By Zhongcheng, China
The Origin of Rest
It is recorded in the Bible, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2–3). In the beginning, God used six days to create the heavens, the earth, and all things within, and on the seventh day, when the work of creation was complete, He rested. God created the ancestors of mankind, Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden of Eden, and told them to keep His rules. Adam and Eve listened to God, obeyed Him, and lived under God’s care and protection. They suffered no illness or pain, and had no troubles or anxieties. They lived carefree lives in the garden, and enjoyed their rest with God.
Mankind Is Corrupted by Satan and Loses Its Rest
But, Adam and Eve lacked the truth and had no ability to discern good and evil. They listened to Satan’s temptation, ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, betrayed God, and were cursed by God: Men were required to work bitterly to support their families, women suffered pain in childbirth and were placed under the control of their husbands. Afterward, Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they lost their carefree lives, and thereafter they knew no rest. From then on, mankind lost God’s care and protection, lived under the influence of Satan, and was corrupted and harmed by Satan. People began to be envious of each other, fight one another, and kill one another, just like when Cain slew Abel because of jealousy over Abel’s offerings, which delighted God, as is recorded in the Bible. Slowly, mankind lost all place for God in their hearts, grew ever more distant from God, became arrogant, selfish, cunning, and evil, committed a growing number of sins, and even openly made themselves enemies of God, to the point that they did not permit God to exist. Finally, God used a flood to destroy this evil, corrupt mankind, with only Noah, his family of seven, and all the animals on the ark surviving.
To Save Mankind, God Ceases to Rest
After the destruction of the flood, Noah’s descendants continued to live and multiply on the earth. Although the people of the time knew how to feed, clothe, and house themselves, they had no knowledge of Jehovah God, did not know how to worship God or hold God above all, did not know how to satisfy the Lord of creation, as well as many other things. How could a humanity such as this satisfy God’s will? At the beginning, when God created mankind, He hoped that people would listen to His words, obey Him, manifest Him, and glorify Him, but at that time, mankind was far from being able to meet God’s requirements. So, God ceased to rest, and began the work of His management plan to save mankind. As thesays: “In the beginning, God was resting. There were no humans or anything else upon the earth at that time, and God had not done any work whatsoever. God only began His management work once humanity existed and once humanity had been corrupted. From this point on, God no longer rested but instead began to busy Himself among humanity” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
At the time, based on the needs of man, God began the first stage of His work to save mankind—the work of the Age of Law. Jehovah God used Moses to issue the laws and commandments, such as: God shall be worshiped above all, no worshiping of idols, the keeping of the Sabbath, the forbidding of adultery, honoring one’s parents, and so on, so that mankind would know that God created the heavens, the earth, and all things within, know that man should worship God, know what sin is, know how to get along with others, and know what God likes and dislikes. Through the laws, Jehovah led people’s lives on the earth. When mankind kept the laws and the commandments, their behavior was restrained and regulated, effectively curbing mankind’s sins. As long as people kept the law, they would not die in sin.
Mankind kept the law for several thousand years, but because of Satan’s corruption, people gradually lost the ability to keep the law, and again lived in sin. Ever more people worshiped idols, engaged in adultery and did wicked deeds, until finally no offering was sufficient to redeem their sins, and they all faced the risk of being condemned to death by the law. As the word of God says: “During several thousand years of the Age of Law, mankind became accustomed to the guidance of the Age of Law, and they began to take it lightly, and gradually left the care of God. And so, at the same time as sticking to the law, they also worshiped idols and committed evil acts. They were without the protection of Jehovah, and merely lived their lives before the altar in the temple” (“Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst the Management of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
God couldn’t bear to see mankind, whom He had personally created, be destroyed. To save mankind, and based on mankind’s needs at the time, God began the second stage of His work—the work of the Age of Grace. God Himself came to earth in incarnate flesh, and on the basis of the laws and commandments, proclaimed the way of repentance, giving people ways to practice that were closer to their lives and more practical. For example: He taught people to be salt and light by doing good deeds and helping others; He taught them to be tolerant, patient, forgiving, and love their enemies; and so on. People understood God’s requirements, and had principles by which to comport themselves. Finally, the Lord Jesus was crucified as a sin offering for mankind, and His sinless body took on the sins of mankind. Thereafter, any who accepted the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption and cried out to the Lord would no longer be condemned under the law, and was also qualified to come before God and enjoy His blessings, grace, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit’s work, which gave people’s hearts and spirits rest. Just as the Lord said, “Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption continued for two thousand years. Whenever we sinned, by confessing our sins to the Lord, our sins would be forgiven. However, it is undeniable that our sinfulness still exists, that satanic natures such as arrogance, self-importance, selfishness, baseness, crookedness, cunning, greed, and evil are rooted deeply within us, that we still often sin and resist God, and that we are incapable of practicing the Lord’s words. To further our own interests, reputation, or status, we often lie or engage in deceit. There is no place for God in our hearts, when things befall us we do not seek God’s will, and we still often follow and look up to other men. The moment we have status, we are still capable of exalting ourselves and showing off to make others worship and admire us. When God’s work doesn’t accord with our notions, we blame, judge, and deny God. When natural disaster or something else threatens the safety of our families, we can even betray and reject God. … How could people like us, who are so deeply corrupted by Satan, ever hope to receive God’s approval? So, if we wish to completely escape from the bondage of our sinfulness, escape the dark forces of Satan, and enter into true rest, we still need to undergo a further step of God’s salvation that allows us to completely rid ourselves of our satanic corrupt dispositions.
How to Enter Into Rest
If we wish to truly enter into rest, we must first know what it means to enter into rest. God’s word says, “The life in rest is one without war, without filth, without persisting unrighteousness. This is to say that it lacks Satan’s harassment (here ‘Satan’ refers to hostile forces), Satan’s corruption, as well as the invasion of any force opposed to God. Everything follows its own kind and worships the Lord of creation. Heaven and earth are entirely tranquil. This is humanity’s restful life. When God enters into rest, no more unrighteousness will persist upon the earth, and there will be no more invasion of any hostile forces. Humanity will also enter a new realm; they will no longer be a humanity corrupted by Satan, but rather a humanity that has been saved after having been corrupted by Satan. Humanity’s day of rest is also God’s day of rest. God lost His rest due to humanity’s inability to enter into rest; it was not that He was originally unable to rest. Entering into rest does not mean that all things will cease to move, or that all things will cease to develop, nor does it mean that God will cease to work or man will cease to live. The sign of entering into rest is as thus: Satan has been destroyed; those wicked people who join Satan in its evildoing have been punished and wiped out; all forces hostile to God cease to exist. God entering into rest means that He will no longer carry out His work of humanity’s salvation. Humanity entering into rest means that all of humanity will live within God’s light and under His blessings; there will be none of Satan’s corruption, nor will any unrighteous things occur. Humanity will live normally upon earth, and they will live under God’s care” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word explains very clearly what it is to enter into rest, and what life is like for mankind in rest. This is to say, after the ultimate conclusion of God’s management plan, all things will be sorted according to their kind, Satan and all the evildoers who resist God or make an enemy of God will be destroyed, there will no longer be any filth, corruption, or unrighteousness upon the earth, nor any of Satan’s corruption and disturbances, people will all be rid of their corrupt, satanic dispositions, all will be able to exalt God and live by God’s word, relations between people will be harmonious, and all will worship the Lord of creation upon the earth. At this time, mankind will live under God’s care and protection, and under God’s blessing and guidance. This is what it means to truly enter into a life of rest.
But today, there is still filth, corruption, and unrighteousness within us, we still live under the influence of Satan, and Satan as well as all the enemy forces that belong to it are not yet destroyed. So, to save us completely, and to sort all in creation according to its kind, God has done the further work of judging and purifying man with words, which fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13), and “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48), and also His prophecies regarding the last-days’ work of sorting the goats from the sheep, the wheat from the chaff, and the good from the evil servants.
