Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest...any of you should seem to come short of it
Bruce R. McConkie
"Faith bringeth salvation; miracles are wrought by faith; by faith the worlds were made. God is God because faith dwells in him independently; and faith is power, the very power of God himself. Any man who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the full and true sense, will sit down with him on his throne in the kingdom of his Father. All who do not gain this saving faith will fall short of that inheritance which might have been theirs had they believed and obeyed the word of faith." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 163.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"No man can obtain that exaltation without receiving the covenants that belong to the priesthood. No woman can obtain this great honor and glory without receiving the blessings of faith, repentance and baptism, confirmation, and obedience to the covenants that are promised her and her husband in the temple of the Lord. Otherwise, there would be no progress, that is, to the fulness.
"No man who is not willing to continue, even though he be a member of the Church, in receiving these covenants, and taking upon him these blessings and powers which the Lord has offered unto him by covenant, will ever reach the fulness. All such will be barred. There will come a certain place which they cannot pass. The fulness of knowledge, and understanding, and wisdom, by which men may become perfect even as God is perfect, can only be gained by a strict adherence to those eternal laws upon which this great blessing is based.
"We fall short through lack of faithfulness if we refuse to receive covenants and take upon ourselves obligations that pertain to the exaltation. There will be a bar that will prevent us from continuing to that fullness." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 45.)
Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them
Many ministers have taught that the gospel of Christ was not taught before the days of Jesus. They have asserted that the prophets were unaware of God's plan to send his Son to atone for the consequences of the Fall. However, the scriptures and latter-day saint doctrine clearly teach that this gospel was preached to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc. Here, Paul declares that the gospel was preached unto the Jews of Moses' day just as it was preached in his day.
"We find also, that when the Israelites came out of Egypt they had the Gospel preached to them, according to Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, which says: 'For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it' (see Heb. 4:2). It is said again, in Gal. 3:19, that the law (of Moses, or the Levitical law) was 'added' because of transgression. What, we ask, was this law added to, if it was not added to the Gospel? It must be plain that it was added to the Gospel, since we learn that they had the Gospel preached to them. From these few facts, we conclude that whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 59.)
Hebrews 4:2 the word...did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it
Chemical reactions often require a catalyst-a chemical spark-to get the reaction started. Religious devotion similarly requires a spiritual catalyst. No student of the word can progress without mixing the word of God with faith. Faith is the catalyst. It's the gasoline for our engine. It's the match that starts our bonfire. It's the driving force behind all discipleship. Hence, the word of God, the gospel, and all the ordinances of salvation cannot profit us if we leave out this vital ingredient. Without faith, the latter-day saint cannot truly be termed a "saint." Without faith, all religious endeavors are a complete and utter waste of time.
Paul's warning to the saints of his day applies to us as well. We should not assume that we are immune to the disease of faithlessness. Our response to latter-day prophets can be as faithless as the children of Israel. We must be careful not to let history repeat itself.
Hebrews 4:3 For we which have believed to enter into rest
"The purpose of the atonement was to remove the effects of the Fall whereby men were cast out of the presence of God. Through his sacrifice, Christ opened the door through which we might return to the divine presence. To return to the presence of the Lord is, in the language of the scriptures, to obtain the 'rest of the Lord.' Paul reminded the Hebrew saints of Moses' efforts to bring the children of Israel into that rest while they were yet in the flesh. He was unable to do so because of their unbelief and the hardness of their hearts. (See Ps. 95:7-11; Heb. 3:8-11.) Blessings that are obtained on the same grounds in the meridian day were lost on the same grounds. Paul warned that if the meridian saints hardened their hearts in unbelief, they too would forfeit the privilege of entering into God's rest." (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 200.)
"What is the 'rest of the Lord'? (See Heb. 3:11, 18; Heb. 4:1-11.)
"'The rest here referred to is not physical rest, for there is no such thing as physical rest in the Church of Jesus Christ. Reference is made to the spiritual rest and peace which are born from a settled conviction of the truth in the minds of men. We may thus enter into the rest of the Lord today, by coming to an understanding of the truths of the gospel.' (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 126. See also p. 58.)
