Jesus said these profound and wonderful words:
All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 11:27-30
In this statement of invitation, He invites us to know His Father and Himself – intimately. He also offers rest, not physical rest but much more profound, to penetrate our inner man. But we read that there is a condition that must be met to obtain such a promise; we must take the yoke of Jesus upon us and become His disciples. What is a yoke? It is a tool that forces an animal to walk a specific tread to accomplish certain tasks. His yoke is His Spirit who will lead and guide us to achieve the will of the Father in our lives.
Jesus also explains that for us to be His disciple, there are certain conditions; Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
The Lord says that for us to be accepted into His discipleship, we must deny ourselves and not only this but also take up our own cross – daily. Once we do this, we are fit and able to follow Him. This conflicts with the popular salvation message where the only requirement is to believe in Jesus Christ. While this is true, there is more to this belief that most have not accounted for and reason for its watered-down interpretation. In truth, to indeed be a believer in Christ is to live out this belief. In the statements that Jesus has made, we see what living out in our belief in Him means.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matt 7:13-14
If we do not walk in genuine faith, we will not be in any position to receive a love for it to walk in its hard and difficult path it will demand from us.
The path that Jesus has already walked is the same path that He calls us to follow Him on. He denied Himself to carry out what His Father’s will was, and so too we are to do the same. He yielded to testing and suffering so it would have its perfect work, so we are to yield to testing so we may be refined. Our walk with the Lord is first by faith, not faith in the church, not faith in even the scriptures but faith in the Man who came to us to die so we may live abundantly in Him. In Him, it is by faith that we can then take His Yoke upon us and so follow His commands, and His Spirit joins us with His Father and Himself in intimacy and identification. Being united with God compels us to walk the hard road that will come. Why is it hard? The hardness and difficulty of this road are so because we must continually refuse to let self lead us (deny ourselves) and crucify ourselves to this world; Gal 5:24, Gal 6:14 . When we deny our flesh, it is not pleasant! The most beautifully crazy thing about living this hard way is that as we do, the Lord pours into us the ability to desire to please Him above all that we forfeit, and He gives us His rest that is beyond description. Our passion, hobby and addiction become the Lord Jesus Christ!
In Hebrews, we are reminded that those who walked in unbelief could not enter the rest that God had for them. Our enemy is not the devil; it is unbelief.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Heb 3:12-19
Jesus tells us that when we love one another, we show the world that we belong to Him;
33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me;and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:33-35
An expression of this kind of love is to seek to gather together in fellowship in our shared love – the Lord Jesus Christ. It is where we honor the Lord, as Head of us as His body in purposeful Christ-centered interaction, whether it be when two or three are together or within an assembly. This is not to be mistaken with ‘going to church’ because, biblically speaking, the church is not something you go to. We are a people who the Lord has birthed to BE the church and we can gather anywhere to enjoy the fellowship of this kind. To be an active member, we each have a responsibility one to another in ‘learning Christ’ so we may share Him with each other to build up our faith in Him. Coupled with this, we also provide materially for each other as we see the need and are able to assist. How many dedicated church-going souls haven’t a clue at what this all means?
Our witness is to be Jesus Christ and our testimony – the same. Who is the Lord in us; What is He teaching us today through His Word? What is the area in our lives where the Lord is showing where we must die to self? Where is the Lord leading us out from the world to be separate as we hear Him say, ‘come out of her my people,‘ 2 Cor 6:16-18? Our experience with the Lord comes when we obey Him through His Word. He opens up to us more knowledge in Him as we do – and this is worthy of sharing others in encouragement. Some learn of Him one way and others another way, so we can see bits of Him as each one shares what He gives us. The young believer has much that can be shared in his fresh zeal and many questions, as much as one who is mature in the Lord who offers both milk and meat from the Word that will encourage and admonish alike.
If we come together with one another – as believers in Christ and there is no such fellowship there is something not right. Personally, I am grieved when I am in such an environment of believers who have nothing to say or share of the one they profess to love but will talk of everything else. This is telling, sadly, as what it is they treasure in their hearts.
Our rest in the Lord is a gift He gives to all who would come to Him. If we are not experiencing this rest, it is because we have not availed ourselves – completely in Christ – and are in unbelief – somewhere. No matter what crisis we are facing we will have His rest so we may be sustained through it. The only way we can fix this, is to ‘go back to where we have fallen’ in seeking our first love; Rev 2:4-5.
I heard this saying once, which is quite true: We all can read the Word of God but not all allow the Word of God to read us.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:11-13