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Examine Yourselves Whether You Be in the Faith, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
May 6, 2022 4:00 am

Examine Yourselves Whether You Be in the Faith, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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May 6, 2022 4:00 am

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Here God is ready to lead you into His rest. Here God is ready to lead you into His kingdom. Here God is ready to usher you into salvation, but you harden your heart and you are caught in the evil act of unbelief, departing from the living God. Oh, don't let it happen to you, He says, like it happened to them. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's sobering to think that in biblically sound churches all around the world, probably in the one you call home, there are some men and women who are convinced they're saved, but the truth is they're not part of God's family.

So how does that happen? How can you and I, how can anyone be sure of His eternal destiny? And if you have doubts about your salvation, is that evidence that you're not a Christian? For answers, stay here today on Grace to You, as John MacArthur continues his study titled, Examine Yourself. Follow along now with John and make sure you know where you stand with God.

Here's the lesson. Now the book of Hebrews is basically written to Christians, Jewish Christians. That's why its title is Hebrews. They were Jewish believers. But now listen, interspersed throughout the book of Hebrews, which is written to Jewish Christians, are warnings...warnings...warnings to confront those people...now watch...who know the gospel intellectually, who understand the call of salvation, but never make the commitment.

Okay? So as the writer goes along writing to the believers, every once in a while he'll stop and he'll say, now I know that in this congregation some of you know this is the truth, but you've never made the commitment. And thus there are these warnings. Another warning I want to share with you is in chapter 3 and 4. Chapter 3 and 4.

Now I want you to think with me as we go through this rather rapidly, because it's the longest warning in the book. I'm just going to read some verses and make some comment. Chapter 3 verse 7. Here again the Holy Spirit stops and says to the person sitting in the congregation, Hey, you who know the truth, you who have heard it all, you've had it all given to you, you who want to be religious, you who know it's the truth, please, while the light is still available, before it's too late, before God's grace is over, before God's mercy runs out, please say yes to Jesus Christ. Look at verse 7. Wherefore, and then there's a parenthesis all the way down to the end of verse 11, as the Holy Spirit saith today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

See that? Today He says, like sounds like Paul in 2 Corinthians 6, 2, Today is the day of salvation. Now is the time. Today He says, it's now and here and now.

Always think about D.L. Moody the night he preached in Chicago and said, I want you people to go home and think about what I've said and come back tomorrow night ready to make a decision for Christ. And that night the Chicago fire broke out and a great portion of his audience was dead. He said, I never told anybody tomorrow again. Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. And then he gives an illustration, as in the temptation or provocation. What was that? In the day of trial in the wilderness.

He says, I want to give you an illustration. There was a people who hardened their hearts. There was a people who had a day of testing, who had a time of trial, a time in the wilderness and instead of saying yes to me and instead of responding, instead of hearing my voice, they hardened their hearts.

When was it? Verse 9, when your fathers put me to the test, proved me and saw my work forty years. Now we know where we are, right? We've got the wilderness in verse 8 and the forty years in verse 9. This is Israel's forty years in the wilderness. And verse 10, he says, I was grieved with that generation and said they do always err in their heart and they have not known my ways so I swore in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest. The word rest there means Canaan. Those people aren't going to Canaan.

And that's what happened, isn't it? What happened to the whole generation in the wilderness? They all died, didn't they? God swore they will not enter into my rest. And every last one of that generation died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land. And so he says, verse 12, take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

You better look at your own life and make sure you don't do the same thing. Here God is ready to lead you into His rest. Here God is ready to lead you into His kingdom. Here God is ready to usher you into salvation. But you harden your heart and you are caught in the evil act of unbelief, departing from the living God.

Oh, don't let it happen to you, he says, like it happened to them. You see, there was a day of God's patience running out. He was patient for a while.

And then he said, that's enough. And they died in the wilderness and never came to the land that was to be their rest. Four hundred years of slavery, forty years of wandering. Oh, how they longed for Canaan, the land of milk and honey, and they never got there. They died in the wilderness because of unbelief.

They didn't believe God. It's that simple and I'll show you why in a moment. But rather, he says in verse 13, exhort one another daily, every day exhort. And that's why I'm doing this message. Exhort people every day and say to them, today, today lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Today is the day. Don't go another day. If you reject Christ today, it will be easier tomorrow. If it's easy tomorrow, it will be easier the next day.

And so it goes and you harden yourself. For verse 14 says, we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. That's the proof if we're really redeemed. And so while it is said, today if you will hear His voice, and all of this is quoted out of Psalm 95, today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the wilderness temptation or testing for who when they had heard did provoke, did not all that came out of Egypt by Moses, the whole generation of them provoked God. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom swore He that they should not enter into His rest but to them that believed not?

