Jesus Can Give You Rest

Steve Viars January 31, 2009 Hebrews 4:1-5

- True/False – The average American is well rested…

- studies would seem to indicate that the answer to that one is clearly false…

- According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 Sleep in America poll, 7 out of 10 Americans say they experience frequent sleep problems…

- this involves either difficulty initiating sleep, or difficulty maintaining sleep, or waking too early…

- the majority of people in our country would say that they are not well-rested…

- the price tag associated with this problem is significant…

- there are direct costs like insomnia treatment, healthcare services, hospital and nursing home services estimated to be 14 billion dollars annually…

- then there are the indirect costs like work loss and property damage from accidents estimated to be another 28 billion dollars each year…

- here’s something to think about as you’re leaving the parking lot this morning…51% of Americans reported they drove while feeling drowsy in the past year..17% say they actually dozed off while behind the wheel…

- the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1500 fatalities each year and 71,000 injuries…

- the conclusion is – not being well rested is both expensive and dangerous…

- now let’s bring that around to you – physically speaking, would you consider yourself to be well rested?...

- Did you know that the word of God uses that same word to describe a possible condition… spiritually…entering into God’s rest…

- it’s the Greek word katapausis, and its range of meanings would be similar to our English Word rest, but speaking about ones spiritual condition…

- John MacArthur, in his commentary on the book of Hebrews explains that this word includes the idea of:…

1. Ceasing from work or any kind of action…

- in that sense, God’s rest occurs when a person stops trying to work their way to heaven by their own effort or own righteousness…

- when a person admits his sin and inability to satisfy God’s just demands by himself and instead trusts Christ’s work on the cross as his only way to become a child of God…he can now rest from the from effort that ultimately would have been fruitless anyway…

- that is why when men and women trust Christ, they so often report a sense of relief…that’s katapausis, it’s rest…

2. the word can also mean freedom from whatever worries or troubles you…

- some people are constantly agitated about some worry or difficulty in their life…

- or they are always mad about something…

- it’s this perpetual caffeine high of worry, or fear, or anger that keeps their mind, and sometimes their mouth in a constant state of motion…

- what’s lacking in that person’s heart and lifestyle is katapausis…there’s no divine rest…which doesn’t mean the cessation of trials and difficulties, but there’s a different way of relating to them on a personal and interpersonal level…

3. Then there’s the idea of lying down, or being still, settled, fixed…

- we use the word that way today – I’m going to lie down and rest…

- to go from a place of running from idea to idea, and opinion to opinion, and fad to fad to be settled in our belief in Christ – no more running around trying to figure out the big questions of why am I here, and where did I come from, and where am I going---in Christ, all of that makes sense now…

- it’s like Psalm 57:7 - My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

- one of our great hymns says
Jesus I am resting resting in the joy of what Thou art

I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee and Thy beauty fills my soul

For by Thy transforming power thou hast made me whole

4. Biblical rest also involves remaining confident or leaning upon…

- Paul told Timothy 2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

- there’s a confidence and a willingness to trust…something (and perhaps better said, Someone) you can stake your life upon…

- I sought a flag to follow…a cause for which to stand…

- I sought a valiant leader who could my will command…

- I found them all in Jesus, the life, the truth, the way…

- Beneath His flag I’ll take my stand and follow Him today…

- In summarizing this section, MacArthur pointed out that…John MacArthur -- The rest spoken of in Hebrews 3 and 4 includes all of these meanings. It is full, blessed, sweet, satisfying, peaceful. It is what God offers every person in Christ. It is the rest pictured and illustrated in the Canaan rest that Israel never understood and never entered into because of unbelief. And just as Israel never entered Canaan rest because of unbelief, so soul after soul since that time, and even before, has missed God’s salvation rest because of unbelief.

- now, let me ask you the same question I did a moment ago, but this time please answer from a spiritual perspective…how are you doing at the matter of being well rested?...

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible this morning to Hebrews chapter 4…page 171 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re working our way through this great book verse by verse under the heading of Hope in Our Sufficient Savior

- this is part of our annual theme this year of Finding Hope

- and it probably won’t surprise you, based on our introduction this morning that the major point of this next section of this book is that Jesus Can Give You Rest…wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, spiritually speaking, that in Christ, you are finding yourself to be well-rested?...

- let’s see if we can identify steps to making that hope a reality…

- please follow along as I read Hebrews 4:1 – 5:10…and as we’ve seen all through this book…you really have to concentrate to follow the argument…but the truth that’s available is worth the work…read 4:1-5:10…

- I’m sure you noticed that there are some very important principles in this section of Scripture…in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 ingredients of divine rest.

I. You Need an Active Faith – 4:1-10.

- verse 2 makes a statement that is just solid gold for anyone who really wants to understand what it means to follow Christ…you could summarize it like this…

A. God’s Word is only personally profitable to those who unite it with faith.

- we said it that way because on one level, God’s Word is inherently profitable…

- remember – 2 Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…

- so whether anyone ever chose to believe it or not, it is always going to be profitable, period because of the character and qualifications of the author…

- of course being perpetually on the best seller list doesn’t hurt either but God is not dependent on that for some sort of affirmation of Hid worth…

- but the point here is…and it’s a very important one…to you…God’s Word is only profitable personally when you unite it with something…namely your faith…

- now, please keep in mind that when a book of Bible was originally written, it did not contain all of the chapter and verse divisions…they are very helpful tools, but sometimes they interrupt the flow of thought…so all of this goes back to…

1. The tragic example of God’s people in the wilderness.

- remember in Numbers 13-14, God told Moses to send out 12 spies to take an advance look at the land He had promised to give them…

- and when you go back and read that event, the word tragic really summarizes what they did…here’s just a flavor…

- Numbers 13:1-2 - And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,“Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

- and please notice…it wasn’t just anyone who was chosen to go on this mission…

- they were to be the leaders…men who should have been able to quickly connect the dots between what God had already done for them, and the promises He had made that had not yet been fulfilled, and the opportunities and even the challenges that lay before them…

- and please also notice – God said – I am giving this to them…

- it was never, check it out and decide if we’re going to obey God and take Him at His Word…

- it was, check it out and let’s begin thinking about how God is going to use us to fulfill His Word and show Himself strong among us yet again…

- and time doesn’t allow us to study that passage in detail, but you might want to read Numbers 13-14 on your own to gain insight into the unbelieving heart of man and how that impacts this topic of being able to enter into God’s rest…

- but it’s fascinating…they find these grapes that were so huge that they draped a cluster over a pole to carry it back to the people…that is a huge cluster of grapes…

- and when they came back…they reported…Numbers 13:27-28 - …We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.

- do you see what happened…their focus was not on the power of God and His Word…it was on the size of their adversaries…that’s why the book of Proverbs would later say (Pro. 29:25) – the fear of man brings a snare…

- but 2 of the 12 spies disagreed…Joshua and Caleb…and Caleb speaks for them in verse 30…Numbers 13:30 - Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

- but no one else would listen – they would not take God at His Word, even though He had showed Himself strong to them countless times in their recent past…

- Numbers 13:31-32 - But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out…

- now, what do we learn from that?...

a. God’s rest was available.

- they could have been right in the center of God’s will…trusting Him and accomplishing great things in His name…

- but because they were looking at the size of the job instead of the power of their God they were fretting and stewing…by the end of this day they were all crying and complaining and fighting with each other – the polar opposite of the rest God had offered…notice also that…

b. The command was clear.

- at some point this because a matter of obedience…that’s why verse 6 explains that they…- v. 6 – failed to enter because of disobedience.

- this wasn’t just a matter of missing an opportunity, fundamentally they were refusing to take God at His Word…which means that ultimately…

c. They chose not to believe.

- Hebrews 4:2 - …the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

- the principle is clear – they did not enter God’s rest because they refused to believe His Word….please let that concept deeply penetrate your mind and heart…it did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard…

- now, how did the writer want that illustration to impact the readers of his day?...the answer is, to see…

2. The importance of believing while the opportunity exists.

- these verses contain both good news, and a warning…

a. The good news – the opportunity still exists.

