Entering God's Rest

Posted on 10/26/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

Lataiah - Wants a modeling job


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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE

Well I went to the enemy's camp
    and I took back what he stole from me
    I took back what he stole from me
    I took back what he stole from me
Well I went to the enemy's camp
    and I took back what he stole from me

He's under my feet, he's under my feet
    he's under my feet, he's under my feet
    he's under my feet, he's under my feet
    satan is under my feet

Look what the Lord has done
Look what the Lord has done
    He healed my body
    He touched my mind
He saved me, and it was just in time

Oh I'm gonna praise his name
Each day he's just the same
Come on and praise him
Look what the Lord has done

FOR WHO YOU ARE

Standing here in your presence
thinking of the good things you have done
Waiting here patiently
just to hear your still small voice again

Holy, righteous, faithful to the end
Savior, Healer, Redeemer and friend

I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
I will worship you for who you are
    Jesus

My soul secure
    Your promise sure
Your love endures
    Always

I'M AMAZED BY YOU

You dance over me
    while I am unaware
You sing all around
    but I never hear the sound

Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
    how you love me

You paint the morning sky
    with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
    for you hold me in your hand

How deep (how deep)
How wide (how wide)
How great (how great)
    is your love for me

THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU

I worship you, Almighty God
    there is none like you
I worship you, O Prince of Peace
    that is all I want to do
I give you praise
    for you are my righteousness
I worship you, Almighty God
    there is none like


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


The Bible tells us that in the last days, men's hearts will fail them for fear of what is coming on the earth. And yet, time after time, we are told in Scripture to "fear not," to "not let your heart be troubled;" and we can still hear the words of Jesus echoing into our own lives, "Peace be unto you," as he speaks into our inner storms, "Peace, be still!"

Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

What is this peace the Scriptures promise those who trust in God? Is it the popular notion of peace, which is absense of fighting and war? That's certainly something Jesus will bring when he returns.

But the kind of peace we are promised goes much deeper than that. This is a peace that cannot be understood in worldly terms.

In John 14:27 Jesus tells his followers, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

It's not a worldly type of peace, the absense of war, the absense of strife, the absense of arguments and verbal attacks. Rather, the peace that comes from God is a peace that goes much deeper than our outer circumstances. In fact, the peace that comes from trusting in God is a peace that is solid and sure regardless of what is going on around you.

It's a peace that is stronger than the world. 1 John 4:4 says, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

If your circumstances are stronger than your peace, then for one reason or another, you are not filled with the peace of God, and my prayer is that you find that peace before you leave this place today.


Now, while the world's view of peace lies in a lack of turmoil on the outside, the peace of God manifests in a lack of turmoil on the inside. And while the peace of the world cannot altar the actions of those without true peace, the true inner peace that comes from God will always alter the actions of those who have it.

And the peace of God, unlike the world's false peace, is a source of great strength, for we read in Psalm 125 and verse 1, "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever."

This is because the peace of God is the result of complete faith and trust in God. We know that his Word is true. We know that we are victorious in Him, and that Jesus Christ wins the war in the end.

Now, doubt and disobedience are enemies of peace. And if you are lacking in peace today, I encourage you to turn the spotlight of the Word of God inward, and examine your heart.

Holy Spirit, we ask that you shine your light into the darkest corners of our innermost beings this morning, and that you expose to us any doubt or disobedience that is lurking there, so that we can trust completely in you, and so we can have true peace today.


The title of today's message is, "Entering God's Rest," and I'd like for us to read from the third and fourth chapters of the book of Hebrews.

And with the Lord's help, I hope and pray that we walk away from this with a deeper understanding of what it means to rest in the Lord, and that we are filled with the peace that only comes from trusting in him alone.


Let's jump right into the Word of God. Hebrews chapter three, beginning with verse one.

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.
4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.
5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward,
6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

So the Body of Christ, the house of believers and followers of Jesus, was built by the one who built all things. We cannot question the laws of nature which cause life to continue and the universe to operate like clockwork produced by a master crafstman. We know that it works, and that it is divine.

