Captured And Captivated By Christ: Hebrews 12:3-11 – God’s Work Of Training His Children

Grace For The Journey

Yesterday we were encouraged by the writer to look to Jesus as One who is able to give us the needed power to endure and finish the race that God has set before us.  Today we are exhorted to look to Christ in yet another way.  How many of you have ever been discouraged and tired as a Christian?  How many of you have ever felt beaten down by the world and even wondered if you had the stamina to continue?  The original readers of this letter to the Hebrews were weary and tired in their souls.  They were about ready to quit. For them, the cause of their weariness came because of hostility from sinners.  In Hebrews 10:32-34, the writer had reminded them, “But recall the former days in which after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with suffering: partly while you were made a spectacle both y reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chins, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a getter and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”  They seemingly did well at first as they underwent persecution.  These early believers suffered well for the glory of Christ.  As time went on, they grew weary and tired in their souls.

The apostle reminds these saints

Of one huge invaluable point. 

This truth, understood correctly,

Would give them the spark

They needed to endure. 

This one truth would

Change everything.

The hostility from sinners

That the Apostle speaks of

Was really God working. 

We often do not think that God uses ungodly people to accomplish His purposes.  The universe is at God’s command.  He determines the numbers of stars in the sky and the number of grains of sand along the ocean.  He is sovereign over all people … those who are His and those who are not His.  He can raise up evil armies to render judgment on His own people to promote repentance.  He can give success to evil people in business so they will accomplish His purposes.  In this case, God used evil people to challenge and stretch those whom He loved in order that they would be better equipped to bring Him glory.

The writer here continues his analogy of a runner in a distance race.  Any runner worth anything knows that he will only get better as he endures the pain of training and practice.  It is the same thing spiritually.  Like it or not we grow the most as we suffer through various trials that come our way.  God knows exactly what trial to use to cause us to grow.  We often do not think about God sending us hard times.  For some reason we only think God sends us “the sprinkles on top of our ice cream sort of stuff.”

This text is very clear – The writer shows us that the hard stuff believers endure comes from God in the form of loving discipline.  When we think of discipline, we most often if not always have in mind punishment.  We think of committing a sin and then God punishing us like an earthly father punishes a child who breaks curfew or something like that.  Discipline in the Bible refers to “instructing or educating; to inform the mind; to prepare by instructing in correct principles and habits; as to discipline youth for a profession; or for future usefulness.”  This word comes from “disciple.”  It literally means “to strengthen or to train in righteousness;” much like a runner is strengthened as he trains in endurance.

Before we really get started in the text, we should clearly spell out the truth we are speaking of today … that mankind is in need of instruction and training in righteousness (discipline) and God uses whatever means He chooses to accomplish this end (God’s providence).  The verses we are looking at today shows us how this happens . . .

1) Consider How Christ Endured Hostility.

Verses 3 and 4 state, “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”  The first stop the author makes is to have his readers go straight to the source.  More astounding and amazing than God’s providence in the lives of Moses, Joseph and Jonah was the providence that worked to crucify Christ.

I remember when the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” came out and there arose a controversy from it.  It involved the question, “Who crucified Jesus?” 

  • Some said it was the Romans because they actually drove the nails into his wrists and feet. 
  • Some said it was the Jews because they plotted to see it carried out. 

It is true that both the Romans and Jews had their parts to play but . . .

  • Ultimately it was God who crucified Christ. 

It was Jesus’ mission to come to earth and die for the sins of His people.  God the Father, God the Son, Pilate, Herod, the Romans, and the Jews all worked to carry out the plan of Providence.  God orchestrated the event from all angles.  He was in control of everything.

The point here is that if . . .

The most terrible deed

In all of history

Was orchestrated by God,

Namely the crucifixion of Christ,

Then it should be easier

To see that all events,

Even those we experience,

Are also orchestrated by God.

Acts 2:22-23 is an example of how God brought all things together to accomplish His purpose, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know – Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands have crucified, and put to death.”  These verses teach that . . .

On the one hand,

God determined and

Planned it to happen

And on the other hand,

Evil men carried it out. 

God in no way performed

Any of the evil in which it

Took to bring this event about. 

Evil men who are

Held responsible

Carried out God’s decree.

That is a huge truth to wrap our small brains around!

Jesus was also working toward the same end.  Jesus was faithful.  He accomplished God’s plan for Him.  He did not quit.  This is the point the writer is making.  We must stand firm to the end.  We may be tempted at times to quit, especially in a time of persecution.  But the author is reminding his readers that we are to stand firm just like Jesus did in the midst of His persecutors.

2) Discipline Trains Us In Godliness.

Verses 5-11 declare, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son who He receives.’  If you endure chastening, god deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partaker, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

The first point to remember is that the God is a loving Father who disciplines every child that belongs to Him.  He teaches us through life experiences and trains us in righteousness.  Sometimes His disciples us and sometimes He punishes us but at every step He has in mind our good and His glory.

This is a lot like the teach our Lord gave us in John 15:1-6, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Why does the Father prune us?  Is it to discourage and bring us down?  No, it is to make us better.  As we endure the necessary pruning and as we remain in Christ, we will bear much fruit.  Both aspects must be there.  We must abide in Christ and endure God’s pruning.

What does discipline tell us?  When we are disciplined we should praise the Lord because it is a reminder that we are sons and daughters and God is our Father.  Verses 6 and 7 reminds us of this, “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”  If we are never disciplined then we should be concerned that perhaps we are not really His children.

Verse 8 states, “If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”  Mankind is in need of instruction and training in righteousness (discipline) and God uses whatever means He chooses to accomplish this end (God’s providence).

The writer moves to the example of an earthly father and the discipline he gives.  We should stop here and mention that it is very important that parents discipline our children.  You discipline them as you teach them right from wrong.  As you set parameters that are acceptable and ones that are not.  Parents also discipline them when those parameters are broken.  As parents discipline their children, we are loving them as sons and daughters.  When you discipline be loving and firm and consistent.  The purpose of discipline is our desire for our children to bear much fruit that brings honor and glory to God in their lives.

Verse 11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  The writer brings up a universal truth.  No one likes discipline, especially the one being disciplined.  I did not like it when it happened to me and my kids did not like it when it happened to them.  That is not the issue here.  The issue is not whether it is pleasant or not.  When parents do not discipline their kids, many times it is because they are selfish and do not want to engage in an unpleasant task that nobody likes to produce over time a productive child.  Parents take the initiative and discipline your kids.  We live in an ungodly age that tells us spanking is wrong.  We live in an age that tells us that all discipline is wrong.  Discipline should happen at home.  School is not the place for discipline.

Notice what discipline is . . . It is training.  Our writer goes back to the example of the endurance race and specifically says that God children are trained by discipline.  Just like the athlete who really does not like the pain of daily training, nobody likes the pain of discipline.  Through his hard training and through godly discipline we grow up yielding fruit.  When God prunes His children, they grow in righteousness yielding fruit.

I pray that we understand a little more fully today that we have a part to play in our training and God has a part to play.  Both must be working together.  Are you engaged in daily training?  Are you striving toward the finish line?

Praise God that He controls all events in order to bring about His ends.  Praise the Lord that He also disciplines His children for our good and His glory!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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