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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

I have been preaching for several years about living by the Life of Jesus, looking to Him for all we think, say, and do. I am interested also in the “rest of God,” that the book of Hebrews points toward as the goal of our Christian discipleship. For the life of me, I cannot understand why we do not hear more preaching about the rest of God. It is evident that all the passages in the book of Hebrews must be interpreted in terms of the exhortation for us to cease from our own works and enter the rest of God.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

Then it began to dawn of me that these two experiences, living by the Life of Jesus and entering the rest of God are one and the same. To enter the rest of God is to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

There is a verse in the book of Hebrews that follows the exhortation to enter the rest of God. It always seemed to me that the writer abruptly had changed the subject. But I believe the Lord has shown me the connection:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12,13)

God has not changed the subject. He still is referring to the rest of God. As we seek to move past the Pentecostal experience and enter the rest of God, the Spirit of God begins to apply the Word of God to our thinking, speaking, and acting. Each day the Spirit probes a bit deeper. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, not of the Christian. The sword divides the soul and spirit so we can recognize which of our actions are proceeding from our soul and which are from the Spirit of God.

The joints and marrows of the bones, so deep goes the question:

Why am I doing this?
Why am I saying this?
Why am I thinking this?
Is it God who is prompting me, or my human personality?

We must keep asking the Lord these questions if we are to cease from our own works and enter the rest of God.

The thoughts and attitudes of our heart. The great question is, “Why am I doing this? Where is this compulsion coming from? Is it fear, or a sense of duty, or a desire to be perfect, or from spite, or bitterness, or worry over money problems, or a romantic spirit, or a desire to perfect a talent, or to gain the approval of people, or from my reproductive organs, or a desire to be recognized, famous, or rich?

We do not understand our own motives, do we? The Word of God must examine every thought, every word, every ambition, every compulsion, every action, to determine what is part of God’s rest, and what are our own works. We can enter God’s rest only as we cease from our own works.

We must know the source of our behavior. In one way of looking at it, our own personality is our land of promise. It is God’s ultimate goal, God’s ultimate intention that we learn to live by the Life of Jesus rather than by our own talents, strength, wisdom, hopes, desires, or any other motivation that comes from our human personality.

Paul mentioned that his own goal was that of attaining to the out-resurrection (Philippians 3:11). The book of Revelation mentions the advantages of the first resurrection. Both of these, the out-resurrection and the first resurrection are the rest of God. They are the arrival of our inner nature to participation in God’s rest, in preparation for the resurrection of the physical body.

Hebrews chapter 12 goes on to say:

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:25-27)

There is coming a day, according to the book of Daniel, when God will permit Antichrist to reach to the highest level of Heaven and bring down those who are at the right hand of God in Christ but who are still clinging to their own thoughts, words, and actions. These are still rebelling against God.

Notice, in the book of Revelation, that the tail of the dragon hurls down to earth the third of the stars of the heaven. We have seen in our own day prominent ministers of the Gospel who certainly had been at the right hand of God in Christ, brought down to “earth,” so to speak, losing their ministry. Don’t forget, Satan and the other heavenly rebels, although once abiding in the Presence of God, lost their place in Heaven.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26,27)

It is God’s plan to shake the earth and the heavens. All created things, meaning what is not part of the rest of God but was brought forth by the desires of people, and perhaps angels also, will be removed from God’s Presence. All “created” things.

I may be looked upon as teaching God’s people to be introspective and to ignore Christian work. That is not the case. Rather, I am maintaining that all of our thoughts, words, and actions must be in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and not proceed from our own ideas of what is desirable. Remember, the Israelites could not possess the land of promise because of their unbelief, which resulted in disobedience.

God’s will is the most important aspect of the Kingdom of God. No disobedience of any sort is permitted in the Kingdom of God. And Divine grace will not serve as an alternative to our obedience. This is one of the great errors of our day.

Most of us would agree that America quickly is losing its orientation to Christ and His Gospel. The protecting hand of the Lord is being removed from America, and we see demonic behavior increasing each day. Should we pray about this? Absolutely, diligently, and continually. God does answer prayer. God either will save the nation because of our earnest prayers, or else save in the midst of chaos those who do pray for our country.

Good Christian people want to do something politically. They will accuse those of us who are focusing on our own sins, as the Spirit points them out to us, endeavoring to come into Christ’s image more each day, as being neglectful of our duty as American Christians or else as being weak and cowardly. Rather, we are seeking to obey the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to enter the rest of God. The Apostle Paul commanded us to purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

But think about the following. Many of us have seen Gay parades, perhaps on the television. We may observe two men arm in arm traveling down the street on roller skates. We are appalled. We are disgusted. To us such behavior is an abomination. We wish God would do something, but He doesn’t. So we may set out in some manner to prevent Gay parades in our town or city.

