Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews’

Destined for Glory

The Discipline of Grace. What a book! I’ve just finished it, and recommend it to all my blog readers out there (all 3 or 4 of you!). It has challenged me to my core on looking at my pursuit of holiness. What are our motivations for holiness? How do we stay motivated? What happens when I sin? Where does God’s grace come into it all? Is discipline just another word for legalism? (No it isn’t by the way). All these, and many more important questions, are answered thoroughly, biblically and practically by Bridges, as he shows us God’s sovereign plan to conform the believer into the likeness of His Son, the living Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s an extract that has warmed my heart and given me great confidence as I neared the end of the book. The chapter is a great exposition of Hebrews 12:4-11;

‘It is not clear whether the author of Hebrews was writing of the peace that comes with maturity in this life, as Bruce interpreted him, or the rest that comes ultimately to the believer in eternity, as Hughes understood him. The truth is, both are taught in Scripture. Concerning this life, Paul wrote that our sufferings produce perseverance, which in turn produces character (Romans 5:3-4), and James said that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, which leads to maturity (James 1:2-5).

Our ultimate hope, though, is not in maturity of character in this life, as valuable as that is, but in the perfection of character in eternity. The apostle John wrote, “When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The often-painful process of being transformed into His likeness will be over. We shall be completely conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Looking forward to that time, Paul wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). As I think on what Paul said, I visualize in my mind a pair of old-fashioned balance scales. Paul first puts all our sufferings, all our heartaches and disappointments, all our adversities of whatever kind from whatever source onto one side of the balance scales. Of course, the scales bottom out on that side. But then he puts on the other side the glory that will be revealed in us. As we watch, the scales do not balance or even come into some degree of unbalanced equilibrium as we might expect. Instead they now completely bottom out on the side of the glory that will be revealed in us. Paul said our sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory we will experience in eternity.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote,

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Here again we see the bottoming out of the scales on the side of our eternal glory that far outweighs our sufferings of this life.

This is not to say that that our present hardships are not painful. We have already seen from Hebrews 12:11 that they are indeed painful, and we all know this to some degree from experience. Nothing I say in this chapter is intended to minimize the pain and perplexity of adversity. But we need to learn to look by faith beyond the present pain to the eternal glory that will be revealed in us. Remember, the God who disciplines us will also glorify us.

So the discipline of adversity is given to us by God as a means of our sanctification. Our role in this discipline is to respond to it, and to acquiesce to whatever God may be doing, even though a particular instance of adversity makes no sense to us. As we do this we will see in due time the fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives.

Buy the Discipline of Grace at 10ofthose.com or amazon.co.uk

Don’t be a “Christian Rambo”

Lately I’ve become more aware of the importance of church in the life of a Christian. I guess I always knew it was important but this particular doctrine is starting to take root in my heart and mind. Church is a fundamental building block of spiritual growth and of daily and weekly encouragement. Church helps to sustain the Christian through the week ahead and prepares them for a lifetime of service.

Chris, the Ministree Trainee at my church in Preston, was preaching on Hebrews 10:19-39 last week as we’ve been going through the book in the evenings. I feel very encouraged by clearly seeing the necessity and joy of being part of the local church. I am always greatly encouraged by the church around me (Church = people not buildings), spurring one another on towards love and good deeds (v24).

The writer to the Hebrews writes;

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ (v25)

Hebrews is a book full of warnings – warnings about drifting in the Christian life. The people of God coming together in praise, prayer, fellowship, all under the authority of God’s Word is a great source of encouragement. This is definitely my experience too.

Church Consumerism

If you live in the UK, you live in a culture of consumerism. It’s all about ‘Number One’, what can I get out of the deal?’ Everything is about me. Christ calls his church to be distinctive in this area;

‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Yes we will be encouraged by meeting together on a Sunday, and it is the role of the pastor-teacher to preach the Word to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-12), therefore there is definite gain by going to Church on a Sunday or by going to a midweek Bible study, but this does not advocate a consumerist approach to church. We come to serve (that’s the Christian life), to become more like Christ, the ultimate servant – who laid his life down for His sheep. There is no greater show of love than this (John 15:13).

I need to repent. Even when the Word is being read or preached in church, I’m thinking “what is God saying to me?’.” There is nothing necessarily wrong with this; God does speak to us individually through His Word. But what about the other members of my church family – I should also be thinking “What is God to saying to ‘us’ as a church?” “And what about my friend sitting over there, what could I encourage or challenge them with afterwards?”. “And how about my friend who isn’t here tonight?”.

It’s a real challenge to rid ourselves of this consumerism. But by God’s grace it is possible and we’ve got God the Holy Spirit to wage war against the sinful nature! He gives us new desires and makes it possible to say “No” to sin, and “Yes” to righteousness; we CAN become more like Christ. But this is not an individual process, that’s why God gave us brothers and sisters. Praise be to God for the family He has given me. Amen.

Further Reading;

God’s New Community – Graham Beynon

Stop Dating the Church – Joshua Harris