Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 12:14-17
John Newton- I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.
As I was studying this passage, Hebrews 12:14-17, it just wasn’t clicking for me. After a time my thoughts centered on vs. 15, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.”
Had some problems with it. He is not saying that we have to do these things in order to be saved. This goes against the concept of grace. If that were the case, none of us could be saved. We are under grace, not under law when it comes to salvation. Jesus Christ kept the commandments but suffered the penalty of sin for us. We break the commandments because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God except one Jesus Christ. We are sinners, while he is sinless. However, through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross we escape the penalty when we respond to the gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Under grace, “sin” goes with Jesus, and “righteousness” goes with us.
Another issue with “see to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Miss it, if we have been reading this book, how could we miss it? From ch. 1-10 that has been the whole argument. The writer doesn’t use the word grace that much. Only three times in Hebrews before this verse. However, this is what he is talking about, don’t abandon the New Covenant. It is better because it is based on grace through Jesus and not on the law.
Misunderstanding on my part, See to it that “no one” misses the grace of God. The writer is not saying, “See to it that you don’t miss the grace of God.” No, he is saying that you don’t let other people miss the grace of God. Don’t let yourself be a stumbling block so that those around you miss the grace of God. Yes, use our voices to tell people about the grace of God through Jesus, but more importantly use our actions and our lives to tell about God’s grace. A wise man once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.”
There are two aspects of holiness or sanctification. One is initial sanctification and this happens when we respond to the gospel. When we come to Christ in repentance, confession and baptism, we are forgiven. Not only are we forgiven, but we have the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. We have a new nature that is put within us. We are made holy vs. 14. The word “sanctify” is simply the verb form of the adjective “holy.” The NASB uses the word sanctification here. In this sense to be sanctified means to be “set apart.” If we do not have this holiness, then we will never see the Lord.
The other aspect of sanctification is called progressive sanctification, which is the ongoing process by which the Christian becomes more and more holy or more and more like Christ.
This is mainly what is being talked about here in Hebrews 12:14-17 is progressive sanctification. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and give us the ability and power to change into the image of Christ. There are some who teach that after a person becomes a Christian, then later on God gives them the second work of grace and that is holiness. No, God is not going to zap us and we are made holy. It is a process of us allowing the Holy Spirit to change us. Philippians 2:12-13: continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. God is not going to work against us, we work together to become more and more holy.
As we continue to forsake sins and continue to change into the image of Christ, we allow the grace of God to shine from our lives. Philippians says that we shine like stars in the universe.
If we do not grow in holiness, then the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:1 come true: we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. In other words, his grace will not be passed on.
These verses give us some things to work on in that vein.
Thesis: There are 4 things that we need to work on if we are not going to let anyone miss the grace of God.