THREE ASPECTS OF THE REST OF GOD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The rest of God is the goal, the mark, the land of promise toward which every Christian is to press. There are three basic aspects that must be considered if one would understand and be able to press into God’s rest. The first aspect concerns God’s finished work. The second aspect has to do with the eternal Sabbath. The third aspect emphasizes the conquest of the enemies in the land.
Table of Contents
God’s finished work
The eternal Sabbath
The conquest of the enemies in the land
THREE ASPECTS OF THE REST OF GOD
The Book of Hebrews is an exhortation and a warning. The epistle is addressed to experienced Jewish Christians. It appears they had received Christ as Savior, no doubt had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, and had had some experience with miracles.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Hebrews 2:3,4)
They had suffered persecution.
For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. (Hebrews 10:34)
These Jewish believers were beginning to neglect their salvation and perhaps were not assembling together as often as before.
Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
The Book of Hebrews is a warning to saved, Spirit-filled, experienced believers to keep on pressing toward perfection. To do otherwise is to place in jeopardy one’s relationship to Christ.
The first chapter of Hebrews speaks of the majesty of the Heir of God, Christ.
The second chapter of Hebrews informs us that the same majesty is being issued to the heirs of God and that this is the “great salvation” that must not be neglected.
The third chapter of Hebrews compares the Christian discipleship with the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. The point is stressed that just as the unbelieving, disobedient Israelites died in the wilderness, so will we Christians if we do not persevere to the end of our pilgrimage.
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)
“If we hold fast.” “If we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
These two “ifs” put the lie to the current teaching that our salvation is unconditional. The term “if” means salvation is conditional.
One may ask, “Can an individual once having made a profession of faith in Christ then be lost?” If not being a part of the house of Christ and not being a partaker of Christ mean we are lost, then yes, we can be lost after we have started on the journey. To claim otherwise is to go against the express Word of God, and that is unthinkable.
Here is an interesting concept and one that needs to be brought clearly and forcefully to the attention of the Christian churches of our day. Our salvation is not assured until we have finished the course.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also love his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
What if the Apostle Paul, after having such a wonderful start in the Lord, had, after several years, gone back to Tarsus, got married, and had children and grandchildren?
Here is the question: would Paul or would he not receive a crown of righteousness when the Lord returns? Would he continue as a member of the house of Christ? Would he be a partaker of Christ?
The teachers of today say, “Yes he would, because we are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done.”
The Scriptures say, “No.”
What do you say?
One thing is certain. If Saul had gone back to Tarsus we would not be able to quote from him in this booklet because there would not be any epistles to quote from. The history of the world for two thousand years would have been different had there been no Pauline Epistles.
Just how seriously does the Lord view His plan of salvation and His Word?
The Lord told us that he who endures to the end shall be saved. The writer of Hebrews warns that we partake of Christ only if we maintain our confidence to the end of our course.
This means introducing people to Christ and then working with them until they are finally and completely saved. We may not be paying nearly enough attention today to the need for the believers to go on to maturity. It is as though medical science put all of its resources toward giving birth to babies and almost completely ignored them after they were born. There were no practitioners and workers in any field of medicine except that having to do with childbirth.
Perhaps this preoccupation with an initial experience of salvation to the neglect of bringing the believers to maturity is coming from Satan. Satan knows that a spiritual baby presents no threat to his kingdom. It takes many years of experience and spiritual maturity before a person becomes a real threat to Satan’s control of mankind. It may be of Satan that the resources of the denominations are poured into efforts to “reach the lost” while those of the churches (of whom there are unnumbered millions) are still lost to the purposes of God and pose no threat to Satan’s empire.
The record of military history will reveal that there are numerous ways in which to fight a war. The best way is the one the enemy does not expect and is not prepared for. Satan is the master of deception, ruse, feint. He is more than willing to sacrifice a pawn or two if doing so will win the game.
Far too much emphasis is placed on the number of people who attend an assembly. Not nearly enough stress is put on the spiritual growth of those people. In fact, a new Christian could come away from a service with the idea that all he is to do now is bring in as many new members as he can, and meanwhile wait to go to Heaven when he dies.
How many Christian assemblies are in an uproar today because of the carnality of the membership? A divided, carnal, immoral assembly of believers filled with gossip, hatred, and bitterness is a detriment rather than an asset to the Kingdom of God. Yet it could be true that most Christian churches have these characteristics. What good does it do to “get people saved,” as the saying goes, if they are going to end up like this?
