Summary: Labor Day in the United States has traditionally been a day to cease from one’s labors and rest. God offers a lifetime of rest to all who will cease from their fleshly labors and enter His rest. Easier said than done! So, how is this possible?
Dr. Lewis Gregory
“For he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10 AKJV).
Introduction (personal testimony): Labor Day in the United States has traditionally been a day to cease from one’s labors and rest. God offers a lifetime of rest to all who will cease from their fleshly labors and enter His rest. Easier said than done! So, how is this possible? It is very difficult for most of us to give up on all our “so called good works.” I know it was for me. My thinking went something like this. “I’m trying as hard as I can, doing all that I can, the best that I can. It may not be the greatest (admittedly I was defeated), but I’m giving it all I’ve got. If all my hard work has only gotten me this far, just think what would happen if I gave up. Why, it would be a disaster, and I would become passive."
I. A New Approach to Living-Ceasing from our fleshly efforts in order to enter God’s rest is actually shifting from a works-oriented approach, to a grace-oriented approach to living. Ironically, many people have mistakenly thought that an emphasis on grace will lead to a life of passivity. The concern is that a strong emphasis on grace—which declares that the responsibility for our lives belongs to Christ and that He will take care of everything for us—will cause many to become passive. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
II. Passivity is Not an Option-When you truly realize your union with Christ you are not about to sit back and do nothing. Passivity is the last thing on your mind. Once you have discovered what it means to be a new creation in Christ, you are finally ready to do something of eternal consequence. As you begin to realize your true identity in Christ, it actually liberates you to an even greater level of activity—Divine activity. You are fully equipped for godly living. At last, you’re free to do what God has put in your heart to do.
III. Consider the Apostle Paul- Paul, the chief proponent of this truth, was no slouch. In fact, he was one of the most active Christians on biblical record. Here is what he wrote, “By the grace of God I am what I am . . . I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Did you notice Paul said he labored much more than everyone else? He is not bragging—far from it. It is merely a statement of fact. Yet, in a sense, it is bragging, though not about himself. Who did Paul credit for such fervent activity? He emphatically stated that it was God who made him who he was, and enabled him to do what he did. He described this remarkable phenomenon as the grace of God. Paul declared that his labors were a result of God and God alone. He was bragging all right—on God!
IV. True Grace Results in Divine Activity-The grace of God does not result in passivity. Paul made it very clear that this life of grace, as a new creation, is anything but passive. He told the Colossians, “I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). Paul declared that such a lifestyle is a labor, which involves striving, and results in work being accomplished.
V. The Source of Paul’s Labor-What was the source of Paul’s labor? The energizing source of his dynamic labor was none other than the indwelling Christ! He also asserted that everything he did was a result of God’s work in his life. It was Christ who did the work, but He has chosen to do it in and through human personalities. That’s you and me. We have been granted the marvelous privilege of being co-laborers with Christ. We are the human instruments through whom He has chosen to accomplish His Divine purposes. Divine activity is to be the order of the day for those believers who are living by the grace of God as new creations in Christ.
VI. A Can Do Attitude-On one hand, you don’t do anything; yet, on the other, you do everything. You, in your human strength, are not to do anything. However, you, in the strength of the Lord, are now able to do all things! In Philippians 4:13, Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is now your motto. Once a young Christian told me this was her favorite verse. When I asked her why, she answered, “It gives me hope and confidence. I am hopeful that things will be different for me as a Christian. I also have a new self-confidence, because God has made me a new person in Christ. Therefore, I am confident of what I can do through Christ, who is now my strength.” May God grant you this same outlook on life!