Why you can never find rest when you balance law and grace.

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How do we find rest in Jesus?

Matthew 11:7-28

Good News Translation (GNT)

While John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus spoke about him to the crowds: “When you went out to John in the desert, what did you expect to see? A blade of grass bending in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in fancy clothes? People who dress like that live in palaces! Tell me, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes indeed, but you saw much more than a prophet. 

10 For John is the one of whom the scripture says: ‘God said, I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’ 11 I assure you that John the Baptist is greater than anyone who has ever lived. But the one who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John. 12 From the time John preached his message until this very day the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violent attacks,[a] and violent men try to seize it. 13 Until the time of John all the prophets and the Law of Moses spoke about the Kingdom; 14 and if you are willing to believe their message, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted. 15 Listen, then, if you have ears!

16 “Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, 17 ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!’18 When John came, he fasted and drank no wine, and everyone said, ‘He has a demon in him!’ 19 When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’ God’s wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results.”

20 The people in the towns where Jesus had performed most of his miracles did not turn from their sins, so he reproached those towns. 21 “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins! 22 I assure you that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre and Sidon than to you! 23 And as for you, Capernaum! Did you want to lift yourself up to heaven? You will be thrown down to hell! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be in existence today! 24 You can be sure that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to you!”

25 At that time Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned. 26 Yes, Father, this was how you were pleased to have it happen.

27 “My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.

 

Does Rest have conditions?

When you read a passage of the Scripture, we often doubt whether grace preachers know what they are really talking about. Many of you would question, “is rest really that simple?” Just “come to Jesus as I am”?

Many will point to you and say “you must read it in its context”. They will point you to the verses before Jesus said “I will give you rest” and say “look Jesus spoke about judgment”.

“The people in the towns where Jesus had performed most of his miracles did not turn from their sins, so he reproached those towns.  “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins! I assure you that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre and Sidon than to you! 23 And as for you, Capernaum! Did you want to lift yourself up to heaven? You will be thrown down to hell! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be in existence today!  You can be sure that on the Judgment Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to you!”

As such, we tell people that in order for Jesus to rest you, we have to:

a)   Continual repent from our sins,

b)   Live in a state of guilt and condemnation, and

c)   Always judge yourself under the strict rule of the 10 commandments.

We place ourselves under these qualifications before Jesus can give you rest.

 

What are the sins that Jesus refers to?

 

Dear friends,

Have you ever wondered, what are the sins Jesus was talking about? Some of you may say “Oh. I know homosexuality. Because in Sodom, it was homosexuality!” “Pride! Ye Tyre and Sidon was pride!”.

Dear friends, can I share with you something?

Look at the preceding verse before the “judgment verses”.

“Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!’When John came, he fasted and drank no wine, and everyone said, ‘He has a demon in him!’ When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’ God’s wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results.”

Now let me tell you what these verses mean.

“They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!”

When we play wedding music, one is suppose to rejoice! But they would not.

When we sang funeral songs, one is suppose to be sad! But they would not.

When John came, he did all what the prophets did, which is fasted, drank no wine. Dear friends, John came as a messenger of the law. He sang the song of funerals. But did they cry? No.

When Jesus came, he ate and drank. He was the messenger of grace. He sang the song of weddings and rejoicing. But did they dance? No.

What “sins” do you think therefore Jesus is referring to when he reproached them of?

The law came, they said “No”, Grace came, they said “No”.

Jesus once rebuke a group of similar Christians by saying “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

You see the sin which Jesus speaks about is this “sitting on the fence between law and grace!”

You must understand John’s ministry here is the law. That is why he is in sack cloth and eats only locusts”

Matthew 3:10

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:12

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. ”

Matthew 11:13

For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

John was the last of the prophets who belonged in the ministry of the Law.

But a new age was about to begin.

Matthew 11:11

I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;

yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Jesus was referring to a race of people who are NOT born of women but born of the Holy Spirit.

Thus the sin Jesus is referring here is mixture. Trying to balance law and grace. After being saved by grace, you go back to the law and human effort to try to please God.

You cannot mix the 2.

 

What happens when you balance law and grace?

The bible calls the mixing of the 2 lukewarmness. Neither hot nor cold.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:15-17)

Paul calls it the ministry of death. Paul tells us that of this ministry involves a veil and this veil was worn by Moses. Now did Moses wear a veil the 1st time he came down with the law? No. Moses only wore a veil the second time he came down. The second time when God gave him the law, he begged God to not blot of the people’s name from the book of life and God gave him grace.

This is what John Nelson Darby says “He beseeches God to shew him His glory; and God (in answer to Moses’ prayer), says, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee,” etc.

This is not merely law. Moses hidden in a cleft of the rock (chap. 34), the Lord passes by before him, and proclaims, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.” This means the second time receive the law it was mixed with grace. That was when a veil was placed before his face.

“In a certain sense, that was grace; not the sovereign grace of God which we know in Christ, but His “goodness.”

 

Do you know that Paul calls this the ministry of condemnation? The ministry that brings death? The ministry that brings guilt over and over again.

 

“I will give you rest. Not the law. Not law and grace. I, I will give you rest.”