We can also know that the one who is the founder of our faith and the builder of this house, Jesus Christ, the maker of all things, has inspired the words of Scripture and has given his Holy Spirit to reveal them to us, and his workmanship is good and right, and we can trust completely in the foundation he has laid.

Continuing with verse seven...
  
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.'
11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"

What happened in the wilderness? The children of Israel saw miracle after miracle, and yet continued to doubt that God would take care of them. And at the end of their journey, they encountered what they perceived to be a greater obstacle than bringing millions of people across the wilderness alive -- they saw those living in the promised land, very large men, and they doubted God.

Don't we tend to do the same thing? We see that God brought his people through impossible odds, and we may even have times in our own lives that we know God has brought us through times and situations we would not have survived on our own.

But then we see the giants. And we become afraid. We may even believe God in our heads, but we are afraid that he will not come through for us in time.

And this is the day of testing in the wilderness. Will God defeat the obstacles that stand between us and where he is calling us to go, or what he is telling us to do? If our eyes are on the circumstances or in our own ability to overcome, we may very well end up wandering in the wilderness until we die.

Instead, let's put our eyes upon Jesus, and put our trust completely in him. And as we obey his word and the leading of his Holy Spirit, we will overcome any obstacle that stands between us and where he is leading us to go.

Continuing with verse twelve...

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

Notice that this exposes to us the true nature of the unbelieving heart. It is evil, and it departs from the living God. And in the next verse we are given a time line for trusting in God. It's not tomorrow, or next week, or after we have all of our questions answered. Rather, it is "Today," as it says, "lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

Sin is deceitful, and unbelief is sin. If you entertain unbelief, it will deceive you and you will not be able to simply trust in God. So today, let's repent of our unbelief. Let's ask forgiveness for that sin, and ask God to cleanse us from that unrighteousness and change our hearts.

Lord God we ask for your forgiveness for our unbelief! We admit that we have sinned by doubting you. Wash us clean. We repent of our unbelief, and turn to you asking for help. Change our hearts, and give us pure and obedient hearts that believe your Word and that believe you have not lost your power but will bring us through.

Continuing with verse sixteen...

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

There's the key, made very clear. Disobedience and unbelief will keep you from entering into God's rest. And the two are used interchangeably.... They did not obey, so they could not enter in because of unbelief. And that was their sin which kept them from having true peace -- the disobedience of unbelief, and the unbelief of disobedience. If we believe God's Word, we will trust him. And if we put our trust in him, we will obey him. And if we trust and obey him, we will enter into his rest, and we will have peace.


Let's wrap up by reading from the next chapter, Hebrews chapter four, starting with verse one.

1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";
5 and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,
7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

Now this is very interesting. Once again, we see the words disobedience and unbelief used interchangeably. They did not enter in because of unbelieve. They did not enter in because of disobedience.

It says here that the gospel was preached, but the word which some heard did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith by those who heard it. So faith is imperitive here -- not only hearing the Word of God, but placing our trust in it, and showing our living faith by obeying it.

In verse three he says, "So I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,' although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." What does this mean? Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world? That reminds me of the passage which says the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Jesus has done the work. It has been finished.

In verse four we read, "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works." Then in verse seven we read, "again he designates a certain day, saying in David, 'Today.'

Let's continue in verse eight...

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

So there is another day. Another day? "Another" insinuates that there already was one, and this one is a different one, "Another day." What does this mean?

Well, we know that the seventh day of the week is the sabbath day, and under the Old Covenant, the people of God were required to rest on that day. I believe setting aside a day of rest is a very important thing to do for many reasons. But here we read about another day. And that day is called "Today."

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Listen to this next part... "For he who has entered (God's) rest has himself also ceased from his (own) works as God did from His."

So this sounds as though it's talking about a different kind of rest than we generally think. This is a rest from doing our own works. Doing our own thing. Going our own way. Depending upon our own abilities. Putting our trust in money, or the government, or other people or things.

And this rest that God has promised to his people, this "other" day, is not a day of the week, but is the day called "Today." That speaks of an everlasting rest, one in which we should find peace every single day of our lives.

