Sunday, October 19, 2014

Disciplined for Service

God's Discipline

Reading: Hebrews 12:3-11

There are a few reasons given in the passage for why God chastens us:

a. Chastening is the evidence that we are saved (verses 6-8)

For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives

Chastening is first of all evidence that we belong to God’s family. God does not chasten the devil’s children. He lets them go, and will deal with them in the final judgment.

b. Chastening is for our profit and welfare (verse 10)

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.

It is God’s way of teaching us the unimportant nature of the temporal and material, and the value of the spiritual, that we might be partakers of His holiness. This is practical holiness. Our positional holiness was settled by the new birth when we believed, but practical holiness, a life of separation and dedication to Him, comes by discipline and chastening.

c. Chastening is for our cleansing from sin and for the producing of righteousness in our lives (verse 11)

“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 word, chastening, means to make chaste which means to be pure. God demands that His people shall be clean, and will never stop until this purpose is accomplished. This cleansing can be accomplished in three ways: the gentle way, the severe way and the extreme way.

The gentle way is the way of 1 John 1:9 – by confessing of our sins. If this is refused, then God may come with severe chastening by sending weakness and sickness to correct the erring saint - First Corinthians 11:30: “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep;” and if this fails, the most extreme means may be used – an untimely death, removal of His child, resulting in his suffering loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ: “if any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (First Corinthians 3:15).  These three ways are suggested by the three words used in Hebrews 12: 5-6 – rebuke, chastening and scourging.

Notice the last phrase of Hebrews 12:11. Chastening yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness; but this is not true of all who are chastened; only those who are exercised by it, those who learn the lesson and do something about it. But what about those who are not exercised by God’s chastening; who instead of repenting become bitter and rebellious and  find fault with God’s dealing with them? What about such? He will have to deal with them later on, at the Judgment Seat.

There are many other reasons why God’s children suffer, such as to teach us patience, to make us trust Him more, to make us more sympathetic to others, to give us time for prayer, to be an example of patience in suffering as a testimony to God’s sustaining grace. The one underlying reason is because He loves us, and sends tribulation for our profit. The chastening of the Lord may indeed be because of some sin, but it still is His great love which seeks to correct us. If you have honestly searched your heart for any known or doubtful sin and confessed it to Him, and yet you are still subject to God’s chastening, then rejoice that God sees the gold in you which justifies the refining.

Chastening is part of our indispensable training to win the race. Thank God for chastening and what it does; how much better to be chastened no matter how severely, than to be disowned by Him and be lost again! All chastening is for our good.

Let us remember Peter’s words in First Peter 4:12-17: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.   For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 

May the Lord help us!

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