"As a further extension, 'The rest of the Lord, in eternity, is to inherit eternal life, to gain the fulness of the Lord's glory. (D&C 84:24.)' (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 633.)" (J. Lewis Taylor, "New Testament Backgrounds: Hebrews," Ensign, Apr. 1976, 59)
Hebrews 4:5-9 Paul Paraphrased
"In the days of Moses, the promise was given that the faithful could enter into the rest of the Lord. This rest is different than the long-awaited end of their journey in the wilderness, for the promise was repeated years after Joshua brought the people into the promised land. In David's day (Ps. 95:7-11), the promise was repeated, and the psalmist exhorted the people to hear the voice of the Lord and harden not their hearts. Therefore, the promise must apply to us as well, for the Lord's will is that his children of every dispensation should enter into this glorious rest."
Hebrews 4:8 if Jesus had given them rest
"Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua and is transferred into the English as Joshua. Paul has reference here to the man Joshua of the Old Testament rather than to Jesus Christ. His point is that the Israelites did not find their 'rest' under Moses nor Joshua, under whose direction they found and entered the promised land, or even under David, their greatest king." (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 383)
Hebrews 4:10 he that is entered into his rest...hath ceased from his own works
One of the goals of discipleship is to submit our will to the will of the Father. This means, in part, that we bury our own agenda and adopt the Lord's. It means that our personal desires are replaced with divine desires. It means that the carnal mind is replaced with the mind of Christ. Paul also explains that it means that we stop doing our own work and start doing the work of the Lord. Once we cease from always being concerned about our 'own works,' we can focus on that work which ironically brings us rest. Hence the invitation, 'Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden [with your own works], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke [the work of the Lord] upon you...and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' (Matt. 11:28-30)
Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest
Spencer W. Kimball
"Sometimes we have thought of rest as being a place where we get on the chaise lounge, or in our sneakers, or we get outside and lie on the grass, something where we are at rest. That isn't the kind of rest that the Lord is speaking about. It is he who is the most dynamic, the one who works the hardest, puts in the longest hours, and lives the closest to his Heavenly Father who is rested-rested from his labors, but not put away from his work.
"Now I would like to give another few lines from another scripture. This one is in the Pearl of Great Price. This is a priesthood meeting, of course. All of you hold the priesthood; it is a great privilege to hold the priesthood, a great privilege. And let me read to you a few lines from your father Abraham to show you how important it was to him. He says:
"'And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest [this other kind of rest, the kind that you work at] for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.' (Abr. 1:2.)" ("The Privilege of Holding the Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 1975, 80)
Hebrews 4:12 the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword
F. Enzio Busche
"The small, piercing voice of his Spirit in reaching us pierces like a sword in our souls, as is recorded in Hebrews 4:12: 'For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.'
"At this point we, as his children being exposed to that small and silent voice telling us of our weaknesses, make the decision of choosing life or death. Our Heavenly Father knows that only our weaknesses are separating us from him. He cannot take away our weaknesses, but he can point them out with a loving but piercing voice. Here, at this point, we become the masters of our destinies. Millions of human beings live their lives according to their own plans and desires, and they do not know what they do. They run away from this loving influence. They don't like to hear it! They are afraid of the truth! They even fear the silence of any experience in serenity and peace. It is mankind's desire to run away from that piercing, uncomfortable voice of truth and to escape into the world of superficial actions and amusements-and that is what accounts for the great success of the amusement industry in our times.
"Another group of Heavenly Father's children recognize this piercing but silent voice but cannot stand the reality of truth. They begin to rationalize and make all-kinds of excuses. They learn to dwell on the mistakes of others and to create their own gods according to their own images. They are the fathers of hypocrisy and the authors of the thousands of man-made churches, religions, and philosophies." ("This Is Life Eternal," Ensign, Jan. 1982, 52)
Hebrews 4:12 a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
Dallin H. Oaks
"Paul warned the Hebrews that God 'is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,' and 'all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him.' (Heb. 4:12-13.)
"In other words, God judges us not only for our acts, but also for the desires of our hearts. He has said so again and again. This is a challenging reality, but it is not surprising. Agency and accountability are eternal principles. We exercise our free agency not only by what we do, but also by what we decide, or will, or desire. Restrictions on freedom can deprive us of the power to do, but no one can deprive us of the power to will or desire. Accountability must therefore reach and attach consequences to the desires of our hearts.
"This principle applies both in a negative way-making us guilty of sin for evil thoughts and desires-and in a positive way-promising us blessings for righteous desires." ("The Desires of Our Hearts," Ensign, June 1986, 64-65)
Hebrews 4:15 we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities
"For the Latter-day Saints, God is not just a force in the universe, a spirit essence. He is a person, a glorified person-age, a being with body, parts, and passions. He is the Father of our spirits and thus has tender regard for all of his children. He is approachable, knowable, and, like Jesus, can be touched by the feeling of our infirmities. (Heb. 4:15.)" (Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 170.)
