Summary: Exposition of Hebrews 12:3-11
Text: Hebrews 12:3-11, Title: Going through the Big D, Date/Place: NRBC, 11.4.12, AM
A. Opening illustration:
B. Background to passage:
C. Main thought:
A. Encouragements for discipline (v. 3-5a)
1. The writer gives three encouraging pieces of insight in order for them to think about their suffering properly. Building off the mention of the cross in the preceding verse, he says for them to 1) think about Jesus, who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself. Several times the NT speaks of Christ as our example of suffering well. 2) Now with that thought fresh in their mind, he tells them that they haven’t resisted sin to the point of bloodshed. Not very encouraging, huh? Yes, prison is bad, confiscating all your stuff is bad, having to hide is bad, but when a knife is at your throat, blood just might be shed… 3) Now he tells them that they have forgotten the OT instruction from Proverbs 3:11-12 about the discipline of the Lord. The word means to forget completely. The point here is really not that they need to memorize more scripture, but the content of this passage—discipline. Remember discipline’s only purpose is not punishment, it can also be educational, preventative, and corrective.
3. Illustration: double amputee Iraq vet who wanted to wrestle alligators, David Brainerd’s life this week and his viewing of his 7 year death from tuberculosis as a gift, and his great concern that he not fail to bring glory to God from his sufferings, stories from the persecuted church about torture of men and families in front of other family members with the promise of release for certain info or recanting,
4. Lives well lived are always encouraging to us. How much more so a perfect life? Always be studying the life of Jesus. Of course, in this text, it is dealing with how we should imitate Christ while he suffers, which is where we derive the most inspiration. So let’s revisit the cross for a few moments, particularly from the angle the writer speaks of—hostility from sinners. The death and resurrection of Jesus, the cross and the empty tomb, Calvary and Easter, are the basis of everything our faith rests upon and triumphs in. It is the supreme example of everything, but especially unjust treatment.
5. A couple things to take home from this mild rebuke. Number one, lots of people, including Jesus have resisted sin even to bloodshed. Number two, this is what is expected of believers. And number three, God will give grace up to that point, so fight hard!!! Recommit to killing that sin that is plaguing you. Realize the seriousness of sin.
6. Don’t think about all discipline as bad. We don’t just spank our children to punish them, but to correct and instruction. A mark of a growing disciple is that the Lord is shaping them. God is pointing out some things in a sermon or book you are reading, but God also uses pain and suffering to teach you lessons that you would have never learned unless you were in pain. Some pain prevents other pain—slow traffic, no ticket; ticket, no accident. We are learning in Experiencing God right now that God reveals Himself in powerful ways when there is pain and difficulty, especially when there is deliverance; thus all the Jehovah-Jireh type passages. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –CS Lewis. God wants to show Himself to you, speak to you, and often times pain is the best vehicle. God may be doing 10,000 things in your suffering, but some purposes are clear for Him: learn to trust in Him better, learn to not trust in yourself, calling to salvation, purification, testimony, etc.
B. Pitfalls of discipline (v. 5b)
1. Now looking at the OT quotation, the writer there identifies two pitfalls that those going through the whitewater of discipline need to avoid. 1) The first of these is despising. It is a different word that used to speak of Jesus’ despising of the shame of the cross in the previous passage. This word means to disregard, take lightly, casually, or to blow off. The writer knows that there is a danger of missing what God is doing, because we don’t take it seriously. 2) The second pitfall of the discipline of God is discouragement, which is mentioned twice, and it the main part of the context as well. The word means to lose courage, fail, fall apart, break down, or give up. The writer understand that believers can miss the point of a trial because we just can’t go on. To give up is failure.