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Entering God's Rest

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2023 7:00 pm

Entering God's Rest

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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September 24, 2023 7:00 pm

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I have your Bibles with you this morning.

Turn with me if you would to Hebrews chapter 4, and we're going to be looking at verses 7 to 11. Let's go to our Lord in prayer. Father, we pray for our sick this morning. Pray for quick recovery for Ralph Ingram and Diane Joyner who had surgery this week. Pray for Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belk and Renda Torrance and Kim Oudy and Nicole Lowes. Pray for upcoming surgery for Lisa Menzel and Cindy Agnew. We continue to lift up our lost loved ones to you, Lord, and we cry out to you for their salvation. Pray also for Molly Rowden who's having surgery on her leg this Tuesday. Pray for Tracy Swietzgood, Lord, that you would be with her as she is back and forth to the doctors, Lord, with some issues with her pancreas, and we would ask, Father, that you minister to her. Heavenly Father, we are dealing with a sacred, glorious, exciting, and tremendously important subject today, entering your rest.

Lord, we know that this doesn't happen on our own. Before our salvation, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. You had to give us life. You had to give us ears to hear, a will to respond, and a heart of submission. But our question today is how do we persevere? How do we best trust you? How do we best obey you?

How do we become like Jesus? Lord, open your word to us because we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We love you, Lord. Thank you for loving us for it is in the precious, holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. I want to read to you once again Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 1. It says, Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear, lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

When we first started studying the book of Hebrews, I shared with you there's a pattern that you see over and over again. There'll be a warning and then hope, a warning and then hope, a warning and then hope. The first part of verse 1 is a verse that is absolutely filled with hope. You can enter God's rest. You can be saved and have full assurance of that salvation. So the scripture is warning us here. Don't despair.

Don't despair. I want to read you a true story of a man. If you have looked at his life, there's no way that you could believe a person like this could ever be genuinely converted and come to know Christ.

Listen to this carefully. In his younger manhood, Jerry McCauley was as debauched as any can imagine. His children were starving because he spent his money on alcohol. His little girl died of malnutrition when she was about four years old. The neighbors gave enough money to buy her some new clothes and a casket to be buried in.

In the middle of the night, McCauley broke into the mortuary, took the clothes off his dead child and exchanged them for a drink. Not long afterward, however, Jesus Christ reached down, changed his life. He became one of the greatest preachers America's ever known. Folks, that's the grace of God. As we read through the book of Hebrews, you'll see warning after warning, but we desperately need to see the hope. John Piper was preaching through the book of Hebrews several decades ago and he said that in the book of Hebrews, as he was teaching through it, that he began to realize that the warnings are so powerful and the judgments are so clear and so strong that he had to be very careful to balance everything out with hope. Because if he didn't, his people would have been totally and completely discouraged.

And folks, that's exactly right. Verse one is a verse that is filled with hope. It tells us that God's rest is available to us.

I got four points I want to share with you this morning. Number one is the availability of God's rest. Look at verse seven. Again, he appoints a certain day, today, saying through David, so long afterward, in the words already quoted, today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. In other words, salvation is available. Salvation is within our reach.

And if you've got it, there will be genuine, glorious, inward peace. If you remember from last week's message, we saw that God's salvation came through personal faith. And that personal faith came through God's sovereign grace, working through the word of God.

God regenerates you. He gives you the ability to trust him, the ability to love him, the ability to obey him, and the route that God chooses to do that is the word of God. Romans chapter 10, verse 17, Paul said that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If you go to the Greek language, you'll find out that in the Greek language, there are two primary words for word. One, and the one that is most used, is the word logos.

That means the general revelation. When we speak of Jesus being the word, the living word, we would call him the logos. When we speak of the Bible, the general revelation of the Bible, we would call it the logos.

If I were to say to you, I am preaching the word of God today, then I would use the word logos. But there's another word, and that is the Greek word rhema. And that word means the spirit energized word of God. It happens when God takes the logos, the general revelation of God, and then he energizes it by the power of his spirit, and then he drives it into a heart, and gives that person the ability to be convicted, to repent, to trust Christ as his Lord and as his Savior.