Because of the fruit being borne in our day it is not unlikely that it is the enemy who is behind the overemphasis on evangelism to the virtual exclusion of attempts to bring the believers to maturity. In fact, those who do endeavor to bring themselves and others into deeper waters of the Spirit are often scorned as not being concerned about “getting souls saved.”
If being saved means we have persevered to the end of our journey, then those who are bringing the disciples along the way are getting souls saved just as truly as are those who are standing at the gate and calling out to the unbelievers. The problem is due in part to terminology. We are viewing the initial act of belief as being salvation without sufficient regard to the necessity for enduring to the end. This viewpoint is unscriptural and destructive.
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19,20—NIV)
Perhaps Satan knows that he can bide his time. He can encourage the extreme emphasis on initial evangelism and point scornfully toward those who are laboring to bring believers on to perfection, knowing that five years later he can destroy the new converts through their carnality.
If the Kingdom of God is to be installed on the earth it will not be through spiritual babies!
And so the Book of Hebrews is one long exhortation and warning to saved, Spirit-filled believers to not stop at the elementary principles of salvation but to press forward to the rest of God.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)
The expression “let us go on unto perfection” is significant. First of all, it implies that there is a perfection, a goal, a mark, a land of promise. One seldom hears of there being any kind of goal other than that of going to Heaven, which obviously is not the case here.
Second, we do not hear much today even about laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, or eternal judgment. The average believer of today would have great difficulty discussing any one of these three doctrines with someone who was inquiring about Christianity. Yet we are commanded to be ready always to give an answer to those who ask us about the things of God.
The doctrine of the resurrection is a good example of the prevailing ignorance. The “rapture” has been stressed to the point that the believers of today understand very little about the climax of redemption, which is the resurrection of the dead, the redemption of the mortal body and the clothing of the resurrected body with a robe fashioned from our conduct. Yet, the doctrine of the resurrection is considered by the writer of Hebrews to be only a rudimentary teaching.
We do not have nearly enough workers bringing the saints forward toward the rest of God. Some Christian leaders who are desirous of bringing the believers to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ need to get into the Word and bring forth bread and meat for the saints. We heard one denominational supervisor of a South American country state that all the indigenous pastors understand is Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the Baptizer, and Jesus the soon-coming King. Since intelligent adults can grasp these four concepts in one evening, what are they to learn during the next fifty years of their life? Is there anything else of substance in the Scriptures?
God is giving numerous opportunities in the present hour for Christian workers to go into countries that previously were not open to the Gospel. If these doors suddenly close it will be important that the new converts were fed something beside Jesus Savior, Healer, Baptizer, and soon-coming King. What if tremendous persecution comes upon them and all they know is the faith-prosperity error? Worse yet, what if they are placing their hopes on a “rapture” to deliver them from persecution instead of going to the Word to find God’s provision for those who are suffering? They would not be the first group of believers in this century to find that the “rapture” did not deliver them from torture and death.
Those who have been taught well in the present hour will stand and help others to stand. Those who only have “made a decision for Christ” and then have not been brought to the meat of the Word may not have enough spiritual strength to support them in the fire.
We need to balance the emphasis on church population growth with a corresponding emphasis on the spiritual growth of the believers. If we do not, the churches are going to fall apart during the age of moral horrors that is upon us. There will be few who will merit the “Well done” of the Lord.
What is the “perfection” mentioned in the verse above? “Let us go on unto perfection.” There are two parts of the mark, the goal, the land of promise, the “perfection.” The first part of the goal is to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit, in soul, and finally, at His coming, in body. It is to this that every believer has been predestined.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
The second part of the goal is to enter untroubled rest in Christ in God.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
God has numerous roles and responsibilities in mind for each member of His royal priesthood. However none of these eternal roles and responsibilities can be properly exercised and fulfilled by us until we are in Christ’s image and dwelling in untroubled, complete union in Christ in the Father.
In a moment we will be discussing three major aspects of the rest of God. But first let us consider that we must labor to enter the rest of God.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:11)
The rest of God is not speaking of our relaxing and doing nothing. The rest of God is the mighty engine that is causing Christ to become the Head, Center, and Circumference of all things in the heavens and on the earth. It also is causing all things to work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to God’s purpose in Christ.
How do we enter the stream of power that is God’s rest? We have to understand that God already has finished all things. We have to be willing to cease from our own works and enter the eternal Sabbath. We have to overcome numerous enemies that seek to keep us from entering this land of promise termed the rest of God.
