Christianity 201

January 15, 2016

The Father’s Discipline

Today’s devotional writer, Art Toombs is new to us. Before we dig in, check out his archives of scriptures covered in past posts, you never know when you might need it. His website is Art Toombs Ministries – Online Bible Commentary. To read today’s sample at source, and then look around the site, click the title below.

The Lord Disciplines those He Loves

Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (NIV)

The writer of Hebrews is addressing Hebrew Christians, encouraging them in their walk with God. Of course, these words are meant for all Christians, because we all face hardships in life. God does not want the hardships of life to pull us away from Him. So, in this passage he gives us some insights into the nature of hardships and how we should respond to them.

The writer begins by reminding us of “that word of encouragement” (v. 5a) in verses 5b-6, which are taken from Proverbs 3:11-12. The literal Greek translation for these verses is as follows: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint while being corrected; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines; and whips every son whom He receives.” To us, this probably does not sound like encouragement. No one chooses to be disciplined, or whipped for that matter.

But this is a picture of God’s correction for his children. Our Creator knows us best and knows the discipline that will achieve the desired result. He is not politically correct. God cares little for the rules of man, when they do not align with His word. Here He endorses whipping as a correction for children. God’s age of accountability is about twelve years old, so this would seem to be the age that such discipline is no longer warranted.

Also, we should not despise the one who disciplines us because he only disciplines us because he loves us. Contrary to the thinking of the PC crowd, we show our love for our children by disciplining our children, not by refraining from discipline. Physical discipline should be a part of that discipline, but only until the age of accountability.

The Lord disciplines adults, as our Father in Heaven. But discipline of adults usually comes in other forms. Physical discipline gives way to discipline of consequences. Adults face hardship, which is a consequence of sin. Our hardship may be a result of our own sin or it may be a result of living in a sinful world.  God allows hardships in our lives in order to discipline us. He disciplines us in order to refine us, to make us better. Through hardship he shapes us into being a child of God.

We should “endure” this hardship “as discipline” (v. 7a). We should understand that God is disciplining us. He is refining us. He is making us better, stronger. He is treating us “as sons” (v. 7b). He is allowing discipline because he loves us, as His son, or daughter.

God loves everyone, and wants no one to be lost, separated from Him. Therefore, “everyone undergoes discipline” (v. 8). The rain falls on everyone. God “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness” (Mt. 5:45). Everyone suffers hardships in their life. It is God’s way of correcting us, and showing His love for us.

Hopefully, we learn from our hardships. Hopefully, we are wise enough to know that we must fall in line with God’s ways of doing things if we want things to turn out right. Hopefully, we will reach a point in our lives when God does not allow hardship.

But nothing is guaranteed. We do not know the amount of refining that God wants for each of us. He may have different things in store for some, and choose to allow more refining of them. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isa 55:8).

Whatever the case, we should never resent God for His discipline. He allows it because He loves us. The alternative would be that He does not love us. None of us should want that. So we should rejoice in our hardships, knowing that God is working on us because he loves us. And no matter what, He is always there with us in the midst of our hardships. He has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. And He always keeps His promises.

1 Comment »

  1. The discipline of God is for a very precious and practical reason. It is to make us holy since “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
    The means of attaining holiness is much confused in Bible teaching. Basically, our Lord offered Himself on the cross to redeem the confessor. That is, to bring the sinner back into a state of righteousness and even holiness so that the lost one might be restored to fellowship with Him. BEING RESTORED TO FELLOWSHIP DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE CONFESSOR HAS BEEN GIVEN ETERNAL LIFE. It means that one has been forgiven of his “past sins” and has been released from the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant so that he might enjoy the New. (Heb. 9:15) The Old was a covenant of the Law. Paul stated that “the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4) The New Covenant is a covenant of the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:6) and the laws righteous requirements are met according to the manner in which one lives.
    The discipline of the Lord is so that one might humble himself to the Spirit’s leadership and attain the holiness needed for his eternal salvation. In another place Paul writes that “You have been set free from sin (no longer slaves to impurity and ever increasing wickedness, v. 19) and slaves to God, and the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22) He presents that this slavery to righteousness leads to holiness and to eternal life. Although one had been made lawfully holy through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness at confession of faith, he must be made practically holy and that comes through righteous practices.
    The thought of having to be made holy will challenge the understanding of many…especially those who rest their hope in the teaching that Christ’s imputed righteousness for them brought them the eternal holiness that God requires. Paul taught the Galatians that, “by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.” (Gal. 5:5) This “righteousness” comes through the Spirit and is being “awaited.” Practical righteousness, the transformation of one’s soul and spirit through the ministry of Christ as Holy Spirit must happen and is being awaited. Eternal salvation does not come through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness but through the Spirit. He must be obeyed (Heb. 5:9) and it is the sanctifying work of the Spirit that brings salvation. (2 Thess. 2:13, Titus 3: 5-6) There are many passages that deal with the believer’s need to follow the Spirit’s leadership. (Gal. 5:6-7, 18; Romans 8:14)
    The discipline and punishment of God is to transform the wicked heart and to allow the one on the journey to become holy and to overcome (Rev. 21:7) the world, Satan, and the flesh. The need to “overcome” is often lost but it needs to be seen in light of the LORD’s assessment of man back in Genesis 6:5-6 where it is revealed that “every inclination of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” God did not design His Kingdom to be filled with those whose hearts would bring Him pain and they will not be in His eternal Kingdom. This transformation of the heart is man’s need and its means is the gospel message; it is not merely pardon for sin as necessary and as wonderful as that is. Judgment awaits those who have confessed Christ’s lordship (Romans 5:9-10) but who have not lived it. Accordingly, Paul told the Thessalonians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. The Lord told some Jewish believers that those who are slaves to sin would not be permanent members of the family. (John 8:34-35) It is for this reason that He punishes and disciplines; such is the measure of His love.

    Comment by Russell Young — January 16, 2016 @ 9:34 am | Reply

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