"I Will Give You Rest"
A sermon delivered in Newcastle, Australia, December 1898
by Mrs. E. G. White
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Here is a giving by Christ, and on our part an acceptance of the promise, a conscious finding, a sense of relief from all perplexing doubt. Simple enough, is it not?--Thus it appears. But the promise is large and far-reaching. It implies much. It means deliverance from constant, perplexing uncertainty. The word "rest" is repeated. "I will give you rest." "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
The reason there are so many in perplexity is because they take their case into their own finite hands, and manufacture yokes that are not pleasant for them to wear. They think they understand their needs, and they worry and plan and devise, while Christ stands inviting, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The yokes of human manufacture gall the necks that wear them. Christ says, Try My yoke; it is easy: lift My burdens; for they are light.
If you have not found that rest offered to all who will learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart, would you not better yoke up with Christ without delay? Bear only His burdens. Do not load yourself with cares that weigh you down to the ground. Your troubles come because you are so anxious to manage matters yourself that you do not wear the yoke of Christ.
By some, the promise of God is grasped so eagerly that it becomes their own, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit is their experience. Others suppose that they must wait until they become worthy. To these I would say, Never, never, will you become worthy. If this were possible, the Prince of heaven need not have come to our world. But by taking our human nature, He declared to the heavenly universe that He united humanity to divinity, in order that men and women might stand on vantage-ground, and be once more tested and tried. Through the sacrifice and merits of the Redeemer, man is made a partaker of the divine nature; but he must act his part by co-operating with the One who has promised. Not only does Christ say, "I will give you rest," but, "Ye shall find rest unto your souls."
We are told in God's Word to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." What does this mean?--Fear lest you shall err in choosing the timber for your character-building. God alone can supply solid timber. Well may mortal man be afraid lest he shall weave into his character the defective threads of his inherited and cultivated tendencies to wrong. Well may he tremble lest he shall not submit all things to Hm who is working in his behalf, that God's will may be done in him.
Discard your citizen's dress, and put on the wedding garment which Christ has prepared. Then you can sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. God welcomes all who come to Hm just as they are, not building themselves up in self-righteousness, not seeking to justify self, not claiming merits for what they call good actions, not priding themselves on their supposed knowledge.
While you have been walking and working in meekness and lowliness of heart, a work has been done for you,--a work that only God could do. It is God who works in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. That good pleasure is to see you abiding in Christ, resting in His love. Let not anything rob your soul of peace, of restfulness, of the assurance that you are accepted just now. Claim every promise; all are yours if you will comply with the prescribed terms. Entire self-surrender, an acceptance of Christ's ways, is the secret of perfect rest in His love.
The abiding rest--who has it? That rest is found when all self-justification, all reasoning from a selfish standpoint, is put away. Entire self-surrender, an acceptance of His ways, is the secret of perfect rest in His love. We must learn His meekness and lowliness before we experience the fulfilment of the promise, "Ye shall find rest unto your souls." It is by learning the habits of Christ that self becomes transformed,--by taking His yoke, and then submitting to learn.
Giving up the life to Christ means much more than many suppose. God calls for an entire surrender. We can not receive the Holy Spirit until we break every yoke that binds us to our objectionable traits of character. These are the great hindrances to wearing Christ's yoke and learning of Him. There is no one who has not much to learn. All must be trained by Christ. When we fall upon the living Rock, our wrong traits of character are taken away as hindrances to perfection of character. When self dies, Christ lives in the human agent. Acquaintance with Christ makes us long to abide in Him, and to have Him abide in us.
Christ desires all to become His students. He says, Yield yourselves to My training. I will not extinguish you, but will work out for you a character that will fit you to be raised from the lower grade to the higher school. Submit all things to Me. Let My life, My patience, My long-suffering, My meekness, My lowliness, be worked out in your character, as one who abides in Me. Then you will have power to overcome.
Will those who hear, hear to a purpose? A Paul may plant, and an Apollos water, but God gives the increase. Do not manufacture many things that you must do in order to find rest, assurance, confidence. Leave this work, which not even the wisest of the human family can do, and put your trust in One who has promised rest to your soul. Do just what He has told you to do, and be assured that God will do all that He has said He would do. The promise is, "Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest." Have you come to Him, renouncing all your make-shifts, all your unbelief, all your self-righteousness? Come just as you are, weak, helpless, and ready to die. What is the "rest" promised?--It is the consciousness that God is true, that He never disappoints the one who comes to Him. His pardon is full and free, and His acceptance means rest to the soul, rest in His love.
Published in The Review and Herald, April 25, 1899.