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CHAPTER 2
THE DEPTHS OF FELLOWSHIP
 IN THE SIXTH PATH
•••

2.3  The Easy Yoke of Christ

You are reading in subchapter 2.3 of chapter 2 in the free, global online book, Fellowship With God in the Sixth Path. Navigation at the top and bottom of each page, allows you to open the table of contents, visit the home page, ask questions or share your story. 



Jesus said, 

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me... and you will find rest for your souls" 

Matthew 11:29



His Yoke is Easy

Jesus said,

  • "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). 


Jesus made an offer. His offer was made to all... to all who labor and are heavily burdened. He offered rest.  



Rest

I will repeat the passage: 

  • "28 Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). 


Prayerful Observations: 

I see two rests in this promise. The first is experienced when we come to Him (verse 28). The second rest is received as we bear the yoke of Christ with Christ (verses 29-30). His yoke is easy (verse 30).



Rest as we come to Him

In verse 28 we receive rest upon coming to Him. I experienced this rest when I came to Him the first time at my conversion. There was a euphoric filling by His Holy Spirit, transferring me from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13). In a moment, He moved me from the despair of tragedy and self-faith, into the joy and power of His presence (Psalm 16:11, Acts 1:8). I was in the Spirit for three days. My unusual conversion is explained in greater detail in the chapter before the introduction to this book.


I believe that the "rest" of verse 28 is received at our initial conversion. But few converts experience the intense euphoria that I received. God determines the depth of this first "rest" according to the purposes of His will. While I experienced this rest at my conversion, I also experience the "rest" of verse 28 in each moment as I turn to Him in my spirit. Continually turning to Him is described in subchapter 1.3. The rest of verse 28 is received when we come to Him.



Receive Rest as we bear Christ's yoke

As a young Christian after my conversion, many of my days and moments were not restful. But I observed by experience that I felt rest when I served Him... when I pointed to Him. Although I did not understand verses 29-30 at that time, I was receiving the "rest" of verses 29-30 as I bore the yoke of Christ.


I will repeat the passage again:

  • "28 Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). 



Making Disciples is the Yoke of Christ

What is His yoke? A yoke is an implement of work. It is used to harness two animals together to pull a burden. It is His yoke that we take. So, what work of Christ do we take? His yoke is to make disciples. It is written: "the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Jesus also said, "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John 10:10).  


The broad context of Matthew 11:28-30 shows that His yoke is to make disciples. The chapters leading up to Matthew 11:29-30 make this very clear. 


In the last verse of Matthew in chapter 9 Jesus told the disciples to ask God to send workers into the harvest of souls. Then through all of chapter 10 He gave them instructions on how to do that. In Matthew 10:18-20 Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would give them the words for their testimony. His instructions were completed in Matthew 11:1. See below:


  • "When Jesus had finished directing his twelve disciples, he departed from there to teach and preach in their cities" (Matthew 11:1). 


Then, also in Matthew 11:1, Jesus began to demonstrate how to preach the gospel. It said "he departed from there to teach and preach in their cities." 


Next, in Matthew 11:20-26 he reproached the cities that did not repent after hearing the gospel. 


Then in Matthew 11:27 he spoke of knowing the Father and the Son. Well, knowing the Father and the Son is the definition of having eternal life (John 17:3). Then in Matthew 11:28-30 he tells them to take up His yoke. He tells them to do His work. What else could He be talking about besides saving souls?" 


I will summarize Matthew 9:38 - 11:30. 

Jesus:

  • Instructed the disciples to ask God to "Send out laborers into his harvest"
  • Instructed them about making disciples
  • Showed them how to make disciples
  • Spoke about repentance and eternal life (knowing the Father and the Son)
  • Sent them take up His yoke (work) and receive rest


So, the yoke of Christ is to make disciples.


Jesus did not come to remove the suffering of this world. Later subchapters of this book will show that suffering is a device used by God to draw men into life. Christ came to give life to the dead, in a world full of trouble (John 16:33), until He someday returns to take God's children to Paradise. 


Taking the yoke of Christ is speaking words of life and grace, to make disciples, drawing others into life... drawing others into fellowship with God. Regarding those who have already been converted to Christ, the  yoke of Christ is to draw them deeper into life... deeper into fellowship with God... deeper into His rest.


