Sermon on Rest: What Is Rest? How Can We Enter Into Rest?
- Editor’s Note:
We all know that in the beginning, Adam and Eve lived a restful life in the Garden of Eden without anxiety. At that time, God was also resting. But later mankind was corrupted by Satan, living in sin. Since then, they could not achieve rest, and God also lost His rest because of His salvation for them. So, what is rest and how can we enter into rest together with God? This article will provide you with the answer.
What’s the origin of rest?
The Scripture says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3). In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth and all things in six days and He rested on the seventh day. After mankind’s ancestors, Adam and Eve, were placed by God in the Garden of Eden and got a command from God, they listened to God’s words and obeyed God, so they lived protected under God’s watchful eye, with no illness, toil or sadness, leading a carefree life there. At that time, they rested with God.
Mankind is corrupted by Satan and loses its rest
However, Adam and Eve had no truth or ability to discern between good and evil, so they listened to the enticement of Satan and ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had commanded them not to eat. As they betrayed God, they met with God’s curses: Man must struggle to feed his family; woman must give birth to children with intense pain and be ruled over by her husband. After that, they were driven out of the Garden of Eden, and thus they lost their original carefree life and their rest. From that point on, mankind lacked God’s care and protection, and lived under the domain of Satan, corrupted and harmed by it. Thereupon, they began to engage in jealousy and controversy, and even slaughter each other. Just as it is recorded in the Bible, as Jehovah God accepted Abel’s sacrifices, Cain became jealous in his heart and killed Abel in the end. Gradually, people had no place for God in their hearts and grew ever farther from God. As a result, they became arrogant, selfish, deceitful and evil, and committed more and more sins, such as stealing, robbing, adultery, killing, and so on. They even went so far as to openly oppose God and not allow God’s existence, thereby falling to a point that God did not bear to look. In the end, God destroyed that evil corrupted mankind with the great flood, leaving behind only Noah’s family of eight and various living things in the ark.
To save mankind, God ceases to rest
After the flood, the descendants of Noah continued to thrive on earth. Though people of that time knew about the basic necessities of life, they had very little understanding of Jehovah God, nor did they know how to worship God, magnify Him or satisfy Him. How could such a mankind satisfy God’s will? When God created mankind in the beginning, He hoped they could listen to His words, obey, manifest and glorify Him, but at that time people were far from meeting these demands. Therefore, God ceased to rest and began His management work of saving mankind. Just as God’s words say: “In the beginning, God was in rest. There were no humans or anything else upon the earth at that time, and God had not yet done any work. He only began His work of management once humanity existed and after humanity had been corrupted; from that point on, He no longer rested, but instead began to busy Himself among humanity” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
At that time, according to mankind’s needs, Jehovah God started the first stage of work of saving mankind—the work of the Age of Law. He decreed laws and commandments through Moses, such as to honor God as great, keep the Sabbath, respect one’s parents, and that there should be no idolatry, adultery, etc. Thus, mankind came to know that it was God who had created the heavens and earth and all things, and that they should worship God; they also understood what sin was, how to interact with others, what God liked and what God detested. During this Age, Jehovah God used the laws to guide mankind’s life on earth. As mankind adhered to the laws and commandments, their behavior was constrained and regulated and their sins were curbed effectively. So, as long as people kept the laws, then they would not die owing to sins.
