Thursday, August 23, 2012

Resting in grace equals the Sabbath rest

Heb 3:18-19  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?  (19)  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
A very important recurring theme in my paradigm shift is the role that grace plays in the gospel and subsequently in the transformation process. In my view, the New Testament points out very clearly that the transformation process is brought about by believing the gospel, in other words by faith. In the letter to Hebrew Christians, in chapters 3 and four, the author uses the Exodus and Israel's failure to enter the promised land as a metaphor for believing and resting in the gospel. In fact, the commandment that states remember the Sabbath to keep it holy is a prefigure of the Sabbath rest. The reason that Israel was not allowed to work on the Sabbath at all was because it represented resting in the gospel of grace and God's love.

In the familiar story from the Exodus we see 12 spies sent out (one from each tribe) to spy out the land that God had promised to give them. Instead of believing God when he said that he would give them this promised land, 10 of the spies came back with a fearful report of giants in the land, stating that it would be very difficult to gain the victory. Now, this was when God had already guaranteed that he would give them the land. If they believed God, they would have been willing to do whatever they had to do to enter that land without fear. They would have realized by faith that it was really theirs in the first place. Only two spies, Joshua and Caleb came back with a report stating that they could and should take the land… It would be no problem. The people voted, and chose not to believe Joshua and Caleb. This angered God and he swore that none of the unbelieving generation would be able to enter the land of promise. Moses got to see it from the mountaintop but only Joshua and Caleb and their families were allowed to enter the Promised Land. It was the land of rest and prosperity.

In the Hebrews passage, the writer explains that there is a yet available Sabbath rest for the people of God. Since God had rested from his work from the seventh day forward, the Hebrews writer suggests that individuals in the new covenant era, could rest from their work, just as God rested from his. So what is the work that the believer could rest from? The answer is simply the works of the law. One could completely trust God's grace, and rest in his provision, and thereby stop working to develop his or her own righteousness. It is easy to see that the Sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews chapters three and four is really resting in God's grace by faith.

It amazes me that so many evangelical Christians work so hard to achieve their own righteousness, thereby not submitting to God's righteousness, when God clearly states through the writer of Hebrews that they should completely rest from their work.

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