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
quotes on suffering and trials - 1Peter 1:6-note;
of suffering as a Divine Gift!
Exposition related to suffering
- Romans 8:18
Exposition related to
Exposition on how the Savior Succors Suffering Saints
Discussion of what the
of All Grace Promises when we suffer-
how God uses suffering in the life of a saint - 2Cor 12:9-note; 2Co
Exposition on Trials
- James 1:2
present pain versus future joy - Matthew 5:10, 11, 12-
to do a Site Search - Enter the
word SUFFERING in Pico Search
KEY WORDS IN HEBREWS -
Click for complete list of Key Words in
OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Son of God
Son of Man
chart is adapted in part from Jensen's Survey of the NT and
Wilkinson's Talk Thru the Bible
Irving Jensen writes that...
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,
(Jensen, I. L. Jensen's Survey of the New Testament: Search and discover.
page 418. Chicago: Moody Press)
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.
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
Zondervan Publishing or
Pradis = computer version)
(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).
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).
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; Rom 12:8; 15:4f; 1Cor
14:3; 2 Cor 1:3ff; 7:4, 7, 13; 8:4, 17; Phil 2:1; 1 Thess 2:3; 2 Thess
2:16; 1 Tim 4:13; Philemon 1:7; Heb 6:18; 12:5; 13:22. NAS =
appeal(1), comfort(13), consolation(1), encouragement(6),
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
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
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.
they forgot the firm foundation, that by which faith comes in Pr
3:11,12 He 6:18-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
(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.
- 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),
(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
But as many as received Him, to
them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who
believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of
the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
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 wrote that
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
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)
but instructive discipline.
Pr 15:5 A fool rejects (see Nu 14:23 for example of spurning) his
father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent.
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)
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
(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.
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)
from país =
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.
Paideia - 6x in 6v - Eph
He 12:7, 8-note,
NAS = discipline(5), training(1).
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,
[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.
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)
says that the English word discipline describes training that
corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
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)
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)
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).
MacArthur has a helpful note on paideia writing that it
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
“Train up a child in the way he
should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Pr
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).
is used 50 times in the
(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...
Psalm 50:17 "For you hate
discipline (Lxx = paideia), and you cast My words behind you.
Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son,
your father's instruction, And do not forsake your mother's
Proverbs 3:11 My son, do not
reject the discipline of the LORD, Or loathe His reproof,
Proverbs 6:23 For the
commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for
discipline are the way of life,
Proverbs 10:17 He is on the
path of life who heeds instruction, But he who forsakes reproof
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves
discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and
shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who
regards reproof will be honored.
Proverbs 15:5 A fool rejects
his father's discipline, But he who regards reproof is prudent.
Proverbs 15:10 Stern
discipline is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof
Proverbs 15:32 He who
neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to
reproof acquires understanding.
Proverbs 15:33 The fear of
the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes
Understanding is a fountain of life to him who has it, But the
discipline of fools is folly.
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to
counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of
Proverbs 19:27 Cease
listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the
words of knowledge.
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness
is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will
remove it far from him.
Proverbs 23:12 Apply your
heart to discipline, And your ears to words of knowledge.
Jeremiah 2:30 "In vain I
have struck your sons; They accepted no chastening. Your sword
has devoured your prophets Like a destroying lion.
Jeremiah 17:23 "Yet they did
not listen or incline their ears, but stiffened their necks in order
not to listen or take correction.
Habakkuk 1:12 Art Thou not
from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. Thou,
O LORD, hast appointed them to judge; And Thou, O Rock, hast
established them to correct.
Zephaniah 3:2 She heeded no
voice; She accepted no instruction. She did not trust in the
LORD; She did not draw near to her God.
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
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 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
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
John: Exploring Hebrews: An Expository Commentary) (Bolding
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)
(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
Dt 20:3 And he shall say to
them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your
enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or
tremble before them
1Sa 14:28 Then one of the
people answered and said, "Your father strictly put the people under
oath, saying, 'Cursed be the man who eats food today.' And the people
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)
-- 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
In this context elegcho
implies exposing someone's sin in order to bring
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).
1) To scrutinize or
examine carefully, bring to light, expose. Jesus said
And do not participate in the
unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose (elegcho)
them 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are
done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are
exposed (elegcho) by the light, for everything that becomes
visible is light. (Ep 5:11, 12-note;
2) To convict, to
show to be wrong. Jesus for example said
Which one of
(elegcho) Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? (Jn
3) To convince
someone of error. To refute (prove wrong by argument or
4) show to be false or
erroneous). To confute (to overwhelm in argument = refute
conclusively). Elihu for example said
no one who refuted
(Lxx = elegcho) Job" (Job 32:12).
5) To reprove,
admonish in the sense of setting right or correcting.
This is the sense elegcho is used in Hebrews 12:5.
6) To rebuke,
reprove by chastisement. For example, the writer of Hebrews tells
"you have forgotten the exhortation
which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the
discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved
(elegcho) by Him." (Heb 12:5)
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
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
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
No temptation has overtaken you but
such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you
to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will
provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (1Cor 10:13).
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
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).
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 writes
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.
"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...
"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.’
Never quench the Spirit, and do
not despise Him when He says to you—‘Don’t be blind on this point any
more; you are not where you thought you were. Up to the present, I
have not been able to reveal it to you, but I reveal it now.’ When the
Lord chastens you like that, let Him have His way. Let Him relate you
rightly to God.
“Nor faint when thou art rebuked
of Him.” We get into sulks with God and say—‘Oh well, I can’t help it;
I did pray and things did not turn out right, and I am going to give
it all up.’ Think what would happen if we talked like this in any
other domain of life!
Am I prepared to let God grip me
by His power and do a work in me that is worthy of Himself?
Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me;
sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me, and He has
to get me into the attitude of mind and spirit where at any cost I
will let Him sanctify me wholly."
Consider that it is the Lord who
brings your greatest troubles upon you. Not a trouble could touch you,
but by His operation or permission. Say, then, "It is the Lord, let
Him do what seems good to Him!" and, "Shall I receive good at the hand
of the Lord, and shall I not receive evil?"
And if the rod is in your all-wise, your all-gracious Father's most
kind hand, it will profit your soul in the end.
Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects)
The Rod and the Staff...
Nor would we omit the employment of
the "Rod" as a disciplinary agent in the hands of our Divine Shepherd.
This symbol is frequently used as illustrating the afflictive
dispensations through which God's people pass. "Hear the rod, and He
who has appointed it." The rod of Divine discipline is not less
essential to the completeness of our Christian character, and thus our
fitness for heaven, than any other use in which the Lord employs it.
