Hebrews – Part 3: Jesus: The Danger of Unbelief

The writer of Hebrews stressed the promise of God’s rest is fully realized through Christ whereas unbelief in Christ will meet the severest punishment.

Prologue

“Jesus: The Danger of Unbelief” is part 3 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the previous parts by clicking one of the links below.

Formats

This sermon is available in text, audio, and video formats.

Illustration

One great and fatal offense under the Old Testament was apostasy from the worship of Jehovah. This was punishable by death. It admitted of no repentance. The author strives to impress upon his readers that their danger was the same, their crime if they forsook Christ would be greater, and their punishment far more severe. It was greater, as much as Christ was greater than Moses, and His blood more sacred than that of bulls and goats. We need this caution and exhortation. – Source Unknown

Scripture

Hebrews 3 (NASB)
1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. 10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; 11 As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 Sowe see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:1-13 (NASB)
1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “and God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, through the corruption of sin in the world, we are creatures of unbelief. Help us to be ever mindful of Your love, mercy, and grace. Let us not forget the gift of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your longsuffering. Help us in times of unbelief. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Probing Question

How does belief in Christ determine receipt of God’s promised rest or the severest punishment of His wrath?

Transitional Sentence

Our belief in Christ determines our receipt of God’s promised rest or the severest punishment of His wrath because…

Main Points

1. Christ is Superior to Moses

Both were faithful

Hebrews 3:1-2 (NASB)
1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.

Builder vs. Building

Hebrews 3:3-4 (NASB)
3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

Servant vs. Son

Hebrews 3:5-6a (NASB)
5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithfulas a Son over His house—whose house we are…

2. Danger of Unbelief

Hebrews 3:6b (NASB)  6 …whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Israel’s Unbelief in the Wilderness

Hebrews 3:7-11 (NASB)
7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. 10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; 11 As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ “

Warning Against Unbelief

Hebrews 3:12-19 (NASB)
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 Sowe see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:1-2 (NASB)
1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

Warning Against Not Entering God’s Rest

  • Necessity of Faith

Hebrews 4:3-11 (NASB)
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “and God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through followingthe same example of disobedience.

The “rest” is not referring to Canaan or present salvation but future promise of God. For if they had already possessed the rest, then they would not need to be urged to enter the rest. Rather, it is an exhortation not to be complacent. We have not arrived yet; it is something that they (and we) should “strive earnestly to enter”.

If “entering the rest” is a reminder for us not to be complacent, then “today” is an urgent reminder for us to accept God’s promise, His invitation. His promise is still available; but, it won’t last forever. If we keep on delaying the opportunity to accept God’s promise, one day we will live to regret it.

  • The Penetration of God’s Word

In addition to being warned against unbelief, complacency, and procrastination, we are warned against self-deception. We often think sins committed in private are not sins or don’t matter. Here, we’re reminded that nothing can escape from the scrutiny of God.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NASB)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

 Conclusion

How does belief in Christ determine receipt of God’s promised rest or the severest punishment of His wrath? Because:

  • Christ is superior to Moses
    • Both were faithful
    • Builder vs. Building
    • Servant vs. Son
  • Danger of Unbelief
    • Israel’s unbelief in the wilderness
    • Warning against unbelief
    • Warning against not entering God’s rest
      • Necessity of faith
      • The Penetration of God’s Word

Practical lessons to be learned:

  • Focus Our Thoughts on Jesus
    • Appreciate the esteemed position of Jesus in God’s household
    • If we associate with Him:
      • We are also accepted into the household of God
      • We enjoy the privileges Jesus gained for us through His sacrifice
  • Understand and Accept the Urgency to Repent
    • Do not to miss the opportunity to accept God’s invitation
      • God’s promise is still available, but it won’t last forever
      • If we keep on delaying the opportunity to accept God’s promise, one day we will live to regret it
    • Today Won’t Last Forever
  • Encourage Each Other Daily
    • This is why we come to
      • Worship together
      • Pray together
      • Study the Bible together
    • Even though we may belong to the minority group in today’s society, we should not and need not feel alone as we have the support and encouragement from each other
  • Take heart to Enter God’s Rest
    • Even when facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles
    • Let us hear the voices of Joshua and Caleb in our midst

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, may those who do not know You come to an everlasting knowledge of Your gift of salvation. May those who do know You grow in faith and obedience every day. Give us the courage, strength, and perseverence necessary to combat unbelief in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Use the audio player below if you are experiencing bandwidth problems with the video or would just prefer to listen to the audio only.

Use the video player below to watch a video of this sermon as it was delivered to Double Springs Baptist Church in Maben, Mississippi at their 11:00am Morning Service on Sunday, June 24, 2012. I pray it speaks to your heart.

Epilogue

“Jesus: The Danger of Unbelief” is part 3 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the following parts by clicking one of the links below.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I benefit from this ministry and want to become a member and/or make a donation.

Praise the Lord. We are glad you find Saved by Grace edifying.

Action

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Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
10  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

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I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

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