This week, as I was working on Sunday’s message, “Our Rest” based on Hebrews 4:1-13, my mind wandered back to 1975 and a living room in Bethesda, Maryland. It was the home of a good friend named John whose parents had invited several of us to dinner with a professor of church history from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Now at that time none of us around the table had any plans of going to seminary. In fact, none of us knew that the professor would be there. All any of us knew was that we wanted to hang with John, and the rite of passage was coming to a Sunday evening dinner with his parents.
Until this week I hadn’t thought about that dinner in years, but it’s one I’ll never forget. It isn’t the food that makes that night memorable. It isn’t the hospitality. It isn’t what Dr. Lovelace had to say. What makes it one of those memorable moments is what I saw Dr. Lovelace doing prior to the meal. As we sat around the living room talking, Dr. Lovelace was in the same room relaxing. He was reading The Washington Post and playing the piano at the same time! I’ve never seen anyone do that before or since. With The Washington Post editorial page spread out in front of him on the baby grand piano, he played Bach, Beethoven and the works of other classical composers. Have you ever seen anyone read the paper and play the piano at the same time? It seems inconceivable that someone could relax in that way.
A few years after that meal he authored a book that has been a “go-to” for Christian leaders for the last forty years. It’s titled, The Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal. In it, Lovelace makes a statement that completely relates to what we are going to be studying this week. He says, “If we start each day with our personal security not resting on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ, but on our present achievements, such arguments will not quiet the human conscience and so we are inevitably moved to either discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness or some form of idolatry that tries to falsify the record to achieve some sense of peace. But the faith that is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love and what Jesus has done for us instead of having to steal love from all these other sources will find the very root of it.”
We’re in our third week of this series “Full Disclosure – Hebrews”. Remember the audience. They are Jewish believers. Many of whom are former Jewish priests who are asking the question all of us ask in the midst of our pain: “If God loves me so much, why is my life so hard?” And the answer is to fix our eyes on Jesus. You know what happens when you do that? You begin to see Jesus in all His beauty. You begin to see some of the amazing facets of His beauty and how each one of them corresponds to our deepest needs. And this week we will see Him as “Our Rest”.
A few weeks ago Chris Ansell preached on Sabbath rest. But this week we go in a different direction. We go where the preacher takes us in Hebrews 4:1-13 to find Jesus as our deepest Rest.
In preparation for Sunday’s message you may wish to consider the following:
- How formative is Psalm 95 to the preacher and his message?
- How is the Lord’s warning in Deuteronomy 8 heeded by the 4th Commandment?
- How is our quest for significance and worth altered by rest?
- In these thirteen verses the preacher speaks of several kinds of rest. Can you identify them?
- On what grounds did God rest on the seventh day? In other words, why did He rest?
- Do you agree with this statement? “Our deep sense of restlessness comes from our insatiable desire to prove ourselves.” Why or why not?
- How do you think verses 12 & 13 fit with all the preacher is saying about rest?
- Where is the rest in verse 13?
- The preacher is clearly harkening back to Genesis 3 in verse 13. Why? What can we learn about rest from Adam and Eve and their hiding?
- The word “exposed” means “to be laid open.” Here the preacher is pointing directly to Jesus. How? How is Jesus our deepest Rest?