Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P30 (08-02-21)
Be Sure to Enter God’s Rest Today!
As we ponder over Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 4, what is this “Sabbath rest that still remains“? What does it mean to “enter God’s rest” and “rest from their works just as God rested from His”? As we read these passages in Hebrews, it is referring back to a time in the history of the Israelites, in Numbers 13-14, where God instructed them to enter the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. God had promised this land to them. Everything is prepared and ready. They do not have to do any work to enjoy the fruit of the land. God also said He would destroy the enemies before them.
As we read the story, you may recall that only Joshua and Caleb later entered the promised land because they believed God. Everyone else wandered in a wilderness for forty years until all of that generation died off, for God had sworn that they shall never enter His rest because of their unbelief. Recall their many sins were already atoned for by the temporary sacrificial system in existence at that time. What God was really concerned about was their lack of faith in Him and what He had said, which, of course, led to their disobedience. He wanted them to trust His words, to take Him at His word. What is this story an illustration of? Is it really about the physical realm that God is concerned about?
Or is there a deeper message than that for us today, about a spiritual reality? What insight does Colossians 2:16-17 give us in regard to a Sabbath rest? How is this Sabbath rest different than the Sabbath we read about under an Old Covenant in Exodus 20:8? How is this Sabbath day a foreshadow of the spiritual rest in Christ, the reality that we can experience in Christ, that is every day of the week, as we read in Colossians 2:16-17 and Hebrews 4? Could this be a foreshadowing of what God wants to do for us when He died on a cross, only to rise again?
What work did God complete for us that we do not have to work for, that we can just walk in and rest? We know that God rested from His work of creation as we read in Genesis 1-2. God also rested from His work of forgiveness and redemption as we read about His final words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What is the meaning of His words, “It is finished”? What is Jesus referring to as to what work is finished in regard to the work God gave Him to do (Romans 8:3-4, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:10, John 1:16, Hebrews 10:11-14, John 10:17-18, Galatians 1:3-5, John 6:56-58)? What is this work of redemption and propitiation that Jesus did on the cross? (1 John 2:2)
What does the wandering in the wilderness represent to us today? Is it not the religious works we do that we think will make us acceptable to God? Or the traditions we would rather hold onto rather than come to Christ by faith in what He alone accomplished for us by His death, burial and resurrection? Is this promised land an illustration of our eventual final destination in heaven, a place He wants us to be, with Him forever? What is required of us to enter this promised land of heaven? Listen as Bob George expounds on these passages of scriptures, answering these and other questions so we may enter God’s rest. How does one enter into God’s rest?
God wants us to grow in the knowledge of the grace of God. It does’t do anyone any good to know what the bible says but not know what it means. It also does no good to know what it means when you have no intention of applying it by faith. It is no good to have information in your head but no experience in your being. It would have no meaning to you and no meaning to anyone else. All you have become is a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).
God wants us to walk in newness of life by being led by the Spirit of God. He wants us to be led internally by the Spirit of God rather than laws written on stone (2 Corinthians 3:3). God does not want us to be led by traditions of men or what a pastor or priest has told you (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18, Mark 7:7-9, Colossians 2:20-22). If you are born again, you have the Spirit of God living in you, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), and He has promised to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). No one needs a seminary degree, or know Greek or Hebrew, to understand the meaning of God’s word. We have everything we need, with Christ living in us (if you have Christ living in you), to understand the meaning of God’s word (2 Peter 13, John 14:26).
When we understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, that opens up our understanding of God’s word. For then we can read the gospels in the context of an Old Covenant that was still in effect when Jesus walked on the earth. You will be able to explain the seemingly contradiction between “If you do not forgive your brother here on earth, your Father in heaven will not forgive you” in the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:14-15) with “God was in Christ reconciling the whole world unto Himself not counting man’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19); The former is when the work of the cross was not finished. The latter was spoken when the work of the cross was finished, where a New Covenant was ushered in that replaced the Old Covenant. Reminder, Jesus taught under the Old Covenant and He Himself ushered in the New Covenant with His death on the cross (Hebrews 9:17). This will also help you in understanding these passages in Hebrews and Numbers in the context they are written.
The Old Covenant and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are preparatory. They prepared men’s hearts to recognize they are a sinner. And when Jesus walked the earth, it shows men God’s righteousness in light of what they have, which is no righteousness at all in and of themselves (Philippians 3:9). It helped man to recognize our condition of spiritual death so that we might seek a savior (Galatians 3:21-22, Romans 7). By spiritual death, man asks questions like, “Why am I here?” and “What is missing in my heart?” or “Why do I feel empty inside?” These are expressions of a lost person who does not have the Spirit of God living in him, being born in the sin nature inherited in fallen Adam (Romans 5:12).
So Jesus walked the earth to finish the work God the Father assigned him to do. He was given the command to lay down his life for us only to rise again (John 10:18). The work Jesus did was to fulfill the just requirements of the law for us (Romans 8:3-4). The law was set against us due to our weak nature of sin. As the law says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the law.” (Galatians 3:10); We do not have the love of God in our hearts if we are not born again. Jesus is God in the flesh, God is love, love does its neighbor no wrong, and so love is the fulfillment of the law (1 John 4:8, Romans 13:10). Having fulfilled the law for us, Christ Jesus, who has no sin of his own, voluntarily laid down his life for us, so as to meet the demands of the law for sin for us (Galatians 3:13). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) so Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). By shedding his blood on cross, without which there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22), he took away the cause of our death, which is sin (1 John 2:2).
His blood was of such value (propitiation) that it took away the sins of the entire world, back to Adam and forward to eternity to the man yet to be born (1 John 2:2). That is why Jesus said on the cross, as he breathed his last breath, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work that was needed to reconcile the world unto Himself is finished (Romans 5:10). No more work needs to be done (Hebrews 10:11-14). There is no need to ask God for forgiveness of sin, for the sins of the entire world has been paid in full. In fact, asking God for forgiveness is unbelief in Him. What is needed now that you have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son? Enter into that reconciliation God has done for you (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). Choose by faith to receive what Jesus really came to give us, His very life, eternal life, to be lived in us and to be in us forever (John 10:10, John 17:3, John 1:11-13).
That life, eternal life, must be received by faith in God’s provision for you in the completed work of His Son. This is also why Jesus rose from the dead, for unless He rose from the dead we would remain dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-19). Jesus did everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). You have been made complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10, John 1:16). It is up to man to receive that gift of life by faith. We do not add to His work. We do not subtract from His work. We do not go to a priest to get forgiveness of sins nor do we have ongoing forgiveness with the false interpretation of 1 John 1:9. We do not deny that Jesus finished the work of the cross by keeping short accounts with God. God is not counting our sins against us today (2 Corinthians 5:19). We do not go through religious activities, whether a sacrifice of a mass or going to the Lord’s Supper, introspecting over our sins so as to be found worthy to make ourselves right before God or ongoing repentance. We have been made complete by what God already did for us through Jesus Christ. We enter into a rest in Christ Jesus, ceasing to do what God has finished for us. If, as a former Israelite, you would quit doing sacrifices of bulls and goats. You would quit relying on religious activities and traditions of Moses as taught by the rabbis. You would rest from your works just as Jesus did from His. Enter into that rest by faith. Do not put yourself back under the law or religious activity that puts you under bondage (Galatians 5:1). Be led by the Holy Spirit of God who lives in you (Galatians 5:16). Allow Him to teach you and direct your paths (Philippians 2:13). When Jesus has set you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36).
So be sure to enter His rest today and rest from your own works of self-righteousness.
Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”