Summary Hebrews 4:1-13:
God promises we will enter His rest if we have faith. God rested from all His work on the seventh day so there remains a Sabbath-rest for God’s people. Just as God rested from His work so can we. Let everyone make every effort to enter this rest.
God’s word is living and active; it penetrates us to our soul; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight, and we must give account to Him for everything.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1-13
12a) The promise God gives us of rest through faith (a spiritual rest) and the Sabbath-rest is rest from works as a basis for righteousness. Jesus’ death made us righteous with God. We no longer need to work to achieve it.
b) Part personal question. My answer: By faith in God repeatedly. We must continually rely on God and trust in Him in order to continue to have rest in Him. Otherwise we may fall just as the Israelites did. I would like to think so. As I get older, I get more and more grounded in my faith. I know in my heart I have faith in God and completely trust in Him; yet, at times I do get overwhelmed by circumstances and outwardly it can appear not so. But inwardly in my times of prayer, God knows even if I don’t. And that’s all that matters.
13) Personal Question. My answer: God’s word can give me rest. I should turn to it more when my mind is a tumultuous mess.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1-13
I like the faith aspect of the last two days. Yesterday pointed out how unbelief yields to punishment. Today pointed out how continual faith results in God’s gift of rest to us–the rewards of belief if you will. Great juxtaposition of consequences versus rewards.
Again, a reminder of what Jesus’ death did for us: made us righteous with God so we could rest without having to work for it.
Another great part of this lesson was verses 12 and 13 that BSF did not touch on, which emphasized the power of God’s word and His omniscience. Even when we are so low we can’t hear anything, God’s word is always with us to remind us of His greatness until we are ready again to hear Him. For God knows our hearts and what we are going through and is there even when we don’t see.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1-13
It all comes down to belief. When you believe, you have rest; when you don’t believe, you don’t rest.
What is Rest?
The old Puritan commentator John Owen described five features of this rest for the believer:
- Rest is peace with God.
- Rest is freedom from sin.
- Rest is God’s rest.
- Rest is freedom from Mosaic law.
- Rest is freedom of worship.
The mention of Joshua reminds us that the name “Jesus” is the same as “Joshua.” The second Joshua will finish what the first Joshua left unfinished.
The idea is that there is no longer any place for works as a basis for our own righteousness.
God’s original Sabbath of Genesis 2:2 signified the work was finished. We cease from self-justifying works because Jesus finished the work on the cross.
Let us therefore: This phrase, or this idea, appears repeatedly in the Book of Hebrews. A doctrinal truth is presented – in this case, the truth of a remaining rest available by faith – then the truth is applied.
The rest is there, but God does not force it upon us. We must enter that rest. Clearly, the rest is entered by faith; but it takes diligent faith.
God’s Word Is:
- God’s word brings true health, fruitfulness, prosperity and success to what we do. (Psalm 1:3)
- The word of God has healing power and the power to deliver from oppression. (Psalm 107:20, Matthew 8:8, Matthew 8:16)
- God’s word cleans us. If we take heed according to God’s word, our way will be cleansed. (Psalm 119:9, John 15:3, Ephesians 5:26)
- The word of God, hidden in our hearts, keeps us from sin. (Psalm 119:11)
- God’s word is a counselor. When we delight in God’s word, it becomes a rich source of guidance for us. (Psalm 119:24)
- God’s word is a source of strength. (Psalm 119:28)
- God’s word imparts life. It is a continual source of life. (Psalm 119:93, Matthew 4:4)
- God’s word is a source of illumination and guidance. When God’s word comes in, light comes in. It makes the simple wise and understanding. (Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:130)
- God’s word gives peace to those who love it. They are secure, standing in a safe place. (Psalm 119:165)
- When the word of God is heard and understood, it bears fruit. (Matthew 13:23)
- The word of God has inherent power and authority against demonic powers. (Luke 4:36)
- Jesus Himself – His eternal person – is described as the Word. When we are into the word of God, we are into Jesus. (John 1:1)
- Hearing God’s Word is essential to eternal life. One cannot pass from death into life unless they hear the word of God. (John 5:24, James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:23)
