We are studying on this blog the meaning of the word “gospel” in the Bible. This is actually the 59th post in this series as we “blog” our way through the references. I am doing some writing on the “gospel,” so this is part of my own preparation. Today we turn to the two references to “gospel” in the book of Hebrews, and both are found in chapter four:
since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful
that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 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. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 It
still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly
had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their
There is much about the book of Hebrews that is hard to understand, including the meaning of the word “rest.” To avoid a lengthy discussion, I will give my view: it refers to salvation as both a present experience but also a future completion. So, one both has this rest and can fall short of it.
Now what is interesting about this text is that it says the wilderness generation — think Exodus and Numbers and Deuteronomy — was “gospeled” or “evangelized” and they did not have a proper faith.
That proper faith is a trusting obedience, the kind of thing we read about also in the Sermon on the Mount and James: namely, true faith works. Hebrews says the wilderness generation, like the present church, was evangelized but did not have a faith that worked sufficiently to lead them to the final rest.
Gospel entails a response of faith that works.