Chapter 7: Rest For All

It is from the backdrop of a satisfied law and a completed work that Jesus invites us to come and to enter into His rest. The invitation that he extends to every one of us could read as follows:

Come to Me, all you who are being wearied by your vain single-handed efforts to satisfy the demands of the law, come and accept the fact that I have satisfied the demands of the law on your behalf. Come to Me all you who are burdened with guilt, come just as you are and find peace in the knowledge that I have borne your guilt for you. Please come and accept the fact that I have completed the work that was necessary in order to make peace between you and My Father. I am your peace. Come, and you will find rest for your souls. (Ref. Matthew 11:28,29)
Jesus wants us to find rest - He want us to find peace in the knowledge that the work is now complete, and that, even though we are expected to work, we are not expected to work in order to earn salvation. This is why Paul tells us that . . .
'Anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work.' (Hebrews 4:10)
Yet it is a sad fact that many cannot find this rest, for they are convinced that it will only be found when their lives accord with certain standards. As we mentioned earlier, it is most certainly God's dream for every one of us that we should obey His law, and that our lives will be adorned with the fragrant fruits of righteousness, but He wants us to understand that it is not our obedience, but His obedience, that saves us. This is why . . .
'No-one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law.' (Romans 3:20)
And this is why . . .
'A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus.' (Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:28)
We will appreciate, therefore, that salvation 'does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.' (Romans 9:16)
As Paul points out,
'It is . . . by grace [by God's merciful and unmerited kindness] and not by achievement that you are saved.' (Ephesians 2:5, Phillips)
'We can make no atonement for ourselves; but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made.' (1SM321/2)
These passages are not teaching what is known as universalism - that the entire world will be saved. What they are saying, however, is that Jesus has purchased the right for the entire world to be saved.
In the light of these glorious truths, therefore, we can do none other than accept the fact that . . .
'The atonement for a lost world was . . . full, abundant, and complete.' (DA565/6)
And now, if this is the case, can we, by our own feeble efforts, add anything to that atonement? No we cannot!
We must accept, therefore, that . . .
'If righteousness could be gained through [obedience to the] law, Christ died for nothing.' (Galatians 2:21)
This is why we have been told that . . .
'It is when Christ is received as a personal Saviour that salvation comes to the soul.' (DA556)
Now, if salvation comes to the soul in the split-second that we accept Jesus as a personal Saviour, then our own works cannot possibly play a part in the saving transaction. Even if our works did have some value, what could we do, in one split-second, that could merit our eternal salvation?
Salvation comes to us because we are saved on the strength of our trust in the fact that Jesus bore our penalty and that His righteousness and death have fully satisfied the law on our behalf. As such, whatever works we perform, will be performed in response to His saving kindness - not in an effort to earn His saving kindness. We will do works of righteousness, not in the hope that we can make peace with God, but only because . . .
'God was in Christ making peace between the world and Himself.' (2 Corinthians 5:19, NTBE)
And the good news invites us to revel in this peace - not because we have earned it, or because we deserve it, but only because . . .
'The punishment that brought our peace was upon Him.' (Isaiah 53:5)
This is why . . .
'The believer is not called upon to make his peace with God; he never has nor ever can do this. He is to accept Christ as his peace, for with Christ is God and peace.' (1SM395)
We must conclude, therefore, that . . .
'We can make no atonement for ourselves; but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made.' (1SM321/2)
When Jesus let out that pain-filled cry, when He uttered through blood-stained lips, "It is finished," He announced that . . .
'The great work of redemption had been accomplished (completed).' (DA758)
And our redemption is secure today only because it depends on His completed work - not on our works. In fact, until we realize and accept this fact, we simply are not reconciled to God for . . .
'A man is received by God just as soon as he realizes that he has nothing in himself that will gain salvation . . . When he loses all confidence in anything he has done or can do to save himself, when he gives himself up to be saved by Christ, he shows that he appreciates the sacrifice made in his behalf, that he has confidence to commit the keeping of his soul to God.' (1SAT218.1)
Resting in Jesus

To confirm what has been presented in the foregoing section, let us carefully examine the words of promise that God once spoke to backslidden Israel:
'I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.' (Isaiah 44:22)
Isaiah was inspired to write these words in the light of the covenant promise. Notice, however, that the Lord does not invite Israel to return to Him so that He may sweep away their offenses, but because He had swept away their offenses.
Notice too that they were not invited to return to God so that He could redeem them, but because He had redeemed them.
They had not even returned to God, and yet their offenses were swept away and they were "redeemed." On the strength of Jesus' promise and impending sacrifice, and on this only, they were redeemed from the curse of the law - and their own works had no part in the redeeming transaction - how could their works have counted for anything when, at that stage, they had not even returned to the Lord?
Paul confirms these soul-watering thoughts in His letter to Timothy. Here he tells us that . . .
'God . . . has saved us and called us to a holy life.' (2 Timothy 1:9,10)
Notice here again that God has called us to live a holy life, not in the hope that this can save us, but because He "has saved us." In fact, God wants His saving grace to be the factor that motivates us to live a holy life. As such, the saving transaction does not take our own works into account in the least degree.
As Paul confirms . . .
'He has saved us, . . . not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.' (2 Timothy 1:9,10)
In a similar statement Paul again assures us that . . .
'He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.' (Titus 3:5)
All of which means that we are saved by God's kindness alone. Sure, our works do have their rightful place, but we must ever remember that as far as merit for salvation is concerned, they count for 'far less than nothingness.'
It is on this basis, therefore, that we receive salvation . . .
'Not according to the amount of [our] labor, but according to the generosity of His purpose.' (COL397)
Thus, in summary, nothing we can do can alter the fact that Jesus is a complete Saviour; that His life was "enough;" and that the work is "now complete." But we are expected to respond. As hope and faith take root in our hearts, and as gratitude wells up within us, acts of love will be the natural outgrowth. Works of righteousness will become a part of the character, not in the vain hope that these works can win God's approval, but because God's loving and undeserved kindness has won our hearts.
'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' (Romans 15:13)

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