Mankind was restricted by the laws for several thousand years. However, because of Satan’s corruption, they could no longer keep the laws and again lived in sins toward the end of the Age of Law. More and more people worshiped idols, committed adultery and evil deeds, to the extent that they did not have enough sin offerings to atone for their sins, so they were in danger of violating the laws and being punished with death. Just as what God says: “Over several thousand years during the Age of Law, mankind became accustomed to the guidance of the Age of Law and took it for granted. Gradually, man left the care of God. And so, while following the law, they also worshiped idols and performed evil deeds. They were without the protection of Jehovah, and merely lived their lives before the altar in the temple” (“Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
God didn’t have the heart to see mankind, who He created with His own hands, being destroyed, so in order to save mankind and based on their needs, God began the second stage of work—the work of the Age of Grace. God incarnated Himself on earth, and expressed the way of repentance on the foundation of the laws and commandments, showing people more actual practice closer to life. For example, He taught people to be the light and salt of the earth and donate to help others; He asked people to tolerate, forbear, and forgive others, as well as to love their enemies; … Therefore, people understood God’s requirements, and had the principles of how to conduct themselves properly. In the end, the Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem mankind, taking on mankind’s sins in His sinless body. Thereafter, whoever accepted His redemptive work and called upon His name was free of the condemnation of the laws, and was entitled to come before God. Then they enjoyedand blessings and had the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So their hearts gained peace. Just as the Lord Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The Lord Jesus’ redemptive work has gone on for two thousand years. It is true that we have been absolved of our sins by confessing them to the Lord, but it is undeniable that our sinful natures still exist. Such satanic natures as arrogance, baseness and selfishness, deceit and crookedness, greed and evil remain deeply rooted within us, so we frequently sin and resist God, unable to put the Lord’s words into practice. For instance, for the sake of our personal interests, fame and status, we often lie and engage in deception; without a place for God in our hearts, when encountering something, we do not seek God’s will but instead often follow and look up to man; once we have status, we exalt and exhibit ourselves so that people will worship and adore us; when God’s work is at odds with our conceptions, we start to complain, judge and deny Him; when we are faced with disaster or there is some tragedy in the family, we are even able to betray and forsake God; … How can people like us who are deeply corrupted by Satan be approved by God? So, if we want to completely break free from the constraints of our sinful natures and cast off the dark influence of Satan and enter into the real rest, then we need a further stage of salvation so that we can thoroughly get rid of our corrupt satanic disposition.
How should we enter into the real rest?
If we wish to enter into the real rest, we should first know what it is to enter into rest. As for this matter, let’s read a passage of God’s words: “Living in rest means a life without war, without filth, and without any persisting unrighteousness. This is to say, it is a life devoid of Satan’s disruptions (here ‘Satan’ refers to enemy forces) and Satan’s corruption, and nor is it prone to the invasion of any force in opposition to God; it is a life in which everything follows its own kind and can worship the Lord of creation, and in which heaven and earth are entirely tranquil—this is what is meant by the words ‘restful life of humans.’ When God rests, unrighteousness will no longer persist upon the earth, nor will there be any further invasion from enemy forces, and humankind will enter a new realm—no longer be a humanity corrupted by Satan, but rather a humanity that has been saved after having been corrupted by Satan. Humanity’s day of rest will also be God’s day of rest. God lost His rest due to humanity’s inability to enter into rest, not because He had originally been unable to rest. Entering into rest does not mean that everything stops moving or ceases to develop, nor does it mean that God stops working or that humans stop living. The sign of entering into rest will be when Satan has been destroyed, when those wicked people who joined it in its evildoing have been punished and wiped out and when all forces hostile to God cease to exist. God entering into rest means that He will no longer carry out His work of humanity’s salvation. Humanity entering into rest means that all of humanity will live within God’s light and under His blessings, devoid of Satan’s corruption, and no more unrighteousness will occur. Under God’s care, humans will live normally upon earth” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words make clear what it is to enter into rest and what humanity’s restful life is like. After God’s entire management plan concludes, all things will have been classified in accordance with their own kind; Satan and all the wicked who resist and act against God will have been destroyed; on earth there will be no more filth, corruption, unrighteousness, nor Satan’s corruption and disturbance; people will have all cast off satanic corrupt disposition and will live in harmony with one another; they will be able to live by God’s words, exalt Him and worship Him on earth. From then on, with God’s guidance, mankind will live under His care and protection and His blessings. This is what the real restful life is.
Now, however, we are vile, corrupt and unrighteous through and through, and we still live under Satan’s domain. Besides, Satan and hostile forces belonging to Satan have not been destroyed yet. Therefore, to completely save us and classify all things according to kind, God is doing a stage of work of judgment and purification with words. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12-13). “He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). What’s more, this also fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies that in the last days, He will do the work of separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and the good servants from the evil ones.
