Tag Archives: Hebrews

The Two-edged Sword

Hebrews 4:10-13

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

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

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.

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.

When we enter into the rest of the Lord, we will cease from our works just as God ceased on the seventh day.  Obviously, we are not there yet.  As the last post said, we have much work to do.  We cannot just sit back and relax, waiting for that day to come.  Even Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy knew he must be about His Father’s business.  So many times, Paul tells us to continue working, continue ministering, continue the mission God has for us.  Our job is not done until we pass from this earth, whether by death of our flesh or by the rapture.  We have to work ‘til Jesus comes, as the old song says.  Be vigilant in your calling to do all you can to reach the lost, heal the sick, deliver the captive and make disciples of those you come in contact with.  This is the labor we have for God.  These things need to be done, or we may fall because of unbelief.  Don’t let that happen to you!

In doing these things, it is so important that we point people to the word of God.  It is His word that will bring in the lost.  Not Billy Graham’s words, not John Hagee, not David Jeremiah or any of the great orators of the gospel.  It is God’s word that does the work in a man’s heart.  The reason it does it explained in verse 12.  Paul gives 6 ways the word of God works on our lives.  These ways are not just evident when someone gets saved.  These are things the word does even to the most mature Christian if we allow it to.  We have to be soft and pliable, and not have that hardened heart that we discussed a few posts ago.  God is not a task master.  He will not force His will on us, but rather, by gently prodding, He will lead us along His path.  Whether we follow or not is our choice.  Let’s take a closer look at these six ways the Word will work on us.

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First, it is quick. What a fascinating word this is the KJV.  In almost every other translation, the Greek word used here is translated alive.  From the same root word comes the KJV word quicken, which also means to make alive. Quicken is one of my favorite words in the KJV.  I have always taken it to mean that He makes our spirit come to life. This is what the word of God will do.  It gives life!  In so many ways it in our eyes to the truth of what life is supposed to be like.  This world we live in is full of turmoil, strife, sorrow, sadness and bad news.  But His word brings peace, joy, love, hope, healing and Good News to us every time we open the pages and start to read.  This is Life!  Our lives are not supposed to be only lived in the valley, but on the mountaintop as well, and the Bible brings us there.   This word is alive!  We can read the same passage one day after the next, and each day God can speak new life into our spirit each time. It never ceases to amaze me how much God loves us, that he would leave such a precious letter to us, as written by faithful servants through the centuries.  What a wonderful; God we serve, and what a wonderful resource for life we have in His word!

Second, it is powerful.  As we speak the word of God, and pray the promises that He has given us, amazing things happen.  These words can heal the sick, deliver the captive, make the demons flee, drive the craziness out of us.  It is powerful enough to defeat the enemy just by speaking the word.  It is powerful enough to move mountains and part seas.  The power that comes from praying the word of God cannot be matched by anything else.  He stands behind His word and executes the promises contained in it.  He will never fail to keep His word to us, and the power that is within it.  We can trust, that no matter what may come, His word has a solution, if we will just seek it out and then pray it over the problem.  Amazing power comes from such a prayer.

Third, it is sharper than any two-edged sword.  Back in Jesus time, the sword was the primary weapon.  The person wielding it must keep it sharp or it will be useless.  A two-edged sword is sharp on both sides. It can cut coming and going. A sword like this, when sharpened, is a dangerous weapon that one should take seriously.  The word of God is a similar weapon, only it does not cut flesh and blood.  It cuts into the soul and spirit of a man, making Him see himself in light of God.  When we see that, we tremble.  But this sword can also be used as a weapon when we wield it.   Paul explains this when he talks about the armor in Ephesians 6.  He says the word is the sword of the spirit.  It is the only weapon we have against the enemy.  We must know i.t well to use it like this, though.  You don’t want to go into the enemy with a sword that is dull!  Have your sword sharpened by knowing the scriptures.  These are the words that will bring victory in any circumstance.

