The Gospel Must Be Believed
To hear many preachers and churches talk, one would think that since Christ died for everyone then everyone is saved. Indeed, 1 John 2:2 tells us, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” And so one might get the impression that all are saved since Christ died for all.
This is why Bible scholars and theologians have long referred to the “analogy of faith.” The analogy of faith is that principle of interpretation that tells us that when interpreting Scripture, one must refer each passage to the whole of Scripture to understand that passage or verse rightly. In other words, we are not to isolate one passage to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible but let Scripture interpret Scripture.
The Preacher continues his sermon warning the Hebrews not to fail to enter God’s rest. He has made it plain that such failure is the result of disobedience which is itself rooted in unbelief. And that is why the ancient Hebrews under the leadership of Moses did not enter that rest, because they did not believe: “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest.” And this is all to say that the good news indeed is that Christ came to save sinners as is preached everywhere in the New Testament. But the Preacher does us the favor of helping us to understand that this good news must be met by faith, that it must be believed. “What must I do to be saved?” the Philippian jailer cried. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” the apostles replied (Acts 16:30).
And so faith must be joined to the promise to be made effective for salvation that we may enter that rest. But we have also been reminded by the Preacher in chapter three that faith in the promise is proven my obedience. Obedience is the measure of our love for Christ. And the “rest” of which the Preacher speaks is heaven. Granted, the rest which those missed who died in the desert was entering the Promised Land, but the apostles understood the Old Testament typologically—as offering types that foreshadowed the realities to be enjoyed under the new covenant. Their Promised Land is our heaven and their rest from wandering in the desert is our rest from this earthly pilgrimage. And we have been given the assurance that “we who have believed enter that rest.”