- v. 6 – Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it…

- in their case, the door had not yet closed…but there’s also…

b. The warning.

- what word do you see twice in verse 7?...

- v. 7 – Today…today…

- if you are familiar with what happened in Numbers 13-14, you know how sad that story became…

- because God was angry with His people because of their unwillingness to believe His Word and follow it…

- and the Scripture says that Moses and Aaron interceded on behalf of the people and begged God to forgive them…

- and here’s what happens…Numbers 14:20-24 - So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word;but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.“Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.“But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.

- do you remember what the people did next…they said, no, we don’t want to judged, we’ll obey now…and so they started putting a plan together to enter the Promised Land…and Moses said…

- Numbers 14:41-42 - But Moses said, “Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the Lord, when it will not succeed?“Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the Lord is not among you.

- do you know what they did?...they went up anyway…and the Scripture says their enemies “struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah…”

- the point is – and it’s a hard one – if you don’t believe God TODAY, you may not have the opportunity tomorrow…

- and you might say – why is that?...

- Because we have no promise of tomorrow…

- I’m not trying to play on anyone’s emotions, but clearly that is a fact…believe God while you have the opportunity to do so…

- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that principle played out in counseling...

- where a married person from our community comes in looking for help in their marriage…

- and of course one of the first questions is…well your spouse come with you?...

- “no, I’ve asked many times but they won’t come…”

- and hopefully, that person who is there will come to trust Christ as Savior and Lord and learn from the Scripture that it is possible to find ones rest in Christ even while living with an unbelieving spouse…

- but I’ve seen several occasions where such a person refused to believe…and then goes and finds somebody else…and initiates a divorce…

- and all of a sudden, guess who’s really interested in receiving help?...

- the person who’s about to be dumped…

- and I am not trying to justify the actions of the person doing the dumping…

- I’m simply saying that it would have been a whole lot easier to put that situation back together if the person who refused to get help when their spouse was pleading with them would have humbled themselves while they had the opportunity to do so…

- and if you’re in that situation right now – let me ask you a simple question – what day is this?...TODAY – it’s your opportunity to unite your faith with the revealed of God… 

- I’ve seen young people grow up in churches like this…and then reject Christ and try to live life on their own…and it is amazing how many times those stories end in shipwreck…and it’s just a matter of time before they have several marriages behind them, or children growing up without spiritual direction, or a financial mess that’s hard to believe…their story is anything but that of spiritual rest…

- and sometimes such persons come back…and I promise you we will welcome them with open arms and do everything we can to help them…

- but such person’s lives scream the obvious lesson – it would have been so much better if they would have just taken God at His Word and believed Him the first day they heard it…back when they young…back when it was…TODAY…

- another observation we need to put on the table…

B. The rest that is available comes from God Himself.

- there is a very important personal pronoun that is frequently attached to the word rest in this text…what is it?....

- v. 3 – My rest

- v. 5 – My rest

- this isn’t something you have to conjure up on your own…

- it’s is something God offers to you…

- now, you might say – PV, I’m having trouble getting my arms around this…can we define rest some more?...this is actually a good time to do this…

- because you can’t think about the words “God” and “rest” for very long without considering what He did after the 6 days of creation…He “rested…”

- Genesis 2:2 - …and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

- well, what do we know about God’s rest?...

1. Joyous.

- Job tells us that when God performed His word of creation, Job 38:7 - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

2. Satisfying

- what phrase do we read over and over in the creation account…(good…very good)

- Genesis 1:31 - Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…

3. Productive.

- John 5:17 - But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

- all of that was very important – because, what was it that God was offering the children of Israel?...it wasn’t a nap…entering the Promised Land was going to take incredible effort…

- but because they were believing God’s Word…there would be an assurance that what they were doing was right…

- and a belief that their efforts would have the complete blessing of their powerful God…

- people who are resting in Christ can be some of the busiest people on earth…but it is a calm, and productive, and efficient kind of busyness …because it is flowing out of a heart that is its rest in God…

- that’s why this section ends by saying…

C. We should be diligent to enter God’s rest.

- Hebrews 4:9 - So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

- Hebrews 4:11 - Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

- St. Augustine – Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find in Thee.