Fourth, dividing the soul and spirit.  To me, this is the most profound part of the power of the word.  It divides the soul, which represents our fleshly life, and the spirit, which represents our life with God.  The word of God helps us see the struggle our flesh has in letting go of control over our mind.  The word lifts up our spirit, while trying to suppress our flesh. It is the word of God that helps us see ahead to the narrow path we must take to get into the Kingdom of God.  It is the word of God that will turn us from following our flesh to walking in the Spirit.  If we neglect the word, we can be sure that our life will start to slowly sink into fleshly desire and want to get further away from God.  We must be diligent to keep the word fresh in our minds, hearts and souls.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us while we are reading the word so we know how it should be considered, It will bring a meeting of the minds within us, and determine whether the soul or the spirit will win. I pray that in my life the spirit will always win.

Fifth, dividing the joints and marrow.  Our life is in the marrow.  The marrow is where the blood cells are formed so that they can carry nutrition to the rest of the body.  When the marrow is bad, the whole body suffers.  I know this because of my cancer journey.  Bone marrow biopsies are a standard when checking for leukemia or lymphoma type caners.  These are cancers of the blood, and the marrow is the manufacturing center for our blood.  The joints make our body be able to perform the way it does.  If the joints give way, the body will not function properly.  Arthritis typically forms in the joints, causing pain with movement. My feeling is that the intent of dividing the joints and marrow is to bring our flesh under subjection.  We must do this in order to follow Christ. He has given me free will, and I need to sue that will to ward off the advice of y enemy and listen to the word of God.  He will tell me right from wrong, and it may take a lot to get me to turn away from our flesh and its desire.  But God’s word can do it!

Sixth, the word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.  This is where we get into trouble. Our thought life can steer us wrong every time.  God’s word can go straight to the heart and help us see what we are really thinking.  It not only knows, but discerns the intent that we have.  This is why we have to be so careful with out thoughts.   It is of the utmost importance that we transform our minds and renew them in the word.   It is important that we think on things that are good, honest, true, just, lovely, or good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.  Don’t every think God does not know what you are thinking and what your intent is.  He does, and His word will bring you to that point where you are face to face with that intent.  I think this is why many people turn away from God.  The enemy takes God’s word and twists it so we feel condemnation instead of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not come to convict us He came to save us. Never allow the word of God to condemn you! The word of God is our lifeblood.  We must spend time in it because it is the meat that sustains our spiritual life.  It will lead us down the right oath every time.  Get to know His word and you will see His plan!

There Remains a Rest

Hebrews 4:4-9

 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.

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

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

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.

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

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

According to the Pharisees, I am breaking the Sabbath by typing this study on the Sabbath day.  That is not the only thing I will do that is against the Sabbath, according to Pharisee rules.  Today I will carry the lectern to the aisle of our church for Sunday School,  turn on the sound system, turn off the lights,  cook,  and drive. I will do many things that would be against the Sabbath according to the laws set forth by the Pharisees.  I found an article that listed 39 different kinds of work that were prohibited. After all, God rested on the Sabbath – shouldn’t we?

This is an area of contention for many. In Exodus 20, the 4th Commandment says:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Why is this commandment so disregarded by the church today?  Do we think that the Old Testament laws were made null and void by Jesus’ sacrifice?  That is hardly the truth.  In fact, in His teachings Jesus made the law even harder in most cases.  When asked about adultery, He said if a man looks at a woman with lust in his eyes, he commits adultery.  He said that if we are angry with our brother, we are in danger of judgement, linking it with murder.  He said we should pay our tithes, but said the weightier thing in the law is mercy and faith.  He said if we do not forgive our brother, God will not forgive us!  Jesus made the law harder, not easier.  So, would not He have regarded the Sabbath just as highly?

Then again, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.  He also told a man to pick up His bed and walk on the Sabbath.  His disciples went through a field and picked corn on the Sabbath.   They were mad about this as well. and His disciples went through the fields and picked corn on the Sabbath.  They were reproached by the Pharisees for these supposed violations.  After all, wasn’t this work?  The truth is that if Jesus did break the Sabbath in the Father’s eyes, then he did not live the sinless life He had to live to be our sinless sacrifice.  What is eh answer to this dilemma?

