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This Week's Events
AUG

20

SUN
Adults/Children Sunday School
9:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sunday Worship
10:30 AM to 11:55 AM
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Entering God's Rest

If you’ve ever had to work and work and work, if you’ve ever been worn out and exhausted, when you feel like you can’t go on but you have to, when you’re drained and tired and spent—at times like those, you know how refreshing it is, and what a relief it is, to finally get a rest.

God has a rest for us. Are you experiencing it?

Hebrews 3:12-4:11 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

Rest: It can be such a welcome word. The pressure is off, the burden is lifted. Our reading today is about being able to get that kind of a rest. In fact, it’s about an even greater kind of rest—God’s rest—the rest that He has for us, in Christ. The Christian life is not to be one of striving to earn favor with God. Rather, we strive to enter His rest—a life entered into and lived out by faith in Jesus Christ. God’s rest is given by His grace. We are exhorted to rest in God. That is, we are to simply trust Him to do in us what only He can do; that is, make us holy. That is why the Holy Spirit convicts us, corrects us, and leads us in repentance and obedience.

This Scripture is talking about several types of rest God has for us. First is the matter of the Sabbath rest. Our text says that God’s “works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.’” This reference goes back to the beginning, to God’s creation of the heavens and the earth in six days. And on the seventh day He rested. God set aside a day to rest, and with that, He established the Sabbath rest for mankind, that man should take time periodically to rest from his work. This was according to the order of creation. This is a gift from God, a blessing so that we will not wear ourselves out.

Later God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, and the Lord added another dimension to the Sabbath rest. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” was one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. The Sabbath became a day for the God’s people to rest from their labors, not just because their bodies needed rest, but even more importantly, the people of God need to take time to be with God, and to rest in the salvation the Lord has won for them.

This still holds true for us today. We need to take time to come together as God’s people to reflect on and rest in the salvation God has won for us. Therefore, we come here to hear God’s word. We come here to be the people of God, the church; to be refreshed in our Christian walk; to rejoice in the salvation that is ours in Christ; to be recharged and renewed as the church; to receive God’s power and grace for the Gospel we carry into the world.

This is a day of heavenly R & R–resting, relaxing, refreshing, recharging, renewing, rejoicing, and receiving. (How many “R’s” is that, anyway?)

But you’ll notice, we’re here on Sunday, not Saturday. The Sabbath, as one particular day of the week, was on the seventh day, which is Saturday. But that requirement, which was binding under the Old Covenant, has been fulfilled now in Christ, and is no longer binding. But we still have a need to come together as God’s people, to hear His word and to receive His gifts. And to do that, it helps to have a certain day set aside. So from the very first day, when Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week and appeared to His disciples, the church has come together on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, to celebrate His resurrection. Under the New Covenant, this is our day of rest and relaxation, as we joyfully gather in our Lord’s gracious presence.

This is the greater rest we have in Christ. More than just rest from physical labors, this is rest from trying to reach God by way of our works. This is rest from the burden of our guilt, a time to lay that burden down. This is rest from our slavery to sin and death, that dreadful bondage that is ours by nature. Our text in Hebrews says, “For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

You see, our works will never be enough. We cannot do enough to overcome our sin, but Christ has. He has done enough, more than enough, to accomplish our salvation. It is His works, not ours, that will save us. His works, His fulfilling of the law’s demands on our behalf. His works, His taking the punishment for sin that the law requires in our place. God has delivered us from our slavery to sin and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Two outstretched arms, actually: the arms of Jesus, stretched out on the cross.

The law says, “Don’t do this, or do that,” and it is never done. Grace says, “Believe in Jesus, and everything is already done.” Everything necessary for our eternal salvation has already been done. As Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.”

Christ’s resurrection was enough, more than enough. With sins forgiven, a restful, joyful, peaceful life is the result. Now this salvation comes to us as a gift. The gift is received by faith. Trust in Jesus, believe in Him and what He has done for you. It is all by grace, a free gift. Faith humbly receives what God offers and says “Thank you” by giving our life to Him and walking by His Spirit in obedience.

