God’s Pension Plan: Are You Vested?
Hebrews 4:1-13 May 11, 1997
Offering of Tithes and Gifts: Prayer and Offertory
Doxology: please stand and remain standing for the reading of Scripture.
Scripture: Unison Reading, Hebrews 4:9-13 page 1866, Pew Bible
Pastoral Prayer: Recognition of all Mothers.
In a Leadership magazine article, Lynn Anderson described what happens when a people lose their vision. A group of pilgrims landed on the shores of America about 350 years ago. With great vision and courage they had come to settle in the new land. In the first year they established a town. In the second, they elected a town council. In the third, the government proposed building a road 5 miles westward into the wilderness. But in the fourth year the people tried to impeach the town council because they thought such a road into the forest was a waste of public funds. Somehow these forward-looking people had lost their vision. Once able to see across oceans, they now could not look 5 miles into the wilderness.
This teaches us a lesson about vision, that it must be sustained in order to be realized. God has a vision for us that he desires us to sustain because he wants it to become a reality for us. That vision is the Sabbath-rest of God that he has set aside for all his children. You mothers have that kind of vision for your children that God has for us. That vision can become frustrated when children don’t seem yet to share that vision that we have for them. We want God’s best that we must trust him about for ourselves as well as our children, but not all of us nor our children will necessarily receive it because we have the right to choose not to believe it. But there is a sense in which we may rest even now in the future Sabbath-rest of God. This presently realized future hope enables us to go on.
This from Ruth Graham's “Sitting By My Laughing Fire,” and is my cherished thought for you on Mother's Day: (Franklin Graham?)
She waited for the call that never came;
searched every mail for a letter, or a note, or card,
that bore his name;
and on her knees at night, and on her feet all day,
she stormed Heaven's Gate in his behalf;
she pled for him in Heaven's high court.
"Be still, and wait," the word He gave;
and so she knew He would do in, and for, and with him,
that which she never could.
Doubts ignored, she went about her chores with joy;
knowing, though spurned, His word was true.
The prodigal had not returned but God was God,
and there was work to do.
And indeed we must carry on the work, the work of faith. The daily grind impacts this but God is still good.
I read about a woman who telephoned a friend and asked how she was feeling, "Terrible," came the reply over the wire, "my head's splitting and my back and legs are killing me. The house is a mess, and the kids are simply driving me crazy." Very sympathetically the caller said, "Listen, go and lie down, I'll come over right away and cook lunch for you, clean up the house, and take care of the children while you get some rest. By the way, how is Sam?"
"Sam?" the complaining housewife gasped. "I have no husband named Sam."
"My heavens," exclaimed the first woman, "I must have dialed the wrong number."
There was a long pause. "Are you still coming over?" the harried mother asked hopefully.
-- Bobby Moore, Any Old Port in a Storm (First Baptist Informer,
First Baptist Church, Mineral Wells, TX, May 13, 1981), p. 1
Just like it says in Heb. 3:13, we need to encourage one another daily in this faith journey. But what is this Sabbath-rest we are pursuing? I propose to you that we may look at it as God’s Pension Plan. And in any pension plan offered by an employer, we must become vested. Now I apologize to any of you who have no prospect of retirement benefits from your employer. This is only an analogy of a spiritual principle. But I also hereby offer you the hope of Scripture that this pension plan from God is a far better benefit than could be obtained from any earthly source. But either way, heavenly plan or earthly plan, we must become vested in order to receive it.
For something to become vested means to be clothed, robed, fixed, settled, absolute, as a vested interest - not contingent upon anything else. For an earthly employer it is usually based on the employee contribution of a certain amount of time worked combined with a salary contribution matched by the employer. God’s program is similar but, of course, better. It too, requires our contribution. Instead of a certain number of years worked, it requires all our years - a lifetime. Instead of work for wages, it requires the work of faith. But the benefits will never run out because God will never run out of resources or riches. And neither will our eternal lifetime ever run out as we collect our benefits.
Let us take a quick overview of today’s passage with our earthly analogy in mind, and then go back and do a more careful scriptural analysis for the heavenly analogy.
1. Do not fail to become vested.
2a. We have all been told by our employer that we must become vested in order to collect a retirement they will provide.
2b. Some will not believe it matters and will leave the employer before they become vested.
2c. We must believe that the employer will provide us a retirement.
3a. Just as those who remain with their employer for the prescribed period will gain retirement, those who do not, won’t.
3b. This plan was put into effect up front when the company became established.
4. Even the founder of the company retired after he began it.
5. His rest established their (the employees) rest.
6. Some will reach retirement but others will strike out on their own.
7. Each day remains an opportunity to pursue retirement.
8. Others in the company established by the founder may have contributed along the way, but it is the vision of the founder that has secured it.
