“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:11
These two statements seem to contradict one another … “Jesus will give you rest” and “you must be diligent to enter His rest”. The word “diligent” means with great effort … this is nothing restful about diligence … it means to leave no rock un-turned in searching out a matter to see if it is the highest and the best. This is what is called an oxymoron or a paradox … it’s something that seems contradictory at face value but is none the less true in light of the truth of Jesus Christ.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should – not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
The “Rest” we are talking about is the rest of having “everlasting life” with Jesus. We are Physically born with a sin nature, a Self Indulgent Nature, separated from God and sentenced to remain that way eternally. We born rebels toward Jesus, wanting to to rule over our own self and if we remain in this state of rebellion, rejecting Jesus we will die in our sin. By Grace through faith in Jesus Christ a person can be Spiritual “born again” and receive a new nature of Christ, so Christ is ruling over their soul eternally, they are united to everlasting life with Christ …a shared life in a relationship with Jesus.
John 3:3-5 ” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.“
Yes, this is the gospel of Grace, the good news by which anyone who believes/calls on the name of the Lord is Saved! Yes, this the good new of everlasting life that can never be taken from you and you cannot lose it either! Once you are saved you are “perfect” in your position of righteousness before God because God sees you as the righteousness of Christ and you can “rest” in the truth that you cannot be separated from the Love of God. You are perfect before God because of who you are “a child of God in Christ” … not because of what you’ve done. Hallelujah!
So many people want to complicate the gospel message and the distort this good news. The biggest enemy is your sin nature, your Self Indulgent Nature, that wants to deceive you into thinking you know what is best for your life. Your sin nature says “you aren’t that bad” … just fake it until you make it. Your sin nature suppresses the truth about your condition, that you are fearful of dying and you know that you are not perfect. This is why you need Salvation in Jesus so you can receive forgiveness of your sin and eternal life.
But the bad news is that the old man of sin, your sin nature, is not removed when the new man of Christ is born in the you but the old sin man remains and wants to continue to rule and reign over you heart. And the old man will continue to rule over you, if you don’t daily “deny” or “die” to self and live for Christ. The old man will continue to convict you of sin and tell you that you are condemned before God. This is why a believer must be diligent to stay in the rest of the Lord, trusting and abiding in Jesus at all times because it is the “new” man in Christ that abides in the believe that has no condemnation before God!
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
And this is how you stay at rest … take every though captive to Christ. Remember the bracelet WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? Well what “What Would Jesus Think” WWJT is the more important question. And this is the diligent work that a believer is to do, to take every though captive to the obedience of Christ. The believer is suppose to search the scriptures to see if the thought is consistent with God’s word. The Holy Spirit will lead us to all truth (John 16:13) and the Holy Spirit will confirm what the scripture says, so if you know the scripture you can rest in God promises … and you can do the good work out of a love for God, not as a means to prove your love for God or justify your Salvation in Christ.
This is the diligent labor … to think, to discern, to take every thought captive to Christ.
(note this article is a work in progress … like me. I hope to come back and clean it up).
He wants to see a smile on our face at the end of our race:
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. – 1 John 2:28
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. – Hebrews 4:11 KJV
Our labour is to put to death the old man and send the enemy to flight through seeking God, taking up our cross, renewing our mind with the word of God, following Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare, etc. These exercises are how we are diligent, earnest or labour.
Notice, the author of Hebrew is talking to Saved Jews and is encouraging them not to return to the Law but continue to rest in the assurance of the Grace that saved them from the Law.
A quick example came to mind, think of it as sitting in a rocking char, you sit to enter the rest but you rock to enjoy the rest.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. – Phil 2:12-13 Note, in this proclamation by Paul for people to obey God, he is drawing their attention to the Holy Spirit that is at work in the believer to accomplish the good work that was started in the believer … which he previously stated in Phil 1:6 (one of my favorite passages) For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. The focus of good works is Christ because what we do flows from who we are. If we are in Christ, focusing on Christ, dwelling on Christ, abiding in Christ then we will do good works of Christ but we do not claim that these works are what saves us or prove that we are saved.
A Grace believer does not claim that they are saved because they focus on Jesus or they are saved while they are focusing on Jesus. A Grace believer does not claim that when they focus on driving instead of Jesus that they are in Salvation limbo land and if they honk the horn because they are cut off in traffic they have lost their salvation and go to Salvation hell, so they have to pull over, repent and be saved all over again in order to reclaim their place in the line of Salvation. It is belief in Jesus Christ that saves us, satisfies us and will ultimately redeem us from this honking body!
God has a plan for man to be at rest with Him, as He rested on the seventh day. Adam and Eve could have entered that rest if they had not eaten from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.
After my Dad had been retired for a couple of years I asked him what he did all day? … and he said for 6 days he does nothing and on the 7th day he rests. I think my Dad was a believer in Jesus for his Salvation but I don’t know how seriously he took his relationship with Christ because I never saw him open a Bible and he didn’t want to discuss Bible scriptures with me. My father was a good provider for our family, he supported us in our education and gave us gifts … he had a good grasp of earthly retirement and early rest but he didn’t really speak in terms of a Godly life and Heavenly rest.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I have written several articles on God’s Amazing Grace and how it stands in opposition to man’s works. Most of the articles focus on how “Grace Alone” saves a person but this article focuses on how the Grace that saved also seals, sanctifies and completes the good work of Salvation that Christ begins in a believer. A born again believer is a “new creation” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1) … praise the Lord! The new creation is a believers new Spiritual self that lives in old body with the old sin nature man. The degree that your new Spiritual self will grow and rest in Christ is proportional to the degree that you believe and grown in the knowledge of your new identify in Christ.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” – John 5:24
The works of animal sacrifice that people did in the O.T. were not to obtain Salvation or keep Salvation but they were done to rest in the fellowship of the Lord. And this is true today, there is no works to obtain Salvation or keep Salvation. Jesus paid it all. My belief in Jesus is all the work that I do to obtain Salvation and my belief that I am saved does not keep me saved but it confirms in my conscience that which I have already agreed too.
If you belief Jesus is able to save you and you have put your trust in Him as your Savior for eternal life then you belief that Jesus is a fraud or He is not able to keep His promise then you have not believed in the Jesus of the Bible. If you believe Jesus is able to save you and you have put your trust in Him as your Savior for eternal life then you change your mind and do not want eternal life then you have not been saved by Jesus for no one wants to die in their sin. If you think you have found a better way or Savior than Jesus, then you have not been saved by Jesus. If you think you have not lived up to the life that is necessary to be saved or stay saved by Jesus … then you have not believed in Jesus.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 john 5:4-5
It all comes down to believing what God said is true vs believing what man thinks is true. If you think there is something in addition to belief that you must do to be saved or stay saved then this is “behavior” … this is works … this is a cult of man! RUN!
He who began the good work in you will be faithful to complete it. – Phil 1:6
Sanctification is not a measure of your works but you will be lead to do the works of God if you are in fellowship with God. (Click here for a good video on resting in Christ)