Amplified: And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: and you have perhaps lost sight of that piece of advice which reminds you of our sonship in God: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: And have you quite forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his child? He said, "My son, don’t be angry when the Lord punishes you. Don’t be discouraged when he has to show you where you are wrong.
Weymouth: and you have quite forgotten the encouraging words which are addressed to you as sons, and which say, "My son, do not think lightly of the lord's discipline, and do not faint when he corrects you;
Wuest: And you have completely forgotten the exhortation which is of such a nature as to speak to you as to sons, Son of mine, stop making light of the Lord's discipline, correction, and guidance. Stop fainting when you are being effectually rebuked by Him. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and ye have forgotten the exhortation that doth speak fully with you as with sons, 'My son, be not despising chastening of the Lord, nor be faint, being reproved by Him,
AND YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE EXHORTATION: kai eklelesthe (2PRMI) tes parakleseos: (forgotten - Deuteronomy 4:9,10; Psalms 119:16,83,109; Proverbs 3:1; 4:5; Matthew 16:9,10; Luke 24:6,8) (exhortation - He 12:7; Proverbs 3:11,12)
Wuest - The writer now quotes from Proverbs 3:11, 12, exhorting his readers to take these persecutions as allowed of God for the purpose of chastening them.
Exposition related to suffering - Romans 8:18
Exposition related to tribulations - Romans 5:3
Exposition on how the Savior Succors Suffering Saints - Hebrews 2:18
Exposition on Trials - James 1:2
Exposition on present pain versus future joy - Matthew 5:10, 11, 12- notes
Don't forget to do a Preceptaustin Site Search - Enter the word SUFFERING in Search
KEY WORDS IN HEBREWS - Click for complete list of Key Words in Hebrews
Irving Jensen - The main theme of Hebrews may be stated thus: The knowledge and assurance of how great this High Priest Jesus is should lift the drifting believer from spiritual lethargy to vital Christian maturity. Stated another way: The antidote for backsliding is a growing personal knowledge of Jesus (He 2:1-note, He 2:3-note). (Jensen, I. L. Jensen's Survey of the New Testament: Search and discover. page 418. Chicago: Moody Press)
Leon Morris introduces this section noting that "Suffering comes to all; it is part of life, but it is not easy to bear. Yet it is not quite so bad when it can be seen as meaningful. The author has just pointed out that Christ endured His suffering on the Cross on account of the joy set before Him (He 12:2-note). His suffering had meaning. So for Christians all suffering is transformed because of the Cross. We serve a Savior who suffered, and we know He will not lead us into meaningless suffering. The writer points to the importance of discipline and proceeds to show that for Christians suffering is rightly understood only when seen as God's fatherly discipline, correcting and directing us. Suffering is evidence, not that God does not love us, but that He does. Believers are sons and are treated as sons. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
Forgotten (1585) (eklanthanomai from ek = intensifies meaning + lantháno = forget, lie hidden) means to make to forget entirely. To be utterly oblivious of. Forgotten is in the perfect tense which means that you forgot somewhere along the journey and that forgetfulness is still present. This is the only use of this verb in the Bible (not in the Lxx).
Spurgeon - Our trials are little compared with those of the martyrs of the olden times. Courage, brothers, these are small matters to faint about!
How about you dear reader? Have you read this verse or heard this teaching and yet it "came in one ear" and "went out the other"? not all who hear or read God’s word give their total attention to it. At times the truth is quickly forgotten and we find ourselves drifting away from the divine "moorings" of God's Word (He 2:1-note).
Exhortation (3874) (paraklesis [word study] from parakaléo = calling one alongside to help or give aid <> pará = side of + kaléo = call) means the giving of solace, comfort, consolation or exhortation. As noted it has the root idea of calling to one side to give aid and thus represents an act of encouragement or comfort. It the present context the nuance leans more toward exhortation but even exhortation has an element of encouragement. In a sense all of Scripture acts like a paraklesis or exhortation, admonition or encouragement for the purpose of strengthening and establishing believers.
Paraklesis - 29x in 28v - Luke 2:25; 6:24; Acts 4:36; 9:31; 13:15; 15:31; Ro 12:8; 15:4f; 1Cor 14:3; 2Cor 1:3ff; 7:4, 7, 13; 8:4, 17; Phil 2:1; 1Th 2:3; 2Th 2:16; 1Ti 4:13; Philemon 1:7; Heb 6:18; 12:5; 13:22. NAS = appeal(1), comfort(13), consolation(1), encouragement(6), exhortation(7), urging(1).
The epistles frequently "remind" the believers of what they once knew (Ro 15:15-note, 2Ti 1:6-note, 2:14, Titus 3:1, 2-note; 2Pe 1:12-note, Jude 1:5). We all need to remember the warning in Heb 2:1 (note). Compare Heb 12:15, 16, 17, in which he implies how some had completely forgotten God’s warning. The Christian view of suffering is now presented. Why do persecution, testings, trials, sickness, pain, sorrow, and trouble come into the life of the believer? Are they a sign of God’s anger or displeasure? Do they happen by chance? How should we react to them?
Forgetfulness causes a lot of unnecessary problems and heartaches. Our greatest need is not for new light from God, but for paying attention to light we already have. When God’s Word is neglected it is forgotten. Sometimes the answer or the help we need is in a truth we learned a long time ago but have let slip away.
These believers were upset about their afflictions partly because they had forgotten God’s Word. In the Old Testament God not only had spoken to them about suffering and discipline, but He had spoken to them as sons. They had forgotten more than simply divine truths, they had forgotten the exhortation of their heavenly Father. Turning to Scripture is listening to God, for Scripture is His Word. For believers, it is the Word of their Father.
Specifically they forgot the firm foundation, that by which faith comes in Pr 3:11,12 He 6:18-note, He 12:5-note, He 13:22-note The figure of speech (metaphor) changes from that of an athletic contest to that of a family.
The psalmist had this experience, and cries out to himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” He knew his problem, and he also knew the cure, for he continues, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God” (Ps. 42:11). The cure for hopelessness is hope in God. The child of God has no need to faint because of God’s discipline. God gives it to strengthen us, not to weaken us, to encourage us, not to discourage us, to build us up, not to tear us down.
WHICH IS ADDRESSED TO YOU AS SONS: etis humin os huiois dialegetai (3SPMI):
Addressed (1256) (dialegomai from diá = transition or separation + lego = speak) means to say thoroughly, to discuss in argument or exhortation, to reason with someone, to dispute (Mk 9.34) or as used here in Hebrews 12 to speak to someone in order to convince, address or reason with them.
Dialegomai - 13x in 13v - Mark 9:34; Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8f; 20:7, 9; 24:12, 25; Heb 12:5; Jude 1:9. NAS = addressed(1), argued(1), carrying on a discussion(1), discussed(1), discussing(1), reasoned(2), reasoning(4), talking(2).
Sons (5207) (huios) refers literally to a male son but is used figuratively here of genuine believers who by grace through faith in the Messiah have been born into the Kingdom of God and into His family. John records…
The utterance of Scripture is treated as the voice of God conversing w. men Speaks as in a dialogue or discourse, so the Greek, implies God’s loving condescension (cp use closely related verb in Lxx: "come let us reason together" = Isa 1:18).This verb = say thoroughly, discuss in argument or exhortation, REASON WITH SOMEONE
The key words in this OT quotation are “son,” “children,” and “sons.” These words are used six times in Heb 12:5-8. They refer to adult sons and not little children.
Matthew Henry -Persecution for religion is sometimes a correction and rebuke for the sins of professors of religion. Men persecute them because they are religious; God chastises them because they are not more so: men persecute them because they will not give up their profession; God chastises them because they have not lived up to their profession.
In the ancient world it was universally accepted that the bringing up of sons involved disciplining them. Therefore, we should not read back modern permissive attitudes into our understanding of this passage. The Roman father possessed absolute authority. When a child was born, he decided whether to keep or discard it. Through out its life he could punish it as he chose. He could even execute his son and, while this was rarely done, the right to do it was there. Discipline was only to be expected.
MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD: huie mou me oligorei (2SPAM) paideias kuriou: (despise - Job 5:17,18; 34:31; Ps 94:12; 118:18; 119:75; Jeremiah 31:18; 1Cor 11:32; Jas 1:12; Re 3:19)
My son - This is a common opening address in the book of Proverbs (23x - Pr 1:8, 10, 15; 2:1; 3:1, 11, 21; 4:10, 20; 5:1, 20; 6:1, 3, 20; 7:1; 19:27; 23:15, 19, 26; 24:13, 21; 27:11; 31:2)
Not destructive but instructive discipline.
Moses records an example of spurning in Numbers writing "Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. (Nu 14:22, 23)
Thomas Brooks - He who has deserved a hanging—has no reason to charge the judge with cruelty—if he escapes with a whipping! And we who have deserved a damning—have no reason to charge God for being too severe —if we escape with a fatherly lashing! (From The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod)
Regard lightly (3643) (oligoreo from olígoros = careless, caring little <> oligos = little + ora = care) means to regard something or someone as of little value, to look down on, to have contempt for, to make light of, to despise; to make little of, to have little regard for, to disesteem or care little for, to consider of small worth.
Do not regard lightly is present imperative, a command in the present tense which coupled with the negative particle is a charge to stop regarding God's discipline as of little value. The Scripture repeatedly links suffering with sonship and this sound spiritual truth had been forgotten by the readers which explains in part why they had begun to regard discipline lightly.
