Hebrews Christ Above All
God’s Better Plan
Text: Hebrews 12
Review: Hebrew 12:1-3 A Better Prize for the Race we run.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Enter the Arena 1a
we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us
Endure the Course 1b-2
let us run with patience the race that is set before us
Eye on the Prize 2-3
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
Now turn to Hebrews 12 verse 4 and see that God has a plan running this race and it has made provisions for our pain, our peace and our ultimate place with Him.
Paul lays out God’s plan to the Hebrews.
God’s Plan For Pain Hebrews 12:4-11
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
God Uses Pain For Good
He tells them to keep things in perspective. “Ye have not resisted unto blood.” They have not suffered as Jesus has suffered. Nor had they been killed for their faith. He points out the reality of pain, testing and suffering to the child of God
Vs. 5-6 “Whom the Lord loves he chastens and scourges every son whom he receives.”
A reference from Pr 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Enduring suffering proves you are a son of God. Again he tells them to see the true perspective.
We had earthly fathers who used punishment and difficulties to bring us up. How much better for us when our Heavenly Father uses these things to bring us to be partakers of his holiness.
Finally look at the result of the suffering. “It yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.” Vs. 11
God Pain and Us
God tells us, we will suffer. Not always, not more than we can bear but still pain is part of God’s plan for us.
It is a plan for our good not our hurt and it is a plan that will produce a holiness that nothing else can as well as fruit of righteousness.
Christian teaching and preaching today is devoid of the truth of suffering, pain and chastisement as a result it produces Christians who are devoid of holiness and righteousness.
Remember the old saying, “You can’t make an omlet without cracking some eggs.” It meant you can’t get something done worthwhile without some loss.
The same is true of real Christianity. “You can’t make a mature child of God without suffering.”
Illustration: Charles Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon was the most famous and influential pastor of his time. At just 22 years of age, he was pastor of the largest church in London, at the height of his fame he preached to over 20,000 people in London Gardens without amplification and his church the Metropolitan Tabernacle was the largest church of its day with over seating for 5000 and standing room for another 1000. Sunday after Sunday people were turned away because there was no room. Spurgeon would often tell his members not to come back on Sunday night so they could fill the church with visitors who could not come otherwise. But Spurgeon was a man of great suffering sorrow and pain. In a service at Surrey Gardens Music Hall for the first time, preaching to a crowd of over 10,000, someone called out Fire and the people panicked. Some say it was a drunk, some say it was an enemy of Spurgeon jealous of his success, but the result was the death of multiple people as the stampeded for the doors. Spurgeon just 23 years old fell into a deep depression unable to even peach for 3 weeks. He believed that Baptists were cheapening the Gospel and God’s Word and in fighting for these became the target of many liberals of his day. He suffered from gout and weeks and even months would go by in which he could not walk or even stand. In addition to his own suffering his wife Susannah also was often stricken with illness and pain.
But when Charles Spurgeon looked back upon the dark hours in life he said this, “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see the most.”
Transition: But pain is not the end of God’s plan it is only the beginning of something wonderful.
God’s Plan For Peace Hebrews 12:12-17
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Just as God has a plan in pain He also has a plan in Peace.
God Also Has A Plan For Peace
Pauls say, because pain will be used by God for our good then we should rejoice in the race they are running in vs 12 “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
Now they run with an understanding of the pain and with a purpose of why they are running this race.
He tells them in vs. 13 not to be lamed or hurt but to be healed and continue the race.
Here is the next part of God’s plan. Follow peace with all and holiness. That’s it, here is the next part of God’s plan, follow peace with all and holiness with God.
He warns them that there is one thing that can really take them off the course of this race and that is in vs. 15, “Failing of the grace of God.”
He is not talking about losing salvation but of failing to appropriate the grace that God has given to us to run the race that is set before us.
This is the person who lags behind further and further each day until they lose sight of their companions, their purpose and ultimately even of their destination.
This “failing” is caused by letting a “root of bitterness spring up” He warns “thereby many be defiled.”
He likens a person who has been embittered to a fornicator or a profane person.
This is not physical fornication or profanity but a spiritual betrayal of our love for God and of carrying the name of God as his children but their life does not honor the name he bears. In this way, by living a bitter life, he is guilty of taking the Name of the Lord in vain though he never utters a profanity.
