Final thoughts on Hebrews 4:11-13
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. NKJV
Hebrews was written to the Jews to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and as such, is the fulfillment of all the ceremonial laws. In chapter 4, verses 1-10, God demonstrates that the ceremonial laws fulfilled by Jesus include the Sabbath Day commandments, and that the true Sabbath rest comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. In chapter 4, verse 11, the Apostle exhorts his readers to enter into the true Sabbath rest through faith in Christ (v.3). With this background having been laid, there are three important lessons in our present text.
First, we need to trust Jesus as our Savior, lest we fall into condemnation as the Jews in the wilderness did (v. 11). That the Old Testament Jews were given the gospel message is clearly seen in the following passages. In Genesis 3:15, God promised that the seed of the woman (the Messiah) would deliver fallen man from his sins by bruising the head of the serpent (Satan). In Galatians 3:8, we are told that God preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand. Abraham believed God’s gospel message regarding the coming Messiah who would deliver him from his sins (Gal. 3:6-7). Jesus told the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (Jn. 8:56). Many Old Testament passages such as Psalm 22 and Isa. 53 expound in great detail upon the death of the Messiah for our sins. In Luke 24:25-26, Jesus rebuked the two disciples on the road to Emmaus for being foolish and slow of heart to believe the Old Testament message of His death, resurrection, and ascension. In John 3:10, Jesus also rebuked Nicodemus, who was the spiritual teacher of the Jews, for his ignorance of the Old Testament teaching regarding the new birth that comes through salvation in the Messiah. The Jews in the wilderness rejected the gospel message, and as a result they were not saved (Heb. 3:7-11,15,18-19; 4:2,11). Because they rejected the gospel message, they fell into condemnation (Heb. 3:16-17, I Cor. 10:5). Likewise, all who are disobedient to the gospel message will be condemned (II Thess. 1:7-9, Jn. 3:16-18).
Second, the Word of God is what pierces the inward man and leads people to salvation in Christ (v.12). There are five terms in verse twelve of our text used to describe the inward man (soul, spirit, joints, marrow, and heart). Just as a sword is able to pierce the body, likewise the gospel is able to pierce the inward man (Rom. 10:17, Eph. 6:17, II Tim. 3:15). Both “soul” and “spirit”, carry the idea of life, but soul refers to the natural life (that which energizes the body) as opposed to spirit, which refers to the spiritual life that brings one into a relationship with God. The unsaved person is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), and as a result, has no understanding or experiential knowledge of the things of God (I Cor. 2:14). The unsaved person is physically alive, but is dead to God. There is no division or conflict between his soul and spirit because he is spiritually dead, and as a result, he is ruled by the lusts of his flesh (Eph. 2:3). But in Christ, all of that changes. The saved person is given spiritual life, and as a result of his new nature in Christ, the spirit now wars against the lusts of the flesh (II Cor. 5:17, Gal. 5:16-17).
Third, the Lord will bring us all into judgment (v.13). This is true whether you are a believer or an unbeliever; the difference lies in the kind of judgment into which we will be brought. For believers, it will be a judgment of rewards or loss of rewards which will determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Cor. 3:12-15, II Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:10). Conversely, for unbelievers, it will be a judgment of condemnation against their sins which will be determined at the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
Where we will spend eternity in the next life depends on how we respond to the gospel in this life. Have you repented of your sins, and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Where will you spend eternity?