In Judaism a father was required to provide for the instruction of his sons and daughters and to teach them good behavior. Whipping was accepted, along with other disciplinary measures. Today they would probably be tried on charges of "child abuse"! My, how times have changed, and as God so clearly warns in both the OT and NT, what we sow will eventually be reaped. America is reaping the seeds of a paucity of parental (especially fatherly) punishment (discipline for correction not destruction)!
Charles Stanley rightly reminds us that "The writer of Hebrews knew all too well our tendency not to take the discipline of God as seriously as we should. So he warns us, “Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord.” In other words, the potential severity of God’s discipline should be enough to keep us in line. One of the reasons we fall into sin so easily is that we forget God will discipline us when we step out of bounds. We have forgotten that His complete knowledge of sin and its destructive consequences compels Him to take drastic measures with us. As much as He must disdain using adversity to remind us to live a righteous life, the fact is that He will if He knows that is what it takes. How Far? The question that occurs to me as I ponder this awesome doctrine is, “How far is God willing to go?” How much pain dare He inflict? Is there a limit to the adversity He might send? He blinded Paul. He brought Jonah within an inch of his life. I think the answer is that God will do whatever it takes. As much as He must hate pain, He hates sin that much worse. As much as He must despise suffering, He loves us that much more. (How to Handle Adversity)
Spurgeon - God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins. God has punished them already in the person of Christ; Christ, their substitute, has endured the full penalty for all their guilt, and neither the justice nor the love of God can ever exact again that which Christ has paid. Punishment can never happen to a child of God in the judicial sense. He can never be brought before God as his Judge, as charged with guilt, because that guilt was long ago transferred to the shoulders of Christ, and the punishment was exacted at the hands of His surety.
But yet, while the sin cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned, he can be chastised. While he shall never be arraigned before God’s bar as a criminal and punished for his guilt, yet he now stands in a new relationship—that of a child to his parent. As a son, he may be chastised on account of sin. Folly is bound up in the heart of all God’s children (Prov 22:15), and the rod of the Father must bring that folly out of them (Pr 13:24).
It is essential to observe the distinction between punishment and chastisement. Punishment and chastisement may agree as to the nature of the suffering. The one suffering may be as great as the other: the sinner who while here is punished for his guilt may suffer no more in this life than the Christian who is only chastised by his parent. They do not differ as to the nature of the punishment, but they differ in the mind of the punisher and in the relationship of the person who is punished. God punishes the sinner on His own account, because He is angry with the sinner. His justice must be avenged, His law must be honored, and His commands must have their dignity maintained. But He does not punish the believer on His own account; it is on the Christian’s account—to do him good. He afflicts him for his profit. He lays on the rod for His child’s advantage. He has a good design toward the person who receives the chastisement.
Discipline (3809) (paideia [word study] from país = child) means to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior, of providing guidance for responsible living, of rearing and guiding a child toward maturity. Paideia is a broad term, signifying whatever parents and teachers do to train, correct, cultivate, and educate children in order to help them develop and mature as they ought.
Although paideia refers primarily to the training or discipline of children (whether in the schools of men - Acts 7:22, 22:3 or in the school of God, Titus 2:12-note [where you note that grace is your "instructor" - as shown by comparing Titus 2:11-note]), at one end of the spectrum it describes the training that occurs by teaching, instructing, educating or nurturing and at the other end of the spectrum the training that occurs by utilizing correction and punishment if necessary (which it usually is for children) as a part of the training or child rearing process bringing them to maturity (this end of the spectrum conveyed by English words like chastise or chasten, as morally disciplining an adult, correcting them and giving them guidance). From these definitions one can see that the meaning of paideia is dependent on the context.
Wuest - paideia was used of the whole training and education of children. It speaks also of whatever in adults cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing the passions. It speaks also of instruction which aims at the increase of virtue. The word does not have in it the idea of punishment, but of corrective measures which will eliminate evil in the life and encourage the good. Here, the persecutions were used of God in an effort to clarify the spiritual vision of the readers as to the relative merits of the First Testament and the New Testament, warning them against returning to the temple sacrifices and urging them on to faith in the Messiah as High Priest. The readers, in their action of leaning back towards the First Testament and by their avowed purpose of returning to it in order to escape the persecution, had forgotten the lesson of Proverbs. (Hebrews - Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
Detzler writes that paideia (and paideuo) "moves from education to correction and finally embraces the concept of punishment. This idea is quite unpopular, because many Christians confuse salvation with sentimentality. God does not tolerate sin among Christians, but rather disciplines them as a good father would (Heb. 12:5-11). In fact, if a Christian is comfortable and undisciplined, there is cause to doubt that he truly is a believer. (Detzler, Wayne E: New Testament Words in Today's Language. Victor. 1986)
Webster says that the English word discipline describes training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
Thayer says paideia describes "the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment). In Greek writings from Aeschylus on, it includes also the care and training of the body. Whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing the passions hence, a. instruction which aims at the increase of virtue: b. according to Biblical usage chastisement, chastening (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)
TDNT writes that "Paideia from pais a child. In classical usage, that which is applied to train and educate a child. So Plato: “Education (Paideia) is the constraining and directing of youth toward that right reason which the law affirms, and which the experience of the best of our elders has agreed to be truly right” (“Laws,” 659).(Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
Vincent - In scriptural usage another meaning has come into it and its kindred verb paideuein, which recognizes the necessity of correction or chastisement to thorough discipline. So Lev. 26:18; Ps. 6:1; Isa. 53:5; Heb. 12:5–8. In Acts 7:22 paideuo occurs in the original classical sense: “Moses was instructed (epaideuthe) in all the wisdom,” etc. The term here covers all the agencies which contribute to moral and spiritual training. (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament 3:404).
John MacArthur has a helpful note on paideia writing that it refers to "the systematic training of children. It includes the idea of correction for wrongdoing, as seen in the well–known proverb, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Pr. 13:24). In the several uses of the term in Hebrews 12:5-11, the translators of the Authorized Version rendered it “chastening,” which is clearly the emphasis of that context. Paul’s meaning here is expressed even more fully, however, in the proverb “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Pr 22:6). Discipline has to do with the overall training of children, not restricted to but also not excluding punishment. Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, raised seventeen children and had these words to say about raising children: “The parent who studies to subdue [self–will] in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever” (cited in The Journal of John Wesley [Chicago: Moody, n.d.], p. 106).
Paideia is used 50 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Deut. 11:2; Ezra 7:26; Job 20:3; 37:13; Ps. 2:12; 18:35; 50:17; 119:66; Pr. 1:2, 7f; 3:11; 4:1, 13; 5:12; 6:23; 8:10; 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:5, 10, 32f; 16:17, 22; 17:8; 19:20, 27; 22:15; 23:12; 24:32; 25:1; Isa. 26:16; 50:4f; 53:5; Jer. 2:30; 5:3; 7:27; 17:23; 30:14; 32:33; 35:13; Ezek. 13:9; Dan. 1:20; Amos 3:7; Hab. 1:12; Zeph. 3:2, 7). Here are a few representative uses…
Lord (2962) (kurios) means master, owner or the one who has absolute ownership power. Jesus is referred to some ten times as Savior and some seven hundred times as Lord. Supreme in Authority. Kurios translates Jehovah (LORD in OT) in Septuagint (LXX) 7000 times.
Martin Luther puts "Lord" in an interesting perspective noting that "The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns. It is one thing to say, "Christ is a Saviour"; it is quite another thing to say, "He is my Saviour and my Lord." The devil can say the first; the true Christian alone can say the second.
The purpose of discipline is the maturity of the son. God’s purpose is not to persecute us, but to perfect us. Chastening is not the work of an angry judge as he punishes a criminal. It is the work of a loving Father as he perfects a child. This chastening is not always because we have sinned. Sometimes God permits suffering in our lives simply to build us up and help us mature. We experience God’s education through hardship or affliction. So the preacher to the Hebrews, who exhorts his flock to “endure hardship as discipline,” is enjoining them to a most positive pursuit that has as its goal the very growth of their souls.
All the hardships that come the believer’s way are loving discipline and are, in effect, either corrective or preventative or educational. We must remember this! As James Moffatt said, “To endure rightly, one must endure intelligently.”
If we have an informed, intelligent, Biblical understanding of the afflictions that come our way, and we believe God’s Word, we will endure. The correction of David, the prevention of Paul, the education of Job—this is sanctifying grist for the reflective heart.
The hostility of sinners is real and it is wrong and responsible and guilty. But it is also - and this is a great hope for us - it is also the loving, painful discipline of our Father in heaven. God is not coming to his children late after the attack, and saying, "I can make this turn for good." That is not discipline. That is repair. It's the difference between the surgeon who plans the incision for our good, and the emergency room doctor who sews us up after a freak accident. This text says, God is the doctor planning our surgery, not the doctor repairing our lacerations.
