Summary: In Hebrews 11:1-12:4, we learn that all God¡¦s children go through trying times in life. God uses those trying times to make us more like Jesus. This passage uses three different words to describe God¡¦s discipline in his children.

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Hebrews 12:3-17

Why do persecution, testing, trial, sickness, pain, sorrow, and trouble come into the life of the believer? Are they a sign of God¡¦s anger or displeasure? Do they happen by chance? How should we react to them? Certainly some of our sufferings and trials are due to our own fault. However, the Bible teaches us that sufferings and trials are part of God¡¦s educative process.. Although the things that happen to us do not always come from God, He does permit them and then uses them for His glory and for our good. The things we experience can also be used to bring blessings to others. Though this may bother us, nothing happens by chance to the Christian. Tragedies can be blessings in disguise, and disappointments are His appointments. God uses the unpleasant circumstances of life to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.

The first readers of the book of Hebrews consisted of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ. They were in danger of deserting the faith and returning to Judaism. The writer reminds them of Proverbs 3:11, 12, where God addresses them as sons. There He warns them against despising His discipline or losing courage under His rebuke. If they rebel or give up, they lose the benefit of His dealings with them and fail to learn His lessons.

In Hebrews 11:1-12:4, we learn that all God¡¦s children go through trying times in life. God uses those trying times to make us more like Jesus. This passage uses three different words to describe God¡¦s discipline in his children.

1. First, there is the word ¡§chastening¡§ or ¡§Chastisement.¡¨ or ¡§discipline.¡¨ Generally, when we see the word ¡§Chasten¡¨ we think of a whipping. Actually the Greek word means child training or education. Some translations of the Bible have ¡§Discipline.¡¨ The Greek word denotes ¡§the training of a child, including instruction¡¨; hence, ¡§discipline, correction,¡¨ ¡§chastening.¡¨ The purpose of Christian discipline is to develop our character. The discipline of God many not necessarily imply that the believer has sinned, but that God is using our trials to strengthen us in our commitment to Jesus Christ. We often learn more during the trials we face than in the easy times.

2. Then there is the word ¡§rebuke.¡¨ The word ¡§rebuke¡¨ means ¡§to convict, refute, reprove.¡§ The particular Greek word implies a rebuke that is deserved and that carries conviction. A ¡§rebuke¡¨ from the Lord is a gentle reminder that we need to get back on course in our Christian walk.

3. There is the word ¡§scourge¡¨ in verse 6. That is a much stronger word than ¡§chasten,.¡¨ or ¡§rebuke.¡¨ Vine describes this word (mastixƒw as ¡§a whip or scourge.¡¨ Paul experienced a scourging in Acts 22:24. Of course, Jesus was scourged prior to His crucifixion. The word also describes the suffering of the saints in the Old testament Times. It is much more severe than the word chastening or discipline. When we sin, the Holy Spirit will give us a rebuke. However if we as believers persist in sin or rebellion, God will scourge us.

Most of the Biblical characters who were used of God went through periods of training. The same is also true for believers today. Moses spent 40 years in the backside of the desert as part of his preparation to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. David spent a number of years fleeing from Saul before he actually became the king. Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert following his conversion to Jesus Christ. In this text, chastening was not punishment for wrongdoing, but training through persecution.


What we learn when going through the fire will largely be determined by how respond to God¡¦s discipline. The writer gives three possible responses in verses 5-7.

A. We may despise God¡¦s discipline. ¡§My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord¡¨ (NASB). To regard discipline lightly, can harden us towards the things of God. Therefore we cannot profit from it. Complaining to God about his discipline indicates we believe God is doing something wrong. Fretting is nothing but unbelief, lack of trust in God. When we question God, it indicates that He is unjust in what He is doing to us. We can become careless or indifferent, we frustrate God¡¦s purposes in our lives.

B. We may faint at God¡¦s discipline. Some people become so overwhelmed by their problems that they become so despondent and depressed that they just give up and faint. The psalmist had this experienced when he cried out to himself, ¡§Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?¡¨ The psalmist knew his problem, but he also knew the cure. ¡§Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God¡¨ (Ps 42:11) The cure for hopelessness is hope in God.

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