We can do none of these things in our adamic nature. And so there is a rest we enter in order to comprehend that God is resting; in order to be able to cease from our own works and enter the eternal Sabbath; and in order to overcome our numerous enemies. The rest by which we enter the rest we might term abiding in Christ. We are brought into the rest of God as we abide in Christ. There is a daily rest that brings us into the larger, eternal rest. Nothing can be accomplished by us until we learn to abide in the Lord Jesus. Apart from Him we can do nothing. In fact, He Himself is the perfect Representation of the rest. Christ is the rest of God! When we have Christ we have the rest of God, but we have to work out the manifestation of that rest during the tumult and confusion of our life on earth.
God’s finished work.
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)
“The works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
God made the physical universe in six days. The Lamb of God was slain from the beginning. The elect were chosen from the foundation of the world.
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:15,16)
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
History was envisioned in advance from the creation of the universe through to the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem. If this were not true the Book of Revelation could not have been written.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:18)
The work was finished in six days. Now God is resting. This does not mean God is tired, it means He has ceased from His works. We are encouraged to cease from our own works and enter the rest of God.
Before the physical universe was created there was an awesome rebellion against God on the part of the angels. God took some preliminary steps to deal with the rebels. However their final judgment and assignment to the flames has not occurred as yet.
Being the wise Creator and Father that He is, God developed a comprehensive plan that would make an eternal end of rebellion; establish the Righteous One, the Word, Christ, as the Head of the works of God’s hands; bring forth a multitude of sons in the image of Jesus to serve as a Wife of the Lamb and the Body of Christ; give Christ and His brothers nations of people for their inheritance; and establish all of this in an environment of never-ending love, peace, and joy.
In keeping with this comprehensive plan God created the heavens and the earth with which we are familiar. God set in motion the wisdom and power that would bring into being every detail of His vision. Then God rested, that is, He ceased working. God invites each believer to enter His rest, to watch with God as the vision unfolds.
In addition to His creative work God poured all of His Life into Christ. In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Jesus now is Heir of all that God has planned.
Jesus is ready to pour His Life into each member of His Bride, His Body. As He does we become coheir with the Lord Jesus of all God has planned.
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (I Corinthians 3:22,23)
What does all of this mean to us in practical terms? It means everything! Because of Adam’s sin each one of us was born into the world with a willingness to live his or her life apart from God. Throughout our lifetime we seek our own security, our own pleasure, our own achievement. We attempt to create our own heaven and earth. We do all of this apart from God.
If it is true that God has planned our life from the beginning, knowing before we were born where we fit in the new world of righteousness that is to come, then our efforts to create our own heaven and earth are misdirected, confusing, and fruitless.
Given that God has foreseen all events to the coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalem, given that God has a plan for each individual, given that God knows the very hairs of our head and the sparrow that falls to the ground, given that we have no knowledge of any of this, then the appropriate way to conduct our life is to cease from our own works and enter God’s Sabbath.
If all has been designed, if all has been finished in the Divine vision, if God is good and is seeking our good, and if it is true that we have no power to resist Him whether His intentions toward us are bad or good, then wisdom tells us that every decision we make should be made in prayer, seeking to understand God’s will for us. (Calvary reveals clearly that God’s intentions toward us are good and so there is no doubt about this.)
None of this is to say we are to become passive and wait for God to move us. We are not to become puppets. We are not to wait as does a medium for the communication of spirits. We are to plunge ahead in all of our carnality, doing whatever is set before us with all the strength we have. But meanwhile we are to pray mightily, watching for the leading of the Lord, cheerfully waiting on the Lord as He frustrates our intentions, defers our intense desires for many years, and keeps us in a detestable prison.
Do you see the vision? You are to do all you can but you are to commit your way to the Lord. You must read the Scriptures, pray, assemble with fervent brothers and sisters, give, serve, put to death through the Spirit of God the passions and appetites of your flesh, and do all else that the Apostles have commanded in their epistles. If you do these things diligently and conscientiously you will find yourself flowing with the wisdom and energy of God as His eternal plan is unfolding.
It is not that you are to cease working, it is that you are to cease from your own works and enter God’s rest. While you are abiding in God’s rest there may be times when you are working harder and are more extended than ever was true while you were attempting to create your own heaven and earth.
The first aspect, then, of the rest of God, is the awareness of the fact that everything has been finished from the foundation of the world. An individual must have this firmly fixed in his mind if he is to be able to cease from his own striving and move into the stream of God’s wisdom and power.