John Phillips has some sobering words on divine scourging noting that "It is not to be treated with carelessness. We should ask, Why is this happening to me? It is to be accepted sensibly. We are not to faint under the Lord's dealings, for He does not flog us in blind rage but measures the weight of each stroke. One of the great passages in How Green Was My Valley tells of the flogging of Huw Morgan by the schoolmaster, Elijah-Jonas-Sessions. The boy had been fighting and was made to bend over in such a way that his back was stretched to receive the stick. The stick swished twice as the bullying schoolmaster limbered up for his task, and the sound of the stick awoke all Huw's tingling nerves in anticipation of coming hurt. Then the stick swished again, and Huw saw its shadow on the floor and felt the first sharp, shocking, burning of its work. Again, again, and again the strokes came as the boy across whom it was stretched staggered at the weight of the blows. Without pause, as the clock works, the sound changing as the strokes fell, the stick soared upward and down again until Huw Morgan's back seemed to be in flames and his eyes blind and his head filled with thunder, and the strokes were still coming. Only now they were but a hard, dull laying on until the stick broke. "Now then," said Mr. Jonas, in falsetto and breathless, "fight again! That was just a taste! Back to your place! No more nonsense! Teach you manners!" The brutal schoolmaster himself was exhausted by the flogging; his face twitched; his hands trembled from his spent passion. And poor Huw got his legs to bring him to his seat and saw that one of the girls had torn her handkerchief to shreds under the emotion of watching the scene. God is not like that schoolmaster. Each stroke He administers is weighed by Him in fairness and firmness to suit our needs exactly (cf 1Co 10:13-note) and to bring us to our senses, not lay us senseless in the dust. Scourging is to be taken not only soberly and sensibly, but spiritually, as well. The spiritually discerning believer will recognize the disciplines of life to be evidence of the Lord's love. (Phillips, John: Exploring Hebrews: An Expository Commentary) (Bolding added)
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM: mede ekluou (2SPPM) hup autou elegchomenos (PPPMSN): (faint - He 12:3,4; Josh 7:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 2Sa 6:7, 8, 9, 10; 1Chr 13:9, 10, 11, 12, 13; 15:12,13; Ps 6:1,2; 2Co 4:8,9; 12:9,10)
Spurgeon - Note the two evils of which we are in danger: either of making light of God’s discipline, or else of giving up under it—either of thinking too little or too much of them. Happy is the Christian who takes the middle course, and never despises the discipline of the Lord, nor ever faints under it.
Faint (1590) (ekluo from ek = out or intensifies meaning of + lúo = loose) means literally to loose out of and so to set free from. The idea then comes to mean to become so tired and weary as to give out ("to loose out of") and even to faint from exhaustion.
Ekluo can also convey the sense of losing one's motivation to accomplish a valid goal and so to become discouraged and give up as in Galatians 6 where Paul encourages the believers writing "let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary (ekluo). (Galatians 6:9)
Ekluo is used in the Septuagint (LXX)…
Charles Stanley comments "For those of us who do not heed this warning of discipline, the writer offers another piece of advice, “Nor faint when you are reproved by Him.” The implication here is that when we are undergoing the discipline of God, we will have a tendency to grow discouraged. We will be dangerously open to suggestions by others that cast doubt on the goodness and justice of God. If we are not careful, we will interpret God’s discipline for the opposite of what it really is. (How to Handle Adversity)
Reproved (1651) (elegcho/elencho [word study] -- related to elegchos = bringing to light) means to bring to the light (to reveal hidden things) with the implication that there is adequate proof of wrongdoing. To shame or disgrace and thus to rebuke another in such a way that they are compelled to see and to admit the error of their ways. To show someone that they have done something wrong and summon them to repent or to correct they wayward ways.
In this context elegcho implies exposing someone's sin in order to bring correction.
Elegcho - 14x in 14v - Matt 18:15; Luke 3:19; John 3:20; 8:46; 16:8; 1 Cor 14:24; Eph 5:11, 13; 1 Tim 5:20; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:15; Heb 12:5; Jas 2:9; Jude 1:15; Rev 3:19. NAS = convict(2), convicted(2), convicts(1), expose(1), exposed(2), rebuke(1), refute(1), reprimanded(1), reprove(4), reproved(1), show… fault(1).
Elegcho can mean…
Elegcho was used in the Greek law courts not merely of a reply to an opposing attorney, but of a refutation of his argument. No one could prove any charges of sin against our Lord. No one could bring charges against Him in such a way as to convince Him that He was guilty. (because of course He wasn't)
Jesus describing the role of the Holy Spirit says that "He, when He comes, will convict (elegcho) the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." (Jn 16:8).
The Spirit’s coming would result in heightened conviction among unbelievers concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. Before the Spirit's coming that conviction had come mainly from the Old Testament, John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples’ influence. In John 16:8 the purpose of the Holy Spirit is not condemnation but conviction of the need for the Savior. The Spirit would not just accuse people of sin, but would bring an inescapable sense of guilt before God upon them.
Chastening is the evidence of the Father’s love. Satan wants us to believe that the difficulties of life are proof that God does not love us, but just the opposite is true. Sometimes God’s chastening is seen in His rebukes from the Word or from circumstances. At other times He shows His love by punishing (“scourges”) us with some physical suffering. Whatever the experience, we can be sure that His chastening hand is controlled by His loving heart. The Father does not want us to be pampered babies; He wants us to become mature adult sons and daughters who can be trusted with the responsibilities of life.
Such giving up is inexcusable because none of God’s children will ever be tested beyond their strength
Some in adversity kick against God’s will, others despond; neither is to be done by the Christian, who is peculiarly the child of God. To him such adverse things occur only by the decree of God, and that designed in kindness, namely, to remove the defilements adhering to the believer, and to exercise his patience
Suffering for God’s sake was nothing new. The saints of the Old Covenant had known what it was to suffer for their faith. They faced warfare, weakness, torture, beatings, imprisonment, stonings, destitution, and every sort of affliction-all because of their trust in the Lord (Heb 11:34-38-note).
MacDonald writes that "The Christian view of suffering is now presented. Why do persecution, testings, trials, sickness, pain, sorrow, and trouble come into the life of the believer? Are they a sign of God's anger or displeasure? Do they happen by chance? How should we react to them? These verses teach that these things are part of God's educative process for His children. Although they do not come from God, He permits them, then overrules them for His glory, for our good, and for the blessing of others. Nothing happens by chance to the Christian. Tragedies are blessings in disguise, and disappointments are His appointments. God harnesses the adverse circumstances of life to conform us to the image of Christ. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Theodore Epp - God's purpose in chastening us is so that we might learn not to sin. We cannot expect forgiveness and then be turned loose to go on living in the sin that brought God's displeasure. God fixed a gulf between sin and righteousness. This must be maintained. Absolutely no compromise is possible. No attempt should ever be made by us to reduce or detract from the absolute holiness and purity of God. Sin is always sin, and righteousness is always righteousness. There can be no blending of them in any way, shape or form. God cannot forgive us at the expense of lowering His standard of righteousness. In order to teach us to hate sin, God chastens us. If He did not, we would be crawling to Him every five minutes for more pardon because of our continuing to live in sin. God's people are taught by Him to hate sin by its bitter consequences and are also taught to love righteousness, or holiness. God chastens us as He pleases "for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness" (He 12:10-note). God does not want us to come to heaven with nothing to show for our spiritual lives and service. He wants to see abundant spiritual fruit. (He 12:11-note) "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev 3:19-note). (Hebrews 12:1-13 God's Purpose in Chastising)
Oswald Chambers writes…
The Rod and the Staff…
J C Philpot…
Two storms in the Bible illustrate the truth about discipline…
The study on Hebrews 12:5-11 on discipline has had quite an impact on me and so it prompted me to do additional study on God's purpose for trials, suffering, affliction, etc in our life. Scripture supports that these are all variegated manifestations of DISCIPLINE. Discipline means so much more than just punishment (which is what my misconception was prior to this study) and includes all of the aspects that go into training up a child (education, encouragement, admonishment, etc). So below are some Scriptures that illustrate the Biblical "Dividends of Discipline". The enemy of our souls does not want us to know the truth about God's love and that even discipline from the hand of the Almighty is a definite manifestation of His love (Heb 12:6) and has incredible benefits now and throughout eternity (cp 1Ti 4:7, 8-note). So study the following "dividends" asking your Helper the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26) to open the eyes of your heart (Ep 1:18-note) to behold wonderful things in God's Word (Ps 119:18-note). Ponder each Scripture to determine whether you think I've drawn appropriate conclusions… be a Berean (Acts 17:11,12-note)
Meditating on the DIVIDENDS OF DISCIPLINE - Gives one an eternal perspective of trials and suffering and enables one to CONSIDER all trials to be all joy (Jas 1:2-note) and to give thanks in all things (1Th 5:18-note).
