Derek Prince - Confident Access To God
Now we come to the first passage of practical application, verses 14-16. And the essence of the application is confident access to God. In verse 14 we have the third "let us" passage, which is "let us hold fast our confession". Let's look at this passage now beginning at verse 14. Having therefore a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession. That's what it says. The confession every Christian has to make. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tested [or tempted] in all things in like manner as we are, without sin. Let us therefore [that's the fourth "let us"] Let us therefore approach with confidence. But it's that word that means "freedom of speech".
Do you remember that? In other words, don't let the devil take away your freedom of speech. Don't make the devil make you sin-conscious, guilt, conscious, timid, fearful. Let us approach with boldness [with confidence that expresses itself freely in what we say] to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace for help when we need it. All right, coming to the last one, "Having therefore a great high priest who has passed through the heavens". He's passed above all other kingdoms and powers and rulers. He's exalted far above them all. "Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession".
I pointed out that, continually, confession is linked to the ministry of Jesus as High Priest. It's the way that we activate His ministry as High Priest on our behalf. "Let us hold fast the confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who's been tempted in all points in a way like us, but without sin". Let me just point out there that Jesus can empathize with us in all our temptations. Never say to Him, "Lord, you don't understand what I'm going through". Because, He does. That's one of His qualifications to be our high priest. Then we come to the 16th verse, "Let us therefore draw near or approach with freedom of speech to the throne of grace, in order that we may obtain mercy and find grace for help at the time we need it".
It's my conviction that if God says in His word to us, "Let us draw near," and if we meet the conditions, then we will obtain what we come for. We can be sure of obtaining mercy and finding grace if we come. I believe the biggest problem with most of us is that we're slow to recognize our need of mercy and grace. But once we see our need and meet the conditions, then the result is guaranteed. I think particularly of that phrase "in time of need" because one of the things that holds us back is: the situation is so serious, there's nothing to do. But that's the very time that God says we should come. So, right at the moment when your need is the greatest you have this invitation. It's a throne, so it belongs to a king and the king we're coming to is not just "a" king, he's "the King of kings," He has all authority and power. And it's a throne of grace.
Grace is not earned. We don't have to earn it; we have to receive it by faith. That's another tremendous stumbling block: "I don't deserve it so I can't come". But you don't have to deserve it, you have to feel your need of it and meet the condition. You cannot earn grace. Now I want to go for the rest of our time this evening into the question of entering into rest. This is something that as I said earlier God has dealt with me very personally. What I'm sharing with you now is the outcome of God's dealings with me. This is not just theology or theory, it's based on experience and I trust it will be 100 percent practical.
One of my ambitions as a teacher of the Scriptures is never to be impractical. I always desire that in some way there will be practical results out of my teaching. Sometimes they may be long term, they may not be direct but I would be disappointed if nothing happened as a result of teaching the Word of God. So I want you to follow with me through your outline there on Page 4/3. Here are the facts and bear in mind that faith is based on facts. The order is, as you probably heard: fact, faith, feeling. Don't start with feelings, start with fact. Put your faith in the fact and let the feelings take care of themselves. Fact number one, and you might be surprised to know that there are seven facts and the seventh fact is divided into seven sub-facts! All right.
Fact number one, there is an appointed rest for us as God's people. Hebrews 4:9: Then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. So God has a Sabbath rest appointed for us.
Number two, this rest lies within our inheritance. I dwelt on that at the end of my teaching session last week with examples from Deuteronomy, which you can go over again if you wish to. When God spoke to Israel about rest it was always within their inheritance. I believe the same is true for us. Outside of our inheritance there is no rest. We could look just at Hebrews 3:16–19: Who when they heard provoked? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt through Moses? And with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose carcasses fell in the desert? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, if it was not except to those who disobeyed [or disbelieved]?
And we see that it was through unbelief that they were not able to enter. We see there entering into their inheritance and entering into rest were tied together. I want to emphasize that's true for us. We have to discover what our inheritance is. Otherwise, we cannot enter into our rest. Also, I pointed out that the word inheritance and the related words heir and so on, are one of the key concepts in Hebrews and that the whole epistle is directed toward the end of inheritance, rest and perfection. They go together. In the inheritance there is the possibility of rest and the possibility of perfection. Outside of the inheritance neither rest nor perfection are possible.