The day called "Today" also speaks of eternity, the everlasting, the timeless. As long as we are dwelling in God's rest, time cannot erode that rest.

Continuing with verse eleven...

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

First this says we must be diligent to enter God's rest, lest any of us fall according to the same example of disobedience. Am I being diligent to enter that rest every day? To live there? Or am I still pursuing my own ambitions and seeking to fulfill my own dreams? God's ambitions and dreams for us may fulfil some or all of ours, at least those that come from God. But that fulfillment does not come from doing our own works, but from resting from those works forever, laying them down at his feet without the slightest thought of ever picking them up again. And we will enter his rest, and will see his plan for our lives begin to come to pass.

Next we read that the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

How is this related to rest and peace? Well, let's think about it for a moment. This day of rest, the day called "Today," is a rest from our own works. But the Bible tells us that the heart of man is wicked and deceitful, and asks, "who can know it?"

It's so easy to think we're not doing our own thing but are being about our heavenly Father's business. Many have thought that while they burned Christians at the stake. Many have thought that while they perform witch hunts and call their fellow believers heretics because they see things differently or take a different approach to sharing the truth with others.

But we can know if we're really resting from our own works, for the Word of God is living and powerful, and is sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the very heart, and is able to divide those things which are of our soul, our emotions and the way the feel, from those things which are of the spirit. The Word of God discerns not only our thoughts, but the intentions of our heart, even when we may be lead astray.

Suppose, for example, we believe God has called us to make a change in the church body of which we are a part. We're upset by the way something is being done, and we think it needs to change.

How can we know if we're doing God's will and obeying his voice, or if we are failing to rest from our own works and are really acting according to our own feelings and our own flesh?

The Word of God says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. And if we think we don't lack wisdom, I might add, we should pray for humility. If we're just rushing off without seeking the wisdom of God and a right attitude and searching the Scriptures, then we can see from the Word of God that we are rushing off in our own wisdom and strength.

Or if we go around talking to other people about the problem, we're spreading division and are talking badly about others. This also is against the Word of God, and is a work of man, not a work of God.

Or suppose we get up one Sunday morning and call the preacher on the carpet in front of the church, proclaiming that he is a heretic because he allowed the youth group to go see Finding Nemo, when they should have been having a Bible study instead. I believe if you'd humble yourself and search the Scriptures for the right way to approach authority, you'd find that you are in rebellion against God himself. And if you'd search for the right way to share wisdom with others, you'd find that your wisdom is not from above, but is earthly and carnal.

So the Word of God will expose ourselves to ourselves, and the Holy Spirit will bring the Word to our rememberance. But just remember, while the Holy Spirit will speak to us even if we're a bit lazy, don't expect to recognize his voice and the voice of a counterfeit if you're not spending time reading, meditating upon, and studying the Scriptures -- and not with the attitude that everything you read confirms your already superior beliefs, but rather with the attitude that you know nothing, and you could be completely wrong about some holy cows you think are quite sacred. Keep the barbeque sauce on hand, and be willing to sacrifice even your most sacred doctrine if it does not agree 100% with the words of Scripture.

And finally, let's close by finishing this chapter, reading verses 14, 15, and 16...
  
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


The ministry team can come to the front now.


This altar is open. If God is speaking to you today, or if you just want to spend some time praying, seeking, or worshiping him, then get out of your seat and come to the front.

And if you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I'd like to invite you to open up your heart today, and accept his free gift of Salvation and everlasting life. You can have that peace that only he can bring, and you can be made brand new.

And you're invited to pray this prayer with me. Just say, "Jesus... I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Forgive me for my sins. Wash them all away. Make me a brand new creation. I give my life to you. Lead me in your ways. And I choose to follow you all the days of my life. Thank you Jesus. Amen."

Those of you who need to leave, you're free to do so. In a few minutes we'll meet next door in the room to your left for a time of fellowship, and you're all invited.

Come, and let's pray.

*** listen to the audio for the message closing and altar call ***