Hebrews 12_1-13 God disciplines his sons
God disciplines his sons
Preparatory Service 01-12-05 7.30pm
Call to worship
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Hymn No 581: “O happy band of pilgrims” (Tune 115 x 2)
Prayer of Adoration and Invocation
Loving Heavenly Father, from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Our hearts are overflowing with thankfulness and praise to you, because our lives are full of the good things you give us. From out of the fullness of our lives and the richness of your blessings, we return thanks to you in a ceaseless flow of praise.
Your unnumbered blessings give our spirits voice. You are the giver of every good and perfect gift. At your hand we have been blessed with life in all its fullness. Countless pleasures and delights we have received, and all have come from you.
We bless you for the life you have given,
for sustaining it from day to day;
for the soul you have created,
for loving and saving it;
for the body you have given,
for preserving its health and strength;
for providing senses so as to enjoy your world;
for the strength and mobility of arms and legs;
for hearts and hands to do your will;
for all your good gifts providing our daily needs:
for food on the table, and homes that provide shelter and protection;
for satisfying our appetites, taste, sweetness;
for the precious ties of family and friends;
for the joy of human affection and love;
for the gifts of creativity, imagination, skill and ability;
for the strength to work and the time to relax;
for the ability to serve others;
for a heart that feels both joy and pain;
for a conscience that is moved by a sense of right and wrong;
for a mind to care for those in need;
for opportunities to spread happiness around;
for loved ones on earth and in heaven;
and for our own sure and certain hope of seeing you there.
Our love for you is above the power of language to express for what you are doing and have done for us your people. Increase our love for you, our Father, through time and eternity, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture Reading Deuteronomy 8:1-5
Hymn No 287: “Your servant, blessed by You, shall live”
(Tune 523 – 4 verses)
Prayer for others
Hymn No 562: “Master, speak for I am listening”
Scripture Reading Hebrews 12:1-13
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, what is the purpose of trail and tribulation? Why does God allow these things to happen to us? How should we look at it when it becomes part of our lives?
We need to understand what hardship is. Then we need to ask the question, “What is God’s purpose with it?”
The mother of a brain-injured child wrote these words: “We would have called our daughter’s handicap the greatest tragedy of our lives if it were not for the fact that through it we came to know the Lord much better. Words cannot fully express our keen disappointment when our little girl failed to experience normal mental development. Yet her condition made us understand just a bit how our dear Saviour must feel when His children do not mature spiritually. The Lord knows that heartaches, if properly accepted will enrich our lives in a way that could not happen otherwise. Strengthened in the inner man, we come through our trials bigger and better Christians and with a new and brighter testimony.”
; What is discipline?
The preceding chapter to the one we read, Hebrews 11, ends with these words:
[Some] were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.
They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:35-40)
Stoned, sawed in two, destitute, persecuted, mistreated, put to death – these are strong terms, and it refers to real people living in the real world, trusting God with their lives and their future.
To discipline in the Bible has basically one thing in mind: ; it refers to the relationship of a father towards his children. When a father was disciplining he could also say “I was being a father.” That’s what fathers do. They can only be fathers when they have children. So, to discipline, is to express the basis relationship between any father and the children he loves.
This discipline had two major aspects. First, it referred to education, and secondly it referred to giving and receiving correction.
; The education part, for the most of it, did not necessarily include formal education. It was basically nothing more that to set an example by which children could live. It was a life-long “follow-my-leader” game.
But the second part included correction. This implied the application of some measures to assist the “follow-my-leader” stuff, to help children who want to follow themselves and their own ideas. The word in verse 5 is “rebuke” and it means “to show someone his sin and to summon him to repentance.” In Rev 3:19 the Lord says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”
The “endure hardship” in verse 7 refers to stand firm, to not be moved. The endurance has to do with the correcting act of the discipline. As human beings we don’t understand the act of discipline. I never understood it when my father disciplined me. “How can he say he loves me and still use the strap?” The strap in our house was called “Psychology” – it was the only psychology we knew.
; As Christians one may tend to doubt the love of God when things start becoming tough. Is it true that God really loves me when I have to endure mistreatment, or torture, jeers and flogging? This then is where the command comes in: endure, stand firm, don’t leave your post. The verse says: “Do not lose heart when He rebukes you.” Yes, it might be painful, and it is certainly not pleasant at the time. But never doubt the love of God. Instead, consider it a sign of the real relationship of child-to-father and father-to-child, for a child who is not disciplined cannot be considered a legitimate child.
Let’s always remember this: as children of God we have a struggle against sin. This struggle is a battle to resist. If left alone in this battle, we will perish. God does not leave us alone. He teaches us to make the right choices, to say no when we actually want to say yes; and to say yes when we want to say no. He helps us to see the danger in the struggle and He needs to sometimes pull in the reigns. We would have all the right to think He does not love us if He lets us battle on all on our own.
What is the purpose of discipline?
