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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Hebrews 4

 

 

Verses 1-13

Let Us

Hebrews 4:1-13

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Every book in the Bible is correlated with every other book. The Bible is a perfect whole. No book can be taken away without its unity and continuity being broken.

However, every book in the Bible has its own peculiar and particular message a message wherein stress is placed on some special call of God.

The Book of Hebrews is a Book of many great messages. It encompasses a wide range of truth. However, to us there stands out one great central plea. This plea runs throughout the whole Epistle. Whether Christ is set forth as superior to angels, to Prophets or to priests; whether the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness and their failure to enter the land of promise; whether Melchisedec is set forth, a king-priest, the pattern of the Lord Jesus as King Priest in the age to come; whether this, or whether that there is always that same tremendous plea sounded out by the Spirit of God.

The plea is God's call to faithfulness to the faith; God's urge to hold firm and without wavering to the Hope, lest we fail of the good things which Christ has set before us in His millennial Kingdom.

With this in view, we have chosen for our theme today, two short meaningful words: "Let us."

"Let us therefore fear."

"Let us labour."

"Let us come for help."

"Let us go on unto perfection."

"Let us hold fast."

"Let us run with patience the race."

"Let us go forth therefore unto Him."

As we develop these themes, we will discover how the whole Book revolves around these simple words.

May the result be that many will set themselves to obtain God's best now, in the way of service and sacrifice, and in the fidelity to the faith, that they may, by and by, have His best in the days of Christ's reign.

Too long we have thought that reigning with Christ was foreign to suffering with Him. Too long we have forgotten that those who deny Him, by refusing to share His shame, will be denied by Him when He comes to reward His faithful with places in His reign.

The message of Hebrews is akin to the messages of other Epistles, and in fact to the message of the whole Bible. Have we forgotten the great call of the Spirit in Peter's Second Epistle? "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; etc., etc.,... For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Have we forgotten Peter's other word? "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off." And what was the Spirit's plea in this message through Peter? Simply this: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."

May God help us to follow after, that we may apprehend that for which we have also been apprehended, of Jesus Christ.

May God help us to count all but loss that we may win Christ, and obtain the prize of the upcalling.

May God help us that we may "so run," and "so fight," that we may obtain an incorruptible crown, and not be found a "castaway" in the day when Christ comes to reward every one as his work shall be.

I. LET US FEAR (Hebrews 4:1 )

The Bible is filled with warnings about Christian failure. God desires each of us to reach the very best that is offered to us in the realm of rewards. Paul is described as counting all things but loss, that he might win Christ, and be found in Him a successful winner of the prize of God's high calling. He is also described as a contestant in the games. We read of his own spiritual ambition: "I therefore so run * * so fight I, * * lest * * I myself should be a castaway."

In the Book of Hebrews the Children of Israel are set before us as a warning of failure to obtain God's best. They started out for Canaan, but fell by the way. Only two out of many elders of Israel, ever lived to enter into the Promised Land. They could not enter in, because they lusted after evil things; they tempted God, and turned back; they were given over to idolatry, and to idleness; they murmured and complained; they committed fornication; they limited the Holy One of Israel, and they did not believe God.

The warning of our key verse is plain, and as positive as plain: "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

This is no slight matter. We who have been saved by Christ's Blood, and are kept safe in His life, may yet lose our rewards in His Kingdom reign. We may fall "after the same example of unbelief," even as Israel fell. We may miss our "reigning," even as Israel missed her Canaan.

Many similar warnings are sounded out in the Word of God. Let me suggest a few:

"Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."

"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."

"Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."

"If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us."

"Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon; * * for every man's work shall be made manifest."

"Joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."

These Scriptures must suffice. One thing is sure we need to remember the admonition of our theme: "Let us therefore fear lest * * we come short of it" that is, lest we come short of our part in the Millennial Rest.

"Christian, walk carefully: danger is near!

On in thy journey with trembling and fear;

Snares from without, and temptations within,

Seek to entice thee once more into sin."

II. LET US LABOR TO ENTER IN (Hebrews 4:11 )

We have just been listening to the warning of God to fear lest we should come short of entering into God's rest. We now have God's urgent call to labor, that we may enter into the rest.

There is an idea prevalent with many, that all of God's good things are ours, wholly by grace and apart from any service or fidelity on our part.

We are saved by grace, apart from works; of this we are sure. Being saved, however, we have the opportunity of large obtainments in the way of rewards, of this we are just as sure.

It is folly to think that, because we are under the Blood, and are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption; that we, therefore, can live as we list, and yet reach God's best.