When Jesus originally called the disciples He said "Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men" (Matthew 4:19). Jesus then spent three years training the disciples in the supernatural activity of making disciples. When He left this world He told them to "make disciples". Many other scriptures indicate that following Him includes making disciples (Luke 9:59-60, John 21:17-19, Matthew 28:19)



How can His yoke be easy?

Jesus said, "come to me... take my yoke... you will find rest... my yoke is easy." 


How can it be easy?  It is easy because we come to Him and bear His yoke in His powerful, intimate presence. It is easy because we receive supernatural "rest" when we take up His work. It's easy because scripture reveals the simple method of making disciples that Jesus and the apostles used.


By looking at what Jesus and the disciples did, we can understand how to make disciples. We should imitate them. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul wrote, "Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ". If we should imitate them, we should do what they did. What they did was actually easy. They repeated the words of the Father and prayed the Endorsed Prayers. 



Repeat the words of the Father and pray: It's easy

The prayers presented in scripture for bearing the yoke of Christ are revealed in the first four subchapters of chapter 4. These prayers are called the Endorsed Prayers. They are prayers for spiritual communication, making disciples, spiritual issues and praise. If you aren't praying these prayers, you are not following the example of Christ and the apostles. If you aren't praying them, you are not following God's agenda or bearing Christ's yoke. If you aren't praying them, you are not receiving the rest He promised for bearing His yoke. If making disciples is hard, try the easy way... repeat the words of the Father and pray the Endorsed Prayers. The Holy Spirit does the rest. Tools to help you use these prayers are provided in subchapters 4.7, 4.8, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.11.



Rest and Suffering

While Jesus said that His yoke is easy, He didn't say that it would be painless. "Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34). So making disciples is easy to do, results in rest for the soul and results in suffering.



What is this rest? 

When we follow Him by making disciples, we have fellowship with God. It is something that we do together. I believe that the rest is the joy of intimate fellowship with God as we follow Him, obeying His Spirit. 


I will repeat the passage again:

  • "28 Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). 


Rest is promised when we come to Him (verse 28) and when we take up His yoke (verse 29). So we have rest when we participate in His agenda, in His presence. A large amount of two way conversation takes place as we bear His yoke. 


Intricate detail of our conversations with God is provided in the Endorsed Prayers (chapter 4). His communications to us come through scripture (chapter 1) and the Holy Spirit (chapter 3).  The book of Hebrews tells us to make disciples (confess Christ). It also tells us trust and obey when we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. And like Matthew 11:29, Hebrews says that we receive rest when we do these things. Please continue prayerfully with me a little longer.



If you will hear His voice today... 

  • "as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:7-8).


I explained above that when Jesus taught the disciples how to make disciples in chapter 10 of Matthew, he told them that the Holy Spirit would give them the words to use in their testimony. 

  • " you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations. But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:18-20).


The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews who:

  • confessed Christ (Hebrews 4:14), 
  • were dull of hearing (Hebrews 5:11) 
  • were immature babies in Christ (Hebrews 5:12-13). 


By the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, they should have matured to the point of being teachers: 


  • "For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you" (Hebrews 5:12). 


In other words, they should have become disciple makers by that time.


Please read chapters 3-5 of Hebrews. All three chapters are reproduced at the end of this chapter for your convenience. In these chapters the Hebrew Christians were offered rest. If you will read them prayerfully with Matthew 11:28-29 in mind, you will see how both passages offer rest. You will see that both passages explain how to receive that rest... by making disciples.


Matthew 11:28-29 speaks of receiving rest by coming to Jesus, taking His yoke of disciple making and learning from Him. But, the intimate spiritual interaction of learning from Christ in Matthew 11:29 is presented with additional spiritual detail in Hebrews. It is presented three times as obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-8, 15, 4:7). 


Chapters 3-5 of Hebrews speaks to believers who should be involved in disciple making ministry but weren't. They were told that they should obey the Holy Spirit by faith when the Holy Spirit speaks to them, holding fast the glorifying of their hope in Christ (Hebrews 3:6), holding fast their confidence in Christ (Hebrews 3:15) and holding tightly their confession of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14). 


