Rest In Christ
“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.”—Matthew 11:29
I want to speak to you from a very old text. I had thought at one time of bringing another message, but the message that is upon my heart now is in the Scripture lesson. I do not know just when it was, the time of our text, but I think it was about evening time and the sun was retiring behind the gray fleeciness of eventide. Jesus was preaching in the open air. Jesus was a great street preacher and a crowd was gathered about Him, I think the crowd was tired and weary from the toil of the day. The laboring men and the business man with his burdens, and the banker with the cares of finance, the mother weary of the task of the home. All sorts of people were gathered around the Christ that evening and Jesus began to preach to them. You know His message,—warning at first. “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.”
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
“But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
Woe unto thee! Woe unto Capernaum! He then uttered the great truth that greater light brings increased responsibility. Sodom and Gomorrah were cesspools of moral rottenness, and yet Jesus said to Capernaum, it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for you, Capernaum. Why? Because Jesus lived in Capernaum. He had performed there many mighty works. They had great light and they had rejected great light and there was greater and deeper damnation.
All of a sudden Jesus changes His message. He changes it from warning to invitation. I do not know whether it was the looks on the faces of the crowd. Jesus turned and uttered those memorable words, that never to be forgotten text, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus was not looking merely at that group about Him. He was looking down through the vista of all the ages, upon a world burdened with sin, and the invitation comes to you tonight, my brother out of Christ. Come unto Him and find rest unto your souls. To the heart that has been convicted of sin, to the heart and life that is sick of sin, this invitation of the Master comes with the sweetest message of all. We cannot appreciate peace until we know war and the convicted one will never appreciate peace of soul until he comes to the one who can give peace.
On November 11, 1918, I was in England when the message came of peace and that the armistice had been signed. As we drove through those little villages, how the people were filling the narrow streets. They were singing and shouting. When they saw the olive drab automobiles of Uncle Sam they shouted and cheered again. Peace had come. I took the tram that night for London and the next day and the next night how the people thronged the Strand; how they tore up and set fire to the huts which had been used to sell war bonds. They even tore up the wooden blocks in the street to keep the fires burning. Why? Peace had come! Four years of war had devastated their homes. There were the men of Oxford and Cambridge. The flower of all England had died in the first one hundred thousand of the first year of war. In 1918 they were drafting men fifty-one years of age. They knew the awful conflagration of war and sacrifice. Then came the celebration in Paris of the release of Alsace-Lorraine. The people were dancing, laughing, and they were like flowing rivers of mirth, a moving hilarious mass of humanity. Why? Peace had come.
You will never know what peace is until war has devastated your land. There will never be peace in this world until Jesus Christ comes again and lives and reigns here. There will never be universal peace until Jesus comes and is recognized as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The message of the Christ is, “Come unto me.” This is a burdened world. This is a restless world. You will find restlessness everywhere. It is evidenced in the mad rush after pleasure. It is seen in the mad rush after business. Men and women cannot be satisfied unless they are pursuing after dollars in a mad rush.
Rest from Sin
I can tell you the reason why in one word. SIN is the cause of all the restlessness in the world today. It is the cause of the burdened hearts and lives, and there never can come rest of heart and tranquility of soul as long as there is unconfessed, unforsaken, unforgiven sin in the heart.
I could not believe my Mother, who is in Heaven tonight, if she were living and would tell me that she did not have Christ in her life, and she said she had peace and rest in her soul. There is no peace in the heart of the wicked. You have got to get the cinder out of the eye. You have got to get the splinter out of the finger before it will stop paining. You have got to get sin out of your heart if you are going to find rest and peace in this life in which we are now living.
You may ask, don’t you think the unbeliever without God has some rest and peace? You go down into the loop district and you will find a jolly crowd being amused at the theatre. You will say they are happy and full of fun and mirth and humor. The devil does give his followers an artificial rest. No man or woman in the world can think of sin, and their sin and their relationship to God and judgment and eternity and have rest of heart or soul. The devil gives his followers opiates. He drugs them and that is the reason that sin outwardly at least gives peace of heart. Opiates do not cure anything. Opiates deaden the pain while the disease is eating away into the very heart of the person.
The devil does give us opiates but they do not remove the cause. They only dull the sense and the sin goes on eating out the soul and the life. The devil says to his followers, don’t think about these things. Just forget them. We will not think about the Bible. We will not think about Christ. We will not think about Eternity. We will not think about Judgment. And he says, don’t think of them. Forget them. And they do. They forget them in their occupation with the amusements and pleasures of the world.
Ungodly men and women dread Sunday, the Lord’s day, because they get up late and read the Sunday paper and then go out and they have time to think and they don’t know what to think. When they think then the burden comes. When they think about the future then the soul is disturbed. We refuse to think, but that is just an opiate. God pity the man or woman tonight in this Tabernacle that cannot sit alone with himself and with his conscience and meditate upon God’s love and God’s mercy to him. There comes a time when we must think. There comes a time when the opiate is going to lose its effect.
Three weeks ago in the hospital at Denver I witnessed a wonderful surgical operation upon a woman. It was a major operation. The surgeons gave her a local anesthetic. Removed her appendix without giving her ether or chloroform. I stood at the head of the operating table, and I smiled and talked with her during the operation. I could see that gapping wound, but the thought that came to me was this. Oh, suppose this anesthetic should lose its power. The awful condition of that woman carved up as she was at that time. Supposing she should suddenly become conscious of the pain!
The opiates that the sinner takes are some day going to lose their power. Sometimes God makes me think. Belshazzar had a heart that was as hard as any you will find in the Scriptures. To show how sacrilegious he was he took the sacred vessels in the temple and drank wine to the gods of the temple. God made him think, and that night a hand came and wrote on the wall before his eyes. That night his face paled, his knees shook together, and he was slain. He did think, but he thought too late.
All the world has to give can never give one moment of peace concerning sin and your relationship to God. Sin is a fact in this world. You will never find rest and peace of soul in the good deeds you do. They cannot bring peace and rest. There is no peace and rest that the world has that is genuine because it does not remove the cause. Jesus Christ, when He says, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest,” goes to the very cause of the unrest and removes it. He gives us rest from the guilt, the penalty, the condemnation of sin by removing sin from our heart and life.
Paying for Sin
Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago, on the Cross bore my guilt, died in my stead and paid for the great remedy of sin that brings rest to the soul, in the great coin of Calvary’s blood, and we get peace and rest from the guilt and burden of sin only by the way of the Cross. He suffered my hell; I received Him and the past is blotted out in his blood.
My brother and sister out of Christ, would it not give you rest if you knew every sin was put away and put away forever by the Christ of the cross. If you knew it was as far away from you as the East is from the West. Would it not give you peace to know that Jesus Christ had died for your sins and put them away forever, and you would never meet them again throughout all the eternities of God. That is true. He says He will remember them no more. He will bury them in the depths of the sea.
There is no rest from the guilt of sin except in the blood of Jesus Christ which he has provided by the blood of the cross. If you come to Jesus Christ the past may be blotted out forever. More than that, He not only gives rest from the past but he gives rest in the present from the power and dominion and the habit of sin now. He will give you rest tonight from the tyranny of sin in your soul.
When you come to Jesus Christ there is more than becoming free from the guilt and power of sin. He gives you rest from the cares and frets and burdens of life. How many of us are going through life doubting and worrying. He will save you from the fretting and friction and fever of life and the peace of God will come into your heart.
It is a great thing to be saved from sin, and it is a great thing also to be saved from fretting. Jesus Christ saves us not only from the power of sin, from the worry and burdens of the cares of life, but there is rest for the people of God by and by.
Rest in the Lord
The great quest of the world is for rest. I don’t care who he is that person is seeking rest. You will never find it except in Jesus Christ. In a union campaign of churches in Colorado Springs, I remember one night just before I got up to speak one of the ministers pointed down to the center section, to a lady sitting in a certain row of seats. He said, that woman is a leader of society in the city. She is the wife of a millionaire. She spends part of the season in London, Paris and Vienna. She is the leader of the smart set. If you can reach her you will accomplish much. When I gave the invitation the lady among others started up the aisle. After a while I said to her, “My friend, you have money, all that you can dream of. You have been drinking at all the fountains of the world’s pleasures. I want to ask you tonight, did you ever find real satisfaction and rest of soul in society?” She looked me in the eye and said, “I never knew what rest of heart and soul and spirit was until tonight.” The world and all it has is only as ashes in the mouth.
One reason why I want to go to Heaven, why I want to see Jesus, is that there will be no burdens there. Absolute rest of heart and of soul. I pity the suicide. God pity the man or woman that cannot find rest when alone with God and his own conscience, and takes poison or jumps into the lake. Death doesn’t change the situation. There is no break in the continuity of consciousness when you die. Thank God, there is rest for the people of God.
Her Last Chance
I stood by the sickbed of a woman. She had been converted in a meeting which I held. She yielded her heart to Christ on the last verse of the last invitation in the last night of the meeting. She stepped out and came and gave her heart to Christ. She left on the following Tuesday for New Mexico, to be matron of a great ranch. Two years passed and I received a telephone message to go to the hospital, and see her. She was dying.
I went to the hospital and found her there, pale, emaciated. I took her hand. It was like ice. I said to her, “I am so glad to see you again but so sorry to see you ill.” She replied, “I am glad you came. I must tell you how glad I am I settled it on that last night.”
I insisted on her not talking, but to let me talk. But she said, “Oh, you don’t know. It was the last chance I had. It was the last invitation. I was seventy-five miles from a church. I never had an opportunity to attend.” She said, “I tried to be true to Jesus Christ. I taught a Sunday School class and I tried to tell them about Jesus.”
She took my hand and said: “Oh, Brother Pratt, I am so tired. I want to rest. Oh, won’t you take me home. I am so tired. Won’t you take me home?” I felt her pulse and I looked at the nurse and she nodded to me, and I said to the sick woman, “Don’t worry, you are going home. You are going where the Christian is at rest.” And she said, “Oh, rest! Rest with Jesus!” and she was gone.
There is nothing that will give a soul rest except the precious blood of Jesus which was shed on Calvary for you and for me. Will you accept Him tonight?