|Hebrews 4:1-11 |
1 Therefore, since a promise of entering into his rest still stands, let us fear, lest any of you should come short of it.1 [The rest is where you cease from you own dead works to labor under God's direction; following the promptings of God, energized by God. Thus your then true Lord and master controls and energizes you by his power, and your words and deeds are performed according to his will and to his pleasure. This is thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: doing the will of God as you have ceased your own dead works done by your own will, ceased your own plans, ceased your own decisions — at rest in Christ, with God's will and power in control — with the mind of Christ. In the rest you are serving the living God.]
2 For the gospel was preached to us, as well as to them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
3 For we who have believed do enter into rest, as he said, "As I have sworn in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;"2 although the [God's] works were finished from the foundation of the world [and the rest was available].
4 For he spoke in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested the seventh day from all his works."
5 And in another place again, "They shall not enter into my rest."
6 Therefore, since there is still the opportunity for some to enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter in because of unbelief [and resulting disobedience],
7 Again, he limits a certain day, saying in David's Psalms, Today, which was long after [God swore his oath]; as it is said, "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart,"[As occurred in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.]
8 For if Joshua had given them [only] rest, then God [through David] would not afterwards have spoken of another day. [long after Joshua, that still applies to us now].
9 Therefore there is still a rest available to the people of God. [Paul is pleading with people not to doubt that the rest is still available. Paul in the previous verses is proving the rest by scripture. Being in the rest, or in the kingdom, is not visibly apparent to people; and so over time, people can doubt the possibility. Stephen Crisp has an excellent letter, Laxness in Seeking Will Lead to Failure, on some of the early Quakers doubting the reality of the kingdom; and since the full rest occurs in the second stage of perfection, (beyond the first step of perfection that includes entrance into paradise), the rest is even harder for the immature to believe.]
10 For he who has entered into his rest, has also ceased from his own works,3 as God did from His. [To cease from your own works, done by your own will, cease your own plans, cease your own decisions, and instead to be directed by God to do His will on earth as in heaven, which works are then to His glory, which works are prompted by and energized by Him.]
11 Therefore let us diligently labor with every effort to enter into that rest, lest any man fall from the same kind of unbelief (resulting in disobedience), [The Jews didn't believe they could conquer the giants in the promise land; and the promise of the Christian rest is so fantastic that people are prone to doubt it is even possible to conquer sin, especially those in tribulation and trials. Paul is pleading for everyone to continue with every effort, and in the next verses he describes the power that works in a man to bring him to the rest; which power is the Word of God, Jesus, the power of God and our high priest and mediator, who sees and knows all, feels our infirmities, and is the source of grace and mercy to us. Steven Crisp has an excellent letter: Destroying the Arguments that Sin Cannot Be Conquered in This Life. From the Word of the Lord within: "I must warn you — you must make every effort to add to your faith and enter the rest."]
3 For he who has entered into his rest, has also ceased from his own works, as God did from His. To cease from your own works is to be directed by God, to do His will on earth as in heaven, which works are then to His glory, which works are prompted by and energized by Him.
The great early Quaker, Isaac Penington, contrasts the Jewish Sabbath day vs. the Christian sabbath or rest: "Their [the Jews] outward sabbaths were not the lasting Sabbath or rest of the gospel, but given them for a sign; but the day of redemption from sin, the day of resting from sin, the day of ceasing from the dead works of the flesh, the day in which God is all, and does all by his Spirit and power inwardly, and in which he alone is exalted. This is the day of rest, which the Lord has made for the spiritual Israel, and in which they are glad and rejoice."
We even cease from our own thoughts, all thoughts supplied by God: Casting down all our own decisions, and every barrier that is raised up against the wisdom from God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Cor 10:5
There are three that bear witness in earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; these three agree as one. 1 John 5:8. From George Fox's Letter Letter 265.
The third witness is his blood, with which the hearts of people are sprinkled, and their consciences are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus. As Moses sprinkled the outside of the posts, etc. with the blood of bulls and goats; which blood of bulls and goats, Christ's blood ends, which sprinkles the heart and conscience of people. So this blood of Jesus Christ, the heavenly man, is felt in the hearts and consciences of people; by which blood they are sanctified, they are cleansed from all their dead works, to serve the living God, and to serve their dead works no longer.
This witness of blood sprinkled in your conscience is not to be imagined or assumed. It is to be witnessed, as in experienced; and afterwards you are prompted by God to do his works with his energy and power provided.