The Daily Word of Righteousness

Pressing Into God's Rest, #4

How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. (Hebrews 2:3—NIV)

This verse is sometimes preached to the unsaved. It is not addressed to the unsaved but to experienced Christians who were not pressing into God's rest.

If we, having started out in the Lord, then do not maintain our fervent pursuit of God, we will not escape severe punishment. This is the primary message of the Book of Hebrews.

But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Hebrews 3:6—NIV)

The above verse could be interpreted to mean if we hold our theological position throughout our lifetime, if we continue to believe in the facts of Christ's atoning death and triumphant resurrection, we will be Christ's house even though we have not acted on what we say we believe.

There are three teachings of the Book of Hebrews that prevent the conclusion that all we are to do is keep on believing the accepted facts of theology and that a maintaining of such orthodoxy of belief will insure our place in the house of Christ.

First, the comparison is being made, in the third chapter of Hebrews, to the Jews who died in the wilderness. The issue involving the Israelites was that of true belief and obedience to God in marching toward Canaan, not one of sitting in Egypt while they believed God had given them the land.

Second, the definition of faith given in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews does not mention merely belief in what God said but obedience to the revealed will of God—belief worked out in action. For example, Noah believed what God said, but he was not saved by his belief but by building the Ark.

Third, the bearing of fruit is mentioned in the sixth chapter, indicating that God is looking for the Presence of Christ in us, not mental assent to the facts of theology.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:7,8—NIV)

Can you see that the writer of Hebrews is not dealing only with belief in God's promise but with behavior? The problem was hardness of heart that manifested itself in grumbling and complaining and hostility toward Moses.

The Christian life is always dynamic. Our faith must be much more than static mental assent to correct doctrine. Our faith must be a daily pressing forward in Christ, as Paul mentioned, until we have attained to life lived in the power of Christ's resurrection. This is the rest of God.

The problem of the Jewish Christians does not appear to be that of deciding not to believe in the blood atonement but of turning aside and going back into the world. Unbelief in the facts of salvation and turning back into the world undoubtedly are related.

To be continued.