- Abiding – living in – God’s word is evidence of true discipleship. (John 8:31)
- God’s word is the means to sanctification. (John 17:17)
- The Holy Spirit can work with great power as the word of God is preached. (Acts 10:44)
- Hearing God’s word builds faith. (Romans 10:17)
- Holding fast to the word of God gives assurance of salvation. (1 Corinthians 15:2)
- The faithful handling of the word of God gives the ministers of the word a clear conscience. They know that they did all they could before God. (2 Corinthians 4:2, Philippians 2:16)
- The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. It is equipment for spiritual battle, especially in the idea of an offensive weapon. (Ephesians 6:17)
- The word of God comes with the power of the Holy Spirit, with “much assurance.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
- The word of God works effectively in those who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
- The word of God sanctifies the very food we eat! (1 Timothy 4:5)
- The word of God is not dead; it is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. The word of God can probe us like a surgeon’s expert scalpel, cutting away what needs to be cut and keeping what needs to be kept. (Hebrews 4:12)
- The word of God is the Christian’s source of spiritual growth. (1 Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
The Bible is alive, and God’s word reaches us with surprising precision, and the Holy Spirit empowers the ministry of the word to work deeply in our hearts.
“There is not a superfluous verse in the Bible, nor a chapter which is useless.” (Spurgeon)
Soul Versus Spirit
The Bible means different things with the terms soul and spirit. The Bible tells us that people have an “inner” and an “outer” nature (Genesis 2:7, 2 Corinthians 4:16). The inner man is described by both the terms spirit (Acts 7:59, Matthew 26:41, John 4:23-24) and soul (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 6:19, Hebrews 10:39). These two terms are often used the same way, as a general reference to the inner man. But this is not always the case. Sometimes a distinction is made between soul and spirit. We can say that soul seems to focus more on individuality regarding the inner life (often defined as the mind, the will, and the emotions). The spirit seems to focus more on supernatural contact and power in the inner life.
There is some distinction between soul and spirit is obvious in passages like this (Hebrews 4:12) and 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Passages like Job 7:11 and Isaiah 26:9 show that the terms are sometimes both used to generally refer to the inner man.
Naked reminds us of the way God saw through Adam’s feeble hiding. God sees through our hiding the same way.
Open translates the ancient Greek word trachelizo, used only here in the New Testament. It was used of wrestlers who had a hold that involved gripping the neck and was so powerful that it brought victory. So the word can mean “to prostrate” or “to overthrow;” but many scholars do adopt the simply meaning of “open” – in the sense of laying an opponent open and overcome.
The word of God discovers and exposes our condition.
No other High Priest was called great.
Summary of Hebrews 3:
The Hebrews writer calls brothers (believers) to fix their thoughts on Jesus who was faithful to God just as Moses was. But Jesus is greater since he is the builder of the house (us) and not the house itself (Moses). God built everything and Moses was a servant in God’s house. Jesus is the son over God’s house.
The Holy Spirit warns not to harden your hearts against Him like the Israelites did in the rebellion where they tested God and God got so angry He swore they would never enter His rest. Instead, encourage one another daily so none of you will be deceived by sin. Have confidence in Christ. Do not be like the Israelites who irked God because they did not believe.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 4: Hebrews 3
9) Similarities: Both were called to do God’s work. Both were sent to save God’s people. Both lived extraordinary lives because of it.
Differences: Jesus showed a perfect faithfulness in his ministry. Moses disobeyed God and took credit for a miracle (Numbers 8-12) and was thus punished and not allowed to see the promised land. Moses received glory from God but Jesus was transfigured and resurrected. Moses is part of God’s house but Jesus is the creator. Moses was never called a son by God.
10) Praying, meditating on God’s Word, looking for Jesus in every situation, doing what Jesus would do, making God the center of your life, asking for guidance before any major decisions, etc. Otherwise, it is incredibly easy to go off your feelings and allow Satan to creep into your life when you don’t consult God.