In the last days, God has expressed millions of words, and revealed every truth necessary for us to attain salvation. For instance, God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the mysteries of God’s three stages of work, the truth of how mankind has been corrupted by Satan, how God judges and purifies mankind’s corrupt disposition, what kind of person God saves and perfects, what kind of person God detests and eliminates, mankind’s outcome and destination, and so forth. During this stage of work, God uses words to do the work of judgment, and with this purifies, changes, and perfects man, as well as reveals and eliminates man. After experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, we come to know the root of our resistance and disobedience to God, and see clearly the fact of how we have been corrupted by Satan. Also, we understand God’s will and requirements, and get to know God’s righteous disposition which does not tolerate man’s offense. Our experience of God’s judgment allows us to see how He is supreme and great, holy and good, and see that He is the Creator of all things. Meanwhile, we also see how we are insignificant, lowly, contemptible and ugly. Thereby, we produce true remorse and develop hearts that fear and love God, become more and more faithful and obedient to God, and thus gradually achieve a change in our disposition. When we understand truth, rely on God’s words to live, cast off our satanic corrupt disposition, and become of the same mind as God, then Satan will no longer be able to corrupt us and we will never betray God. At that time, Satan and all evil forces will be destroyed by the great disasters that God will send down. And we will truly live in the light of God’s face and under His care and protection, and enter the new heaven and earth that God has prepared for us mankind. By then,work for mankind will have been completed, so God will enter into rest with mankind. On the contrary, if we reject God’s work of judgment, we will never be able to break away from the bondage of sin, but continue to live under Satan’s domain, being corrupted, fooled and harmed by it until we are destroyed along with it in the end, never to enter into rest. Just as God’s words say: “Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of purification—will be the ones who will enter into the final rest alongside God; as such, all those who enter into rest will have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God after having undergone His final work of purification. These humans, who will have been finally obtained by God, will enter into the final rest. The essential purpose of God’s work of chastisement and judgment is to purify humanity and to prepare them for their ultimate rest; without such cleansing, none of humanity could be classified into different categories according to kind, or enter into rest. This work is humanity’s only path to enter into rest. Only God’s work of purification will cleanse humans of their unrighteousness, and only His work of chastisement and judgment will bring to light those disobedient elements of humanity, thereby separating those who can be saved from those who cannot, and those who will remain from those who will not. When this work ends, those people who are allowed to remain will all be cleansed and enter a higher state of humanity in which they will enjoy a more wonderful second human life upon the earth; in other words, they will commence their human day of rest, and coexist with God. After those who are not allowed to remain have been chastised and judged, their true colors will be entirely exposed, after which they will all be destroyed and, like Satan, will no longer be permitted to survive upon the earth. The humanity of the future will no longer include any of this type of people; such people are not fit to enter the land of the ultimate rest, nor are they fit to join in the day of rest that God and humanity will share, for they are the targets of punishment and are wicked, unrighteous people” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
To conclude, let’s listen to a hymn of God’s words “Only Those Who Have Been Purified Will Enter Into Rest.”
“1. The humanity of the future will still consist of the descendants of Adam and Eve, but those will not be humans living under Satan’s domain. Rather, they will be people who have been saved and purified. This will be a humanity that has been judged and chastised, and one that is holy. These people will not be like the human race as it originally was; it can almost be said that they will be an entirely different kind of humanity from that of Adam and Eve in the beginning.
2. These people will have been selected from among all of those who were corrupted by Satan, and they will be the ones who have ultimately stood firm during God’s judgment and chastisement; they will be the last remaining group of humans among corrupt humankind. Only these people will be able to enter into the final rest along with God.
3. Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of purification—will be the ones who will enter into the final rest alongside God; as such, all those who enter into rest will have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God after having undergone His final work of purification. These humans, who will have been finally obtained by God, will enter into the final rest” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs).