Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Hebrews 12:7-13

7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.

The Original Intent

1) Why should we change our perspectives to see suffering as a discipline instead of something to flee? (verses 7 and 11)

Understanding the context is important every single time we read Scripture. A major part of good contextualization is knowing the “who” of the original audience. The book of Hebrews is written to people who had already trusted Jesus as their Savior and were committed to following Him. Based on the abundance of Old Testament references and logical bridges built between Jewish Law and Jesus’ fulfillment, most people in the first audience were Jewish converts to Christianity.

For the context of verse 7, everything changes about our perception when we understand the author was speaking to people who had already been adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. If the Lord God is sovereign, which He is, and if that Sovereign God is also your tender, loving Father, which He is, even suffering is used for good purposes. Adoption changes everything in the face of suffering.

The Everyday Application

1) Why should we change our perspectives to see suffering as a discipline instead of something to flee? (verses 7 and 11)

Lest we get the idea first-century believers held fond, delightful views of suffering, the author aptly stated, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful.” (verse 11) Aren’t you glad the Bible is wholly true and never sugar-coats anything?!

Suffering is horrible; it’s grievous, deeply painful and brings us to the very end of our rope only to have the rope give way as we freefall in agony. This is the deep pain of suffering, but the abundant assured antidote is knowing the Sovereign God who has allowed the suffering (Job 2:10) is also endlessly bent on loving us, for nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

As I write, my daughter is cleaning her room and giving me snarky, playful comments. At one point, I quickly picked up my water bottle and held it above my head to playfully “threaten” to throw it at her. My daughter didn’t flinch one bit. When I asked her why she didn’t duck, she quickly responded, “I knew you wouldn’t hurt me; you love me too much for that.” This is the confidence we have as God’s daughters living in the face of suffering. His plans are good. His heart is kind, compassionate, and loving. We can boldly declare the goodness of the Lord because His Word assures us that even suffering produces His good work in us! (Psalm 119:711 Peter 4:1-2, 19)

The Original Intent

2) How can someone be “without” discipline while the text immediately states that “all” receive it? (verse 8)

Though the author of Hebrews is writing to the Church at large, they understood, like any discerning minister of the gospel, that in a large group of declared believers, some in attendance likely do not actually have a saving relationship with Jesus.

Like standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car, neither does going to church or even calling yourself a Christian, make you a Christ-follower. Only Christ can do this miracle through in a life through genuine faith, which even this is a gift of the Lord. (Ephesians 2:8) The author states, “But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” 

ALL who are genuine, authentic Christ-followers who have been made new by God’s Spirit DO receive discipline from the Father through suffering. BUT, the author adamantly warns, if you aren’t being disciplined then you are “illegitimate children and not sons.” (verse 8, emphasis mine) This is dangerous state to find yourself and the author passionately warns everyone in the audience to consider the status of their relationship with the Lord God.

The Everyday Application

2) How can someone be “without” discipline while the text immediately states that “all” receive it? (verse 8)

It’s easy to lull ourselves into believing we are true Christians, when in fact, we aren’t. Jesus said, “[T]he gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.” (Matthew 7:13, emphasis mine)

The norm is to miss Jesus. The norm is to be walking the path of destruction all the way to its final, eternal end where it is too late to be forgiven. It’s normal for the people who go to church and those who don’t, for those who give generously and those who don’t. Don’t be deceived into thinking our outward actions offer eternal security.

Jesus warned of this danger, “…Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I [Jesus] will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 7:22-24, emphasis mine)

Only believing wholly the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and offering Him the total surrender of our lives provides eternal security in Christ. Blessedly, Scripture provides many assurances of genuine faith and real security. Read the books of 1 John or James this week for solid examples!

One such assurance is found in what may seem an odd place, but the author of Hebrews pulls it out with confidence: suffering. For clarity, all humanity suffers, whether true Christ-follower or not. The distinction for genuine believers is found when the suffering produces good fruit that endures. (Matthew 7:18-20) When suffering builds hope, when it humbles hearts and creates worship to God, when it frees us from entangling sins that we might follow Jesus more closely, these are sure signs our Father is disciplining us through suffering, proving we are genuine children. 

The Original Intent

3) What is to be our response to suffering in our lives and why? (verses 9 and 11-13)

Studying Scripture is challenging when we don’t like what it teaches, or the teaching is more vague than we may desire. However, there are abundant teachings that are supremely clear, and it is a true delight to take in this “food” and allow it to nourish our souls as it shapes our everyday lives. This passage in Hebrews provides clear instruction for how to deal with suffering.

Remember, the author is speaking to true, genuine believers; this instruction doesn’t apply to non-believers for it is meaningless and ineffective. For it to be effective, a person must first surrender their lives to Jesus and lean wholly on Him for forgiveness and redemption from sin, then His Spirit will freely work in a heart and life!

For those who are true children of the Lord God, having trusted Him for salvation and redemption as we surrender the whole of ourselves, we are taught to humbly submit to the Lord’s discipline in suffering and respect Him for the Sovereign rule He has as our Lord.

As children respect their earthly fathers (in healthy relationships) for the loving way they taught them to be self-controlled and love others, so we can view God in the same way. (verse 9) He disciplines those He loves. (verse 6) He prunes away our sinful habits and leads us through dark valleys that we might learn to trust His heart of tender shepherd toward us. (Psalm 23:4-6John 15:2)

The Everyday Application

3) What is to be our response to suffering in our lives and why? (verses 9 and 11-13)

The more that true believers suffer, the more we are led to worship the Lord God and love Him in ways we cannot imagine without the trial of suffering. We all walk through suffering, if you’re a believer, humble yourself under the good, kind hand of your Father and let Him bring about lasting peace and hope as direct results of your suffering.

Consider these words from the author, “He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness.” (verse 10)

Does that gift not astound you?!
So we can share in His holiness!

In the Master hand of a loving Father God, even the grievousness of terrible suffering brings about a wholeness that mirrors the holiness of God Himself! This brings tears to my eyes! (Romans 8:29)

Affirming again, the author presses in, “[suffering] yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (verse 11)

Do we all not hunger for peace and healing?!

Remarkably, when we trust the steadfast heart of God, suffering is the very tool the Lord uses to bring us these priceless gifts! Lean into suffering, fellow sister, He is for you!

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