11) Christian community allows you to draw strength from one another when you are weak. You are encouraged by the walk others are taking. You know you have a safe place to land when you fall. You know you will be forgiven as well.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 4: Hebrews 3
We spent 2 days on this in 2012. Good lesson on always looking for Jesus no matter where you are or what you are doing.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 4: Hebrews 3
Understanding who we are in light of who Jesus is and what He did is essential for a healthy Christian life. It keeps us from the same depths of discouragement the early Christians faced.
The ancient Greek word translated apostle really means something like ambassador. In this sense, Jesus is the Father’s ultimate ambassador (Hebrews 1:1-2).
When we consider the past faithfulness of Jesus, it makes us understand that He will continue to be faithful.
Moses Versus Jesus
Moses showed an amazing faithfulness in his ministry; but Jesus showed a perfect faithfulness – surpassing even that of Moses.
Moses received much glory from God. This is seen in his shining face after spending time with God (Exodus 34:29-35), in his justification before Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:6-8), and before the sons of Korah (Numbers 16).
True commitment to Jesus is demonstrated over the long term, not just in an initial burst. We trust that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
The Spirit of God (speaking through His Word) told us that Jesus the Messiah is much greater than Moses. As the Holy Spirit speaks, we must hear His voice and not allow our hearts to become hardened. We hear the Spirit speak in the Scriptures, in the heart of His people, in those He draws to salvation, and by His works.
The day of trial refers first to the trial at Meribah (Numbers 20:1-13). More generally, it speaks of Israel’s refusal to trust and enter the Promised Land during the Exodus (Numbers 13:30-14:10). God did not accept their unbelief and He condemned that generation of unbelief to die in the wilderness (Numbers 14:22-23 and 14:28-32).
There is some continuity in God’s work among His people through the centuries. We can learn from the mistakes of God’s ancient people.
Because of their unbelief, the people of Israel faced judgment which culminated after forty years. This warning in Hebrews was written about forty years after the Jews’ initial rejection of Jesus. God’s wrath was quickly coming upon the Jewish people who rejected Jesus, and would culminate with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore, they could not enter the rest God had appointed for them, the Land of Canaan.
“The great sin of not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of very lightly and in a very trifling spirit, as though it were scarcely any sin at all; yet, according to my text, and, indeed, according to the whole tenor of the Scriptures, unbelief is the giving of God the lie, and what can be worse?” (Spurgeon)
Dangers of Hidden Sin
Christians must be vigilant against hardness of heart. That hidden sin you indulge in – none suspect you of it because you hide it well. You deceive yourself, believing that it really does little harm. You can always ask forgiveness later. You can always die to self and surrender to Jesus in coming months or years. What you cannot see or sense is that your hidden sin hardens your heart. As your heart becomes harder you become less and less sensitive to your sin. You become more and more distant from Jesus. And your spiritual danger grows every day.
As a nation, Israel made a good beginning. After all, it took a lot of faith to cross the Red Sea. Yet all of that first generation perished in the wilderness, except for the two men of faith – Joshua and Caleb.
Eleven times in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, the Book of Hebrews speaks of entering rest. That rest will be deeply detailed in the next chapter. But here, the key to entering rest is revealed: belief.
One might be tempted to think the key to entering rest is obedience, especially from Hebrews 3:18: to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? But the disobedience mentioned in Hebrews 3:18 is an outgrowth of the unbelief mentioned in Hebrews 3:19. The unbelief came first, then the disobedience.
In conclusion: God revealed himself in the Creation, in the prophets, in the Old Testament, and now finally in Jesus. We are God’s house.
Summary of Hebrews 2:
We must pay more careful attention to God’s gift of Salvation and the Holy Spirit lest we drift away.
While Jesus was a little lower than angels for a time, mankind was crowned with glory and honor and everything was put under his feet, making everything subject to him. After Jesus’ death, this changed. Now, Jesus is crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death for everyone through the grace of God.
Jesus was made perfect through suffering, which brought man salvation. Jesus and us (mankind) are now of the same family, called brothers.