As they hold fast 

  • the glorifying in their hope in Christ, 
  • their confidence in Him, and 
  • their confession of Him...


they are His household (Hebrews 3:6), partaking of Him (Hebrews 3:14). If we do not obey the voice of the Holy Spirit to do these things, we will not enter into God's rest (Hebrews 3:11,18: 4:1, 3, 4 ). On the other hand, if we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit to do these things, we enter His rest (Hebrews 4:3, 9-11).


Now I will repeat again the passage from Matthew: 

  • "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29). 
 

There is rest, in taking the yoke of Christ (His work) and learning from Him.  We learn from Him through scripture and the words of the Holy Spirit.


At the bottom of this page, I have provided chapters 3-5 from Hebrews for your convenience. I have also shown pertinent words in bold text to help you see the correlation of Hebrews with Matthew 11:28-29. If our Lord so leads you, please prayerfully read through those three chapters below. As you prayerfully read these words, you will see how rest is connected with obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit to confess Jesus. You will also see that you must believe His voice. As you obey His voice, you will become teachers who are not dull of hearing.  But before you enter into that long passage, chapters 3-5, let me show you how to put on the yoke of Christ. 



The Endorsed Prayer of Harvest

In my experience as a layman, bearing the yoke of Christ is the key to rest. But when I wasn't bearing the Yoke, I couldn't choose on my own to put it on. The Endorsed Prayer of Harvest is how we put on the yoke of Christ.


  • "Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).


Prayerful Observations: 
We ask Him to send and then He sends us. We don't choose ourselves and send ourselves. We don't take up the yoke by obeying a rule. We take it up by obeying a call of the Spirit. That is why Jesus instructed the disciples to pray the Endorsed Prayer of Harvest before He sent them. We ask the Lord of the harvest to send. He chooses who and when to send. This is discussed extensively in the Endorsed Prayer of Harvest in micro-subchapter 4.4a. The Endorsed Prayer of the Harvest reveals the spiritual authority of God in the spiritual realm. He chooses who to send and when to send them. 

But, how do we know when He is sending us? 
  • "as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion" (Hebrews 3:7-8).


If you have prayed the Endorsed Prayer of the Harvest, believing without doubt that He will send... then you will know when He sends you. The necessity of asking without doubt is proved from the scriptures in subchapter 4.2a. Subchapter 4.2a shows that spiritual communication from God is received by those who ask without doubt. One who asks with doubt "shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:5-7). 


Roughly ten years after I finished college several people told me that I had led them to Christ during college. Until they told me, I was unaware of this. I had shared with them, what God had done for me. I had repeated words of scripture and prayed for them. Their lives were changed forever.


The words of the Father are what saved them. I was only the message bearer. I was bearing the yoke of Christ when I repeated scripture and prayed.


If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and are wondering if the call to make disciples applies to you, please read "Is Every Christian Supposed to Make Disciples?" in the appendix (A5). The answer from scripture is yes!


Fellowship with God is a two way conversation in the spiritual realm, as we follow Christ, bearing His yoke in the world. Taking the yoke of Christ involves praying the scriptures in the Fifth Path, asking God to give us words (Ephesians 6:18, 19), watching in prayer (Colossians 4:2 and subchapter 2.4) and praying the Endorsed Prayers (1Corinthians 11:1). We "Turn, Turn, Turn and Behold the Lord"... we walk in the Sixth Path (2 Corinthians 3:18). 



Chapters 3-5 from Hebrews:

As you read chapters 3-5 from the book of Hebrews, you may wonder what is meant by the word "rest". You may wonder if the readers are being admonished to enter God's rest by converting to Christianity. This is not the case. 


The writer is not admonishing them to convert. He is admonishing them to hold onto their confidence (Hebrews 3:6) and hold onto their confession of Christ (Hebrews 4:14). While they already have a confession of Christ, they are told to enter into the rest:  "Let's therefore give diligence to enter into that rest" (Hebrews 4:11).  So, the "rest" they are admonished to enter is not the rest which comes from conversion to Christ because they already confess Christ. 


Consider this as well: They are referred to as babies and admonished to grow up (Hebrews 5;12-14). They would not have been called "babies" in Christ if they had not been converted. They are admonished to mature in Christ and be involved in disciple making ("exhort one another" in Hebrews 3:13). So, it is clear that the rest of Hebrews is not the rest which comes from conversion as in Matthew 11:28. It instead refers to the rest that comes from taking up the yoke of Christ (making disciples) from Matthew 11:29. Rest comes as we engage in disciple making. 


The long section on rest begins with confessing Christ (Hebrews 3:1) and ends with confessing Christ (Hebrews 4:14). So, the disciple making activity of confessing Christ is central to receiving the rest offered by chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews. 


In Hebrews 3:7-8 it is written "as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion." This rebellion is mentioned in Psalm 95:7-11 and Exodus 17:1-7. Those who God delivered from Egypt drank from Christ, just like we do (1 Corinthians 10:4). But these passages from Psalms and Exodus don't say that they confessed Him. Instead they rebelled in times of adversity.  "They tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?" (Exodus 17:7). They doubted God's leadership.


The phrase  "Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts"  is mentioned three times in Hebrews, chapters 3-4. Israel is used as an example of what not to do. When the Holy Spirit leads us, we are to: 

  • trust, 
  • obey, 
  • confess Christ and 
  • receive rest. 


Instead, Israel: 

  • doubted, 
  • disobeyed, 
  • doubted God's leadership  and 
  • failed to enter God's rest.


This background is necessary for you to understand Hebrews 3 and 4.


I'd like to mention one more thing before you read the passage from Hebrews. It has to do with "good news." The phrase "good news" in Hebrews 4:2 will cause confusion for some. Some didn't enter rest because they didn't believe the "good news" that was preached to them. If you restrict the phrase "good news" to only apply to conversion, the whole of chapters 3-5 will not make sense. The term "good news" may mean news with respect to conversion. But it may also present "good news" about our life with God after conversion. That second sense is consistent with the flow of thought in chapters 3-5. After conversion, we can encounter circumstances in which we don't have faith. More on this is revealed from the scriptures in subchapter 2.6, titled "What Variety of Faith do You have?"


With these thoughts in mind, please read the following scriptures. Please read prayerfully. You may need to prayerfully meditate on these chapters for several months before the message becomes clear. Or it may only take you fifteen minutes. You may need to meditate on the entire book of Hebrews. May God bless you as you prayerfully consider His words. 



"Chapter 3

Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession: Jesus, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, as also Moses was in all his house. 3 For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, because he who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone; but he who built all things is God. 5 Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken, 6 but Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end. 


7 Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, 


"Today if you will hear his voice, 8 don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, in the day of the trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested me and tried me, and saw my deeds for forty years. 10 Therefore I was displeased with that generation, and said, 'They always err in their heart, but they didn't know my ways.' 11 As I swore in my wrath, 'They will not enter into my rest.' 


12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there might be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; 13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called "today", lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm to the end, 15 while it is said, 


"Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion." 


16 For who, when they heard, rebelled? Wasn't it all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 With whom was he displeased forty years? Wasn't it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 To whom did he swear that they wouldn't enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 We see that they weren't able to enter in because of unbelief


Chapter 4

Let's fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn't profit them, because it wasn't mixed with faith by those who heard. 3 For we who have believed do enter into that rest, even as he has said, 


"As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;" 


although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, "God rested on the seventh day from all his works;" 5and in this place again, "They will not enter into my rest." 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good news was preached before failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7 he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), 


"Today if you will hear his voice, don't harden your hearts." 


8 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 


11 Let's therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. 14 Having then a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let's hold tightly to our confession. 15 For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. 16 Let's therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need. 


Chapter 5

For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness. 3 Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. 4 Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was. 5 So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, 


"You are my Son. Today I have become your father." 


6As he says also in another place, 


"You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." 


7 He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear, 8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. 9 Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation, 10 named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 


11 About him we have many words to say, and hard to interpret, seeing you have become dull of hearing. 12 For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the revelations of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. 13 For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. 14 But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil."

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light"
Matthew 11:30

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