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Understanding God's Rest - 14

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 29, 2023 7:00 pm

Understanding God's Rest - 14

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 29, 2023 7:00 pm

Pastor Greg Barkman continues his systematic exposition in Hebrews chapter four.

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Well, as we've been working our way through the epistle to the Hebrews, we began to notice the word rest coming up again and again and again. It started in chapter three, the last verse of that extended quotation from Psalm 95, where we read, So I swear in my wrath, or swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.

The words of God, were the disobedient Israelites in the wilderness, who, because of their unbelief, were not allowed to go into the land of Canaan. And then thereafter, we saw that word rest many, many times. The English translation, meaning the word rest, is used 11 times in the last part of chapter three and in the first part of chapter four. Eight times it is identified as God's rest. One time is identified as the rest which Joshua gave.

Another time it is identified as the rest of God's people. And several times there is reference to those who were denied entrance into this rest, to God's rest that is spoken of in this passage. Attaining rest is therefore important to the author of the book of Hebrews and ought to be important to us as well. The passage that attaining the rest that is spoken of here requires diligence.

It's not just something that we're going to tumble into. We need to give very careful attention to the truth that will bring us there and to following the instructions that will guide us into this rest. To answer the question, what exactly is the rest that the writer of Hebrews is talking about? And I believe that will be clearly and finally explained in our text for today, which is verses eight through 11, which will tie this entire passage together. We will see in verses eight and nine what this rest is not. In verse 10, what this rest is, and in verse 11, how this rest is attained. And we begin in verses eight and nine, which tell us what the rest is not.

The rest that is referred to as the one that we must be diligent in order to enter in. Verse eight says, for if Joshua had given them rest, he would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. And so what this rest is not, it is not the land of Canaan.

Verse eight makes that clear. If Joshua had given them rest, then he would not afterward have spoken of another day. If Joshua, some versions say if Jesus had not given them rest, which you see in the Greek, the name Jesus is the name Joshua, and so they are the same. But this is clearly referring to the Joshua of the Old Testament, the one who finally led God's people into the land of Canaan, after Moses led them through the wilderness and up to the edge of that territory, which they refused to enter into initially, and therefore had to extend their wilderness wandering by 40 years until that whole generation died who did not believe the promises of God.

And then even Moses was not allowed to go in, and then Joshua, Moses' successor, took them into the promised land. But if Joshua had given them rest, that is the rest of which this passage speaks, then he, my Bible has a capital H and I think that is correct, then he, that is God, would not afterward have spoken of another day. Yes, Joshua led them into the land of Canaan and Joshua delivered that rest that referred to entrance into the land of Canaan. In fact, in Joshua 22, when Joshua gets ready to dismiss the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh who had left their flocks and herds and families on the east side of Jordan and gone over and helped their brethren conquer the land of Canaan, and now it was, the battle was over, and Joshua said, you can go back, you can go home, and he said in verse 4, and now the Lord your God has given rest to your brethren as he promised them. So clearly in one manner of speaking, Joshua did give them rest. He delivered them into the land of Canaan, the promised rest that God had set before his people and who many of them did not enjoy because of unbelief. And yet our text makes it clear that that is not the rest that this passage is talking about.

It's not Canaan. If Joshua had given them rest, that is the rest of which God speaks here, then God would not afterward have spoken of another day. And so Joshua led many Israelites into Canaan, though not the generation that disbelieved, but a new generation who entered by faith, but that rest was not the rest.

That rest was a picture of the rest, but it's not the rest of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4. Canaan did not provide ultimate rest. Canaan didn't provide lasting rest, although it did provide many blessings, many earthly benefits. It gave them freedom from Egyptian slavery, it put them beyond the reach of Pharaoh and Egypt. It gave them relief from their wilderness conditions, the harshness of the wilderness, the harsh climate, the dryness, the barrenness and all that was involved in the wilderness.

They received relief from that when they went into Canaan. It gave them abundance of provision. It was, as the Bible tells us, a land flowing with milk and honey. It was filled with provision, it was filled with fertile fields, it was filled with fruit trees, it was filled with all kinds of abundance, which they enjoyed. Canaan gave them a settled lifestyle, unlike the wilderness where they picked up and moved on and camped and then picked up and moved on and then camped and picked up and moved on and camped.