The reference in God's word to this is striking and instructive. "If
he commit iniquity, I will chasten him," says God, "with the ROD of
men." Listen to the words of the sorely afflicted patriarch- "Let Him
take His ROD away from me, and let not His fear terrify me." How
necessary this "Rod" of reproof, judgment, and restraint, by which the
Church of God is disciplined! It is fearful to contemplate the result
of its absence! Dissever a timely and wholesome exercise of discipline
from a church-or a nation- or a school- or a family, and how soon
would lawlessness, anarchy, and ruin ensue! And thus, exempt the
Church of God- collectively and individually- from the discipline of
Christ- let Him extinguish the furnace, and suspend the flail, and lay
aside the knife, and what would be the result? The dross would then
hide the gold- the chaff would spoil the wheat- the sucker would ruin
the vine- and incalculable would be our soul's loss!
But the "Rod" of Christ's discipline has a voice. "Hear the rod, and
Him who has appointed it." It is the voice of a Father, whose love for
us is not a blind, unwise affection, but infinitely holy and
intelligent. It is the voice of a Savior bidding us not shrink from
the pruning, but accept its severing as designed but to promote our
fruitfulness. "He opens mine ear to discipline." And when the ear
bends humbly and submissively to the Divine voice in this discipline
of sorrow, then it may be said that, like Aaron's, it "brought forth
buds, and bloomed with blossoms." Sanctified affliction- hallowed
grief- is no bare and barren rod of God. There is power and vitality
in it: it quickens the divine life- awakens the spirit of prayer-
strengthens and purifies faith- enthrones Christ supremely upon the
heart- and though 'at present not joyous, but grievous, yet afterward
it yields the fruits of righteousness unto those who are exercised
thereby.' And thus it is, when the Heavenly Husbandman prunes the
branch, and the Divine Refiner purifies the gold, that the one brings
forth more fruit, and the other reflects the more perfect likeness;
and He that prunes and He that refines receives all the glory. (The
Rod and the Staff)
J C Philpot...
If we were wholly left to ourselves
- Our afflictions and trials strip, as it were, the world and worldly
things off our backs—as well as all our own wisdom, and strength, and
righteousness. The Lord Himself disciplines His children! The nature,
season, duration, and all attending circumstances of all their trials,
are—determined for them—selected by infinite wisdom—decreed by
unalterable purpose—guided by eternal love, and brought to pass by
almighty power. To believe less than this is secret infidelity, and
will always result in murmuring, rebellion, self-righteousness,
worldly sorrow, and self-pity. But with faith in exercise, there will
be submission and resignation to the will of God.
When the Lord is carrying into execution His secret counsels, they are
so contrary to the will of the flesh, and so opposed to our thoughts
and ways—that we can hardly see His hand in them. Our flesh murmurs
and rebels under the heavy strokes. It wants ease, indulgence, and
self-gratification—not to be mortified and crucified. Our coward flesh
shrinks from the trial of affliction through which the blessing comes.
If we were wholly left to ourselves—we would greedily and eagerly
choose the way of destruction! (RICHES
The rod of your heavenly Father is
upon you. In the experience of your sensitive spirit, your feeling
heart, the stroke is a heavy, and a sore one. To a keen sense of its
severity, is perhaps added the yet keener conviction of the sin that
has evoked it- that, but for your wanderings from God, your rebellion
against His will, your disobedience of His commands, there would not
have come upon you a correction so painful and humiliating. But where
in your sorrow will you repair? To the solace and sympathy of whose
heart will you betake yourself? Will you flee from that Father? Will
you evade His eye, and shun His presence? Eternal love forbids it!
What then? You will hasten and throw yourself in His arms, and fall
upon His bosom, confessing your sins, and imploring His forgiveness.
Thus taking hold of His strength, with that displeased and chastening
Father you are in a moment at peace. Blessed is the man, O Lord, whom
You chasten, and draw closer within the sacred pavilion of Your
loving, sheltering bosom. Oh, what an unveiling of the heart of God
may be seen in a loving correction! No truth in experimental religion
is more verified than this, that the severest discipline of our
heavenly Father springs from His deepest, holiest love. That in His
rebukes, however severe, in His corrections, however bitter, there is
more love, more tenderness, and more real desire for our well-being,
than exists in the fondest affection a human heart ever cherished. And
oftentimes, in His providential dealings with His children, there is
more of the heart of God unfolded in a dark, overhanging cloud than is
ever unveiled and revealed in a bright and glowing sunbeam. But this
truth is only learned in God's school. (Morning
Thoughts - April 15)
THE REASON FOR CHASTISEMENT
- What! God loves me when He is discharging His quiver upon me!
emptying me from vessel to vessel! causing the sun of my earthly joys
to set in clouds? Yes! O afflicted, tossed with tempest; He chastens
you because He loves you! This trial comes from His own tender, loving
hand; His own tender, unchanging heart!
Are you laid on a sickbed; are
sorrowful months and wearisome nights appointed unto you? Let this be
the pillow on which your aching head reclines. It is because He loves
Is it bereavement that has swept
your heart and desolated your dwelling? He appointed that chamber of
death, because He loves you! As it is the suffering child of the
family which claims a mother's deepest affections and most tender
solicitude, so have you at this moment embarked on your side the most
tender love and solicitude of a heavenly Father. He loved you into
this sorrow, and will love you through it. There is nothing capricious
in His dealings. LOVE is the reason of all He does. There is no drop
of wrath in that cup you are called to drink. "I do believe," says
one, "He has purchased these afflictions for us, as well as everything
else. Blessed be His name, it is part of His covenant to visit us with
the rod." What says our adorable Lord himself? The words were spoken,
not when He was on earth, a sojourner in a sorrowing world, but when
enthroned amid the glories of heaven. "As many as I love I rebuke and
chasten." (Revelation 3:19)
Believer! rejoice in the thought
that the rod, the chastening rod, is in the hands of the living,
loving Savior, who died for you! Tribulation is the King's Highway and
yet that highway is paved with love. As some flowers before shedding
their fragrance require to be crushed, so does your God think it
suitable to bruise you. As some birds are said to sing their sweetest
notes when the thorn pierces their bosom, so does He appoint
affliction to lacerate, that you may be driven to the wing, singing,
in your upward soaring, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed!"
Be it ours to say, "Lord, I will
love You not only despite Your rod, but because of your rod." I will
rush into the very arms that are chastening me! (The
Rainbow in the Clouds)
Two storms in the Bible illustrate the
truth about discipline...
