Study 7 THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S CHASTENING
The Shining Pathway
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Hebrews 12:6)
Every Christian must sooner or later experience the Lord’s chastening in his or her life, and the classic New Testament passage which deals with this subject is Hebrews 12:5-13. This, of course, only concerns Christians, members of God’s family, and it has no meaning at all to the unbeliever. In the Scofield Bible these verses are headed, ”The Fathers Chastening”, and in them we find a repetition of the words “father”, “son”, ”child”. God is speaking to His own blood-bought children about a matter that intimately concerns them and about which they should be instructed. What is the Lord’s chastening? It is God’s loving discipline in the life of every one of His children.
Discipline includes instruction, correction and that form of punishment which will prevent or correct us from doing wrong things and will train us to do right things; it is not always in the form of punishment, nor does it follow that because God is chastening us we must necessarily have displeased Him. In a good school all the pupils are disciplined, and in God’s school all His pupils are lovingly disciplined. Now turn to Hebrews 12, and note:-
1. Chastening is experienced by ALL the true children of God.
ALL - and therefore if we belong to the Lord this is something we must expect. Look at verse 8: “… and everyone undergoes discipline…” ; that is, all Christians. We must expect chastening for two reasons: (1) because God is our Father and chastening is an evidence of His love (verse 7); (2) because we are His sons, and chastening is a mark of sonship (verse 8). If we never experience Love’s discipline, then He is not our Father and we are not His children at all!
2. We are not to DESPISE His chastening.
That is, we are not to regard it lightly and be insensible to the purpose of it - see verse 5. We often do despise the chastening of the Lord; we find ourselves entertaining wrong thoughts about Him and we begin to question His love and His wisdom. Let us beware of treating the chastening of the Lord lightly, or of failing to learn the lesson He is trying to teach us by permitting the chastening.
3. We are not to FAINT under it.
Verse 5 tells us this, and it means, ”Dont collapse!” – as in verse 12!
In the closing months of his life, Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, was so weak in body that he said, “I’m so weak, I can’t work, pray or read my Bible. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust Him.” But that is all He asks us to do at the best of times, and incidentally, the remedy for becoming weak is mentioned in verse 3.
4. God’s chastening is always PROFITABLE.
Sometimes an earthly father will chasten his son arbitrarily in a fit of passion, but our Heavenly Father never does this. His chastening is always for our profit - see verse 10. We are apt to think that chastening - sickness, sorrow, bereavement, hardship - spells loss, but it always spells gain. What is the gain that comes out of the Lord’s chastening? Verse 10 tells us - “that we might share in his holiness!” That is the great purpose in all His chastening - to make us holy, like the Lord Jesus - look up Romans 8:29.
5. We are not expected to ENJOY chastening.
It is always “painful” - verse 11. It is not intended to be otherwise. Notice the four words used in this portion of scripture to convey to us the different aspects of God’s chastening:-
- 1. Rebuke (verse 5).
- 2. Punishment (verse 6).
- 3. Discipline (verse 8)
- 4. Correction (verse 9).
Do you like it when the Lord rebukes, punishes, disciplines or corrects you? No - He does not expect you to! But:
6. There is ALWAYS a ”later on” to chastening.
See verse 11 again. Chastening is fruit-producing. What kind of branch does the Lord purge, and why does He purge it? - look up John 15:2. The fruit that chastening produces is righteousness and peace - look up Hebrews 12:11. Righteousness means being right with God, right in our daily living, and therefore in the deepest sense being at peace. In other words, it brings us into conformity to God’s will, and only when we are brought there can we know real peace. When we are being chastened it is very comforting to hear the Lord say - John 13:7. Never consider the “now” apart from the “later on”!
7. We must be TRAINED by all His dealings with us.
This is the condition of blessing, of profit - of present and future reward.
Look at the last six words of verse 11. There is an implication in verse 9 which reveals: ”Submission to the Father”.
Now look up Matthew 11:26.