And so we enter this rest, God’s rest, by faith. But that is what many of the people of Israel did not do. They did not enter into God’s rest. Why? Because of unbelief. They grumbled and complained on the way to the Promised Land. Over and over again, they griped–against Moses, and against the Lord, really. Instead of trusting in the Lord, that He would provide for them and see them through their journey, the people of Israel complained and disbelieved. They were filled with fear instead of faith. And so, all but two of the original group of adults fell in the wilderness and did not make it into God’s rest—the Promised Land.

And their example serves as a warning to us. That’s the point our text emphasizes so strongly: “Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. . . . Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” As the psalmist says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

The only one we are to fear is God. The Holy Spirit, who is God with us, convicts, leads, and guides us. If we don’t listen and obey in faith, we are in great danger. Fearing God means fearing disobedience to God or fearing unbelief; that is, not believing God. God’s commands are for our good. Do you believe it?

To illustrate: when you were young, your mother or father said, very firmly, "Don't ever run out in the street. It is dangerous in the street. You could be hit by a car.”

In other words, we are to fear running out in the street, which is disobedience to our parent. But did that mean that we could not have fun in the backyard and on the sidewalk and in the parks? No. In fact, most of the time we never even thought about how fearful the street was. Only when we got near to the street, or maybe when our ball rolled out in the street, or maybe somebody tempted us to run across the street when we weren't supposed to—only then did we feel the fear of the street. The rest of the time the fear kept us playing in places where we didn't have to feel any fear at all. That is a place of rest.

That's the way it is with the fear of God. We don't live with a constant fear. We only experience the fear when there are temptations to distrust God's Word. And even then, we use the fear to send us running into the safe yard of God's goodness and promises. This fear of God leads us back into repentance.

So normal Christian life is aware of the fearful danger of unbelief and disobedience, but we do not live paralyzed or terrorized by it. We live by faith in Jesus Christ. Fear only rises where faith starts to weaken. And it only rises long enough to get us back into the peaceful fearlessness of faith, where we trust and obey God’s Word.

There is danger, if we harden our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Hardening our hearts is the way of disobedience, unrepentance, and unbelief. That is the way of death. We shall not enter the promised rest if we harden our hearts through unbelief and disobedience as those Israelites did.

For example, without a personal, intimate faith in Jesus Christ, you could die today and go to hell—the same hell you'd go to if you never entered this church before. And the tragedy of it is that hell is going to be populated with people who are going to say, "Lord, Lord, we did this and we did that, and we did it in Your name. We went to church and we took our kids to Sunday school", and He's going to say: "Depart from Me, I never knew you". Because all of their knowledge about Him was not mixed with faith. They had a form of religion, but they denied the power, the Holy Spirit. They did not have an intimate love relationship with Jesus that would believe, trust, and obey Him throughout the day.

However, it is still “Today”! And the Lord is calling us to repentance and faith today. Let the Holy Spirit soften your heart to acknowledge your sin and seek God’s rest through repentance. Believe in Jesus Christ for your forgiveness and rest in His work for your salvation..

Jesus is ready to take our burden today. Our Lord is saying to us today what He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

There is more to God’s rest for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Under the leadership of Joshua, a new generation of Israel did at last enter the Promised Land. That was just a shadow—a physical example of a spiritual truth yet to be fulfilled.

As Hebrews says, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

This promise points ahead to its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, who will lead us into the Promised Land of heaven. Jesus has already paved the way for us, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. And one day He will come from there to take us home.

In the meantime, “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” It is the rest of everlasting life in the kingdom of God. That rest is here now!

Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

We can enter God’s rest in His Kingdom today. It is in our midst—a joyful rest, of refreshing in the presence of our Lord, with neither boredom nor burden. And this is a rest that remains, it will last for the rest of eternity. With faith in Jesus, we can enter God’s rest and be in His presence today and throughout eternity.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Enter God’s rest today by faith. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and in what Jesus has done for your salvation. Give Him all your burdens—all your life. Repent of your sin. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you have not committed your life to Jesus, do not harden your heart. Publicly confess Jesus as the Son of God, who atoned for your sin. Do it today and die to your old life in baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit and you will experience God’s rest today.