The eternal Sabbath.
For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. (Hebrews 4:4)
Of all the various areas of Christian doctrine that we teach, the most important may be that of entering the eternal Sabbath of God. To enter the Sabbath of God means to commit every aspect of our being and doing to the Lord for His direction.
One of man’s worst enemies is his own brain. Until we learn of God’s will for man we assume we were given a brain so we may plan our life and our destiny. It is not the purpose of the brain of man to plan his own life and destiny!
The purpose of the human brain is that we may comprehend God and make appropriate moral decisions. The plan for our life on earth and our eternal destiny is known to God alone. How then can we use our brain to plan our life and destiny when we do not know what God has in mind for us?
Knowledge makes us proud. The cultivation of the human mind leads to the strengthening of the adamic nature, not to its crucifixion. God’s plan of redemption includes the crucifixion with Christ of our adamic nature. What is then raised is a new creation.
One cannot but marvel at the Jews, particularly the Orthodox. Some of the rabbis through their study of the Talmud and other literature, and their intensely disciplined thought and meditation, attain fabulous intellectual ability. They are dedicated to the cultivation of the mind along religious lines.
The revelation of the Scriptures that comes from God is a different matter. It is a different quality of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The chief priests and elders who confronted Christ were brilliant expositors of the Law of Moses. But the Lord Jesus was filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God.
Intellectual wisdom and the wisdom of the Spirit are different in kind, different in quality. The student cannot proceed from one to the other. One is not a continuation of the other.
The average person, even the nursing child, can receive the wisdom of God and teach us all. But this individual could not master the Talmud or successfully debate with the scholars of Israel.
The wisdom to which the adamic nature can attain by intellectual exercise is astonishing. But such wisdom is of little use in the Kingdom of God and tends to resist and fight against the wisdom of the Kingdom. This is because the wisdom of the natural man tends toward pride and self-glorification whereas the wisdom of God leads to humility, mercy, righteousness, holiness, and the knowledge of God and His ways.
The Scriptures were not written by intellectuals. Peter was a fisherman. Amos was a shepherd. Matthew was a tax collector. The Scriptures came as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit. They must be interpreted by holy men of God who are moved by the Holy Spirit. God gave the Word and God must interpret the Word. When the Scriptures are analyzed and interpreted by the human mind, no matter how devout, they invariably will lead to pride and division, to the exaltation of the adamic nature.
The three aspirations of man, the three areas in which every son of God is tested, are the gaining of security in the world (the preserving of one’s life), the embracing of pleasure, and the accomplishing of some work of enduring significance. These three compose our heaven and earth.
There are only two ways in which we can fulfill our desires concerning these three areas. The ordinary way is to use the powers and abilities we possess to achieve them. The correct way is to look to the Lord God of Heaven for the accomplishment of every detail of security, pleasure, and achievement.
To give up our pitiful, ignorant struggle to attain security, pleasure, and achievement is death to our natural, adamic nature. Even Christians advanced in the spiritual life find it difficult to surrender everything to the will of God. So many situations arise in which our natural man has an investment. Are we willing to give over all personal ambition and desire to God’s will? Dare we trust the Lord Jesus to this extent?
This, of course, accounts for the terrible struggle of the Lord in the garden of Gethsemane. What if He were to lose for eternity His glorious position with the Father? He had the same assurance that we do—the Word of God. But what if a mistake is made somewhere and our need is overlooked? The stakes in Gethsemane were enormous—eternal joy or eternal terror. Sometimes the stakes in our own experience seem almost as high. Is God to be trusted?
Day by day our pitiful little boat rides on the sea. Sometimes there is calm. On other occasions the waves are high and the wind is violent. Underneath are the everlasting Arms—but they are invisible!
How should I prepare for the future?
How much money do I need?
What about my health?
Do I dare trust that God will provide the right wife or husband for me?
Am I attaining anything of importance in the world?
What should I do today?
What if my child dies?
Should I enter the ministry?
Will I find the billfold I misplaced?
Will I lose the lawsuit?
On and on and on our worries, problems, decisions proceed without end. All kinds of lusts, passions, opinions of people, worries, fears, dreads, duties, concerns, confusions tear at us. To what extent are we expected so solve these and attain our desires? Are we just to trust God?
The truth is, we do a better job tying our shoelace when we look to the Lord as we put our shoes on. God is interested in every detail, every problem, every fear, every joy.