Never settled, kept going basically around in circles in the wilderness, but never really settling in. But now in Canaan they could settle down, they could enjoy houses and farms to till, no longer living in tents that they had to pick up and move everywhere they went. And so Canaan did provide many wonderful blessings, but it did not provide lasting rest.

It did not really even provide the end of all earthly trials that we would like to be freed from. There were still enemies to conquer, as long as they were in the land of Canaan they were beset by enemies. There were still territories to defend.

After they conquered the land, they still had to defend the land. And they were fields to work, they couldn't just sit back and have those vines and fig trees drop their bounty into their laps while they lay in their hammocks without doing any work. They had to get out and work hard in order to produce the abundance which Canaan provided. In fact, in Canaan they had all of the difficulties of life that all people have living in this incursed world. They still dealt with death and sorrow and pain and disappointments and broken relationships and broken dreams and all kinds of hardships. They entered into Canaan, which was a wonderful place compared to Egypt and compared to the wilderness. It really was a promised land, but it was a relative rest. It wasn't that it wasn't any rest at all, it certainly was better than what they'd had before and they enjoyed more physical rest than what they had enjoyed for centuries. But it was not ultimate rest. It was, as this passage makes clear, a type of, a symbol of, a picture of an eternal rest.

A fitting picture. It really demonstrated that there is something better to come, but the better Canaan in this world is not the rest of which the book of Hebrews speaks. God, in our text in verse 8, spoke of another day.

The ultimate rest of which Hebrews speaks is far beyond the rest of the land of Canaan. So what this rest is not, number one, is not the rest of the land of Canaan. Number two, it is not the weekly Sabbath. And I say that advisedly as I look at verse nine, I'm not sure that everyone will agree with me, but I'm convinced that that is the case. The rest of which the writer speaks is not the weekly Sabbath. Now, verse nine says there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God.

But here the word rest is a different word than is found in all the other times that the word rest is used. Every other time, it's the Greek word katapousen. But this particular time, it is the Greek word sabbatismos.

Sabbatismos. Do you hear the word Sabbath in there? That's what is actually here in the Greek language. So in my version, my translation, it says there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. But some translations say there remains, therefore, a Sabbath rest for the people of God, which is a more accurate translation of this word and helps to point attention to the fact that this word translated rest, and that is a proper translation.

But this word translated rest is deliberately and uniquely different from all the other words translated rest in this passage. It is a Sabbath rest. It is literally a Sabbath keeping. So verse nine says there remains, therefore, a Sabbath keeping for the people of God.

What does that mean? Well, some things that that means, therefore, that there is still a continuation of the fourth commandment on into the new covenant, there remains a Sabbath keeping for the people of God. If you looked only at verse nine and at the grammar that is involved in verse nine, I think that understanding is a possible one.

But it does not seem to me that that properly understands the flow of the passage in the context. The rest of which the writer of Hebrews is speaking, even the Sabbath rest, the Sabbath keeping rest is something future to the Hebrews. In fact, let me read the New English Bible's translation of verses nine and ten.

And I think this is probably the most accurate translation possible. Therefore, a Sabbath rest still awaits the people of God. For anyone who enters God's rest, rests from his own work as God did from his.

I'm going to read that again. Therefore, a Sabbath rest still awaits the people of God. For anyone who enters God's rest, rests from his own work as God did from his.

I am of the mind that this language in verse nine is referring to something future in the days of the Hebrews, when the writer of Hebrews was writing to them. He said there remains a rest in the future for the people of God. It's not the fourth commandment rest. It is something that the fourth commandment rest typifies. It's what it pictures.

It's what it's pointing to. It's another type of the eternal rest. Canaan was a type of the eternal rest. The Sabbath is a type of the eternal rest. And so this rest is not Canaan, and it is not the weekly Sabbath. But the weekly Sabbath, like the land of Canaan, is a type of the eternal rest that awaits the people of God. So that is what this rest is not. Now, what is it? What is this rest?

And we need to pick that up. Verse 10. For he who has entered his rest, God's rest, has himself also ceased from his works as God did from his, that is, from his works. What is the rest of which Hebrews speaks? And I have four things that are indicated here about this rest.

What are they? Number one, it is a rest of individual attainment. Do you notice that when we get to verse 10, the pronouns switch from plural to singular? You can see them as singular in verse 10. For he, singular, who has entered his singular rest, has himself, singular, also ceased from his singular works as God did from his.