Jesus explains this very simply.  He says man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made fort man.  It was made to we would not work, work, work and not take time for God.  We have a natural tendency to be busy with something.  For some, it’s sports.  For other sit’s taking care of their yard.  Others work too much or play too much.  We do all these things and forget to make time for God, and for His house.  The Sabbath was about taking time for God.  We can all take more time for God.  Maybe not a whole day, but an hour here or there never hurt anyone.  My time is in the morning.  When is yours? The other part of this group of verses again talks about entering into the Lord’s rest.  This is a bigger picture than just the Sabbath.  This rest is the eternal rest we will find as we faithfully serve Jesus.  There were many in the early church who thought since Jesus had come, they could rest from the spiritual work.  The time was here for the rest God had talked about., That is not even close to the truth.  In fact, we now have more work than ever to do.  We have a mission now, and Jesus has given us marching orders.  Preach the gospel, heal the sick, deliver the captive, make disciples of all men.  These are things we are supposed to be doing on a regular basis.  And we still have to do our utmost to live holy lives and work on being as perfect and mature as we can be.  The rest we will experience in Jesus is yet to come.  Until then, let’s be vigilant to be obedient so that we can enter into that rest eventually!  And that day may be closer than we think!

Do Not Come Up Short

Hebrews 4:1-3

 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.

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.

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.

Have you ever skipped out on a promise?  I’m sure I have.  Whether it was to my kids, or my wife, or a friend. There have been times that situations arose where I could not keep a promise.  Maybe it was to be at a ball game and a business appointment came up.  Maybe a bill didn’t get paid when I thought it would.  Maybe I lost track of my grocery list and forgot to pick something important up.  Whatever the excuse, it is a bad one when you don’t keep a promise.

Jesus does not break promises, and neither does God.  There’s an old chorus that says:

Every promise in the book is mine

Every chapter, every verse, every line

All the blessings of His love divine

Every promise in the book is mine

This is so true, from now until eternity.  Jesus said not one jot or tittle shall ever be gone from the word of God until all is fulfilled.  It is not all fulfilled yet.  There is a lot more of history still to be written, and a lot more of my life to live.  His word will always be true, and I can trust that he will fulfill His promises to me.  One Herbert Locklear said there are 7,147 promises in the Bible from God to man.  If I made that many promises I would surely break at least one of them.  But God always keeps His promises.

One thing he has promised us is that we will enter into His rest if we continue believing in Him and His word.  Belief also means that we follow it and live out the scripture in our lives.  Another is that we abide in Him and let His word abide in us.  We have hard the gospel!  We have heard how Jesus gave His life for us.  We have heard how he set me free.  We have heard that accepting His sacrifice and believing that God raised Him from the dead will save us.  We have all heard many things.  But hearing the scripture does not save us.  Hearing His word does not get us into heaven.  The devil hears it!  He is going nowhere but hell!

Once we hear the gospel, we must act on it.  We must confess our sins.  We must repent.  We must believe with out heart and confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord.  We cannot hear the gospel and think we are saved because of it.  There are millions who go about thinking they are saved because they have heard the word of Jesus.  They are very sadly mistaken.  We must repent, confess and believe with our heart and with our words.  Salvation is for those who bow before His throne, but for those who simply walk into the church and hear.

However, once we have heard, we must make sure we do not come up short.  The promises of God are all for us, but we have to keep our promise top Him as well.  He asks us to lice a holy life, to be perfect before Him, to repent when we have done wrong, to forgive our neighbor and treat them as ourselves.  He has asked us to preach the gospel, to be instant in and out of season, to study so that we can shoe ourselves approved. To transform by the renewing of our minds. He has asked us to preach the Gospel to all the world, to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, to put on the whole armor of God, to pray without ceasing, to rejoice in the Lord always.  This is not a one-way street where Jesus just keeps His promise to us.  He expects us to keep our promise to Him as will.  He expects us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

The writer says something interesting that illustrates this point, He says that the word must be mixed with faith in order for it to profit them at all.  Where is your faith?  Is your faith in your own ability to make a decision?  Is it in your employer to pay your bills?  Is it in the doctor to heal you?  Our faith must be in God and His word.  We must expect the promises to be kept.  When Moses was in the wilderness, he had to remind God a few times that this people, who were so sinful, were His people and that God should not destroy them.  Guess what!  He did not destroy them.  Moses reminded God of His word and God relented of what he was thinking of doing.  It’s not that God forgets.  It’s that God wants to know that we know His word.  He doesn’t mind if we bring His word to Him, and pray that word to Him.  In fact, He loves it when we pray the word to Him.  The fact that we are placing our faith in His word pleases God.  Ut shows Him that we are not about to fall short, but we are going to trust Him all the way. I have a strong desire to enter into His rest, and I’m sure you do to.  The key is to keep His word, to keep our promise to Him.  He keeps His promise.  Why should he expect any less form us?  I intend to keep my promise to God and not fall short.  How about you?

Hold Your Confidence Steadfast

Hebrews 3:14-19

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

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

There is a growing surge of those who think that once they kneel at an altar, confess their sins, and recognize Jesus as Lord, they cannot lose their salvation.  Once-save, always-saved is the usual way we say that.  They believe whatever they do after that moment at the altar does not matter.  Grace will cover any sin.  All I have to do is ask forgiveness again.  Jesus will forgive us over and over.  After all, He told the disciples they must forgive unendingly if someone sins against them!  Would not God do the same for us?  Of course, He would.

The passage here indicates the opposite though.  This passage tells us that if we do not believe, if we do not hold onto the confidence we have in Christ, we will not enter into His rest.  He will not taste the fruit of the promised land.  How many did that entail?  If we look at the sheer numbers, we find that the population of Israel was fairly constant in the wilderness.  There were only 1,820 less men of war who entered Canaan then who left Egypt.  That is astounding after a 40-year period.  But we also know that, because of unbelief, all the men of 20 years old and upward when they left Egypt, died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb (Moses died just before crossing Jordan). Why did they die?  Because of unbelief.  They had murmured against God enough.  Several times they wanted to return to Egypt because of the hardship of the desert.  Several times Moses interceded for the people and Gd spared them.  But when the spies came back from the promised land and brough a bad report, that was the last straw for God.  He had told them they would enter the land, and that the land was theirs.  Joshua and Caleb said they could take the land.  But the other ten put fear in their hearts, and they did not believe the two, or God.  This unbelief caused God to say all those 20 years old and upward would die in the wilderness.  This was right at the beginning of those 40 years.  If they had only listened to God they would have avoided those 40 years in the wilderness and the promise would be theirs.  How sad!

Today we loom back and see what happened to these Israelites, and we forget the lesson that is there.  Many go about ignoring God’s commands and living life the way they want to live it.  They don’t listen to the words of the preacher, but harden their hearts (see yesterdays lesson) and go about doing their own thing.  I would venture to say the most rampant sin in the church is unforgiveness.  Did not Jesus say that if we do not forgive our fellow man, God will not forgive us?  How often do I ignore that, holding grudges and saying awful things about those who wrong us? Then there are the words of Paul that we should not grumble or complain.  I hear these two things constantly from other Christians.  Paul tells us we should not allow corrupt communication proceed from our mouth, but our words should always minister grace to the person we are talking to.  How often do my words hurt others, even if spoken only to my wife?

We are all in the process of working out our salvation, and we should do so with fear and trembling.  Heaven is not a given, it is a gift.  A gift of God’s grace that we should not take lightly.  We are serving a holy God, and he asks us to be Holy like Him.  We deem that impossible, so we figure some sin won’t hurt us.  I know I do.  Maybe you do not.  I am far from perfect, and I do things that I should not do.  Paul even had that problem.  At one point he said he does the things he should not do, and does not do the things he should.  I can sure identify with that!  But he follows it up with thanks to Jesus for the gift He has given us in salvation.  Paul’s heart was always in the right place and he walked a walk similar to David’s, a walk of repentance.  He made sure he was always right with God by asking forgiveness every time he took a wrong turn. I need to stop taking God’s grace for granted.  We all must.  Our missions is to show others the light of Christ.  When I sin, my light dims a little and my witness is affected.  When I walk in integrity, I also walk with a confidence like I first had when I got saved.  This is the confidence God wants us to have.  The Ephesian church was scolded because the left their first love, the love of God.  We put aside God’s love when we take Him for granted.   We think He owes us forgiveness.  He does not owe us anything.  He already gave His all when he gave His son.  Now it is up to me to walk out the grace and mercy He has placed inside of me when I asked Him to be my Savior and Lord.  I must treat others the way He treats me.  That is what we do when we truly believe!  That is how we enter his rest.

