Many Christians say, “I find it difficult to rest in faith in God. Why doesn’t He just let me see what He’s doing, or make it plain why He’s permitted certain things to happen to me, and what benefit He will work out from it? Then it would be a whole lot easier for me to rest in Him.” The Apostle Paul described a rest that existed since the creation of the world, when God rested after His works were finished. Ever since then, this rest of His has gone on, and He wants His people to share it with Him (Hebrews 4:3-4). He has promised rest to all who truly believe and give their lives to Him. We may find resting in faith to be difficult. But we’ll never find rest until we come to the kind of rest that is based on faith in God—not in our own works, efforts or abilities. Therefore, we’ll only be able to enter into God’s rest by putting our faith in Him. But if we fail to enter in, mental anxiety and conflict will continue in our life.
Those who have given their lives to God have been made righteous according to the faith and trust they have in Him. There’s nothing we can add to make it complete, because it’s been accomplished for us by Him—completed and finished. Now it’s our responsibility to believe this by faith, and to enter into the rest He’s provided for us. But if we choose not to believe it, we’ll continue on in our own struggles, conflicts and other efforts, and all the other works we attempt to do in our burning desire and actions to have a better relationship with the Lord. Or we can choose to just believe that Jesus did it all by His sacrifice on the Cross for us, and then enter into the true rest of faith in Him.
“Therefore let us labor…” means that we have to really work at it, because the devil is continually questioning our position of faith and trust in Christ. Our failures often block the progress of our faith. This happens because we’re depending on our own works, rather than on the finished work of Christ on the Cross. If we can get a hold on this thought, with the Lord’s help we’ll have a life of rest, and He’ll be able to bless us. Then His blessings will urge us to treat Him with reverence, praise and thanksgiving for all He’s continually helped us with.
But many Christians aren’t acquainted with this rest in Christ, because they are still working hard and long to please God under a works ethic. Or they haven’t totally committed their life and concerns to Him due to their unbelief. They fail to realize how faithful He is and willing to keep what we’ve entrusted to Him. Since that commitment hasn’t been made by them, they don’t experience His rest. “For unto us was the good news preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).
Those who have entered into rest have ceased from works, just as God ceased from His own works when He entered into His rest. But, for as long as a Christian hasn’t ceased from his own works, he hasn’t entered into God’s rest. “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:11). “…that rest” means the rest of God, so that we don’t also fall “…after the same example of unbelief.” God can only rest in what makes His heart satisfied. And only blessing that is perfect can satisfy love that is perfect. We’ll possess a heavenly part in the blessing which we’ll have if we experience God’s rest, in perfect holiness and light in His presence.
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:1-2). Good news has been declared to us, as it also was to the Israelites, God’s children, long ago. But the word that was aimed at them produced no fruit, since it wasn’t combined with faith in those who heard it. The ones who do believe have entered into the rest of God, but its fullness remains in the future. This therefore means that a rest for the people of God is still coming, which God’s word guarantees. The ancient Jews who believed in God were tempted to look for a rest that their faith didn’t give them at that time. They could dimly see it, but they still had to wait to experience it. Only faith would make it possible. Therefore, the true believers didn’t seek rest in the wilderness, but trusted God’s promise for the future instead.
All unbelief and workings of the heart God will judge. They tend to lead a believer from his position of faith in God. They hide God from him, by causing him to try to satisfy his flesh instead and to look for rest in the wilderness. But the word of God comes to life through faith in the God of those who hear it. A superior and more spiritual time of rest is still coming for God’s people—composed of His comfort, grace and holiness. This rest will be in glory, where the people of God will enjoy the finale of their faith after they’ve been united with the One Who is the object of all their desires. God has always openly made it known that man’s rest is to be found in Him and His love.
When Christ appears from heaven, this is the rest God’s people will receive. It’s still the only way we can enter into God’s rest. But those who don’t believe will not enter into this spiritual rest of God’s grace here, or of His glory hereafter. His grace and glory are intended to be our only real source of happiness, along with faith in His promises through Christ. The heavenly rest which remains to the people of God is the rest waiting to be enjoyed!