1 Hebrews 12B (2014) Last week we learned that all Gd s children shuld expect His discipline In the writer s day, he was cncerned abut Jewish Christians wh retreated frm their witness and walk as Christians In the writer s wrds, they had shrunk back frm their new life in Christ We knw frm histry that the church was under grwing persecutin And it s likely the persecutin was respnsible fr driving these immature Christians away frm the church during times f trial S the writer gave the church a sermn n what faith requires and hw it lks when lived ut t the fullest The result was the Hall f Faith Each example shwed hw men and wmen f faith respnd t adversity Gd brught them all tests and trials s that the wrld culd see their faith and trust in Gd s prmises They set aside the wrld s pririties and were cntent t wait fr the eternal rewards that awaited And nw in chapter 12, the writer ffers specific advice fr all believers Hw are we t react t trials and persecutin? D we run back t ur ld lives? N. We understand that trials are the Lrd s disciple And that disciple is intended t teach us perseverance and hliness The Lrd lves His children, which is why He wn t leave us withut the discipline we need And by that disciple, we may please Him and enjy the fruit f bedience 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 Hebrews 12B (2014) 2 f 11 The Lrd s lve fr His children desn t stp there, f curse Nt nly des He bring us trials as disciple, but He als prvides us with brthers and sisters in the faith t supprt us in the fight As the writer explains next Heb. 12:12 Therefre, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, Heb. 12:13 and make straight paths fr yur feet, s that the limb which is lame may nt be put ut f jint, but rather be healed. Heb. 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctificatin withut which n ne will see the Lrd. As I ve said in the past, Christianity is a team sprt The Lrd has designed the bdy f Christ s that we must wrk and fellwship tgether if we re ging t excel in ur walk We might try t g it alne We can chse t frsake the gathering n Sundays We can chse t withhld transparency frm thers, hiding ur srrws and struggles We can put n a smile and struggle silently against ur flesh and the enemy and the trials the Lrd brings But when we d these things, we frfeit ne f the greatest weapns in ur battle against sin: the encuragement f ther believers The writer asks the bdy f Christ t wrk as ne in staying the curse that faith demands He begins therefre, meaning because we will all face trials... Therefre, we must wrk as a team He says strengthen hands that are weak and knees that are feeble Yu remember hw Paul used the analgy f a human bdy in 1Crinthians t refer t members f the bdy f Christ This writer des the same thing here He cmpares weak individuals in danger f falling back t weak hands and feeble knees 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 Hebrews 12B (2014) 3 f 11 We wrk t strengthen thse amng us wh are facing trials and cntemplating shrinking back, giving up n the race In the case f this church, the trials included varius kinds f persecutin Being stracized by Jewish family and friends Lsing emplyment r businesses Physical threats Seeing yur family enduring similar mistreatment because f yur cnfessin These were trials and tests that the Lrd allwed His children t experience fr their spiritual gd, just as He did thse in the Hall f Faith We face ur wn versins f the same The wrld and the enemy are always lking fr new ways t make living as a Christian difficult And sner r later they will find yur weak spt That s when yur hands get weak and yur knees are feeble, s t speak Fr thse mments, the bdy f Christ must cme alngside us and make straight paths fr ur feet The idea f a straight path is that it makes ur walk easier and mre direct t the gal We aren t wandering, wasting energy And we aren t in danger f ging in the wrng directin Mrever, when we have a weak limb, a straight walk is always the best The writer extends the analgy by explaining that when we straighten these paths, the hurting limbs will heal What specifically is the writer asking us t d fr ne anther? First, in the Bible the idea f walking a straight path is cmmnly be used t describe living in the truth f Gd s wrd 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 Hebrews 12B (2014) 4 f 11 Jhn the Baptist brught the truth that the Messiah was cming, which Isaiah called making straight the crked paths in the desert S this writer is emphasizing again the imprtance f knwing Gd s wrd When we teach thse wh are weak and faltering n the imprtance f remaining n curse, they will be strengthened But teaching is just ne piece f the wrk, albeit the mst imprtant piece Praying fr ne anther, which leads t Gd changing the circumstances fr the better Meeting the physical needs f ne anther Giving cmfrt, cmpaninship, encuragement, and ther supprt These are all part f hw the bdy f Christ cmes t the aid f thse hurting in the bdy Mst imprtantly, pursue peace with all men and sanctificatin The wrd fr pursue in Greek means chase dwn It s nt passive, it s active And the same verb refers t