We've Not Yet Entered Our Rest (Hebrews Sermon 16 of 74)
January 30, 2011 | Andy Davis
Pulling Into the Rest Stop…To Stay?
So what would you think of a traveler who had to drive from California to New York to be with his extended family in a wonderful and joyful family reunion, but somewhere in Colorado, came across a rest stop with the most spectacular vista that he'd ever seen in his life, and this traveler, liked the rest stop so much, he decided to move in there? And they had a very nice washroom vending machines with all of his favorite snacks, and soft drinks and, a lot of friendly people that came and spent 10 minutes or so, and then went on their way. He slept in his car, he greeted those new friends and just kind of settled in there. What would you think if this former traveler's family called him on the cellphone the day he was to have arrived and asked "Where are you?" and he told them, "I found the most beautiful place to live, and I've decided to settle here." "What? We're all waiting for you, where are you?" And this former traveler answered "I'm living now at a spectacular rest stop in Colorado, in the Glenwood Canyon, actually, in Interstate 70." "A rest stop?" They answer. "Are you crazy? We were expecting you sometime this afternoon." "I know, I know," he answers, "but you really should see the view here. It's so restful."
Do you think there would be anything that that strange seller could do to persuade his family that he hadn't lost his mind? Settling down at a rest stop, even one as beautiful as Glenwood Canyon Interstate 70 in Colorado. Or consider a different case. What about a man who, during World War II escaped from a Nazi prisoner of war camp in Central Germany with three fellow POWs, and they're making their way across Germany, they travel all night, they're exhausted beyond all reckoning, they're traveling through the mountains of Bavaria, they're seeking across eventually into Switzerland, they're hiding, frantic during the day, hiding in caves, under bushes, terrified as they hear the sounds of German soldiers down the valley, searching for them. After three days of this kind of travel, this arduous journey, they find a small abandoned ski chalet, and they break in, they're thrilled to find some canned vegetables there and they break them open and eat them cold, first food they've had in three days. Then they take turns, through that night, keeping watch, while each of the others get a few hours of fitful sleep.
But when the time comes to push on, one of them says, "I don't think I'm going anywhere, I'm going to stay right here. I like it here, I'm going to stay." And his buddies are dumbfounded, and they say, "Stay? Are you kidding? The German patrols could be here in minutes. You're not going to last a day here, they'll catch you for sure." "No, no, no, I'll be okay. Besides, I like it here, and I'm tired of the journey."
We Have Not Arrived Yet
Friends, God in his wisdom, has set each one of us on a journey home to an incredibly joyful family reunion. The journey is a long and challenging one. Final resting place in the family reunion with brothers and sisters from every tribe and language and people and nation, is going to be incredibly, infinitely joyful. Along the way, God in his wisdom gives us certain providential rest stops. He restores our soul, he makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside quiet waters, he restores our soul, so that we can follow him in passive righteousness for his name's sake, through the valley of the shadow of death, but renews us. Like rest stops on an interstate, he does not intend for any of the travelers to settle down there in their hearts and minds, but rather that they should think of themselves, as aliens and strangers who are simply passing through. And again, dear friends, God in his love has rescued us from Satan's dark kingdom and is in the process of transferring us or bring us over into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
In one sense, he's already done that. If you've come to faith in Christ, you're justified, you have already crossed over from death to life, but we still pray Your kingdom come. In a very real sense, we still have miles to travel across occupied territory, enemy territory, we're in danger here, miles and miles to go, and our journey is far from over. And like that ski chalet, he gives us way stations of rest along the way, so that we can continue to make our journey across this occupied territory until at last, we come to a safe haven, safe resting place. We are therefore to consider ourselves just passing through aliens and strangers in this dangerous world. But sadly, I think, too many Christians, too many of us settle down here in some sense, in our minds. We think of the earthly blessings that we enjoy here, and that refresh us, are meant to last forever. They include the blessings of beloved family members, of Christian friends, godly pastors and disciplers and prayer partners and others that help us along the way, the blessings of good health, the blessings of possessions, of homes, of vehicles, of clothing, of hobbies, of food and drink, of a certain style of living that we're accustomed to. None of these things is meant to last forever. They're just way stations of rest along the way.
