Although the enemies of God’s children and their persecutors may be the instruments of inflicting such sufferings on them, yet they are divine chastisements.
Their heavenly Father has His hand in all, and His wise end to serve by all of this He has given them due notice, and they should not forget it, Hebrews 12:5.
1. Those afflictions which may be truly persecution as far as men are concerned in them are fatherly rebukes and chastisements as far as God is concerned.
2. God has directed His people to avoid the extremes that many run into.
a.) They must not despise the chastening of the Lord, they must not make light of afflictions, and be stupid and insensible under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and His rebukes for sin. Those who make light of affliction make light of God and make light of sin.
b.) They must not faint when they are rebuked, they must not despond and sink under their trial, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience.
c.) If they run into either of these extremes, it is a sign they have forgotten their heavenly Father’s advice and exhortation, which He has given them in true and tender affection.
3. Afflictions, rightly endured, though may be the fruits of God’s displeasure, are yet proofs of His paternal love to His people and care for them (Hebrews 12:6,7): Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
a.) The best of God’s children need chastisement. They have their faults and follies, which need to be corrected.
b.) Though God may let others alone in their sins, He will correct sin in His own children because they are of His family, and shall not escape His rebukes when they want them.
c.) In this, He acts as becomes a father, and treats them like children. No wise and good father will wink at faults in his own children as he would in others. His relation and his affections oblige him to take more notice of the faults of his own children than those of others.
d.) To be suffered to go on in sin without a rebuke is a sad sign of alienation from God, such are bastards, not sons. They may call Him Father, because born in the pale of the church but they are the spurious offspring of another father, not of God, Hebrews 12:7-8.
4. Those that are impatient under the discipline of their heavenly Father behave worse towards Him than they would do towards earthly parents, Hebrews 12:9-10.
Here, the Apostle:
a.) commends a dutiful and submissive behaviour in children towards their earthly parents. We gave them reverence, even when they corrected us. It is the duty of children to give the reverence of obedience to the just commands of their parents, and the reverence of submission to their correction when they have been disobedient. Parents have not only authority, but a charge from God, to give their children correction when it is due, and He has commanded children to take such correction well: to be stubborn and discontented under due correction is a double fault for the correction supposes there has been a fault already committed against the parent’s commanding power, and a further fault against his chastening power. Hence,
b.) He recommends humble and submissive behavior towards our heavenly Father, when under His correction and this he does by an argument from the less to the greater:
i.] Our earthly fathers are but the fathers of our flesh, but God is the Father of our spirits. Our fathers on earth were instrumental in the production of our bodies, which are but flesh, a mean, mortal, vile thing, formed out of the dust of the earth, as the bodies of the beasts are and yet as they are curiously wrought, and made parts of our persons, a proper tabernacle for the soul to dwell in and an organ for it to act by, we owe reverence and affection to those who were instrumental in their procreation but then we must own much more to Him who is the Father of our spirits. Our souls are not of a material substance, not of the most refined sort they are not ex traduced by tradition to affirm it is bad philosophy, and worse divinity: they are the immediate offspring of God, who, after He had formed the body of man out of the earth, breathed into him a vital spirit, and so he became a living soul.
ii.] Our earthly parents chastened us for their own pleasure. Sometimes they did it to gratify their passion rather than to reform our manners. This is a weakness the fathers of our flesh are subject to, and this they should carefully watch against for hereby they dishonour that parental authority which God has put upon them and very much hinder the efficacy of their chastisements. But the Father of our spirits never grieves willingly, nor afflicts the children of men, much less His own children. It is always for our profit and the advantage He intends us thereby is no less than our being partakers of His holiness, it is to correct and cure those sinful disorders which make us unlike to God, and to improve and to increase those graces which are the image of God in us, that we may be and act more like our heavenly Father. God loves His children so that He would have them to be as like Himself as can be, and for this end He chastises them when they need it.
iii.] The fathers of our flesh corrected us for a few days, in our state of childhood, when minors and, though we were in that weak and peevish state, we owed them reverence, and when we came to maturity we loved and honoured them the more for it. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, minority, and imperfection, and therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a state of perfection we shall be fully reconciled to all the measures of God’s discipline over us now.
iv.] God’s correction is no condemnation. His children may at first fear lest affliction should come upon that dreadful errand, and we cry, “Do not condemn me, but show me wherefore thou contend with me”, Job 10:2. But this is so far from being the design of God to His own people that He therefore chastens them now that they may not be condemned with the world, 1 Corinthians 11:32. He does it to prevent the death and destruction of their souls, that they may live to God, and be like God, and for ever with Him.
To accept God’s chastisement requires accepting Him as our heavenly Father and that we can do only through Jesus Christ.
Consequent upon the above, I implore you to accept Jesus as your Lord and personal Saviour today, so that you can become a joint heir to the throne of God with Him.
I pray that we will not rebel against God’s discipline in Jesus name.
Good morning and enjoy your weekend in Jesus name.
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