Today is Labor Day, 2017. To many it is the last celebration of a long-gone summer. However, it's origin is a yearly celebration of and for all of the millions of people who work for a living here in the United States. Without the American worker, our nation would be toast! To each and every one of them, I certainly give you a heart-felt salute!
However, to many Christians the term, "labor" has another connotation. Years ago as a young Christian I was taught by my pastor, who echoed his teaching from most other preachers, that we as modern day Christians were saved by grace (God's unmerited favor). In His mercy and grace God saved us through the cross of Christ. There wasn't a thing that we could do to save ourselves. Ephesians 2:8 was always quoted, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of of God." Certainly, this is so true! However, the preachers of the day, including me, would then add something like this, "Yes, you are saved by God's grace, it's not by your works. However, now that you are saved by his free gift, you NOW HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!"
Of course what that work was that we were supposed to do vastly depended upon the preacher's personal beliefs. No one seemed to have the "work thing" all figured out. Some would preach, including me, that our works included living a sin free life, making ourselves holy and righteous, praying, fasting, worshiping more, being in church every time the doors were open, faithfully tithing and giving huge offerings TO THE CHURCH, getting along with our brothers and sisters in the church, going out on street evangelism, making certain the building was proper and clean, being a good spouse and parent, and....more than anything...MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU NEVER CREATE ANY PROBLEMS FOR THE PASTOR! Whew! The list probably could actually get much longer! Talk about work! To those of us who were in that type of ministry EVERY DAY WAS LABOR DAY....and lots of it!!!
Friends, the above list of works is a product of a mixed, old covenant with new covenant message. It is NOT the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! Let's take a moment and look at Paul. (I believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews...but it doesn't matter) I suggest that your fully read Hebrews 4: 1-11. However, for brevity, let's just check out verses 9-10 (NLT), "So there is a special rest (Greek: Sabbath rest which has nothing to do with a day, rather a way of life!) still waiting for the people of God. For ALL who have entered into God's rest (by faith in what Christ has already done for them) have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world." Question: After God created the world, what did He do next? Answer: He rested!
Please read and consider this very carefully.....If you are being constantly taught that you have to work harder, do more, obey more, etc., etc., in order to please God then you are not being taught the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not living in the new covenant. Again, looking at Paul (or the writer of Hebrews), "So, let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God (by not entering His rest), as the people of Israel did, WE WILL FAIL!" Wow! This is pretty heavy stuff! It's kinda like, that if we are continually running around trying to please God we will certainly fail....like putting a curse on ourselves! Instead, we simply believe that Christ did it all at the cross, "It is finished!" When we believe that, place our faith and trust in His finished works, instead of failure, we will be highly successful! Just think, my Friend, you are, without doing a thing other than believing that you are....righteous and holy! God made you that way at the cross! That is the Good News, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Happy Labor Day!
Grace and peace!