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The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there are two ways to commit the sin of unbelief. The first way is to reject the mercy of the living God. The second way is for a believer to reject the promise of rest.
Writing to his Hebrew brothers and sisters, the anonymous author pleads with them to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
The author illustrates this with the story of the Hebrews who refused to enter the Promised Land. Their sin of unbelief prevented them from entering into the land of Israel, and instead they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
“So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19
God promised them the land of Israel, and they did not believe that He could deliver on His promise. That’s a hefty sin! The author of Hebrews explains that their unbelief was an act of disobedience.
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18-19
The unbelief of the Israelites was a foreshadowing, and the reality is the sin of rejecting the gospel. To reject the free gift of salvation that is being offered to you today is essentially to tell God, “I don’t believe you. You are not trustworthy.” Again, a very hefty sin.
We need to believe in the gospel and be saved because we all have sin and we all are spiritually dead (whether Jew or Gentile). Believing in the gospel message allows us to enter the true promised rest. We rest from our works of self-righteousness, and we trust that God has done all of the work Himself.
And that is where the second “sin of unbelief” comes in. In chapter four, the author of Hebrews switches his audience and begins to talk to believers. Hebrews 4 is often titled, “The Believer’s Rest.”
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you may seem to have come short of it.” Hebrews 4:1
As a born-again believer, if we fail to enter His rest, we have failed to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins. In other words, we are still trying to do work that will make us holy and righteous and good.
Hebrews chapter four explains this in detail.
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11
The land of Israel was a land of rest because all of the homes were already built, the vineyards were planted, the roads were cleared and the wells were dug. The land of the New Covenant is a land of rest for us today because all of the work has already been done. Obedience has been accomplished: God Himself came to earth and obeyed the Law of Moses. Forgiveness has been given: God died on our behalf, so the debt has been paid in full. Salvation is being offered: He redeemed and justified us through His complete forgiveness of sins, and He now offers the gift of life — His Holy Spirit — through His work of resurrecting from the dead.
The great Bob George used to emphasize that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, and that it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can add nothing to the gospel, and if we do we will be led astray into false doctrines.
If you are an unbeliever, we plead with you to believe in the gospel.
If you are a believer, we plead with you to give up trying to “work for God,” trying to “serve God,” and simply to REST.
We must believe completely that the only thing we can trust in today, tomorrow and next week is his death, burial and resurrection.
Click here for an excellent verse-by-verse Bible Study on the book of Hebrews. Aaron Budjen, a Hebrew himself, has made all of his messages available for free at his website, http://www.LivingGodMinistries.net