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John Newton – The Present and Future Rest of True Believers (Matthew 11:28)

Posted On February 11, 2015

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and heavy burdened—and I will give you rest!” – Matthew 11:28

The learned have a variety of arguments whereby to prove the Scripture to be the Word of God. But though that kind of proof, which may be brought in a way of reasoning and external evidence, is doubtless useful upon proper occasions. Yet, I apprehend, the chief and most satisfactory argument to those who are capable of receiving it, arises from the correspondence between the subject matter of the Scripture, and the state of an awakened mind. When the eyes of the understanding are opened, we begin to see everything around us, to be just so as the Scripture has described them. Then, and not until then, we perceive, that what we read in the Bible concerning the horrid evil of sin, the vileness of our fallen nature, the darkness and ignorance of those who know not God, our own emptiness, and the impossibility of finding relief and comfort from creatures, is exactly true. “He opened their minds—so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45

And as we find our disease precisely described, so we perceive a suitableness in the proposed remedy. We need a Savior, and he must be a mighty one; but though our needs and sins, our fears and enemies, are great and numerous, we are convinced that the character of Christ is sufficient to answer them all. We need a rest, a rest which the world cannot give. Inquire where we will among the creatures, experience brings in the same answer from all, “It is not in me!” This again confirms the Word of God, which has forewarned us that we shall meet nothing but disappointment in such worldly pursuits. But there is a spiritual rest spoken of which we know to be the very thing we need, and all our remaining solicitude is how to attain it. From hence, as I said, we may assuredly conclude, that the book which gives us such just views of everything that passes, must be given by inspiration from Him who is the searcher of hearts. This proof is equally plain and conclusive to all capacities that are spiritually enlightened, and such only are able to understand it. We are now to speak of this promised rest. And here two things offer to our consideration.

1. What this rest is.

2. How this rest is obtained.

1. WHAT this rest is. The Greek word expresses something more than rest, or a mere relaxation from toil; it denotes refreshment likewise. A person weary with long bearing a heavy burden, will need not only to have it removed—but likewise he needs food and refreshment, to restore his spirits, and to repair his wasted strength. Such is the rest of the Gospel. It not only puts an end to our fruitless labor—but it affords a sweet reviving cordial. There is not only peace—but joy in believing. Taken at large, we may consider it as two-fold.

1st, A PRESENT rest. So the Apostle speaks, “We who have believed enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)

(1.) The common wearisome pursuit of the worldling is described in Scripture: “Why do you spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2) “Many are saying—Who can show us anything good?” (Psalm 4:6) “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Worldlings are wandering from object to object in quest of happiness, but are always frustrated by incessant and repeated disappointments. We should pity a person whom we should see seeking some necessary thing day after day—in a place which we knew it was impossible to be found there. This is, however, the case with all people—until they come to Christ. Satisfaction is what they profess to aim at; and they turn over every stone (as we say), they try every expedient, to find lasting happiness—but in vain. Real satisfaction is only to be found in Jesus! When they come to Him, their wishes are fully answered and satisfied! “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst!” John 4:13-14

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