Rest Offered to the Weary

by Mike Ratliff

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3 ESV)

Part of being discerning is having to listen to or read certain preachers and teachers in order to compare what they are saying to what God’s Word clearly says. Some of my friends and fellow team members at CRN are exceptional at this. I, on the other hand, become weary of it very quickly. I know that we must do it, but it just wears me out especially since much of what I am hearing from these people is exactly what I was immersed in from the time I was a new Christian until God shoved me out of our old church when it went Purpose Driven back in 2006. Since then, it is as if shields have been removed from my eyes. I listened to Chris Rosebrough break down a sermon titled “How to hear the voice of God” over the last couple of days (it was a long show) of Jamey Stuart of Believers Church in Chesapeake, Va. Chris did a fine job, but Jamey wore me out. His sermon amounted to “make yourself uncomfortable, get busy, and then you can hear from God” as he misapplied his teaching from the book of Jonah. This is exactly the message I used to hear continually from a couple of the churches we used to belong to. It brought back a lot of bad memories. I even remembered the guilt trips the pastors used to try to get us “busy.” Chris is right when he called this pure Law, not Gospel. Our Lord has some good news for refuges from this sort of bondage. 

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; (Matthew 11:25 ESV)

Yes, our Lord Jesus used sarcasm. Here, he refers to the Jewish leaders as wise and understanding while His followers as little children in comparison. On the other hand, carefully read the following passage.

and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 18:3-10 ESV)

God has revealed His truths to those the world would not deem worthy, while those the world would otherwise elevate, like the Jewish religious leaders, are left blinded to them. These “unworthy ones” in the world’s eyes are given the truth of the Messiah and His Gospel even in the face of those who hate these very truths. God’s ways are not man’s ways.

yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:26-27 ESV)Here we see the Sovereignty of God over all the affairs of men and that Christ claims that the task of executing the divine will has been committed to Him. This claim would utterly blasphemous if Jesus were anything less than Sovereign God Himself.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (Matthew 5:3) then reread Matthew 11:28-30 (above). To whom are these messages addressed? They openly invite all who hear, but they both are phrased such that the only ones who will respond are those burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and weight of trying to save themselves by keeping the law. The unregenerate heart is so stubborn that without a sovereign-bestowed spiritual awakening, none will acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty. Jesus says in v27 that salvation is the sovereign work of God. Then in vv28-30 this coheres with the free offer of the gospel. What is the result? In v29 those to whom the Son chooses to reveal the Father (the regenerate) hear the gospel, believe the gospel, turn in repentance to the Son for salvation and, in return, find rest for their souls.

This is why it is so tragic for these so-cool pastors with their “mega-cool” works-righteousness churches putting so many of their “Jesus-followers” in their congregations into such bondage of trying to keep the works of the law. This is the opposite of the rest promised by our Lord. This rest speaks of a permanent respite in the grace of God completely apart from works (v30).

I am not upset with Chris. He did a fine job, but listening to these fella’s lay these guilt trips on their people and talk doing such and such so God will do this and that, which is simply works of the law, well, it just takes me back to those days before God drew me into the light by removing me from the deception. It makes me both sad and angry when I think of all those believers out there in this sort of bondage to a works righteousness and they don’t even know it. They believe this is how God works because they don’t know the Word of God well enough to check out what they are being taught. Therefore, these discernment ministries are vital. We may not be able to get everyone to listen, but God may get some to hear the truth and move into the light and out of the bondage. God’s will be done.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “Rest Offered to the Weary

  1. Yes, Mike!
    There can be such an emphasis on issues other than the relationship to the Lord, that the sheep get confused.
    Some examples from some of our past churches:
    Women must always wear long skirts, even while doing sports.
    “Godly” women must wear 3/4 length sleeves; high buttoned collars, and always look admiringly at their husbands.
    all men are in charge over all women, and may scold any woman they wish. No woman may make a decision on her own; a “Male Authority” must make the decision for her.
    A 13-year old boy is an “authority” over his mother.
    But how about reaching out with the Gospel message of salvation, which they didn’t do very often?
    The sermons were continually about woman being subject to man, not the truth about God’s Grace, Truth, Mercy, etc.
    What a shame, and what a waste of potential!
    It’s good that you are pointing this out.


  2. Good thoughts Mike.
    I can relate to the weariness of legalism and false teaching…sometimes it is so redundent…been there done that. Once you really get “freedom” in Christ, the veil is forever removed and for you, Christ really is the end of the law. This verse was on my mind tonight.
    2 Cor 3:15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    There are so many laws that our Christian culture and the world keeps inventing to keep us in bondage to them … the missional laws, moral laws, the laws of tolerance, the laws of personal self improvement, ad infinity; anything that puts us in bondage.
    But as soon as we turn to Christ, we experience the glorious freedom of a child…a faith, trust, love that is just as natural as breathing…a fresh aliveness…a new “living in the moment”, a child-like anticipation, a sense of being alive and not just going through the motions.
    Rev. 2: 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
    Living in Christ! Listening to the Spirit. Obedience with joy!
    Even through these perilous times that we live in, it is a joy to remind others that the very moment we turn to Christ, the veil falls away and with it the guilt and fear of being separated from God by our very own, inadequate works.


  3. Well said Mike. I feel the same about this stuff. I think it will always tire and frustate us because it grieves the spirit.To me it is no different to anything else the world offers, it just calls its self christianity. It wasn’t until God made me utterly still ( being virtually bed ridden for a year ) and took away all that my ability to do what I thought were good works, that I began to really start to understand what true slaveship to him is. I, and I believe, many other ‘christians’, have spent alot of time thinking about what we ought to be like – what we would look like as a perfect christian , and then trying to emulate it. God mercifully continues to remind me that although I am a new creation, it is of His doing. And from here, still grappling with many past sinful habits, I cannot possibly even begin to see what perfection in through Him looks like. I wouldn’t recognise it if I did see it. Instead He tells me to stop! Be still. Concentrate on Him, yield to His will and HE will change me. And He does. My mind is literally changing about those things which previously bound me.But almost while I’m not looking, so the glory goes to Him. I read this only last night.:
    ‘Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.’
    1 Cor 7: 17-24
    As we have discussed before, we should live the lives God has given us, seeking him, listening and waiting.NOT running about like headless chickens any which way WE think is right.
    Amen. Gods will be done.


  4. Kathy, I too was part of a fellowship that believed that all men were “over” all women.
    This did not take place until my pastor died. He never purported this behavior whatsoever. He felt there was a government of the home that was set forth by the Word where the Father was the Head, then the Mother, then the children. He treated his wife like a queen. It was very apparent to all that he loved her like Christ loved the church. She was not his slave or doormat, or simply the mother of his children. She was his other half, his help-mate, his beloved, his equal sister in Jesus. The men in the church did not like this. They thought that he should prefer them over her. He did NOT. When he died, his wife was treated as nothing. She was told to speak to her sons and have them speak to the pastor and/or elders for her. She eventually was forced to leave as there were other bigger issues that were taking place that could not be tolerated.
    My sister-in-love, who lost her husband in 2007 at the age of 40 has three children and she was told (after the pastor died) that if she needed to speak with the pastor that she needed to go through her 14 year old son!
    You are correct, there was more preaching on issues, like gossip than Heaven, the Rapture, Hell, Salvation, Perseverance of the saints, etc.
    So sad.


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