Third fact, our inheritance is all that becomes ours through our relationship with Jesus. Two verses there, Hebrews 3:6: whose house [or family] we are [that is, the family of Jesus Christ], if indeed we maintain our confidence and the boasting of our hope firm to the end. So we are the family of God in Christ if we maintain our confidence and boasting to the end. Then again, in Hebrews 3:14: For we have become partakers of Christ, if indeed we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm to the end. So we're the family of God, we're partakers of Christ upon the condition of holding fast. But this is our inheritance, God's family and partakers of Christ. And I pointed out last week that if we're partakers of Christ, He shares everything with us, the entire inheritance.
Fourth fact, this inheritance is guaranteed by two things. a) the death of Jesus on our behalf; b) His eternal life of intercession for us. I'd like you to look at three very beautiful Scriptures. Romans 5:10: Romans 5:10: For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. So first, we're reconciled through His death. Then we're saved by His life. I think in most sections of the church there is sometimes too much emphasis on the death and not sufficient emphasis on the life.
I think that has been especially true, let me say, in the Catholic Church in the past. I think it's changing. But it was always a picture of Jesus on the cross; there was a failure to go beyond the cross to the resurrection. But Paul says His death reconciles, His life will save us. Then another beautiful verse in Romans 8:34: Who is the one that condemns? [Us, that is.] Christ Jesus is He who died, yea, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. So again, first it's His death, but then it's His life of endless intercession that ensures our salvation. Then Hebrews 7:25, going back to Hebrews, and we'll be back in chapter 4 in a minute.
Hebrews 7:25, Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Where it says "forever," the alternative reading in the margin is "completely" and the King James, I think, is an unbeatable translation there, "He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him". We used to say in the days when we preached out of the King James "from the guttermost to the uttermost". I think that some of you wouldn't believe it, but I used to be a street preacher for many, many years. I saw many people in the streets saved from the guttermost to the uttermost. So that's always been a very real Scripture to me: He lives forever, there's no one He can't save. There's no life He can't change. Going back to our outline.
Fact number five, the great hindrance is unbelief. I think we need to look at those Scriptures again. Hebrews 3:12: Be watchful therefore, brothers, lest there should be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in turning away from the living God. That's addressed to all of us. Be watchful lest there should be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief. Verse 19 of chapter 3: And we see that it was through unbelief that they could not enter. And chapter 4:11: Let us be diligent therefore to enter into that rest, lest anyone should fall by following the same example of unbelief [or disobedience]. I believe I failed to point out at that passage, which is something real, that we need to be very careful what example we follow. One of the dangers is we follow the wrong example. I've been impressed especially by young people in contemporary culture, there's such a tremendous danger of following the wrong example.
As a matter of fact, our culture has stripped us of most of our good examples, we don't have any more heroes; every hero has been debunked. All we're left with is bad examples to follow. But it really is a very important question: What example are you following? And, another important question is, What example are you setting? The warning here is be careful that you don't follow the wrong example of unbelief. I was dealing two years ago in Israel with a young man who was studying Hebrew at the Hebrew University in the same class that I was in. He was a Christian. But the atmosphere in Israel is absolutely permeated with unbelief. It takes real determination to hold onto your faith.
Ruth and I were not, for the most part, mixing with believers because we were committed to hours of study in the Hebrew University every day. With deep regret I watched this young man, who was from England, follow the wrong examples and in the course of about six weeks I just found his faith had been undermined and I was not really able to change that. The way it happened was he picked the wrong examples to follow. So, the warning is, Check whose example you're following. I think those of us that have to deal with teenagers will agree that, especially through the media, continually they're confronted with examples that are evil and destructive. There isn't really much of a good example for them to follow. But it isn't only true of teenagers. Going back to our outline.
Sixth fact, God's offer is today, present, urgent. We'll look at two Scriptures, Hebrews 3:15: "Today if you will hear His voice..." And Hebrews 4:7: "Today if you will hear His voice..." It might pay you to go through that passage and see how many times the word today is used. I think it's four or five times. God says, "Today". Don't put it off, don't count on the future. Now is the accepted time.
The seventh fact, we come now to the seven sub-facts. The following are the main requirements for entering our rest. I trust that you can receive these in a very practical way. First one is being attentive to hear God's voice. Hebrews 3:7, we've looked at them but we'll look at them again. "Today if you will hear His voice..." Hebrews 3:15: "Today if you will hear His voice..." Hebrews 4:7: "Today if you will hear His voice..." If you don't hear that, you don't hear His voice because three times "If you will hear His voice". And then the next requirement is resting from our own works. Hebrews 4:10: For the one who has entered into His [that's God's] rest himself also has rested from his own works as God did from His.
