Summary: God has called us to a life of accountability and worship.
A Consuming Fire, Hebrews 12:18-29
What is your motivation for attending church today?
You say, "Well, it's the Sabbath and we're supposed to keep it holy." Actually, it's not the Sabbath. Today is the first day of the week. It is the day the early Christians chose instead of the Sabbath to worship Jesus Christ. "You're right, the day has changed," you interject, "but it's still one of the Ten Commandments." Did you know that because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, "he forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations"? The Living Bible adds, "So don't let anyone criticize you…for not celebrating…Sabbaths. For those were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. He brought a new order." We worship God on Sunday because over the past twenty centuries it has become customary. But there is a higher reason--"Christ's love compels us" to worship God in unity. The writer of Hebrews probably said it best when he wrote: "Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28)." (Sermon Illustrations, E-Sword)
Two major themes of this passage: (1) man in accountable before God. This primarily comes in the form of receiving or rejecting Him. The text draws a great contrast between the coming of the law through Moses and the Gospel in Christ.
The man who rejected his accountability before God under the law, the incomplete revelation of God, was liable for that rejection and would be consumed. How much more shall the man who rejects the Gospel, the complete and perfect revelation of God, be consumed by the fire of God’s wrath.
(2) God is passionate about His glory. He calls us to express His glory through worship. In worshipping God we find the fulness of joy because that is the fullness of the purpose for which we have been created.
God’s wrath is a parallel attribute of His passion for His glory. In other words, the wrath of God falls upon those who reject Him because His glory is so intense that whatever it comes into contact with is affected.
If that with which it comes in contact is consistent with it, it is purified. If that with which His glory, His truly perfect love, is inconsistent with it, it is burned away and blows away in the wind like chaff from the threshing floor.
Man is accountable before God. Here is an oft neglected doctrine and a scorned biblical teaching in our time. God does exist for our good pleasure. We exist for His. God does not worship us in the manner of an excessively doting parent who makes of their child an idol to their own vanity.
The common notion in our day that Church is supposed to be a weekly seminar for life skills or pep rally, could not be further from the core teaching of the Bible regarding the purpose of the Church, nor could it be a more bankrupt philosophy.
Man has made of himself an idol in our day and in so doing, He has cut himself off from the true source of peace and joy for this life. We have more self esteem than ever and more despair. We are all of us puffed up with our own worth and are yet, each one of us, unable to affect our own happiness.
The hub upon which the wheel of the universe turns is God’s ultimate glory, not man’s immediate pleasure. In abandoning this core principal of the Church we have abandoned the source of our ultimate joy.
We have traded the peace and power which came from the wealth which was ours in knowing the ultimate worth of God, for the half-pence of vanity and pride.
Our ultimate worth is found in His ultimate glory. Our ultimate satisfaction is found in abandoning ourselves to His ultimate worth.
We, certainly as a society, and often as the people of God, have forgotten that while we are free in Christ, we are nonetheless accountable to God.
“Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you.” (Jeremiah 26:4 NIV) “But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:23 NIV)
In our sin, dear saints, even as believers God will often allow us to go through the consequence of rebellion to instruct our hearts in the way of righteousness. Salvation in Christ is not a “free pass,” a license to sin or to disobey actively or even in negligence of our command to worship God with our whole heart.