Our verse tells us to "labour" to enter in to God's rest. It does not tell us that the rest is for all who are saved. To the contrary it gives us warning lest we fall after the same example of unbelief.

Christians should not live in a slipshod way. They should give all diligence to their spiritual life. They should earnestly study to show themselves approved of God.

Do we not remember that the people who had shared with David his poverty, and his isolation, his persecutions, and deprivation, were the ones, when he was anointed king, who were made to reign with him in the seats of kingdom honor?

Shall we vainly imagine that we can serve diverse lusts down here and then reign with Christ over there?

"Sure we must fight if we would reign,

Increase our courage, Lord;

We'll bear the toil, endure the pain,

Supported by Thy Word."

III. LET US COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE (Hebrews 4:16 )

We may have despaired of the possibility of our ever entering into any place of recognition and responsibility in the Kingdom reign of Christ. We know that God, who judges us, carries a sharp and two-edged sword which is quick and powerful; piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. We know that everything we are and everything we do is naked and open unto Him. Shall we then give up hope of running a winning race. Never!

The Word of God, in our text, commends us unto Jesus Christ, and urges us to hold fast our confession because we have a High Priest who knows our infirmities and our frailties. He was tested in all points, as we are, apart from sin. Now, listen to the encouragement of our text, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

If we feel our feet are slipping by the way, and that we are failing to lay hold upon that which God has set before us; let us seek help from God. He will give us enabling power.

Paul had many difficulties by the way, yet having obtained help of God he continued testifying to all that Jesus was the Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-33 , we have the Spirit's warning about the failure of the Children of Israel to enter their Test; and again the warning is given, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." There, we also have the sure promise, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

We need not give up the conflict; we need not despair of the victory. If we will look to our living Lord,

He will manage our affairs,

For He loves us, and He cares,

As He pleads with the Father for thee;

Grace He'll give in time of need,

For He is a friend indeed,

Great High Priest, enthroned in Heav'n for thee.

IV. LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION (Hebrews 5:12-14 ; Hebrews 6:1 )

The closing words of chapter 5 show how many there are who are babes, whereas they ought to have long since been full grown. The opening verse of chapter 6 is a call to believers to leave the first principles of the oracles of God as set forth in Hebrews 5:12 , and to go on to full growth.

What a pitiful sight it must have been to behold the bones of the elders, strewn across the desert wilderness! What a sorrow to behold a similar spiritual scene among saints today. How few, comparatively, there are who have gone through with God! How few are skillful in the word of righteousness; how many are babes in need of "milk," and unable to take the strong meat of the Word!

Is the mother interested in her babe? She is. Does she love it? She does. Yet, where is the mother who wants her babe to remain a babe? Even so God calls upon us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour.

What mean these calls of God to go on to full growth spiritual perfection? They mean that God wants us to grow up into Christ in all things; that He does not want us to be children carried about by every wind of doctrine, and the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

God grant that young men and young women may purpose in their hearts to lay aside every weight, and press toward the prize.

"My heart has no desire to stay,

Where doubts arise and fears dismay;

Though some may dwell where these abound,

My prayer, my aim, is higher ground."

V. LET US HOLD FAST OUR PROFESSION (Hebrews 10:23 )

We now pass over many wonderful things in Hebrews, and come in the tenth chapter to a familiar call of the Spirit. Here is the plea: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)."

Three times in Hebrews 10:22-24 we read, "Let us." First it is, "Let us draw near." Next it is, "Let us hold fast," and then, it is, "Let us consider one another."

In Hebrews 3:6 we have these words: "But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."

In our verse, we have the same call, given once more, after the great arguments of the book have been laid before us "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."

The Spirit seems to be urgently pressing home the need of fidelity to the faith, because He knew that many would fall by the way; He knew that the call of the world would be strong against our faithfulness to the faith; and He knew that many there would be who would seek to hinder us in our stand.

1. For this cause we are urged, with the tender call, "Let us draw near." We need to pillow our heads on Christ's breast. We need to approach Him in the full assurance of the faith.

2. For this cause we need also to help others, our comrades in the Way. Thus we are told, "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."

You may be assured that God knew that in these last days, as the Lord's Coming drew near, there would be renewed effort to draw saints away from the confession of the Hope. The Spirit testified of the latter days and of their peril. He told us that evil men and seducers would arise, saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming?" He knew of the perilous times that would come. For this cause, we are urged to hold fast the confession of the faith now mark the words, "And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Therefore, in Hebrews 10:35 of our chapter, we are again urged, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, * * For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."

A little while, and we shall be

Where sin shall never dwell;

A little while, and we shall live

Where songs of triumph swell.