The word rhema is the word that is used in Romans 10, 17. That faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the rhema, the spirit energized word of God. I used to read this verse, and I would think, well, that means if I just read the Bible more and more, that my faith will grow.

And there's truth to that. But that's not the intention of this verse. This verse is saying, faith will come when there is hearing. Not physical hearing, but spiritual hearing.

When God opens your spiritual ears. Now I want you to know that I don't have the ability to preach rhema myself. All I can do is preach the logos, the general revelation of God. But God can take the preached word. He can energize it by his spirit.

He can drive it into the heart and draw people to faith. Folks, then it's not God's word in general. It is God's word to us personally. All right, verse 7 again.

And notice the emphasis here on time. What does David say? Verse 7. Again, he appoints a certain day. Today, saying through David, so long afterward, and the word's already quoted, today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. David is quoting again from Psalm 95.

Today if you will hear his voice. Folks, there seems to be an urgency about the gospel, doesn't it? Why is there such an urgency?

Why? Because this life is short. Folks, this life, according to James, is like a little puff of smoke. It's like a little puff of steam.

It's just very, very short. It's here and then before we realize it, it's totally gone. Proverbs 27, verse 1 says, Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day shall bring forth. In Genesis, chapter 6 and verse 3, God's looking out over the civilization that he's getting ready to destroy by a flood, and he says, my spirit will not strive with men forever. Folks, there is great urgency in the message of the gospel.

The writer of Hebrews is saying, this may be your very last chance that you might come to know him, that you might repent. This might be your last day. My wife this past Tuesday got sick and was running a fever. She usually goes to visit with her mom and take care of her several times a week.

Tuesday is one of those days. She had to call her mom and tell her that she wasn't coming. And when she goes to see her mom, she goes down Flow Store Road, she crosses over Highway 2427 and then goes on into Midland. She called me later on in that day and she said, Doug, there's been a horrible accident right there not far from where I go across on Highway 2427. So the car veered into oncoming traffic and there was an accident, a horrible accident, and three people were killed on the spot. And I thought, you know, those people were going out that morning having no idea that today was going to be the last day of their life. They were happy. They were probably talking in the car. One second they were alive.

A minute later they were in eternity. But that's what we're talking about here. You are not promised a tomorrow. Today may be the only time that you have to repent. That's why the Apostle Paul said, Now is the time of decision. Today is the day of salvation. And not only may this be the last day that you live, this may be the last time that you ever feel concerned about your heart, about your soul, about salvation.

That's how important that is. Point two, the nature of God's rest. Look with me at verse 8. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. If you've got an old King James Version, then your Bible says it this way. If Jesus had given them rest, the name Jesus and the name Joshua are the same word in the Hebrew language. It is Yeshua.

And the reference here is not to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The reference here is to the Joshua of the Old Testament. The ESV got it right when it puts Joshua here.

The writer of Hebrews is telling these Jews to think back to the time of Joshua when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Joshua led them in and he defeated the enemies that were in the Promised Land. He defeated them. He gave them instruction on how to fight and they went in and they drove out the enemies. He taught them how to build houses there, how to plant crops there, how to start businesses there.

They did that. And the thought of being in slavery in Egypt is completely gone. The thought of wandering out in the wilderness in the barren desert for 40 years, that thought's completely gone and they have entered into the Promised Land and the Scripture tells us that that is rest.

Now, he then says, but that was not the best rest and that was not the last rest. David spoke of another day to come. Look at verse 6 and 7. Since therefore it remains for some to enter it and those who formerly received the good news fail to enter because of disobedience.

Again, he appoints a certain day. The writer's Hebrews is telling us that David was not just talking here about Joshua entering into the Promised Land. That the Promised Land was just a temporary thing. That it was just an earthly inheritance. But David is talking here about something different. He spoke of a rest, a glorious rest that would be absolutely permanent. Look, this is what Jesus was talking about in John 14 verses 1 through 3. When he said, Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions.