The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit. It is not easy to learn to walk in the Spirit. It is an art. There are numerous traps and pitfalls. Walking successfully in the Spirit is the rest of God, but to do so successfully requires much experience. The task of elders in the assembly is to guard the new believers until they learn to behave in the Spirit of God.
How wonderful to learn to look to Jesus for every aspect of life, great and small. The tiniest detail is to be held up to the Lord. Usually great decisions are composed of a number of small decisions. It is important to learn to let the Lord make the small decisions as well as the great ones.
Should I ask the Lord if I should go to college? What dress I should wear today? If I should get the car fixed and where I should go to get it fixed? Absolutely! Is the Lord interested in the ordinary occurrences of life? Absolutely!
Will I get anything done if I pray about everything? You will get more done! What area of my life is reserved for my own interests, desires, and judgments? None, if you are wise!
Is this a practical way to live? It certainly is. It is the way man is supposed to live—now and forever. It is the way all the sons of God live, not the children but the sons—the mature.
“Is anything left for me?” one may ask. Whatever you hold back from the Lord is loss for you and for the Lord. Your private possessions eventually will breed worms and stink.
There is an eternal moral law of God that reaches from eternity to eternity. The Ten Commandments are an abridged, negative form of the eternal moral law. The Ten Commandments are in fact a judgment against Satan.
Under the new covenant the eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and heart. Each of the Ten Commandments is engraved in our personality, not in its abridged, negative form but fully amplified until every aspect of every relationship between man and God and man and man is included.
The Sabbath commandment is a good example of that which at first was expressed negatively but in our personality is developed in its fully amplified form.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
This is the abridged, negative form of the eternal Sabbath of the eternal moral law. The abridged form declared that the believer must not work on Saturday.
Isaiah gives us a glimpse of the eternal Sabbath, although in Isaiah’s day it was directed only at Saturday.
If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13,14)
Here is how the Lord Jesus always lives. Here is how you and I are to live, not only on Saturday but twenty-four hours of every day from now through eternity. Every citizen of the new world of righteousness, not just the members of the royal priesthood, is to live this way.
- To turn away our foot from doing our own pleasure.
- To delight ourselves in doing the Lord’s will rather than our own.
- To view the doing of God’s will as holy and honorable.
- To honor God by not following our own plans.
- To honor God by not pursuing our own pleasures.
- To honor God by not speaking our own words.
Man was not designed to create his own heaven and earth, to pursue security, pleasure, and achievement by means of his human brain. He can never attain security, pleasure, and achievement other than by relinquishing every aspect of his being and doing to his Lord. Man absolutely must trust God for his security. Man absolutely must trust God for his pleasure. Man absolutely must trust God for his achievement. Until he does he is not fit for the Kingdom of God.
God did not create man to be separate from Himself but to be an integral part of Himself. When man is detached from God, going his separate way, he is a miserable, unfruitful, destructive creature. When man chooses of his own will to enter the eternal Sabbath of God, he will find delight in God and will “ride upon the high places of the earth.” He will be fed with the heritage of Jacob, who then will be his father. To be fed with the heritage of Jacob is to receive the very best of all there is in the creation.
The author has learned many lessons in more than a half-century of Christian discipleship. The most important lesson is to press closer to the Lord each day until every aspect of personality and behavior is brought under His complete control. Abiding in Christ brings us to the fullness of God, to the rest of God.
The conquest of the enemies in the land.
For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. (Hebrews 4:8)
What we have stated previously is easy to understand and ordinarily would be easy to do. It is not difficult to understand that God, being as great as He is, has known and planned everything from the beginning. Neither is it difficult to understand that we are to press closer to Jesus each day and commit all parts of our life to Him. This is the rest of God. This is the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan, the land of promise. This is the perfection mentioned in the Book of Hebrews.
But there are enemies! Satan and all of his followers, both inside and outside of our personality, are determined we will not attain Christ’s moral image and that we will not find a place of untroubled rest in God.
The allurements of the world are before us constantly. Buy this! Buy that! Get as much money as you can. Own a large house and an expensive automobile. Of course much of the world’s population lives in poverty and it is hard to say what attraction if any the luxuries of the world have for the impoverished or if they are troubled with covetousness.
One of the greatest enemies of the spiritual life is the desire for material wealth. There is no quicker way to kill one’s inward nature than to become occupied with money and the things money can buy. The love of money is the root of all evil. No man can serve God and money. It is impossible to enter the rest of God and at the same time be clinging to material wealth.