1). THE FIRST STORM came to
correct God’s disobedient servant:
Jonah disobeyed God and refused
to go to Nineveh. He found a convenient ship to take him to Tarshish,
but God interrupted Jonah’s escape by sending a storm. When the
mariners threw Jonah into the stormy sea, the prophet was swallowed by
a great fish. He describes his “living death” in the stomach of the
great fish in Jonah 2:1ff. God had to chasten Jonah and almost take
his life before the prophet would confess his sins and surrender to
2). STORMS THAT COME BECAUSE WE ARE OBEDIENT:
One such storm is recorded in
Matthew 14:22-33. Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people and they wanted
to make him king. He sent the crowd away, and also sent the disciples
across the Sea of Galilee in their boat. He went up to the mountaintop
to pray. When the disciples got away from the land, a fierce storm
arose and almost sank the ship. Please note: they were not in the
storm because they disobeyed the Lord, but because they obeyed him. He
was testing and perfecting their faith. Later he came to them and
stilled the storm; but the entire experience revealed to the men how
weak their faith really was.
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
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).
12:3, 4 -
Jesus is here delightfully called “ the author and finisher of our
faith.” In most of the arts, there is a division of labor, one man
begins, and another completes; there is scarcely anything that is
completed by one man; but the stupendous work of our salvation was not
only commenced but it was also completed by the Lord Jesus Christ
alone. Let us look unto him then. This will help us to persevere unto
the end because he persevered to the end.
Think how he wrestled, think how he
ran; and let your consideration of him nerve you for your struggle,
and brace up every muscle of your spirit so that you will be
determined that, as he won, so Will you by the divine help of him who
is “the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
It has not come to that yet with
any of you who are now here; you have not shed your blood for Christ
yet, for these are not martyr days, so can you be wearied and faint?
If you run with the footmen, and they weary you how will you contend
with horses? We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we grow weary in a
race that is so easy compared with that of the men and women who laid
down their lives for Christ’s sake
It has never come to a bloody sweat
with you as with him, nor to death upon a cross, as in his case. Shall
the disciple be above his master or the servant above his lord?
Our trials are little compared with
those of the martyrs of the olden times. Courage, brethren, these are
small matters to faint about! Moreover, our chastenings are love
tokens from God, let us not be alarmed at them.
Hebrews 12:5-7 -
Here is a little variation in the
subject. First we had the trials which come from the world, these we
are to endure looking to Christ for grace to enable us to overcome
them. Now we have the trials which come from God, and here nature
becomes an assistant to grace. We are reminded that children have to
be chastened, and therefore, if we are the children of God we must
expect to be chastened by him.
Note in the fifth verse, the two
evils of which we are in danger,-either of deepening God’s chastenings
or else of fainting under them; either of thinking too little or too
much of them. HAPPY is the Christian who ever takes the middle course,
and never despises the chastenings of the Lord, nor ever faints under
Note, in the sixth verse, that we
are to expect sharp blows from God’s chastening hand. That word “encourageth”
is a wrong word: “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth.” The scourge was ever a most severe form
of punishment. God will not spare his children when they need to be
chastened; they shall have some blow 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 sunder, 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. “He scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth.”
Hebrews 12:6 -
We ought to thank God that he will
not let us sin without chastisement. If any of you are sinning and
find pleasure without penalty in the self-indulgence, do not
congratulate yourself on the apparent immunity with which you violate
the laws of virtue, for that is the badge of the reprobate. To sin and
never smart is the mark of those who will be damned; their smart, like
their doom, being in reserve and stored up for sorer judgment
I remember once being very, very
ill, and a man who had no godliness but who was full of wicked wit
accosted me thus: "You see, 'whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.' "
"Yes," I said, "I am suffering greatly."
"Well," said he with a sneer, "I
can do very well without such love, as long as I get off such
I burst into tears, and my very
soul boiled over as I cried, "If the Lord were to grind me to powder,
I would accept it at his hands, so that I might but have his love. It
is you who need to be pitied, for sound as your health may be and
merry as you look, you are a poor creature, since you have missed the
only thing worth living for." I let fly a volley at him; I could not
help it. I felt forced to stand up for my Master.
- With doting parents it is not so: often him whom his mother
loveth 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. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;” it is
a token of his favour to us that he takes the trouble to remove our
love of sin by sharp and bitter pain.
The apostle’s intention is to
harden us to any suffering that may come to us in this mortal life. He
does so first by showing us that we are like wrestlers and racers, and
that we must expect to endure much hardship if we are to win the
crown. We are to “endure hardness.” The crown cannot be won without
it. You know what men will do to win an earthly crown; but the
heavenly crown is an immortal, unfading one; so how much more may be
expected of you in the way of patient endurance in your heart to win
it. Then Paul changes the figure, and says, “You are the sons of God,
and that is the reason why you are admitted to the arena where these
sacred strugglings take place, and as you are the sons of God, you
must endure the chastening rod as a part of your training.” Dear
brethren in Christ, will not each one of you thankfully accept it, and
say, “As this is one of the evidences of my sonship, I will thank God
for every cut of the rod, and bless his holy name for every twig of
Hebrews 12:5 - Both these
states are wrong, either to think nothing of chastisement or else to
faint under it; we are not to fall into either evil, but to keep the
golden mean between them.
- The Greek word is a strong one, and means, “whom the Lord
tenderly loveth —
Everyone does not receive the like
measure of chastisement, and he that has the largest share of the love
of God will feel the most of his chastising hand. Are you not willing
to take that portion, and to be among the Lord’s tenderly loved ones?
><> ><> ><>
SOME OF THE
OF GOD'S DISCIPLINE
Father's love and Christ's love for us - Heb 12:6, Christ = Re 3:19
Happy (Blessed - Lxx =
makarios) is the man whom God reproves (= disciplines) Job 5:17 (As
a result of discipline Job had a greater revelation of God =
Job 42:5,12, Jas 5:11)
Blessed (Blessed - Lxx =
makarios) = fully satisfied regardless of circumstances Ps 94:12
Produces endurance, "perfection" (having reached the intended goal);
"completion" (perfectly sound) Jas 1:3, 4-note
Blessed, crown of life Jas 1:12-note
To let us know what is in our heart Dt 8:2 (note that Dt 8:2 describes
God's testing as discipline)
For our good in the end Dt 8:16
Proves we are His legitimate sons (& His heirs) He 12:8-note
Way of life (reproofs for discipline) Pr 6:23
Being Subject to God's discipline yields true "life", life indeed
(Jn 10:10 type life!, cp Christ our life Col 3:4)
Removes foolishness from our heart - Pr 22:15
Allows us to share God's holiness - He 12:10-note
Peaceful fruit that is the result of a righteous life He 12:11-note
That we may not be condemned along with the world - 1Cor 11:32 (Note
the effects of taking the Lord's Supper without confession - weak,
sick, sleep - 1Cor 11:30)
Tested proven faith results in praise and glory and honor at Christ's
return 1Pe 1:7-note
He who regards reproof will be honored. Pr 13:18
That you may be wise the rest of your days Pr 19:20
Helps us learn God's statutes Ps 119:71-note
One disciplined less like to go astray, more likely to keep God's Word Ps 119:67-note
Shows that we love knowledge (not just bookish information but an
experiential knowledge of the Living God) Pr 12:1
May His Spirit richly reward your investment of time to learn this
vital truth about the heart of the Father in the so often
misunderstood area of discipline.
