Heaven – Part 3 of 5: “A Blessed Realm of Eternal Rest”

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It was on the fifteenth of January, in the year 1649, when the English Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter, put the final quill-pen strokes on his mammoth treatise on Heaven entitled “The Saints Everlasting Rest.” 

This double-columned, folio-sized, 354-page tome, ended with the following dedicatory remarks to the magistrates and people of Kidderminster, England:  “…I shall beg for you of the Lord…that I may see your faces with joy at the bar of Christ, and we may enter together into the everlasting rest. Amen.” Richard Baxter based this conviction on Hebrews 4:9 [see also the whole context of this rest in Hebrews 4:1-13], “So there remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God”. This “rest” quotation is taken from Psalm 95:11 (quoted in the negative by the author of Hebrews [3:11,18; 4:3,5]), and was physically fulfilled when Joshua took the Promised Land in the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 22:1-4), but still awaits its ultimate fulfillment when God’s people enter eternal heavenly glory (Hebrews 12:23). Most certainly, one of the many benefits of Heaven will be this spiritual rest. However, it will not be a rest void of activity, but rather a rest (1) with God, as well as a rest (2) from all of our labors (both physical and spiritual). Notice how Heaven is, firstly, a rest ‘with’ God. Baxter said that this rest “would entail our perfect enjoyment of all of God’s perfections uninterrupted.” This speaks of our worshipping (Revelation 19:1-6) and serving God (Revelation 22:3-4) forever and ever. Thus, we practice for Heaven Sunday’s when we worship Him on His day (the Lord’s Day, Revelation 1:10) in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24) – a day emblematic of our eternal rest. Secondly, Heaven is also a resting place from our labors (both physical and spiritual). In the original Greek, Revelation 14:13 describes the believer’s physical rest as being a rest from “bone-weariness.”  Therefore, every faithful, aging saint (believer) should be able to identify with John’s appropriate choice of words in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil for the Lord is not in vain.” Furthermore, our spiritual rest in glory will come from our ceasing to live godly in a spiritually-fallen age (Matthew 6:25-34; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12), and from no longer being engaged in the battle, every day, with this world (1 John 2:15-17), the flesh (Galatians 5:17-26), and the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9). Oh just think about and mediate upon these restful truths about our future home in the third Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:3; Luke 23:43; and Revelation 2:7)! And to top it all off, there will no longer be anymore sorrow, pain, suffering, hunger, thirst, violence, war, tears, temptation, sickness, grief, and death. Therefore, we must labor spiritually now, that the words of Thomas Manton may not be true of us: “Christians are more cold and careless in their spiritual lives because they do not think often of Heaven.”  So, remember, tomorrow‘s worship is really a practice session for glory... Next week: Part four.

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