The Christian's Privilege, Danger and Duty
Sketches of Sermons
Hebrews 4:1-2
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.…


1. The character supposed. The promise of entering into the heavenly Canaan peculiarly belongs to those who have turned their backs on spiritual Egypt, and are journeying under Divine direction towards the "better country."

2. The blessing promised: "His rest." In the present we may have rest from the tyranny of sin (Romans 6:12-14); and from the distraction of anxious care, whether it precede our justification, and refer to our soul's safety (see ver. 3), or follow it (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 8:38, 39). Yet, however, the Christian may have rest now from the clamours of conscience, painful forebodings, &c., it is to heaven that he must look for —

(1)  A rest from toil.

(2)  A rest from pain. Glorified bodies are "safe from disease and decline."

(3)  A rest from sorrow.

3. The security offered is that of Almighty God. Men may promise largely, but not be able to fulfil. He is all-sufficient.

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S DANGER: "Lest any of you should seem to come short of it." Unbelief the principle of ruin, hence so earnest (Hebrews 3:11, 12, 18, 19, and Hebrews 4:3, 11). Nor is this without reason, for unbelief may operate destructively.

1. By means of open transgression. In these passages we are cautioned against the principle. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-12, its sad effects are exhibited.

2. By means of secret wickedness. Hence lusting after evil things is deprecated (1 Corinthians 10:6; see also Matthew 5:28; Psalm 66:18).

3. By means of worldly mindedness. Faith apprehends invisible realities, and influences and saves us accordingly. But unbelief is the soul's blindness.

4. By means of indolence. Faith prompts us to do, and sustains us in suffering. Unbelief leads to negligence; and neglect is ruin (Hebrews 2:3).

III. THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY: "Let us therefore fear." If the apostle feared for the Hebrews, it equally became them to fear.

1. Because of the shame, the personal disgrace of coming short. Not to pursue a worthy object when it is proposed is sufficiently disgraceful. To relinquish the pursuit is doubly so. Even sinners despise such inconsistency.

2. Because of the mischief of coming short. He is like one of the unbelieving spies who tempted Israel into sin and suffering (Numbers 14:4, 23).

3. Because of the ruin of coming short. Apostates sin against greater advantages, have gained a greater enlargement of capacity, fall from a greater elevation; therefore their punishment will be more severe. But how? Not with a desponding paralysing fear.

(1) With a fear of caution, that properly estimates difficulty and danger, and induces circumspection (Hebrews 12:12-15).

(2) With a fear of vigilance; that narrowly watches first declensions, and promptly opposes the first advances of the enemy.

(3) With a provident fear; that leads to husband our resources, to avail ourselves of the assistance of our fellow Christians, and to cry to the strong for strength. And let it be an abiding fear. "Blessed is the man that feareth always." Improvement:

1. God hath promised a rest.

2. In prospect of the promised rest, let saints sustain the hallowed cross: "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation," &c.

3. Let us exhort one another daily; both by the example of those who have halted, and of those who "inherit the promises" (Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12).

(Sketches of Sermons.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

WEB: Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest.

The Appearance of Failure
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