16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:16–19, NKJV).
Read today’s passage again, carefully. The writer has urged Christians to “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” Israel’s sins and failure to enter the rest of the promised land warns us (Heb. 3:6-15). Now, he summarizes for emphasis; Christians can fall and fail to enter God’s rest like Israel. (1) Israel rebelled after hearing God’s word (v. 16). We must hear God’s word, but that alone does not bring our souls into God’s rest. (2) God’s people do not escape wrath and punishment when they sin and rebel against God (v. 17). Israel’s sin stirred God’s wrath against them, and they died in the wilderness. Even so, Christians who “depart from the living God” will face His wrath (Heb. 3:12-13). (3) Without obedience, God’s people do not enter God’s rest (v. 18). Disobedient, rebellious Israel stands as a stark warning that Christians cannot live in disobedience without forfeiting eternal rest (Heb. 2:1-3; Matt. 10:28). (4) Unbelief is identified by disobedience (v. 19). Far from separating unbelief and disobedience, the Holy Spirit joined the two here. Unbelief produced Israel’s disobedience and God’s punishment (the forfeiture of Canaan’s rest). Even so, belief produces obedience leading to God’s eternal rest in heaven. Let us learn and live the lesson of Israel in the wilderness, lest we fall short of God’s rest like they did (Heb. 4:1, 11).
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, NKJV).
How healthy is your soul? Would you be in good physical health if it matched your spiritual health? In this age of Covid, we are inundated with information and misinformation about being healthy, safe, and protected. Prudent measures for good physical health are important (1 Tim. 5:23; Luke 10:34). Exercise helps slow the rate of decay of our death-destined bodies (1 Tim. 4:8). But the gospel compels us to look at the health of our souls as more essential (1 Tim. 4:7-8). It is the remedy to our sin and death; salvation in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 5:24-25; Rom. 1:16; 6:23). A cure for Covid would be a worldwide bestseller. Yet, the cure for sin is cast aside by countless souls rushing headlong toward eternal death. Why is that? Why are people more afraid of their physical death than their eternal death (Matt. 10:28)? Because they do not believe God and the words of His Son, Jesus. Why is the death of God’s saints precious in His sight (Ps. 116:15)? Because they are the ones who “take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord,” serving God faithfully all their days (Ps. 116:13-14, 16-19). With Ananias, we ask, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The remedy for your sins is available through the sacrifice of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:17-19; 2:24; Rom. 6:3-4; Eph. 2:1-10). Believe and obey Jesus and be saved from sin and death (Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:8-9).
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV).
A necessary inference is an unavoidable, inescapable conclusion drawn from the information given. It is not merely a reasonable inference or a conclusion that may appear so (John 21:21-23; 7:24). It is the only legitimate conclusion the information given will allow. Notice in today’s passage the things Jesus said and did were (and still are) sufficient evidence for John and his followers to draw the necessary conclusion that He is the Christ. Instead of answering, “Yes, I am the Christ,” Jesus directed John’s disciples to His words and works as evidence from which they should conclude that the Father sent Him (John 5:36). The prophets had foretold of the works He did (Isa. 35:5-7; 61:1-2). Yes, He is the Coming One. Necessary inferences from the testimony of God’s word build our faith and direct our conduct. To suggest they are an artificial approach to understanding the Scriptures denies Christ who used them to establish faith in Himself as the Son of God.
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:35–37, NASB95)
This passage resolves important questions about the salvation of sinners. 1) The lost need to hear the gospel to be saved. Faith comes from hearing the word of God (Rom. 1:16; 10:17). When Philip “preached Christ” in Samaria, it included things concerning the kingdom of God, the name of Jesus Christ, and baptism (Acts 8:5, 12). Philip preached the same gospel to the Ethiopian. We correctly conclude that infants do not need saving because they cannot hear and believe the gospel. 2) Preaching Jesus includes the evidence needed to believe He is the Christ, the Son of God. How else did the Ethiopian come to believe Jesus is God’s Son except by hearing the evidence (cf. Jno. 20:30-31; Acts 2:40-41)? 3) Preaching Jesus includes water baptism. The Ethiopian would have known nothing about water baptism without Philip explaining it to him. Undoubtedly, he explained it is for the remission of sins to be saved by Christ (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). 4) Belief in Christ precedes water baptism. This is more evidence that babies are not proper candidates for baptism since they do not have the mental and moral capacity to believe. 5) Christ’s plan of salvation is belief plus baptism equals salvation (Mk. 16:16). It is not belief, salvation, and then baptism. Neither is it baptism, saved, and then believe.