So we have to rest from our own works to enter into God's. I think that's a kind of crisis that every one of us has to come to. The next condition or requirement is committing ourselves to do the work God has appointed for us. Rest is not laziness. Turn to a Scripture there in Ephesians 2:10 which was the favorite Scripture of my first wife Lydia and really shaped the course of her life. Hebrews 2:10: For we are His workmanship [his masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus with a view to good works, which God prepared in advance, in order that we may walk in them. The "good works" are prepared in advance. Once you're created in Christ Jesus, there are good works ordained for you to walk in. You do not have to improvise.
What you have to do is find out what God has prepared and then walk in it. But, we are created for good works, that's the very objective. Going back to our outline, the next requirement is relying on God's supernatural grace and power, not on our own ability. I think these are the two hurdles that most people find difficult to get over. First of all, ceasing from our own works and then doing God's work but relying not on our own efforts. At any rate, I would say in my own observation of myself that's my biggest problem. In many cases it's not the big jobs, it's the little ones. When I come to a big job, I know I can't handle it. But when it's a fairly small one I tend to start off in my own strength, then I wonder why something went wrong.
Let's look at some examples there. First of all, I want to look at the example of Jesus in John 9:4. This is a very remarkable statement Jesus makes. It impressed me all the more because I was used to the King James translation which is different. The King James translation, if you recall, says, "I must work the work of him that sent me". But this, which is based on more accurate texts, says: "For we must do the works of the One who sent Me while it is day". The emphasis there in the Greek is on the "we". They're talking about the man born blind, and Jesus says in the previous verse, "It wasn't this man who sinned, nor his parents, but we must do the works of the One who sent Me". In other words, He's saying, "Don't sit there and theorize about why this man is blind. We've got to do our job, which is what? To give him back his sight. Don't spend all the time trying to understand the problem. Come up with the solution".
That's a very powerful statement. "We must work the works of Him who sent Me". And He didn't say "I". He identified Himself with His disciples. You and I have got a job to do, let's get on with the job. But then a little further on in John 14. John 14:10, talking to His disciples about His relationship with the Father, He says to Philip, and we won't look into the background: "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words which I speak to you I do not speak from Myself [they don't come from Me], but the Father dwelling in Me does His works". So, Jesus said in John 9:4, "We must do the works of the One who sent Me," but when He comes down to analyze how it takes place, He says, "The Father dwelling in Me does His works and the words I speak to you are not My words, they're the words the Father gave Me".
In other words, Jesus totally relied on the Father within Him to accomplish the task allotted to Him. He is, in a sense, the perfect pattern of not doing it in His own ability. Then Paul also is a very striking example of the same principle. We'll look at two Scriptures in connection with Paul. First Corinthians 15:10: I think I'll read it from this translation. First Corinthians 15:10: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. It's a remarkable statement. It's almost as though the grace of God was something additional. It wasn't just that Paul had the grace of God, but that the grace of God was with him. And first of all, he says, "I worked harder than all the rest". Then he corrects himself, "It really wasn't I, I can't take the credit. But it was the grace of God that enabled me to work like that".
If any credit is to be given, it's not for being able to do it. The only credit we could take would be for letting God's grace do it. But the ability is not ours. Turn to one other Scripture, Zechariah 4:6. Then he answered and said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts". Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit. You have to put the nots first. You have to set those things aside before you can receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. I looked at those words, I'm not absolutely declaring this as a final interpretation, but I was interested in the words for "might" and "power" in Hebrew. It seemed to me that in a certain sense the implication of "might" was material and the implication of "power" was physical. In other words, it's not by your material sources, nor is it by your personal strength. When you've set those two aside then you open up to the Holy Spirit.
See, the Holy Spirit very rarely forces His way in on us. If we can get along all right without Him, that's just what we do. He doesn't push in and say "You need Me". He waits to be acknowledged. To acknowledge Him, in a certain sense, we have to say first the negative. Not by any material resources, not by money, not by weapons and not by any strength of personality or will or body, but by the Spirit. See, there's only one agent in the universe that can do the things that need to be done in the hearts and lives of sinners. It's not education, it's not wealth; it's the Holy Spirit. There isn't any other agent so there's nothing else that can produce those results. We can go through all the motions and the activities, but if the Holy Spirit doesn't do it, the results will not be what are needed. The next requirement, setting right priorities: the eternal before the temporal.
Again, there is very little said about this in contemporary Christianity. Everybody's on a success syndrome. Prosperity. Get a Cadillac. Why stay with a Cadillac? I mean, there's better things than Cadillacs. But to a very high degree, American Christians today are focused on the material. There are certain good reasons. I believe God operates in the realm of material. I believe God has made provision for prosperity. But I believe if we get our priorities wrong, we won't get the kind of prosperity that God intends us to have. I'd like you to look at just a few Scriptures there. Hebrews 2:5. I just want you to see the theme. He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. It's important to see the theme of Hebrews is the world to come. That's not the theme of much contemporary Christianity.