9. There is therefore retirement for the employees who are loyal.
10. They will retire just like the founder.
11. The employees must not lose their motivation if they wish to retire.
12. The founders retirement program offers incentive but also tests the loyalty of the employees.
13. It is as if the wisdom of the founder anticipated human nature.
But here now is God’s perspective from which this human analogy is drawn.
I. God’s offer of rest is available - from God for us. (vv. 1-3a)
A. It is a standing promise of rest from which we may fall short.
1. There is the rest of satisfaction and pleasure with one’s life and work. This is seen in God’s rest after creation. (vv. 3-4)
2. There is the rest of deliverance and of salvation. This is the rest of Canaan. (vv. 5-6)
3. There is the rest of a new day, of another day that shall be far better than this day -- a day that will bring perfection and eternal life to the human soul. (vv. 7-8)
B. It is a message preached of rest that requires faith. (v. 2)
C. It is a certainty from God of rest for those who believe. (v. 3a)
II. God’s offer of rest is proven - by God to us. (vv. 3b-10)
A. There is the proof of God’s own rest that has already been established since creation. (vv. 3b-5)
B. There is proof from the picture of spiritual rest that God offered the Israelites in Canaan through a type of gospel message. (v. 6)
C. There is proof through the continuing daily invitation of the Holy Spirit to enter God’s rest as He spoke through David. (v. 7)
D. There is proof then that there is a spiritual Sabbath-rest yet remaining that was not fulfilled by Joshua in Canaan because God continues to speak about it. (vv. 8-9)
E. There is conclusive proof that God’s people may obtain God’s rest. (v. 10)
III. God’s offer of rest is tested - by God on us. (vv. 11-13)
A. We are tested by the faith effort we are willing to make to obtain God’s rest. (v. 11)
B. We are tested by the discernment of God’s Word regarding our heart attitude about His promise of rest. (v. 12)
C. We are tested by the all-seeing eye of God to whom we must give account. (v.13)
Timeless Truth: God’s pension plan only has one requirement to become vested - faith.
Mt. 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
God’s Pension Plan: Are You Vested?
Hebrews 4:1-13 May 11, 1997
I. God’s offer of rest is a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ - from God for us.
A. It is a standing p _ _ _ _ _ _ of rest from which we may fall short.
B. It is a message p _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of rest that requires faith. (v. 2)
C. It is a c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ from God of rest for those who believe. (v. 3a)
II. God’s offer of rest is p _ _ _ _ _ - by God to us. (vv. 3b-10)
A. There is the proof of God’s own rest that has already been e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ since creation. (vv. 3b-5)
B. There is proof from the p _ _ _ _ _ _ of spiritual rest that God offered the Israelites in Canaan through a type of gospel message. (v. 6)
C. There is proof through the continuing daily i _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of the Holy Spirit to enter God’s rest as He spoke through David. (v. 7)
D. There is proof then that there is a spiritual Sabbath-rest yet remaining that was not fulfilled by Joshua in Canaan because God c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to speak about it. (vv. 8-9)
E. There is c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ proof that God’s people may obtain God’s rest. (v. 10)
III. God’s offer of rest is t _ _ _ _ _ - by God on us. (vv. 11-13)
A. We are tested by the faith effort we are willing to make to
o _ _ _ _ _ God’s rest. (v. 11)
B. We are tested by the discernment of God’s Word regarding our heart a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ about His promise of rest. (v. 12)
C. We are tested by the all-seeing eye of God to whom we must give a _ _ _ _ _ _ . (v.13)
Timeless Truth: God’s pension plan has only one r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to become vested - f _ _ _ _ .
A. The warning: Fear, lest you come short of God’s rest (v. 1)
B. Reason 1: The gospel of rest has been preached (v. 2)
C. Reason 2: God has sworn that unbelievers shall not enter His rest
D. Reason 3: There is a rest and there has been since creation
1. God’s rest after creation proves there is a spiritual rest
(vv. 3b-4) (Gen. 2:2)
2. God’s promise of Canaan rest proves there is a spiritual rest (vv. 5-6) (Ps. 95:11)
3. God’s promise of a New Day to David proves there is a spiritual rest (v. 7) (Ps. 95:7-8)
4. God’s promise of Another Day to Joshua proves there is a spiritual rest (v. 8) (Josh. 21:44; 22:4)
5. Conclusion: There is a rest for God’s people (v. 9)
6. The rest of Jesus Christ from all His work proves there is a spiritual rest (v. 10) The rest that God’s people discover is that it is God’s rest. God’s rest becomes theirs.
E. Reason 4: A person can fall into unbelief (vv. 11-13)
1. A person must labor to enter God’s rest or else he will fall into unbelief (v. 11)
2. God’s Word discerns the heart (v. 12)
3. God sees all things (v.13)