But how sad it is when it happens that one of those or some of those blessings, get taken from a Christian and they lament as though somehow God doesn't love them anymore. I fear that many Christians yearn for a rest here and now that God is not willing to give us. Hebrews 4:9 speaks of a rest that is yet to come, friends. "There remains then a Sabbath rest for the people of God." God lavishes restful blessings on us to renew us for our journey, and we are tempted to settle in and live there and stop journeying. Remember in this church, we talk again and again about those two infinite journeys, the internal journey of sanctification, of growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ, becoming more and more like Jesus, it's an arduous difficult journey. God gives you way stations along the way, but we're still to be journey, or that external journey of evangelism and missions of world-wide kingdom building, it's an arduous journey. God gives us way stations of rest along the way, but we have to travel those miles as a church. Now, as I told you last week, I didn't fully understand this passage like I needed to, I was preaching more the earthly way stations, than I was the final heavenly rest. And I think the earthly way stations are needed. The Sabbath itself was such, a cyclical kind of resting time to rest and to be renewed.
The Saints Everlasting Rest
But I hadn't really understood how much of this passage is really pointing ahead, until that is, I read this book by Richard Baxter. Now, don't get me wrong, friends, I didn't read the whole thing, I just wanted to show it to you, look at that. And you can't see from here, but that's really fine print, small print. With single space, maybe even half space. I don't even think it's single space. 672 pages of meditation on one verse. Hebrews 4:9, "There remains then a Sabbath rest for the people of God." Now, this Pastor, Richard Baxter, may be the greatest pastor in terms of the whole pastoral ministry of the Puritan movement, a great and godly man, was dying in 1650, dying of an illness, and thought he was going to die, he actually didn't die of that illness, but thought he was and so he had recoursed to Heavenly meditations and he started to write them down and it became this book. And the central message that I got out of it, (I haven't read the whole thing, but I hope to at some point), but this Saint's everlasting rest, the central message is, "We have not yet entered God's rest." That's the message.
I. We Have Not Yet Entered God’s Rest
The burden of this passage in the book is "We're not there yet, we haven't entered the rest yet." Look at Verses 9-11, that Hong just read for us, but look again: "There remains then a Sabbath rest for the people of God," verse 10, "For anyone who enters God's rest, also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." Let us therefore, I'm going to change it a little bit, "let us therefore labor (preacher’s interpretation) to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."
The sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. KJV in Verse 11, gives us "Let us labor therefore." That's the clencher for me. The exhortation here is we need to work. What that means is we haven't entered the rest, we're still laboring, we haven't yet laid down our labors, as God has finished his. There is a race to be run and we must run it. We're going to get later in Hebrews 12:1, "Let us therefore run, throw off everything hinders in the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us."
I guess one of my desires in this sermon is to mark out the course of what that race looks like for you, very clearly today. What is that race, that arduous race you have to run, what's it look like? So I have three goals, number one, to make clear the labors of the Christian life that will burden us from now until death, that will be no part of our heavenly experience. But they are definitely part of our earthly experience.
Secondly, to warn and exhort FBC members, and visitors and guests, to run that laborious race for the rest of your lives. I want you to drop with happy exhaustion at the finish line. I don't want you to spare anything in your running of this race.
And then thirdly, I want to strengthen you, throughout the message, with sweet meditations of our heavenly rest. What I'm going to do is take you through each of the labors and tell you how it's part of our earthly life but not part of our heavenly. And then I'm going to put in a brief kind of word for the way that Baxter did some heavenly meditation.
II. How Must We Labor From Now Till Death?
So, how then must we labor? What are the labors that will characterize our earthly life, but will be no part of our heavenly life?
1) Continue to Believe in Jesus Christ
Well, first, we must labor to continue to believe in Jesus Christ. This is the work of God, said Jesus, that you believe in the one he has sent. This is very much the point of the whole book of Hebrews. Look back at the beginning of this chapter. Hebrews 4:1-2: "Therefore, since the promise of entering this rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it, for we also have had the Gospel preach to us", just as they did. But the message they heard did them no good because those who heard did not combine it with faith."
And then again, in Hebrews 10:3939, it says "We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who believe, and are saved.” So the labor in front of us is to keep believing the Gospel, to keep believing in Jesus Christ. What is the gospel? That God, the Holy One, sent his son, he was incarnate. Son of God, Son of man who lived a sinless life. He did miraculous signs and wonders to prove his deity. But above all, he came to lay down his life on the cross for sinners like you and me, and if you will just put your trust in Jesus, all of your sins will be forgiven, that is the Gospel, that message will do you good if you combine it with faith. And I'm pleading with you, I've already prayed for you if you're lost here today, but I'm pleading with you, believe in Jesus. The one who was died, who died, who was crucified, but who's raised also in the third day. We must labor, now, I know that faith is a gift of God, that God implants in the soul, but yet Jesus did say "This is the work of God that you believe in the one he has sent." And so there is a co-operative work of faith going on.
We work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because God is working in us and faith is the center-piece of that. But not only do we work on our own souls, we've got brothers and sisters around us, who are in danger too, and so we need to labor that they continue to believe as well, we need to know and be known, we need to pray for them and care for them. And so look again at Verse 1 of this same passage, "Therefore since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear," I think is a better translation, "That none of you be found to have fallen short of it." You see that? We should be caring and in some sense, fearing that no one around us drops off here. And again, in verse 11, "Let us therefore labor to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." I don't want anyone here to fall away, so I have a labor to do in your lives. I'm seeking to do it right now, frankly, but then throughout the week, through prayers, through exhortations, through word of counsel, anything I can do to labor on each other's faith that we keep believing in Jesus. Now, I believe that if you truly genuinely believe in Jesus now, you will till the day you die. But you still need to labor.
However, in Heaven, all such labor will end. You will not need faith then, dear friends. You will see him with your own eyes, you will see him with your own eyes, and your heart will rejoice, and delight, and the day of faith and of hope will end. And you won't need to labor anymore in faith and in hope, but you will have the reward of your faith and the object of your hope at last, the consummation will be upon you.
2) Labor in Self-Denial and Taking Up Our Cross
Secondly, you need to Labor in self-denial, in taking up your cross, daily. Again, Luke 9:23, Jesus says to us all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me." Now, here we come face-to-face with the flesh, with that indwelling sin nature, and how we must say no to the flesh, and say no to the fleshly drives and desires. The bent of your flesh is selfishness. To pander to yourself and comfort yourself, and make yourself at ease when you should be pressing on, and you have to deny yourself and take up your cross. It's a labor. And to fight self every day is exhausting, isn't it? But in Heaven, dear friends, our nature will be transformed. We will love everything that Jesus loves and hate what he hates, we will be conformed to him in every way, and there will be no denying of self anymore, but we will give full reign to self because self is going to give full rein to Jesus.
And we will be in that consummated era, and we will embrace the savior at last, our daily battle with the flesh will be done forever. How sweet will that be?
3) Labor to be Holy and Against Sin
Thirdly, we have to labor to be holy, and to fight sin. In Hebrews 12:14, it says, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord." If you take out the middle words, they're important. And if I change it a little bit, change it to Labor, make every effort. I'm going to use word labor right now. Labor to be holy, without holiness, you're not going to see Jesus. So there is a holiness that comes through labor and if that isn't in your life, you're not going to Heaven. And so you must labor to be holy. Sanctification, then, is a bitter step, better fight every step of the way. It's a wrestling match with a serpent, and John Owen said it this way, he said, "When sin leaves us alone, then we may leave sin alone." Well, he's meaning in this world, it's not going to leave us alone, but you know, actually, it's not absolutely true. Someday, sin will leave us alone, amen, and we won't have to do anything with sin anymore, there'll be no more sin in Heaven. But that time has not yet come, temptation assaults you every day by day and by night. It seizes you with a brazen face and kisses you and promises you pleasures and feeds you death in the end. Every day, you have to fight temptation. You have to slay the temptations. You must labor to do it.
And if you have sinned, if you've yielded to temptation, you have to labor on your heart even more. You have to labor in confession. In 1 John 1:9, it says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You must lay your soul open before Jesus. Confess your sins honestly to him. So also, you must mourn for your sin, and that takes a certain laboring on the heart. It is a bitter and a painful work, but it is necessary. And none of us mourns for our own sin as deeply as we ought to. We think of it as a light, a minimal thing, we don't really deal with it much. "Oh Jesus I'm sorry of what I did, I did it again. Please forgive me, amen.". But James, chapter 4, says "Grieve, mourn and wail, change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom." That's labor. Labor is written all over that. Labor on your hearts to grieve, because the Holy Spirit was grieved when you sin. It's hard work.
Oh, but how delightful it will be to lay aside all morning for sin. Doesn't it say, in Revelation, they'll be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain. We will not be morning over our sin in heaven, not at all. And you won't be striving and laboring to be holy, you will be holy as he is holy. You will be light as he is light, you'll be pure as he is pure, and temptation that's slithering coiling serpent will be dead at your feet forever. No need to labor on your heart to love God more, you will love him. You'll love him, with a perfect love. And you won't need to Labor on your heart to love brothers and sisters and Christ, you love them as well, in all bitterness and ranker and unforgiveness will be gone and you'll be in sweet fellowship with the body of Christ. You won't need to confess sin anymore, you've already been thoroughly searched on Judgment Day, and the time for that is over, you won't need to give Jesus any more accounts for what you did in the body, whether good or bad, the time for that will be done and he'll wipe every tear from your eyes, there'll be no more morning because the time for rejoicing will have come.
4) Labor Against Bitter Spiritual Enemies
Fourthly, we need to labor against bitter enemies we are not making this journey to heaven unopposed, we have bitter enemies. It says in 1 Timothy 6:12, "Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to what you were called." The Christian life, therefore is a life of warfare, spiritual warfare, first and foremost, against Satan and his dark kingdom. Satan, he's a powerful angel with an intellect and an experience in spiritual matters. That Towers is far over you as a title wave does over a sea side Village. He's been at this for centuries, you've been at it for years, and he has arranged this wicked demonic kingdom around you with, I believe in some mysterious way, demons assigned to study. You would know your weaknesses, and feed you temptations that will be effective.
And so it says in Ephesians 6, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." that is labor, so put on that full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you've done everything to stand, that is exhausting labor isn't it? To fight the devil, to put on the spiritual armor, to get up again and go fight when he's studying you and coming at you, with those flaming arrows with those accusations, with those alluring temptations.
We're tempted to give up grow weary and give up, and then we'll see who he really is. He is a ravening lion, a devouring lion seeking to devour your soul. That's when you see him when you give up, he'll come after you. He has no mercy. So you must fight him. The good news is, the Bible tells us, Resist the devil and he'll flee from you, God's sovereign power will make him do so, but you still have to fight. And then there's the world his brilliant dark wicked system that he's created around us with all of its kind of built in temptations and allurements, and it's pandering to our idolatrous nature the way it allures us, with power and pride and possessions, the way it just sings a siren song to us to entice us to ruin on the rocks of materialism and idolatry. How like in the parable The Seed and the Soils, it sends up a thorns, which choked the seed, making it un-fruitful. Worries of this life from the deceitful-ness of wealth and just the desires for other things. That's the world that's what it's all about, and friends, it's exhausting labor to fight the worldliness the encroaching worldliness that comes into your heart. It's already there. Do your friends, brothers and sisters, it's already there, and you need to weave the garden of your heart, you need to get out there with a whole... Or in there, I think really... And weed your heart from the worldliness. It's already crept in.
It's hard work. And part of that world system are human beings, people who hate us, who hate what we stand for, who the more faithful you are in challenging Satan's world system the more aggressive and louder, they're going to be in yelling at you, cursing you, insulting you. It's part of what we face here. And we have to labor to not hate them, but to pray for them and love them and turn the other cheek and pray for those who despite fully use us and bless those who curse us and yearn that God would convert them. These are bitter enemies of our soul, and we faced them, every day, but someday we're going to step into God's Sabbath rest, we're going to step into God's Sabbath rest, how sweet it will be in Heaven when all of our enemies will be gone when Satan and his demons will be thrown into the lake of fire, that's what it was made for us, for the devil and his angels, along with all of his rebellious human fellow servants.
Everyone who causes sin and all those who do evil, will be weeded out of his kingdom and thrown into the fiery furnace. And you will breathe a sweet clear air of peace and everywhere you look will be angels and redeemed people who are your friends and none of your enemies. There are no enemies left, you will be a peace at last free from all opposition.
5) Labor on Heart Attitudes We Need NOW... but WON’T NEED in Heaven
Fifth, we need to labor on heart attitudes that we need now, but we will not need in heaven. There's certain heart attitudes that are necessary for this journey that we have, for example, longing and waiting patiently, longing and waiting patiently is a hard attitude for here but not for there. Hebrews 11 praises those who were yearning and longing for a city yet, to come, they died without receiving the things promised, they saw them and welcomed them from a distance, they confessed that they were aliens and strangers in this world that is an admirable state of heart now, and we need to labor to develop that long and yearning for an invisible kingdom wanting it yearning for it and waiting patiently. It's kind of, it's a development of almost a certain kind of home sickness, like in that song Beulah Land where there's this home sickness that comes on us, and we're just not there yet and how we wish we were. I long to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far says the Apostle Paul.
Romans 8:23, testifies to this. "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Do you know what that groaning is like? If you've done any of it this week? Groaning, inwardly. It's a hard attitude that you need now but you don't need it in heaven. And how about this? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? You're yearning to be pure, if you want your brothers and sisters to be done with their sins too "Are you hungry and thirsty for righteousness? So, you groaning inwardly, for that world of righteousness, that's promised to us hungering and thirsting is a reasonable heart attitude now, but you won't need it in heaven. There's no hunger in heaven.
There's no thirsting in heaven, we will be satisfied. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be richly, deeply, fully fed, and satisfied. And what about watchfulness that's a heart attitude. Do you need watchfulness? Do you need to watch over your own heart do you have to guard your heart for out of it flow the well-springs of life, do you have to, if any man thinks he stands, take heed lest default, you have to do some of that. Taking heed now. Do you have to develop a watchful attitude over your own wandering, changeful drifting heart, you have to be vigilant over your own heart and that of your brothers and sisters. Friends we can never be perfectly at ease in this world at any front. Can you ever reach a certain place in a certain toilsome fight against a specific sin? Say, "At last I know that sin at least is dead. I will never lust in that way again or I will never gossip that God has dealt with me." I heard a good sermon on it, I had a prayer partner who prayed for a whole week for me, I saw some victories in that area tempted to gossip, I didn't do it. I'm done at last, and forever with gossip. Was that true?
Friend you better take heed, you better be watchful, you better take heed if you think you stand lest you fall. You've got to be watchful. But you know what, you're not going to need watchfulness in heaven. You know, the odd thing about the new Jerusalem it's got these high powerful walls that no one could get in, but there's no enemies anymore, they're all deal with, they're all gone. We don't need any watchmen on the walls and you don't need any watchmen on the walls of your heart, in heaven, you will be free at last, no more watchfulness. And no more mourning, over other people sins either. We talked about morning of our own sins, we mourn over this world that we live in. Rivers of tears flow from my eyes and Psalm 119 verse 136. Because your law is defiled, every day. In the book of Ezekiel, these shining ones, these angelic messengers were given a task to go through the City of Jerusalem and mark each Saint there who mourned and lamented over the sins of the city.
Those are the ones who weren't slaughtered so therefore the Christians are the ones who live in this world, and like righteous lot are tormented in our righteous souls by the lawless deeds we see in here. There is a mourning over the sinfulness of this world, but we won't need that in heaven. Neither will you have to mourn over the lost in Romans 9:2. Paul says, "I speak the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit, I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish, for I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…" Those of the nation of Israel that haven't come to Christ yet, he's mourning over the lost, grieving over them. Any of you do that? Mourning over lost family members, relatives, neighbors. There's a grief.
You're like "Well, I don't know that I grieve that much over." Well you ought to. And so therefore, you should Labor on your heart to be like Paul or like Jesus who wept over Jerusalem, and weep over the lost, then you'll witness to them, and we're supposed to mourn with each other, right. You may be going, you may be having the best week you've had but you'll bump into a brother, or a sister, here who isn't. And out of compassion, you're going to mourn with them and show some love for them, but you won't need any of that in heaven. You'll be done with all mourning and you won't need perseverance in heaven or, an old word for perseverance is long suffering, right? We're supposed to run with perseverance, the race marked out. You don't need any there's no enduring of heaven. I know you may think I can't be there floating around, singing Amazing Grace a million times in a row, I think on the 900th thousand time. I'm ready, I'm done, I'm set. We need a new him Lord. But friends, that's a satanic lie, there's no boredom in heaven and there's nothing to suffer in heaven. There's no long suffering need in heaven, there's no short suffering need in heaven, there's no suffering in heaven.
You won't need any perseverance or endurance in heaven. You won't need any humility to accept correction, but you need it now, you need it now? If you're in a good church some brother or sisters at some point perhaps even very soon, perhaps even your spouse will come to you saying, "You know something. This is an area you need to work on." And so it says in the Psalms, "Let a righteous man strike me... it is oil my head, I will not refuse it." I want to be corrected, I want people to help me with my battle against sin, so I need to be ready with humility, right? Somebody comes, I need to be humble, I won't need that kind of humility in heaven. There are different kinds of humility in heaven but not that one. I won't need the humility that's ready to accept correction, and I won't need any fear and trembling. Now I work out my salvation of fear and trembling, but then we'll be done.
These are many heart attitudes that you have to labor on in yourself now, but you won't need any of them in heaven.
6) Labor in Spiritual Disciplines and Graces
Sixth labor in spiritual disciplines, and graces. God has ordained various means by which he's going to get Grace into your soul, they're called means of graces. Two of the greatest are coming up in Hebrews four. The Word of God, which is living and active, that's the scripture. You have to labor in scripture to get its messages. And then after that we're encouraged to come to the throne of grace. That's prayer, right? You have to labor in prayer, these are means of graces they're not easy, and so you have to read the Bible every day and feed on it every day. A number of brothers and sisters here have resolved before God to read through the Bible in a year. How's it going? Since the last Sunday in January. Renew, refresh, reset, whatever you need to do. Pick up the Bible and read it. But it's labor isn't it? Some of you have resolved to memorize the book of Philippians.
It's hard work to memorize scripture but it's well worth it. Pastors and teachers of the Word of God labor after exegesis, we have to struggle with Greek or Hebrew with rules of exegesis with interpretations. We have to stand up in front of churches and say, "I got it wrong. We'll do this again next week." You have to do that from time to time, because the word of God is not always easy to understand. We have to labor in it.
And do any of you ever labor in prayer? You know, there's a certain wrestling in prayer isn't there, Paul says in Colossians 4:12 that he is always wrestling in prayer for them that they may be mature and established in Christ. There's a wrestling in prayer waiting on unanswered prayer George Muller, praying every day for 50 years for a loved one to come to faith in Christ. The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge. You remember that one? What's the lesson? God isn't going to give it to you right away. So you need to labor in unanswered prayer, but those labors will be done when we reach heaven. We have very soon the Lord's Supper. It's a means of grace labor in it, we labor it to understand its symbolism, we labor to have our hearts ready and right before we receive it, all of these labors will end when we come to heaven.
7) Labor Under Discipline for Sin
Seventh you have to labor under discipline for sin, When you sin and when God thinks it's necessary, he will chastise you, he will chastise you. In Hebrews, 12 it says, "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline, God is treating you as sons." You may feel even very soon the rod of fatherly chastisement across your back. He may be bringing some illness or some financial reversal, or some other kind of chastisement into your life, and at that point, you need to labor under it. As some have said, to kiss the rod and don't get angry at God and don't murmur against him.
And don't make light of it, either, but learn the lessons of fatherly chastisement and labor on your own heart to trust God even more and to resolve to fight sin even more deeply and more powerfully. But you have to labor under discipline for sin.
8) Labor in Ministry to Other Christians
Eighth, you have to labor in good works in ministry to other Christians, God has a whole lifetime of good works for you to do. I don't know about you, but I think in order to do works, you have to labor don't you think? [chuckle] There is just some works that we have to do. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. And that involve spiritual gift ministry. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Use your spiritual gifts, your gift is teaching, you need to labor it to be a good teacher. For your gift is encouragement you need to labor in it and be focused in it. If your gift is prayer, you need the labor in that prayer, if you're gift is administration, there's labors to be done. If you're in the ministry of counseling. We've got some brothers and sisters do a great job of counseling. You have to labor to be a better counselor going to conferences, name conference reading books and then as you're sitting down with someone whose marriage is falling apart or struggling, you have to labor with them, give them a good scriptures pray with them. There's a labor involved in serving our brothers and sisters.
9) Labor in Mission to the World
Ninth, there's a labor in the mission in the world, you know that many elect people, many elect people haven't come to faith in Jesus yet. And many of those elect people that haven't come to faith in Jesus yet are in very hard to reach places, like the Muslim world. And there is a labor that has to be done for those lost people. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost," and we are his ambassadors, as though God Himself were making his appeal through us, the missionaries in those places, they know that their labors aren't done, They haven't ended their heavenly rest, they've had to bury a member of their church this week where they have to lament and prayer over some other person is incarcerated they know what it's going to take to reach that Muslim village for Christ. It's hard work, others are learning a language for the first time, and they're laboring to bring the lost to faith in Christ. This isn't time to settle in at a rest stop no matter how beautiful the vista or the scenery, it's not the time for the ski chalet and eating cold vegetables. We're not in Heaven yet. And there's still some work to be done. There are lost people here in this triangle region there's lost people, to the ends of the earth.
Wouldn't it be sweet for you to know, have God were to send an angel and say I have 12 people for you to lead to Christ, over the next year? One a month, I want you to do that. Wouldn't you rejoice in that? So Lord, will I be successful? I'm telling you, you will be your only job is to go share the Gospel with him but we have labors to do. In Heaven, we don't need to do those labors. For the church the redeemed, will be set and all of the elect will have come to faith in Christ, and they'll be there with your rejoicing.
10) Labor in Painful Trials
And finally, dear friends, we have to labor in painful trials. "Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds. Why? "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance, must finish its work. you need to get work done. And so, I do too. And the work in sanctification happens during trials. That's a hard time. And so you have to labor in trials.
And that's how you know you're not in Heaven yet, there, there's no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, but here there certainly is, there is death here and there is mourning here and there's crying and there is pain here. And so the parents have a terminally ill child have to labor on their own hearts, to keep trusting in God and loving God and not murmuring against God or questioning God, even when their hearts are breaking, and they want to know why God's not answering prayer for healing, they have to labor in their hearts to keep trusting in Jesus through that time and not question what he's doing, even if he doesn't in the end, give the Healing. Friends of an incarcerated house church pastor and East Asian nations have to labor under that trial as their prayers go unanswered, and then as their friend is not released but actually executed. They have to labor in the middle of that trial, and count it pure joy and see God's hand in it.
Single person waiting for God to answer their prayers for a spouse, a godly husband, a godly wife. Still waiting. Still waiting, they have to labor in that trial to keep trusting Jesus to not give up to believe in him. So also a childless couple every month praying that same prayer and still the prayer hasn't been answered. Oh but in Heaven, you're going to step across that threshold, you're going to cross that river and you're going to step into your Sabbath rest, and you're going to lay aside all trials. Their time will be over all of the grief, and sadness, will fall off you like an old garment, and you will be free of all of these things and you will have finished your race.
III. The Delights of Heaven: Resting from Our Work as God Did
These are the delights of heaven, we will rest from our labors as God did from his. Look at verse 10, anyone who enters God's rest, also rests from his own work just as God did from his.
In the meantime though, we have all these labors to do and others besides I'm just giving you a sampling, but there are labors that we have to do. But can I tell you a word of encouragement? The same God who called you to do these labors will sustain you and strengthen you through the spirit, in your inner being, to run this race with endurance. He will give you what you need to finish this race.
IV. Heavenly Meditation
And one of the ways he does that is through sweet heavenly meditations. We've been doing some of that here, but I want to close my message now by giving you a little sampling of this book, okay. Richard Baxter at the end of 672 pages, gives an amazing chapter in which he gives a sampling of his style or type of heavenly meditation, for those. And this is little quote, for those who are unskilled in it, Amen I'll sign up, I'll go with that class, all right?
And I read it and I was just swept away by it. Now this is a man who used to spend hours and hours in heavily meditations and when he would come out of that room, friends that knew him said It was like Moses coming off the mountain, his face was shining it was like, he was in another world. Well, when I began reading these meditations when I began reading, I realized I'm not good at this, I've never done this. And then just my engineering side kicked in and I started timing one of these pages, I literally did, I got my stop watch out and I timed it, I read it in a natural kind of flow and it took me four minutes and 11 seconds, and then I counted the pages and there were 30 of them. That's two and one half-hours of heavenly meditation.
I said to Christi yesterday, "Wouldn't it be something if I just spent a Sunday afternoon, just reading this out loud?" She said, "Oh you ought to do it." I haven't done it yet, I've done little portions of it. I've copied it for 50 of you, and it'll be in the north tower. Ryan will tell you more at the end, but get it and read it. In the King James kind of style of English, but you can understand it and I want to close with a section of it that literally brought me to tears, and with that we'll go into the Lord Supper.
And in it, by the way, he talks to his own soul as though he were Jesus then he turns around and talked back to Jesus not talking back but answering back in prayer. Sometimes he preaches to himself, sometimes he receives breaching but he's the one doing all of it, he's doing scripture than he's stepping aside and meditating. It's just an amazing journey. And I would recommend that all 50 get taken take them all, I mean how can I face Tom tomorrow when he did all the work, and there's still like 16 of them left. So don't let there be 16 left, 50 of you grab them. And it's public domain, so it's on the internet too.
Listen to a portion of it as you prepare for the Lord’s Supper:
"Though your eyes have never seen your Lord, yet you have heard his voice, received his benefits, and lived in his heart. He taught you to know yourself and him; he opened to you that first window, through which you saw into heaven. Have you forgotten since your heart was careless, and he awakened it; hard, and he softened it; stubborn, and he made it yield; at peace, and he troubled it; whole, and he broke it; and broken, till he healed it again? Have you forgotten the times when he found you in tears; when he heard your secret sighs and groans, and left all to come and comfort you; when he took you, as it were, in his arms, and asked you, ‘Poor soul, what troubles you? Do you weep, when I have wept so much? Cheer up! Your wounds are saving, and not deadly; I’m the one who wounded you, I who mean you no harm; though I drained off some of your blood, I will not drain off your life.’ I remember his voice. How gently did he take me up in his arms! How carefully did he dress my wounds! I think I hear him still saying to me, ‘Poor sinner, though you have dealt unkindly with me, and cast me off, yet I will never do that to you. Though you have trivialized me and all my mercies, yet they and myself are all yours. What would you have that I can give you? And what do you lack, that I cannot give you? If anything I possess will give you pleasure, you shall have it. Would you have forgiveness? I freely forgive you all your debts. Would you have grace and peace? You shall have both. Would you have myself? Behold I am yours, your Friend, your Lord, your Brother, Husband and Head. Wouldst you have the Father? I will bring you to him, and you shall have him, in and by me.’ These were his sweet words to me!
After all, when I was doubtful of his love, I still remember his overcoming arguments: ‘Have I done so much, sinner, to prove my love, and yet do you doubt? Have I offered you myself and love so long, and yet do you question my willingness to be yours? At what dearer rate should I tell you that I love you? Wilt you not believe my bitter passion on the cross proceeded from love? Have I made myself in the Gospel a lion to yours enemies and a lamb to you, and do you now overlook my lamb-like nature? Had I been willing to let you perish, why would I have done and suffered so much for you? Why would I need to follow you with such patience and urgency? Why do you tell me of your wants; have I not enough for me and you? or of your unworthiness; for if you were yourself worthy, what would you do with my worthiness? Did I ever invite or save the worthy and righteous? or is there any such person upon earth? Have you nothing? are you lost and miserable, helpless and forlorn? Do you believe I am an all-sufficient Savior, and would you have me? Here, I am yours: take me; if you are willing, I am; and neither sin nor Satan shall break the bond.’
These, O these, were the blessed words which his Spirit from his Gospel spoke unto me, till he made me cast myself at his feet, and cry out, ‘My Savior, and my Lord, you have broken, you have revived my heart!"