We Are His House

Hebrews 3:1-6

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

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.

What things do you consider when making decisions about your readings in the Bible? 

Some consider the Greek and Hebrew original words and how they are used, or what the inside of the meaning is.  I always find this fascinating.  They are such colorful languages, and so intricate.  One word can have a very specific meaning, and it can be quite different than we think it would be.  A word that comes to mind as I type is comely.  Looking at that word makes me think not much to look at.  But in reality, it means lovely, and is often translated that way.  Word studies are good for in depth knowledge.

Others look at the times and settings of the things that are taking place.  What was lkife like back then?  How were woman treated?  What did the lay of the land teach about the subject matter being shared in the parables of Jesus?  How as society different then than it is today?  These are all questions that can be asked, and there are plenty of resources that can teach us the answer, adding to our knowledge of the intent of the scripture in certain places.

Others delve into prophecy.  They go through the Bible with a fine-tooth comb, trying to figure out what it’s going to be like in the last days, and what heaven will be like.  What prophecies are coming true today?  What are they leading up to?  How can we know these are the last days?  The books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations are woven like a fabric by these studiers of eschatology.  An interesting tapestry it is, too!

I imagine people were caught up with these things in the days this passage was written.  The writer directs them to one place, to one thing to consider, and that I Jesus.  The important thing for us, if we venture off into any of these studies to gain knowledge, is to keep our eyes set on Jesus.  After all, it is through Him we became partakers of this heavenly calling.  Without His sacrifice, we would be lost and bound for the devil’s hell.  Without His mercy and grave, our lives would be a total mess and we would lose the salvation we gained.

The writer points out that Jesus was more important the Moses.  The Jews revered Moses.  He led them out of Egypt and slavery, help them endure the wilderness and all it’s struggles, became the spokesman for God to the people and gave them the law.  He was a leader like to other throughout the history of the nation.  It is right that they held him in high regard.  For the writer to say Jesus was more important than Moses was a statement that was hard for them to understand!  If not for Moses, they would still be in Egypt’s strong grasp.

But Jesus had a higher calling.  He does not lead us out of a country, but out of our former lives as slaves to sin.  He does not write the words of the law in tables of stone, but writes them in our hearts with parables and sermons bringing God’s love into our lives.  He does not lead them through a physical wilderness, but through the trials and tests of our lives.  He does not take us to a physical promised land, but he opened the doors of heaven for us.  Jesus was so similar to Moses in so many ways.  He is the one we should look to at all times!

Moses’ house was on this earth.  The house he built was the nation of Israel, free and in their own land.  He brought them out of a house of bondage and brought them into a house flowing with milk and honey.  He stood up to the enemy and proclaimed curses that eventually made the enemy release them.  He took Abraham’s children and made them Israel’s nation!  The house he built was on this earth.  Their welling place was of the flesh.

Jesus builds a spiritual house within us.  He crafts it with his own hands, because he made all things to begin with.  He is the master potter and we are his clay.  He molds us and shapes us into the vessel he desires us to be, if we allow Him to.  He uses every trial, every test, every lesson to help us see our path and walk in it.  He defeats the enemy at every turn, and works in the quiet of the day to bring us closer to Him.

We must gold on to the promises of God and Jesus.  We must hold on to the teachings that give us hope and help us to see what righteousness really looks like.  Moses was a great example, and built a strong nation, but what Jesus is building is far greater.  He is building me.  I am His abode.  He abides in me and I in Him.  Every day He will furnish this house with love, joy, peace, and all those other fruits of the Spirit. He will give me the words to say and the direction to walk.  Because He lives in me, in this house, I must honor this house and keep it holy.  When I do that, He will always keep me, pick me up when I fall, and show me the way to get back on the path.  I am so glad He loves me!