The Lord advised the rich young man to give his wealth to the poor and to follow Him. This the young man could not do. His material wealth kept him from the eternal Sabbath, from the rest of God. Where are his possessions now? More importantly, where is he?
And then there are the passions, lusts, and appetites of our flesh and soul. Today sexual lust and lustful perversions occupy multitudes of people. Pornography, homosexuality, child prostitution hold many in chains. These lusts are demonic in origin. Whoever is enslaved by them is destroying his own personality. He is making the temple of God, his own body, a palace for demons to play in as they attempt to satiate their fiery passions.
Before anyone can enter the love, peace, and joy that are found only in God’s rest he must turn away from material riches, with the help and guidance of the Lord, and he must through the Holy Spirit put to death the lusts of his body and soul. It is absolutely impossible to draw near to the Lord to hear His will when one is occupied with concern over material wealth or when one is being tormented by the passions of the flesh and soul.
There are enemies in our land of promise. They have held us in slavery throughout our lifetime to this point. They will not leave our personality without a vicious fight.
A third area of opposition comes from within our own will. It is presumption. Presumption operates in at least four dimensions:
- A compulsion on our part to follow our own will rather than the will of the Lord. Self-will, self-importance, self-seeking, self-centeredness, self-love—all of these are symptoms of a mammoth ego determined to force its own will, that is stubbornly resolved to do whatever it chooses to do. This is king self in all his majesty. It is Satan’s image in man.
- An unwillingness on our part to confess our sins and shortcomings while at the same time we are quick to point out the sins and shortcomings of other people.
- A lack of understanding of God and His ways, a lack of understanding caused by the sinful forces that drive us.
- A desire to be preeminent accompanied by pride and arrogance of personality.
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13,14)
The love of the world, the lusts of the flesh, proud stubbornness of will, and the desire to be preeminent among one’s fellows—these all must be overcome if we are to enter our inheritance in the Lord.
How do we overcome these fierce, vicious enemies of God and His Christ? We overcome them by the means God has given us. God has given us the body and blood of Christ, the written testimony of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit, the born-again experience, the assembly of saints. God has forgiven all our sins so we may begin to enter His rest without a guilty conscience.
Notice once more the foundation stones:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)
We are to repent from our dead attempts to make ourselves righteous apart from Christ. We are to exercise faith toward God. We are to be baptized in water and in the Spirit of God. On certain occasions we are to have hands laid on us for healing or to give us direction and strength for life or for our ministry. We are to learn to live by the resurrection life of Jesus so we attain to the resurrection of life. We are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He judges our sin, washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb by confessing our sins and turning away from them.
By the grace of God we can overcome our worldliness. By the grace of God we can overcome the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul. By the grace of God in Christ we can overcome our stubborn determination to force our will. By the grace of God we can overcome our unwillingness to confess our own sins and our readiness to point out the sins of others. By the grace of God we can gain an understanding of God and His ways. By the grace of God we can overcome our desire to be preeminent among our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
We can conquer all these enemies through Christ. We can place our faith in the goodness and power of God, that He has everything in control and is working for our good. We can press toward the Lord Jesus each day, committing every aspect of our personality and behavior to Him. We can adopt a spirit of conquest and drive every enemy from our land.
God has completed all things from the beginning of the world. He now is resting while the created universe is passing from the Divine vision into observable reality. The Spirit of God is inviting us to enter God’s rest, to flow with the wisdom and power of the Word of God. God’s Word shall not return to Him before every detail of His plan has been accomplished to perfection.
We do not have to create our own heaven and earth. God has done all of this for us to a far more wonderful, marvelous extent than we could imagine in our most glorious dreams.
There are many enemies within and without. But what does it matter? If God is for us, who can be against us?
There shall be a new heaven and a new earth. Christ shall be Head, Center, and Circumference of all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. The Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, shall light the world with the Glory of God radiating from the Throne of God that dwells in her.
The Holy Spirit will flow as a River from which the righteous can drink. Surrounding the River will be trees of life—the saints who are planted forever in Christ.
The saved nations of the earth will no longer experience pain, sorrow, death, or corruption or destruction of any kind. The wicked will be contained forever in a fiery prison.
The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord. The law shall come forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Nothing shall hurt or destroy in all God’s holy mountain.
The name of the new world will be Emmanuel—God is with us.
There shall be no Canaanites in the house of the Lord of Hosts.
This is the rest of God. Let each one of us leave all else behind and press forward into His rest.
(“Three Aspects of the Rest of God”, 3837-1)