- Tonight the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburg Steelers are going to be playing in the Super Bowl…

- the quarterback for the Cardinals, Kurt Warner, is a committed follower of Christ…there are a lot of stories going around the Internet that make for great drama, they’re just not true – so I would encourage you to be careful about what gets passed around on the computer…

- but it is true that when Warner met his wife Brenda, she was a single mom with 2 children, include one who was blind and had many special needs…

- it’s also true that after Warner was cut from the Packers, he took a job at a grocery store making $5.50 per hour…

- here’s Warner’s testimony from his own website that illustrates uniting the Word with faith…

- “I was raised in the church, so faith and God were part of my life, but for me it was just kind of there - there on Sundays and when I was going through a tough time. I always had God as a background, but I never truly accepted Jesus until I was about 25 years old. My arena league teammates, a pastor friend of mine, and my future wife were constantly asking questions about my beliefs, and I began to question where I was and whether I had really put my complete faith in God. Their questions led me to the Truth - that faith is about a relationship, and it's about Jesus. Up to that point, I had never really considered that I struggled for so long and so many things went against me. I was swimming upstream. When I finally gave my life over to God - it was then the joy and happiness came into my life. Now, I realize my role here on Earth is not to throw touchdown passes and win football games, although that is the position and the platform that I have been given. I realize my goal is to win as many people to Jesus as possible. I have an open-door policy, where I'm able to talk about what is most important to me, and obviously, God is #1.”

- there’s a man who, even on Super Bowl Sunday, has found God’s rest…

- I repeat the question I posed earlier to each of us – are you well rested?...because you recognized your need for an active faith?...

- now the rest of this section falls in line pretty easily…

II. You Need a Powerful Book – vv. 4:11-12

- faith in the Bible always has an object…you are choosing to believe what God has revealed in His Word…

- that’s how verses 11-12 fit into all of this – they are very well know verses, but are not always considered in their context…

- what’s taught here can be great news to those who are following God’s Word, and terrifying to those who don’t….

A. God’s Word is living and active.

- that is why we know it can lead to genuine rest…

- we said when we started this year that we wanted to give concentrated effort to helping every person who is attending our church be sure first of all that they truly knew the Lord personally, and secondly that they are using God’s Word to grow in knowing Christ and becoming more of what He wants us to be…

- biblical counseling is not the only way we do that, but it is one way…

- and there is nothing quite like watching the Word do its work in someone’s life…

- and there are many times when the lights just come on…

- now I see why we have so much trouble communicating…

- now I see why we’re struggling with our kids…

- now I see the obstacle to handling my outbursts of anger…

- and as men and women learn, and by faith apply God’s Word that is both living and active, what happens as a result?...they enter further into God’s rest…

- thank people for serving in the BCTC…

- thank folks also for their faithful giving (10K over last year’s January, even in these tough economic times – many people here find “financial rest” by following God’s Word in this area of our lives…)

B. God’s Word is sharp and penetrating.

- the emphasis here is very significant…

- God’s Word gets to the heart…

- that’s why rest can be achieved because the substantive motivational issues have been addressed…

- that is the point of Psalm 1…

- Psalm 1:3 - He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

- that’s another picture of biblical rest….(develop – productivity without waste…)

- now, I realize that you might say – PV, it’s too hard…it is, on your own…

- that’s why…

III. You Need a Sympathetic Priest – vv. 4:14-5:10

A. He has passed through the heavens.

- this isn’t just some earthly priest who is allowed into the holy of holies once a year…

- why go back to that?

- v. 14 – Let us hold fast our confession.

B. He can sympathize with your weaknesses.

- v. 15 – One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

- no wonder we are told…

- Hebrews 4:16 - Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

- if we don’t have the rest described in this passage, it is not because God did not make it available…

C. He has proven His perfection.

Hebrews 5:9 - And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video