I don’t know about you, but I like things simple, and I love the bottom line. Recently, I was pondering the boundaries between Christ’s finished work on the cross and my own personal responsibility as a believer. After all, we can’t just get saved and then put our feet up on the couch and watch Netflix. There are some things that God requires us to do in order to show our faith and endure to the end, but what? The Bible holds instructions from God to us. In it, He reveals His will for our lives.
I believe God boiled this particular issue down for me into three clear steps when I was reading Hebrews 3-4 one night in my prayer closet, and this comforts me immensely. Life is complicated, but as hard as things get sometimes and as weak as I can be, if I can just follow these three instructions from God I will know that I’m doing His will. All we really need to do is to listen, obey, and trust.
We Must Listen
Paul begins Hebrews 3 by addressing the brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. True, he is talking to Hebrew believers of that time, but he’s also talking to you and me. He tells us what the Holy Spirit says. It starts with “Today, if we will hear His voice.” God’s sheep hear His voice. That’s the mark of a child of God. When we hear Him speak to us, we know we are His. But as anyone who is a parent knows, it’s not enough that our children hear us speak to them. We want them to listen to what we are saying and understand the message behind the words. As God’s children, we must be sensitive to the times when He talks to us. We must be diligent to pray until we understand clearly what He is saying and follow the instructions from God
We Must Obey
Next, the Holy Spirit draws a parallel between the exodus of ancient Israel and now. He says, “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’” Moses took the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Jesus Christ took us out of Satan’s kingdom and into His own. While on earth, we are basically in the wilderness. This is our “day of trial” since we haven’t hit the Promised Land, or Heaven, just yet.
As partakers of the Holy Spirit, we are the temple of God on earth. He speaks to us, and we listen to Him. Then comes the hard part sometimes: we have to obey what He is telling us to do. Even when it’s inconvenient, even when it doesn’t fit with our idea of what should be happening in our lives, and even when we just flat out don’t want to do it, we must be open and willing to obey God simply because God knows best. Otherwise, the consequence is a hardening of our hearts. We will be less able to hear Him the next time and further away from the path where we need to be.
We Must Trust
The last part of the Holy Spirit’s message is scary. “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” The vast majority of children of Israel never entered the Promised Land because they didn’t trust in God to supply their needs. They took one look at the giants inhabiting the land of Canaan and decided that the wilderness wasn’t such a bad place to be after all. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two who believed God would give them the victory, were alive to see the day when God would lead their children into the land flowing with milk and honey. The rest perished in the wilderness in judgement for their unbelief.
Our belief is now the very thing that will get us to our Promised Land, an eternity with our Lord and Savior. We must have faith in His finished work on the cross, His blood shed for us and our transgressions. But we can’t just trust that He saved us. We also have to trust that He will supply our needs in our wilderness here on earth. He provides for His own, and we are commanded to cast our cares upon Him for He cares for us. That faith and trust in Him then becomes a resting of sorts.
Hebrews 4:11 says “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Diligence is careful and persistent effort. It takes some doing to consistently redirect our thoughts away from ourselves and our problems and onto the one who holds our lives in His hands. We rest IN Him now, and one day we will rest WITH Him in eternity.
A Confirmation of the Lesson
While they aren’t always simple to achieve, those three little words are easy to remember. About a month after I believe God gave me this lesson, I found myself pondering yet again. This time, I was wondering about my “job” on earth. Was I doing enough for God? Was I making a big enough impact for the Kingdom? Am I pleasing to the Father? Then those three words popped into my mind again. So, I asked myself: “Was I following the instructions from God that He gave me?”
To the best of my ability, yes, I believe I was. A few minutes later, I opened my Bible app on my phone for my morning verses. There I was in Hebrews 3 again. God was confirming the lesson right on time just the way He often seems to do. God DOES speak to His children. And, when He does, we just need to listen to His voice, obey His instructions, and trust His provision for both our lives and our hereafter.
If you like to look at scripture, try Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job . In it, we see a special lesson about what God thinks is true treasure. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.