"'We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' (Heb. 4:15) Because he 'was in all points tempted like as we are,' our Savior understands our situation, knows from his own personal experience what we struggle against, and can sympathize with us and have compassion on us. Thus, when I am tempted, I don't have to appeal to some distant entity who has never been in my shoes. I can take my problems to a high priest, Jesus, who can 'be touched with the feeling of [my] infirmities'-because he has been where I am. I can share my problems with a compassionate God who knows from experience what I am talking about and understands from experience what I am going through. There may be certain aspects of his nature that the rest of us do not fully share, but there is no aspect of our human nature that he does not share. And that is good news." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 115.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Paul may well have written more about how Jesus developed His matchless empathy-by personal experience with temptations-but, happily, these verses survived: 'For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.' (Hebrews 2:18.) 'For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' (Hebrews 4:15. See also D&C 62:1.)
"Thus, by His actual and personal experiences in the flesh, Jesus was perfected in His empathy with regard to temptation." (Plain and Precious Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 42.)
Hebrews 4:15 an high priest...in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin
Howard W. Hunter
"It is important to remember that Jesus was capable of sinning, that he could have succumbed, that the plan of life and salvation could have been foiled, but that he remained true. Had there been no possibility of his yielding to the enticement of Satan, there would have been no real test, no genuine victory in the result. If he had been stripped of the faculty to sin, he would have been stripped of his very agency. It was he who had come to safeguard and ensure the agency of man. He had to retain the capacity and ability to sin had he willed so to do. As Paul wrote, 'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered' (Hebrews 5:8); and he 'was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin' (Hebrews 4:15). He was perfect and sinless, not because he had to be, but rather because he clearly and determinedly wanted to be. As the Doctrine and Covenants records, 'He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them' (D&C 20:22)." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 4.)
Harold B. Lee
"As we read the story of the life of the Savior we are impressed by the fact that he was stirred by human emotions, just as we are. I wonder if he was not angered when he saw the money-changers making his Father's house a den of thieves. When the hypocritical Pharisees challenged him because he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day, the gospel writer records that he looked on them 'with anger being grieved because of their hardness of heart.'...Yes, Jesus was 'tempted as we are in all things' yet he was without sin. Although he was moved by human emotions throughout his life, there was an essential difference between his expression of them and ours. His emotions were always under control. Frequently ours are uncontrolled and end in bitterness that endangers our own souls. He could hate sin yet have compassion on the sinner. He was angered at the narrowness and bigotry that closed men's minds to truth, yet he was patient in his teachings. He loved all mankind and jealously shepherded them against the evils of the day." (Decisions for Successful Living [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 42 - 43.)
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace
Gene R. Cook
"I believe that many people are confident that the Lord's will will be done and that the Lord can do anything, but they're not confident that he will do it for them or that he wants to do it now.
"This lack of confidence in our ability to gain access to the powers of heaven is a major reason why more of our prayers aren't answered. In fact, as I travel around the Church I often meet people who say, 'My prayer wasn't answered because it just wasn't the will of the Lord.' They want to place the responsibility for their unanswered prayer on the Lord. But often the truth is that they just didn't exercise enough faith; they didn't have enough confidence in their ability to receive an answer.
"It is true that we must ask according to the will of God. As John wrote:
'This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.' (1 John 5:14-15.)
"But too often we use this as an excuse. Instead of trying to place the responsibility on the Lord when we don't get the answers we want ('obviously it wasn't the will of God'), we should learn to have confidence before him so that we can 'come boldly unto the throne of grace' ("Heb. 4:16Hebrews 4:16) and receive the desires of our hearts." (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 60.)
Bruce R. McConkie
"It is pleasing to that God whose we are when we fast and pray and seek his blessings; when we plead with all the energy of our souls for those things we so much desire; when, as Paul says, we 'come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' (Heb. 4:16.)" ("Patterns of Prayer," Ensign, May 1984, 32)
Hebrews 4:16 we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need
Harold B. Lee
"[Speaking of Heb. 4:16] Now, that is the invitation to come to Him when we are faced with problems too much for human skill or for human wisdom, and we will thereby find the answer more divine than human intelligence can understand...
"Those timeless words should be written upon the tablets of our hearts: to likewise give us courage to withstand in our time of need." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 129, 190.)