><> ><> ><>
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 a sermon
THE PAINFUL DISCIPLINE
OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
RESTING AND WRESTLING
There is a restful side to the
Christian life and a wrestling side to the Christian life.
"Come to me all you who labor
and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," Jesus said in Mt 11:28.
"Be anxious for nothing . . .
let your requests be made known to God . . . and the peace of God will
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:6-note;
Php 4:7-note). There is
rest and peace in the Christian soul.
But there is also wrestling and
struggle. Jesus said in Lk 13:24, "Strive
imperative) to enter by the narrow door;
for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." And
the word "strive" is
agonizomai [word study]
- to wrestle and struggle. At the end of
his life, Paul said in 2Ti 4:7-note, "I have fought the good fight, I have
finished the course, I have kept the faith." Keeping the faith is a
fight to be fought and a race to be run (and to be won).
These two sides are not related
in such a way that you rest one day and wrestle the next. They are
interwoven in two ways.
1) First, the main aim of our
wrestling is to rest - in God and not in money or position or looks or
achievement; the aim of our wrestling is to rest in the promises of
God and not the promises of sin.
2) Second, all our wrestling and
fighting and running are done with a deep restfulness of spirit that
Christ Himself has already won the decisive victory for us and is
sovereignly working in us and will bring us to glory.
THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE
IN THE PAIN OF OUR LIVES
The book of Hebrews is a very
mature and sober book when it comes to the pain and stress of
Christian living and the endurance that it takes to run the race and
fight the fight and finish well. It's not a book that people
(especially teenagers and strong young adults) gravitate toward -
unless they have suffered and struggle for some explanation of how
that relates to God. In other words, the more easy and pain-free your
life has been, the less you will cherish the kind of spirituality
taught in this book. And the more you have suffered, the more you will
cling to the precious teachings of this book - IF you are willing to
That is a big IF. I was talking
with one of our members at the baptism service Wednesday evening, and
he was telling me about recent conversations he had had with people
who simply do not believe what this chapter teaches. It's not a little
feel-good chapter about how to make the best of your troubles - or
even about how God makes the best of your troubles. It is a massive
statement about the gracious sovereignty of God over the evil that
befalls his people. And the big IF is: will you believe this? Will you
accept the mystery of God's providence in the pain of your life, and
be trained by it (as He 12:11 says) for the sake of good and peace and
holiness and righteousness and life? Or will you kick against this
chapter and demand in the season of suffering that God give a greater
account of himself than he does in this chapter?
I think it will be helpful to
approach He 12:3-11 like this: first we will notice the pain and sorrow in
this chapter? Second, we will ask what kind it is and where it comes
from? Third, we will ask if it has a purpose or design and what is it?
First, then, let's notice the
thread of suffering that runs through this section. Keep in mind what
we saw two weeks ago and last week. Two weeks ago in Hebrews 11:35,
36, 37, 38 we
read about OT believers who were tortured, mocked, whipped,
imprisoned, sawn in two, destitute, homeless. Then last week in
Hebrews 12:1-note we heard the call for all of us to lay aside sins and weights
and run the marathon of radical love and holiness, while these saints
witness to us along the route that it really can be done "by faith."
And then in v2 the writer tells us to look to Jesus who, like these
Old Testament saints, endured a horrible death and was shamed, but set
his eyes on the joy set before him.
GLIMPSES OF THE SUFFERING
OF THE READERS OF HEBREWS
And now he brings this legacy of
suffering up to date and applies it to the believers of his day. In He
12:3 he says,
"Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against
Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."
The first glimpse of suffering we see in this church here is that
something is threatening to make them "grow weary and lose heart." It
is normal for Christians to have experiences of stress and suffering
that threaten their faith and press too hard, or last too long and
feel almost intolerable. Losing heart is a great spiritual danger. And
these Christians were in that danger, as are many of you.
Another glimpse of their suffering is the reference to the hostility
against Jesus (Hebrews 12:3-note):
"Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against
Himself." Why consider this? Because the same kind of thing is
happening to you and you need to get strength from Jesus.
Another glimpse is in
"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your
striving against sin."
The point here is that things are bad, but not as bad as they could
be. There is hostility and trouble and stress and suffering, but
evidently no martyrs yet. We know from Heb10:34 that some had been
imprisoned and some had been plundered. But it is not yet martyrdom,
though that could come. The stress level here is huge. How do you
sleep at night when being a Christian may result in mob violence?
Another glimpse of their
suffering is in Hebrews 12:11-note:
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful."
In other words, the present experience of these Christians was
sorrowful. Joy had been covered with a dark cloud of pain. The word
"seems" (discipline "seems" not to be joyful) hints that there is a
kind of residual joy of hope that hangs on beneath the cloud, but the
tears and the sighs and the groans are so many that it looks like
sorrow has the upper hand - at least for a season. As it does when a
child cries after a spanking.
So I think it is fair to say that the believers in this passage are
under tremendous stress; they are enduring some form of hostility;
they are wrestling with great sorrow and are in danger of growing
weary of the battle and losing heart. This whole book is written to
keep that from happening.
THE SUFFERING IS COMING
FROM THE HOSTILITY OF SINNERS
Now the second thing to ask is
what kind of suffering this is and where did it come from. The first
answer is that the suffering is coming from hostile adversaries. This
was true in He 10:32, 33-note,
He 10:34-note; and it was true of the OT saints in
He 11:35; 36-note;
He 11:37; 11:38-note;
and you can see that it is true here in the connection between He
12:3; 4-note. The link with Jesus and the hostility shown against Him shows
that this is what the Christians are dealing with. He endured
hostility from sinners . . . you too have resisted, but have not yet
had to shed your blood. So the suffering in view is mainly persecution
in various forms, short of martyrdom.
But where did it come from? Who
is doing this? Who's in charge of this? The first answer to that is
seen in He 12:3: This is what Jesus endured, and this is what you are
enduring. The suffering comes from the hostility of sinners. The
suffering is coming from the hostile will of sinful adversaries. That
is the first answer.
It is not the main one, and it
is not the decisive one. This whole passage is built on another answer
to the question: Where does this suffering come from? And who's doing
this? And who's in charge? The main answer of the passage is that God
is in charge here, and that he is in ultimate control of these
afflictions and that they are in fact the loving discipline of a
perfect heavenly father. That's the burden of this passage.
IS GOD'S DISCIPLINE
He 12:5, 6, 7 says that one of the reasons you are growing weary and
losing heart is that
"you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT
WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE
DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.' It is for
discipline that you endure" (quoting Pr 3:11,12).
In other words, what adversaries do to you out of sinful hostility,
God is doing out of fatherly discipline.
This is extremely important for knowing your God and for living by
faith through the suffering that is coming sooner or later into your
life. Notice very carefully: this text does not say that God looks on
while hostile sinners hurt His people, or while Satan ravages the
elect, and only then steps in to turn all this evil for good. That is
not what the text says. It has a totally different conception of what
is happening to us.
It says that God is disciplining
us; he is teaching us and correcting us and transforming us. In other
words, God has a purpose and a design in what is happening to us. God
is the ultimate Doer here. He 12:6b goes so far as to say, "[God] scourges
every son whom he receives." Who is scourging? Who is whipping?
(Hebrews 11:36-note). God is. God is not a passive observer in our lives while
sinners and Satan beat us up. He rules over sinners and Satan, and
they unwittingly, and with no less fault or guilt, fulfill His wise and
loving purposes of discipline in our lives.
This is what I said earlier some Christians simply will not believe.
They say that God is not in charge of the evil that happens to us.
That He has given the world over to Satan and the free will of man.
But it will not work in this passage. 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.
ARE NATURAL CALAMITIES
ALSO GOD'S DISCIPLINE?
Someone might ask, does this
principle of discipline apply to things like natural calamities and
sicknesses that are not caused by the hostility of sinners? Should we
see these things as part of God's overarching discipline of his
children for their good?
I would answer with a question:
Which is harder to attribute to God's design: the hostility of sinners
against God's people or the destruction of a hurricane? I believe the
hostility of sinners is more difficult to attribute to God's design.
The reason is that in both cases - hostility and hurricanes - you have
to deal with the pain caused by the event. But in the case of
hostility you have the added difficulty that people's wills are
involved, whereas in the case of a hurricane you don't have that
difficulty. No human agent is causing the hurricane, but a human is
willing the hostility. So if we say that God is governing the
hostility of sinners against the saints, we imply that he governs not
just natural effects but human wills, and what harm they bring to the
And that is what this passage teaches. What hostile sinners mean for
harm, God means for good. What they will as hurtful, God wills as
helpful. What they plan as destruction, God plans as salvation. What
they design as a deterrent to faith, God designs as discipline for
The upshot then is this: if it is more difficult for God to govern the
hostility of sinners against His people, and yet this passage teaches
that He does just that, then why would we even think of denying the
less difficult act of God's rule over natural things like hurricanes
and sickness? Especially when God himself says in Ex 4:11
"Who has made
man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it
not I, the LORD?"
So I see in this passage the precious teaching that God reigns over
the hazards of our circumstances and over the health of our bodies and
over the hostility of our adversaries and He designs all of life
ultimately as a loving father's discipline.
Which leaves one last question:
what is the design of God in this sovereign governing of our
adversaries and circumstances? The text is wonderfully clear on this.
V6: "Those whom the Lord loves he disciplines." The design of God is
love. Our pain is not the effect of God's hate, but of God's love.
Will you believe this? That is the question.
Or Hebrews 12:7-note
"It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as
In other words, in your pain,
you are not being treated as a slave or as an enemy. You are being
treated as a loved child of God. The issue is: will you believe this?
Will you let the Word of God settle the issue for you, so that when
the suffering comes, you don't turn on God and put him in the dock and
prosecute him with accusations? He probably will not tell you why it
is your turn, or why it is happening now, or why there is this much
pain, or why it lasts this long. But he has told you what you need to
know: it is the love of an all-wise Father to a child. Will you trust
OUR GOOD, OUR HOLINESS,
OUR PEACE, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
But he is even willing to tell
us more. He 12:10-note;
He 12:11-note, "He disciplines us for our good, that we may share
His holiness. 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." Four words: our good, our
holiness, our peace, and our righteousness. This is the design of our
loving Father that comes to us painfully and mysteriously through the
hostility of sinful adversaries and the natural hazards of a fallen
He 12:9 poses our concluding question: Will we "be subject to the Father of
spirits, and live?" Or will be rebel against the father of spirits,
and die? Will we trust him? If we submit to this sovereign, loving,
fatherly care, we will not "grow weary and lose heart," but we will
keep the faith, fight the good fight, and finish our course, and die
well, and glorify our Father in heaven. (August
24, 1997 John Piper)
William MacDonald writes that in this section we have...
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
When we read the word
chastening, or chastisement, we tend to think of a whipping. But here
the word means child training or education. It 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.
The passage in Proverbs distinctly states that GOD'S DISCIPLINE IS A
PROOF OF HIS LOVE, and no son of His escapes chastisement. By
REMAINING SUBMISSIVE to the chastening of God, WE PERMIT HIS
DISCIPLINE TO MOLD US into His image. If we try to SHORT-CIRCUIT His
dealings with us, He may have to teach us over a longer period of
time, using more instructive, and consequently, more difficult
methods. So WHEN TESTINGS COME to us, we should realize that God is
treating us as sons. In any normal father-son relationship, the father
trains his son because he loves him and wants the best for him. God
loves us too much to let us develop naturally. Most of us have
experienced discipline from our human fathers. We did not interpret
this as a sign that they hated us. We realized that they were
interested in our welfare, and we paid them respect. How much more
should we respect the training of the Father of spirits and LIVE!…By
being subject to God we ENJOY LIFE IN ITS TRUEST SENSE. The discipline
of earthly parents is not perfect. It lasts only for a time, that is,
during childhood and youth. If it has not succeeded then, it can do no
more. And it is as seemed best to them, according to what they think
is right. Sometimes it may not be right. But GOD'S DISCIPLINE IS
ALWAYS PERFECT. His love is infinite and His wisdom is infallible. His
chastenings are NEVER the result of WHIM, but ALWAYS for our PROFIT.
His objective is that we may be partakers of His holiness. And
GODLINESS CAN NEVER BE PRODUCED OUTSIDE GOD'S SCHOOL. Jowett explains:
"The purpose of God's chastening is not punitive but CREATIVE. He
chastens "that we may share His holiness." The phrase "that we may
share" has direction in it, and the direction points toward a purified
and beautified life. The fire which is kindled is not a bonfire,
blazing heedlessly and unguardedly, and consuming precious things; it
is a REFINER'S FIRE, and the Refiner sits by it, and He is firmly and
patiently and gently bringing HOLINESS out of CARELESSNESS and
STABILITY out of WEAKNESS. God is always creating even when He is
using the darker means of grace. He is producing the fruits and
flowers of the Spirit. His love is always in quest of lovely things. "
At the time, all discipline
seems painful. But it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to
those who have been trained by it. That is why we often come across
such testimonies, like this by Leslie Weatherhead:
"Like all men I love and prefer the sunny uplands of experience, where
health, happiness, and success abound, but I have learned far more
about God and life and myself in the darkness of fear and failure than
I have ever learned in the sunshine. There are such things as the
treasures of darkness. The darkness, thank God, passes. But what one
learns in the darkness one possesses for ever. "The trying
things," says Bishop Fenelon, "which you fancy come between God and
you, will prove means of unity with Him, if you bear them humbly.
Those things that overwhelm us and upset our pride, do more good than
all that which excites and inspirits us. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
Consider the following testimony
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
"I am afraid that all the grace I have got out of my comfortable and
easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good
that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs is
altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the hammer and the
anvil, the fire and the file? Affliction is the best bit of furniture
in my house."
Ray Stedman writes
The passage from He 12:4-11 develops the true point of view Christians
must have toward hardship and opposition. He 12:4, 5, 6 put it succinctly,
saying, in effect: Remember, it isn't as bad as it could be! (You have
not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.) Don't forget,
behind the difficulties you must go through is a Father's loving
heart! (You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses
you as sons.)…discomfort, hardship and deprivations, borne for the
sake of Christ, are viewed as privileges and blessings, sent by a
loving Father to prepare us to be worthy heirs of the incomparable
glories yet to come. They are not a sign of His displeasure, but a
sign that He regards us as genuine children…(Hebrews 12:9, 10, 1111)
adduce a second reason for patient endurance: our earthly fathers
disciplined us when we were children, even though they doubtless made
mistakes. Yet we respected them for their efforts which we recognized
were meant for our good. How much more should we accept the discipline
of our God, Who makes no mistakes and Who aims at enabling us to share
His own perfect character! The trials, disappointments, hardships and
even physical attacks which sometimes constitute God's discipline may
be painful to bear. No one enjoys such experiences. As C. S. Lewis
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but
shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world.
the pain is not the whole story. There is always a later on which
follows. There is a harvest of righteousness and peace which
invariably will come for those who have been trained by it (the
discipline). (Hebrews 12:4-13 How God Trains Us)
Morris writes that
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" (Morris,
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
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
Now there are a great many saints today who do not think they need to
be disciplined, but DISCIPLINE is for mature saints, people who have
been walking with the Lord for a long time. There was a time when I
had come to the place where I thought I didn't need to be disciplined
anymore. I thought I had come a long ways. But the Lord put me flat on
my back physically to let me know that there was some more
DISCIPLINING to be done. The word chastening means something a little
different from what we think today. We think that chastening is
punishment. The Greek word is paideuo, and it means "child training or
discipline…"That we might be partakers of his HOLINESS." I believe
that there is no way you can become a FULL-GROWN CHILD OF GOD living
in fellowship with Him (that is the main thought behind "holiness")
EXCEPT through the DISCIPLINE OF GOD.
I am reminded of the story of
the man who lived in a home for the mentally ill. There was a visitor
one day who saw the man beating himself on the head with a baseball
bat. The visitor went up to him and said, "Why in the world are you
hitting yourself on the head with the baseball bat?" The man replied,
"It feels so good when I quit!" God does not discipline you just to
make you feel good when it is over. He doesn't give you ill health
just so you will appreciate good health when it returns. There is
always a purpose in the discipline of God for you.
NOW WHAT IS YOUR REACTION WHEN
GOD DISCIPLINES YOU? The first reaction is that you can DESPISE the
chastening. You can treat it lightly and accept no message from it at
all. You simply become a fatalist and say, "Well, I'm having trouble.
Everybody has trouble." You do not recognize the fact that your
heavenly Father is disciplining you, and you do not get His message in
it at all.
"Nor FAINT when thou art rebuked
of him" (v5). There are those who respond in this way (I would call it
the crybaby reaction): They begin to cry and say, "Why did this happen
to me? It is not worth living a Christian life. I have served the
Lord, and now He's letting this happen to me." In other words, they
just faint away. Many saints take that attitude. However, when I was
going through a serious illness several years ago, I received several
thousand letters from people all over this country and throughout the
world. Many of those people were suffering much more than I, and their
attitude made me feel ashamed of myself. They had been on beds of pain
for months-several of them for years-and they wrote the sweetest
letters I have ever read. Those letters came from folk who had real
victory. We hear of meetings where people are healed and where they
talk of great victories. Well, to be very frank with you, if you want
to know where the GREAT VICTORIES are being won today, go to the
hospitals or visit some dear shut-in saints who have been in bed for
months, and listen to them talk. You can faint, but these saints don't
faint because the Lord is strengthening them.
I would like to give this word of personal testimony. A number of
years ago when I had cancer, my first question to the Lord was, "Why?"
It didn't take me long to discover that it was my heavenly Father
punishing me-I understood that. I was a hardheaded child of God, but I
got things squared away with Him. He healed me of the cancer and
richly blessed the growth of our radio broadcast ministry. Then
suddenly I was knocked down with another illness. The doctor told me
to stay on my back, and I did so for three weeks or more. I learned
something during that time which I would like to pass on to you. God
wasn't judging me this time, because I've learned to keep my account
short with Him. I get things straightened out with Him about every
day. I do fail Him-I guess I'm still as hardheaded as I ever was-but I
go to Him and confess my sin. I believe I am in the will of God. So I
went to Him that second time and cried, "Lord, why in the world did
You let this happen to me? I want to go on with the radio ministry."
He put me flat on my back, and He said, "You are My son, and I am your
Father. There are a lot of things you haven't learned yet. You may
have the notion that your radio ministry is essential and that I can't
get along without you, but how did I get along without you before you
got here? You are going to lie here and learn something. I am your
Father, and you need to learn to endure for Me. You do not know how to
rest, and you do not know how to wait on Me." It took me a while, but
I finally said to Him, "All right, Father, if You want me to lie here,
I'll lie here. I want to learn the lesson You have for me." (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
(Listen to Dr McGee's
THE CHASTISEMENTS OF GOD -
Chastisement- the family badge- the family pledge- the family
privilege– "To you it is given to suffer." "Troubles," says a good
man, "are in God's catalogue of mercies." "Afflictions," says another,
"are God's hired laborers to break the clods and plow the land."
Reader, is the hand of your God heavy upon you? Has He been breaking
your cisterns, withering your gourds, poisoning your sweetest
fountains of earthly bliss? Are the world's bright spots outnumbered
by the dreary ones? Has one tear been following another in quick
succession? You may have to tell, perhaps, of a varied experience of
trials. Every tender point touched- sickness, bereavement, poverty-
perhaps all of these.
Be still. If you are a child of God, there is no exemption from the
"household discipline." The rod is a Father's; the voice that speaks
may be rough, but the hand that smites is gentle. The furnace may be
seven times heated, but the Refiner is seated by. His object is not to
consume, but to purify. Do not misinterpret His dealings; there is
mercy on the wings of "the rough wind." Our choicest fountains are fed
from dark lowering clouds. All, be assured, will yet bear the stamp of
love. Sense cannot discern yet "the bright light in the clouds." Aged
Jacob exclaimed at first, "All these things are against me;" but at
last he had a calmer and a more just verdict, "His spirit revived!"
"At evening time it was light." The saint on earth can say, regarding
his trials, in faith and in trust, "I know, O Lord, that Your
judgments are right." The saint in glory can go a step farther, "I
see, O Lord, that they are so!" His losses will then be shown to be
his riches. Believer! on a calm retrospect of your heaviest
afflictions- say, were they unneeded? Was this what Augustine calls,
"the severe mercy of God's discipline"- was it too severe? Less would
not have done. Like Jonah, you never would have awoke but for the
storm. He may have led you to a Zarephath, (a place of furnaces,) but
it is to show you there, "one like unto the Son of God!" When was God
ever so near to you, or you to your God, as in the furnace-fires.
When was the presence and love and sympathy of Jesus so precious? When
"the Beloved" comes down from the Mountain of Myrrh and the Hill of
Frankincense to His Garden on earth. He can get no fragrance from some
plants but by bruising them. The spices in the Temple of old were
crushed. The gold of its candlestick was beaten gold! It was when the
Marah-fountain of your heart was bitter with sin, that He cast in some
cross, some trial, and "the waters were made sweet!"
My soul, be still! You have, in affliction, one means of glorifying
God, which even angels have not, in their sorrowless world- patience
under the rod- submission to your Heavenly Father's will! Pray not to
have your affliction removed, but for grace to bear up under it, so
that you may glorify God even "in the fires." Remember that though
"weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning," close your
tearful eyes, saying– "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you
alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8 (From chapter 20 -
THE NIGHT WATCHES by John MacDuff)
Wiersbe commenting on Heb 12:5-11 writes
Chastening refers to child
training, helping the child prepare for adulthood. It does not
necessarily mean punishment for disobedience, although that sometimes
might be included. Never fear the chastening hand of the Lord; it is
controlled by a loving heart. God's goal is your maturity. A Greek boy
was expected to "work out" in the gymnasium until he reached his
maturity. It was a part of his preparation for adult life. Instead of
trying to escape the difficulties of life, we should rather be
"trained" by them so that we might grow (He 12:11).
WHEN WE ARE SUFFERING,
it is easy to think that God does not love us. So the writer gave
three proofs that chastening comes from the FATHER'S HEART OF LOVE:
(1). The Scriptures (He 12:5-6):
The quotation is from Pr 3:11-12,
a statement that his readers had known but had forgotten. (Ed: This is one
of the sad consequences of getting "DULL" toward the Word;
(Heb 5:11,12) This quotation is an "exhortation," which literally means
"encouragement." Because they forgot the Word, they lost their
ENCOURAGEMENT and were ready to give up! The key words (Ed: Dr. Wiersbe
prepares to write his commentary by first reading a book 50x!) in this
quotation are "son," "children," and "sons." These words are used six
times in Heb12:5-8. They refer to adult sons and not little children.
A parent who would repeatedly chasten an infant child would be
considered a monster. God deals with us as adult sons because we have
been adopted and given an adult standing in His family. The fact that
the Father chastens us is proof that we are maturing, and it is the
means by which we can mature even more. 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
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.
(2). Personal experience (He 12:7-11):
All of us had a father and, if
this father was faithful, he had to discipline us. If a child is left
to himself, he grows up to become a selfish tyrant. The point the
writer made (Heb12:7-8) is that a father chastens only his own sons,
and this is proof that they are his children. We may feel like
spanking the neighbors' children (and our neighbors may feel like
spanking ours), but we cannot do it. God's chastening is proof that we
are indeed His children! I have met in my ministry people who
professed to be saved, but for some reason they NEVER EXPERIENCED ANY
CHASTENING. If they DISOBEYED, they seemed to get away with it. If I
resisted God's will and did not experience His loving chastening, I
would be afraid that I was not saved! All true children of God receive
His chastening. All others who claim to be saved, but who escape
chastening, are nothing but counterfeits-illegitimate children. Why do
good earthly fathers correct their kids? So that their offspring might
show them reverence (respect) and obey what they command. This is why
the Heavenly Father corrects us: He wants us to reverence Him and obey
His will. A child who does not learn subjection to authority will
never become a useful, mature adult.
(3). The blessed results (He 12:11-13):
No chastening at the time is pleasant either to the father or to his
son, but the benefits are profitable. I am sure that few children
believe it when their parents say, "This hurts me more that it hurts
you." But it is true just the same. The Father does not enjoy having
to discipline His children, but the benefits afterward make the
chastening an evidence of His love. What are some of the benefits? For
one thing, there is "the peaceable fruit of righteousness." Instead of
continuing to sin, the child strives to do what is right. There is
also peace instead of war-"the peaceable fruit of righteousness." The
rebellion has ceased and the child is in a loving fellowship with the
Of course, THE IMPORTANT THING
IS HOW GOD'S CHILD RESPONDS TO CHASTENING. He can DESPISE it or FAINT
under it (Heb 12:5), both of which are wrong. He should show reverence
to the Father by submitting to His will (Heb 12:9). (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.
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:
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?” (Heb. 12:9 nasb).
We need not fight, run, argue, or bargain. We need to yield. You know
what I’m talking about. When we think about disciplining our children,
it would be a lot easier if they would just submit to a grounding with
an “okay, Dad.
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
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
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
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, “
Anytime you preach the grace of God
according to the Scripture, it will appear to some that it’s cheap
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
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"
from Charles Stanley...
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
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
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
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...
Note, too, that there is more than one kind of suffering in the life
of the Christian. There is natural suffering that we experience simply
because we are human. We cannot prevent the gradual breakdown of the
body as we grow old, though we can seek to delay it. We are subject to
sickness and injury; we lose loved ones and friends as death claims
them; we find ourselves slowing down when we wish we could speed
things up. The inconvenience, and even the pain, of being a weak human
being in a dangerous world cannot be blamed on the devil. All of
creation is groaning because of the bondage of sin, and we Christians
are groaning with it (Romans 8:18-23).
God sometimes sends (or permits) his children to suffer that he might
discipline them. Our heavenly Father loves us too much to permit us to
be rebels, so he chastens us that we might conform to his will.
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint
when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He
disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:5,
The word translated “discipline” in Hebrews 12 simply means
“child-training.” 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. True, God does “spank” his children if they
rebel and refuse to repent. David sinned against God and tried to hide
his sin for a year or more. Read Psalm 32 and discover what David
suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually because he would not
submit to God. But sometimes God permits suffering in our lives simply
to build us up and help us mature.