Verse 6, which is a quote from Prove 3:12 reads: “the Lord disciplines these He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”
A true father loves his son and because he loves him he corrects him in the process of educating him. He does it because he thinks it is the best for his child.
; When the Bible talks about illegitimate children in this paragraph the onus does not lie on the children to make sure that they are legitimate; it is quite the opposite. It refers to the fact that God accepted as sons those He then disciplines. It refers to his act of becoming a legitimate father.
Now if He is my legitimate Father, and if He loves me, I should not doubt his discipline or the purpose of it, or even the measure of it.
Verse 11 helps us to understand the purpose of God’s discipline. First of all it talks about the investment of discipline in terms of a harvest. When God deals with us He invests in us; He sows and prepares the paddock for a harvest. What He achieves by it is reaping righteousness.
Now, this righteousness is not that God tests us to the point that we by his torture and rebuking will gain our own righteousness: the “more pain, the more gain”- attitude as the ascetics did in early centuries. No, here it refers to an obedience and submission to his discipline so that the righteousness of Christ is given its full expression in the life of his children. Because the fact is the more I understand God’s love, even in adversity, the more will I submit to Him and the more will He be glorified by manifesting the righteousness of Jesus in my life.
The second great truth from verse 11 as purpose of discipline is to take us back to the teaching aspect of discipline: ; the word used in Greek for “training” is the same word we use for gymnasium. This is the place where athletes prepare themselves for the race. This is not where they win the race, but here they gain from disciplined exercise, here they become physically fit for what lies ahead.
In the same way, to withstand the strain of the struggle against sin, God puts us under his discipline so that we can win the race, being fit for the battle. That is why earlier in this chapter it says:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
; How is it possible to endure God’s discipline?
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
We are gathered here to prepare ourselves for Holy Communion. Here we acknowledge our stubbornness to accept God’s discipline; and here we prepare to once again submit to His guidance.
; We remember how Christ endured the Cross, the scorning and the shame. We will take in our hands the signs of salvation: the bread will become our spiritual food, representing the body of Him who died on the Cross; the wine, representing the blood of the Passover Lamb, will become our spiritual drink. ; We will be nourished for the battle.
We will remember how He paid the price not because He deserved to be punished and rebuked. He did it because He took our punishment upon Him – and He became our righteousness. ; We will remember how He endured the opposition from sinful men and we will gather strength so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.
We will learn not to criticize and blame God for having to face difficulties and trails. ; We will look at the elements of forgiveness and we will learn to thank God in Jesus Christ for providing our righteousness by taking our punishment upon Him. And we will remember his perseverance and endurance. ; And as He endured because of the joy set before Him to do the will of the Father and eventually sit at your right hand, we will be encouraged to be involved in the battle and struggle against sin with endurance, accepting and yielding to God’s discipline till the day of the harvest.
A teacher read to her class the text, “My yoke is easy.” “Who can tell me what a yoke is?” she asked. A boy said, “A yoke is something they put on the necks of animals.” Then the teacher asked, “What is the yoke God puts on us?” A little girl said, “It is God putting His arms around our necks.” AMEN.
Hymn No. 555: “Now put your trust in God” (please be seated)
Prayer of Confession of sins
Our Father, enlarge our hearts to love you, warm our affection towards you, anoint our lips with grace to praise you and may our praise ever find focus in the cross of Christ.
For there, you in your grace rolled away our burden of sin and guilt and laid it on your Son, who was made to be sin and a curse for us. There, the full force of your anger against our sin was felt by him. There the punishment for sin fell due, and was endured.
There, Christ suffered anguish that we might know joy;
Christ was cast off, that we might be brought in;
Christ was trodden down as an enemy, that we might be welcomed as a friend;
Christ surrendered to Hell’s worst, that we might attain Heaven’s best;
Christ was wounded that we might be healed;
Christ was tormented that we might be comforted;
Christ was made a shame, that we might inherit glory;
Christ entered darkness, that we might inherit eternal life;
Christ wept, that all tears might be wiped from our eyes;
Christ wore a crown of thorns, that we might wear a crown of righteousness.
Gracious Father, you who did not spare your own dear Son, but gave him up for us all, we worship you for this wonderful transfer and exchange of our sin and guilt to Christ and of Christ’s righteousness to us. We acknowledge that it was designed by your great love, accomplished by your almighty power and applied to our hearts by faith.
Help us to ever adore you for your redeeming love and by both word and deed to worship you. May we use every breath to praise you. With every step we take, may there be that confidence which comes from knowing that Satan has been defeated, sin is paid for, our hearts are washed clean of a guilty conscience, Hell’s gates are closed to us, and Heaven’s doors are swung wide open to greet us.
We praise you, Father, for giving us your Son, whose finished work upon the cross has the power to save completely those who put their trust in him, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Declaration of pardoning
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever (Psalm 103:8-9)
Hymn No 402: “O Jesus full of truth and grace”
The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)