the secnd nun, sanctificatin (hliness) The writer links these tw ideas, because ne fllws naturally frm the ther We see the Lrd face t face ne day because we will be fully sanctified By the Lrd s pwer t resurrect us, we will be glrified and fully sanctified And withut that psitinal sanctificatin, the kind that cmes nly by faith, we will nt see the Lrd But it because we have the assurance f sanctificatin by faith that we must spend ur days nw chasing dwn every pprtunity t live in hly ways 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 Hebrews 12B (2014) 5 f 11 Pursuing peace amng men means pursuing the prcess f living in mre hly way Pursue harmny in the bdy f Christ Pursue the gal f bring Gd s peace in Christ t the wrld Mst f all, pursue peace with Gd thrugh bedience t His cmmands Chase dwn every pprtunity t grw mre hly in yur life Pursue that like yu re chasing a schl bus as it leaves withut yu S why des he say withut which we wn t see the Lrd It falls t us nw t pursue it, chase after it, because we desire t see that day And because we knw we gain eternal benefits frm the pursuit With that, the writer has made his best argument fr perseverance and faithfulness He s explained why it s imprtant, given us examples t emulate and called us t assist ne anther in the face f Gd s discipline But what happens when smene amng us fails at this walk? As a cmmunity there cmes a pint where we must act t prtect the flck even at the expense f the individual And this leads us int the writer s fifth and final warning Heb. 12:15 See t it that n ne cmes shrt f the grace f Gd; that n rt f bitterness springing up causes truble, and by it many be defiled; Heb. 12:16 that there be n immral r gdless persn like Esau, wh sld his wn birthright fr a single meal. Heb. 12:17 Fr yu knw that even afterwards, when he desired t inherit the blessing, he was rejected, fr he fund n place fr repentance, thugh he sught fr it with tears. Befre we dive int the specifics f this warning, let s lk carefully at wh the writer is speaking t and wh he s speaking abut First, ntice wh he s speaking t 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 Hebrews 12B (2014) 6 f 11 The writer addresses the church leadership The writer begins with the wrd see t it In Greek this wrd is episkpe, frm which we get the wrd episcpal It means t watch ver, referring t the versight f smene in a psitin f authrity He s speaking f the respnsibility f the church elders and ther leaders t act in the best interests f the bdy In that sense, the writer says see t it that the fllwing des nt happen in the church Secndly, ntice he s speaking abut a representative third persn in the church D nt allw smene t cme shrt f the grace f Gd Frm the Greek, we culd als saw watch diligently ver the bdy t ensure n ne lacks the grace f Gd At first, cming shrt f the grace f Gd sunds like smene wh simply missed the Gspel altgether Smene wh hasn t accepted it r believed it But the phrase cming shrt in Greek culd als be translated t be failing in the grace f Gd In ther wrds, it s smene whse neglecting the grace f Gd, neglecting their salvatin and all that cmes frm it Imagine a Christian walking away frm their Lrd, frm the church, and frm their eternal rewards They just declare they give up, they re ging back t the life befre Christ They re falling shrt f the grace given them in Christ When smene in the bdy makes this decisin, he desn t just damage his wn walk...he als have ptential t bring thers with him That s why the writer says this individual is a rt f bitterness 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 Hebrews 12B (2014) 7 f 11 When life is tugh, and the trials cmes upn us like ne wave after anther, we re likely t feel like giving up It seems an easier and better ptin t retreat, t find an escape and t take it In the writer s day, the Jewish believers were returning t Judaism rather than facing the struggles and persecutin that came with being Christian In ur day, the struggles and temptatins are different, but the utcme is still the same: bitterness We grw bitter at ur circumstances We succumb t self-pity and despair We make excuses and ratinalize ur behavir And in the prcess we becme a rt f bitterness in the church bdy Perhaps we nly cause truble amng ur clse friends r family Or perhaps ur fall is mre public and the circle f cllateral damage is much wider Either way, such a persn is a rt f bitterness in the sense that they are just the start f smething that grws if left unchecked It hlds the ptential t defile many The wrd defile means t stain, t cntaminate It means t cause thers t make the same mistake The eternal cnsequences f ur mistakes are magnified when we cause thers t stumble as well We re talking abut believers wh fail t take the writer s advice in hw they face trials and tests that the Lrd brings ur way in whatever way Brthers and sisters wh knw the grace f Gd but they are neglecting it They are hurting, fearful, tired, and wavering They need ur help, nt ur cndemnatin They may nt be asking fr help, thugh they shuld 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 Hebrews 12B (2014) 8 f 11 They may be ready t give up, r they may have already quit This is the grup we must strengthen Ding nthing is nt an ptin Nt nly because we lve them But because they are a ptential rt f bitterness in ur families and church and we need them t be strng s we can be strng - And vice versa Left unchecked, they becme like Esau, in the sense that they are immral and gdless These terms are harsh And t sme they suggest that the writer is speaking abut unbelievers within the church But ntice that the writer s entire argument ging back t chapter 10 has been fcused n believers retreating frm their walk f faith There s been n time in these chapters when the writer has mved t cncerns ver unbelievers And yet, the example f Esau seems misplaced, since Esau was clearly an unbeliever in scripture S hw d we apply this example t the case f a disbedient, wavering believer? Well, the writer isn t drawing a cmparisn t Esau s nature, but t his behavir and t the cnsequences f his behavir First, Esau trading smething very valuable fr smething trivial By cnventin as the firstbrn, Esau was first in line fr the birthright f Isaac This was an incredibly valuable right, guaranteeing Esau wuld receive the eternal inheritance Gd prmised t Isaac But Esau was willing t trade away this incredibly valuable eternal reward fr smething temprary and earthly: a bwl f sup Culd anyne make a wrse bargain? 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 Hebrews 12B (2014) 9 f 11 Well, yes...any Christian wh wuld trade in their eternal reward fr the sake f sme temprary, earthly pleasure Whether that be escape frm persecutin, r relief frm financial pressure r scrn frm family r friends r classmate Or sme ther escape...anything that allws us t circumvent the trials and test f the Lrd, which have the ptential t qualify us fr eternal reward Such a Christian is immral and gdless The wrd immral is prns, frm which we get the wrd prngraphy It means smene wh engages in illegitimate sexual activity They are immral in the sense that the persn is living a lie when they depart frm their faithful dependance n the Lrd And when we devise ur wn means f stepping ut frm under the Lrd s trials, we are living a lie We despising the discipline f the Lrd, like the grunded child sneaking ut the windw at night Our relatinship with the Lrd is illegitimate in that sense Furthermre, we re gdless in the sense that we are living apart frm Gd The Greek wrd fr gdless can be translated wrldly r unsanctified We re living as if we dn t knw the Lrd, because we re nt living under His authrity r cunsel Every unbeliever is gdless by nature, but even a Christian can live in a gdless manner And that s wh we becme when we give up in face f trials and tests Finally, ntice the lessn f Esau at the end f it all At sme pint, Esau realized that he had made a bad bargain He had despised smething very valuable 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 Hebrews 12B (2014) 10 f 11 And nce he realized his mistake, he sught t und it He was s determined t regain what he had lst, he cried tears f srrw But the writer says it was t late fr that N matter hw hard Esau sught t regain the birthright he previusly despised, he culdn t get it back Smetimes, the things we tss aside are gne frever And if by ur disbedience we decide t frfeit the eternal inheritance the Lrd makes available t His children, then in ur day f judgment we ll discver the flish bargain we made We ll realize that thse earthly cmfrts we sught were nthing cmpared t what we lst And in that day, it will be t late t regain it That s why we re called t steel urselves in the face f trials and tests, while strengthening thers when it s their turn t face these things We serve a Gd Wh lves us, saved us and desires t shws us wnderful things Fr a shrt time He asks us t serve Him by enduring many trials in a fallen and sinful wrld This wrld is set against Gd, and s it s set against us It wants t suppress the truth and tempt us away frm bedience It will persecute us just as it did Christ And the enemy is s crafty in all His schemes He has cuntless ways t bring us int a decisin mment where ur faith is tested And the Lrd uses thse mments as pprtunities t please Him and earn reward Let s strengthen each ther as we face these mments in turn Everyne faces them eventually...but tgether we can persevere and pass the tests with flying clrs 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
11 Hebrews 12B (2014) 11 f 11 But if we pretend they dn t happen t us r if we try t face them alne, we re ging t fail Sner f later, we ll crumble and let ur flesh r the enemy win the day We ll shrink back, becme a rt f bitterness and bring thers with us Or we can reach ut in the bdy f Christ Ask the Lrd t send us friends, brthers and sisters wh will remind us f the things in Gd s wrd that tell us the fight is wrth it Send us prayer warrirs t win the battle n ur behalf Send us encuragers and cunselrs and helping hands t strengthen us Send us supprt in whatever frm s we can meet the test with faithfulness and please the Lrd Let s make sure n ne cmes up shrt f the grace Gd has given them 2015 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.