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Why the name "Saint's Rest?"

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

"You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." -Augustine of Hippo

We all know the pressure to perform. The expectation of gaining rewards for performing well and the fear of suffering loss for performing badly comes as naturally to us as breathing. For many, the idea of being less-than-excellent at a task, much less entirely incapable of performing, tops the list of things we dread. This is reinforced at every level of society. From school, to work, to home life; our very livelihood depends on our performance. Even when it comes to our hobbies—we often feel the need to have the best and be the best we can be. And just as the fear of failure is very real for many, so receiving recognition for our excellence tops the list of many people's desires.

This is no accident. We were designed to pursue perfection. We were designed to merit God's approval. Our first father, Adam, was created in the image of God. That in part means that he had an inborn recognition of the perfections of God—perfections he was designed to reflect as God's image in creation. To fall short of perfection is to fail to fulfill the most fundamental reason we exist. And because of the image of God in us, we know this to the very core of our being.

Though Adam's fall into sin (and our fall in him) dimmed and distorted the image of God in us, our drive to perform and seek approval remains. Our inborn understanding of God's standard and our accountability to it is the ultimate source of mankind’s drive for glory-seeking. Even those who reject the notion of God intellectually cannot unmake themselves in His image. And yet, all our glory-seeking—whether earthly or consciously focused on God—is ultimately fruitless. As the wisest son of Adam observed; all life under the sun is vanity. Any semblance of glory gained on earth will fade and pass away along with this fallen creation. And due to our fallen nature, we are unable to even begin to gain the eternal approval of God in and of ourselves. And yet we toil.

God has provided a mirror in scripture to show us the foolishness of thinking we are righteous in and of ourselves. He has plainly shown us the standard we must meet to gain His approval. And for those willing to be honest before God, that very good standard delivers some very bad news. The only true standard of righteousness—the only righteousness God can approve of—is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is not enough to "try our best" to love God and our neighbor. The standard is to actually love God and neighbor—personally, perfectly, and perpetually; in thought, word, and deed, to the full extent of God's own love. God cannot approve of anyone that falls short of that standard met in that consummately perfect way. And yet we strive... With restless and weary hearts we stumble around in the darkness suppressing the knowledge of God and deluding ourselves into thinking we can produce something our holy creator will smile upon. It is exhausting. And it is a pursuit that will carry us straight to eternal death unless God intervenes on our behalf.

The good news we are here to proclaim is that God did intervene on our behalf. In His unfathomable grace, everything God requires, God provided in the person and work of Jesus Christ. By His perfect fulfillment of the law on our behalf, Jesus brought meritorious human striving to an end once and for all. By His death and resurrection in our place, He made full satisfaction for the penalty of our sin. There is nothing to add to and nothing to take away from the perfection of His work on our behalf. Our gracious Redeemer freely offers everything He earned to anyone who sees that they fall short of the glory of God. He invites us to come to Him with all our needs—bringing all our sins, burdens, and striving—and rest in His perfect sufficiency on our behalf. The world tempts us day in and day out to suppress the knowledge of God and the awareness of our fallenness. It calls us to entertain the delusional notion that God is pleased with us in and of ourselves. Even by the ministries of many well-meaning churches, our attention is often drawn inward upon ourselves, and we are unintentionally reinforced in our natural bent to seek God’s approval apart from Christ.

We are all Pharisees by nature. That is one reason why God has given us the church—to put His people back to rest in His sufficiency week after week. To gather us back home from the countless ways we are tempted to rely on ourselves throughout the week. To point us outside of ourselves to the risen and ascended Christ, who is our only sufficiency before the Father. Standing in the clarity of biblical interpretation God provided in the Reformation, we understand that the central purpose of the gathering of the church week after week is to revive our awareness of our inability with the law, renew us in our reliance on Christ and His sufficiency for us, confirm us in that rest through baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and guide us to love out of the love we have received. Hearing this good news and trusting Christ—that His perfect righteousness and satisfaction are a free gift to all who hold out their empty, sin-stained hands and receive it—we have rest. Our standing is eternally settled in Christ. We can no more increase or decrease it than we can increase or decrease Christ.

This good news is the message God calls His churches to proclaim. It is this good news that grows, feeds, and sustains our faith. Deepening rest in Jesus according to that message is what the Spirit uses to sanctify us. Being loved so perfectly, grown in Christ’s likeness, and drawn into the Trinitarian life of God through our union with Jesus produces love, joy, and gratitude—that which compels us to pursue holiness and good works in the freedom of the gospel. Gospel-motivated good works are not done to earn anything from God, but out of simple gratitude for being given everything in Christ. Standing in the righteousness of Christ and the forgiveness of sins in Him, we are no longer spinning our wheels when we pursue obedience. Good works done in gospel faith adorn the gospel and allow us to experience the joy and satisfaction of living out a small beginning of that which we were created to do—reflecting the restored image of God in Christ. Even though the corruption of our flesh stains even our very best Spirit-induced good works; by the grace of our wonderful Savior, even our feeble attempts to love God and our neighbors are cleansed in the blood and righteousness of the Son and are thereby acceptable and pleasing to the Father in Him. But any service we render proceeds entirely out of the reality that we have first been served by Christ—both as He served us in His life, death, burial, and resurrection, and how He serves us still, week after week, in the gathering of the church. It is the ongoing, abiding reality of all we have been so freely given in Christ that is the basis of our lives of gratitude. We do not work in order to rest—we rest in order to work. That’s why, by God's grace, resting in the sufficiency of “Christ for you” is the essence of our weekly gatherings. Our name reflects our message. Rest in Christ is what you will find at Saint’s Rest Reformed Church as we grow together in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. And since Jesus Christ Himself is every Saint’s Rest, our name has a double meaning. We cannot imagine a more fitting name.

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