Depravity and Spiritual Application

Hebrews is a hard book.  I grew up around scripture, and in high school, I remember my dad teaching Hebrews.  It was hard then.  Then in college, my small group decided to read Hebrews, and I struggled.  I'm reading it again now, and it is still hard, but in general, it is coming easier.  In college, my love for the Word blossomed, and I started reading the Bible every year, which I have done for the most part since I was 19.  So, I've been taking notes on the first 3 chapters of Hebrews and while it takes more time to digest than the other epistles, it had been relatively painless.  That is, until I got to the 4th chapter of Hebrews, and I asked myself the question:  Huh?

I turned to for help, and the article I found was tremendously helpful.

It turns out that the key of this passage is realizing that there is word play and that there are really 4 types of rest being used interchangeably.  If you really break down the verses one by one you can see that most verses are talking about a specific form of rest based on the scripture the verse references, and some of them are talking about more than one kind of rest.  I don't want to get too much into the technical aspect as this article does a better job of explaining it than I can, but I will mention the types of rest before getting to my bigger point.

1.)  Gen. 2:2, the 7th day rest of creation
2.)  Numb. 13-14, the rest of the promised land, Joshua's rest, and the rest the scripture is initially speaking of (contextually you can tell this by looking at the end of Hebrews 3)
3.) Psalm 95:7-11, the continued availability of rest in David's day (this one is the biggest stretch, but I think it is here and the author above is correct)
4.)  The eternal rest through salvation- Heaven

By and large, the first 4 chapters of Hebrews focus on a persistent faith, and they go about expressing this in different ways.  Overall, the book is an apologetic to Jewish believers on why Christ is sufficient, but in addition to being an apologetic, it is also instructional.

Hebrews 2:1 reads, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away."

Hebrews 3:1 states, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."

Hebrews 3:6, "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 3:12-14, "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first."

And here in Chapter 4 verse 1, "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."  (Other translations render this fear, rather than "be careful" because the Greek would denote a since of dread, and rightfully so if we are talking about not entering eternal rest!"

Many people use these scriptures as a launching pad for debating the idea of eternal security (once saved always saved).  Scripture indicates that doctrine is very important, but it also says in a variety of ways, "having nothing to do with foolish controversies."  I do not think this issue is of no importance, but I do think the discussion tends to be more based on semantics than scripture, and that within this passage is a truth that applies equally to the reformed crowd and the Armenian. 

While we grow in our faith, it is easy for us to let knowledge puff us up.  We assume that we already know Christianity.  Our hearts become harden.  This is not something that may happen, but something that does happen to some extent to all the sinful humans who follow Christ.  We are arrogant and prideful, and inevitably, we will confuse our perceived knowledge with the way of God.  And it is here that we have to stop, because "...the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."  Hebrews 4:12-13

When we let Christianity be about justifying and glorifying ourselves to the public (ie: facebook), instead of glorifying the God who has justified us through Christ's blood, we have fallen well short.

Or in less metaphysical terms, I am a sinner.  I corrupt the Word of God to confirm to my ideas.  I am not the Savior.  I am redeemed.  My God is glorious, awesome, powerful, and merciful.  His grace is sufficient for all my needs.  His love is abundance. 

The realization of our depravity is essential for scriptural application.  Scripture says, "trust in the Lord all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," (Proverbs 3:5) and "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond all cure.  Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).  When we read scripture, we must never assume is intended for someone else- for that person at Church who has wronged us or for the relative who has angered us.  The scripture is meant for us, and as we read it, we must ask the Holy Spirit to write it on our hearts so that our hearts (which are hard) might soften, so that we might hold on, and so that we may fix our eyes on Jesus.

If we are not open to our depravity, and more importantly, to the solution for it (Christ's life, death, and resurrection), we are modern day Pharisees, hypocrites of the highest order.  But if we are open to the Word and it's truth and hold firm to the faith, we are in communion with the Most High who loves us and is working in us. 

So why did I write this?  I wrote this for me.  For after years of reading the Word, I sometimes read it as if I know it and mastered it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God forgive me.  And thank You for reminding me that your Word is living and powerful.


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