MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #8
January 20, 2010
Reading: Hebrews 12: 5-13
"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD" Hebrews 12:5
The time has arrived when we need to consider that which is probably the least favorite of all the privileges and benefits given to us as adopted children of God. "For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" Hebrews 12:6.
How well some of us remember the words of our human father as he was about to "apply the board of education to the seat of learning;" yes, that which is now sadly spoken of as "child abuse" - a spanking. His words, "I am doing this because I love you" were received by us with silent contempt, "Yeah, right."
"In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God" 1 John .
We are either children of God or children of the devil-there is no middle ground, no shared parentage. Our heavenly Father's purpose is to conform us to the image of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and to achieve this He frequently has to discipline us. The chastising hand of God does not take us outside the realm of His love but rather is a proof of it, "For whom the LORD loves He chastens."
Our scripture reading today opens the door of understanding regarding this sometimes avoided and frequently misunderstood subject by addressing five dimensions of God's paternal discipline:
1) The origin of God's paternal discipline.
The two words 'loves' and 'receives' are in the present continual tense. In other words "what is the origin of God's continuing discipline." The answer is simple, it is His infinite, eternal, and unchangeable love. If He did not love His sons and daughters He would not undertake the task of disciplining them.
"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" Ephesians 1:4.
His purpose is that we might be "holy and without blame" and, from the beginning to the end, the source of it is His "love."
a) In love He predestined us to adoption - Ephesians 1:4
b) In love He drew us to Himself - Jeremiah 3:3
c) In love He preserves us and sees to it that we shall never be separated from Him - Romans 8:33-39.
The Father's love is the origin of every act of discipline. All discipline is applied from the righteous indignation of God as our Father, not as our Judge. In the light of this read Psalm 38 - can these possible be the words of a believer? Yes, they can and are; the discipline of our Father can be very severe; He will do whatever it takes to achieve His goal-our conformity to Jesus Christ. Some require a slap on their spiritual backside while others need a 2x4. Sometimes the effects are temporary while for others it is lifelong. Wounds leave scars and scars are a constant reminder of the reason for the discipline. Jesus carried the scars from His wounds even in His resurrected body.
2) The subject of God's paternal discipline:
His adopted children, each of them without exception, are the subjects of His discipline; God has no undisciplined, unchastised children.
The following are quotes from various persons:
"Corrections are pledges of our adoption and badges of our sonship."
"God punishes His enemies but chastens His children. The one is the judicial application of His wrath, the other is proof of His parental love."
"The same hand, not the same character, gives the stroke to the godly and the ungodly."
"The scourge of the judge is widely different than the rod of the Father."
"God had one natural Son without corruption but no adopted sons without correction."
"A gracious soul may look through the darkest cloud and see God smiling at Him."
"The subjects of God's paternal discipline are all of His children."
"Affliction, in some form or another, is leveled by God to every individual whom He regards with peculiar favor as the necessary means of promoting his spiritual profit."
3) The nature of God's paternal discipline.
Three words are used to describe the nature of our Father's discipline: chastening, rebuked (reproved) and scourges.
Chastening-a chastening can be either in the form of admonition or discipline. Other words used to describe this function are nurture, tutoring and instruction-training with discipline.
Reprove-a verbal rebuke-2 Timothy 4:2, Revelation - a call to desist. The Holy Spirit will often issue the rebuke to "Stop what you are doing." As Paul writes to Timothy:
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" 2 Timothy 4:2.
He uses the spoken word and the written word to speak to us. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit and its purpose is always to bring us closer to conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scourges-this word is used only seven times-six when applying to Jesus and once in our reading in Hebrews. God sometimes takes severe measures to get our attention on things that are important in our spiritual lives. There are times when we do not respond to our Father's chastening and reproof so He applies a more severe form of discipline. God will achieve His purpose and is willing to do whatever it takes to do it. It may seem harsh, but the child of God who is the recipient of such severe discipline, will one day thank Him in all sincerity for not leaving him to his own devices.
"Chastening is an effect of God's love. It is not only consequential unto it, but springs from it" John Owen - 1616 - 1683.
We will continue these thoughts on Spiritual Discipline next week.
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing"