September 22, 2019 – Hebrews 4:1-13

Lesson Date: September 22, 2019

Focal Scripture Passage: Hebrews 4:1-13

AIM: To lead students to discover five important truths about salvation available through faith in Jesus Christ, and to give any who are not saved the opportunity to trust Christ for salvation.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Hebrews 4:1-13 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following to the class:

Some offers seem too good to be true. You have probably received a flyer in the mail saying you may have won some fabulous prize. When you examined the fine print, however, it said your chance of winning the fabulous prize was about 1 in 10 billion (even though there are only 7 billion people on the whole planet!). It seemed too good to be true, so you ignored the offer and discarded the flyer.

Imagine for a moment that you learned that Bill Gates, the second richest man in America, was coming to town. Not only was he coming to town, he promised to give $1,000 to everyone who would meet him at a certain place and certain time. Regardless of how many might come, he promised to give $1,000 to each person. No strings attached – just show up and get your money.

Now you are faced with a choice between two options:

  1. If you think the offer is too good to be true (like the flyer promising a fabulous prize), you will dismiss the whole thing. You will not go meet Bill Gates because you don’t believe the report that he is giving people $1,000 is true.
  2. If, however, you believe the report, you will go to the appointed place at the appointed time to receive your $1,000 gift. By doing so, you will receive what others ignored and rejected.

