Enter God's Rest Through Faith (Hebrews Sermon 14 of 74)
January 09, 2011 | Andrew Davis
Running the Race, Warnings, Perseverance
Anxiety vs Assurance
Dear friends, we live in a distracted, fractured, turbulent world, a world I think that's desperate for rest. Ecclesiastes chapter 2:22-23 says, "what does a man gain for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun. All his days, his work, his pain and grief even at night. His mind does not rest. This too, is meaningless." Over 172 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, insomnia, in some sense or another. Since 9/11, the sale of sleeping pills has increased by 25%. People are disturbed. People are restless, like the churning waves of the sea, unable to sleep because of their labors and their anxieties. Struggling with fears about the future.
What will happen tomorrow? What if my husband dies? What if the stock market crashes. What if I lose my job? Even worse are the restless anxieties that go really to the center of our souls, people's guilty consciences tormenting them with their sins because they don't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Satan accusing. Judgment Day looming people then try to play tricks with their minds, and with theology try to convince themselves that there's no heaven, there's no hell, there's no accounting, there's no day of reckoning, no standing before a holy God, but in their minds, there's a nagging suspicion, an overriding sense that God may be angry with them because of their sins and so, they lie awake at night plotting and scheming, and reasoning, and planning and worrying and waiting for sleep to come and it doesn't. Not so the righteous says the scripture King David spoke for the entire family of God, when he described how easy it was for him to rest, to fall asleep at night.
Psalm, 3:5-6, "I lie down and sleep. I wake again because the Lord sustains me, I will not fear the tens of thousands, drawn up against me on every side." And then in the very next psalm he says the same thing again. Psalm 4:8, "I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." And why is that, because by faith he knew that God was at peace with him. How much more dramatic then would the confidence be of the Apostle Paul, as he faced his own death, his imminent death, in the last epistle, he ever wrote 2 Timothy 4:7-8 in which he says, "I have fought the good fight. I finished the race, I've kept the faith. Now there is laid up in store for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord himself will award to me on that day. And not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." What incredible peace of conscience, and confidence he had as he faced his own death. So I ask you today dear friend have you entered into God's rest by faith in Jesus Christ?
Persevering in the Profession of Faith
Are you experiencing the fullness of that rest right now by faith? That's what this sermon is all about. Now we've known the context here, it bears repeating the author of this book, is writing to first century Jews who had made an outward profession of faith in Christ and had testified to that by water baptism, but were being harassed, and attacked every day, perhaps, by neighbors and relatives and government authorities and religious leaders to give up their faith in Jesus Christ. And to go back to old covenant worship, back to where it was safe.
And so the author writes a strong word, an epistle of warning to them that they need to continue in their profession of faith in Christ right to the end to finish the journey of faith that they begin. He doesn't want them to drift away or turn away or fall away from Jesus. The last sermon we saw in Hebrews 3:15-19, he reminds them of the history of the Jews their forebears, their ancestors who came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, during the exodus, but through unbelief came short of the promised land, and the lesson was very clearly told at the very end of that chapter, in Hebrews 3:19. So we see, so we are able to conclude that generation of Jews was not able to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief.
Now, as we look at Hebrews 4:1-5 the author is renewing this persuasion. He's going to meditate for a while on what it means to enter into God's rest. The clear idea is, that to enter God's rest is to come to faith in Jesus Christ, to see striving. And to come to rest and at peace with God through faith in Christ, that's what it means to enter God's rest and the ultimate consummation of that rest is to enter heaven when you die to enter into the very presence of God and to know His rest through face-to-face fellowship. This will only happen through faith in the Gospel, but this is going to be a very difficult journey. We're still alive in this world, it's still today the era of hearing God's word, hearing with faith. And so we are on a fight.
We're in a journey, and we have got to continue to believe in Jesus. It's not enough, merely to hear the Gospel, we've got to continue to combine that hearing with faith. So that's what he's saying it's not enough to just hear the message of a future Promised Land, it's not enough to hear the message of entering into God's rest. You've got to combine that message, with faith or it will do you no good at all. And so he's going to give them a warning. There is a healthy fear in this passage, the word fear is in the passage though not in every translation but it's there. We need to fear, less we come short of the rest of God unless any of us come short of the rest of God. So there's both a personal fear and then there's a corporate fear as well that we're concerned about other people, whether they are entering into the rest. That's what this passage is about.
