Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
The writer to the Hebrews was understandably concerned about the spiritual condition of the people to whom he was writing. He points out to them that their whole cultural heritage in traditional Judaism was not encouraging. Their forebears had rightfully seen themselves as God’s ‘chosen race’, but this had led to a level of complacency over several generations that eventually had robbed them of the ‘prize’.
Now THEY too were in this same dangerous position – and, after centuries of ‘Christendom’, his warning applies equally to US today (which is why he will go on to say: “the word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12))!
It is possible to have all the right Christian background in one’s family and upbringing and yet lack the essential response of a personal faith. A rock-solid Reformed tradition is an excellent thing but it lends itself more easily to this danger. Are we constantly looking for that response of a living, saving faith, not only in ourselves, but in those whom the Lord has entrusted to us so that we might share the truths of the gospel with them? May it never be said of us, or them, that “the message they heard was of NO VALUE to them, because those who heard did not combine it with [personal, saving] FAITH.”