If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also. So what is he saying to these Hebrews who are dealing with these claims of Christ? The writer of Hebrews is comparing Joshua to Jesus. And what is he saying?

He's saying there is no comparison. He is saying Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Joshua was just a type. He was just a picture. He was just a symbol of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to come. And the Promised Land was just a type.

It was just a symbol. It was just a picture of something greater to come which is the new heavens and the new earth where there will be permanent, glorious rest. Alright, point three is the Sabbath rest. Look at verses 9 through 10. So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from His works as God did from His.

William McDonald said the following. The preceding verses have been leading up to this conclusion. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. Here the writer uses a different Greek word for rest, sabbatismos, which is related to the word Sabbath. It refers to the eternal rest which will be enjoyed by all who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. It is a Sabbath keeping that will never end.

Verse 10. Whoever enters God's rest enjoys a succession from labor just as God did on the seventh day. Before we were saved, we may have tried to work for our salvation. When we realized that Christ had finished the work at Calvary, we abandoned our own worthless efforts and we trusted the risen Redeemer. After salvation, we expend ourself in loving toil for the one who loved us and gave Himself for us. Our good works are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

We are often weary in His service, though not weary of it. In God's eternal rest, we shall cease from our labors down here. This does not mean that we will be inactive in heaven. We will still worship and serve Him, but there will be no fatigue, distress, persecution, or affliction. In verse 10, the Scripture says that the one who has entered his rest has ceased from his works as God ceased from his. Now, does this verse mean that when you get saved, you're in his rest and works are no longer necessary? Is this one of those situations that you see so often in denominations where they say, just let go and let God? This is not one of those situations at all. Folks, there are too many lazy, professing Christians today who say, well, I've trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I have the Holy Spirit residing in me. So now I can just kind of sit back and I can do nothing because works don't really matter. No, no, no. Your works are necessary. They're not meritorious, but they are necessary. Your works do not save you whatsoever. It was the work of Christ on the cross, but your works are evident, evidence and proof and fruit that you have truly been saved. Philippians 2, 12 through 13, the apostle Paul said it this way.

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both the will and the do of his good pleasure. In Ephesians 2, 8 and 9, Paul said, for by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. And the very next verse is this, for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for what? For good works. We are saved by grace, but we are saved to do good works, not by our strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How important that is. James said it well in James chapter 2, verse 17 through 18. So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, you have faith and I have works? Show me your faith apart from your works.

I will show you my faith by my works. St. Augustine made a statement 1600 years ago that we often quote today, and I love his statement. He said, you have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. Some of God's most faithful believers are the busiest, most hardworking, and sometimes most afflicted people that you will ever meet. And yet, the scripture tells us that they have great rest.

Now, you would think, how was that possible? If you were to go to the Sudan today, you would see some Christians there that would absolutely amaze you. There are Christians that are defying their governmental leaders.

There are Christians that are sharing and preaching the gospel when they are told that they cannot do it, and they are being persecuted, and they are being tortured, and sometimes they are even being martyred for their faith. And you look at them and you say, how can we say that they are at rest? Look at what they're going through. They're almost at the end of their... physically and emotionally, they're just at their end, and yet they're at rest.

How can we say that? Because they have absolute assurance of salvation. They have the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life that is so sweet and so powerful, and they have the promise that when they do die, they're going to spend forever and ever and ever with Christ in glory. In verse 10 here, the writer of Hebrews is speaking about that future rest. The time will come when you and I will no longer have to persevere. We will no longer have to fight sin.

We will no longer have to struggle against temptation. I like to think about the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul was sitting in a prison cell in Rome, and he knew that in just a very short time, maybe hours, maybe days ahead, that the Roman guard was going to come in and pull him up out of his dungeon cell. And then they were going to walk together down to the Tiber River, that river that would drink Paul's blood when his head was severed from his body.

And they would walk right down to the river's edge where there was a chopping block. And then the executioner would take Paul, and he would push his head down on that chopping block. He'd say, Paul, do you have anything left to say? Paul said, yes, one thing.

He said, what is it? Jesus Christ is Lord. And I can see that executioner taking that lethal ax, lifting it up over his head, and with one swing, swoosh, that ax flies through the air, severing his head from his body. Because I know of no one who worked harder than the Apostle Paul. I know of no one who suffered more than the Apostle Paul.

And right before this happened to him, where he was decapitated for his faith, he wrote his own obituary. And this is what he said in 2 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 6 through 8. For I am now ready to be offered in the time of my departures at hand.

For I've followed a good fight, I've finished my course, I've 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 who love his appearing. Paul knew his days of service were quickly coming to an end, and eternal rest is coming. He knew that his fight with sin and his struggle with temptation was very soon going to come to an end. He knew that when he got there, there would be no more beatings from chains and rods and whips that all that would be over with. He knew that he would never again be berated for his love for Christ. And what was he going to experience? Perfect joy, perfect peace, and perfect rest. In Philippians 1, 21, it was Paul who said, For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Two verses later in verse 23, Paul said, For I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Jesus.

In other words, he said, I would much rather have that than to live on this earth. I want to ask you something. Do you ever just think about heaven?

If you don't, you need to start doing that. You know, when we die, when a believer dies, the Scripture says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. You need to think about what's going to happen at that very second, for you're going to open your eyes in glory, and you're going to see Jesus on his throne. You're going to see Jesus in all of his glory, shining like the new day sun.

You're going to see love in his eyes. You're going to see the nail prints in his hands, the incredible evidence of what Christ has done for you on the cross, and then you're going to get the opportunity to tell him thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for a hell-bound sinner, an undeserving sinner like me. You went to the cross and you shed your precious blood.

I didn't deserve that. You died a substitutionary atoning death for me. You took my sin and gave me your righteousness.

Oh, Lord, how I thank you. Realize what it's going to be like in heaven when our sin nature is eradicated, when we never again have to fight lust or pride or selfishness or covetousness or any other sin ever again. And what do you think it's going to be like to hear from the lips of Jesus Christ himself, Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord. You don't think about heaven much? You need to start.

You need to start. Revelation 14, 13. John the Apostle is on the island of Patmos. God speaks these beautiful words to him. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, if they may rest from their labors, for their deeds will follow with them. Folks, that's the ultimate reality of Sabbath rest. Every time you come into our church on Sundays, this is the Christian Sabbath. And you need to think, what we're doing here is a little picture, a little taste of what we're going to have for all of eternity.

All right, point four is the call to diligence. Look at verse 11. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

So we're back to the warning again, aren't we? Remember he's talking to Jews who have heard the gospel. Some of them have made professions of faith. And now you've got the unbelieving Jews just giving them down the country. They're ostracizing them. They're persecuting them. They're calling them traitors of their heritage. And many of these convicted, but yet confused Jews have thrown in the towel. And they have reverted back to Judaism.

The writer of the book of Hebrews is almost screaming at them. And he's saying, no, no, no. Don't give up. You've got to persevere. You've got to be diligent. You've got to strive.

Strive to do what? You've got to look past your present troubles and you've got to see in the future what's coming. And that is rest. And you need to look and think about what's going to happen if you don't enter into God's rest.

What are the consequences? Folks, the consequences of not entering God's rest is hell. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, had a guy come up and ask him a question one day. He said, William Booth, he said, if you had the opportunity to train Christian workers, he said, what's the best way to do that? And Booth said, well, he said, if it was just all up to me, he said, I wouldn't give them a four-year Bible college. I wouldn't give them that education. And I wouldn't give them a three-year theological education in the seminary.

He said, this is what I would do. I'd put them in hell for five minutes. And then when they came out of there, they turned the world upside down for Christ. And brothers and sisters, that's true. So the writer of Hebrews says, be diligent.

How can we be diligent in the society that we're living in today where everything has been trivialized? John Piper was preaching on the subject of television a while back, and he said this about television. He said, television, you turn it on, and you're going to see violence and profanity and lewdness and sexual immorality. He said, that's horrible.