Since Jesus was flesh and blood, his death destroyed the power of death (the Devil) and freed us from the fear of death. Jesus had to become our brother (like us in every way) to make atonement for our sins. Jesus suffered while tempted so he helps mankind who suffers when they are tempted.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 3: Hebrews 2
6) Part Personal Question. My answer: He died for all of us so that we may live forever. His death destroyed the devil by dying for our sins and atoning for them. Jesus is full of grace to die for us.
7) We must pay more careful attention to God’s word, God’s gift of Salvation, and the Holy Spirit lest we drift away.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: I struggle with the temptation to sin every day. Knowing I’m forgiven makes my sins and mistakes a bit easier to bear.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 3: Hebrews 2
We spent 2 days on Hebrews 2 in 2012.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 3: Hebrews 2
Why Did Jesus Have to Become Human?
- By dying, Jesus freed us from the power of death and won for us eternal life free of our problems
- Jesus can understand our temptations since he himself was tempted
Jesus freed us from the slavery of sin and from the constant fear of death.
We must pay attention lest we drift (like a boat that is not anchored in God’s word). Most people slowly drift from God. Christ must be our anchor to prevent this.
Hebrews was written not primarily as evangelism, but as an encouragement and warning to discouraged Christians. It was written to those who neglected an abiding walk with Jesus.
God does confirm His word with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We know Jesus is human because God put the world subject to man, not angels (Psalm 8:4-6).
In Hebrews 1, the writer of Hebrews brilliantly demonstrated from the Scriptures the deity of Jesus and His superiority over all angels. Now he demonstrates the humanity of Jesus from the Scriptures and applies the implications of Jesus’ humanity.
- It is Biblically wrong to think of Jesus as merely God or merely man. It is wrong to think of Him as half God and half man (or any other percentage split). It is wrong to think of Him as “man on the outside” and “God on the inside.” The Bible teaches Jesus is fully God and fully man, that a human nature was added to His divine nature, and both natures existed in one Person, Jesus Christ.
- The first false teaching about Jesus in the days of the early church did not deny that He was God, but it denied that He was really human and said He only seemed to be human. The heresy was called Docetism, coming from the ancient Greek word “to seem,” and was taught by Cerinthus, who opposed the apostle John in the city of Ephesus and whose teaching is probably the focus of 1 John 4:2 and 1 John 5:6.
God put all things (not some things) under subjection to human beings. This shows that Jesus must be human, because God gave this dominion to humans and Jesus exercises this authority.
Jesus is the Answer
The answers to life’s most perplexing questions are not found in asking “Why?” The greatest answer is a Who – Jesus Christ.
“Faith is the eye of the soul. It is the act of looking unto Jesus.” (Spurgeon)
God gave man dominion over the earth, but man forfeited his power (not his right or authority) to take that dominion through sin, and the principle of death took away the power to rule. But Jesus came and through His humility and suffering He defeated the power of death and made possible the fulfillment of God’s promise that humans will have dominion over the earth – fulfilled both through Jesus’ own dominion, and the rule of believers with Him (Revelation 20:4).
By Jesus suffering for us, we see that real love, real giving, involves sacrifice.
Many translations say captain of their salvation, instead of author. A captain connotates authority, leadership, commands, encourages, rewards, and sacrifices. It’s a much stronger and a more accurate translation here.
Jesus took away Satan’s “right” to rule by allowing Satan to “unlawfully” take Jesus’ life on the cross, and Satan’s “unlawful” action against Jesus forfeited his right to rule over man. In this thinking, the end result is that the devil has no right over those who come to God through Jesus’ work on the cross.
Jesus is Our High Priest
- The High Priest wore a breastplate with stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel on both his chest and his shoulders. The High Priest was therefore in constant sympathy with the people of God, carrying them on his heart and on his shoulders.
Because Jesus added humanity to His deity and experienced human suffering, He is able to help us in temptation. He knows what we are going through.
- We see Jesus’ example of being tempted.
- We have his assistance when we are tempted, providing strength and a way of escape.
- With these we can find victory in the midst of temptation and come out better from being tempted.
- Jesus did not lose anything from being tempted – He only gained in glory and sympathy and ability to help His people. In the same way, we do not have to lose anything when we are tempted.