I. The Promise of God’s Rest Still Stands
And so we begin with this statement in verse 1, "Since the promise of entering His rest still stands…" the promise that God has made us of a rest it still stands over us even today. Now, what do we mean by God's rest? Well, first and foremost, we need to begin with God Himself, God within himself is a being at rest. He's at perfectly at rest and at peace within himself. This is what I believe, when I think about the unity of God, God is one.
Not just Father, Son and Spirit, but within himself, he is one with His purposes, His attributes aren't warring with each other, His love isn't fighting against His wrath, which isn't fighting against his peacefulness, or any of these attributes of God these are not at war, but everything's at peace within the heart of God. How much do we sinners need to hear that? We're not at peace within ourselves. But God is at peace in himself, he's not troubled, or tossed about by doubts or fears or concerns or second thoughts.
God is a peaceful being and nothing can trouble his rest.
Secondly, what is God's rest? Well, God's perfected labors and the text mentions this, you look at verses 3-4, and yet it says his work has been finished since the creation of the world, "For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words, 'and on the seventh day God rested from all his work.'" So the idea is one of a set of labors of works being perfected, completed, accomplished. God's initial work of creation, was perfect as God could make it but the author makes it plain that that could not be the final resting place of history. Redemptive history had to follow, leading to a final perfected rest with God, and with the redeemed.
From the very beginning of the world. Then after the sixth day of creation God declared the universe perfect in Genesis 1:31, it says, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good and there was evening and there was morning the sixth day." Then, in Genesis 2, God declares His final act of physical creation, the Sabbath rest, the seventh day look in Genesis 2:1-3, it says, "Thus the heavens and earth were completed in all their vast array by the seventh day God finished, from all the work he had been doing and so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work, and God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that he had done." so God's physical work was all complete, it was perfect, didn't need any improvement.
But the author goes on from there. In Hebrews 4 he says "And yet His work has been finished since the creation of the world." Why does he say "And yet"? Well it shows a contrast, between the rest that he's offering us in the gospel and God's Seventh-day rest at the end of creation. That Seventh day rest is just a picture of the final rest we're going to have in Christ. God still had work to do as Jesus himself says in John 5, "My Father is always at His work. To this very day and I too am working," and yet in some mysterious and beautiful way when God deemed his works completed when he deemed them perfect he rested. And so in the same way God's rest is a finishing of a set of works that God considers complete and perfect. Answer to number three then is God's final dwelling place, his resting place, with the redeemed.
God's rest, then is the place where he will dwell with redeemed people from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation and in that place, his people will no longer be tormented, or troubled by anything, at all. That's God's rest. Psalm 132:13-16, it says, "For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for His dwelling. This is my resting place forever and ever here, I will sit enthroned. For I have desired it I will bless her with abundant provisions. Her poor will I satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation and her saints will ever sing for joy." That's a picture of God's future final heavenly resting place with His people. What he calls the Heavenly Zion there in Psalm 132.
Think of it then as a place of security and full provision. As God said very famously, through David in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul." That's a picture of that perfect heavenly rest that God intends quiet waters, by the way, are waters that are no longer churning they're not churning and turbulent but they're at rest, and at peace. Like the Crystal sea in Revelation 21, everything at peace. And so God makes us lie down at peace with himself, and with one another and with creation, that's a picture of that heavenly rest. It's a place where there are no enemies any longer who can threaten us. Heaven is that true place. A final place of rest.
What Does It Mean to Enter God’s Rest?
Well, that's what God's rest is. What then does it mean to enter God's rest? Well, the context of Hebrews 3 and 4 is the promised land as we've mentioned, to the Jews entering God's rest, meant physically crossing the Jordan and going into the Promised Land.
