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Summary: Hebrews# 23. Some things that we must learn if we are to profit from God’s discipline.

A Study of Hebrews

“Jesus Is Better”

Sermon # 23

“When God Disciplines His Children”

Hebrews 12:4-11

How many you here this morning ever got in trouble as children? How many of you ever suffered punishment as a result? How many of you enjoyed that discipline? The truth is that we did not enjoy being disciplined as children, yet we understand that it was both necessary and for our good. By the same token, as adults we still don’t enjoy being disciplined by God, but it is necessary and for our good.

This morning there are some things that we must learn if we are to profit from God’s discipline.

First, We Must Learn The Perspective for Difficulties.

(vv. 4-5a)

“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. (5) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:”

We can take comfort and strength from the promises of God’s word. But, we have to know what they are!

Secondly, We Must Learn The Purpose of Discipline.

The value of discipline and correction depends entirely on our reaction to it (Prov 15:31-32).

There are three types or purposes of Divine discipline; Corrective, Preventive, and Educational. [John McArthur. The McArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews. (Chicago: Moody, 1983) pp. 385-389]

Let’s look at each of them briefly.

Corrective. The church at Corinth is a prime example of the corrective discipline of God. In 1 Cor 11:30 Paul plainly told these believers “For this reason (their sinful behavior) many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” Paul goes on to say, that they are being “…chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (v. 32)

Preventive. Sometimes God disciplines believers in order to prevent sin. The Apostle Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7) to keep him from becoming proud. Just as we put restrictions and limits sometimes even literal fences to keep our children from harm, so our heavenly Father sometimes puts restrictive circumstances in our lives for our good!

Educational. God’s purpose in discipline is also to teach us if we will listen. Just as it is possible to attend school and learn nothing, it is possible to be disciplined by the Lord and learn nothing from it. C. S. Lewis hits the nail on the head when he says. “Many would rather have a benevolent grandfather in heaven whose prime interest is our contentment than have a Father whose prime interest is our character.”[C. S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. (New York: MacMillian, 1962) pp. 40-41

We Must Not Only Learn The Purpose of Discipline but …

Third, We Must Learn To Properly Response to Discipline

“…My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; (6) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

The writer of Hebrews gives two extremes when it comes to reacting to the discipline of God. The first is to “despise” his discipline which is to be indifferent to its significance. It is to refuse to even consider that something that is happening in our lives may be God trying to get our attention. We may be vaguely aware on some level that this may be God’s hand, but we dismiss the thought and blow it off. By refusing to consider why we are going through difficulties we fail to benefit from the experience.

The other extreme is to allow ourselves to become “discouraged” by difficulties. Instead of being indifferent to the discipline of God they are overwhelmed by it all.

So how do you respond to the difficulties that roll through your life? Do you cover your ears to keep from hearing what the voice of God may be trying to say to you through this experience? Do stop to consider what God may be trying to work out in your life through these difficulties?

We Must Learn to Properly Respond to Discipline and …

Fourth, We Must Learn There is A Progression in Discipline! (vv. 5-6)

“… My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; (6) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

As look again at verses five and six we see that there are three different words used to describe God’s discipline to his children. I want you to mark them in your Bibles, in verse five mark the words “chastening” and “rebuked” and in verse six mark the word “scourges.”

Now let’s examine each of these words. First, in verse five, is the word “chastening”, often translated “chastisement” or “discipline.” Generally when we see the word “chasten” we think of what we in the South call “gettin a whoopping!” Actually the Greek word (paidiea) denotes the overall training of a child. It signifies whatever is done to train, correct, develop and mature children in order help them develop as they should. By the same token the purpose of Christian discipline is to develop our character.

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