He points out Esau as an example.
He bore the name of God as one of the descendants of Abraham but sold it for a bowl of hot soup.
He profaned his own fathers name by his contempt and lost that birthright forever.
Stick to the Plan
When it comes to us today, can we stick to the plan? Here is the next part of the plan God has for us again. “Follow after peace with all men and follow after holiness with God.”
The only thing preventing the plan from coming together is “failing of the grace of God.”
We must guard against the root of bitterness that could spring up and cause us to drop out of the race and the only way of staying in the race is by looking to Jesus, as we were told in verse 2 and understanding the purpose of pain. That we can overcome through God’s grace and strength.
Illustration: Primary Principles then and now
Do you remember the story of the scribe who came to Jesus and asked a very important question about the most important commandment? The story is in Matthew 12:28.
Matthew 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
The answer Jesus gave to the scribe is much like the plan that Paul just gave to the Hebrews and to us. Our lives are to be lived under the two priorities of our duty to others and our devotion to God. Don’t let the difficulties and pain of this world keep us seeking and bringing peace to those around us and striving for a closer more holy walk with our Father in Heaven.
Transition: There is still one integral part left for God’s plan. Look at verse 18
God’s Plan For His People Hebrews 12:18-29
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
God’s Plan For Eternity
God’s has a plan for His people’s destination and destiny.
He tells the Hebrews they are part of an elite and great people. Greater even than those who came to Mt. Sinai. They as New Covenant, New Testament believers are a better people.
He explains why. Those who came to Mt. Sinai with Moses could not come near to God. They could not bear to hear the voice of God nor even to look upon Moses’ face when He came down from being with God.
Even Moses, said “I exceedingly fear and quake.”
But now, as God’s children of the New Covenant, they are come to a different Mountain of God where there is no fear.
They have come, not to Mt Sinai, but to Mt. Zion to the holy city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.
They have also come to a different assembly now. They stand not with the Jewish nation of old who could not bear God’s visage or His voice but now stand with an innumerable company of angels and with the general assembly and the church of the firstborn.
And they are come to God and to Jesus. They stand in the true presence of God the Father and the Son.
Finally, he tells them in vs. 28. We receive a kingdom which cannot be moved.
That is God ultimate plan for his people and nothing that was behind them should be comparable to what lay before them in God’s great kingdom, for all eternity.
God’s Ultimate Plan for Us
I want you to realize that all the Paul said to the Hebrew Christians applies to us today. We also have come to Mt. Zion, we have come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to that innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn.
All that Paul says in these verses is in the present tense not the future tense. “Ye are come.” He is not talking of something that we will have but of something that we have now.
If we are to run the race with endurance, we must understand that we already are on the homestretch. We have already rounded the last turn and our feet have touched the base of Mt Zion and we can see the assembled angels gathering around the throne and cheering us home. We see the Heroes of Faith from Chapter 11 waving the banners and telling us not to give up but to run all the way to the City of God.
If we will but look around us we will see the throng of those we run with, the church of the firstborn, as all of us together push toward the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan, us with Him for all eternity.
These things are already true, that immovable kingdom is already mine so as Paul says, “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear for our God is a consuming fire.”
“Let us have grace.” Isn’t that a sublime command? There is power and beauty in that statement. “Let us have grace”, Paul says because it will be grace that lets us understand how God brings good from pain. Let us have grace because grace will let us walk in peace with all men. Let us have grace because it is the fuel that fires the race to the city of God.
Illustration: C. S. Lewis Quote
I love this quote by C S Lewis when applied to heaven for it captures the emotion of seeing what awaits us when we go home.
“Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back. All my life the God of the Mountain has been wooing me. Oh, look up once at least before the end and wish me joy. I am going to my lover. Do you not see now?”
That is what Paul is asking as well, do you not see now? Do you not see your destination, your destiny as a Child of God running through this world and going home?
What will you do with God’s Plan?
So many are always asking God to tell them what He has planned for them and yet when it is revealed right here in His Word so many ignore it looking for something more complicated or agreeable to their own ideas.
But its not complicated its very simple.
God’s has a plan for you pain. He will bring good through it.
God has a plan for your life. Follow peace with all and holiness with God
Finally, God has a plan for his people. Realize that you are standing on Mt Zion and if you will have grace, you can run and win this endurance race of life.