Earthshaking Thanksgiving

mountncHow do you prepare for an earthquake accompanied by a tsunami? Hebrews 12:25-29 points you to a shaking greater than “the big one” expected here in the Northwest.

You are receiving an unshakable kingdom. Listen to the God who speaks. God has spoken from heaven, v.25. By comparison, Sinai is an earthly revelation. God came down to the mountain to meet with his people. Now God has spoken in his Son, Hebrews 1:1,2; 2:1-4. The shaking at Sinai (Hebrews 12:18-21), awesome though it was, is minor compared to God’s present speaking in Christ. You are accountable!The content of the message is v. 24, the mediator, Jesus, and the call to repentance, faith, and new obedience in him. This revelation is greater and clearer. Therefore your accountability is higher, see 2:2,3. The speaking in the Son is the ultimate revelation. “The author represents Christ as a portion of heaven come down to earth. In His voice we hear a heavenly voice, not a voice of earth. . . . Note that the author lays great stress on the words yet once more; the shaking is one that cannot be repeated; it is the final shaking, and therefore it represents the final transformation of the whole world or universe. The author further says that this final shaking signifies the passing away of all things that were made and therefore can be shaken, in order that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, page 87). Continue reading “Earthshaking Thanksgiving”

Look at the Church—What Do You See?

sea_9582cHow relevant is the church in a world of terrorism and bomb strikes? How important is the church when you face job loss or problems in your life? Hebrews 12:18-24 points you to the church the way God sees it, to the church as it really is.

Walk by faith, not by sight. You have not come to a touchable mountain. Mt. Sinai. Sinai was vital in the history of redemption. It was the location for cutting the covenant. It was the place where Israel was changed from a group of slaves to God’s people. It was a revelation of the character of God. The physical surroundings showed God’s holiness: the fire, darkness, gloom and storm evidenced his majesty, Psalm 68:8. What was heard showed God’s righteousness. The people could not bear God’s voice–they needed a mediator. The whole scene showed that God is perfectly holy. You have not come to Sinai or any other such mountain. It was a touchable mountain. It was an earthly place. As Israel camped there, that was the place to which you had to go to meet with God and his people. The author of Hebrews focuses on this piece of history because his readers were tempted to walk by sight, not by faith. They had too much focus on externals. They wondered if the church came off second best in comparison with the ceremonies of the old covenant, and may even have been in danger of turning their backs on Christ to trust in outward ceremonies. Continue reading “Look at the Church—What Do You See?”

Seeing the Lord

Basic CMYKWhat does it take to see the Lord? Were I to suggest that essential for seeing the Lord is holiness, the reaction might be, “that sounds like basing salvation on works.” We very properly recoil from the suggestion that our works have any meritorious role in our salvation – that was something learned afresh at the time of the Protestant Reformation. And yet Heb. 12:14 tells you: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Parallel to repentance, sanctification is never the ground or basis for your justification, but it is something that is an essential part of belonging to Christ. The author of Hebrews is no less clear than Paul that our salvation rests on nothing that we do or are, but only on Christ himself. John Calvin comments on this verse: “Sanctification has es­pecial regard to God. Even though the whole world blazes with war, we must not let go of sanctification because it is the chain which binds us in union with God. . . . No one can see God without sancti­fication since we shall only see God with eyes that have been re­newed according to his image.”

Pursue holiness as you pursue peace. The harvest of righteousness and peace flows from the Lord’s discipline. You are responsible for making every effort to live at peace. This is not peace at any price. Your first commitment is to the Lord. Continue reading “Seeing the Lord”

The Harvest of Discipline

fathersday_8602cAsk any conscientious parent—disciplining your child is hard work. But you do it because of the fruit you hope it bears in your child’s life. Hebrews 12:4-13 calls you to endure the discipline of your Father in heaven—so that you, as you trust your faithful Savior, he grows in you a harvest of righteousness.

Endure discipline. Discipline means that God is treating you as his child. Discipline is a sign of God’s love. The quote from Proverbs 3:11,12 refers to God’s love. Too many parents try to show love without discipline. True love (and the Scriptures) require that you train, discipline, provide structure, and lead your children. Christ suffered to the point of death, Hebrews 12:2,3. Your suffering has not gone that far, v.4. However, your suffering is not meaningless. Discipline is proof of your being a child of God. Parents, are you concerned to discipline the kids down the block? No, just your own. “Illegitimate sons” is used instead of “foreigners” to warn against the danger of apostasy. If you can live in this sinful world and feel quite at home, if you can live here and not experience the reproach of Christ (Hebrews 11:26), is not something wrong? Continue reading “The Harvest of Discipline”