The Gift of God’s Rest

“… and to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest, if not to them who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief….There remaineth therefore a 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” (Hebrews 3:18,19; 4:9,10).

What did God mean by calling it His rest? Not they enter not into their rest, but His own. Oh, blessed distinction! I hasten to the ultimate and deepest solution of the question.

God gives us Himself, and in all His gifts He also gives us Himself. Here is the distinction between all religions which men invent, (which have their origin in the conscience and heart of man, which spring up from earth), and the truth, the salvation, the life, revealed unto us from above, descending to us from Heaven.

All religions seek and promise the same things: light, righteousness, peace, strength, and joy. But human religions think only of creature-light, creature-righteousness, of a human, limited, and imperfect peace, strength, and blessedness. They start from man upwards.

But God gives us Himself, and in Himself all gifts, and hence all His gifts are perfect and divine.

  • Does God give us righteousness? He Himself is our righteousness, Jehovah-tsidkenu.
  • Does God give us peace? Christ is our peace.
  • Does God give us light? He is our light.
  • Does God give us bread? He is the bread we eat; “as the Son lives by the Father, so he that eats Me shall live by Me” [John 6:57].

God Himself is our strength. God is ours, and in all His gifts and blessings He gives Himself. By the Holy Spirit we are one with Christ, and Christ the Son of God is our righteousness, nay, our life. [See 1 Cor. 6:17,19; Col. 3:4]

Do you want any other real presence? Are we not altogether “engodded,” God dwelling and living in us, and we in Him? What more real presence, and indwelling, awesome and blessed, can we have than that which the apostle described when he said: “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me”? [Gal. 2:20]. Or again, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” [Phil. 4:13]. Or as the Lord Himself in His last prayer before His crucifixion said to the Father, “I in them, and You in me”? [John 17:23]

Thus God gives us His rest as our rest.

Quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, edited by Nick Harrison (Zondervan, 1998). [Bracketed references added, some old English updated]

“Adolph Saphir was born in Hungary in a well-respected Jewish family, son of Israel Saphir, a prominent figure in the Jewish community there. As a direct result of the Scottish mission to the Jews, and many conversations with Dr. Keith, the whole family accepted the gospel, believed that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and all were baptized in 1843…

The conversion of Israel Saphir and his family caused a great sensation among the Jews, who knew that as a Jew he had been remarkable for honesty and wisdom, and who could not believe that in becoming a Christian he was a deceiver.

In 1843 Adolph was sent to Edinburgh, to Dr. Duncan, together with Alfred Edersheim [author of The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah] and Alexander Tomory. From 1844-1848 he attended the gymnasium in Berlin, and then came back to Scotland to study for the ministry in Glasgow University and Marischal College, Aberdeen. He then became a student of theology in the Free Church college, Edinburgh. In 1854, after his studies were completed, he was recommended by Dr. Keith to the Irish Presbyterian Church as a missionary to the Jews. He was licensed and ordained by the Presbytery of Belfast, and married Sara Owen.

They stayed in Hamburg, but the methods he wanted to use to evangelise the Jews were not approved, and so he resigned his position and his salary. In 1855 they went to Glasgow and stayed there for more than 6 months, until he was called to the ministry at Laygate presbyterian Church, South Shields. Here he continued for five years.

He went to St Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Greenwich in 1861, and people flocked to hear him, not only on Sundays, but at weeknight services. The secret of his ministry was that Jesus Christ was to him first and foremost. He preached Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. In 1872 he left Greenwich and started the ministry in Notting Hill. Members of many of different churches (Church of England, Congregationalists, Baptists, Plymouth brethren, and others) came to hear him preach the Word of God.” –

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