Hebrews 3.15-4.6

1 John 2.2

Acts 6.8, 7.60

Luke 23.34

A question from a lady came to me one day in a class,  ” In the book of Acts chapter 7. vs. 60 where Stephen is being stoned, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he prays ‘ Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’  If he was inspired to say this, did God forgive them?”  I had no answer then, but did ponder and research the question.  In a similar occasion when Jesus was on the cross in Luke’s gospel, chapter 23. vs. 34, ” but Jesus was saying, ‘Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ ”  The same question occurs, did He forgive them?

As we read in 1 John chapter 2. vs. 2 ” and He Himself, (Jesus Christ, the righteous),  is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours alone, but also for those of the whole world.”  This is a key verse in the answer to her question.  The ‘our sins’ is in reference to the believers that John is writing to, and therefore to all believers in Jesus Christ. We who believe have an advocate with the Father, in Jesus, and the satisfaction for our sins.  But the verse  goes on to say, ” not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Hebrews 3. 15- 4.6 This is a picture of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt that the writer of Hebrews is incorporating, and the key to the answer for my friend and myself.  While Israel was enslaved to Egypt, God sent a deliverer, Moses, to set them free from their bondage.  Now as free people they are in the wilderness, set free from slavery, but wandering.  When they come to the edge of the promised land, and what a concept they missed here, they were going to the Promised Land!  If Jehovah has promised you something you can bank on it, don’t capitulate, don’t waver, take it to the bank!  They were on the verge of entering this land, and they balked, they believed 10 of the 12 spies they sent to scope out the land, instead of God who promised the land.  So they were not allowed to enter in to that land of rest, and promise.  In like manner, the text continues, we as mankind are enslaved to sin.  God has sent a deliverer, Jesus Christ, the righteous, to set us free from our slavery to sin.  So here we are wandering in the wilderness, at the edge of the promised land, heaven, everlasting life, and what will we believe?  Do we believe  the lies of the spies, the love of the enslavement to sin, the endless wandering with no end in sight, are we satisfied with the unsatisfactory?  Or do we believe in the truth of God our Father and the finished work of our  Savior Jesus Christ?

Hebrews 3.19, ” And so we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.”   Today mankind is faced with the same decision, and not able to enter into everlasting life because of unbelief. Their sins are forgiven, as were the sins of the murderers of both Jesus and Stephen.  But what did they do with the opportunity offered to them, to enter into His rest.  Did they believe, coupled with faith in the finished work of Christ or did they die in the wilderness.  Standing at the edge of the promised land, of everlasting life,  the big question we all face is, “What will we do with Jesus?”