Resting From Your Works
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
The Sabbath Rest of God operates on two levels. First, the New Testament reserves Sunday as the designated time for corporate worship, but Sunday is not a new Sabbath with regulations and prohibitions. We know from Rev. 1:10 and 1 Cor. 16:2 that the earliest church moved their corporate worship time from the Sabbath (Friday night) to Sunday, the Lord’s Day. The Lord’s Day is the day of resurrection. Therefore, the church is called to celebrate Jesus victory over the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil as her central focus in praise and worship.
Second, the New Testament teaches that the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8) is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. Now for believers, our Sabbath is internal rest that we can experience every day, all day.
The Sabbath Rest of God is experiencing by faith God’s adequacy and faithfulness in every life situation resulting in freedom from worry, anxiety, and care. This rest is not passivity, inactivity, or idleness. Rest is experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit lifting us up to Jesus in the midst of all our earthly fears and worldly burdens. New Testament rest is the peace of Christ, confidence in God’s covenant promise, and assurance in the Holy Spirit’s keeping power.
The two key verses for this New Covenant understanding of rest is Col. 2:16 and Heb. 4:8-10. The ESV Study Bible states, “the Sabbath rest remains possible for God’s people to enter even now, in this life (v. 9). The promise of entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one’s final destiny; it means enjoyment of being established in the presence of God, to share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day (v. 10).”
Last, as believers we are no longer bound by law to keep Friday night as a day of obligation in worship, but we are bound to trust Christ by faith to be the adequacy of God in us.
The rest that Christ gives is an inward and spiritual thing. It is rest of heart, rest of conscience, rest of mind, rest of affection, rest of will. It is rest, from a comfortable sense of sins being all forgiven and guilt all put away. It is rest, from a solid hope of good things to come, laid up beyond the reach of disease, death and the grave. It is rest, from the well-grounded feeling, that the great business of life is settled, its great end provided for, that in time all is well done, and in eternity heaven will be our home.
J.C. Ryle, Old Paths (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999), 368.