Summary: The key to seeing God has to do with right relationships--with others and God Himself.
The Key to Seeing God
I. Right Relationships with Others
A. Watching out that no one misses out on God’s grace
1. Accepting God’s grace
2. Granting God’s grace
B. Watching out that no bitter root sprouts
C. Watching out that no one is overcome by immorality or godlessness
II. Right Relationship with God
A. Contrasting the old with the new
B. Implication—greater grace = greater responsibility
III. Author’s Confidence and Our Response
A. Confident that the warning will be heeded
B. Our response
1. Let us be thankful
2. Let us worship God with reverence and awe
As we are gathered on this Sunday, at the threshold of the New Year, I’d like to pass along a brief New Year’s challenge from F.B. Meyer:
“It is a mistake to be always turning back to recover the past. The law for Christian living is not backward, but forward; not for experiences that lie behind, but for doing the will of God, which is always ahead and beckoning us to follow. Leave the things that are behind, and reach forward to those that are before, for on each new height to which we attain, there are the appropriate joys that befit the new experience. Don’t fret because life’s joys are fled. There are more in front. Look up, press forward, the best is yet to be!” (Our Daily Walk. Christianity Today, vol. 40, no. 1).
With that thought in mind, please turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 12:14-29 (p. 895).
Our text this morning is one of the author’s many warning sections. Like the other admonitions of this type contained within this letter, there is a prevailing tone of seriousness with which these words are written. They come to us as words from a concerned father to his children who have become tired of struggling to do what is right, only to find that their efforts seem to be getting them nowhere. The purpose of the warning, then, is not so much to rebuke them, but as a reminder of what their struggle is really all about. They are not to be striving after things in this life—for things that only last a short while—but for the things that cannot be destroyed.
In these verses, we are told how it is possible for us to see God. The author points out that the key to seeing God is to have right relationships—with others and with God. When we are in a right standing with those around us, both Christians and pre-Christians, and with our Lord, then we are assured that we will obtain a kingdom that cannot be shaken and will never end. In this passage we are also told how we should respond to such a great privilege: with thankfulness and worship. Let’s take a look at this passage and discover how we can be assured of seeing God. [Read]
Right Relationships with Others
The first thing the author admonishes his readers to do is to secure right relationships with others. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (v. 14). The phrase, Make every effort to live, as it is translated in the NIV, is actually just one word the original language. The Greek verb, dioko, means “to hunt, to follow after, to pursue” (R&R, p. 715). This word creates the imagery of someone tracking down an animal. I’m not a hunter myself, but I know that anyone who sets out to hunt a deer with the attitude, “It sure would be nice to go out and bring down a 12 point buck,” but never finds the strength to get out of his LA-Z-BOY, is not going to be very successful. The only way that he can ever hope to attain his goal is to get up and go to where the deer can be found. Likewise, if we want right relationships (peace with all men), then we will have to go out to where the people are and make peace.
I feel like I can be candid with you, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t like what these words have to say to me. The reason for my displeasure is because there are some people that I—in the natural—don’t care whether I’m at peace with or not. It seems to me that it should be okay to just “write off” certain people, especially when I feel like I’ve really tried in the past to make peace, but they haven’t been responsive to my attempts. It’s much easier to just pretend that they don’t exist and turn the other way when they come into my presence.
But this scripture doesn’t allow me to do that. It’s not given as an option. It doesn’t say, “If it’s convenient…” or “If you feel like it…” or “If it’s not too much trouble,” live in peace with all men. It’s given as a command: Make every effort (hunt down, pursue hotly) to live in peace with all men. I don’t know if anyone else here is guilty of not hunting down those whom they are not in peace with like me, but I know that I’ve got to make some better efforts with some people if I’m going to be able to claim to be in alignment with this passage.