Suppose God were to pour fire and sulphur on one of those parades as He did on Sodom? What would take place? First, it would put a chill on such parades in the cities of the world. Soon the prominent ministers would begin to tell their congregations that this was a coincidence, that a “loving God” would never do this no matter what the Bible declared. Because of the efforts of distinguished ministers, the Gay parades would resume. And what if God again poured our fire and sulfur on a Gay parade? I suspect that even the most gifted of the ministers would be unable to convince his or her congregation to participate in a Gay parade. Perhaps even the homosexuals would be reluctant to continue this tradition.

Why doesn’t God put an end to such sinful behavior? He could. God has caused dreadful diseases to afflict those who engage in unscriptural sexual conduct. It is interesting that the effort is made to cure the diseases rather than to speak against the conduct, and pass suitable laws as necessary.

The aborting of infants is another abominable practice that we wish God would prevent. But He does not do so. Why? Why does God permit terrible events to take place upon the earth He has created, when He readily could put a stop to them? Do you have an explanation for this?

Let us imagine further that a rich man owned a rock quarry. He wanted to break up the boulders in small rocks that could be used in construction and landscaping. So he hired twenty men and gave them pickaxes, and put them to work breaking the boulders into small pieces. Yet he owned a machine that does exactly the same thing in a fraction of the time with a more uniform product of usable stones. What would you think of such a man? Yet it is this way with the Lord God. He permits people to labor night and day to overthrow sinful institutions when He could do a much better job effortlessly. Why?

I can think of three possible reasons. Perhaps you can think of more.

  • First, God wants us to try to bring righteousness, as we understand it, into the world by our own wisdom and strength. He desires that we make an effort to promote righteousness, and so He doesn’t perform the work Himself.
  • Second, God wants us to pray that He will do what we think is righteous and in the best interests of our nation and of the Kingdom of God.
  • Or third, God wants us to go to Him and find out what He wants done, and then pray for wisdom and strength that we might be totally obedient to His will.

We might spend our whole live attempting to restrict the public displays of homosexuality, and come to our grave having accomplished little except to keep our families and ourselves in a state of unpleasantness.

We might spend our lifetime attempting to halt the spread the sharia law, when God could it do it quickly and effectively by pouring out His Spirit on the Muslim people and revealing Christ their only true Lord and Savior to them.

A reason for choosing the third option is that we do not know God’s plans for the world, for our nation, for our state, or even for our neighbors or ourselves. How can we then pray intelligently when we do not know what the future holds?

The first and second explanations (above) point toward misguided and fruitless efforts. They serve only to relieve our irritations and frustrations.

I have read in the news many accounts of leaders urging us to political action, even though the Bible says the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. We are fighting against powerful forces of the spirit world!

I believe many sincere Christians are praying that God will overcome the work of Satan in America. Part of this may be the hope that God will support the financial system called “capitalism” and deliver us from socialism. I feel certain that numerous American Christians are praying and hoping that our nation will continue as a world leader as it once was.

Yet, we ought to seriously consider the moral wickedness that is flowing from the studios of Hollywood like a torrent of garbage and dung. Also, the fact that we have an abundance of food while many of the people of the world are starving. Is this what we want God to perpetuate?

I have not read of any Christians who are asking God what He wants done in America. But this is the prayer that would be prayed by a believer who is endeavoring to enter the rest of God.

Which do you think is the correct direction for us to take?

In one way of looking at it, we ourselves are our own land of promise. To enter fully into our inheritance in God we must, through the Holy Spirit, overcome our desire to cling to our own personality. We must be willing to have our thinking, speaking, and doing transformed by the Holy Spirit.

We must learn to live by the Life of Jesus. We must “die in the Lord” if we are to avoid being destroyed by Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

No matter what form of Divine judgment falls on America in the future, we can survive spiritually and help others to survive if we are willing to “die in the Lord” and live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus will more than survive, and we will more than survive since we have become an integral part of His Life.

Why am I thinking this? Why am I saying this? Why am I doing this? We must be asking these questions continually, day and night — and perhaps when we die and are in the spirit world. The Body of Christ is one in Heaven and upon the earth.

We must keep on asking these questions until only one answer comes from Jesus: “These thoughts, words, and actions are from me.”

(“Why Am I Doing This?”, 3388-1, proofed 20211119)

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