It was a physical thing, it meant taking up residence in this land and it would be their home and they would live there. It was the land that God had promised to Abraham made it very plain as he looked through the breadth and length of the land in Genesis 13, after Lot went down to Sodom. I will give this land, to you and to your descendants. It was the Promised Land. Abraham, as you remember wanted to know how he would receive it, and God promised him in Genesis 15, with a very serious covenant with the animal sacrifice with the fire pot that moved between the pieces that God would most certainly give him that land, Promised Land. But he said there's going to be a delay of 400 years where his own descendants will be enslaved and mistreated, but afterward God would come and take them out of that bitter bondage and slavery and lead them into that beautiful Promised Land and so for the Jews, it meant to come out of bondage go through the desert and then cross the Jordan and go into the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 26:6-9, it says, "The Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer putting us to hard labor." So there's a picture of labor of work for no reward at all for no salary. They were slaves, they got no benefit out of their labors. "Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression, so the Lord brought us out of Egypt, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders and he brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey."
So simply put, at that point in redemptive history, to enter God's rest meant for the Jews by faith to cross the Jordan river and by conquest, to take their inheritance, to take the Promised Land and settle, and dwell there in peace. Again and again then the Lord spoke of this Promised Land as the place as their place of rest and His. As though God Himself was going to be wandering with his own nation until at last, they came into their place of rest.
So, you see this kind of language in Numbers 10:33-36, it says "So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place of rest. The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp. And whenever the Ark set out, Moses said, 'Rise Up a Lord, may your enemies be scattered, by your foes, flee before you.' But whenever it came to rest, He said, 'Return O Lord to the countless thousands of Israel.'" That's a very significant statement. So is there a people in pilgrimage as they're on journey going to the Promised Land, the Lord is going to go out before them searching out for them a place of rest, but at the end of the day, when they haven't quite come into it yet, the Lord will symbolically, come back surrounded by the tribes with the Ark of the Covenant symbolizing His presence "Return O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel." So, it pictures a God on pilgrimage who wasn't yet come into his rest, he's living in a tent, a movable tabernacle pillar of cloud, pillar of fire moved out and when they conquered the Promised Land, the symbolic rest was nearer but still not achieved. Solomon built the temple thinking it would be permanent.
And we know it wasn't, it was more permanent than that tent that moved from place to place, but it wasn't permanent. And at the prayer of dedication Second Chronicles 6:41, He prayed, "Now arise O Lord, God and come to your resting place you and the ark of your might." And so, you know the Shekinah Glory of God came and gave a symbolic dwelling there, but again, it was just temporary. Dear friend, the Promised Land, the physical land and the tabernacle and the temple these were all just shadows and types, of God's true promised rest. The author will make it plain in the next passage. Next time we preach on this book of Hebrews that Joshua did not really give the Israelites rest.
It wasn't it, it was just a symbol, it was a picture of God's final rest. The Promised Land was a shadow of the reality, the reality is that eternal heavenly rest that He intended for us in the new heavens of the new earth, the true rest that God gives us in Heaven, and it must be eternity in Heaven resting in God's very presence with a resurrected soul in a resurrected body surrounded by other resurrected souls and resurrected bodies in a resurrected world with no troubles left. That is the promised rest and the only way to enter that promised rest is salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the doorway, he is the entry point into the rest of God, he is the door of the sheep, he is the new and living way into the very presence of God.
He is, the way by which we enter into the rest faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus and can't you just see him standing there as the door with his arms open wide and saying so beautifully in Matthew 11: "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Salvation in Christ
So coming to salvation in Christ is like entering God's rest, like entering the Promised Land you will find rest for your souls. And so, since the promise of entering his rest still stands well what is that promise? Well, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that's what the promise is and it still stands because it's still being preached all over the world today, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in every time zone on Earth. 24 time zones, 24 proclamations of the gospel, all around the church of Jesus Christ and messengers are going out to proclaim rest in Jesus' name, promise of entering God's rest still stands today.
And what is that message? It's very simple. God the Creator of the ends of the earth is Holy. He is a king, He's a law-giver, He has the right to rule over His creation. He created man in His image, but man through rebellion fell into sin, turned away from God the Creator and God the King, and went his own way. We, the descendants of Adam, are born into that wretched rebellion. We stand guilty in Adam and guilty because of our own transgressions of God's law and as a result God is against us because of our transgressions of His law. But God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, born of a woman, born under the law, He lived a sinless and perfect life under the law.
