Jack Graham - Soul Rest
So take your Bibles; turn with me to Hebrews chapter 4. I want to bring you a message today, I'm very pumped, very fired up, very excited about what I have to share today from God's Word. The topic, the theme is "Soul Rest". Rest for your soul. We've been talking about it over these past weeks, always talking about it. We can't stop talking about this great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord! What a beautiful life we have in the Lord Jesus Christ who is our sin-bearer. He took our sins upon the cross. He bore them to Calvary. He died so that we may live. He is our life. He is our Lord.
Salvation is in Christ and Christ alone! But not only is Jesus our sin-bearer, He is our burden-bearer. He takes the load of sin and guilt and pain and problems, the difficulties that we face day by day. I mean life on a good day can be challenging, much less the hard days that we encounter along the way! And yet there is this wonderful promise in God's Word, the promise of rest. Just take a deep breath right now. Rest for your body, rest for your mind, your soul, rest for your spirit. This is the rest that Jesus announced, invited us to experience when He said, Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me all you who are laboring and are heavy-laden". You're carrying a big load, a big weight. He said, "Come to Me and I will give you rest", and then He added, Matthew 11:29, "rest for your souls", rest within.
So many are weary and worn and wrung out. In the passage in front of us there is this wonderful promise of God's rest, the rest of Christ that He gives to us when we trust in Him. Philippians 4:7, "The peace that passes understanding". It is inexplicable, unexplainable and yet, it is unmistakable-this peace. Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, for his soul trusts in Thee". The rest that comes from following Jesus. You can rest in peace, and you don't have to die and go to heaven to rest in peace. You can experience this peace, this rest every day of your life as a Christian. Nine times in Hebrews chapter 4, the word rest or Sabbath is mentioned, nine times!
So that's the point of this passage. Verse 9 is the key verse, look at it: "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God," and closing the passage or the chapter, verse 11 we're encouraged, we are commanded to make every effort "to enter into this rest". This is the challenge to make this your priority. Make every effort, that is, make it your purpose to enter into this rest. There is some effort required, even in rest as we're going to see in just a moment. But make every effort to enter into this rest. The background is way back in the day when Israel was coming out of the exodus, God, through the exodus. God had given them the hope, the promise of a land that was flowing with milk and honey. It was a beautiful place, a bountiful place, and they were on the edge of this blessing. They were ready to go in and take the Promised Land.
So they sent spies in to check it out. This was the beginning of Mossad, the Jewish CIA, you might say. So they sent twelve spies in. The Jewish people have always been very good at this, and they sent twelve in, and all twelve came back out, and ten reported to say, "It's just as God promised, it's an incredible place. The grapes are bigger than grapefruits; it is flowing with abundance. It's the land that God has promised BUT, there are giants in this land and we are like insects, we are like grasshoppers compared to these giants. There is no way we can defeat these giants and take this land"! Now remember, God had promised them the land. God said go take the land; it's yours. Possess your possession! But they said, "No, we can't. It's impossible". Except for two men: one by the name of Joshua, the other by the name of Caleb. And these two men said, "Yes, it's a great land. God has given us this land! It's time to take it! God will make a way even though there seems to be no way"! But the majority ruled!
And did you know the majority is not always right! But they voted ten to two, to stay in the wilderness! And so that began, because of their unbelief, and we read about this unbelief in Hebrews chapter 4. Their unbelief, it began the world's longest funeral march. Because for the next generation, save Caleb and Joshua and their families who believed, the rest of them died in the wilderness! Forty years! I mean, it was a short distance, really from Egypt to this land of promise known as Canaan. A direct route would have taken them in very soon, but they wandered in the wilderness. Don't get the idea, you know, they were wandering around, "I don't know where I'm going. I don't know where I'm going". Just wandering like that. No, that meant they were desert disciples. They were unbelieving believers, and therefore, they died in the wilderness. They did not receive the promise! They never entered into this rest that God had promised! And God still promises today.
And so with that background, let me talk with you about this rest, what it is and how to enter in. First of all, this rest is a Sabbath rest. In Hebrews 4:4, if you just scroll up a little bit there. It talks about God resting on the seventh day. That God created in six days, "and on the seventh day He rested". This is not because God is tired, because God is never tired, never weary, no need for Him to sleep. But when it speaks of God's rest, it speaks of the rest of completion. Creation is complete. It's the rest of satisfaction, of a job well done, because God said, "It is good, it is good, it is good". And thus was established on the seventh day the Sabbath, because God modeled this and mentored this for His people. We are even commanded in God's top ten list, the Ten Commandments, number four commandment, "to keep the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy".
To put a week's worth of work behind us, and then on one day of the week to worship God and to rest body, soul and spirit. God has called us to weekly worship, a day of celebration, a day of consecration, a day to pray, a day to hear God's Word! And yet so often we have sacrificed the Lord's Day for pleasure and profit, or both! Everybody needs a Chick-fil-A day off! And I appreciate the fact, though I miss those sandwiches on Sunday, I appreciate the fact that Chick-Fil-A demonstrates this principle. I'm telling you this, it's impossible, not just improbably, but impossible for you to go forward in your faith, to grow in your faith as God has called us, if you are not practicing this principle of showing up faithfully at God's church with God's people on God's day to hear God's Word, to worship the Lord Jesus Christ!
We'll learn later in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25: "Do not forsake the assemblying of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, and so much the more, encourage one another as you see the Day approaching". What Day? As the times get darker, near the return of Christ. So much the more! How much more do we need one another and the fellowship of God's people! This is a day to honor Him. This is a day to praise Him. This is a day to worship Him! I can't imagine missing this day! I look forward to it! I think the first Scripture I ever memorized as a little boy was, Psalm 122:1, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the House of the Lord". It's always been a God-gladdening day, a God-guiding day for me! It's a principle in my life. It's a time, catch this, it's a time for your soul to catch up with your body. Because we're going and going and going hard, and God in His wisdom, knows that you can't keep the pace that many are keeping and continue to be faithful to Him. It's a matter of obedience, isn't it?
So many are restless, because they don't have a relationship with God that they maintain in their lives. Augustine said this: "You have made us for Thyself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee". Someone said you could describe the average American at the end of life: hurry, worry, bury. God says, Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God". Every one of us... all of us need time in our lives that we disconnect from the world and all of the pressures, and connect with God. And God has chosen a day for us. Again, every day is His day. Every day's a Sabbath Day, we experience His rest, but "This is the Day the Lord has made", for you and me to worship Him. And yet, if the statistics are correct, most people who are even regular attenders and members of churches today make to worship in their church with their church family about twice a month! That's not good enough!
We better get back to old fashion church attendance. And when I talk about "old fashion" I'm not talking about fifty years ago, I'm talking about 2000 years ago when God's people gathered daily in the Temple and from house to house, and they worshiped together. This includes, of course, physical rest, if you want to get strong physically, then make sure your mind, your spirit is being strengthened in worship. I guarantee you, your week will go better if you will obey this promise. Because the Scripture says, Hebrews chapter 11, that God is "the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him"! And God is going to bless you and God is going to rest you and strengthen you if you will be faithful to Him and practice Sabbath rest. You say, "Well, Sunday's my only day off. I need to take Sunday for myself". Sunday's not your day. The Lord's Day's not your day! What is it? The Lord's Day! It's not your day! It's God's day!
There's something else about this rest. Not only is it this Sabbath rest when we practice this principle of weekly worship and gathering with God's people. But this is spiritual rest. What we're calling "Soul Rest". Look at verse one, back in Hebrews 4, verse 1 says, "the promise still stands". Well, of course, all of God's promises stand. I mean, the stars would fall out of the sky if God ever broke a promise. We break promises, but God never breaks a promise. So this promise about rest wasn't just for the people then, the Hebrews in the Old Testament or even in the New Testament, but this principle "still stands". Verse 3, look at it, "For we who have believed have entered into that rest". We come to Jesus and we have entered into this spiritual rest. And then verse 6 is an interesting line. It says, "it remains for some to enter".
Now you could say, well, it remains for some to enter it for the first time for salvation, to get into Christ, and therefore, this eternal rest. But it also means that it remains for some of you who are believers to enter into this rest, because you're not living in victory, you're not living in the land of God's promises! Do you know what the Promised Land really represents? You say, "Well, it represents heaven". It can, and does. But in reality the Promised Land, Canaan in the Old Testament is a picture of the Spirit-filled life! A life of abundance that Christ has promised us. A life that is full and overflowing, "this land of milk and honey". And unfortunately while many have left Egypt, they're still in the desert spiritually because you as a believer have not entered in. You're not experiencing the Spirit-filled life!
The spiritual walk! You're in the wilderness. You're a desert disciple! You're an unbelieving believer because you're still out there living in the desert when God has called you to the spiritual reality of His presence, His power, His provision in your life! That's the rest I'm talking about! It is this beautiful, bountiful blessed Canaan promise, Promise Land for everyone. So that's why, again, if you look at verse 6, again, "it remains for some who enter it", verse 9, look at it again, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God". It's there for the asking. And again, we quote it, "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest".
How are we going to do that? Very quickly, let me give you some practical ways that you can practice this spiritual rest in your life. Number one, renew your faith daily. I said worship weekly; worship every week with God's people, but be a disciple daily. You want to rest? Take time out. Stop the white noise in your life, even if it's just for a little while. Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God". Listen to the still small voice. Practice God's presence. Pray! Remove the distractions and reject the disappointments! And find each day happiness in Him, joy in Him, hope in Him! That's the rest that we're talking about! But not only renew your faith daily, but relate to God's people. I've already talked about this to some degree, but there are people in our lives who refresh us.
Paul talked about this. Imagine Paul needing people, but he did. And he often mentioned names of people who had encouraged him and people who had prayed for him, and blessed him. He mentioned one man in particular. Epaphroditis, and he says, "You refreshed me". Isn't it wonderful to be around refreshing people? People who build you up and don't tear you down. That's what God's church should be like. It ought to be a place where we are refreshed by friends and the fellowship of God's church, the community of God's people. There are people who deplete you and there are people who complete you. And you might even ask yourself what kind of person am I? Am I depleting people or am I completing people with my attitude, with my actions? Thirdly, repent of unholy behavior. You know what will wear you out faster than anything? Unrepented of sin and guilt.
You say, "Following Christ is hard". Well, Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light". But the Bible says, "The way of the transgressor is hard". So if you are addicted to some sinful behavior, if you're living in disobedience to God, if you are sinning and are unwilling to come clean with God and confess your sin, that's the biggest beat-down in life! The devil will wear you out! Obedience produces rest. Disobedience produces death. Ask Jesus to be the Lord over your thoughts, over your moods, over your morale. Yes, Jesus wants to change our personalities; that our lives would be characterized by the bountiful fruit of the promised life which is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness, meekness, self-control.
Fourthly, remove toxic emotions. As Christians we need to get rid of those toxic, deadly emotions of fear and worry and anxiety, and anger. Here's a big one, self-pity, because these drain us, you see. And the only way I know to get rid of these negatives is by the positive of getting in the presence of God, to learn to rest, not worry; to pray, and not worry! Sound good? I can't tell you how often I've been bone tired, and yet, a time of prayer or a verse of Scripture or a simple song or a hymn or a passage that I might read in a devotional or a word of encouragement from a friend or a line that I may write in my daily journal, a promise in God's Word. I can't tell you how often, when so tired, to be lifted and the burden rolls away. When I enter into His rest because, "in His presence is fullness of joy and His right hand are pleasures forevermore".
This is why you must take this rest today. It's time. Right in the middle of this passage is a warning. It flows out of the earlier passage that we saw last week, a warning which says, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart". Because that brings me then to my last rest, and that is salvation rest. Here's what this rest is about. We are saved, we have salvation not because of our performance or our activity or our behavior, but by resting in the finished work of Christ. Say "Amen" to that! Thank you. By resting in the finished, completed work of Jesus Christ! When He died on the cross, He cried out, "It is finished... Tetelestai"! That means accomplished! Not that He was finished; He is alive forevermore! But the work of salvation is now complete! It is done! The transaction is completed! And now we rest in this by believing and receiving Christ! So "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts"!
Did you know it's possible to so say no and no and no and no and no to the work of the Holy Spirit and resist the Word of God and the love of Christ? It is possible to walk away for the last time with a hardened heart! The fact is that what we do repeatedly, we get better typically (Unless it's my golf game. You would think I would be better by now, but I don't know that I am). Some things, most things if you do it enough (even that, if I did it enough, I would get better.) And some of you have gotten really good at saying no to God, no to the Holy Spirit. And the Bible says, "My Spirit will not always strive with a man". And there's the prospect of sudden death!
No wonder the Scripture says, "Today, if you hear His voice". And that word today doesn't mean a 24 hour day; it means this day. It means this day of opportunity, this day of salvation, because, you said, "No, it means 24 hours". No, it doesn't! You may not have 24 hours! The Bible says, "There's but a step between me and death". That heartbeat, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. You are just one heartbeat! I asked Alexa the other day how many people die everyday in the world? You know what she said? "153,000 and something". Every day! We did a series on heaven. Maybe you want to get those messages, all about heaven and all the glorious things that are going to happen in heaven. You want to go there, I promise you, because Jesus is there. And our loved ones that have gone before us are present with the Lord.