Now, that is significant because prior to that, we have seen plurals. Verse 8, if Joshua had given them, not him, but them, plural, rest, then God would not afterward have spoken of another day. Verse 9, there remains therefore a rest for the people of God. Up until this time, he is talking about a rest which is entered into collectively.

It's entered into as a community. Those who went into Canaan went in as a whole nation of people, a whole community of people. Those who observed the fourth commandment, the Sabbath day rest, did so as a collective body. Now, obviously, there was an individual aspect to it, but the emphasis in verses 8 and 9 are upon the collective aspect of it. But now when he talks about attaining this eternal rest, he suddenly switches back to individual pronouns, singular pronouns. Because this rest of which he speaks is not acquired because you are the member of a community.

It's not acquired in concert with a group. It is required individually, person by person by person by person, who individually places their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nobody's going to heaven because they're the member of a group. Nobody's going to heaven because they belong to the physical seed of Abraham. Nobody's going to heaven because your parents were fine Christians and you were raised in a good Christian home. Nobody's going to heaven because you have all your life gone to a good church and all of those people are trusting Christ and are going to heaven.

Yes, but that doesn't mean that you are. This is a rest of individual attainment. What is this rest, number two? It is a rest that follows completed works. For he who has entered God's rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from his. And that, of course, takes us back to verse three, the last part of verse three. Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world, 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, or as we have seen previously, from his works of creation. And those who enter into the rest of which this writer of the book of Hebrews speaks, cease from their works in a way that is similar to God ceasing from his works. He worked on day one, two, three, four, five, six of creation, creating something out of nothing day by day by day by day. And then day seven, he rested, created nothing on the seventh day. And so those who attain to the rest of which Hebrews speaks are those who, like God, rest from their works, their labors.

Nobody enters into this rest because of their works. They enter into this rest when they cease their works. It is a rest that follows completed works. It follows the pattern of God's rest. It is, thirdly, a rest of eternal continuation.

And I know those two words are a bit redundant, but I needed to put it that way so that you would think it through. It is a rest of eternal continuation because God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. As we saw last week, he still continues his works of providence, his works of redemption and so forth. He's still working. Jesus made that clear.

My father has worked up until now and I work. But as far as creation is concerned, he rested. But the point is, he not only rested on the seventh day, he's still resting from that. That rest continues. God didn't rest on the seventh day and then on the eighth day say, okay, roll up my sleeves and go back to work. Got more work to do on the eighth day and go back to that cycle of six days work, one day rest, six days work, one day rest. No, six days of the work of creation, seventh day rest, and that day hasn't ended for God. It continues, continues, continues, eternally.

What's the point of that? God's rest is an eternal rest and the rest that people enter into, of which the writer of Hebrews speaks, is also a rest of eternal continuation. And finally, we can say that this rest is a rest from former striving. And there are various ways to look at what is said in verse 10. For he, whatever person, whatever individual, who has entered God's rest, has himself, that particular individual, also ceased from his, that individual's works, as God did from his.

You kind of have to point those out to make sure you get the right antecedent for all of these pronouns. A rest from former striving. And there are several things that people point to when they look at this verse, and I think all of them are correct biblically. This rest is a rest in salvation obtained by faith, not by works. To enter into this rest, you don't enter in by your labors, by your works, by what you do.

You lay those aside. This is the rest that is typified by the seventh-day rest in which work ceased. And likewise, entering into this rest is by trusting in God, trusting in Christ, for a salvation that is not dependent upon your works. It is a salvation that comes to understand, I can't get there by my works.

I've got to stop trusting my works. I've got to stop doing my works as an effort to be saved and just rest in the promises of God. Resting in salvation attained by faith, not works, which is essentially resting in the finished work of Christ, not resting in our works, resting in his work. Is salvation by works? No. Is salvation by works? Yes. Is salvation by your works? No.

You can't do them. Nobody, nobody has been saved by his own or her own works. Is salvation by works? Well, yes, by his works, his work of perfect righteousness, his work of vicarious guilt-bearing as he took our judgment upon himself upon the cross. It is his works that we must trust in.

We must enter into. We must be in Christ if we are going to be saved. We must be relying upon his works, not our own. But it seems to me again in the flow of the passage and in the context, the cessation from works that the Hebrew, the writer of Hebrews has in mind is resting in victory over spiritual battles. For he who has entered his rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did.

And what has he been talking about in this context? Well, he's been talking about those who were going to the land of Canaan and they became disobedient. They stopped believing and because they stopped believing, they stopped obeying and they were no longer striving to enter into the land of Canaan. And so to enter into this eternal rest is to gain victory over spiritual battles. No more foes. Are there not foes for me to face?

Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend of grace to help me on to God? Sure, I must fight if I would reign.

That's what he's talking about there. Increase my carriage, Lord. I'll bear the toil, endure the pain supported by your word. But when we enter into this rest, all of that stops. In the heavenly rest, are there no foes for me to face? No, not a one. Must I not stem the flood?

No flood there. Is heaven a friend of grace to help me on to God? Well, it doesn't have to help me there. I'm there. But there's, yeah, there's nothing but support and encouragement for everything spiritual and godly when we arrive there. So no more foes. No more worldly opposition to our progress to this rest. No more satanic opposition in keeping us from this rest. No more indwelling sins to battle with in order to arrive at this rest.

We finally put all of that behind us and we rest. So that brings me then to how is this rest attained? And this is the exhortation of verse 11. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest. Lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

That is the example of those in the wilderness who did not enter Canaan because of disobedience. How is this rest attained? It is attained by diligent perseverance and by obedient faith. To arrive safely in this heavenly rest, this eternal rest, we must be diligent. Let us be diligent to enter. Now we don't like difficult doctrines that cause us to flex our muscles, our spiritual muscles, our mental muscles, and to work at them.

We want everything simple. Is salvation by works or salvation by grace? Well, if it's by grace, then there's nothing to strive for.

Well, yes there is, but not in order to earn salvation. But the Bible continually presents the Christian sojourn as a battle all the way to the end. And we must fight. We must persevere. We must continue to be diligent in attending to spiritual things, in attending to, as it were, nurturing our faith so that we arrive at the end of life still believing and not falling away. Keep me, Lord. Oh, keep me cleaving to thyself and still believing till the hour of my receiving promised joys with thee.

This rest is attained by diligent perseverance. It requires diligence, which I say is a misunderstood doctrine. And even for those who understand it, sometimes an underemphasized doctrine. It is true salvation is not attained by human merit in whole or in part.

Anyone who teaches that is teaching error. Nobody earns salvation. Nobody attains salvation in whole or in part because of their works. Some people have salvation entirely earned by good works. Those people who come around to knock on your door and want to hand you literature probably are teaching salvation by works.

Talk to them and find out. But in most cases, the people who knock on your door are doing that. In fact, one reason they have so much zeal to be willing to go out and knock on doors, like God's blood-bought children sometimes are reluctant to do, but the reason they're willing to do that is because they've got to do that to work and earn salvation.

If they don't do it, they won't make it. So pity them, pray for them, teach them, show them, help them to realize that salvation is by grace through faith, that not of yourselves, it's the gift of God lest any man should boast. Salvation is not attained by human merit in whole or in part. There's others who will teach, well, yeah, you're saved when you believe, but then you are kept by your works. If you fail to keep your works up, then you can lose a genuine salvation which you once had by faith, but now it's gone because you didn't keep it up by works.

No, that's not it either. But though salvation is not attained by human merit in whole or in part, salvation is not attained, and this is why it's so difficult for people, but salvation is not attained without human exertion. And the truth of the Bible that is so difficult for people to understand correctly, they want to get it wrong on one side of the road or the other, fall off in this ditch, fall off in that ditch. But the truth of the matter is, saving faith includes God-honoring works, and saving faith perseveres in diligence. And if it doesn't, it's not that you lose it, if it doesn't, you never had it.

You never had the real thing. And that's why this is so important. That's why you need to keep giving attention to it, to make sure you're not a stony ground hearer, you're not a thorny ground hearer. Because if you are, you need to cast yourself upon Christ for salvation. So this rest is attained by diligent perseverance. This rest is attained by obedient faith. Lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience, like Old Testament Israel. And like the New Testament Hebrews that this author is writing to.

What did he say in verse 1 of this chapter? Chapter 4 verse 1, Therefore, since the promise remains of entering his rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it. Now it's absolutely true that no one who has been born again will come short of it.

