Thursday, April 29, 2010

God's Rest Still Stands-- for those who believe

Heb. 4:1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”

We are spending some days with the Writer to the Hebrews-- those first century Christ-followers who were of Jewish roots and who were struggling with religiosity and their traditions. It was a challenge for the early Christian who had was trained in Judaism to set aside all of their religious rules and regulations? You would think that would be the opposite but the truth is, with all those rules and regulations that they occasionally fastideously observed, there was P.R.I.D.E. That was saying 'Preference Required because I Did Everything.

Jesus broke through all that and made faith and forgiveness available to everyone regardless of their deeds. Nothing was beyond God's grace and forgiveness. Nothing could prevent any person from stepping into the Light that was the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing of your past or my past would prevent us from accessing God's unconditional love. But there was one thing that could block it. That one thing was the failure to let go of self and humbly accept Christ by faith alone.

So the writer to the Hebrews, here, was making it clear that there is the place of ultimate rest-- that is, God's peace and grace. This place is available to all of us 'who believe.' However, it is ONLY for those who believe. I don't think the writer was speaking restrictively here, saying God would reject such non-blieving persons. I think he was saying that their own actions would prevent them from ever attempting to enter. Deliberate non-believers will not be drawn by God's Holy Spirit. Those who respond when he draws-- and He definitely draws everyone--are all received upon their response. Curious onlookers are not. It's kind of like when the flight desk operator calls me and others to line up to board the plane. They call and call and call. Those who do not line up and enter will end up missing the flight! There is no special grace for those who ultimately miss the flight. They suffer loss on their own account.

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