Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Hebrews 4, verses 1-2.
This is going to sound simple, maybe even goofy, but walk with me on it. When you hear something, when does it become of value to you? Let’s say you hear a juicy piece of news. Does your mind immediately begin to process it, figuring out possible meanings and implications? Of course it does. And if you learn something new – if your light bulb lights up – do you start to think of ways that new information means something to you, perhaps connecting the dots between it and other things? And can your mind or your heart continue to process words long after you’ve learned them, long after their first meaning took hold? You know the answer.
You now understand Hebrews 4, verses 1 and 2. God’s word goes to work on us as soon as we hear it. What’s more, it can work in different ways at different times in our lives.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 reiterates what Hebrews 4 says: “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” Unpack that verse and you’ll find it means a few things. One (obviously) is that Scripture is the word of God. Two, it isn’t only a human translation (though men are scribes and interpreters of it). Three, the word of God can do work, and four, that work happens in those who believe.
But above all, it means that the word of God you heard was something you accepted, as it is, immediately and that it started working on you immediately. The second you’re baptized you’re identified as one of God’s chosen people. The second you say your marriage vows you’re married. So it is with the second you accept and believe God’s Word, whatever part of that Word you hear. It begins to work on you that very moment, like bleach on a stained cloth, like alcohol scouring out a wound.
Tell me: if you hear something positive and it begins to work on you immediately, do you think that negative things can do the same? Of course they can. This morning, folks like me (who went to bed before election results were final) woke to find out Mr. Trump was the President-Elect. It takes time to soak in but, whether it’s soaked in or not, the moment his opponent officially conceded, Mr. Trump was indeed the President-Elect. For many folks, that’s the worst news possible. It’s incredibly negative, incredibly dangerous to their ideas of self and country. Yet no matter whether they like it or not, it’s fact and it’s at work. Be careful that it does not ruin you.
Through it all, whether the news is positive or negative, the meaning is effective now. God saved You IMMEDIATELY from the moment you professed your faith in Him. You did nothing to earn it, make it happen, fashion it, make it so. All that had to be done was done by God and God alone. All you did was believe yet the instant you did so you gained the benefit of it. This sets you apart from those who don’t believe, who choose to not believe in Jesus. Don’t go off thinking that faith in Jesus makes you better than anyone else because it doesn’t. Faith, like college, makes one a better person but not better than other people. Indeed, God wants all people to come to the faith in which you believe, especially those who reject Him in word or deed.
So let’s be thankful that God saved us, that He did all that was necessary to save us even when we were living in unbelief. Let’s hold fast to that faith, insisting that it’s real here and now, today. Let’s cling to it when things get tough because brother things do get tough! And let’s live our lives, say our words, do everything that we do right now as a reflection of those words “we believe.”
For more reading: Hebrews 12:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:13.
Lord Jesus, I believe in You! Thank You for saving me, for giving me the promise of hope in You in whom I can believe.