Study in Hebrews: The Promise of Rest :: By Sean Gooding

Hebrews 4:1-10

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.’ 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” (All Scripture from NKJV).

Last week we talked about Rebellion and Rest. We first spoke about the lost and their rebellion in rejecting Jesus. This is a sad situation; there are many, many people who have heard the Gospel and reject the loving grace of God. But we also looked at the fact that many Christians, even after they are saved, still live in rebellion. They reject God’s leadership and so never actually get the full benefit of the rest they have been given in Jesus. Today, we will look at the rest we have in salvation and hopefully put some of us at ease. There is an uneasiness among many saved people about losing the salvation they have in Jesus, and today we want to dispel that and offer true rest.

  • Short of God’s Rest, verses 1-3

The idea here is from the ancient Greek races; anyone who did not win was the loser. There is a saying that second place means you are the best of the losers. But in Jesus, in salvation, we all win. We all come first, and we all hit the mark. Sin, in its basic meaning, means to miss the mark. Think of a bullseye: you take aim and miss the mark; you hit the target but miss the bullseye. Well, we sinners ALL miss the bullseye, but God hits the mark every time without effort. He is perfect; we are not. No matter how hard we try in and of our own abilities, we will never hit the bullseye, and even if we did it once, we could not do it over and over again forever.

This is the problem that many people have; they compare their sins with the sins of others and not the perfection of God. I am not as bad as ‘so and so,’ thus I am okay. No, no, no!! God requires that we be perfect like Him, so it does not matter how many people we are better than; we need to be as good as God. We cannot be, ever. This is where the Gospel comes in that Jesus came to give us. Please notice the term, give us God’s perfection. We cannot gain it; we cannot work our way into it, and we certainly cannot sustain it in our own power once we have it. Jesus came, and He took our sin and gave us His righteousness so we can have rest between us and God.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we see this: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus never sinned, and we were never righteous. In salvation, these two verses are exchanged: Jesus becomes sin for us, and we become righteous in Him. Sadly, many hear the Gospel, see the glory of God, hear of God’s wonderful gift, and either dismiss it or reject it. Either way, they refuse the rest that comes with Jesus’ imputed righteousness. They forgo eternal rest for eternal torment, and they do so willfully. The Jews rejected Jesus, and so we have the rest offered to them now offered to us Gentiles.

  • God Rested as an Example, verses 4-7

God does not get tired. He is never worn out and needs a break. Yet, He rested on the seventh day of creation and, in the Law of Moses, established a day of rest that was not to be violated. Some of the religious sects like the Pharisees distorted the Sabbath Day and made it out to be more than it is. Jesus made a habit of healing on the Sabbath day so as to show them the truth of the Sabbath.

Mark 3:1-6, “And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’ Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

These religious zealots, not true Christians in any sense, tried to kill Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. Since Jesus never sinned, He did not break the commandment about the Sabbath. Thus, we need to ask what was the main thrust of the Sabbath. It was a lesson for us about rest from works, referring to salvation, not just rest from work referring to a job.

You and I are declared justified (Romans 5:1) and declared as having ‘no condemnation’ (Romans 8:1) in Christ Jesus. We, who have heard the Gospel and by faith accepted the truth of it, having placed our trust in His sacrifice for us, are now righteous. We now ‘hit the mark’; we all win the race, no saved person runs second, and we all pass the finish line together, perfect in and by Jesus. As well, since the righteousness we have has been given to us by faith in Jesus, we do not have to do anything to keep it. It is ours forever.

There are a lot of saved people who are still trying to win God’s favor when they are already God’s children and have His favor, His love, His protection, His provision and His presence. They keep working for something that they already have in Jesus. They need to rest and let God be God. They need to stop struggling and allow God to do His work in them. When you enter God’s rest, you no longer need to work. You are no longer under the Law but under grace. The Law is for the dead, and grace is for the living. The Law was designed to show us our need to be saved by grace.

Galatian 3:24-26,Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, and once we are clothed in His perfection, there is no more work to be done. All the work is now going to be done by God, and His Holy Spirit in us will transform us into the image of Jesus.

Rest in Galatians 4:19,My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.”

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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