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God gives reproof to his own children -2Sa 7:14; Job 5:17; Ps 94:12; 119:67,71,75; He 12:6,7
God gives, to the wicked -Ps 50:21; Isa 51:20
Christ sent to give -Is 2:4; 11:3
The Holy Spirit gives -Jn 16:7,8
Christ gives, in love -Rev 3:19
ON ACCOUNT OF
Impenitence -Mt 11:20, 21, 22, 23,24
Not understanding -Mt 16:9,11; Mk 7:18; Lk 24:25; Jn 8:43; 13:7,8
Hardness of heart -Mk 8:17; 16:14
Fearfulness -Mk 4:40; Lk 24:37,38
Unbelief -Mt 17:17,20; Mark 16:14
Vain boasting -Lk 22:34
Hypocrisy -Mt 15:7; 23:13
Reviling Christ -Lk 23:40
Unruly conduct -1Th 5:14
Oppressing out brethren -Neh 5:7
Sinful practices -Mt 21:13; Lk 3:19; Jn 2:16
The Scriptures are profitable for -Ps 19:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 2Ti 3:16
WHEN FROM GOD
Is for correction -Ps 39:11
Is despised by the wicked -Pr 1:30
Should not discourage saints -Heb 12:5
Pray that it be not be in anger -Ps 6:1
Should be accompanied by exhortation to repentance -1Sa 12:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
DECLARED TO BE
Better than secret love -Pr 27:5
Better than the praise of fools -Eccl 7:5
An excellent oil -Ps 141:5
More profitable to saints, than stripes to a fool -Pr 17:10
A proof of faithful friendship -Pr 27:6
Understanding -Pr 15:32
Knowledge -Pr 19:25
Wisdom -Pr 15:31; 29:15
Honour -Pr 13:18
Happiness -Pr 6:23
Eventually brings more respect than flattery -Proverbs 28:23
Of those who offend, a warning to others -Lev 19:17; Acts 5:3,4,9; 1Ti 5:20; Titus 1:10,13
Hypocrites not qualified to give -Mt 7:5
Ministers are sent to give -Jer 44:4; Ezek 3:17
Ministers are empowered to give -Mic 3:8
MINISTERS SHOULD GIVE
Openly -1Timothy 5:20
Fearlessly -Ezek 2:3, 4, 5, 6, 7
With all authority -Titus 2:15
With longsuffering, etc -2Ti 4:2
Unreservedly -Isa 58:1
Sharply, if necessary -Titus 1:13
With Christian love -2Th 3:15
They who give, are hated by scorners -Pr 9:8; 15:12
Hatred of, a proof of brutishness -Pr 12:1
Hatred of, leads to destruction -Pr 15:10; 29:1
Contempt of, leads to remorse -Pr 5:12
Rejection of, leads to error -Pr 10:17
Give -Lev 19:17; Eph 5:11
Give no occasion for -Php 2:15
Receive kindly -Ps 141:5
Love those who give -Pr 9:8
Delight in those who give -Pr 24:25
Attention to a proof of prudence -Pr 15:5
Samuel -1Samuel 13:13
Nathan -2Samuel 12:7-9
Ahijah -1Kings 14:7-11
Elijah -1Kings 21:20
Elisha -2Kings 5:26
Joab -1Chronicles 21:3
Shemaiah - 2Chronicles 12:5
Hanani -2Chronicles 16:7
Zechariah -2Chronicles 24:20
Daniel -Da 5:22,23
John the Baptist -Matthew 3:7; Lk 3:19
Stephen -Acts 7:51
Peter -Acts 8:20
Paul -1Co 1:10, 11, 12, 13; 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 6:1-8; 11:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Gal 2:11
John Piper has an excellent message on disicipline
William MacDonald writes that in this section we have…
Consider the following testimony by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Ray Stedman writes that…
Morris - Christian suffering is not simply sheer circumstantial misery or the result of blind chance. Paul declares, "We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Ro 5:3, 4-note). James adds, "You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (Jas 1:3, 4-note). Peter concurs, "These [trials] have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1Pe 1:7-note). How foolish then it is to complain and grouse about the difficulties we face. "If we are always rebelling against it and refusing to learn the lessons the Father is teaching us, we are shutting ourselves up to discontent and misunderstanding" (Hebrews 12 Notes from Defender's Study Bible - links on right)
Matthew Henry commenting on Heb 12:7-11 writes that "Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a STATE OF CHILDHOOD, and imperfect as to SPIRITUAL things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state…God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
J. Vernon McGee makes an interesting "confession" on Heb 12:5-11
Wiersbe commenting on Heb 12:5-11 writes that
Some Thoughts on
If you can understand the atonement and realize God punished, judged His Son for your sin and then decide you can go out and live any way you want—you haven’t seen discipline yet!—Charles Stanley (Ed: A corollary thought is that if you go out and live the rest of your life ungodly, you have little evidence to prove you are a genuine believer. The saved person has the indwelling Holy Spirit [emphasize "Holy"!] and to live a lifestyle characterized by unholy behavior and without being disciplined by God is strong evidence that one is not a "son" of the Father!)
To be very dear to God involves no small degree of chastisement.—Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Look upon chastening as God’s chariots sent to carry your soul into the high places of spiritual achievement.—Hannah Whitall Smith
Nothing of value is ever acquired without discipline.—Gordon MacDonald
If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will mock at the life of the Son of God in us and produce a continual swither. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature.—Oswald Chambers
You can judge the quality of their faith from the way they behave. Discipline is an index to doctrine.—Tertullian
When God does the directing, our life is useful and full of promise, whatever it is doing; and discipline has its perfecting work.—H. E. Cobb
It has been well said that “earthly cares are a heavenly discipline,” but they are even something better than discipline; they are God’s chariots, sent to take the soul to its high places of triumph.—Denham Smith
Discipline is a privilege because it is an evidence of our sonship. - Alistair Begg
"Discipline begets abundance. Abundance, unless we use utmost care, destroys discipline. Discipline in its fall pulls down with it abundance."-- Anonymous (Source: Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 4)
Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn. - John Trapp
… We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self- esteem (from prayer offered by Pastor Joe Wright at the opening session of the Kansas Senate)
In my own personal and pastoral experience, I can say I have never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. - Donald S. Whitney
Some children are compliant to the hilt. They eat their vegetables. They don’t scream at bedtime. They don’t touch the vase. They don’t hit the dog. They smile. They do what Mom and Dad ask, without a lot of questions. Other children keep parents humbled.
God has children. Some are more compliant than others, but all need correction. Some respond to a gentle, “Don’t do that.” Others push the limit before they listen.
Earthly parents get exasperated. They often overcorrect, under correct, or abdicate. God never gets exasperated. He has never once been too harsh on one of His children. He has never been too easy. And He won’t abdicate His fatherly role. The reason for God’s consistent insistence on discipline is simple. He wants all His children to grow up and be like their Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus.
God is the perfect Parent to strong-willed children. We need to thank Him for His constant training. And learn from it.
There is a reticence in the church to talk about discipline. All of us understand the value of discipline, but few of us have been the recipient without some resistance. There is always room in our lives to improve, but few of us would readily make the changes necessary were we not prodded into change by some loving parent, teacher, or counselor.
Discipline is a part of life. Not only did our parents have to discipline us, but our teachers did. Later we learned discipline in our workplace. However, the discipline that we receive from a supervisor at work or the teacher in a classroom may not always be as loving as that of our heavenly Father. It would be nice to think that all discipline is handed out justly, but we all know of instances where a person was disciplined unfairly. In a fallen world, inequity abounds. Nevertheless, we must not resist the discipline of our heavenly Father. He disciplines us to conform us to the likeness of His Son. Understanding that, we need to know how to submit to God’s discipline.
Discipline is necessary in spite of the hesitancy of some to approach the subject. It was something Jesus considered significant and something worth a closer look.
The purpose of godly discipline is positive. The writer of Hebrews tells us it is administered so “we may share His holiness.”
Holiness has little to do with a religion or denomination. Holiness is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. When our behavior fails to align with our true identity in Christ, God disciplines us for our own good. He is willing to bring into our lives whatever is necessary to accomplish that purpose.
Does that mean we’ll be perfect? Of course not. It does mean we’ll have a heart bent toward Him—to ultimately be like Him. He brings about correction so that our behavior parallels our identity.
Since God is holy, what method does He use to conform us to that image? The method is discipline through training. Look at this verse: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).
God is our Father. We are His sons and daughters. It doesn’t matter whether we are saved at age five or fifty-five, ten or one hundred, we are always in training. The work of the Holy Spirit is to train us, sift and sand us, chip away at things that are foreign to the family we belong to. As any father who loves his children does, our heavenly Father meets our needs, but He doesn’t stop there. He is also our trainer, giving us guidance. When we don’t respond to the gentle taps on the shoulder, He will use hardship, failure, and even our sin to bring our behavior in line with our holiness.
God’s purpose is our holiness, and His method is training. Since He is training us for holiness, what should our response be to correction?
We are to take it seriously: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord” (Heb. 12:5). We need to see it as seriously as God does. We need to see the sin that caused the correction the way God sees the sin. An attitude of indifference or arrogance places us on dangerous spiritual footing.
We are to take our discipline courageously. We are not to faint (Heb. 12:5). We are not to give up and mumble, “Why bother?” We are to endure the chastening and learn from it, much as athletes must persevere through the rigors of training. Do they like the discipline? Do they enjoy getting up at four in the morning to run the laps or swim the length of the pool fifty times? If you asked any of them as they head to the training arena, I doubt any of them would say, “Oh, I absolutely love having to be here eight hours a day, not being with my family, missing out on what other kids are doing.” The story is different on the day of their event when they compete and win. The struggle with discipline and training becomes a sweet memory as the medal is placed around the neck. Those who endure, accepting the discipline instead of running from it, benefit in ways they would otherwise miss.
We are to respond to our corrective discipline with the faith that our loving Father is doing what is best. Our tendency is to escape. But when we realize discipline is from the hand of a loving Father, we are able to accept and learn. This has not been an easy lesson for me to learn. I understand how some could say, “How can this be loving? This hurts so bad!” There have been times in my life had I not known God as a loving Father, I would have turned away, unable to accept the discipline. I grew up with an abusive stepfather, so I was able to see the difference. Love is never abusive.
If you are a parent, think how you discipline your children. You correct them because you see their present and their future. You want them to grow up with mature attitudes and actions. You don’t want them to grow up crude and rebellious: “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7 nasb). Children don’t believe their parents when they say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” You have to be a parent to see that is true. I honestly believe our loving Father says, “This hurts Me more than it hurts you.” What amazing love!
We need to respond with the belief that it is for our good.
Afterward we see it was worth the pain. God knows we’re human and don’t relish His chastening hand. It does seem “sorrowful,” as Hebrews declares. It is sorrowful. But He loves us enough not to leave us where we are. He loves us enough to perfect His holiness in us. We live in an age that tells us parents should let their children do as they please. Many parents believe this lie. No one enjoys the process of discipline, but many men and women have praised their parents who stood firm and meted out the correction. Our heavenly Father understands our resistance but isn’t swayed by it. How grateful we should be that He isn’t.
We are to respond to our discipline with expectancy, not with shock. We may as well expect it: “God deals with you as with sons” (Heb. 12:7).
Children know when Mom or Dad repeats, “Don’t touch the pretty vase,” there are consequences when they break it. Cause and effect aren’t really all that hard to teach. What God says, He means. And when His children disobey, we should expect consequences of our sin.
We are to respond to our correction with submission:
Sometimes we’re not aware of what He is doing. Perhaps something is going on in your life, and you can’t put your finger on it. Or you feel pressure from God in your life, and you’re not sure what’s going on. Let me offer a suggestion. Why not ask Him, “Father, are You allowing something in my life to get my attention? Are You training me? Is there discipline going on?”
All hardship and difficulty and trials are not necessarily God’s hand of discipline for sin. Sometimes He sends things to strengthen our faith and to teach us to endure. John 15:2 tells us that He prunes even the branch that is bringing forth fruit. Don’t lose heart.
Just as there are right responses to discipline, there are also wrong ones that demand our attention.
It is wrong to think God is angry. I know that earthly parents sometimes discipline out of anger. That is not correct discipline and teaches the wrong kind of lesson. God is not like that at all. God is love. He isn’t waiting for us to slip and then knock us down. That’s not the biblical view of God. It’s the view that Satan wants us to harbor so we will resist the discipline God sends our way.
The wrath and condemnation of God are not for believers anyway: they are for unbelievers. The Lord Jesus took the wrath and condemnation on Himself when He died. He took our judgment. Those who have never received Him are still under wrath and condemnation.
Another wrong response to the chastening of God is to get discouraged and give up. Saying, “Well, I can’t please God, so I’m just going to quit trying,” is not what God longs for in His children. Some earthly parents may berate their children so much that they break their spirits. This is not discipline; this is child abuse. God’s correction is for our welfare. We should never give up; only give in to Christ.
The last wrong response is rationalizing the whole thing away: “Well, these things happen to a lot of people. Even lost people have their share of trouble.” They’re right in that lost people do have trouble. But there is a major difference between lost and saved people. In the life of the believer, discipline is to prevent future disaster and drifting.
Now that we have seen the right and wrong responses to God’s chastening, let me mention something about self-judgment. Paul told the Corinthians to “let a man examine himself” (1Co11:28). What could that mean?
Self-examination is looking deep inside and being honest about what you see. Self-examination is coming to the same conclusion God does about your sin. Self-examination is confessing—saying the same thing about sin that God says—and repenting, which means turning around. Because sin doesn’t fit who you are, if you deal with sin as soon as you identify it in yourself, God won’t have to. You need to deal with it immediately. God will give you time to deal with it.
Martin Lloyd Jones, that great English preacher, once said, “
You may think that my saying that God will give you time to deal with or rid yourself of sin is cheap grace. That is not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying God detests your sin (not you), and if you won’t deal with it, He will.
Although God gives us time to deal with sin, some sins, by their nature, bear consequences—even if we repent immediately. I’ve had the heartbreaking experience of counseling families torn apart by the unexpected pregnancy of a young daughter. They can either bitterly blame God for their misery or receive His forgiveness and rely fully on His grace to see them through.
Correction is for training in our lives so that we may be conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to respond seriously and courageously, sensing His love and knowing it’s for our best. We need to respond to discipline realizing He said He’d send it, submitting to it, and remembering it is for our good and His glory.
We are not to get angry. We are not to get discouraged and give up. We can see that trials come to the believer and unbeliever for two different reasons: to the Christian for training, and to the non-believer as a warning of future things.
We can examine ourselves and save ourselves heartache if we deal with the sin in confession and repentance. We need to do this immediately.
We need to praise God for loving us through our discipline. Praise God, He trains us in love, not as a duty-bound policeman. We must recognize His wisdom and praise Him for never berating His children. We are blessed by His insistence on disciplining us when we stray. Praise God!
He loves us where we are but loves us enough not to leave us there.
Thoughts on … Limits
God sometimes uses adversity as a form of discipline. The question is, How far is God willing to go? How much pain dare He inflict? Is there a limit to the adversity He might send? He blinded Paul. He brought Jonah within an inch of his life. I think the answer is that God will do whatever it takes. As much as He must hate pain, He hates sin that much worse. As much as He must despise suffering, He loves us that much more.
By remembering that God will treat us as His children, we can endure the pain of discipline.
Heavenly Father, I know You set the limits to my adversity, working all together to accomplish Your purposes. Help me receive and respond to Your loving correction.
More thoughts on "discipline"
We forget that God treats us as sons and daughters. Instead of expecting discipline from our heavenly Father, we are taken by surprise. We misinterpret this act of supreme love. We view as a threat what was intended for our good. But in reality, the discipline of God is a sign of ownership. It serves as the guarantee of our Father-child relationship with God. So the writer says,
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.-Hebrews 12:7-8
By remembering that God will treat us as His children, we can endure the pain of discipline. To forget that is to run the risk of losing all hope, of becoming discouraged, and of giving up altogether.
A Matter of Respect - Now that my kids are grown, I realize more than ever the importance of discipline. The fears I had in those early years really had no substance. Disciplining my children did not cause them to turn against me. On the contrary, I have no doubt that my discipline paved the way to the harmonious relationship we enjoy today. Discipline develops respect. It deepens relationships. The same is true in our relationship with God.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.—Hebrews 12:9-10
If we can understand the value of discipline in the context of an earthly father and his children, certainly we can appreciate to some degree the immense value of a heavenly Father who takes the time to discipline His children. All of us have encountered children who have had little or no discipline. Not only are they unpleasant to be around, but their behavior usually gravitates toward those things that are destructive.
I have noticed among the youths of our church that the teenagers who have inclinations toward tobacco, drugs, and alcohol are usually those who come from homes where there is little discipline. Where there is a deficiency in the area of discipline, there is a propensity toward self-destructive behavior. I am not sure I fully understand the relationship between the two, but I have seen this pattern enough to know that the relationship exists.
God is aware of this relationship as well. He knows that unless He disciplines us, chances are that we will allow sin to run its destructive course (see James 1:15). He is all too aware of the ultimate consequences of sin when permitted to go unchecked. His love for us will not let Him sit back and watch our lives be destroyed, so He intervenes with discipline.
Every father knows the pain and embarrassment of realizing he has made the mistake of being too harsh in his discipline or, even worse, of disciplining a child who was not guilty. Yet even with those possibilities always looming over his head, a good father continues the routine of discipline, for the value of discipline is worth the risk of being wrong occasionally.
If we believe an earthly father should continue disciplining his children—knowing that from time to time his discipline will be unjustified or imperfectly administered—how much more supportive should we be of a perfect, omnipotent, heavenly Father who disciplines His children? If we respected our imperfect earthly fathers when they disciplined us, how much more should we respect our heavenly Father? Whereas our earthly fathers disciplined us according to what they knew, we can be assured that the discipline of our heavenly Father will be perfectly suited to our individual needs.
Sharing His Holiness -There is another major difference between the discipline of our fathers and the discipline of God. This one has to do with purpose. Oftentimes the primary reason we were disciplined by our parents was to make us “behave” or be “good.” Sometimes their reasons were selfish; they just did not want to be embarrassed. Our heavenly Father has a different agenda. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: But He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness… it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.—Hebrews 12:10-11
God’s goal in discipline is not simply to make us behave. His purpose is to make us holy, to bring us into conformity with His Son. He wants to build into our experience a hatred for sin similar to His own—a hatred that will cause us to separate ourselves not only from the practice of evil, but from the very appearance of it as well. Through this process, our character will be fine-tuned to reflect the character of Christ Himself. Because God knows us inside and out, He can tailor our discipline in such a way to accomplish just that. (from How to Handle Adversity by Charles Stanley)
From Warren Wiersbe's Strategy of Satan…
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How do you view your troubles? A pastor's wise advice…
A woman who’d endured much suffering asked her pastor,
He wisely responded,
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Bad Weather - Hebrews 12:5-11 - My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lotto, nor detest His correction (Proverbs 3:11).
There are no gains without pains.
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Life Without Regret - A woman unknowingly allowed some valuable family jewels to be sold for 10 cents. It happened after she took the jewels out of a bank safety deposit box to wear to a wedding. The bank was closed when she got home, so she put the jewels in an old shaving case and forgot about them. One day, she gave the shaving case to a friend who was collecting items for a garage sale. By the time the woman realized what she had done, the precious gems had been sold to an unknown buyer for a dime.
If you've rebelled and turned away
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The Discipline of the Lord - It is very easy to grieve the Spirit of God; we do it by despising the discipline of the Lord, or by becoming discouraged when He rebukes us. If our experience of being set apart from sin and being made holy through the process of sanctification is still very shallow, we tend to mistake the reality of God for something else. And when the Spirit of God gives us a sense of warning or restraint, we are apt to say mistakenly, "Oh, that must be from the devil."
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Chastening - It is very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we are rebuked by Him. If we have only a shallow experience of sanctification, we mistake the shadow for the reality, and when the Spirit of God begins to check, we say—‘Oh, that must be the devil.’
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Andrew Murray in The Holiest of All
IT is ever still the danger of discouragement and backsliding that the writer seeks to avert. In these verses we find the words, Faint not, twice used, and twice the way is pointed out to be kept from it. The first time the word is used in connection with the considering of Jesus, our Example and Leader. The second time, with the teaching, that it is God from whom all affliction comes. In affliction, look to Jesus as our Forerunner, who was Himself so tried; to God as our Father, who has appointed the trial, as the safeguard against fainting.
