RESTING IN GRACE
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his."
Just as we trust in God's grace expressed wonderfully in the Person of Jesus Christ for our salvation, God wants us to trust and rest in His grace for our sanctification, or spiritual growth. Why do so many believers believe they have to get busy and do all kinds of good things in order to grow closer to God, please Him, and grow spiritually? I believe the primary answer to that question is the fact that most believers have been taught the wrong way to live the Christian life.
Through the centuries, since the beginning of the church age, legalism has been a major problem in the church. The Apostle Paul battled legalists aggressively and his sternest warnings were in situations where believers were falling into legalism (Galatians). The false belief that our self-effort and good works is the way to get God to bless us and to experience a closer relationship with Him is at the heart of legalism.
Legalism finds its strength in the pride of people who believe that what Jesus Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection wasn't enough for us, though they will never admit to that. But in reality, that's what legalism promotes -- there are things we must do in order to be more accepted by God, receive blessings from Him, grow spiritually, stay in fellowship with Him, etc. The misplaced emphasis is on what we're doing for God, not on what Christ has done for us.
By adding things to the gospel of grace, legalism diminishes the work of Jesus Christ and, in essence, leads believers to bring attention and glory to themselves as they live their Christian lives through self-effort. Instead of God getting the praise and glory He rightfully deserves for the wonderful completeness of His work for us, legalists find themselves sharing in the praise and glory as they make sure they and others are busy doing things for Him. In the end, what all this activity, often motivated by selfish motives, really produces is fatigue, anxiety, and frustration because it fails to deliver any true peace and joy for believers.
Please understand, the activities that flow out of legalism are not the problem, it's the wrong motivation for doing them that's the problem. God is not pleased with activities and works that flow out of self-focus and self-effort -- relying on ourselves rather than Christ in us. They're not good works in God's eyes. That's not being led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). True good works are produced in believers through the life of Christ living out through us (Gal. 5:22-23). These are good works produced by the right source (Christ) and by the right motivation (God's love and grace).
Tragically, for nearly 2,000 years, God's children in the church have been manipulated, pressured, and harassed by the pride of men using legalism as their tool to "get things done for God." It's sad to think of the countless saints who have missed out on the joy, peace, and victory that was theirs in Christ because of the heavy burden of legalism.
God has a passionate desire for us to enjoy a personal, growing, and intimate relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. In order for this to happen, we need to understand from God's Word the truth of who He has made us in Christ and all that we've received because we are in Christ. God wants us to rest in His wonderful grace to us!
The Bible tells us that God loves us unconditionally and that we've received the riches of His grace (Eph. 2:6-7)! We possess all of these amazing grace riches because we are in Christ and have a new identity in Christ.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17)
We are new creations in Christ! At the moment we were saved, God gave us everything we need in order to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3). Knowing who God has made you in Christ is foundational to your spiritual growth and is absolutely vital in order to live the abundant Christian life that Jesus came to give you (John 10:10). God wants you to understand, appreciate, enjoy, and embrace your true identity in Christ. This understanding and appreciation doesn't happen all at once. It's an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in you during your entire life as you're "transformed by the renewing of your mind" through God's word to you (Rom. 12:2).
God has blessed all true believers "with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). He has made us "complete in him" (Col. 2:9-10). How amazing is that! God wants you to know from His word all that you possess spiritually because you are in Christ and grow in that knowledge!
Please go to the article "Your Wonderful Identity In Christ" to learn the amazing truths from God's word about who you really are in Christ. The truth will set you free! This is what we clearly focus on and teach in our ministry.
We obey God when we rest in His Son and what He's done for us (Matt. 11:28-30). What an invitation!
Stephen J. Moll
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Grace Life Church
Proclaiming Jesus Christ and the Gospel of God's Grace