He died a redeeming death, an atoning death on the cross, the sins and the guilt of the people of God put on Jesus and the wrath of God poured out on Him and Jesus died, the death penalty that we deserve for violating God's loss. But God didn't leave Him dead. On the third day, He raised Him from the dead. He send him to heaven, He sits at the right hand of God. And some day, he is going to come from there to judge the living and the dead that is the promise of God's rest that by faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sins can be forgiven, that our conscience can be cleansed, that we can set our hearts at rest in God's presence and know for certain that when we die, we're going to be with Him in heaven.
And God will not accuse us on judgment day, but He will welcome us as His sons and daughters. And through repentance and faith, we can enter through Jesus into the rest of God. That's how the promise of entering God's rest still stands.
Well, what should we do about it? Well, positively, we should believe it. We should embrace Jesus, we should trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Negatively, not like these, the Jews here that refused to enter, we should not be unbelievers who do not trust in the promise of God, who find fault with it, and who will not enter the promised land.
II. Fear Falling Short... Yourself, or Any of Us
And so there is a fear in this passage and this fear is that we who have heard the Gospel, will in some way fall short of entering God's rest. So look at verse 1 again, "Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest till stands, let us be careful." The NIV says "That none of you be found to have fallen short of it." So therefore looking back at Israel's failure, back to Hebrews 3:19, we see that they were not able to enter because of their unbelief, "Therefore, since the Promise still stands over us, let us be careful," the NIV says. So do not be unbelievers in this promise. But I think that "let us be careful" is not a great translation.
The ESV gives us this, "Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest till stands, let us fear, lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it." So this is a fear, we are to be afraid of something, be very afraid of something in this passage. The fear is that after we have heard the Gospel, after we've heard it clearly proclaimed that we will end up coming short of the heavenly rest that God intends that we will not end up in heaven, but rather be condemned to hell, but it's fear that any of us be found to have fallen short of it. The whole point of this passage, I think indeed of the whole book is to press upon the hearers of this promise, to press upon those who have heard the Gospel, the need for ongoing faith in the message for the rest of your life to keep believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to keep believing that God is offering you rest in Jesus.
That we should fear lest we not finish what we started. Now, any of us who have genuinely begun this race will most certainly finish it. I believe in the sovereignty of God over salvation. If God has given you faith, He is going to sustain it every day until you don't need it anymore, when you trade it in for face-to-face fellowship. He's going to sustain it every day. But I tell you, who uses this godly fear to help you sustain that faith. And we need these warnings and so we are commanded, Let us fear that we not fall short of entering God's rest. Let us fear that we not finish what we started.
You Must Finish the Course
Now, one of my favorite sports memories, 1980, The Men's Olympic Hockey team defeated the Russians.
You have to have lived in those days to know what an incredible upset that was. The Russians were a monster hockey team, they destroyed everybody that they played, they destroyed all-star teams from the NHL, they took on all comers, they won the gold medal every four years without fail. We had a bunch of college kids, the odds were, they were picked fifth in the Olympics, it was in America, so maybe had home ice advantage, but... And you know the story, perhaps, you've seen the movie Miracle and The Men's Olympic Hockey team shocked the world by beating the Russians 4 to 3, unleash the wildest on ice celebration in history, gloves flying, sticks flying, American flags waving, all of that sort of stuff.
But the problem was there was still one more game to play, there was one more game that had to be played and under the rules of that time, at that point, the American hockey team had not won a single medal. Different rules now, but back then it was still possible that if they lost that final game, they would have finished in fourth place, no medal at all. How foolish with that wild celebration have looked at that point. And as it turned out, this team seemed to love to fall behind. And after the second period they're losing to Finland 2 to 1. Herb Brooks, the coach, master motivator got their attention, the place was so quiet, that locker room between the second and third period was so quite, you could hear a pin drop. He said, "If you lose this game, you will take it with you to your graves." He walked out of the locker room, and they're just stunned. He turns around, comes back in 30 seconds later, he said "To your graves" and he walks out.
Well, thankfully they didn't have to do that, they didn't have to take the bitter memory of a loss to Finland of all things to their graves, they went and scored the requisite goals and won the gold medal. They did it to gain a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever. There's still game to play here friends. There are still challenges to meet, there are still wars to fight, there are still people to lead to faith in Christ, we still have the world, the flesh and the devil against us. We're not finished yet. And let us fear that we don't finish. That's what the author is telling us here.
And fear for yourself first, look after yourself, how is your faith, how is your sense of heavenly things through the Gospel? Is it more vivid now than it was a year ago, or less so? Are you more worldly or more faith-filled now than you were a year ago? Are you more enamored with the things of the world now or with the things of Christ than you were a year ago, or when you first believed compared to that? Are you growing in your faith? If not, you're in danger. So fear for yourself first. Now, don't misunderstand. I feel like I'll need to say this the rest of the time I preach in Hebrews. You can't lose your salvation. I think I already said that once today, didn't I?
What God began, he's going to finish. I just want to ask you, how do you know that God began something in you. How do you know you're included? I tell you, keep believing, keep perpending, keep trusting, keep walking. That's how you know. So fear for yourself. But this text actually goes beyond you. Let us fear lest any of you be found to a fallen short of it. Again, we're supposed to care about each other, we're supposed to be praying for each other. Have you gotten one of these? If you have gotten one of the phone books, are you praying, some of you going to be on praying to phone calling? That's great, that's great. I was going to do that... A little discipline... No keep making the calls, but maybe you'll get three or four calls in one day, but at least know this, you are being saturated in prayer if indeed the church is praying for you.
Ask yourself, have I gotten a phone book? And have I begun praying for the people of the church. If you don't want to use the phone book, then do it from memory, that's fine if you want to do that. I think the phone book's helpful to remember who our fellow members are. But we're just obeying Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 4 that says that we should be watching out for one another in brotherly love. And that doesn't just mean in economic hard times, it means in spiritual hard times which is every day, let's pray for each other, let any of us be found to a fallen short of this, that's the fear that the author is talking about here.
III. The Gospel Promise is Worthless Unless Combined with Faith
And why is that because the Gospel promise is worthless unless it is combined with faith. Now, that's a shocking thing to say. He looks back to that generation that failed to enter the promised land, and he says in verse 2, we also have had the Gospel preach to us just as they did but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Notice that the author calls what the first... What those Jews back in in 1500 BC heard, he calls it the Gospel. In other words, the message of the physical Promised Land was Gospel for them and their souls depended on whether they believed it or not, just like Abraham believed God and was credited him as righteousness. What they heard concerning the physical Promise Land that was the gospel they got. Friends, we have a better Gospel now. We have the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of the ages has come on us and we have heard this Gospel but I tell you, this gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, this Gospel is of no value to those who do not combine it with faith, it's worthless, it does nothing for you. I would contend it actually harms you because it hardens your heart, if you don't combine it with faith, you're actually worse off than if you'd never heard it.
And the word combine is interesting, it's almost like the chemistry of salvation, the KJV puts it this way, but the word preach did not profit them not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. So there's a mixture here like two compounds that get mixed together to form a chemical reaction. There's this blending, this uniting together. The word must be preached, the true Gospel must be preached, false gospel does nothing for the kingdom but the true Gospel of Christ crucified must be preached and the hearer must respond with faith, there must be faith in the hearer or else it's of no value.
IV. Everyone Who Believes Enters God’s Rest
So everyone who believes enters God's rest, verse 3, "Now we who have believed enter the rest." There's no mystery here about those that enter. God's not holding out on us, so we don't know who's going to make it or not, those who believe the Gospel and continue to do so, year after year, decade after decade of walking with Jesus by faith, they are the ones that enter God's rest.
Now, there is a difference between the state of God's rest, and the experiencing of that state. You can be or God can be at rest with you through faith in Jesus. It says in Romans 5:1, "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." God can be at peace with you through Jesus Christ, and you still churned up and turbulent and distressed about certain things going on in your life that is possible. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is possible, but there is the status of peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ that the author is focusing on here that you should enter into God being at peace with you through faith in Christ. But the experience of the peace of God, which transcends all understanding is vital too. The reason that these first century Jews were being tempted to go back to old covenant Judaism is because things weren't going well for them, and they're getting beaten on and persecuted by their surrounding generation and they were churned up and turbulent inside and distressed because they cared too much about man and what people think and care too much about their earthly lives, and their earthly comforts and pleasures and ease, and being tempted to forsake Christ and go back.
