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Calvin Catechism: Fri June 19 Q. 174: Sabbath, Sanctification and Rest


174. Is  this to be done only one day a week?
This is to be done continually. After we have once begun, we must continue all our life.


The Catechism continues to probe the question of spiritual rest by recognizing its role in our sanctification, not simply in our justification. In justification, we rest from attempts to work before him or merit his favor. Instead, we wholly depend on Christ for rest, for it is through him that God declares us righteous: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Mt 11:29). The ability to find salvation as rest stands on Jesus’ ministry of providing the work of salvation. In contrast, for us, “This is the work of God, that [we] believe in him whom he has sent,” (Jn 6:29).

In addition to resting in justification, we are also called to rest in our sanctification. In our continuous obedience to him and his making of us holy, we are not to think that it is our effort that achieves his holiness and blessing. It is not our faithfulness before him that sanctifies us, but the faithful work of Christ to make us faithful before him even when we are faithless and unfaithful (cf. I Thess 5:23-24; 2 Tim 2:13). In weakness and frailty of righteousness, we rely on Christ by the power of the Spirit. The only other alternative his to accomplish good and evil works in the power of our own human effort—that is, without crucifying the flesh, (see Q. 173).

However, unlike the one time act of resting in him for justification before God, the rest of sanctification continues (with no pun intended). We are to rely on the power of the Spirit continually, denying the remnants of our Adamic nature continually, doing so with holy warfare daily until we finally rest in him eternally. In this war for rest, Scripture and prayer must attend to us daily and unhurriedly, as these are the means by which the Spirit accomplishes his work in us. Scripture provides words of rest, for we hear words from a God who is true and we are thusly assured that he will keep his promises to us. Prayer – which is the means of drawing upon the Spirit, as God is pleased to respond in mercy – provides the power of rest—release from ourselves and reliance upon him alone. The rest of Scripture and the Spirit cannot await the Sabbath. For without these we tire in our nature and are too worn to be holy before him on any given day.