Author: Ron Graham
Disciplined by God
—Living in Godly fear
As in our previous lesson we are looking at passages toward the end of the letter to the Hebrews where the writer presents Jesus as "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
1 Understand why God chastens
The Hebrew writer points out that God chastens his sons, and he uses the analogy of human fathers who discipline their sons (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Of course earthly fathers may not always chasten their sons in the right way for the right reasons. God on the other hand chastens us "for our profit that we may be partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).
The Hebrew writer’s point is that, if we were subject to "human fathers who corrected us and we paid them respect, shall we not much more readily be subject to the Father of spirits and live?" (Hebrews 12:9).
The reasonable correction which a human father administers, is not without value. God administers discipline, correction, and chastening of far more value and profit.
2 Don't be confused
You and I must take care not to misunderstand the statement, "Whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives" (Hebrews 12:5-6 Proverbs 3:11-12).
It is very easy to complain, "God is punishing me" and to be thinking that God is taking vengeance on you for your sins. That is a very wrong understanding of God’s discipline. That is not at all what God is doing.
Any decent human father does not chastise his son for vengeance, but for correction and training in righteousness.
NOTE: The severe punishment and fiery wrath that Hebrews 10 describes, and the chastening for our wellbeing that Hebrews 12 describes are quite different things in their nature and purpose, and we should not confuse them.
Jesus causes us to escape from the one, by helping us to endure and profit from the other...
- Judgment and fiery indignation "which shall devour the adversaries... who trampled the Son of God underfoot... 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay' says the Lord" (Hebrews 10:26-31)
- Whom the Lord loves he chastens "and scourges every son whom he receives... it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11)
3 Live in fear without terror
. The fear which the Hebrew writer calls "a certain terrifying expectation" (Hebrews 10:27) is not the "reverence and godly fear" that he urges us to live by (Hebrews 12:28-29).
The proper fear of God is the awe and absolute respect in which we serve and obey God. Jesus teaches us and helps us to maintain that kind of fear. Abject terror is appropriate for those who reject God. But those who love and serve God need not be terrified of him.
God’s grace takes away the terror but it also takes away the dare. In God’s grace we no longer dare to disobey him. We subject ourselves to him with all reverence.
Jesus helps us to do this day by day in order that he may finish and perfect the story of our faith which he began.