Monday, June 13, 2011

Resting in the work of God

Hebrews 4:9-11
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Found this devotional thought and enjoyed it.  It's by Ray Steadman.

Shabat: The Sabbath Day
On the Sabbath the Lord rested. The heavens and the earth were completed, including all of their vast array (hosts). By the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he stopped working on (He rested from) everything that he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, God rested from everything that he had been creating. (Genesis 2:1-3)

After 2000 years of teaching the Sabbath, this is still little understood, though its true meaning is of crucial importance. The true sabbath is a rest; the Jewish sabbath is a shadow, a picture of that rest. Jesus is the Sabboth, when we say "a day of rest" or we "rest on the Sabboth" We should be resting on Him. Resting in the work of God within us. Not just on a specified day of the week, but enter into the rest of the Lord.

Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:13-17 RSV)

So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God[it is available to us now]; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10 RSV)

That is what the true sabbath is, to cease from your own labors, your own efforts, your own activity; to cease from your own works. "Well," you say, "if I did that I would be nothing but a blob, an immobile inactive piece of flesh." Exactly! Of course you would. But the implication is that you cease from your own efforts and depend on the work of Another. That is the whole import of the book of Hebrews another One is going to work through you. This is why Paul cries, "Not I, but Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me," (Galatians 2:20). This was also the secret of the life of Jesus, as we have seen. He himself said, "It is the Father who dwells in me who does the work," (John 14:10). "The Son can do nothing by himself," (John 5:19). This is the secret of the Christian who learns "it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," (Philippians 2:13). So the secret of true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one's own activity, and to rest in dependence upon the activity of Another who dwells within. That is fulfilling the sabbath, the true sabbath.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30 RSV)

Notice that twice in that passage is the word rest. One rest is given, the other is found: One is experienced when we first come to Jesus Christ. He gives us rest. He took your place, he died for you; he bore the punishment for your sin; he was wounded for your transgressions, he was bruised for your iniquity; and we are invited to believe that. Immediately there comes a sense of peace flooding your heart, a quietness. Guilt is swept away, no more fear of death, no more need for painful efforts to win Brownie points with God. You were resting on the work of Another. Christ paid it all; you were freely forgiven. What a sense of rest! He gives it.

But as you continue on you find that problems began to return and failures came. Your Christian life became boring and dull, barren and uninteresting. You knew something was wrong and you resolved to try harder, to give yourself more fully to Christian activity, to throw yourself into it with more zeal and effort. This you did, and for awhile things went better, then it seemed to ebb out again into the same old thing. You ended up bored and disillusioned, disenchanted, discouraged. What is the answer? Well, it is what our Lord said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and you will find rest," (Matthew 11:29-30a RSV)

Some people feel emptiness in their Christian life, despite doing all the things they knew they ought to do. Yet they are not finding anything of the electric excitement that belongs to a Christian, or of the joy of daily adventure of faith with Jesus Christ. They lack rest."

What doctrine is this? Why is it not taught more often in such simplicity and depth? Where is the deep doctrine the restoration of the Gospel should be constantly inviting us to consider and ponder?

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