They can't. But it is also true that some who think they have been saved will come short of it because what they have is not genuine saving faith. It is not the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

It's something short of that. So give diligence and approach this with a godly fear. Because there are many who made the same profession you make and they've fallen short of salvation, short of heaven.

Let that not be you. Some were in danger of falling away. Falling away is a condition which precedes disobedience and that's a condition which is a manifestation of defective faith. Which in one sense is no true faith at all. But the Bible warns us about this kind of faith. Some kind of belief humanly generated which is not saving faith.

And let me give you a few characteristics of it. It is faith that is professed faith without repentance. But faith without repentance is not saving faith. It is professed faith without humility. But faith without humility is not saving faith. That doesn't mean we'll be as humble as we ought to be.

We still battle pride. But saving faith is going to humble us, isn't it? It's a professed faith without surrender. Without surrendering to the authority of Christ.

Without surrendering to his lordship in our lives. And a professed faith without surrender to Christ is no true faith at all. It is a professed faith without regular examination, self-examination. Unwilling to examine yourselves to see if you'd be in the faith.

Unwilling to make your calling and election sure. It is a professed faith that is actually presumptuous. It is based ultimately upon something that I have done. I'm proud of the fact that I'm not trusting in my works. I'm trusting in faith alone. But the faith that you may be trusting in may be the faith that you prayed a certain prayer. That you raised your hand.

That you walked an aisle. But you see how all of those things are talking about, this is what I did. I did this. I did that. I said this.

I said that. Well, that sounds like something you did. Saving faith is evidenced by what he did within you. He made me aware of my sin. He humbled me before the holy throne of a thrice holy God. He caused me to realize my inability to earn salvation in any way. He caused me to understand that I'm a guilty sinner deserving of eternal hell. He caused me to turn from my sins, to hate the sins that once I loved, but now I have come to hate. And he continues to work within me to help me to battle against those sinful temptations that I'm still struggling with in my Adamic falliness.

He has taught me to repent daily. He teaches me to continue to cry out to Christ and to continue to renew my faith in him. He helps me to do works that are pleasing unto the Lord. He gives me a desire to be in God's house. He gives me a hunger for God's word. He gives me a love for God's people. He gives me a love for the work of the gospel to the ends of the earth. These are things that he has done within me.

Nothing that I have done, but these are things that he has done. And when I see those things, I'm encouraged to believe I think I've got the real thing. I've got the faith that he has regenerated me with, the faith that he has created within me, the faith that he has given to enable me to lay hold upon Christ. It's not the prayer I prayed, not the words I said, not the aisle I walked, not the preacher I listened to, not the personal worker that spoke to me, not what my mother said or did. It's what he has done within me.

That's what's so vitally important. I was going to talk to you in my closing today about the Lord's Day and the Sabbath, but I don't think time will allow me to do that. I may do that at the future time or I may skip that and go on. I will read.

This is all I'm going to say about that. Just out of our Beacon Baptist Confession of Faith, just a paragraph, paragraph 15. We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, the day appointed for the regular assemblies of the church.

We believe that Christians should meet with the church on the Lord's Day for public worship, fellowship, instruction, and observance of the ordinances, and that it should be utilized to cultivate personal spiritual growth and as a testimony before the world. And I might say in addition to being a testimony before the world, and that's important, your neighbors know whether you stay home on Sunday or go to church on Sunday, don't they? But it's a testimony to your family. It's a testimony to your children. How are you going to train up your children, the nurture and admonition of the Lord, if you treat the Lord's Day so lightly?

But that's all I have time for. We move on. But I will conclude with these thoughts about attaining salvation's final rest. Attained by faith alone, but a faith which is never alone. A faith which is active and diligent. A faith which does not dwell comfortably with sin in your life. A faith which perseveres to the end. Do you have that kind of faith? If you do, give glory to God, because He gave that to you.

And if you don't, you should fear. You should give attention to the state of your soul before Almighty God. Let's pray. Father, how we thank you for your word, which indeed is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. Lord, you who see every heart, speak to hearts according to the needs. Speak to those who are outside of Christ. Speak life into their souls. Awaken the dead to life eternal. Speak into the hearts of your children to stir us up to greater diligence and stronger perseverance as we are marching to Zion to attain that eternal rest as we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-30 14:40:33 / 2023-10-30 14:53:09 / 13

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