|WHAT IS THE FAITH-REST LIFE?||
What is the FAITH-REST Life?
There exists for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, a quality of life which far surpasses anything experienced outside of Christ. A quality of life, characterized not only by God's standard of righteousness, but also by the very peace and joy of Jesus Christ Himself. Paul writes at Romans 14:17,
"The kingdom of God . . . is righteousness,
The writer of Hebrews calls this a life of "rest."
I like the term, "faith-rest" because this quality of rest is
experienced by the believer as he lives by faith dependence on the character
and plan of God.
"There remains therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God."
It is called a "sabbath rest" because it applies the fact that after preparing the earth for Adam and placing him in the garden, God ceased from His work. Everything had been perfectly provided for man and there was nothing left for Adam and Eve to do except enjoy it.
In like manner, God has provided spiritual resources so the believer can experience a daily, moment by moment rest within the soul. A rest where one "ceases" from his own human good and fleshly works, and depends totally on God's wondrous provisions for being at peace in any and every situation of life.
"For the one who has entered His rest
DEFINITION of Faith-rest:
Faith-rest is the attitude and practice of being totally relaxed and confident in the character and plan of God based on knowledge and trust in His word.
It is not the normal Christian life to be worried and upset about any of the many pressures and adversities we face in the world. Paul sums up the reality of faith-rest in the promise stated at Philippians 4:6-7,
"Be worrying about nothing,
The key to faith-rest is the absolute character and plan
Because He has absolute, sovereign authority over all the universe; and exists absolutely without beginning or ending, we know He can manage the circumstances of our life for our benefit.
Because He loves all his creatures, seeking continually what is best for them and is perfectly fair at all times as He perfectly upholds His standards of righteousness, we can depend on His intervention on our behalf no matter how adverse circumstances become.
Because He is powerful enough to do whatever He wants; and has the wisdom to know what is absolutely the best thing for us; and so transcends the physical universe that He is ever with us to carry out what He has promised, we can have confidence that what He brings our way or permits us to encounter is nothing to fear.
Because He is absolute truth and represents that truth consistently to us all without compromise or change, we can joyfully trust in Him as being ever and perfectly FAITHFUL to do exactly what He has promised.
Thus, the exhortation from James 1:2,
"My brethren, conclude it to be an occasion
for total joy,
We are all tempted and pressured by many and varied obstacles in life. However, nothing comes our way "except what is common to man," (1 Cor. 10:13) and God is faithful to provide exactly what we need in order to recognize the pressure for what it is and to rise above it through trusting God's wisdom and timing, as we apply the promise of Romans 8:28,
"And we know that for those who love
How can we doubt and worry in light of such awesome ability
to make even the severest of adversity turn out for our betterment?
We need to work with one another, encourage one another as Hebrews 3:13 exhorts,
"But encourage one another daily,
The sin nature hardens us to the solutions found in God's word. It promotes emotional reaction instead of a controlled application of God's truth. It promotes human rationalization instead of accepting the divine viewpoint about life and the world.
We need to encourage one another, pray for one another, fellowship with one another - but most importantly, we need to learn and use God's word.
"Your word I have stockpiled in my heart
We need to learn AND use the many promises of God so that we might share His holiness and experience the peace and joy of the abundant life; the life of rest as we reside confidently and joyfully under the shelter of His wings.
"There remains therefore a sabbath rest
for the people of God."
Why then are there so very many Christians out there, whether they will readily admit it or not, who are NOT experiencing this quality of life which continually "rests" in the character and plan of God. Their lives are disrupted by doubt, worry and fear, but this is NOT the way God wants us to respond to circumstances in life. It is not adequate to "accept" the presence of these attitudes in your life, thinking that it's simply "OK" to feel this way. But it's not! Why then is this "failure" so prevalent?
It is because we have within us, a sin nature, which is deceptively wicked and inclined toward evil. It is an influence within us that promotes independence from God and a self-involvement that resists divine viewpoint no matter how painful the realities of life may be.
Peter tells us of this conflict between the lusts of the flesh (which come from the sin nature) and our inner desire to please God.
"Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers,
And Paul, at Galatians 5:17,
"For the flesh (sin nature) dictates
its desires (lusts)
The "things you want," refers to the inner longing within the believer which seeks to know God better and to do what is pleasing in His sight.
But the "pull" of the sin nature needs to be offset by something that has far greater value. That far greater value is the viewpoint of God which contains His standards for relating to every area of life.
If we do not cultivate the presence of God's viewpoint in our soul, then we will not have that "greater value" to properly handle and render impotent those very strong "lusts of the flesh."
Therefore, once again let us look at Heb. 3:13,
"But encourage one another daily,
In view of the availability of this quality of life for the believer,
the writer exhorts us to diligence at Hebrews 4:11,
"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest . . ."
Diligence is a concentrated endeavor to realize the blessings God has promised to those who love Him. Diligence in this case, requires knowledge and understanding of God's character so that the believer can actually "rest" in all that God has promised us.
We fail to realize this blessing by either not knowing or simply ignoring the promises of God. This is not just a failure to trust God in various pressure situations, but is actually sinning against His character and plan, for "all which is not from faith is sin," (Rom. 14:23).
The quoted example for such failure refers to the people of Israel, who were not only delivered from Egypt by God's mighty power, but entered into a "salvation" relationship with Him through trust in His character and plan during that first Passover. Then they saw His works for 40 years (Hebrews 3:9) and yet still continually went "astray in their heart, and they did not KNOW My ways," (Heb. 3:10).
As a result of their continued lack of faith, they were unable to enter into God's "spiritual" rest at that present time, and were also denied participation in the "physical" rest in the land of Canaan later.
This promised land of Canaan, thus, became the illustration of the believer's "spiritual" faith-rest experience here on earth AFTER salvation (NOT salvation itself).
Time after time God gave them the opportunity to trust Him in a crisis situation and time after time they failed to enter into that place of perfect peace by resting in His promises.
Again, the warning comes to us at Heb. 3:12, as the writer exhorts,
"Take care brethren,
The "evil, unbelieving heart" is the heart that fails to claim the promises of God and trust in Him during the times of pressure and trial. It is opposite to the attitude James exhorts at James 1:3,
"My brethren, conclude it to be an occasion
for total joy,
If instead, the believer reacts with doubt, worry and fear, this is called "withdrawing from the Living God." The word, "withdrawing" is aphistemi, which means to stand away from. It is the same word group used for "the apostasy" which will occur in the last days prior to the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord, (2 Thes. 2:3).
"Let no one in anyway deceive you,
The sad conclusion concerning the people of the Exodus Generation is stated at Hebrews 3:19,
"And so we see
They had the promises and specific miracles of divine provision, but still they were deceived by the independence of the sin nature and continually resisted God's desire to bless them.
Accordingly, we too are warned in a most solemn way at Hebrews 4:1,
"Therefore, let us be afraid"
Yes, the writer of scripture exhorts us to fear. The one and only time the believer is told to "be afraid" of something - for God,
Has not given us a spirit of intimidation,
"There is no fear in love.
But here at Hebrews 4:1, we are actually exhorted to be afraid of something. We are to be afraid of MISSING a promise of God!
"Let us therefore be afraid,
What way of thinking would cause us to come short of entering God's provision of faith-rest? It is the way of thinking that is opposite to FAITH. A way of thinking that reacts to and rationalizes our pressures instead of embracing them with total trust and confidence in the character and plan of God.
The very same "faith-rest life" is available to us, just as it has been to all believers since Adam. At Hebrews 4:2a, it is called good news.
The "good news" here does not refer to a "salvation" message, but to the good news about a life of spiritual stability with perfect peace and joy here on earth AFTER salvation.
But the danger they fell prey to is the same danger that faces us every single day; the danger of not taking that good news, as proclaimed in the thousands of promises God has given us in His word, and MIXING it with faith, Heb. 4:2b,
"But the word they heard,
Here then, is the key:
The word of God; the facts and principles of divine viewpoint, must be heard, accepted and THEN believed. That is, applied to any and every situation in life. Their failure to experience a faith-rest reality was because they did not "mix" the truths of God with their faith. Instead, they depended upon the works of the flesh and the human logic that discards and rejects the relevancy and sufficiency of God's word.
"For the word of God
Approaching the throne of grace means to appeal to God for His help, made available to us because we have been "born again" into the family of God and have access to the "family resources" found in the word of God.
Mercy refers to God's attitude toward us as we depend on
The more of God's word that we know, the better we can understand Him and "know His ways." This enables us to relax in confidence that God Knows what He is doing and always has our best interests in view. Therefore, we can truly "rest" in peace as our mind remains "stabilized" on His character and plan.
"The one who is stabilized of mind
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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