Summary of Hebrews 1:
In the past God spoke to His people through prophets and other ways, but in our times, He has spoken to us through His Son whom He appointed as the heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. The Son radiates God’s glory, represents God’s being, and sustains all things by His word. Jesus purified our sins and now sits at the right hand of God in Heaven.
Jesus is superior to the angels because God called him his son; God said he is the Father to Jesus; Let all God’s angels worship him; God makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.
God has set Jesus above your companions by anointing him with the oil of joy. His throne will last forever and righteousness shall be his scepter.
God will always remain, unchanging, as the Creator of heavens and the earth.
Jesus sits at God’s right hand; no angel does.
Angels are ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 2: Hebrews 1
3) Part personal Question. My answer: Jesus is superior to the angels because God called him his son; God said he is the Father to Jesus; Let all God’s angels worship him; God makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire. God has set Jesus above your companions by anointing him with the oil of joy. His throne will last forever and righteousness shall be his scepter. Jesus sits at God’s right hand. Jesus is King.
4) Part personal Question. My answer: Jesus is superior to the angels because God called him his son; God said he is the Father to Jesus; Let all God’s angels worship him; God makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire. God has set Jesus above your companions by anointing him with the oil of joy. His throne will last forever and righteousness shall be his scepter. God will always remain, unchanging, as the Creator of heavens and the earth. Jesus sits at God’s right hand; no angel does. Angels are ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. I learn that God and Jesus are above all else.
5) Part personal Question. My answer: God’s plan has been unfolding since the beginning of time, and His plan has culminated with Jesus coming to us here on earth. Utmost confidence.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 2: Hebrews 1
We spent 3 days on Hebrews 1 in 2012.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 2: Hebrews 1
In ancient times, people freely accepted the existence of angels and honored and respected them. Stories of how angels had helped Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Balaam, and Daniel were frequently told by the Jewish people. Several New Testament letters warn against the practice of worshipping angels. Here, the author of Hebrews is showing how Jesus is superior to angels by showing how angels served Jesus.
Fun Fact: Hebrews has 29 quotations and 53 allusions to the Old Testament, for a total of 82 references.
Great Video on Hebrews!
The Book of Hebrews
- The structure of the Book of Hebrews is different from other New Testament books. It begins like an essay, continues as a sermon, and ends like a letter.
- Hebrews is a book to help discouraged Christians continue on strong with Jesus in light of the complete superiority of who He is and what He did for us.
- The book of Hebrews is the God the Father telling us what God the Son is all about.
Jesus is the message from God to us.
Seven Reasons for Jesus as the Son
- Heir of all things
- He made the worlds and the ages
- He is God’s brightness
- Jesus represents God
- The power of his words
- He forgives us of our sins
- He sits at God’s right hand
For all these reasons, Jesus is superior to angels.
There was a dangerous tendency to worship angels developing in the early Church (Colossians 2:18, Galatians 1:8), and Hebrews shows that Jesus is high above any angel. The Jews venerated angels because of their place in the giving of the Law (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19).
There was the heretical idea that Jesus Himself was an angel, a concept that degrades His glory and majesty.
Reasons Jesus is Superior to Angels
- Jesus is the Son of God Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14
- Angels worship and serve Jesus in Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 104:4
- God calls Jesus God and Lord (Yahweh) in Psalm 45:6-7; 102:25-27
- Jesus sat down, having completed his work, while the angels continue on in Psalm 110:1. Angels stand before God; Jesus sits.
Angels are commanded to serve God, but He sends them to minister to us as well. How great is our God!
The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm seven times to prove Jesus’s superiority to angels. Are you convinced?
Thanksgiving is almost here. This is one of my favorite holidays because we get to be with family and thank God for another year of life. It is important to be thankful on this day even if your year has not been so smooth, or you’ve lost a loved one. Life is too precious to waste being bitter or depressed. Thanking God every day for the breath you breathe can be transforming in your life.
This week, remember all of the blessings you do have in your life. Thank Him for them. And just enjoy having precious time with your family.
God bless, and stay safe!