Two storms in the Bible
illustrate this truth. Jonah disobeyed God and refused to go to
Nineveh. He found a convenient ship to take him to Tarshish, but God
interrupted Jonah’s escape by sending a storm. When the mariners threw
Jonah into the stormy sea, the prophet was swallowed by a great fish.
He describes his “living death” in the stomach of the great fish in
Chapter 2 of his book. God had to chasten Jonah and almost take his
life before the prophet would confess his sins and surrender to God.
This storm came for the purpose of correcting God’s servant who had
But there are storms that come because we are obedient! One such storm
is recorded in Matthew 14:22-33. Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people
and they wanted to make him king. He sent the crowd away, and also
sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee in their boat. He went up
to the mountaintop to pray. When the disciples got away from the land,
a fierce storm arose and almost sank the ship. Please note: they were
not in the storm because they disobeyed the Lord, but because they
obeyed him. He was testing and perfecting their faith. Later he came
to them and stilled the storm; but the entire experience revealed to
the men how weak their faith really was.
So, we sometimes suffer simply because we are human. We suffer, too,
because we disobey the Lord and need to be chastened. We also suffer
that God might perfect our faith and help us mature. Not all suffering
is Satanic in origin. But there is a kind of suffering that is Satan’s
weapon, and that is what Job experienced. It seemed that all of the
calamities in his life had perfectly natural explanations: the Sabeans
took the oxen and donkeys; fire from heaven (perhaps lightning) burned
the sheep; the Chaldeans took the camels; and a great wind (a
tornado?) wrecked his oldest son’s house and killed all of Job’s
children. But Satan was behind all of them! When God gives him
permission, Satan can use people and the forces of nature to
accomplish his purposes.
As believers, we have this confidence: God is always in complete
control. When God permits Satan to light the furnace, he always keeps
his own hand on the thermostat! Job did not know what was going on
behind the scenes. He had no idea that God was permitting him to
suffer so that Satan might be silenced. The real battle was “in the
heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Job’s home and body were only the
arena in which the two combatants—God and Satan—were struggling
against each other. Satan wanted to use Job’s body to defeat God, and
God wanted to use Job’s body to defeat Satan.
When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, seek to discern
through the Word and prayer whether your suffering is from nature,
from God, or from Satan. Is God perfecting you? Is he disciplining
you? Is Satan seeking to hinder your ministry or even destroy you? You
cannot control the origin of your suffering, but you can control the
outcome. (from The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe)
><> ><> ><>
How do you view your
troubles? A pastor's wise advice...
A woman who’d endured much
suffering asked her pastor,
“When am I going to get out of
He wisely responded,
“You should have asked, ‘What
am I going to get out of these troubles.”
><> ><> ><>
- Hebrews 12:5-11 - My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lotto, nor detest His
correction (Proverbs 3:11).
Scientists tell us that the seeds of certain types of desert bushes
must be damaged by a storm before they will germinate. Covered by hard
shells that keep out water, these seeds can lie dormant on the sand
for several seasons until conditions are right for growth. When heavy
rains finally bring flash floods, the little seeds are banged against
sand, gravel, and rocks as they rush down the slopes. Eventually they
settle in a depression where the soil is damp several feet deep. Able
to absorb water through the nicks and scratches they acquired on their
downhill plunge, they finally begin to grow.
Sometimes Christians are like those seeds. We need bad weather to
stimulate our spiritual development. We do not take life seriously
until something drastic happens. Although the heavenly Father never
allows His children to suffer needlessly, sometimes He lets us
experience nicks and scratches that let the water of His Word seep in
and soften our hearts.
An unexpected stay in the hospital, stacks of unpaid bills, or family
disruption can quickly awaken a sleeping saint. Such difficulties hurt
for a while, but if we yield to the Lord we will find that life's
bruises can mark the beginning of spiritual advances. Occasionally God
will let us be roughed up to grow up. We may prefer to remain seeds,
but He wants us to become fruitful trees. —M. R. De Haan II
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
There are no gains without pains.
><> ><> ><>
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.
In a sense, her pain is similar to Esau's. He too discovered what it's
like to realize suddenly that something of great value has been lost
(Genesis 25:29-34). His wrong decision and subsequent sorrow can be a
lesson for Christians. Hebrews 12 teaches that if we become bitter
over the correction that comes our way because of our sin, we will
lose the benefits of God's disciplining hand (Hebrews 12:5). And that
kind of loss is far greater than trading expensive jewels for almost
How can we avoid this unnecessary loss? When we sin, we must be
willing to learn from God's correction (Hebrews 12:11), show courage
(Hebrews 12:12-13), and renew our spiritual vitality (Hebrews 12:14).
If we respond to our Father's chastening hand, we can enjoy a life
without regret. —Mart De Haan
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
If you've rebelled and turned away
From what you know is true,
Submit to God, He will forgive—
He still has work for you. —Sper
You can't put your sins behind you until you face them.
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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."note), and do not
despise Him when He says to you, in effect, "Don’t be blind on this
point anymore— you are not as far along spiritually as you thought you
were. Until now I have not been able to reveal this to you, but I’m
revealing it to you right now." When the Lord disciplines you like
that, let Him have His way with you. Allow Him to put you into a
right-standing relationship before God.
"Do not quench the Spirit" (1Th 5:19-
". . . nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him." We begin to
pout, become irritated with God, and then say, "Oh well, I can’t help
it. I prayed and things didn’t turn out right anyway. So I’m simply
going to give up on everything." Just think what would happen if we
acted like this in any other area of our lives!
Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power and do a work
in me that is truly worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea
of what I want God to do for me— sanctification is God’s idea of what
He wants to do for me. But He has to get me into the state of mind and
spirit where I will allow Him to sanctify me completely, whatever the
cost (1Th 5:23, 24-notes).
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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.’
Never quench the Spirit, and do not despise Him when He says to
you—‘Don’t be blind on this point any more; you are not where you
thought you were. Up to the present, I have not been able to reveal it
to you, but I reveal it now.’ When the Lord chastens you like that,
let Him have His way. Let Him relate you rightly to God.
“Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” We get into sulks with God
and say—‘Oh well, I can’t help it; I did pray and things did not turn
out right, and I am going to give it all up.’ Think what would happen
if we talked like this in any other domain of life!
Am I prepared to let God grip me by His power and do a work in me that
is worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God
to do for me; sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for
me, and He has to get me into the attitude of mind and spirit where at
any cost I will let Him sanctify me wholly (O. Chambers)
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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
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."
1. Consider Him. If Christians would only understand that God's word
says, that it is impossible for them to live the true Christian life
unless they keep their eye daily, unceasingly fixed on Jesus. Not a
step in the race is safe if they are not looking to Jesus.
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)