In the last days, God has expressed millions of new words, which reveal the entirety of the truth required to completely save us, such as: God’s 6,000-year management plan, the mystery of the three stages of God’s work, the true fact of mankind’s corruption by Satan, how God judges and purifies mankind’s corrupt dispositions, what kind of people God saves and perfects, what kind of people God despises and eliminates, and mankind’s final ending and destination. God uses these words to do the work of judgment, and thereby purify, change, and perfect people, and also to reveal and eliminate people. When we experience the judgment and chastisement in God’s words, we gain knowledge of the root of our rebelliousness and resistance toward God, we clearly see the true fact of our own corruption by Satan, we understand God’s will and requirements, and we come to know that God’s righteous disposition brooks no offense. Amidst God’s judgment, we see that God is supreme, mighty, holy, benevolent, and is the Lord of creation. At the same time, we also see that we ourselves are tiny, lowly, despicable, and ugly. Genuine repentance is produced within us, as well as fear and love for God in our hearts. We become ever more loyal and obedient to God, and gradually, our dispositions change. When we understand the truth, rid ourselves of our corrupt dispositions, live by God’s words, and become people of the same heart and mind with God, Satan will no longer be able to corrupt us, and we will no longer betray God. When that time comes, God will destroy Satan and all the forces of evil in the great disaster, and then we will truly live in the light of God’s presence, under God’s care and protection, and enter the new heaven and earth God has prepared for us. At that time, God’s work of salvation will be complete, and God will rest alongside man. However, if we reject God’s work of judgment, then we will never escape the bondage of sin, we will always live under Satan’s influence, we will be corrupted, toyed with, and harmed by Satan, and finally we will be destroyed alongside Satan, thereafter eternally unable to enter into rest. As the word of God says: “Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of cleansing—will be those who will enter into the final rest with God; therefore, those who enter into rest will all have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God only after having undergone His final cleansing work. These people who have been ultimately obtained by God will enter into the final rest. The essence of God’s work of chastisement and judgment is to cleanse humanity, and it is for the day of final rest. Otherwise, the whole of humanity will not be able to follow their own kind or enter into rest. This work is humanity’s only path to enter into rest. Only God’s work of cleansing will cleanse humanity of their unrighteousness, and only His work of chastisement and judgment will bring to light those disobedient things among humanity, thereby separating those who can be saved from those who cannot, and those who will remain from those who will not. When His work ends, those people who remain will be cleansed and enjoy a more wonderful second human life upon the earth as they enter a higher realm of humanity; in other words, they will enter into humanity’s day of rest and live together with God. After those who cannot remain have undergone chastisement and judgment, their original forms will be entirely revealed; after this they will all be destroyed and, like Satan, will no longer be allowed to survive upon the earth. The humanity of the future will no longer contain any of this type of people; these people are not fit to enter the land of the ultimate rest, nor are they fit to enter the day of rest that God and man will share, for they are the targets of punishment and are the wicked, and they are not righteous people” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Finally, we leave you with a hymn of God’s words, “Only Those Who Have Been Cleansed Will Enter the Final Rest”: “The humanity of the future will still consist of the descendants of Adam and Eve, but they will not be people who live under Satan’s domain. Rather, they will be people who have been saved and purified. This will be a humanity that has been judged and chastised, and one that is holy. These people will not be similar to the human race as it originally was; one can almost say that they are an entirely different kind of person from the original Adam and Eve. These people will have been selected from among all of those who were corrupted by Satan, and they will be the people who have ultimately stood firm during God’s judgment and chastisement; they will be the last remaining group of people among corrupt mankind. Only this group of people will be able to enter into the final rest together with God. Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of cleansing—will be those who will enter into the final rest with God; therefore, those who enter into rest will all have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God only after having undergone His final cleansing work. These people who have been ultimately obtained by God will enter into the final rest” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs).