REST IN THE FINISHED WORKS
I had assumed the thought on God's Rest was finished with Publication #00.133. However, our Lord has so graciously quickened it anew in my spirit and built upon that which was laid. I will then walk, as He permits, a little space farther in it.
Therefore, if we haven't already entered that rest, the rest which other oracles of God have been resounding -- what else is there to do but to enter therein? I see nothing at this moment. For that matter, the time has been at hand since the example of belief and unbelief were both laid in the wilderness by Israel many centuries ago. Joshua and Caleb, along with the younger generation believed and entered that which had been promised. Those twenty years old and upward refused to believe and would not venture onward. Their fearful example was to die with unbelief and without entering God's rest. Although the battles had already been won, they just couldn't believe it. And such has continued to this day with not so much as an eyebrow of concern.
Some, of course, believe they have entered God's rest because they attend church on Saturday and rest the remainder of the day, or Sunday if they deem that time-element as the right one. There is certainly nothing wrong with resting for twenty-four hours out of the week, for the mind and body requires it. And attending meetings for fellowship and to hear a good word either of those days is fine, as long as the reality to which the shadow speaks is not forsaken.
We know people who swing with the pendulum to the other side. You see, they refuse to go to any meetings, whatsoever, believing they are all of the spirit of Babylon, old-order, legalistic, full of dead works, etc. With such a regulated stand, however, they have come just as much under the legalistic bondage of NOT doing as those who DO. The fact is, spiritual bondage has nothing to do with where one's physical body is. That which determines bondage is where their spirit resides, and it is the same with being in God's Rest. They can be just as much in that Rest while sitting on a cold pew as in a warm recliner, that is, if their allegiance is to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, and they should not be criticized for where their body located.
For example, if an ambassador of the United States is sent to China, he is not criticized for going there. He is commended for doing what he was sent to do, and although he will abide by the laws of that kingdom while there, he is not bound by them. If he doesn't abide by them, he is not guilty, for he has diplomatic immunity. And likewise with the ambassadors who are truly sent into various churches. But let me say, if you have not been sent, you are not an ambassador and you will be bound by Babylon's laws, and you will worship her idols if your remain for any length of time.
Daniel and his three companions were prisoners in Babylon; but they were free. Most all of the Christians today are in Babylon, not because they are ambassadors, but because God has them there due to not letting their land rest. Some are free, others are not, depending on where their spirit resides. Others are there by choice, which is a mystery in itself. This causes me to think that their spirits might be at home there as well.
A few of those with ties to the spirit of Babylon may become very unsettled by the mere mention of the Sabbath, that is, if it is not in the legalistic sense. And I will have to say -- praise God! For if one's iron-clad heavens are sewn with carnal ceremonies, rituals, and the like -- they need to be shaken. And if they choose to argue their point, they will have to argue alone, for no one benefits from heated debates. I will discuss it with them; but I will not argue or spend toiling hours writing 95 thesis to defend what I see.
Paul wrote about divisions such as this, saying -- "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (1 Cor 3:4). Or we could paraphrase, beginning with verse two: "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, and neither are ye yet able. When meat has been given, you cry as children for the milk I formerly fed you. Therefore, you are yet carnal children: for there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions due to what you will hear and what you won't. This clearly shows that you are carnal. You walk as children and not as the Sons of God. For while one says, 'I have entered God's eternal rest, which is His finished works from the foundation of the world'; and another says, 'I hold to the Sabbath day that I can see on the calendar' -- are ye not carnal?" (1 Cor 3:2-4). Certainly! We are very carnal if we enter such bantering! Regardless of which is the truth, arguing about doctrinal issues will divide people, and it is carnal, pure and simple.
When I steer away from the natural and write of spiritual matters, some might assume I am against the Law of God. To the contrary, my friend. I find no fault in the law, none whatsoever. It has been a part of our journey, and God's law will be with us always. It will be fulfilled forever in our lives. In the legalistic sense, however, we must know it is not the end of our journey. It was never intended to be our final goal. There is much more to the law than being blessed if we march to its commanding cry and damned if we don't. The spirit of the law that exposes sin and works death is not for the elect of God. This may sound disagreeable to some; but please note: "Knowing this, that the law is NOT made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers" (1 Tim 1:9).
Legalism that binds is not suitable garments for the Sons of God. Even so, we must not lose sight that "the law is holy and the Commandment is Holy" (Rom 7:12), and "the scriptures are good for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). They also testify of Christ our Lord, and are almost always the tools used by the Spirit to enlighten souls; but they are not Christ (John 5:39). Life is not found in them, not in the letter alone, and they are not our salvation.
For example, as I wrote once before, the Boy Scout manual may tell the boys how to build a fire, and we may hear them bragging about how they can start a fire by rubbing two sticks together; but until they get the fire going, they will not feel its warmth. The book and all its worthy information cannot replace the reality. It is the same with the Bible. I encourage you to learn from it, memorize and quote the scriptures, for this is good; but never let them take the place of the One to whom they speak, and likewise with a day of the week. Go to church, rest the entire day, meditate, pray, reflect upon the goodness of the Lord and be glad in it; but don't let a temporal day replace the One to which it speaks.
Attempting to fulfill the law of a day, by subjecting one's self to its letter, is an impossibility. It can't be done. Acting the part of a law-abiding saint does not make a person Godly. Godliness is never the result of outward performances. Godliness comes when God's holy law is resident within. The godliness of the Law will then shine like the Sun in a dark world. It behooves us, then, to know the spiritual side of the law, rather than the letter of it. If we don't, we will never possess Christ's authority, nor will we come forth in His glory.
If anyone wishes to keep the law, as Jesus did, it would be wise for them to take note of how He was able to perform this marvelous feat. It was something that had never been done before, but He did it. He was the FIRST to blaze the seemingly impossible trail for others to follow, and we should understand Jesus did not fulfill the law by being taught it from any man. He said, "...I do nothing of Myself; but as MY FATHER hath taught Me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).
He knew the scriptures and the law VERY well, but He did not memorize every jot and tittle of them, and then set His mind like flint to do what they said. Not at all! He did not fulfill any part of them out of shear will power, nor religious devotion. He did not possess a key of super-knowledge that unlocked the mystical door to immortality. And neither was His success due to Him being gifted with a supernatural edge called the Holy Ghost. Indeed, it was by the Spirit that the law was fulfilled, but not just because it was a gift or a tool in His hands to use as a miracle-working lever. It went much deeper than that.
He was born with the law in the Heart-center of His being -- in the Ark of the Covenant. His every heartbeat was the Law. Everything He did was, therefore, in the Name (the Nature and Authority) of His Father (John 10:25). He was in union with the law because He was in union with His Father. Jesus and His Father were one in all things (John 17:11,21). Due to this union, they knew each other as only a father and son can, and having been born of the same Seed, we are called to this union wherein we are likewise fulfilling the law!
Let me now submit to you a paradox -- although Jesus fulfilled the law, He also broke it. This happened when He shucked corn on the Sabbath, and when He healed on the Sabbath. He could do this, of course, because He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mat 12:8), even as you and I are lord of it.
Some people speak ill of devout Catholics who do penance by abstaining from certain foods, drinks, and activities during Lent. Yet, they think nothing of doing the same by dogmatically keeping the Sabbath. They literally place themselves into its stocks every week for all to see, fearing they will offend God if they don't. They are obedient to the outward but refuse to enter the inward, the finished work wherein they could find true rest. However, with their unclear vision, can we find fault? Not at all, for it is God who fashions every heart, causes the blind and makes men to see: "From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works." (Psa 33:14-15). "Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day." (Deut 29:4). "And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?" (Exo 4:11).
Although we know better than to condemn the blind for not seeing, fault is sometimes with us by those whose vision is marred. It has been said to us that to break the Sabbath is to become guilty of breaking the other commandments, such as thou shalt have no other God before thee, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, etc. In their stand, they site what James wrote, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
Frankly, it is not my toiling, religious goal to "keep" the whole law; for man has attempted to do so for thousands of years and they all failed. So why would I be so presumptuous as to think I could do better? It is in me, however, as it should likewise be in you, to fulfill the law by the Spirit by which I was born. Moreover, if we refuse to enter the works done from the foundation of the world, The Rest of God, then we are not fulfilling the law.
We can go to church every time the doors open and still be far removed from God's Rest. That which causes us to offend the law in that point would be in refusing to believe that the works are finished, and thereby, fail to enter them. And if we teach others to do the same, we will be called the least in the Kingdom of God, as Jesus warned in Matthew 5:19.
If Jesus was so concerned about keeping the letter of the law out of the sense of religious duty, I doubt that He would have broken it. And I can assure you that He was never guilty of the others when it was broken, such as, adultery, murder, covetousness, or any other act that would be in violation of the other commandments.
However, if we want to strain at gnats, we could say that Jesus broke the seventh commandment as well, thou shalt not steal. For, you see, He it could be that He did not get permission from the farmer whose corn they were eating. Oh my! When the law becomes our hard walk, all kinds of things begin to crop up in our path.
And what about some of the first commands ever given to man? Did Jesus break them? "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:24). To cleave to a wife, one must first have a wife, and Jesus never married, at least, not in the natural. His bride was and is His many membered body. Man was also commanded to Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 1:28), and again, without a wife He could not do so, and, of course, He never did.
Are you getting the point? Hopefully, it can be seen that there are certain positive commands of God, that when fulfilled in the Spirit, they are not necessarily seen or required in the natural. The wife of Jesus -- by which He would be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth -- was His mystical body of saints. Therefore, once the spiritual reality is known, the need for the physical fades.
It is believed by more than a few that the commandments Jesus referred to, and the ones spoken of in the book of Revelation were the Ten Commandments. Such as: "If ye love me, keep MY commandments" (John 14:15). "If ye keep MY commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love" (John 15:10). "He that hath MY commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). Do you suppose that by religiously keeping the Ten Commandments the best to one's ability is the true test of whether he loves Jesus or not? I don't think so. The Pharisee's kept them fairly well; but they surely didn't love Jesus.
The commandments He was referring to were all those things He taught to His disciples. They were those things which would establish a new order; namely, THE KINGDOM OF GOD! It was a living word that would establish a Living KINGDOM, and this Kingdom would destroy the legalistic one of death.
The commandments in Revelation speak the same. They are God's living words, rather than dead letters. If there is any remote way that it is referring to the ten commandments, you can be sure, they are fulfilled and kept by living them. When this new and living way becomes a reality, you can also be sure there will be some opposition, and will be directly from the infamous dragon. That spirit of religion which gives the beast his power, his seat, and his authority will contend with you; for true religion is the only thing that is a threat to the dragon's kingdom.
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and (kai - even) have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev 12:17). "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and (kai - even) the faith of Jesus" (Rev 14:12). You see, the dragon went to war with her seed who kept the commandments of God, even who have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and here are they who keep the commandments of God, even the faith of Jesus. By using even, rather than and, we see that the commandments of God are more akin to the testimony of Jesus Christ and His faith than the ten commandments. To be truthful, the dragon has no problems whatsoever with religious people following the letter of the law. For that matter, he delights in such practices, for there is no godly power in them at all, and he remains enthroned in the heavens. It is when God's words are being lived that he gets a little concerned.
We will draw our attention once again to Revelation 14:12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they who keep the commandments of God, namely the faith of Jesus. You see, the commandments are the same as the faith of Jesus. This is the only way anyone can be justified. It is by His faith (Hab 2:4), and not our own. This is the command by which we will live and not be guilty of offending any point of the law.
One final verse where God's commandments are used: "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have (1)right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev 22:14).
In "doing" the commandments, the Pharisees did as good a job as was humanly possible; but I can tell you plainly -- they had no authority at all when it came to the tree of Life, and they did not enter through the gates of the city! It was the exact opposite; "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev 22:15).
There is also another point to note. According to more than two dozen of the twenty-seven Bible translations I have in my library, they render the verse altogether different. Rather than the ones who (2)do His commandments having authority and entering the city, unanimously the other Bibles have it as -- those who wash their robes. And likewise with the three or four of my Greek New Testaments, they have it as those who wash their robes, except for the Vatican Manuscript Number 1209. This one alone uses the word, entole, which can be translated, commandment.
It is, therefore, fairly conclusive that doing commandments is not the issue, but rather, the washing of robes. However, let us use it as does the King James Version and see that it washes well.
Doing His commandments does not suggest it is speaking of observing the ten primary laws of the Old Testament. The word, doing or to do, has no hidden meaning; for it is translated from the Greek word, poieo, which, according to Strong's simply means to make or do and is used in a very wide application. However, when we see how Jesus often used the word, it begins to carry more weight. He said, "I can of mine own self DO nothing..." (John 5:30). Therefore, how do you suppose He was able to keep or do the Law? Clearly, it was not of Himself that He did it. He had help. He had His Father with whom He was one. Everything He did was by a higher law than the law of the sweat of dos and don'ts. It was the Law of Life, and it kept Him free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).
In another place John wrote of Him saying, "But he that DOETH truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (John 3:21). The DOING has nothing to do with a person being told what the truth is, and then he attempts to accomplish it by the will and determination of himself. It is far from such religious gymnastics. When people DO truth, they DO them in the Light of Christ. In turn, they are manifested in the form of godly deeds, and those deeds testify that they were wrought in and by God. Of themselves they can do nothing. Of themselves they cannot do the commandments of God, not even one of them, not even the keeping of the Sabbath. Of themselves they cannot do the truth; for only in Christ our Lord is truth found. There is no other way. Of themselves they cannot come to the light. Light and truth are conjoined. You can't have one without the other. If either is missing, so will be the other.
I like the way the Diaglott translates the verse, (All the UPPERCASE letters were by the translators for emphasis to reflect the original voice in the Greek): "But HE who DOES the TRUTH comes to the LIGHT, so that His works may be manifested That they have been done in God."
Let me now ask, do we DO the commandments of God? If we are doing anything which is called God, and if it is done by the sweat of our faces, if it is done by the power of our might, if we are doing it due to our religious persuasions, if they are done in ourselves and not in God -- the answer is NO! If WE are not hearing His word, WE are not doing His works! And neither are WE doing the commandments of God! It matters not how devout we feel about it, or how sincere we are in doing this and that -- if those things are not wrought in God, we are not doing His commandments. If we ever expect to do any of the commandments of the law, it will only be done in Christ and not by the will and power of the flesh. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom 10:4).
It is good to rest the mind and body one full day a week; for the natural Sabbath was given to man so his mind and body could repair; but let us not make that long shadow our tenant of faith, and therewith bind ourselves. The elect are called to be free, and as Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath, so are those who abide in Him, rather than it being lord of them.
"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" (Heb 4:1). If Saturday was the Rest being referred to in this verse, do you suppose it would have been difficult to get the Christian Hebrews, to whom this letter was written, to go to church on Saturday? And do we believe for a minute that it would have been said to them, let us therefore fear, lest you come short of it? There is no way we could assume such; for Saturday was the day by custom that the Hebrews had gone to church all their lives. They knew nothing else. There was no other day for them to consider; but the writer of Hebrews saw first hand that they had not entered the true rest of which the Sabbath was a shadow. If it was anything like it is today, he was probably witnessing the same things we see; namely, that they are trying to finish in the flesh what was started in the Spirit. And we could say with Paul, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal 3:1-3)
Brethren, of a truth, there is a great need to change that which we perceive as truth. There must be a shift in our thinking -- from carnal to spiritual, from religious to reality, from death to life. In so doing, we can thunder from the heavens of our spirits, "we which have believed do enter into rest...namely, the works that were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb 4:3).
"For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works." And again in this place it says, 'They shall not enter my rest'" (Heb 4:4-5, NRSV). Not to belabor the point; but does this sound as if the Rest is a mere day of the week? Not by any means, and to make this more sure, we note the next couple of verses, "Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS'" (Heb 4:6-7). If you do hear, as Margit related to me recently, and you do not harden your hearts -- you will enter at that instant.
"For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that" (Heb 4:8, NASB). "There remaineth therefore a (3)rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us (4)labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (Heb 4:9-11).
In closing, we will borrow from our previous study, Rest In The Finished Works #00.133:
To labour in order to enter into God's rest, is an oxymoron to say the least. It sounds as if we can't help from breaking into a sweat, especially since sweat is a byproduct of labor, and rest is the exact opposite. However, with the proper definition of the word, labour, we can quickly see what is actually being said. Therefore, it is imperative to use speed when it comes to entering that Sabbatical rest, that which is heaven's bliss to those therein. Great merit is gained when their hearts are eager to cease from their own labors and leave the toil of religious works and enter His peaceful rest. And how joyful it is when they are prompt to believe and embrace that which is finished.
There is something we have missed far too long -- the fact that all of God's works are finished. There's nothing left for Him to do. From the earth's perspective, this is impossible to believe or grasp; but from heaven's ramparts it becomes increasingly clear that it indeed is. And our first part of entering into God's finished work is simply to believe in Him who was sent. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (John 6:29).
Hopefully, those heavenly gates will be opened today for us to peer more intently upon those marvelous works that He worked on for six days, and then rested. One of those individual finished works was, no doubt, the man who was born blind that Jesus healed: "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:3). The man was healed before he ever heard those wonderful words, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." They streamed like a river from the heavens of Jesus in whom all things were created (Col 1:16). Prior to that day, the healing could not be seen; for such grace had not rained upon his earth to bring it forth. But when Jesus showed contempt for blindness by smearing muddied spit in his eyes, and the man washed, he then saw.
The book of Genesis is a recorded history in seed form of what God did in His six days of work, and part of that work is you and me in particular. Not only that, every good work we do has already been done. It was finished before we breathed our first breath of Earth's air. When we sing a song by the inspiration of the Spirit, preach a life-giving word, write an anointed message -- each one of those precious works were finished before ever a word or deed were uttered or seen. They were trumpeted by us long ago when the morning stars sang and the sons of God shouted for joy.
If our songs, sermons, lessons, witnessing, testifying, and other services are by the Spirit, then they are those things which were already said and sung. They were finished from the foundation of the world. They are from above and not from beneath. When they are charged with His life, every particle is a portion of the finished work coming into manifestation. They are those things which have been waiting in the wings of the ages, waiting for their time and season to be made known in the earth. Such are the good works we receive from heaven, else they would not be available to us at all.
If we believe what is written, we will quickly know that it is impossible to receive anything of God unless it is from His Eternal Day of Rest. John said, "...A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). You see, it is not in our natural makeup to suddenly decide to do God's good works, and should we try, we can't expect Him to sanction them. Our works and carnal efforts will not be endorsed in heaven. Even so, it is not uncommon to see people take to themselves a ministry, not realizing, if it has been already made in the heavens for them, there will be no need for them to take it; for at the proper time they can receive it when it is given to them.
Religious works which find their roots in the earth will not have God's hand of blessing upon them. Only in Christ does He recognize anything as being His own; for it is in Him, in His Son, wherein all His works were done.
We can glean from the wise sages of the past and present, and apply what we learn to our daily lives; but the upper echelons of men's minds are still not the good works that God finished from the foundation of the world. If it is not already in heaven, it will never be in the earth with His mark upon it.
"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" (Heb 4:1).
Elwin R. Roach
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1. right:1849. exousia...privilege, i.e. force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objective) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence" (Strong's).
2. do His commandments. "The texts read "wash their robes", but it is probable that the reading of the Received Text is correct. It is a question of reading in the original MSS., and not of translation." (Bullinger).
"washing the robes of them" (Westcott & Hort Grk/Eng Interlinear).
"doing the commandments" (Vatican Manuscript Number 1209.)
3. rest: "sabbatismos...a "sabbatism", i.e. (fig.) the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven)" (Strong's)
4. labor: spoudazo; to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest (Strong's)