This is a guest post from Taber Cheo, you can follow him on facebook.
My hope and prayer for you is that you come know and also remain in the promise of our Lord’s rest before having failed to reach it. As many of you may know, we are surrounded by lies and pressures of the world that tell us to improve quickly with the the most impressive results as if it were by our own strength and/or ability to bring increase in our lives and into the lives of others. I urge you to not be deceived nor conform to this lie in any way. It is The Lord that brings the increase; it is The Lord that bears our fruit. The eagerness to do the Lords work with amazing zeal is nothing less than prominent in most Christian circles of America. But the reality we must keep in focus and not be so quick to forget is that the work of God is “to believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29). The work that is done now is only driven by Him through The Spirit of the living God that now lives in our hearts. Look for example in Haggai 1:14 as it was The Lord who stirred up the spirits of His people to build the house of The Lord of hosts. Again in Psalm 127:1, “unless The Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless The Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” This is what was meant in the scriptures of John 15:5 when Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Apart from Him we can do no good work; or do you suppose that your good works were done by your own stirring of the spirit or your own increase of faith, if indeed it was done in the fullness of love? Not at all! I will continue to remind us, strongly, of the words Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, ” I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Therefore, it is not us who do anything but it is the Lord who does it through us. We are not the ones living but it is Christ who lives. That is, if we are remaining in our spiritual worship which is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). This, my friends, is what it means to enter into the promise of His rest. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. “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” (Hebrews 4:1). If the rest of which He has provided is ignored, there is a great fear to acknowledge. Think of those of whom Jesus prophesied in Matthew 7:22-23, “on that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
By the grace of God, may we never find our security in the works we do. Rather, may we know God with an intimate love that secures us with confidence and empowers us for good works. Again, in the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:11-14 when the King casts out a man into the outer darkness because he was not wearing the wedding garment. If you did not know already, that wedding garment is the blood of Jesus which was spilled for us. That blood is the very thing that clothes us and presents us without blemish, spot or wrinkle before our Father. It is the blood of His righteousness, not ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” If righteousness is only achieved through faith in Him, how can we do anything good apart from Him since “our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6)? One might ask, “well, surely we can’t sit around and do nothing. What do you suppose we do?” Only do what Jesus commands of us, which is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength; the second commandment being like it: to love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:37-38). These two commandments Jesus gives us in which all the law and the prophets hang on. Notice, the core foundation of both commandments is “love,” without which, there is no meaning (1 Corinthians 13). Yet in order to properly love your neighbor, you must love yourself. In order to love yourself, you must know the intimate love He gives you continuously. He who is forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:47). Psalm 37:23, “the steps of a man are established by The Lord, when he delights in His way.” Isaiah 40:31, “but they who wait for The Lord shall renew their strength.” Anything we do depends not on our ability, but on God’s ability as He is the one who is able. He establishes our steps within our full communion of the delight we have with Him. He is able to keep us from stumbling (Jude 24). If there is anything we do, we only do out of the intimate relationship we have with Holy Spirit. It is the compulsive call of love that only comes from one source, the One who is called love Himself. We could never truly love unless we first abide in Him. The same way a branch cannot bear fruit unless it first abides in its vine. Tell me, does the branch control what fruit it bears or the pace of which it grows? Or can one branch say to another, “bear an orange as your fruit?” Is it not the vine that provides the life of the fruit? Indeed, it can only come from the vine. Therefore, what is the job of the branch? It is simply to abide and to remain in the vine; otherwise, apart from the vine, it cannot bear fruit. Look to the apostle Peter as an example in Acts 10:9-23. He went to the rooftop relying not on an agenda nor pondering what kind of works he must do, but he stayed in prayer. God gave him a vision and directed his steps as he remained in communion with God. The fruit he later bore was the expansion of the good news to the Gentiles. Furthermore, in 2 Chronicles 20:1-23 when all the cities of Judah came to seek The Lord as the many armies were coming against them. King Jehoshaphat prayed to God, “we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.” In the Lord’s response, He said, “do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” They later won the battle by watching the enemy destroy themselves as all of Judah went against them and worshipped God our Father with musical instruments. These were written down as an example for us to follow in every situation of our lives.
We cannot bear a righteous deed on our own. They are only planned and fulfilled in Him who plans and fulfills them in us as we walk according to the Spirit. Just as it says in Romans 8:3-4, “for God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” If we walk according to the Spirit, every righteous deed is fulfilled in us and we are then considered righteous by faith. This is the promise of His rest that we must enter and that we must remain. If we do not receive this rest, we will become like those of who Jesus prophesied. Matthew 24:37-39. “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Let us be like Noah who entered the ark. Only now, let us enter the ark of the blood of the Lamb where we submit to God’s righteousness instead of establishing our own; Let us walk according to the Spirit. Let us trust that He will do His work in His perfect timing as we make ourselves available by loving Him and loving those around us. Let us be united in the family of Christ and not judge one another for not “doing” enough. If you see a need to fulfill, don’t judge anyone for the lack of fulfilling it, but be part of the solution as it may be God who is stirring up your spirit to fulfill it through you. “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His.” -Hebrews 4:10