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:35–39, NKJV)
This passage presents a substantial problem for those who believe the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Christians are urged to have endurance to “receive the promise.” Without a faith that endures, they would cast away their confidence and “draw back to perdition” (destruction). This is a far cry from comforting souls in sin that they cannot lose their salvation. This passage also confounds those who trust in the “faith only” doctrine. It points out the promise of life is not received until after “you have done the will of God.” Faith that saves the soul endures by continuing to do the will of God. Faith endures the struggles of suffering that come with following Jesus (Heb. 10:32-34). Enduring faith gives life (v. 37), it pleases God (v. 38), and it saves the soul (v. 39). “Indeed we count them blessed who endure” (Jas. 5:11).
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there. (John 10:40–42, NKJV)
In reaction to His teachings, the enemies of Jesus took up stones to stone Him and tried to seize Him (Jno. 10:31, 39). But, it was not yet time for Jesus to lay down His life, and so He escaped them and went beyond the Jordan where John had taught and baptized (Jno. 10:17-18). Many of the people believed in Jesus because of what John said about Him. John had testified the truth about Jesus (Jno. 5:33). He proclaimed that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jno. 1:29, 36). In addition to John, the words and miracles of Jesus and the Old Testament Scriptures bear witness that He is the Christ (Jno. 5:34-39). The gospel calls on us to assess the body of evidence left in the pages of inspiration to also believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jno. 20:30-31). The gospel calls on us to believe in Jesus Christ because of the word of truth that proclaims Him to be the Christ, the Savior of the world (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18-25).
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, NKJV)
Paul was thankful to God for his brethren because they are participants in God’s election in Christ (verse 13). This was not a predetermining of each soul being either saved or lost, but of God’s choice to save sinners in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4, 11:12). God uses the gospel to call sinners to redemption’s glory. Jesus said the Father draws sinners to Himself by teaching them His will, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44, 45). God does not call people through personal revelations, visions and experiences. He calls sinners “by our gospel” (that is, the gospel preached by the apostles, Mark 16:15). God’s call to salvation is for everyone and the same to everyone. There is only “one faith,” the gospel preached by Christ’s apostles (Galatians 1:11, 23; Acts 24:24). Notice the linkage between the gospel and salvation. The gospel that calls us to salvation produces faith so that we may be made holy (sanctified) and obtain the glory of Christ. To suggest we can be saved with the gospel nullifies the “sanctification of the Spirit,” the “belief in the truth,” obtaining the glory of Christ.
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7, NKJV)
As used here, “received” means “to receive near…to associate with oneself” (Strong’s Dictionary). Christians have a close association with Christ. This relation began with belief: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). Those who believe in Christ are given the right to become children of God. Receiving Christ begins with belief, but it does not end there. Jesus clearly said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). To receive Christ (take Him near, to be saved) one must believe and be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Through obedient faith, one receives Christ and His salvation (Acts 2:38-41). Christians need a grounded and growing faith to continue to walk in Christ (Colossians 2:7). The teaching of the apostles establishes us in the faith (Acts 2:42). Having heard, believed and obeyed the word of salvation to receive Christ, our hearts were filled with thanksgiving. Now, to remain close to Christ, we must continue to live with an obedient, vibrant faith.
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30–31, NKJV)
Genuine faith is not a blind leap into the unknown. It is a reasonable conviction based upon credible evidence (Heb. 11:1). In this case, faith that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” Neither does faith in Jesus as the Son of God mean that we must know of every sign He worked (v. 30; Jno. 21:25). What John wrote is true, and sufficient to produce faith leading to life in the name of Christ (v. 31; Jno. 21:24). We ask every honest seeker of truth to examine the works of Jesus; they have been on record for over two-thousand years. His miracles declare that the Father sent Him (Jno. 5:36; 14:11). His works are one reason to put your faith in Him and do His will to have eternal life (Jno. 5:36; 14:11; Matt. 7:21-23).
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14–16, NKJV)
Like the serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness to save Israel from deadly snakes, Jesus has been lifted up on the cross to save mankind from sin’s eternal death. When the Israelites were bitten by snakes, God required an action of faith on their part in order to live and not die. The bitten person would only live when he had faith to look at the serpent on the pole (Num. 21:8-9). Faith alone that God would heal the snake bite was not enough; they had to act in faith and look at the serpent on the pole. Likewise, belief in the Son of God as our Savior from sin requires more than a mere belief that He is the Christ, the Son of God (the demons believe as much, Jas. 2:19; Mk. 1:24, 34). Saving faith is an obedient faith. Without faith acting to repent of sins, confess faith in Christ and be baptized, one’s sins remain (read Acts 2:36-41; 8:35-39). Let us never forget that Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).