do
      by not reading the Bible)?
3. And remember, how we react to the Word of reveals our true 
   a. Some are so "dull of heart", that they react with indifference
      and say "so what?"
   b. Some are "cut to the heart", angrily resist the Word, and blame
      the messenger - Ac 7:54
   c. Some are "cut to the heart", and cry out "what shall I do?" 
      - Ac 2:37
What kind of heart do you have?  If your heart cries out "what shall I
do?" in response to the gospel message of salvation in Christ, then I
encourage you to heed what Peter said:
   "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be
   baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;
   and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Ac 2:38
If you have so responded to God's saving grace, then I encourage you to
heed the warnings found throughout the Scriptures, especially here in
the book of Hebrews, and in the words of our Lord Himself:
   "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
                                         - Rev 2:10


Coming Boldly To The Throne Of Grace (4:14-16)
1. In our study thus far we seen the concern of the author of "The Book
   Of Hebrews"...
   a. That Jewish Christians remain steadfast and firm in their faith
   b. That they not make the same mistake of departing from the living
      God, as did many of their ancestors
2. His "modus operandi" (method of operation) has been two-fold...
   a. Illustrate the superiority of Jesus (e.g., to prophets, to
      angels, to Moses)
   b. Exhort them to faithfulness in light of these comparisons
3. In two exhortations we have seen thus far, to remain faithful we 
   a. "...give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard" 
      - cf. He 2:1-4
   b. "...exhort one another daily..." - cf. He 3:12-14
4. To put it another way, to remain faithful we must be diligent...
   a. In our study of the Word of God
   b. In exhorting one another daily
   -- Other things are also necessary, and in our text we read of 
      another - cf. He 4:14-16
5. The main thought in this passage is that we should "come boldly to
   the throne of grace"
   a. But what does that mean?
   b. And why should we be diligent to do this?
[These are the questions we shall address in this lesson, and so we 
begin by considering...]
      1. This is simply another way to say the "throne of God"
         a. Other passages emphasize that "God's throne" is one of 
            righteousness, justice, mercy and truth - cf. Psa 89:14
         b. I.e., God is known for, and is the source of, these things
      2. He 4:16 emphasizes that "God's throne" is one of MERCY
         a. "the throne of GRACE"
         b. I.e., where kindness, mercy, and benevolence may be found
      1. This is a priestly expression, used in the OT of priests in 
         their approach to God 
         a. E.g., Lev 21:17-21
         b. It denotes approaching God for worship and prayer
      2. It's use here suggests that the priestly privilege of access 
         to God is now extended to all Christians!
         a. As we saw in Leviticus, only certain individuals had this 
         b. But now, in Christ  we can ALL "draw near" to God in 
            worship and prayer!
      1. This word means "with confidence" (Gr., parresia, meaning 
         "full story")
      2. In ancient Greece...
         a. It was used to describe the right of a citizen to speak his
            mind on any subject in the town assembly (Lightfoot)
         b. Only "full citizens" had this right, slaves did not
      3. As used here in Hebrews, it stands for our freedom to approach
         a. Without hesitation or inhibition
         b. Made possible by the blood of Jesus - cf. He 10:19-22
[And so this passage speaks of the wonderful privilege Christians have
through prayer to approach our gracious God, with full confidence that
He hears our prayers!
It is important to utilize this privilege, and in our text we find 
several REASONS for doing so...]
      1. As seen earlier in this chapter, there is still a promised 
         "rest" for the people of God
         a. We need to "fear" lest we come short of it - He 4:1
         b. We need to be "diligent" - He 4:11
      2. This being true, we need all the "mercy" and "grace" we can 
      1. In Jesus we have a "great" High Priest - He 4:14
         a. One who has "passed through the heavens" - cf. He 9:24;
         b. Having ascended to the right hand of God, He has become
            "higher than the heavens"!
      2. In Jesus we have a "sympathetic" High Priest - He 4:15
         a. The word "sympathy" literally means "to suffer with"
            1) The Greek word suggests an intensity that is lost in the
               English word "sympathy" (Lightfoot)
            2) Westcott describes it as "the feeling of one who enters
               into the suffering and makes it his own."
         b. Jesus' sympathy is due to being "tempted as we are, yet 
            without sin."
            1) This qualifies Him to be a "merciful and faithful" High
               Priest - He 2:17
            2) One who is "able to aid those who are tempted" - He 2:18
      3. With such a High Priest interceding for us, shall we not take
         advantage of Him while we can? - cf. He 7:24-25
         a. Especially since He is able "save to the uttermost those
            who come to God through Him"
         b. And since He "always lives to make to make intercession for
      -- Does this not encourage us to "come boldly to the throne of 
      1. Christians continue to need two things throughout their lives:
         a. "mercy"
            1) I.e., forgiveness for our sins
            2) For we do sin; to deny that is to call God a liar 
               - cf. 1 Jn 1:8,10
         b. "grace to help in time of need"
            1) I.e., God's favor to help us in time of need
            2) E.g., His providential protection (cf. 1 Co 10:13) and
               divine strength (cf. Ro 8:13; Ph 4:13)
      2. The Christian finds these things in answer to PRAYER!
         a. By confessing our sins to God in prayer, there is mercy 
            - cf. 1 Jn 1:9
         b. By praying for strength from God's indwelling Spirit, there
            is grace to help in time of need - cf. Ep 3:16,20; 6:10-13
1. Brethren, when we are diligent to "come boldly to the throne of 
   grace", what do we find?
   a. A "graceful God" and a "sympathetic High Priest"!
   b. Mercy, and grace to help us in time of need!
2. The means by which we "draw near" is prayer, and so, to...
   a. Diligent study of the Word of God - cf. He 2:1-4
   b. Diligent exhortation of our brethren on a daily basis - cf. He 3:
   -- We must add diligent prayer if we are to going to find the mercy
      and grace necessary to "hold the beginning of our confidence 
      steadfast to the end"
3. Brethren...
   a. Do we appreciate the "great" and "sympathetic" High Priest that
      we have in Jesus?
   b. Are we utilizing the opportunities we have to "come boldly to the
      throne of grace"?
   -- May this passage remind us never to take the privilege of prayer
As for the "privilege" of prayer itself, by which we can now "draw 
near" to God, bear in mind that it is made possible by "a new and 
living way" (He 10:19-20). Only by the blood of Jesus shed in His death
can we now come to God.
Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus for the remission of your 
sins?  For those seeking this wonderful blessing, give careful 
attention to these words by the disciple sent by Jesus to Saul of 
   "'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash 
   away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'" - Acts 22:16


--《Executable Outlines


Superior to Joshua

With confidence

Approach the throne of grace


I.  Rest for believers

1.    We who have believed

2.    About the seventh day

3.    Rest in the Lord

II.The word of God is active

1.    Living and active

2.    Penetrate

3.    Judge

III.       The High Priest sympathize

1.    Tempted in every way

2.    Our weaknesses

3.    Help in time of need

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament