This summer I endured one of the most stressful weeks of my life. We led a fun but exhausting youth retreat, I traveled for work, a close family friend passed away, one of our cars got a flat tire at a bad time, the other car was damaged in a hit-and-run the night before we were supposed to take it home for the funeral (and there weren’t any rentals available in town)—and the list goes on.
It was a rough week. But when we went home for the funeral, we had a couple of days of much-needed rest, and it felt like we had finally reached a quiet oasis in a desert of noise and stress.
As great as that felt, Hebrews 4 reminds us that in Christ we have a much greater rest than can be found in a quiet weekend away from the busyness of daily life. Scholars debate about what the author of Hebrews means by the “rest” found in Christ. Does it mean our rest in eternity? Does it mean rest from working for our salvation? Theologically, both are true, but the emphasis here seems to be on enjoying our future rest today.
We can find refuge and rest in the finished work of Christ today because we are not responsible for securing the salvation rest we will receive in eternity. Hebrews 4:10 says, “For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his.” The only way we can enjoy the rest God wants to give us is to rest from our own works.
The good news of the gospel is that all the work necessary for our salvation was completed by Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection. While we are called to lives of obedience to God’s Word, we are not called to live a life of anxious striving, desperately trying to obey God’s law in order to earn His love. Christ has done for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He has fulfilled the law perfectly on our behalf. We can rest in that. We must rest in that or have no rest at all.
The grace of God is hard for us to understand. The idea that a reward as great as eternity in the presence of God would be granted to us with no consideration for whether or not we earned it is just plain hard for us to wrap our heads around. It seems too good to be true, which is precisely the point—God’s grace is meant to amaze us. We need faith to believe the gospel.
Sometime soon, whether a Saturday morning, a night during the week, or perhaps on a day off, take some time to rest. And don’t just rest physically. Don’t just take a nap or leisurely work in your garden. Take some time to rest in the promise that your eternity is secure because of the finished work of Christ, not because of how obedient you’ve been. Repent of any and all self-salvation projects, believe the gospel afresh, and enjoy God’s rest in Christ. He’s earned it.
Written by Chris Martin