MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #9
January 27, 2010
: Hebrews 12: 5-13 Reading
"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD" Hebrews 12:5
Last week we commenced some thoughts regarding God's paternal discipline under the three headings of:
1) The origin of God's paternal discipline: His love.
2) The subject of God's paternal discipline: Every person adopted into His family.
3) The nature of God's paternal discipline: chastening, reproof and scourging.
This week I would like to continue these thoughts under two more headings:
4) The goal of God's paternal discipline.
We touched on this last week when we observed that our heavenly Father's goal is to conform us to the image of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ.
"For our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness … [and the} peaceable fruit of righteousness" Hebrews -11.
It is our Father's desire and eternal goal that we should be holy-just like Jesus. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" Leviticus 19:2; also Lev 11:44; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16. Holiness is who God is and His every attribute springs from it. If we are to be like Him then we must be holy, something we are incapable of achieving without God's intervention-discipline.
The benefit of discipline is that it yields fruit. It does not say it might or will bring forth fruit but that it does. There is no doubt about it. When God does a work in the heart of His children it does achieve its end. When God purges His vine it is that it may bear more fruit-John 15:2. When God cultivates His ground (the hearts of His adopted children), it will bring forth herbs satisfying to Him-Hebrews 6:7.
The fruit desired by the Father is the "peaceable fruit of righteousness." Remember, there is no righteousness acceptable to God other than His own. Therefore, when we are born again we have transferred to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God's discipline does not make our unrighteousness righteous but promotes Christ's righteousness in us and increases its fruit. Paul prays for the Philippian believers that they might be
"filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" Philippians 1:11. See also 2 Corinthians 9:10.
Also, this fruit of righteousness, which discipline brings about, is "peaceable."
"The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" Isaiah 32:17, see also James 3:18.
Those children of the Living God who have been taken through or are going through great trials testify to the peace they experience, a peace that passes all understanding. When they recognize and accept that God is in control and His desire is for their spiritual profit, there is an indescribable peace that overrides all worry and panic. What an experience to rest in the knowledge that our heavenly Father's hand is on you for your spiritual and eternal welfare. "By these fruits of righteousness our hearts are quieted, our minds composed, all tumults allayed, and we are able to 'possess our souls in patience'" John Owen.
5) The proper response to God's paternal discipline:
Our response can be categorized in three headings:
a) Expect it
b) Understand it
c) Submit to God in it.
If you are God's adopted child you must expect His discipline. You are a member of His family and you will be brought into conformity with Jesus, you will increase in holiness and you will bear the fruit of righteousness. Not only is this the desire of our heavenly Father, it is the desire of each one who has been born again by the Spirit of God. The severity of our discipline depends on what we need to be brought into line with God's purpose for us. If we rebel our discipline will be greater than if we readily submit to His will
When "fiery trials" come your way, recognize them for what they are-a means by which you can grow spiritually. If you truly belong to Him you will recognize His hand of discipline and, as James writes,
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" James 1:2-4.
We must remember there is always a positive reason for any trial that comes our way be it discipline for unconfessed sin or another God given opportunity to grow in that ongoing process of sanctification-being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
The more we experience the discipline of our heavenly Father the more we shall understand it, humbly accept it, prayerfully learn from it and grow through it. The natural tendency is to resist it and, like the knot in a rope, the more tension applied the tighter it becomes. "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him"- this is often the hardest attitude to adopt for we may not think we need the discipline, but remember, God knows our heart better than we do. He deals with not only our thoughts and actions but also the intent of our heart.
He is our Father; He loves us beyond measure and will achieve His grand purpose of conforming every one of His adopted children to the perfect image of Jesus, His Only begotten Son.
"As long as there is sin to be mortified and a grace to be fully cultivated, do not treat it lightly and do not faint" John Owen - 1616 - 1684.
"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"