So we must have both, the objective state of peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ and an ongoing experience of entering into God's rest through faith to be healthy in this world. And do you have both friends? Is your heart at peace in God's presence? 1 John 3 says "This then is how we set our hearts at rest in his presence." Because God knows our hearts, He's greater than our hearts. Is your conscience clear? Are you violating your conscience? And if you are, are you bringing it quickly to God and having your conscience cleansed and your bodies washed with pure water, and entering into the Holy of Holies again, into the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. That is the blessing of the Gospel, it's offered to all of you.
V. Everyone Who Does Not Believe Perishes
But this passage also has a hidden warning. Actually, it's not hidden at all, it's openly stated... Twice. "I declared on oath in my anger, 'they shall never enter my rest.'" Frankly, the rest is negative in this passage. A warning that you'll not enter it, if you don't believe.
The alternative to rest then is wrath. Revelation 14:10, it says "He too will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath." Satan is a restless being, Satan's followers are restless beings, Satan roams to and fro throughout the earth, filled with rage because he knows his time is short, his demons are going through arid places seeking rest and not finding it. And the children of the devil are living the same kind of life. It says in Isaiah 57, 20-21, "The wicked are like the tossing sea which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud, there is no peace says my God for the wicked." And therefore, the place of condemnation, the place of wrath is a restless place. It says in Revelation 14:11, "The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, there is no rest day or night for those that are condemned there. It means at least that there's no respite. There's no break in hell. But I think it also means more than that, I think it's a place of mental and psychological restlessness as well.
Imagine what it's like to be in hell and have a memory of your life buffeted by troubling thoughts, ripped apart by regrets by bitter and painful memories. Forever, the damned are sighing with regrets, they're blaspheming the name of the God who set them there, they are buffeted by new waves of torment, they're remembering especially the times that they heard the gospel and chose not to repent and believe, thinking about those times. I swore on oath in my anger says the Lord, they will never enter my rest. Revelation 14:11: There is no rest, day or night.
Two verses later though, Revelation 14:13 says, "Then I heard a voice from Heaven say, 'Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor for their deeds will follow them.'" Do you see how clear is the contrast? There is no rest for them, but these folks are going to rest forever because of the work of Christ. And so I just want to apply this very plainly to you.
To unbelievers, I just want to plead with you, please combine the words you've heard today with faith. Maybe it's already happened. Oh, I pray, so. Maybe while you were hearing me proclaim Jesus dead on the cross, empty tomb resurrection, you believed inside your heart, you believe, at that moment you're forgiven of all your sins. Already, God's at peace with you and you're going to start enjoying the fruit of that peacefulness. If not, I just plead with you don't walk out of this room knowing that God is at war with you because of your sins.
And believers, I just urge you, enter into God's rest today by faith. Come again to the cross, ask forgiveness for whatever ways that you violated your conscience. Let the blood of Christ cleanse you once again of your sins, let your conscience be at rest and at peace in God's presence. Delight in God's present rest. And can I urge you, have compassion on those around you who aren't at rest with God yet, go to work tomorrow and find some restless soul and tell them the Gospel. And don't mind what they might do with you or do to you if they don't believe. They might treat you badly, they probably won't kill you.
But preach the Gospel. We are surrounded by people. Ephesians 2 says, "Without hope, without God in the world." It's our responsibility to tell them how they can be at rest and at peace with God and cultivate a healthy fear of apostasy both in your life and in the lives of others, be afraid of drifting away, turning away and falling away from Jesus, ask friends to pray for you that you'll stay strong and get stronger in Jesus year by year. And ask your brothers and sisters in Christ, how's it going with your soul, do it tonight at home fellowship. Ask real questions of each other, say, "How are you doing? You're walking well with the Lord, how can I pray for you?" And finally long for your future rest in heaven, long for it. Stimulate your hopes, and have a look forward to the day when you'll sit at banquet table with Jesus and just be at peace. Enemies are dead. The world, and the flesh, and the devil is gone. Your conscience is perfect and at peace with God. Do you see the look on Jesus' face and it's warm and welcoming. You look around, brothers and sisters from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation, they are knowing the same peace you are, that is your future in Christ. Close with me in prayer.