A little while, and we shall stand

Amid the Blood-washed throng;

A little while, and we shall sing

The everlasting song.

A little while, and we shall hear

The Saviour's whisper, "Come!"

And we shall ever dwell with Him

In our eternal home.

VI. LET US RUN THE RACE (Hebrews 12:1 )

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives the story of many Old Testament worthies who obtained a good report through faith. They had manifested a faith which was the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not. seen. They had all died in faith, not having received the promises, although they saw them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them.

The twelfth chapter opens with a vision of Christ, Himself, as the File Leader of the faith. He, our Lord, "endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." The Spirit, then pours out the burning plea, "Let us run."

The twelfth chapter also brings a succinct statement concerning Old Testament heroes. They are a "great cloud of witnesses." Then with what burning words are we urged to run the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith! The Spirit seems to say The heroes of old ran a winning race; they ran, looking unto Jesus let us run, likewise, looking to Him.

How the words linger with us "let us run"; "let us run with patience"; "let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

If we become discouraged in soul, and if we are about to let our hands hang down, in weariness, if our knees smite together, in fear; let us consider Christ, remembering how He endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.

Never think of surrendering; never give up the race. Beware lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Remember God's Word, to "Not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

"'Faint, yet pursuing,' we press our way

Up to the glorious gates of day;

Following Him who has gone before,

Over the path to the brighter shore.

'Faint, yet pursuing,' from day to day,

Over the thorny and Blood-marked way;

Strengthen and keep us, O Saviour Friend,

Ever pursuing, unto life's end!

'Faint, yet pursuing': the eye afar

Sees thro' the darkness the Morning Star,

Shedding its ray for the weary feet,

Lighting the way to the golden street."

VII. LET US GO UNTO HIM, WITHOUT THE CAMP (Hebrews 13:13 )

It seems to us that the Spirit of God sums up the whole great purpose of the Book of Hebrews in the words of this text: "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach."

The word therefore links us back to what has been said before. "Therefore" remembering how many fell by the way. "Therefore" knowing that we will be members of Christ's house, only if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. "Therefore" because, out of the elders of Israel, only two ever entered into the promised land. "Therefore" because we have a Great High Priest who will give us help. "Therefore" because the day is fast approaching when the One who comes, will come. "Therefore" because the galaxy of Old Testament heroes encourage us to run. "Therefore" remembering how Christ stood such contradiction of sinners. Let us therefore go forth unto Him without the camp.

We all know where Jesus Christ is He is outside the camp. He is despised and rejected of men. Let us go forth unto Him.

And if we go what then? When He comes back we shall go in with Him, into His reign. Remember the warning, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us."

"Must Jesus bear the Cross alone,

And all the world go free?

No, there's a cross for every one,

And there's a cross for me.

The consecrated cross I'll bear,

Till death shall set me free;

And then go home my crown to wear,

For there's a crown for me."

AN ILLUSTRATION

I have read, said Mr. Spurgeon, of one who dreamed a dream, when in great distress of mind, about religion. He thought he stood in the outer court of Heaven, and he saw a glorious host marching up, singing sweet hymns, and bearing the banners of victory. They passed by him through the gate, and he heard in the distance sweet strains of music.

"Who are they?" he asked.

"They are the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, who have gone to be with God."

He heaved a deep sigh, as he said, "Alas! I am not one of them, and never shall be, and I cannot enter there."

By-and-by there came another band, equally lovely in appearance, and equally triumphant, robed in white. They passed within the portals, and again were shouts of welcome heard.

"Who are they?"

"They are the goodly fellowship of the Apostles."

"Alas!" he said, "I belong not to that fellowship, and I cannot enter there."

He still waited and lingered, in the hope that he might yet go in; but the next multitude did not encourage him, for they were the noble army of martyrs. He could not go with them, nor wave their palm branches. He waited still, and saw that the next was a company of godly ministers and officers of Christian churches; but he could not go with them.

At last, as he walked, he saw a larger host than all the rest put together, marching and singing most melodiously, and in front walked the woman that was a sinner, and the thief that died upon the cross. He looked long, and saw there Manasseh, and the like; and when they entered, he could see who they were, and he thought, "There will be no shouting about them." But to his astonishment, it seemed as if all Heaven was rent with sevenfold shouts as they passed in. And the angels said to him, "These are they that are mighty sinners, saved by mighty grace."

And then he said, "Blessed be God! I can go in with them."

And so he awoke.

Thank God, even the masses can be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us."

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Hebrews 4:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/hebrews-4.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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