In this posting I want to add a few comments to my postings on what Paul had in mind in Hebrews 3 & 4 when he spoke of believers entering God's rest, and reply to some things that Jason Brown said in response to those postings.
Brother Jason wrote (see here):
"Even if it is conceded that the entering in is future, it could simply refer to the full eternal inheritance, not that there is not still a temporal entering, which is consistent with the full eternal entering."
In these words brother Jason does not seem to have any serious objection to the "rest" being equated with receiving "the full eternal inheritance." Then why all the hubbub? Further, I never objected to the idea of there being a "temporal entering," but simply argued that an entering of the rest, in time, was not the focus of the Apostle in those chapters.
But, it seems clear that the chief problem for Jason and the Hardshells, in view of rest being an eternal rest, is in the fact that Paul restricts entrance into God's eternal rest to those who are Gospel believers. But, Hardshells do not limit entrance into God's rest to Gospel believers only.
"Those that truly believe are already resting, and it is those that will fully inherit the eternal rest..."
Is this an admission that Gospel unbelievers will not inherit eternal rest? What about the unbelieving heathen? They have not been converted, and so have not entered into the rest of God even now. Thus, if only those who have entered God's rest now, in conversion, are the only ones who will enter the eternal rest, then Jason holds a position that is not in keeping with today's Hardshells. When Jason speaks of those "that truly believe," does he not mean the same as Paul, i.e., those who have believed the Gospel? Is this not a cognitive believing? Does it not embrace the propositions of the Gospel?
Brother Garrett stated:
"How does one determine the time of the present tense verb? Context! The context of Hebrews 3 & 4 show that the writer focuses upon a future entering of the land of rest, as I have shown. He exhorts his readers to strive to enter this rest, which would not be the case if they were already viewed as being in the rest."
"Even if this is true, and I believe it is, the exhortation to enter into the eternal rest is in time. If there was not a sense that believers could enter into an earnest of this rest in time, the exhortation makes no sense."
Jason admits that the context of Hebrews 3 & 4 deals with "eternal rest." He says that this "exhortation" is given in time. But, no one denies this. Jason admits that sinners are exhorted to believe and thereby be assured of entering God's eternal rest. I know that Jason's brethren will not agree with him in affirming that people are exhorted to enter God's eternal rest.
Jason contradicts himself in these words. He says that he agrees that "the exhortation" is in order "to enter into the eternal rest," but then says that such an exhortation "makes no sense." How can he agree with it and then say it makes no sense? Is it not attacking his own stated view?
Further, it is not true that the exhortation would not make sense if it were confined to entering eternal rest. Other Scriptures speak of laboring and striving for final salvation. Notice these passages:
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." (I Cor. 9: 24)
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3: 8, 9)
If the Corinthians had already obtained the prize, then why is Paul exhorting them to run in order to obtain it? Further, the "race" is correlated to the Christian's life service, and thus the end of the race is the end of his life and service. I see a parallel between Paul's exhortation to "run that you may obtain" and his exhortation to "labor to enter into God's rest."
Even though Paul had been initially saved in conversion, yet he still labors that he "may win Christ," and to be finally "found in him." So Paul said elsewhere:
"Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." (II Cor. 5: 9)
"Paul is not asserting that they are presently true believers, but that they must take care to ensure that they are true believers because only true believers enter the rest of God in any sense - in time or eternity."
I agree with Jason. But, this is not the teaching of his Hardshell brethren. It seems that Jason is more in agreement with the original founders of Hardshellism, and with us here at the Old Baptist blog.
Brother Garrett stated:
"Why is it that Jason Brown argues so intensely against the view that makes this entering to be Heaven? Is it not because he does not limit entrance into Heaven to only Gospel believers? Is it not because he rejects the idea that perseverance is necessary for being eternally saved?"
"I do argue that the rest of God is ultimately eternal rest. But the sense in which Christians are exhorted to labor to enter it, presumes that true believers can enter a foretaste of this rest in time. So, even if I were to concede that the "do enter" of verse 3, referred to a future entering of all true believers into eternal rest, it would still prove that a foretaste of this rest can be enjoyed in time, and that it must be so enjoyed, if there is to be any rational hope of the full eternal rest of God."
But, I never denied that "a foretaste of this rest can be enjoyed in time." I denied that any timely enjoyment of it was the focus of the apostle in Hebrews.
"Above all, Hebrews 4:3 does not exclude a temporal entering in by true believers in the present, either by implication or by word denotation, and it is to true belief that Paul is exhorting the Hebrews."
In all the years I was in the Hardshell church, however, I never heard one preacher exhort sinners to believe in Jesus in order that they might enter God's eternal rest. I congratulate brother Jason for his rejection of standard Hardshell teaching.