For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
(This is the first of a series of articles about entering God's rest. You may subscribe free and get these in your email by clicking here).
The word “gospel” is from a Greek word that means literally “good news.” Often we think of it as the salvation message. In this verse the writer refers to something else – the “rest of God” that he has been talking about for several verses.
For the Israelites coming out of Egypt, the “rest” was a promise of victory over their enemies, and a promised land. The plan was, God would take them out of slavery to the promised land – what is now Israel – and they would be his people and He would be their God. He would give them peace and victory, and what they had to do to get this was to have faith. They had to fight no battles, they only had to march forward and take what God had provided for them. God had promised to do the fighting for them.
But we see the sad story, that the message didn’t help them because they didn’t combine it with faith. Through their unbelief, they failed to take advantage of God’s offer to them.
The situation is the same for us today. We have the gospel preached to us, the salvation message surely, but the rest as well. There are thousands of promises in the Bible, and as Christians they are all ours. We don’t have to earn them because they are already provided. There is one thing we have to do, and that is, to have faith in the God who makes promises. We have to “mix” the promise with faith.
Having faith is not some mystical feeling thing. Having faith is acting as if the promised thing was already done. (I am not saying God has promised us wealth and perfect health and every little thing we want, but He has made many promises.)
The promises didn’t work for the Israelites because the didn’t combine them with faith. They won’t work for us either unless we combine them with faith. And this is how we enter God’s rest today, by faith.
The word “combine” is often translated “mix” and that might be a better word. It is a mixing to the point that what is mixed becomes a new substance.
James 2:17 says faith without works is dead, which is a way is saying the same thing. Faith without works is useless, and works without faith are useless. The two go together.
So then, lets not be like the Israeli’s who failed to mix the good news with faith.