MAN IS TO REST - P5
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10).
Last time, we studied how Elijah thought that he had failed God since his works were not enough to save Israel from idolatry and return them to worshiping God. We saw how God taught Elijah to rest from his works as it was not Elijah who had been performing signs and wonders in Israel, but God’s Spirit through him. It was time for Elijah to understand that it is God Who does the work. This revelation of what God had been doing in Israel, apart from Elijah, and the demonstration of His awesome power was a “sabbath” rest for Elijah, He learned that God was in control and all his striving was nothing if it was not God striving in him for His own eternal purposes, which Elijah could not fully comprehend. All this was “pointing ahead” to God's sufficient work that He would do through His one and “only begotten Son” (John 3:16), Jesus Christ.
What does that mean? This is the Gospel—that Believers cease from their own works FOR God and rest in Christ’s all-sufficient work on the cross for them. For we know “that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
But what of all the good works “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10b)? These works have nothing to do with “working” for salvation. These good works come to the one who has been justified by faith and filled with the Spirit. These works do not proceed from our own efforts, minds, or hearts but from abiding in that Holy Spirit who works through us the works of God for His divine purpose. Believers should not sit around and scheme and plan what they will do for God or seize for themselves the “purpose” God has for them. If this is how we approach the good works of God, we will be working in “the flesh” and not by the Spirit.
By submitting to the Spirit of God, God will do His own work through us according to His own purposes, for “there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:5-7). “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:9-11).
“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pt. 4:11).
It is God Who does the work of Salvation and it is God Who works His good works through us into the world—it does not proceed from ourselves. And in this is our sabbath—a rest from our works to bask in God’s work through Jesus Christ. This is why, concerning salvation through faith, Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30). This is a profound truth and one that can give us true refreshment in this angst-filled life of striving against wind. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:3-6). Even so, Amen.