The Hard Work of Ceasing from Our Own Works

Hebrews 4:9-11
       There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.

ROBERT TRAILL (1642-1716): Such as think believing easy, know not what believing is.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): They surely have never made the trial who imagine that it is an easy thing to believe. To confide in a Being invisible, and whom we have so deeply offended, and to hang our everlasting hope upon His naked truth, requires the exertion of the power that raised up Christ from the dead. Who never feels in him the working of an evil heart of unbelief?

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works for our everlasting salvation…We shall never have such a dominion over indwelling sin, as entirely to be delivered from the stirring of it―For whilst there is any part of us unregenerate, that part will be always leading us to the old covenant. Luther often complained of the propensity of his heart this way.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Let who will begin and prize this thing, he shall at length find how grievous and hard a thing it is for a man that hath been occupied all his lifetime in the works of his own holiness to escape out of it, and with all his heart by faith cleave to this one Mediator. I myself have now preached the gospel almost twenty years, and have been exercised in the same daily, by reading and writing, so that I may well seem to be rid of this wicked opinion: notwithstanding I yet now and then feel the same old filth cleave to my heart. Whereby it cometh to pass that I would willingly so have to do with God, that I might bring something with myself, because of which He should for my holiness’ sake give me His grace. And I can scarcely be brought to commit myself with all confidence to mere grace, which I should do.

DANIEL ROWLAND (1711-1790): A legal spirit in a Christian may be compared to his shirt, being the first thing he puts on, and the last he puts off.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): What is the reason that the heart of man is more unwilling to embrace the Gospel than to acknowledge the equity of the law? Because there is more of God’s nature and perfection evident in the Gospel than in the law; because there is more reliance on God, and distance from self, commanded in the Gospel.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: And we have contracted such a devilish pride by our fall from God, that we would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The carnal mind ever lies in wait for self-exaltation, and will catch at any straw for this end.

ROBERT TRAILL: If a man could have any saving wisdom but in and from Christ to know God and the way to heaven, he would glory in that; if he had any justifying righteousness to stand accepted before God but in Christ’s righteousness, he would glory in that; if he had any sanctification but what is derived from Christ as its root and fountain, he would glory in that; if there was any redemption but what Christ the only Redeemer brings in, he would glory in that: yea, so proud, and so inclined is flesh to glory in God’s presence, that sinners do vainly hunt after, and as vainly imagine they have attained some matter of glorying before God. But, saith the apostle, “Christ is so made of God unto us, as to cut off all pretensions to any glorying but in the Lord,” I Corinthians 1:29-31.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): If we had self-power, or could be self-saved, we should be gods to ourselves: and therefore God, for His own glory, and to preserve us from this cursed idolatry, keeps all power in His own hands.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): If my confidence of my final salvation, and of my ultimate perfection, rested in myself―my own energy, my own zeal, my own purposes and desires―I know that I’d never get there.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The apostle confirms the happiness of all those who truly believe the gospel; and this he does by asserting so positively the truth of it, from the experience of himself and others: We, who have believed, do enter into rest, Hebrews 4:3…Those who do not believe; they shall never enter this spiritual rest, either of grace here or glory hereafter. This is as certain as the word and oath of God can make it.

WILLIAM JAY: We are also reminded that we are slow of heart to believe, and that faith is no easy thing. They who think otherwise, evince that they have never yet seriously made the trial. There is not a Christian upon earth but in the attempt has often cried out with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): Unbelief searches diligently for somewhat to trust to in myself, and would look upon it with complacency, and rest upon it with peace and delight, could it but succeed in the search. The search is vain. In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. But faith looks out. Faith looks to Jesus. Faith says, Jesus is sufficient; Jesus is infallible and true. Faith sees salvation safe in His hand and says, “My Lord and my God, I am thine.”

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): It will mean that they rest their whole weight upon Him—upon the Christ. O! as long as a man leans and supports himself partly upon Jesus, and partly upon duties, for sure the left hand will be pierced by the broken reed of Egypt, by legal duties, and self-strength. Here we must lean upon Him and upon none other, else we shall ever be wrong in the exercise.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is essential that our faith rest alone on Jesus. Mix anything with Christ, and you are undone…Trust Him, rest in Him, it is all He asks you, and then faith shall justify you and cleanse you, and shall give you sanctification, and by-and-by perfection, and shall bring you into His eternal kingdom and glory―From His own lips the words sound forth, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): O therefore, Christians, rest not till you can call this rest your own.

FRANCIS R. HAVERGAL (1836-1879): Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest, 
                                                                               Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.


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