Laboring to Enter Rest?

Nothing gets me charged up for a new day or a new week than reflecting on the magnificent truth that I am a new being in Jesus Christ!

Everything that once separated me from God was completely removed at the Cross of Christ!  It was there, that God rescued us out of “the dominion of darkness” and placed us “in the kingdom of the Son of His love!” (Col 1:13)

The term that Paul uses, “dominion of darkness,” is not referring to your former sinful life.  It’s referring to a “darkened” understanding of just how complete & personal His work of redemption was.  Darkness “keeps you in the dark” about how completely & absolutely innocent and blameless you are in the sight of God!  In darkness, it makes no sense to us that God could love us; let alone that He would love us as equally as He does Jesus.  Darkness robs us of the reality that you & I are “in Christ!”  Darkness makes us feel we are still lacking.  But in the kingdom of the Son of His love; when you come into the Light– you “see”–“hey, wait a minute….how can I be lacking anything” when the Scriptures shout, “CHRIST IN YOU” and “you are COMPLETE IN HIM.”

The Gospel dispels darkness.  It is the “good news” that God successfully reconciled us to a place of restored oneness & union with Himself.  The Greek word for “reconcile” means we have been “decisively changed from one position to another.”  In other words, we are no longer separated from God, we are joined to Him!

“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”  (1 Cor 6:17)

“In that day, you will know that I am in My Father and you are in me & I am in you.” ( Jn 14:20)

You can’t get much closer than that!  You can’t get much closer than being in union!

There is no separation or distance in union.  Dave, are you saying we’re God?  No!  Biblical union is a union with distinction.  Paul illustrates it by marriage in Ephesians 5:31.  He says, paraphrasing, “marriage reflects this union; a man separates himself from his parents to be joined to his wife and two separate people become merged into one new identity.”

So, that being true, why as Christians, do we seem to be spending so much of our time trying to “get closer to God?”  Since we are, in Christ, “joined to Him?”

Do you feel like you spend a lot of your time trying to “get closer to God?”  Or “feel” closer to God?

The Bible says–you don’t need to get closer to God.  You are as close to God as you can get!  You are flesh of His flesh and  bone of His bone. (Eph 5:30)  Nothing you can do can improve your standing before God or help you get closer to Him!  You & I can stop our futile and unnecessary efforts to get closer to God and instead rejoice in the complete and unbreakable union that is ours now because of what our glorious Savior Jesus Christ has done for us & to us.  Hallelujah!

Jesus removed the distance between us and God caused by Adam’s fall.  The union that Adam lost on humanity’s behalf;  Jesus has restored.

You are fully connected to the Vine as a branch.  You are fully connected to the Head as a member of His body. You and Jesus are inseparable.   We’re really confessing our ignorance of the Word when we ask Jesus to “please be with me today” when we do this or that.  He goes everywhere you go!  The Head and the body are joined.  Every day & every moment.

You’ve got to realize, God is not uncomfortable being in union with you. He is totally “at home” in you.   God is totally pleased with you being His dwelling place; His “address.”

God is so pleased–the Bible says, He’s at “rest!”  Another way to say that is–He is satisfied.

C.S. Lewis in his book, The Weight of Glory, said “If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with it’s self.”

John Piper says “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

It reminds me of  Eph. 2:5-6 in the Message translation: “immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us.  He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us!”

In other words, God prefers we wouldn’t dilute the finished work of the cross by adding anything to it.

There’s nothing we can or should do to add to the already perfect and complete work of our union with God through Jesus Christ.

It is not our job to exert any “labor” to get closer to God.

But doesn’t the Bible say that we are to “labor” to enter God’s rest?

“Let us LABOR therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”  Heb. 4:11  KJV
It sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?  “Labor” in order to “rest?”
The Greek word translated LABOR is “SPOUDAZO” (Strongs’ #4704) from the root word “SPOUDE” (Strongs #4710).  It means, “make haste, move swiftly, as fast as you can, immediately.”
In the Greek,  Heb. 4:11 says:  “Make haste, move quickly, don’t waste another minute– enter into His Rest!”
Read it in the context of verses 9 & 10:
9 “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their laborsjust as God did after creating the world.”  Heb 4:9-10 NLT
Heb. 4:11 isn’t saying: “LABOR,” but conversely, CEASE from your own labors!
Our own labor cannot add to the absolutely perfect, finished work of Christ.
You cannot add to perfection.
God’s REST celebrates His PERFECT work & FINISHED work in you!

That doesn’t mean “there’s nothing for us to do.”  We still have more maturing &  growing up to do.  Such as growing in our understanding of this wonderful union.  When a branch grows on one of our rose bushes at home; the number of blossoms on that branch grow as well.  Just like that rose bush–our ever growing revelation and understanding of our union with Christ causes a greater diffusion of the wonderful fragrance of Christ to manifest in our lives.

As our understanding grows, love and gratitude grows.  Every time I enjoy fellowship with the Lord by reading the Scriptures or praying or focusing on His indwelling–my understanding of just how great a salvation I have, causes “joy unspeakable” to well up in my heart towards God to where I feel like I’m going to explode with joy on the inside of me!

Do you know what I mean?

Being “complete in Him” does not mean we become idle or lazy.  The fact that in Christ, I am “perfect & lacking nothing” has never been translated in my mind as “I don’t have to read my Bible, I don’t have to pray, I don’t have to go to church, I don’t have to share the gospel…”

I don’t HAVE TO; I WANT TO!!

I want His fullness in me to ooze out of every pore of my being!  I’ve been invited to indulge in a feast of righteousness that He has prepared for me.  He has prepared a table before me and I come every day with an appetite!

Being “complete in Him” doesn’t mean you can live your life any way you please.  YOU don’t have a life any more.  Did you miss Jesus’ disclaimer about being a Christian?  He said, make sure you “count the cost.” (Lk 14:28)  A disciple must “take up his cross” to follow Him. That means you realize that YOU died when & where Jesus died.   Your old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ.  (Rom 6:6)  Grace doesn’t mean “oh well, God’s cool with my life now” —  “I can still smoke pot, I can still sleep with my girlfriend.”  That may be your definition of grace but it’s not God’s!  (read Rom 6:1-2)  Grace is not God looking the other way when you sin.  Sin has negative consequences whether you’re a Christian or not.  God’s Grace is a Person–Jesus Christ living His life in us!

I like what John Crowder said in his book, Mystical Union: “If you are exploiting the grace of God–sinning under the guise of your perfection–please do the rest of us a favor and stop calling yourself a Christian.”

Yes, the Gospel says you are accepted in the beloved, no matter what you’ve done or what you do, but living a totally self centered life proves you are totally ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s no longer about you; it’s all about Him.

Christianity has never been about your life.  Christianity is about HIS LIFE IN YOU; AS YOU!

“It’s no longer I who lives; it’s Christ who lives in me”  (Gal 2:20)

I like the Distilled Bible translation of that verse:  “I consider myself to have died, and now my existence is just Jesus using my body.”

The Father’s every expectation for us was fulfilled in His Son!  You & I can stop “our labors” and “our striving” and simply join the Father, Son & Spirit in their celebration of our perfect redemption and union together with them!!

Being in union with God is a glorious truth.  When you learn to rest and abide in that place of union that is yours in Jesus Christ–your life becomes a constant celebration of your redeemed innocence in you Father’s eyes!
Make today a day of celebrating the success of the cross!  And tell someone why you’re smiling!