Verse 19, so we see they could not enter in because of...what? Unbelief. And unbelief is the final reason you don't come to Christ. You don't believe. You just don't believe in death. You don't believe He can really transform your life. You don't believe it's worth it. You don't believe He can make your life what it ought to be. You want to hang on to what you have.

You don't want to throw yourselves in faith on Him. You want to protect your reputation. You want to protect your occupation. You want to protect your family relationships. You don't want to be persecuted.

You're not ready to take a step of faith and give your life to Jesus and so because of unbelief, you wind up dying in the wilderness and your carcass falls there and you never enter into God's rest. Well, this is a vivid illustration, isn't it? Vivid. Can you imagine how vivid it was to see all the carcasses of a couple of million children of Israel lying all over the desert? Pretty vivid. They died there because of unbelief.

They never entered His rest. Now that whole thing is a picture of what the writer of Hebrews wants to say in chapter 4. I want you to look at it with me. Proverbs 29, 1 says, He that being oft reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy. Now listen. God offers a rest to people.

It's available. And we enter God's rest by faith. I believe the rest He's speaking of here is salvation.

I'll show you as we go how clearly that is it. I believe it's salvation. And so He says, I want you to enter My rest.

It's not a works system. You enter it by what? By believing, just as you're kept out by not believing. It isn't what you do or don't do.

It's what you believe or don't believe. Now I want you to understand this as we look at chapter 4. I want you to see, first of all, the availability of rest. I want you to hear the invitation that He gives to the people sitting right on the fence. Listen, verse 1, Let us...and again it's the us of the Jewish congregation that He's speaking to and so I use it to speak of you. Let us therefore fear...oh, you better fear...lest a promise being left of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

I mean, what He's saying is, oh, wouldn't it be fearful to know that God had given us the promise of rest but we fell short of it? Can you imagine if you were one of those children of Israel living in the bondage of Egypt, how you would be oppressed and how you would be pushed as a slave from one thing to the other and try to make bricks without straw and you would be beaten and abused and bruised and for years and years your family had gone through that for century after century after century after century and finally God sends a deliverer, a mighty deliverer by the name of Moses. Moses had an available life and he gave it to God and God has him lead these people out and can you imagine how the Red Sea split and they walked through, turned around and watched the army of Pharaoh drown and they went on in rejoicing, ready to meet the thing that God had laid before them, the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey coming out of incredible slavery and bondage and they all never saw it, see.

They dropped dead carcasses, wasted in the desert. And he says, you better fear lest God has laid out in front of you the same kind of a promise, the same kind of a Canaan, the same kind of a land of milk and honey but you never get there, even though in a sense you've escaped from the bondage. It's like Peter talks about, you have escaped the corruptions of the world, you've been brought out of the corruptions of the world but you never enter into the Kingdom of God, you see.

You've got reformation, not regeneration. You know, there's a lot of people who want...they want Jesus as Savior. They want a deliverer who will take them out of bondage. They just don't want a Lord they have to trust to lead them into Canaan, see. And you know what happens to people who only want a Savior, they die in the wilderness.

They never know God. He is Savior and Lord. And so he says there is a rest left for us in verse 1. You know, that was just a picture back there, Canaan.

That was a picture. There's still a rest. It isn't too late, he says to these Jews.

It isn't too late. God has another rest, not a Canaan rest but a spiritual rest and it's salvation and it's still available and it's still there. And oh, what a tragedy if you should come short of that as your forefathers came short of Canaan. The rest that he talks about is salvation. So the availability of rest.

People, God has...God has extended His love to you. God has reached out His arms and says there's a rest for you. It's rest. Rest from your self-righteous activity. Rest from your fears. Rest from your anxieties. Rest from your frustrations. Rest from the guilt of sin.

Rest. And it's available. And Jesus said, Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. It's available for anybody who comes, whosoever will let them come.

It's a rest. But you know, you could know about it and believe it all and sit here and listen to it and come short of it and your carcass would die in the desert of unbelief and you never entered the Promised Land. That's the way a lot of people...they want a Savior to get them out of bondage. They want a Savior to deliver them from bondage but they don't want a Lord they have to trust with their life. Look at the basis of rest, verses 2 and following. You say, well, how do I get this rest?