For consider Him that hath endured such gainsaying of sinners against Himself, that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls. We have previously had the injunction (Hebrews 3:1): Consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession--that pointed to the work He did for us. Here it is: Consider Him in His sufferance and patient endurance. The thought that He suffered like you, that you are suffering like Him, will give courage and patience. Consider Him. It will remind you how necessary suffering is. If He could not be perfected without it, how much more we. If suffering wrought such blessing in Him, how surely in us too, for whose sake He was made perfect, to whom God has given Him as a Leader in the path that leads through suffering to glory. We may be sure of it, all that is most precious in a Christlike character--the virtues that were perfected in Him through suffering, the meekness and lowliness of heart, the gentleness and patience and submission of the Lamb of God, will come to us too if we will but consider Him. Looking to Jesus, the suffering One, will bring us the comfort of His sympathy, the courage of His victory, the blessed consciousness of conformity to Him. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: the thought of His blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary, and the insignificance of our own suffering, will urge us to endure and resist. And we shall neither wax weary nor faint.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation, which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord. The words from Proverbs warn against a double danger. On the one hand, we may regard "lightly the chastening of the Lord, and think too little of it. We may seek to bear up against it with human wisdom; looking upon it as the lot of all, counting ourselves too manly to bow before it, trusting to time and fortune to bring a change. We fail to recognise the hand of God in it; we do not accept it as indeed God's chastening, and lose all the teaching and the blessing it was meant to bring. My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord.
Neither, here is the other danger--faint when thou art reproved of Him. Be not discouraged or downcast as if the chastening was too heavy, more than you deserved or are able to bear. Beware above everything, in your Christian life, of casting away your boldness, of becoming impatient, of losing courage. It is trial and vexation, care and anxiety, persecution or reproach that often causes this. Learn to-day the secret of never suffering loss in the soul by the sufferings of life--yea, rather, of always making them your greatest gain. Link them to God and to Jesus. It is God who sends them. He sent them to Jesus and perfected Him through them. He sends them to thee in the same love, and will make them thy highest gain. "Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with thy self-denying, suffering Saviour."
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. Sufferings are for chastening. And chastening is from love, a token of God's fatherly care. We live in a world full of trial and suffering. Thousands of God's children have complained that their circumstances were too unfavourable for a life of full devotion, of close intercourse with God, of pressing on unto perfection. The duties and difficulties, the cares and troubles of life, render it impossible, they say, to live a fully consecrated life. Would God that they might learn the lesson of His word! Every trial comes from God as a call to come away from the world to Him, to trust Him, to believe in His love. In every trial He will give strength and blessing. Let but this truth be accepted, in every trial, small or great: first of all and at once recognise God's hand in it. Say at once: My Father has allowed this to come; I welcome it from Him; my first care is to glorify Him in it; He will make it a blessing. We may be sure of this; let us by faith rejoice in it. The salvation God has provided for us, the blessed life in the new and living way into the Holiest, through Jesus Christ, has such power that it can enable us amid every trial to be more than conqueror through Him that loved us. "Give up yourself absolutely and entirely to God in Christ Jesus, as into the hands of infinite love; firmly believing this great and infallible truth, that God has no will towards you, but that of infinite love, and infinite desire to make you partaker of His divine nature; and that it is as absolutely impossible for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to refuse all that good, and life, and salvation which you want. as it is for you to take it by your own power."
2. Consider Him. But is it possible--is it not too great a strain, an unnatural life--to be always looking to Jesus? With men it is impossible; with God all things are possible. "And all things are possible to him that believeth. By faith.
3. Yes, but is such a faith possible? Bless God! It is indeed. This is the open secret of the higher Christian life--Jesus revealing Himself so that the soul can as little forget Him as it forgets to breathe or to see--Jesus so taking possession of the soul by the Holy Spirit and so dwelling within it, that faith never ceases going out to Him who is above. Lord, reveal Thyself to us! The soul that, be it amid effort and failure, begins and gives itself to consider Jesus in separate acts of faith will be led on, and in due time receive this deeper blessing--a heart in which by the Holy Spirit looking to Jesus is its spontaneous and meet natural exercise. (Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All)
Amplified: For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives'. (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: For when he punishes you, it proves that he loves you. When he whips you, it proves you are really his child."
Weymouth: for those whom the lord loves he disciplines: and he scourges every son whom he acknowledges."
Wuest: For the one whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, corrects, and guides, and He scourges every son whom He receives and cherishes. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for whom the Lord doth love He doth chasten, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES: on gar agapa (3SPAI) kurios: (Whom - Dt 8:5; Ps 32:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 73:14,15; 89:30, 31, 32, 33, 34; 119:71,75; Pr 3:12; 13:24; Isa 27:9; Jer 10:24; Jas 1:12; 5:11; Rev 3:19)
Proverbs 3:12 says "For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights."
See Jesus words in Revelation 3:19-note where He declares "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent."
Moses records a parallel thought…
The psalmist records the benefits of the related idea of affliction…
Deuteronomy 8:2 shows His purpose was to disclose to Israel in the wilderness what was in their heart! - "And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."
What a wonderful Truth and one we must lay hold of in the midst of whatever "wilderness" trial we are experiencing in order that we not throw away our confidence which has a great reward… in the context of these verses in Hebrews 12 the reward is legitimacy, life, holiness (His holiness shared) and the peaceful fruit which righteousness yields.
HE DISCIPLINES: paideuei (3SPAI) mastigoi (3SPAI) de panta huion on paradechetai (3SPMI):
Spurgeon - What comfort there is here! Whenever we are under the scourging hand of God, how we ought to be cheered with the thought that this is a part of the heritage of the children. There are those who spoil their children. God is not one of them. He does not spare the rod (Pr 13:24), and the more He loves, often the more He corrects. Here is another noble reason for patience. That same trial which, on the one hand, comes from man, viewed in another way comes from God, and is a chastening. Let us accept it at His hands, regarding it as a token of sonship. God will not spare His children when they need to be chastened. They shall have some blows as hard as He can well lay them on—that is to say, as hard as such a loving heart as His will permit Him to give. They shall have such blows that each one of them shall have to cry out, “I am broken in two; my heart is smitten and withered like grass.” And this is to be the treatment for every son whom God receives; not for some of them, but for all.
Disciplines (3811) (paideia [word study] from país = child) refers primarily to the training or discipline of children (whether in the schools of men - Acts 7:22, 22:3 or in the school of God, Titus 2:12-note [where you note that grace is your "instructor" - as shown by comparing Titus 2:11-note]), at one end of the spectrum it describes the training that occurs by teaching, instructing, educating or nurturing and at the other end of the spectrum the training that occurs by utilizing correction and punishment if necessary (which it usually is for children) as a part of the training or child rearing process bringing them to maturity (this end of the spectrum conveyed by English words like chastise or chasten, as morally disciplining an adult, correcting them and giving them guidance). From these definitions one can see that the meaning of paideia is dependent on the context.
Disciplines is not synonymous with punish, since paideuo always implies an infliction which contemplates the subject’s amendment; and hence answers to chastise or chasten. In popular speech chastise and punish are often confounded. Chasten is from the Latin , “pure,” “chaste ;” and to chasten is, properly, to purify! This meaning underlies even the use of the word by Pilate, who was not likely to be nice in his choice of words. Instead of punishing the Messiah with death, he sought to chastise him, in order to teach him better! (see Luke 23:16)
Paideuo includes instruction, discipline, correction, and warning. All are designed to cultivate Christian virtues and drive out evil. In this passage, the chastening was not punishment for wrongdoing, but training through persecution.
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON: mastigoi (3SPAI) de panta huion: (KJV = Scourges - He 12:7,8; 2Sa 7:14)
Scourges (3146)(mastigoo from mástix = plague, whip, scourge) means literally to flog or scourge. The scourge was first a whip used as an instrument of punishment and then figuratively came to mean to punish severely or to drive as if by blows of a whip. In the present context the use is figurative (and yet it still behooves us to ponder the literal meaning) and entails any suffering which God ordains (He is sovereign and He either sends it or He allows it) for His children, remembering that whatever He sends or allows is always designed for our edification and maturation, not our destruction. God’s chastisement includes not only His “whipping” us so to speak for specific transgressions (but even here with the idea of remedial not retributive intent), but also the entire range of trials and tribulations which He providentially ordains and which work to mortify sin and nurture faith, ultimately serving to conform us to the image of His Son (Ro 8:29-note)
Mastigoo - Matt 10:17; 20:19; 23:34; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1; Heb 12:6
Notice that scourges is in the present tense, which indicates that this is not a one time event, but can be expected in the lives of those who are truly God's spiritual children (not everyone belongs to the family of God and therefore cannot rightfully address Him as their Father -- in fact most of mankind belongs to the family whose head is Satan - see Jn 8:44, 1Jn 3:7, 8, 9. See especially 1Jn 3:10 for how we can discern whose family we are in - note "practice" and "love" are both in the present tense indicating that this is the general "tenor" of our life -- it is not about "perfection" but it is about "direction" -- heavenward or hell-ward, the two destinies that await every man and woman ever created. Which should motivate us to pray for the lost and share the Gospel boldly disregarding the cost!)
God's Own Only begotten Son was literally scourged (John 19:1). And as the writer has already commanded us… "Consider Him" (Heb 12:3-note).
