The Power of the Cross: 157th Edition, November 15th, 2020
The Power of the Cross: 157th Edition, November 15th, 2020
Welcome, new subscribers! This weekly newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find it helpful and encouraging.
When we are entangled in sin, rest is elusive. We feel as though we are continually fighting, always striving, never resting. We are frustrated trying to find a way to overcome our sin; we long for peace, but our sin keeps us from exhaling into deep rest.
Our restlessness is because our sin comes with a harsh taskmaster who drives us on to fulfill the lusts of our flesh and who always stirs up our flesh to disobey God. “...in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2).
If you are one who has been all at unrest and struggling with the sin that easily besets you, I want you to know that you can find the soul-rest that you desire. In last week’s newsletter, we discovered the truth from Hebrews 4:1-3, that true rest for our souls comes from believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now we will see an illustration of how it works. Let’s read it together:
“For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:4-7).
The illustration is of God, Himself, resting on the seventh day after all His work of creating. Later, this resting on the seventh day became part of the ten commandments, the old covenant God made with the Israelites on Mt. Sinai.
Notice that God set aside a specific day under the Old Covenant for people to rest; it was called the “Sabbath,” and it became the sign and the seal of the old covenant itself (Exodus 31:16-17).
Yet this day of rest, which brought rest to the body, did not provide rest to the soul. As God’s people rested on the Sabbath day, they didn’t know that God would set aside another day, a day that would truly bring rest to the souls of all, and not merely their bodies. Let’s notice what day God set aside in the New Covenant:
God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:4-7).
Just as God set aside a particular day under the Old Covenant, calling it the "Sabbath," He set aside a certain day under the New Covenant, calling it "Today!" The writer to the Hebrews draws from Psalm 95:7-8 and shows that God was pointing forward to a different kind of rest, on a different day called "Today!"
And how do we enter this rest? The first seven verses of Hebrews 4 tell us clearly that it is hearing and believing the gospel that brings us rest "today!" For this reason, all of us at Setting Captives Free give out the gospel as often as we can, and in every way that we can, and all who put faith in it receive this rest.
All the testimonies we share come from those who are believing the good news, experiencing its power, and entering into the rest it provides.
This eternal rest in the death and resurrection of Jesus is what the Old Covenant's Sabbath taught. God's people were to stop working on the Sabbath, as a picture pointing forward to all believers who have stopped working for their salvation and instead put their trust in the cross of Jesus. That is, we who believe have stopped working for our salvation, we have stopped working for our freedom from sin, we look to the cross and rest in what Jesus accomplished. And as we believe, we enter into complete rest today; the rest foreshadowed in the Old Covenant.
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
Here we can see confirmation that the Sabbath was a shadow. It was a foreshadow of the rest that we would experience today and every day that we look to the cross of Christ and remember how hard He worked to save us and set us free. A shadow is a dark image cast by something real; in this case, “Christ is the reality,” in whom we rest, of which the Sabbath was but a shadow.
So Hebrews 4:1-7 has taught us the imperative of hearing and believing the good news about the cross and resurrection of Jesus. It showed us that believing this message provides rest, real rest to the soul. And it has shown us that we are to rest today, every day, in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
Jodi writes, "I appreciated the daily reminder to wash at the cross in the Weight Loss Bootcamp course. Walking by the Spirit is what I strive to do each day. I want to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and His leading. I know I can never be perfect, but I keep pressing on. I know I will be in a war with my flesh as long as I'm on this earth, but it just reminds me of how much I need Jesus, and I'm thankful for that!
I'm not an eloquent writer like so many others, but my love for Jesus and my gratefulness over what He did for me on the cross has grown so much during these lessons. My goal is not to care what the scale says but instead rely on the Holy Spirit's leading in my conscience, but I am not there yet. I really feel the Lord asking me to ditch the scale totally so that my walk with Him will be the most important thing to me and so that I am not putting numbers on a scale above my relationship with Him. I pray for the strength to follow this leading of the Holy Spirit. So far, He has led me each day to eat only one meal and sometimes a snack. I have received a lot of confirmation that He wants me to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full, and follow His lead with my food. If He changes that in the future, then I am open to the plan He gives me so that with the Lord's help, I can continue my daily battle of washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, and warring against my flesh. I have changed a lot throughout these lessons. The main change is seeing the Word in a whole new light, especially as Mike has taught us to see Jesus and the Cross throughout the Bible.
God has granted me such hunger and passion for devouring the Word now instead of filling up on excess food that can never satisfy me! He has also given me the energy to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and it feels great! I know I have lost weight, but I really don't want that to be my focus anymore! I desire to walk by His Spirit every day, to continue studying His Word, and to grow in my relationship with Him. It is so exciting to sit down with the Bible and find out what God wants to show me each day!
Thank you for these courses; I can say without a doubt that my walk with Jesus has grown so much over the last month or so doing these lessons! I recommend Setting Captives Free Bible studies all the time! We can all benefit from these courses! I appreciate your love for the Lord, Mike, and it is contagious in your videos! You make me want to keep striving each day to know my God and Savior on a deeper level than ever before!"
Danny writes, "The Purity Bootcamp course was absolutely life-transforming. I'm free and walking in purity. I actually believe that I do not have to struggle and give in to pornography and impurity the rest of my life as a slave. Jesus set me free by taking my sin upon Himself, washing me in His blood, bridging the gap from lost sinner to adopted son, and I now stand in His freedom as He waged war on my behalf and overcame sin and death.
If you are struggling with sexual impurity, take this course. You absolutely can break free. It is by Christ and His finished work on the cross, not by your effort. I never thought freedom was possible after 40 years, but it is. I daily wash at the cross, and sometimes I need to more than once per day. Go through this course, and you will find freedom through the three biblical principles; washing at the cross, walking in the Spirit, and warring against the flesh."
Friend, if you find you agree with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.
These Setting Captives Free groups are available (you can join all appropriate groups):
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free