Very simple. For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them, the good news was preached to them, but the Word preached did not profit them because it was not mixed with...what...faith. God told them what the rest was because they didn't believe they were doomed to wander for 40 years and then die. You know, the only reason they wanted was just so they'd all die off. Their carcasses dropped in the desert because they didn't believe. They were ready to be saved out of Egypt. They wanted a Savior.

They weren't ready to obey in faith and have a Lord. And what's He saying? Look, He's saying the availability of rest, it's offered. The basis of rest, you must hear the gospel and mix it with what? Faith. You have to believe it.

You have to believe it. But He says if it's not mixed with faith, it doesn't matter. Verse 3, for we who have believed do enter into rest.

It's just those who believe who enter in. The next one says, as I have sworn in my wrath, they shall never...this is the better translation...they shall never enter into my rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. You know, God from the beginning of the world was creating a paradise.

That's right. Verse 4, He spoke in a certain place in the seventh day when God had created everything He created, He rested. He said, now it's going to be like this. I've made a paradise for man.

He rested from all his works. And He says, here is the rest I offer a man. But man chose to believe the devil instead of God and man forfeited that rest. Some will enter, verse 6 says, seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter into it. But they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief. And what's that verse saying? Oh, it says this, God will always have a remnant, won't it? God will always have some who enter.

There will always be a few. And then comes the plea again in verse 7. It says, and get this one, again He limiteth a certain day.

Did you hear that? He limiteth a certain day, saying through David, back to Psalm 95 again, today after so long a time as it is said, today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, you see. It's the same message again.

So He says it's available. You say, well how...what's the basis of this rest? The basis is that you mix it with faith, that you believe it. If you don't believe it, God swears that you'll never enter into His rest, even though He created the world that it might be for rest, even though He created you that you might enter into His salvation. And even though many do reject, verse 6 says, some will believe. And so He's right back to His same premise. Today if you'll hear His voice, harden not your hearts, for if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Oh, what a great statement. If Israel had entered into rest then, Joshua wouldn't have had to talk about a future rest. You know they never knew rest?

They never did. Even the few that went in the land never knew rest because when they got in the land, they disobeyed God and they never killed the enemies in the land, right? So they never knew rest. Some of them died in the wilderness and never entered the rest. Those who entered the land never knew the rest because they never killed the enemy.

They never dealt with it in the way God told them to. The whole generation, so God took the whole idea of salvation for Israel and postponed it. And as Romans 11 says, someday Israel will be saved. There is still a rest. God is still offering a rest. It isn't a physical one like Canaan, it's a spiritual one. And the writer of Hebrews is reaching out and saying, right now, right today, this moment you can enter into God's rest by faith in your heart. And I love verse 9.

What does He say? There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. In other words, that wasn't the end.

God didn't just say, oh, curse you human race. That's it. It's all over.

No salvation, no more rest. I quit. I give up. I've done everything for you. You turn your back on Me.

That's the end of it. No, He didn't say that. He said, well, if you won't take the rest here in Canaan that I offer you in a physical sense as a symbol of the salvation that I offer you spiritually, I'll keep my arms of grace open until you do.

Isn't that great? And so in a general sense, God's grace has always been extended to Israel and to the Gentiles, the whole world. God's arms are still open and there remaineth, verse 9, a rest to the people of God. And then in verse 10 He says, he that has entered into his rest is ceased from his own works as God did from his.

Oh, what a great statement. You enter by faith, not by works. You enter by faith, not by works. And you live by faith, not by works.

It's not a works system. It's a rest in the work of Christ. And He works it through us. We don't do it in our flesh. Therefore, verse 11 says, let us labor to enter into that rest.

Now there's a dichotomy. He just says it's a rest and you don't enter by works. And then He says, let's labor to get in. What does He mean by that? What kind of labor is He talking about?

It's not the word labor, it's the word spedadzo and it means to hurry. Listen, He says, this is a rest that God wants you to enter into. Hurry and enter in, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief, after the example of Israel. Don't fall.

Well, I've tried to show you the availability of rest, the basis of rest. Verse 11 gives us the urgency of rest. Hurry, hurry and enter. You say, why? Because of verse 12 and 13, and we'll close with these. You've got to hurry.

Why? For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened under the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Let me stop right there. Now listen to this. He's saying, hurry, spedadzo, hasten, make haste to enter the rest and the rest is salvation, people. He's saying, come on, come on, how are you going to escape if He neglects our greatest salvation? What are you going to do if you willfully sin after the knowledge of the truth? It's going to be impossible for you to be renewed under repentance once you have crucified the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. If they didn't refuse who said no to the God who spoke out of an earthly mountain, how are you going to escape if you do not hear the voice of God who spoke from heaven?

All of these warnings are summed up and He says in verse 11, let's hurry to enter into God's rest. Don't put it off, don't neglect, don't procrastinate, don't say tomorrow, don't say when I understand more, do it now. Give diligence. Why? You say, why? For the Word of God is a sword, that's why. Now sometimes you hear people use this verse to talk about how comforting and how lovely and how wonderful the Bible is.

That's not what it's talking about. The Word of God is a sword of vengeance. The Word of God is a sword of wrath and the two-edgedness means you can't escape, it goes both ways. Whichever way you move, it will get you. You see, it will pierce you and it will divide asunder your inner being and it will reveal your motives and it will tear you wide open.

That's what He's saying. It's all a picture of a sword plunged into an individual that rips open the joints in the marrow. It discerns the thoughts. It discerns the motives. Listen, the Word of God will penetrate the heart of an individual and even though they've been religious and even though they've gone to church and hung on the fence and even believed with their mind, the Word of God will diagnose the true condition of the heart.

It will show whether the profession is a real one or a sham and it will split you wide open before God. Now see, here the Word is presented as a sword wielded in judgment. It is alive. It is powerful. It is sharp. It divides.

It discerns. And nothing escapes. You'll never escape this. That's what verse 13 says.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight and all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. You'll never escape because He'll know. He'll know. Now this isn't an easy message to preach and I'm not trying to destroy anybody's hope. I just want you to know Jesus Christ. I want you to enter God's rest.

You know, I know what's going to happen. The Bible tells me. There's going to be a whole lot of carcasses in the desert and they're going to be very religious people, very religious. They may believe Jesus died and rose again.

And they may have wanted someone to take them out of the bondage of their life, but they never took a Lord in whom they put their faith. And so they'll die in the wilderness. Religious people, oh, they think it's going to be all right, but it isn't.

It isn't going to be all right in the end. It's going to be terrible in the end when the judgment sword of God falls. Today, today is the day to enter His rest. Listen, if you're trying to get there on your own or if you think that just knowing it's true is enough, you're wrong. Until you cast yourself on Jesus Christ, you are living in imminent danger of the judgment of God. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and he's currently showing you what genuine spiritual fruit looks like in his study called Examine Yourself.

John, let me go back to an important point you made in today's lesson. One of the marks of a true Christian is that he wants to obey God's word, so someone who doesn't desire righteousness should not assume he's a believer. But what about the person who sees both righteous and unrighteous desires in his life?

How much assurance can that person have? Every Christian is going to see both righteous and unrighteous desires in his life. I think it's the absence of the righteous desires.

It's not the presence of the unrighteous ones. We're never going to be what we should be, and that is the whole point that Paul made in Romans 7. He is a fully mature believer saying, I don't do what I want to do. I do what I don't want to do, wretched man that is in me. How do I get delivered from this body of death?

He felt like a corpse was attached to him. It is the presence of righteous desires, battling against those unrighteous desires, that is evidence that you have been born again. It's those things that you love and fall short of that testify to your transformation. Let me remind you about a free book titled Is It Real? And that is a question, as we've noticed in the last few days, that people ask constantly. In fact, it is a question you should ask constantly. You should examine yourself. You should know your spiritual condition. As I said a few days ago, any time you come to the Lord's table, you should do a self-examination. So this is a booklet that answers a compelling question, is it real? Is my salvation the real thing? Am I going to heaven?

I don't want to be one of those people who hear, Lord, Lord, you know, we did this and did that in your name, and He says, Depart from me, I never knew you. This booklet will help you. The title of the booklet, Is It Real?, we'll send it to anyone who asks free of charge.

Really nothing is more important than knowing if you're truly saved. So make sure you take advantage of this offer. Again, we'll send you the booklet, Is It Real?, free of charge. Just request your copy when you contact us today.

You can reach a customer service representative at our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org. Is It Real? gives you 11 biblical test questions to help you evaluate where you stand with God. It can also help you show others the difference between false conversion and real transformation. Again to get your free copy of the booklet, Is It Real?, call 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. And if you're looking for additional tools to learn more about salvation or assurance or some other topic, let me encourage you to visit our website. We have thousands of free resources available on issues like How to Grow in Spiritual Courage, God's Design for the Family, The Life of Christ, and much more. You can read blog articles, follow along with the MacArthur Daily Bible's reading plan, and download any of John's more than 3500 sermons.

And again, all of those resources and more are free at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind, Grace to You television airs this Sunday. Check your local listings for channel and times, and then join us next week for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 19:22:42 / 2023-04-22 19:33:41 / 11

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