Dr Charles Stanley comments on how God uses adversity in our lives noting that…
Every son - Every person born by the Spirit into the family of God is subject to and will experience His loving, instructing discipline. For example in Titus 2 we read that "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing (more literally disciplining - present tense = continually) us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-note, Titus 2:12-note)
Henry Ward Beecher made the following statement regarding trials "No physician ever weighed out medicine to his patients with half so much care and exactness as God weighs out to us every trial. Not one grain too much does He ever permit to be put on the scale.
WHOM HE RECEIVES: on paradechetai (3SPMI):
He scourges us because He loves us and desires the best for us in this life. He is the great "Vinedresser" Who prunes us as Spurgeon explains - A tree of common fruit may be let alone so long as there is some little fruit on it, but the very best fruit gets the sharpest pruning. I have noticed that in those countries where the best wine is made, the vinedressers cut the shoots right close in, and in the winter you cannot tell that there is a vine there at all unless you watch very carefully. They must cut them back sharp to get sweet clusters.The Lord does thus with His beloved. It is not anger. Afflictions are not always anger. There are often tokens of great love. With doting parents it is not so. Often the child whom his mother loves is allowed to do as he pleases and to escape chastening; but this is folly. The love of God is higher and wiser than the partialities of parents. It is a token of His favor to us that He takes the trouble to remove our love of sin by sharp and bitter pain.
Receives (3858) (paradechomai from para = from, beside, near + dechomai = accept deliberately and readily, receive kindly and so to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another) means literally to receive or accept near or beside and then to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily.
Paradechomai in some contexts conveys the sense of to delight in. To receive or embrace with favor. In other words this verb speaks of far more than an indifferent or apathetic reception, especially here in Hebrews 12:6.
To accept or acknowledge as correct (Acts 16:21). To receive, welcome or accept a person in a friendly or hospitable manner (Acts 15:4).
To come to believe something to be true and to respond accordingly. To receive or accept with delight. To admit with approval.
As you can discern from the definitions, the meaning of verb paradechomai is not significantly different from dechomai except that the prefix preposition may intensify the meaning.
BDAG has these secular uses of paradechomai…
Receive erroneous teachings…
Take back a wife who was dismissed for adultery Hm 4, 1, 8a; pass. 4, 1, 7; 8b. Of a citizen who wishes to return to his home city after living in a strange land, pass. s 1:5.
Liddell-Scott speaking of secular uses…
-of children, to receive as inheritance…
to take up and continue the battle, Id.
to take upon oneself, engage to do a thing,
Moulton-Milligan speaking of secular uses…
meaning “approve,” “commend,” in Aristeas
The verb is common = “make allowance for,” especially in leases - "I have given you every allowance"… "if any of the land becomes unwatered, a proportionate allowance from the rent shall be made to me"… "if in any of the years there should be a failure of water, an allowance shall be made to the lessee"… "I will make allowance for the expense"
Vine writes that in the present context paradechomai "here has the meaning of accepting by way of recognizing, and refers to God’s recognition of a person as His son. The chastening is an indication of love; the scourging is an act with the object of our highest good.
Paradechomai - 6x in 6v - Mark 4:20; Acts 15:4; 16:21; 22:18; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 12:6
Mark 4:20 "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
Comment: Here paradechomai conveys the sense of to embrace with assent and obedience (the obedience of course is evidence that the Word was truly accepted into one's heart and not just into their head with an accompanying lip acknowledgment without a life alteration!)
Acts 15:4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
Comment: A T Robertson says paradechomai is an "old verb, to receive, to welcome. Here it was a public reception for Paul and Barnabas provided by the whole church including the apostles and elders, at which an opportunity was given to hear the story of Paul and Barnabas about God’s dealings with them among the Gentiles."
Acts 16:21 and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.
Acts 22:18 and I saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'
1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
Comment: Here paradechomai means “to entertain,” or “to consider in your mind” regarding unsubstantiated allegations against elders. They are not to be welcomed or favorably received but in fact ignored by turning a deaf ear, in so doing protecting the reputation of the elder from false accusations.
The verb paradechomai means, in the broad sense, to “accept” and can be used in the sense of “admit/allow” (Plato, Thaetetus 155C; Laws 935D). The negative imperative in this verse may bear the nuance of “stop receiving,” with the implication that Timothy had been allowing some. (Johnson, L. T.. The First and Second Letters to Timothy: New Haven; London: Yale University Press)
The Septuagint (LXX) uses paradechomai with a similar meaning as discerned from comparing the Hebrew and Septuagint translations into English…
Hebrew into English = Exodus 23:1 "You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
Septuagint (LXX) (Greek) into English = Exodus 23:1 Thou shalt not receive (paradechomai) a vain report: thou shalt not agree with the unjust man to become an unjust witness.
Hebrews 12:6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."
Proverbs 3:12 is the only other use of the verb paradechomai in the Septuagint (LXX), and in fact is OT source quoted by the writer of Hebrews in Heb 12:6 "For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights. (Lxx = paradechomai)
Note that the Hebrew word for delights is ratsah which means to be pleased with, to sets One's affection on, to delight, to enjoy. The root of ratsah frequently describes God's pleasure with His servants and particularly is referred to His Son, the Messiah.
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“Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But the Saviour’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss:
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.
God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil;
These spring up and choke the weeds
Which would else o’er spread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.
Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way,
Might I not with reason fear
I should prove a castaway'
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true-born child of God
Must not—would not, if he might.
Olney Hymns, William Cowper
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Our Daily Bread - Always For Us - Naomi, her husband, and their two sons left Israel and moved to Moab because of a famine (Ru 1:1, 2-note). One son married Ruth, the other married Orpah. Eventually Naomi's husband and sons died (Ru 1:3, 5-note), so she decided to return to Israel. But she felt that her daughters-in-law would be better off staying in Moab (Ru 1:6, 7, 8-note, Ru 1:9, 10, 11, 12, 13-note). She tried to dissuade them from going with her by saying, "No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!" (Ru 1:13-note).
Our God is always there for us—
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Our Daily Bread - Winds Of Love - A farmer had a weather vane on his barn, on which was written "God is love." When friends asked why, the farmer said, "This is to remind me that no matter which way the wind blows, God is love."
God is love: His mercy brightens
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The Making Of Us - When my husband was a child, his mother sometimes scolded and disciplined him for disobeying her. During one such scolding he said to her imploringly, "You must be nice to your little boy!" His words touched her tender heart. But because she loved him, she continued his discipline and training. Years later as a missionary, Bill was grateful for her tough love, for it was the making of him.
God's loving hand of discipline
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As the story goes, a little piece of wood once bitterly complained because its owner kept whittling away at it, gouging it and making holes in it. But the one who was cutting it paid no attention to the stick's protests. He was making a flute out of that piece of ebony, and he was too wise to stop when the wood complained so bitterly.
More purity give me, more strength to o'ercome,
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Our Father's Anguish - Think about the anguish that the parents of a rebellious son must have felt in Old Testament times! The law required them to bring such a son before the authorities for execution by stoning (Dt. 21:18, 19, 20, 21). This was likely carried out only in extreme circumstances, but imagine the emotional struggle they must have endured in fulfilling God's holy law!
Thinking It Over
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The Gain Of Loss - When she was a child, Nancy was taught that winning isn't everything; it's how you play the game that counts. But when she became an adult, she adopted another approach to life. As the wife of Dick Howser, manager of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, she agreed with her husband's philosophy that it doesn't matter what you do--as long as you win.
God often sends me joy through pain,
Blue-ribbon Christians - While visiting New England, I was presented with a tin of pure Vermont maple syrup. It was given to me by a man who consistently had won blue ribbons for his product.
Producing syrup of that quality is no easy task. Its richness, flavor, and color depend on many factors: the tree from which the sap is drawn, the time it is collected, the existing weather conditions, and the skill of the one who controls the boiling and filtering process. A blue-ribbon award is the result of a carefully controlled procedure from start to finish.
This reminds me of the way the Lord refines the lives of His children. Even now, He is working on us. The fires of affliction and trial may be painful for a time, but afterward they will result in great blessing and reward (Hebrews 12:11).
I remember well when my brother and I collected some sap from our maple trees in the back yard. We put it in a big tub on a burner in the basement, and then promptly forgot all about it. Many hours later Mother almost fainted when she opened the basement door and was greeted by billowing clouds of smoke. How thankful we can be that God never forgets us in that way. He knows just the right amount of heat necessary to make us blue-ribbon Christians! — Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
All God's testings have a purpose—
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Why Love Gets Tough - James McConkey was a well- known Bible teacher in the early 20th century. While traveling through Europe, he went on a hike with a group of tourists in the awe-inspiring Swiss Alps.
The Lord foresees the danger when
God's love may have to be tough to keep us out of the rough.
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Real Wholeness - I was driving my car and listening to a talk-radio program when a young man called in. He was desperate because he had been expelled from college and had lost his job.
When God begins His work in us,
IT is hardly possible to suppose that any shall read these lines who have not drunk of the bitter cup of affliction. Some may have even endured a great fight of afflictions. Squadron after squadron has been drawn up in array, and broken its regiments on the devoted soul. It has come to us in different forms, but in one form or another it has come to us all. Perhaps our physical strength and health have been weakened in the way; or we have been racked with unutterable anguish in mind or body; or have been obliged to see our beloved slowly slipping from the grasp of our affection, which was condemned to stand paralyzed and helpless by. In some cases, affliction has come to us in the earning of our daily bread, which has been procured with difficulty and pain, whilst care has never been long absent from our hearts, or want from our homes. In others, homes which were as full of merry voices as the woods in spring of sweet-voiced choristers are empty and silent. Ah, how infinite are the shades of grief! how extended the gamut of pain! How many can cry with the Psalmist, "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me! We can see clearly the reason of all this suffering. The course of nature is out of joint. Man's sin has put not himself only, but the whole course of nature into collision with the will and law of God; so that it groans and travails in its pains. Selfishness has also alienated man from his fellows, inciting him to amass all that he can lay hands on for himself, oblivious to the bitter sufferings of those around him, and careless of their woes. Whilst behind the whole course of nature there is the incessant activity of malignant spirits, who, as in the case of Job, may be plotting against us, reveling in any mischief, which, for some great reasons, they are permitted to work to our hurt.
There are different ways in which affliction may be borne.
Some despise it (Heb. 12:5). They refuse to acknowledge any reason in themselves for its infliction. They reject the lesson it was designed to teach. They harden themselves in stoical indifference, resolving to bear it with defiant and desperate courage.
Some faint under it (Heb. 12:5). They become despondent and dispirited, or lose heart and hope. Like Pliable, they are soon daunted, and get out of the Slough of Despond with as little cost as possible to themselves; or, like Timorous and Mistrust, turn back from the lion's roar. We ought to be in subjection. Lifting the cup meekly and submissively to our lips; calmly and trustfully saying "Amen" to every billow and wave; lovingly trying to learn the lesson written on the page of trial; and bowing ourselves as the reeds of the river's edge to the sweeping hurricane of trial. But this, though the only true and safe course, is by no means an easy one.
Subjection in affliction is only possible when we can see in it the hand of the Father of spirits (Heb. 12:9). So long as we look at the second causes, at men or things, as being the origin and source of our sorrows, we shall be filled alternately with burning indignation and hopeless grief. But when we come to understand that nothing can happen to us except as our Father permits, and that, though our trials may originate in some lower source, yet they become God's will for us as soon as they are permitted to reach us through the defense of his environing presence, then we smile through our tears; we kiss the dear hand that uses another as its rod; we realize that each moment's pain originates in our Father's heart; and we are at rest. Judas may seem to mix the cup, and put it to our lips; but it is nevertheless the cup which our Father giveth us to drink, and shall we not drink it? Much of the anguish passes away from life's trials as soon as we discern our Father's hand; then------
Affliction becomes chastisement.
There is a great difference between these two. Affliction may come from a malignant and unfriendly source; chastisement is the work of the Father, yearning over his little children, desiring to eliminate from their characters all that is unlovely and unholy, and to secure in them entire conformity to his character and will. But, before you can appropriate the comfort of these words, let me earnestly ask you, my reader, whether you are a child? None are children in the sense of which we are speaking now, save those who have been born into the divine family by regeneration, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Of this birth, faith is the sure sign and token; for it is written: "Those that believe on his name are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Are you a child? Does the Spirit witness with your spirit that you are born of God? Can you look up into his face and cry, "Abba, Father"? If so, you are surrounded by your Father's tender, loving care. Nothing can reach you without passing through the cordon of his protection. If, therefore, affliction does lay its rough hand upon your arm, arresting you, then be sure that it must first have obtained permission from One who loves you infinitely, and who is willing to expose both you and himself to pain because of the vast profit on which he has set his heart.
All chastisement has a Purpose.
There is nothing so absolutely crushing in sorrow as to feel one's self drifting at the mercy of some chance wave, sweeping forward to an unknown shore. But a great calm settles down upon us when we realize that life is a schoolhouse, in which we are being taught by our Father himself, who sets our lessons as he sees we require them. The drill-sergeant has a purpose in every exercise; the professor of music, an object in every scale; the farmer, an end in every method of husbandry. "He does not thresh fitches with a sharp threshing instrument, neither is a cart-wheel turned about upon cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod." So God has a purpose in every pain he permits us to feel. There is nothing fortuitous or empirical or capricious in his dealings with his own. The purposes which chastisement subserves are very various. Of course we know that the penalty of our sins has been laid on the head of our great Substitute; and that, therefore, we are forever relieved from their penal consequences. But though that is so, yet often chastisement follows on our wrong-doing; not that we expiate the wrong-doing by suffering, but that we may be compelled to regard it in its true light. Amid the pain we suffer we are compelled to review our past. The carelessness, the unwatchfulness, the prayerlessness which have been working within us pass slowly before our minds. We see where we had been going astray for long months or years. We discover how deeply and incessantly we had been grieving God's Holy Spirit. We find that an alienation had been widening the breach between God and our souls, which, if it had proceeded further, must have involved moral ruin. Perhaps we never see our true character until the light dies off the landscape, and the clouds overcast the sky, and the wind rises moaningly about the house of our life. Times of affliction lead to heart-searchings, and we become increasingly aware of sins of which we had hardly thought at all. And even though the offense may be confessed and put away, so long as affliction lasts there is a subdued temper of heart and mind, which is most favorable to religious growth. We cannot forget our sin so long as the stroke of the Almighty lies on our soul; and we are compelled to maintain a habit of holy watchfulness against its recurrence. It is also in affliction that we learn that fellowship with the sufferings of Christ and that sympathy for others which are so lovely in true Christians. That is not the loftiest type of character which, like the Chinese pictures, has no background of shadow. Even Christ could only learn obedience by the things that he suffered, or become a perfect High-Priest by the ordeal of temptation. And how little can we enter into the inner depths of his soul, unless we tread the shadowed paths, or lie prostrate in the secluded glades of Gethsemane! We who attempt to assuage the griefs of mankind must ourselves be acquainted with grief, and become men of sorrows. Be sure, then, that not one moment's pain is given you to bear that could have been dispensed with. Each has been the subject of divine consideration before permitted to come, and each will be removed directly its needed mission is fulfilled.
Special discipline is evidence of special love (Heb. 12:6).
It costs us much less to fling our superfluities on those we love than to cause them pain. Indulgence is a sign not of intense but of slender love. The heart that really and wisely loves will bear the pain of causing pain, will incur the risk of being misjudged, will not flinch from misrepresentation and reproach; from all of which a less affection would warily shrink. It is because our Father loves us that he chastens us. He would not take so much trouble over us if we were not dear to his heart. It is because we are sons that he sets himself to scourge us. But oh, how much he suffers as he wields that scourge of small cords! Yet, hail each blow; for each sting and smart cries to thee that thou art being received into the inner circle of love. When suppliants for his healing help came to our Lord, for the most part he hastened to their side. But on one occasion he lingered yet two days in the place where he was. He dared to face the suspicion of neglect and the loving impeachment of bereaved love, because he loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. He loved them too much to be satisfied with doing small things for them, or revealing only fragments of his great glory. He longed to enrich them with his precious revelation of resurrection life. But his end could only be reached at the cost of untold sorrow, even unto death. Lazarus must die, and lie for two days in the grave, before his mightiest miracle could be wrought. And so he let the thunder-cloud break on the home lie loved, that he might be able to flash on it light which broke into a rainbow of prismatic glory. If you are signally visited with suffering, such as you cannot connect with persistence in carelessness or neglect, then take it that you are one of Heaven's favorites. It is not, as men think, the child of fortune and earthly grace, dowered with gifts in prodigal profusion, who is best beloved of God; but oftenest the child of poverty and pain and misfortune and heart-break. "If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then ye are bastards and not sons." Oh, ye who escape the rod, begin seriously to ask whether indeed ye be born again!
Pain is fraught with precious results (Heb. 12:10, 11).
Not joyous but grievous: nevertheless afterward.
How full of meaning is the "afterward." Who shall estimate the hundredfold of blessing from each moment of pain? The Psalms are crystallized tears. The Epistles were in many cases written in prison. The greatest teachers of mankind have learned their most helpful lessons in sorrow's school. The noblest characters have been forged in a furnace. Acts which will live forever, masterpieces of art and music and literature, have originated in ages of storm and tempest and heart-rending agony. And so also is it with our earthly discipline. The ripest results are sorrow-born. "The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown."
Holiness is the product of sorrow, when sanctified by the grace of God. Not that sorrow necessarily makes us holy, because that is the prerogative of the divine Spirit; and, as a matter of fact, many sufferers are hard and complaining and unlovely. But that sorrow predisposes us to turn from the distractions of earth to receive those influences of the grace of God which are most operative where the soul is calm and still, sitting in a veiled and darkened room, whilst suffering plies body or mind. Who of us does not feel willing to suffer, if only this precious result shall accrue, that we may be "partakers of his holiness"?
Fruit is another product (Heb. 12:11).
Where, think you, does the Husbandman of souls most often see the fruit he loves so well, and hear the tones of deepest trust? Not where his gifts are most profuse, but where they are most meager. Not within the halls of successful ambition or satiated luxury, but in cottages of poverty, and rooms dedicated to ceaseless pain. Genial almost to a miracle is the soil of sorrow. Necessary beyond all count is the pruning-knife of pain. Count, if you will, the precious kinds of fruit. There is patience, which endures the Father's will; and trust that sees the Father's hand behind the rough disguise; and peace, that lies still, content with the Father's plan; and righteousness, that conforms itself to the Father's requirements; and love, that clings more closely than ever to the Father's heart; and gentleness, which deals leniently with others, because of what we have learned of ourselves. Nor is it for very long. Jesus, who endured the cross and shame and spitting, is now set down on the right hand of the throne of God. Ere long we too shall come out of the great tribulation, to sit by his side. Every tear kissed away; every throb of anguish stayed; every memory of pain allayed by God's anodyne of bliss. The results will be ours forever. But sorrow and sighing, which may have been our daily comrades to the gates of the celestial city, will flee away as we step across its threshold, unable to exist in that radiant glory.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain."
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
"Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees." (F. B. Meyer. The Way Into the Holiest)