That's dangerous. It's a terrible thing. But he said, what's even worse is that television trivializes everything. It speaks in sound bites, and it takes everything that is good and moral, even God, and snickers at it. I want to read you a statement that was made by David McCullough. He wrote a book called The Trivialization of God, and he speaks about what happens when Christianity is not approached with due reverence to God.

How many of you have been to a church where you walk in and you're just kind of shocked because it's not about God. It's about you. It's about positive thinking. That's what they call faith. Positive thinking is about what you can get out of God, but it's all about making you the sinner instead of making God the sinner.

And so many, many times it's about entertainment. This is what he said. Visit a church on Sunday morning.

Almost any will do. You will likely find a congregation comfortably relating to a deity who fits nicely within precise doctrinal positions or who lends almighty support to social crusades or who conforms to individual spiritual experiences, but you will not likely find much awe or sense of mystery. The only sweaty palms will be those of the preacher, unsure whether the sermon will go over well.

The only shaking knees will be those of the soloist about to sing the operatory. Reverence and awe have been replaced by a yawn of familiarity. The consuming fire has been domesticated into a candle flame, adding a bit of religious atmosphere, perhaps, but no heat, no blinding light, no power for purification. When the true story gets told, whether in the partial light of historical perspective or in the perfect light of eternity, it may well be revealed that the worst sin of the church at the end of the 20th century has been the trivialization of God.

The writer of Hebrews will never be accused of trivializing the things of God. He gives warning after warning to listen, to heed, to obey, and in verse 11 he says, Be diligent, strive, some translations say. Be diligent.

You can't be diligent and trivial at the same time. So what are you to be diligent about? You're to be diligent about entering his rest, not entering your rest, but entering his rest. I've had people come to me and say, Doug, I'm having trouble with assurance of my salvation, so what should I do? Just kind of kick back and wait on God to put that assurance in my heart?

My answer to that is no. You should seek God with a holy desperation. You should cry out to him and surrender, asking for forgiveness, asking for cleanliness. I think it probably needs to be kind of like Jacob.

You remember Jacob? Saw the angel of the Lord appeared before him, and he went and he grabbed the angel and held him in a tight grasp, and he said, I will not let you go until you bless me. I think we need to be like the Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus and she had a daughter who was demon-possessed, and she needed Jesus' help. And she said, Jesus, my daughter is demon-possessed, and she needs to be delivered.

Would you do this for me? And Jesus said to her, I'd like to take the children's bread and to feed it to the dogs. And what that meant was she was a Gentile. He was a Jew.

He was saying, is it right for me to take my time away from ministering to my own Jewish people and to spend time ministering to you, a Gentile? The Scripture tells us that Jesus did this testing her. He did this testing her to test her desperation level. She could have easily walked away from there and she shouldn't talk to me like that.

He shouldn't hurt my feelings like that. She didn't do that. She didn't do that. She humbled herself before Jesus and she said, Jesus, is it not true that the dogs under the table should eat the crumbs that the children spill? Jesus was blessed by her actions. He was blessed by her response.

And what did he do? He cast the demon out of her daughter. Folks, that lady was desperate. She didn't need to be coddled. She didn't need to feel special. She just needed the help of Jesus and so she humbled herself and she went before Jesus.

She was throwing her arms around his leg, so to speak, and saying, I will not let you go until you deliver my daughter. Folks, a person who's concerned about his salvation should do the same thing. As God said in the book of Jeremiah 29, 39, and you will find me when you seek for me and search for me with all your heart. You say, Doug, what does it mean to seek for Jesus? It doesn't mean seeking his blessings. It doesn't mean seeking his hand. It means seeking his face.

In other words, it means seeking himself. Let me ask you something. Do you want Jesus more than anything else in this world or in the world to come? Do you want the person of Jesus ruling and reigning over your life? Do you want to be a servant? Do you want to be a slave?

Do you want to be his child? Do you want the person of Jesus? Let's pray. Lord, as Saint Augustine said, you have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you. Lord, help us to be diligent in serving you and restful in our trust of you. Assure us of our faith. Remove every doubt. And may we be dependent upon you and upon you alone, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-30 03:39:01 / 2023-10-30 03:52:20 / 13

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