Remind the students that last week we learned about the ancient Israelites who came out of bondage in Egypt, but refused to believe God and enter the Promised Land. God offered them rest, but most died in the wilderness because they refused to believe Him or claim the rest He offered. In this lesson we will discover what Jesus offers people today.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are in a study of the New Testament book of Hebrews, which is about the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
    • Ask: “What have the first three chapters of Hebrews taught us that Jesus is superior to?” (prophets, angels, creation, Moses, and He is superior in humility).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the serious consequences of refusing to obey God).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (Heb. 3:12).
    • Tell the class the verses we will study today from Hebrews 4 logically divide into five sections, presenting five truths about the rest God offers.
  2. The Rest God Promised is Still Available.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 4:1.
    • Ask the students to look at the middle part of that verse.
    • Ask: “What promise is still available today?” (the promise of entering into God’s rest).
    • Explain that “rest” for the ancient Israelites was life in the bountiful Promised Land. For us, the word “rest” represents salvation.
    • Ask: “What does verse 1 say we should fear?” (that some might fail to enter God’s rest).
    • Remind the students that the book of Hebrews was written to saved people, just as probably most of those in this class are saved.
    • Ask: “If you are already saved can you fail to enter the rest of salvation?” (no).
    • Ask the following rhetorical question: “What, then, does this verse mean?”
    • Explain that we should fear lest any of our friends or loved ones in the church (that’s what’s meant by “any of you”) fail to enter the rest of salvation. In other words, we should be concerned that some who attend church with us are not truly saved.
    • Tell the class the point of the verse is in the words “a promise being left.” That means God’s promised rest is still available today. We who are saved should be fearful that others would miss the promised rest of salvation.
    • Summarize: God’s promised rest is still available today, through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who are saved should be concerned that those we love might miss out on that rest.
  3. We Receive that Rest by Faith.
    • Read Hebrews 4:2.
    • Ask: “Why didn’t the Israelites believe God’s Word?” (lack of faith).
    • Explain that the Gospel is the Good News of salvation available through Jesus Christ. Many people hear the Gospel, but relatively few respond to it.
    • Ask: “Why do you think that is the case?” (those who don’t respond don’t have faith to believe).
    • Write on the right and left sides of the marker board or chalkboard the words “Sinner” and “Gospel.” Leave space between the two words.
    • Tell the students that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has power to save sinners; but not every sinner who hears it gets saved.
    • Write the word “Faith” on the board between the other two words, and draw lines connecting it to the other words.
    • Explain that faith is like a catalyst that enables the Gospel message to make a difference in an individual’s life.
    • Ask: “Where does faith come from? How does a person get faith to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” (it is a gift of God – see Eph. 2:8).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 4:3.
    • Ask: “Who enters into the rest of salvation?” (those who believe).
    • Ask: “When were the works that brought salvation finished?” (the foundation of the world).
    • Read Hebrews 4:4-5.
    • Tell the class God created the universe in six days and then rested on the seventh day. He still offers rest, but we must receive that rest by faith.
    • Summarize: The promised rest of salvation is still available to mankind today, but the only way to receive it is by faith.
  4. The Rest Christ Offers is Superior to Anything Offered to the Ancient Jews.
    • Read Hebrews 4:6-8.
    • Tell the students that verse 6 says some must enter into God’s rest, but we were reminded last week (chapter 3) that the generation that followed Moses out of Egypt failed to do so.
    • Ask: “Why did they fail to enter into the promised rest?” (unbelief).
    • Tell the class that verse 7 is quoted from Psalm 95 (as were several verses in chapter 3). Explain the following:
      • David wrote Psalm 95 four hundred years after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.
      • As a matter of fact, David was living in the Promised Land when he wrote those words.
      • The writer of Hebrews understood that David was speaking prophetically about a future rest.
    • Ask: “What are we waned not to do in verse 7?” (harden our hearts).
    • Explain that the name “Jesus” in verse 8 should actually be translated “Joshua.” Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Jehovah is salvation.”[1]
    • Tell the class verse 8 says if Joshua had given the Israelites true rest, the Lord would not have spoken of another future day of rest.
    • Stress the fact that the offer of rest in Jesus Christ still stands. It is still available to any who receive it by faith.
    • Ask: “Do you think the rest Jesus offers is better or worse than the rest of the Promised Land offered by Joshua?” (the rest of salvation through Jesus Christ is far superior to rest in the Promised Land: those who lived in the Promised Land eventually died, but those who receive eternal life through Jesus will live with Him forever).
    • Summarize: There is a promised rest still available to those who trust Jesus Christ by faith. Christ’s rest is superior to that offered by Moses and Joshua.
  5. True Rest Frees Us from Having to Work to Gain God’s Approval.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 4:9-10.
    • Ask: “Have you ever tried to redeem a coupon, but it was refused because the coupon had expired?” (probably so).
    • Tell the students we can’t use an expired coupon because the time to use it has run out, but verse 9 says there still remains a rest for the people of God. In other words, God’s offer hasn’t expired and His supply has not run out.
    • Ask: “What does verse 10 say about those who have entered into God’s rest (salvation)?” (they have ceased from their own works).
    • Explain that salvation comes by grace, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). Those who are still working to earn salvation don’t know Christ’s genuine salvation and haven’t entered into God’s rest. True salvation frees us from having to try to work to earn God’s approval. Truly saved people already have God’s approval and love.
    • Summarize: True rest (genuine salvation by faith in Jesus Christ) frees believers from having to work to try to gain God’s approval.
  6. God Knows Whether You Have True Rest.
    • Read Hebrews 4:11.
    • Tell the students that like verse 1, this verse says we should labor (make haste and be diligent) to see that no one in the body fails to believe God and enter His rest.
    • Read Hebrews 4:12.
    • Ask if anyone can quote that familiar verse aloud.
    • Tell the class that verse 12 reveals a lot of truths about God’s Word.
    • Ask the students to name some of those truths about the Bible (it is alive, it is powerful, it is sharp and cutting, it can divide flesh from Spirit, and it discerns our thoughts and intentions).
    • Read Hebrews 4:13.
    • Ask: “Can any action, word, or thought be hidden from God?” (no; see Ps. 139:7-10).
    • Explain that the point of these verses is that God knows our hearts – we can’t hide our unbelief from Him. Others may be deceived into thinking our faith is genuine, but the Lord knows the truth about each of us.
    • Summarize: The Word of God is living, powerful, and exposes the truth about our hearts. God knows whether we have true rest – genuine salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the class that “rest” for us is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Review the five truths from this lesson, substituting the word “salvation” for the word “rest” in each one, as follows:

  1. The salvation God promised is still available.
  2. We receive that salvation by faith.
  3. The salvation Christ offers is superior to anything offered to the ancient Jews.
  4. True salvation frees us from having to work to gain God’s approval.
  5. God knows whether you have true salvation.

Tell the students the ancient Israelites were offered rest in the Promised Land, but most of them refused. Because of their unbelief they died in the wilderness and never inherited the wonderful land God wanted them to have.

Say: “Today you are offered superior rest through a genuine saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The church includes many people who know the language and the behavior of genuine salvation, but have never truly experienced it. Some of them grew up in the church and have been there all their lives. Most people assume they are saved, but God knows the truth.”

Say: “If you have never truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, please do so today. When you do, you will be free from the pressure of trying to gain God approval by your works. You will experience God’s wonderful rest.”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Voice a closing prayer, asking the Lord to save any who are not saved, and thanking Him for giving superior rest to His children.

 

CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to memorize Hebrews 4:12. Tell them to thank the Lord every day for His superior rest and for giving them faith to believe. Ask them to look for opportunities this week to tell others about the superior rest Jesus Christ offers.

[1] Thayer’s Greek Definitions, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1999, Parsons Technology, Inc.

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