Then in Hebrews 13:14: Hebrews 13:14: For we do not have a lasting city here, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Is that true? I think there are a lot of contemporary Christians who are hardly aware there is a city to come. And sooner or later something is going to happen in their lives that will make them very conscious that this isn't our final resting place. I was talking to a lady some while back about-I have to say this carefully, I don't want to reveal the identify of the persons because they're fairly well-known about a certain Christian who was instantly killed in a very tragic accident. This lady was a member of that man's congregation. She said, "This thing has absolutely shattered the faith of my children" (who were also members of the congregation). She said, "What am I to say to them"? I said, "Teach them about the sovereignty of God". I don't think she'd ever heard of that.
See, God is not an automatic vending machine. Faith is not coming up with... it used to be a quarter but now even in heaven with inflation you have to have two quarters! Putting them in a slot and getting the right kind of drink. That's not God. God will not be treated as a vending machine. We have to have a sense of priorities. Let's go quickly through these Scriptures. Matthew 6:33. Matthew 6:33. These are the words of Jesus. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you". You notice the word "first". There's nothing wrong in the things, but they must not come first. First we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, spiritual issues, the material follow. That's Jesus' promise.
I would have to testify to the faithfulness of God over many, many years that that has been proved true in my experience. I think I can say consistently I have not sought the material first, by the grace of God. Let's compare with that 1 Timothy 6. 1 Timothy 6:9-10. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. That's very strong language. Those who want to get rich, those who make riches their objective, fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
I have to say, on the basis of observation, that's true; I've seen it happen. It's essential we keep our priorities right. Going on, F on Page 4/4. Maintaining a bold confession of our faith and our hope. I think we've spoken about that so many times we don't need to look at those Scriptures. But they're listed there. Then the final requirement that I mention here, and I'm not suggesting this list is exhaustive, is eliminating any residual Canaanites. Going back to the example of Israel entering the Promised Land. We can turn for a moment to Joshua.
Joshua 23:11-12: "So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God. For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, [verse 13:] know with certainty the LORD your God will not continue to drive out these nations from before you; but they shall be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you".
I've dealt with so many people who were struggling with the presence of evil spirits in their lives as Christians and really, that's a vivid description. "A whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes". There's nothing that you could think of that would be in a way more painful or frustrating than thorns in your eyeballs. But God says, "If you allow the enemy forces to remain in your inheritance they will deprive you of your appointed rest".
Let me sum up and give a practical application. First of all, I think the principle is stated there. In this age today God offers us rest in relationship, not in situation. If you say, "If my situation were different I could rest," then you don't understand rest. The basis of rest in this age as God is dealing with us now, is not our physical or material situation, it's our relationship with the Lord, with one another in the Body of Christ. That's our inheritance. That's where we must look for rest. Entering into rest, as I've said already, requires a definite, personal decision.
In order to make it possible for you to take that decision, if the Holy Spirit so moves you, I have included in the outline a specimen of what I consider to be a needed decision. I'm going to read that out. You'll notice it there. I believe that there is an appointed rest which it is God's will for me to enter. I recognize that the great hindrance is unbelief. I therefore confess any and all unbelief as sin, and I renounce it in the name of Jesus. I determine to rest from my own works and to do the work God has for me. For all this I do not rely on my own ability, but on God's supernatural grace through Jesus Christ, my Savior and High Priest.
Now, I'm not asking anybody to put their signature there tonight. But, if what I've said touched you, convinced you, if you want to enter in as I've indicated, one, I believe the essential requirement is making a firm personal decision. If you wish to do that I suggest you take this home, pray, and then, as in the presence of God, if you're so prompted, sign your name and put the date. That won't solve all your problems forever but I believe it will take you through the gate. I tell you, since I made this outline I signed my name and put the date.
Although I've had problems, would you believe it, there's been a difference in my experience. One of my big problems, I'm going to close now, nobody would guess it, I'm sure, but my first wife put her finger on it. She said, "Your problem is you are your own slave driver". I don't need anybody else to goad me on because I goad myself. But that's not rest. That's taking over the office of the Holy Spirit. I know the difference in my life when I'm relying on God's grace and when I'm doing it by my own strength. So, I commend that decision to you. I cannot make it for you but Ruth and I will be praying for you.