The catharsis of the sabbath rest

Christians. They are all the same. No matter how committed we are to follow our Lord, no matter how well we claim to know the very simple yet extremely powerful message of the Gospel, we all have been there: we forget the extent of that power. We forget what it really means and entails to be saved by grace alone through faith alone. And we get entangled in our ‘deeds’, we look at ourselves, our own performance, our own fruits. And we end up using these things as the way to perceive the security of our salvation; to determine whether we are truly saved or not.

What’s the problem?

What’s the problem with that? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s not biblical, it’s not what the Gospel is about. If we look at ourselves in terms of how well we’re doing and how “holy” we seem to be becoming, then at one point or another in our journey in this life we’ll start doubting that we’re saved at all. We’re bound to it.

Despite my firm belief in Free Grace and my conviction that God guarantees our salvation the moment we freely come to Him in faith to obtain His grace, there’ve been many times when I reached the point of doubting my salvation. And each time it was because I was focussed on myself. Such a waste of time!

The great blessing

Here’s the great blessing that every time flows out of this crisis. Every time it’s a catharsis. After much struggle and many failures, after seeing very little power of the Spirit in my life, and after feeling like God is not there at all. After blaming all that on me, I consistently get to the point of saying: «Ok, that’s it; I can’t be saved. There’s no Holy Spirit in me. There can’t be. Perhaps I’ve missed something? Perhaps my faith wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t real. It was emotional. Perhaps I must do more. Perhaps this; perhaps that.»

I go down this spiral, and eventually I end up with the following thought.

«You know what? The Bible tells me that all I have to do to be saved is to trust in Jesus; that’s it (John 6:28–29). If my belief isn’t good enough, and I am not saved, then God shall condemn me, and do so justly. But I am tired, I can’t do any more than this; that is, to believe that Christ died for my sins and rose again to justify me. If am not saved like this, then I’ll never be. Because nothing a sinner can do will ever be good enough to earn the favour of the Holy One».

And that’s where my mental race stops. I pause. My mind is still, and I feel like panting. My psyche is worn out.

And then it kicks in, the catharsis. It’s when I reach that point that I feel relieved. I feel saved. I feel at peace. You know why? Well, first, because I believe that only a born again believer (or someone that is about to be) would admit that God will be just in condemning them. But, second, and most important:

“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. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9–11)

It’s when I surrender and realise that I can’t do any more than just trusting Jesus — it’s when I rest — that I can really taste my salvation.

By nature, we’re driven to look at our performance to feel secure of our eternal destiny. Instead, Scripture tells us to look at the perfect performance of the Son of God. To rest from our own works, and enjoy the fruits of the perfectly accomplished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only then we’ll truly be effective and bear genuine fruits that won’t make us feel tired, but rather galvanised and thrilled by both the joy of our salvation and the knowledge that, thanks to Jesus alone, we’re eternally forgiven, and God is now working through us for His glory.

 

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