Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:11-13, ESV
As we strive toward the goal of our eternal rest, a rest won for us by Christ, we are reminded that there is a day of judgment. The two-edged sword language of this passage echoes that of several judgment passages in Revelation. Christ, wielding the Word of God will judge “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Nothing will be “hidden from His sight.”
Once more we are challenged. How does this fit our understanding that those who have faith in Christ will be safe on that day? This challenge is easily met. This reminder of pending judgement by a God who sees everything is followed by:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16, ESV
The context of our striving is now made clear. We strive in light of the fact that the Lord will return and judge mankind by the terrifying standard of the penetrating Word of God. We strive because we are all sinners deserving of God’s eternal wrath.
Even so, we do not strive in helplessness or somehow try to work our way out from under that wrath—we know such striving would be in vain. Instead, our striving is toward our Great High Priest. We strive to “hold fast our confession,” coming to Him in faith that He is who the Bible says He is, and He accomplished what the Bible says He accomplished. Clinging to Him, we approach “the throne of grace” in confidence, knowing that He stands there offering us His mercy and His grace.
We strive, but not with confidence in our striving. We strive with confidence in our Great High Priest, who faced that judgment on our behalf, bearing our guilt and shame while having none of His own. Martin Luther got it ever so right:
May Christ be your Mighty Fortress today!