Today we look at this verse: “I will give you rest”. What does it mean? It means this.

I’ve always found it curious that Jesus constantly invited people to himself. Today we invite people to church, a small group, a conference, or a special event. We invite them to read a book, watch a DVD, or listen to a message. But we always invite people who are hungry for spiritual truth to pursue or investigate something other than ourselves. We say, “This is what you need,” or, “Truth can be found here.” Imagine what kind of crazy looks you would get if you told your spiritually inquisitive friends that all they needed to do to discover truth was to come and be with you, that you were somehow what they were looking for.

Not Jesus. He didn’t hesitate to tell people that what their souls most desperately needed could be found solely in a relationship with him. He didn’t point to a philosophy, a religion, or a place of worship. He tapped himself on his chest and said, “I am what you’re looking for”.

““If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37–38).

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).”

““I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25–26).

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13).

Do you see a theme developing here? Either Jesus was the most self-centered, self-deluded person in history, or he was indeed the answer to every human’s prayers and the fulfillment of every hungry soul’s dreams.

When you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you are not entering into a system that is maintained by your hard work, or one where you will be graded for your performance. You are not told to obey the rules, check off the boxes, or keep a running record of what you do for him. You are simply invited to know him.

He wants you.

 

Rest and God’s presence.

In the months following the miraculous exodus of the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt, Moses found himself in an unlikely and unenviable position. As he led the people through the wilderness, they constantly moaned and complained about how bad things were for them. They had quickly forgotten how much they had suffered in Egypt and dared to gripe about their living conditions after God had led them out of slavery. On more than one occasion God offered or threatened to wipe out the entire ungrateful bunch and start over with Moses and a new nation. Moses often ended up pleading to God for mercy and patience with the rebellious and ungrateful Israelites.

In one poignant moment, Moses pleaded for God to protect the people and continue to guide them. He then prayed, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people” (Exod. 33:13). That’s quite a daring prayer. Moses boldly asked God not just to grant favor to his rebellious people but also to grant it to him as their leader. He prayed that God might take him on as his very own student. I envy Moses’ boldness before God and must confess that I have prayed this prayer for myself on many occasions.

God’s response to Moses was far beyond anything Moses may have hoped for: “The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exod. 33:14). The promise of God’s presence must have been music to the ears of Moses and his wandering people. God wasn’t obligated to just hang out with them. If he chose to abandon them, they’d be sitting ducks for the marauding nations that inhabited the lands around them. The promise of God’s presence brought with it the guarantee of his provision and protection for his people. Moses must have been humbled and thrilled.

 

But it’s the second part of God’s promise to Moses that really merits our interest here: “I will give you rest.” This latter promise is the result of the former: “Because my presence will be with you, because you’ll know my protection and provision, you’ll have rest.” There’s a cause-and-effect relationship here: God’s presence yields God’s rest.

 

Rest is inseparable from God’s presence. One always accompanies the other.

Jesus stood before a group of weary spiritual seekers and invited them to enter into a relationship with him. What did he promise? “I will give you rest.” That was no accidental statement by Jesus. Any good Hebrew knew what God had promised Moses and the Israelites back in Exodus. Those words were some of the sweetest ever spoken by God to a person or a people. So when Jesus said them, he fully understood the implications of what he was saying.

Imagine the murmur that must have moved through the crowd as listeners turned to each other and said, “Did he just say what I think he said?” No one, and I mean NO ONE, quoted God as an equal and lived to tell about it. When Jesus invoked the “I will give you rest” promise, he was saying that he had the same ability to bring peace, protection, and provision to people’s lives as did the God who’d spoken to Moses in Exodus. He was saying they were one and the same—that his presence was the same as God’s presence, and his rest the same as God’s rest.

 

God too found his rest.

I close with this.

In the past when I read the verse “The Son of Man has no place to rest his head, when foxes have holes and birds have nest”, I would think that Jesus was a poor man who had no home. Today I discovered he was quoting Isaiah 62: 6-7

“I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.”

In this context the establishment of Jerusalem refers to a righteousness that is unwavering. See verse 1 “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,

And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

And her salvation as a lamp that burns.”

He cannot rest until he establishes a righteousness that burns with brightness. FOR YOU.

The Bible tells us Jesus finally found His rest after He said “it is finished”. See John 19:30 “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The word “bow” is the Greek is the same word “rest”.

He finally rested on the cross. Isaiah 62 tells us that God is relentless is His pursuit of our righteousness. It basically means God is interested in working for your righteousness and He will not rest until He finds it for you.

Our Lord Jesus finally did it. On the cross. He finally rested His head. He became you and you became Him. He became Sin. You became the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21. You now have a righteousness apart from the law (Romans 3:20-21)

He is now in you. He found his rest by being in you.  His presence is forever with you.

Let’s bow down and worship.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the beautiful messages you post. I have eaten from Prince for sometime and when you share such things, am like, “God, why love me this much?”. showing me all these things.
    But i want to ask a personal question and would like you to share with me. can you drop me a your email to “elisamsonmafabi @ gmail . com” no space ofcourse. they are asking me some hard questions on Grace and i want some help.

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