Hebrews 4:3

Hebrews 4:3  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
A whole system of erroneous doctrine has been built upon the words, “For we which have believed do enter into rest”—a system which is often named by its advocates “the rest of faith.” That is, as it is contended, upon the exercise of faith in Christ in all that He is for the believer in his daily life, as a Savior from the power as well as from the guilt of sin, the soul passes instantly into a region of perfect rest, where conflict is no more known. In its essence this teaching is the same as what is known as “holiness by faith.” Now, that there are boundless resources in Christ for the believer in his daily path is unquestioned, and it is our failure that we know so little how to avail our self of them—of the grace, the wisdom, the power, &c., which are treasured up in Him; but the present question is whether this is the meaning of our passage. In answer to this, it should be first remarked that the rest spoken of is the rest of God. In the previous chapter we learn that God had sworn, concerning Israel, they should not enter into His rest; and the reason they could not enter in was unbelief. (v. 19)
The promise therefore of entering in was left over, “for unto us was the gospel preached (the gospel concerning God’s rest), as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” This leads to the state, pent before us, that “we which have believed do enter into rest.” The rest spoken of belongs therefore to those, and only to those, — who believe the gospel preached.
The further question now arises, Is this rest present or future? In verses 3 and 4 we have the character of the rest; in verses 5 and 6 the truth is recalled that Israel had been excluded through their unbelief, and hence that some must enter into the rest. Then it is gad that He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, “Today, after so long a time for if Joshua had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.” The conclusion is now drawn, “There remaineth therefore a rest (a keeping the sabbath) to the people of God;” i.e., it is yet future, being in fact the sabbatical rest of eternity, God’s own rest, into which He ‘in His grace proposes; as He ever has proposed, to bring His people.
That there is a present rest, both of conscience and heart, for the believer, needs ever to be insisted upon; but the rest here spoken of goes further, and points to the end and result of all God’s purposes for, and ways with, His redeemed, just as the Jewish sabbath was the type and figure of the end of His counsels for Israel. We, as they in the wilderness; are journeying onward to the rest which He has promised; and “we which have believed” shall infallibly enter it, and then for eternity we shall, through infinite mercy, share in the sabbath of our God.
E. D.