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 4:9,10
When I was a young boy, I was terrified that I wasn’t really saved. A powerful revivalist visited our church and preached a message that became etched into my mind about people who thought they were saved but weren’t — people who died thinking they were going to Heaven but whose final destination was hell. That sermon terrified me!
Every night I went to bed troubled, thinking that if I died during the night, I would end up in hell. I had asked Jesus into my heart when I was five years old and had understood what I was doing. But after hearing that man’s bloodcurdling sermon, I was gripped with fear that I might be among those who thought they were saved but were in fact lost.
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Every night my mother would lie by my side and listen as I told her how frightened I was that I wasn’t saved. She would hold me — her little six-year-old boy — and pray with me until I fell asleep each night.
That dread lingered in my life for many years. I can’t count the times I prayed: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know I’ve asked You into my heart so many times before, but just in case I didn’t really mean it all those other times, I am asking You to come into my heart again right now.” I must have prayed that prayer 10,000 times.
Each time I felt a sigh of relief for a couple of hours — and then the panicky thought would hit me again: Maybe YOU are among those who just think they are saved but have never really been sincere! Maybe you are one of those who think they’re going to Heaven but are going to end up in hell! This fear overwhelmed me. I found myself obsessed with the need to be saved, yet incapable of feeling secure that I was saved.
I silently cried out for inner peace as I dedicated and rededicated my life to the Lord. Over and over again at church, I’d lay before the altar and plead with God for peace of mind. Privately — at home, on the street, wherever I was — I’d beg God to reach down and rescue me. Every Sunday when the pastor gave the invitation at the end of the service, he would ask the congregation to search their hearts to see if they were genuinely saved. Each week that question initiated the whole painful process all over again for me. I was living in torment.
If I called home as a teenager and no one answered the telephone, my heart would sink with the thought that the Rapture had occurred and I had been left behind. I’d begin frantically calling members of our church, hoping someone would pick up the telephone. If a church member answered, it meant I had not been left behind!
When I was 24 and newly married, I was still intermittently struggling with this issue about my salvation. One day I fell on my knees at the altar of the large Baptist church where I worked as an associate pastor and cried out to the Lord: “This is it! I’ve spent most of my life trying to get saved. I’ve prayed 10,000 times for you to save me, and I’m finished asking! If I’m not saved, there is nothing more I can do to be saved, so I’m not asking again!”
The moment I prayed that prayer, the monstrous fear that had engulfed me for so many years of my life simply evaporated. For the first time in my life, I had the assurance that I was saved. The truth is, I’d been saved many years earlier at the age of five. But because a seed of fear had been sown into my heart by the preaching of that revivalist so many years earlier, I had never been able to “rest” in my salvation.
But on that day at that altar, I gave up my struggle of trying to be saved, and I made the decision to simply rest in God’s grace. I realized that if His grace wasn’t enough to do the work, all my asking and begging wasn’t going to make a difference anyway. At that moment, I quit wrestling and started resting. And that was the moment I finally began to enjoy my salvation!
When I read Hebrews 4:9 and 10, I always think of the rest that came to my soul when I finally accepted the fact that I was saved by grace. Oh, what a blessed day that was! I finally gave up my fight and accepted the salvation I had already received many years earlier as a young child. For so many years I’d been driven by fear — constantly asking, pleading, and begging, trying to prove my sincerity to the Lord. But all it took for me to be saved was to turn my heart to Jesus and receive Him as my Savior — and that’s what I had done as a young child. I had been saved all along, but I had never learned to “rest” in my salvation.
Hebrews 4:9 says, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Today I want us to look at several words in this verse. Let’s begin with the word “rest.”
The word “rest” in this verse comes from the Greek word sabbatismos, which is used in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament to refer to the Sabbath day. This means Hebrews 4:9 should really be translated, “There remaineth therefore a Sabbath rest to the people of God.”
What does “Sabbath rest” mean in the context of this verse? Let’s go back to the book of Genesis just for a moment. God worked for six days when He created the heavens and earth. At the end of those six days, the Bible tells us that when God looked at everything He had made, it was so perfect, complete, finished, and flawless, He knew there was nothing else that could be added to it. It was a complete, finished work that required nothing more. Since this masterpiece of creation was completely finished, the biblical record tells us that God “rested” from his labor on the seventh day and simply enjoyed creation.
In Genesis 2:2 and 3, we read, “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.”
This day when God “rested” was the first official Sabbath day — the day when God rested from all His work. Later when Moses received the Ten Commandments, God explicitly ordered the children of Israel to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. So every week on the Sabbath day, the children of Israel ceased from all labor and rested as a way of honoring the day when God rested from His own works. Therefore, the Sabbath was a day of unbroken rest and cessation from work.
By telling us, “There remaineth therefore a Sabbath rest to the people of God,” the Bible declares that the people of God can rest in their salvation once they have given their lives to Jesus Christ. His work on the Cross was so complete, perfect, finished, and flawless that there is nothing anyone can do to add to it. A person isn’t brought any closer to salvation by asking, begging, pleading, and imploring God to be saved or from trying to prove his sincerity so he can be worthy of salvation. If a person has given his life to Christ, he can “rest” in the fact that it is a done deal. Instead of struggling the way I did as a young man, every person who has trusted in Christ can relax, unwind, calm down, lighten up, and rest in the completed work of God that was purchased on the Cross of Jesus Christ!
Just as I did years ago, you must also make a decision to give up your struggle of trying to be saved and make the decision to simply rest in God’s grace. If God’s grace isn’t enough to do the job, all of your asking and begging isn’t going to make a difference anyway. It’s time for you to quit wrestling and started resting so you can begin to enjoy your salvation!
Hebrews 4:10 continues to tell us, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
The word “entered” is the Greek word eiserchomai. It is a compound of the words eis and erchomai. The first part of the word means into. The second part of the word erchomai means to go. It gives the idea of a person who is traveling or journeying to some destination. When these words are compounded into one, as they are in this verse, it forms the word eiserchomai, which expresses the idea of a person who enters into a certain place. He doesn’t just come near to this location; he actually enters into that location.
This means that those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ have entered into the completed work of God that occurred on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Yes, the moment Jesus became Lord of your life was the exact split second you entered into God’s completed work of salvation. Regardless of what the devil may try to whisper to make you think that you must do more to really be saved, the fact remains that if your life has been given to Jesus Christ, you have already entered into the perfect, complete, finished, and flawless work of God. There is nothing you can add to it, so instead of allowing tormenting fear to steal your joy, it’s time for you to quit struggling and start resting in what Jesus has done for you. You can calm down, relax, and be at peace!
The rest of the verse says, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” This verse says it’s time for you to rest in this perfect, complete, finished, flawless work, just as God did on the seventh day when He was assured that His work of creation was done.
If you are resting in Christ’s work, then you can rest from your work! That’s why this verse continues to say, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
This word “cease” is the word katapauo — a compound of the words kata and pauo. The word kata means down, and the word is pauo means to pause. When these words are compounded, the new word gives the idea of someone who has worked hard, but now has sat down, settled down, and has ceased from his labor. This is the picture of a person who has thrown off his work clothes and is now reclining in a restful position! You might say that he has finished his work and entered into retirement! The work is behind him, and that phase of his life is done and over. He is entering into a lasting and permanent rest.
So I want to encourage you today: If you struggle with your salvation, wondering whether or not you are really saved, nail it down forever by praying one last prayer of repentance and surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. Then walk away from that place of commitment and never revisit it again. Instead of habitually asking over and over to be saved, just pray in faith that God’s Word is true, quit struggling, and start resting in what Jesus has done for you!
There is a “Sabbath rest” for the people of God, and it belongs to every person who simply comes in faith to Jesus Christ. If you belong to Him, it is high time for you to kick back and rest in the fact that Jesus saved you and that this work of redemption is utterly complete. Just make the decision today that from this day forward, you are going to enjoy the benefits of this wonderful salvation that Jesus purchased for you on the Cross!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I thank You that You died on the Cross for me and purchased my salvation. Thank You for saving me from sin and its penalty. Thank You that there is nothing I can do to add to Your work on the Cross. Today I am making the decision to quit struggling about my salvation and to simply rest in the salvation You have provided for me. I asked You to save me, and You saved me. I asked You to forgive me, and You forgave me. From this day forward, I will rest in the complete work of redemption that You purchased for me with Your precious blood. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am saved, forgiven, and born again by the Spirit of God. I asked Jesus to save me, and He saved me. I asked Jesus to forgive me, and He forgave me. I asked Jesus to come into my life, and now He lives in me by His Spirit. In Him I have redemption, deliverance, and salvation through His blood. In Christ I have the complete removal and forgiveness of sin in accordance with the generosity of God’s great goodness and favor toward me (see Ephesians 1:7). I am as saved as a person can be! I refuse to let the devil torment me, steal my joy, or make me think that I haven’t done enough to be saved. There is nothing I can add to the work of the Cross, so I am simply going to rest in what Jesus has already done for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What was the actual time in your life when you repented, asked Jesus Christ into your heart, and gave Him control of your life? Can you actually refer to the moment this happened?
- Have you ever struggled with your salvation and wondered if you were really saved? How did you end this personal struggle and find peace of mind?
- What would you say to someone else who is struggling with the question of whether or not he is really saved? What advice would you give that person, and what would you tell him or her to do to permanently find peace of mind?