Sermon Discussions QUestions
1. How does this passage change your perception of the trials in your life? How does it affect your view of God and His purposes?
2. How are you responding to God’s discipline in your life in both good ways and bad ways? What are your successes and struggles?
3. How is Esau’s example relevant to you? In what ways do you need to be careful about your own pursuit of pleasure?
Scripture: Hebrews 12:4-17
I. You endure because you are loved by God.
A. The author of Hebrews was writing to Jewish Christians who were enduring many earthly trials (see Heb. 10:32-34). Four times in verses 5-7 the author uses the same word: discipline. The church was being disciplined by God so that they might endure in their faith. Verse 6 tells us that the Lord disciplines the one he loves. God is our heavenly Father. And what do parents do with children they love? They discipline them. Verse 7 is probably the key verse in this passage that tells us what God is doing when He disciplines us: “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
B. So many people seem to think that it is the people who have an easy, comfortable life without pain who are truly loved by God. But what would Hebrews 12 say to that? Maybe not! Maybe people who have less pain are people who are not God’s children and who are not being disciplined. God does not just discipline His children when they sin. He also disciplines them to help build endurance. This is why I think there is not only the picture of God as Father in Hebrews 12 but also the picture of God as athletic coach. In vs. 4 the author writes about your struggle against sin. The word struggle is a word that was used to describe boxing matches in the Olympic games in the first century.
C. God disciplines us by building our endurance so that we can keep our faith until the end of our fight, until the end of our lives. So, he trains you to make you a better fighter against your enemy. Because we have been trained, we do not give up. We keep fighting. And we receive the gain of victory over our enemy all because God has trained us. So, don’t resist the painful events God brings into your life. Those events are not a sign that God does not love you. Actually, the pain involved in endurance training is a sign that God loves you. Obey Heb. 12:12-13.
II. You endure because you want to see God.
A. There is a reward for all that you are enduring. We find it at the end of verse 14. There we are told to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We want to see God. When you see God, you see the one who by the power of just His Word created the whole universe. When you see God, you see the one who is more beautiful than the most majestic mountain. And when you see God, you see the one who has more love for you than anyone else. His love for you is measureless. This is why we Christians rejoice in the promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
B. Holiness is not optional for the Christian. If you want to see God, you need to be holy (Heb. 12:14). Christianity is a team sport. Therefore, we are to strive for peace (vs. 14) with everyone in the church, because we are all on a journey together toward heaven. So, how are your relationships with people in this church? As a negative example not to follow the author of Hebrews concludes this part of Hebrews 12 with the story of Esau. When Esau felt pain, he immediately looked for a worldly pleasure of some kind to take away His pain. And we Christians today will face the same temptation.
Christians endure by knowing that God loves them and knowing they will see God.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner, William Lane, and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger