BELOVED ELDER Beebe: – I would like to have you give your views on Hebrews 12. 6. I have never troubled you for your views before, knowing your time is taken up; but in our present bereavement we would be glad to have the right on that text.
THOMAS & MARY P. LEWIS.
Kelly’s Corners, Mich., Feb. 20, 1880.
REPLY: – The text on which we are requested to express our views reads as follows: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth of every son whom he receiveth.”
It seems so very natural for us, when smarting under the chastening hand of God, to conclude that he is angry with us, and in anger has withheld his tender mercies from us. The friends who visited Job in the days of his sore trials took this view of the subject, and added reproof and reproach to his over-burdened heart; and the heathen who saw the viper fasten his poisonous fangs upon the hand of Paul, thought it was in retribution for some dreadful crime that he had committed. The Jews also seemed to think that some unusual sin committed by the blind a man or his parents was the cause of his having been born blind. Satan himself is ever ready to aggravate the distress of the children of God, when pressed down to the gates of death by trials and afflictions, by his cruel suggestions that their tribulations are in evidence that they have no part or lot in the love of that God whose power and grace are amply sufficient to have averted the evil that has come upon them. The passions of our carnal nature are moved to resentment or approval of the treatment we receive from others as indicative of their hatred or love to us: we express our love by acts of kindness, and our hatred by acts of retaliation; but God’s dealings with his children, whether in stripes or healing mercies, are always in love, for he is infinitely above being excited by impulsive passions. It is very true, he visits the transgressions and iniquities of his children with his rod; but even then he chastens them and love, and always for their good and his glory. But all the trials, afflictions and bereavements to which the children of God are subject, are not to be regarded as punishment for our transgressions. The most willing and obedient of the saints, as well as the more wayward, must pass through fiery trials, for the trial of their faith, which is more precious than the trial of perishable gold; and God has kindly provided that his dear children shall all have the full benefit of the furnace in which he has chosen them. The apostle Peter has drawn a discriminating line between the suffering which God’s children endure for their faults, and such as they experience for the trial of their faith, and warns the saints, saying, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busybody another men’s matters. Yet if any man suffers as a christian, let him not be ashamed; a ledge him glorify God on this behalf.” – 1 Peter iv. 15, 16. “Wherefore,” he continues, “let them that suffer according to the will of god, commit the keeping of their souls to him and while doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Pardon the digression, if it be such, if we pause a moment to consider the apostle’s admonition. Who is a murderer? “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John iii. 15. Who is a thief? He who would dishonestly appropriate to oneself that which belongs to another, or who would rob a brother of his standing and fellowship with the saints, or covet in spiritual or temporal things that which is his neighbor’s. Who is an evil doer? He that perverts equity, or watches for the haltings of others, that that which is lame should be turned out of the way, and not rather be healed. Who is a busybody another man’s matters? He who is heedless of the beam that is in his own eye, is quick to offer his service to remove an imaginary mote from his brother’s eye. Such men, even if they are children of God, and do suffer, do not suffer as christians who do the will of God, as his will is laid down in the examples and precepts of Christ in the New Testament.
But to retain to our starting point in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, in which we find it so much, not only to admonish, but also to encourage the poor, afflicted, tried and tempted children of our God. Having in the preceding chapter spoken of the severe trials of the saints from the days of Abel down to the present dispensation, the writer arrays them as a cloud of witnesses, bearing testimony of the triumphs of faith, by which prophets and patriarchs endured as seeing him who is invisible, and admonishes the saints to lay aside every weight, and run with patience the race than a set before them. Looking unto Jesus, and recognizing him as the author and finisher of all genuine faith, as the author of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things which are not seen. With a single eye, a steadfast reliance on him for support and protection, and looking unto him as our pattern and guide. Look to the race which he so patiently, perseveringly, cheerfully and successfully ran in the great work of our salvation, the sorrows he endured, the enemies he encountered, the reproaches he bore, the patience he evinced, the unremitting progress which she made, never once faltering in the race, even though sin, death, and all the powers of darkness stood so terribly in his way. Yet for the joy that was sent before him he endured the cross despising the shame. Ah, yes; with steadfast eyes look to him.
“Whose race forever is complete,
Forever undisturbed his seat;
Myriads of angels round him fly,
And seeing his well gained victory.”
See him now, exalted and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And “consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your mind.” What a wonderful protection from languor and weariness; what an antidote against fainting!
“His way he was much rougher and painful than mine?
Did Christ my Lord suffer, and shall I if repine?”
The infirmities of our nature are kindly considered by him
“Who drank the cup with stifled groan,
And said, My Father’s will be done.”
He knows what are the feelings of our infirmities, and how to succor them that are tempted. He knows that his spirit that he has put within us is willing to go with him to the prison and to the death; and well he knows too the weakness of our flesh, and that unless we have our eyes on him we shall be wary in faint. But we can say,
“Had I a view of the, my God,
Kingdoms and men would vanish soon;
Vanish as though I saw them not,
As a dim candle dies at noon.
“And then they might fight, and rage, and rave;
I should perceive there no way is no more
Than we can here shaking leaf
Win rattling thunders round us are roar.”
Considering him, and the crushing sorrows he endured for us when sweating what were as great drops of blood falling to the ground, will reprovingly remind us that we have not resisted unto blood striving again sin; and that while complaining of our light afflictions, which are but a momentary, we have forgotten, or failed to heed, the exhortation which speaketh unto us as unto children, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Observer, this very exhortation and rebuke recognize those unto whom they are addressed as children; they are not addressed to them as aliens or as enemies, but as on the children or sons, as the counsel and parental admonition of our heavenly Father who loves us, and has our real welfare constantly in view. “My son,” the development of that incorruptible and immortal seed, which is by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth forever. My son, in vital union with your heavenly Father, begotten of God, the Father of spirits, in Christ your seminal head, who is the first-born among many brethren. My son, and as a son, and heir of God, and joint heir with Jesus Christ. Heirs not only of his cross, but also of his glory. Loved of God your Father, even as Christ was loved of him. Not a mere prospective love, but with the same sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love with which your glorious and glorified Head was loved. “That the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” – John xvii. 23. And in the next verse Jesus says two the Father, “For thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.” With the same love with which the Father loved his only begotten Son before the foundation of the world, has he loved all his members in him. Mark the present tense of the love of god, “For whom the lord loveth.” It does not read, For whom he intends to love at some future time; but whom he loveth. If God’s love is immutable, it has always been precisely the same, from everlasting to everlasting; for he inhabiteth he eternity, and his name is holy. But if it is not immutable, though he made love to-day, he may cease to love to-morrow or hereafter. Many earthly parents who love their children, unintentionally injure them by too much indulgence; but God, who is infinitely wise, provides for his children that discipline which is for their good and for his own Glory. When in former ages he winked at the abominable idolatry of the heathen nations, he severely scourgeth his chosen Israel for every disobedience and transgression of his law; and by the severity of his judgments clearly demonstrated his special regard for them as a peculiar people, chosen from all the family of mankind to be the type of the chosen generation, royal priesthood an holy nation which he had chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. And now while aliens, false professors and hypocrites are allowed to fill up the measure of their iniquities and Glory in their shame, the waters of a full cup are wrung out to his children; for all the day long they are plagued, and they’re chastened every morning. But as their chastisements are in evidence of the special love of God to them, they are not to be despised, nor are the saints to faint when God rebukes them for there follies. None whom the lord love is can or will escape his rod, for he scourgeth of every son whom he receiveth. Discouraging as do not make them sons, for sonship is a vital relation; but it proves that they who endure it have a life which was in their parent before they were born of his spirit; and discouraging proves that they are children, and the God is their heavenly Father. Nor does there being received of God make them his children. The prodigal was a son before he went astray, and when he was afar off, as well as when he returned, and his father received him because he was his son. The kind in gracious reception by the Father, while it did not originate the relationship, proves that it exists. Hence it is added, “If ye endure chastening, God doeth with you as with sons; for what sun is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all [sons of God] are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
So very essential then are our chastisements, we cannot have a reliable evidence that we are children of God or errors of Glory without them. We should not, therefore, despise or undervalued them, nor indulge the thought that we could do without them; and whether they be administered in sore bereavements, as in the case of our brother and sister Lewis, in the taking from us our Josephs, our Simeons, or our darling Benjamins, and making us feel as though they would bring us down and sorrow to our graves, or in stripping us of our earthly treasures, or exposing us to cruel persecutions, reproaches, and slanderous assaults of wicked men; or if it be by sending leanness and barrenness in regard to spiritual things, and allowing the tempter to hurl his fiery darts, or in causing us to walk in darkness and in the shadow of death for a season; still and whenever shape or form our chastisements may come to us, they are in evidence that God loves us and regard just as sons, and all our afflictions are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory, while we look not on the temporal things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen, which are eternal, by faith “enduring as seeing him who is invisible.”
Cease, then, ye chastened children of the Most High God, to fret and murmur, to weep and sigh and groan. You’re tribulations are as essential to your spiritual prosperity, as your daily food is to the support and comfort of your earthly nature; we cannot do without them. At present they are not joyous, but grievous; but they shall afterwards yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in them who are exercised thereby, and all the dear saints shall unite in the final ascriptions of praise, saying, “Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” All of Zion’s conflicts shall end in peace.
“But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” How very important, then, is this evidence of a sacred vital relationship to God. None but sons are heirs of God, none but heirs have any inheritance in God our Savior; and all who are not chastened of the Lord our bastards, and not sons. Shall we then despise or murmur at the chase innings which we receive from the kind, loving in gracious hand of our heavenly Father?
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits? Our God is not the father of our flesh, or fleshly nature; but if we are born of his Spirit, God is the Father of that spirit which is born of him. We have had the fathers of our flesh, fleshly fathers, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and the fathers of our flesh have corrected us, and as children of the flesh we have realized the benefit of their paternal discipline; and while we know they are liable to err in judgment, and to be controlled by their excitable passions, yet we have given them reverence; shall we not much rather submit to him who is the Father of our spirits, who is not subject to impulsive passions, whose wisdom, power and grace are infinite, who can not err, but always chastens for our good?
Again, chastisement, whether it be from our Father which is in heaven, the Father of our spirits, or of his spirit that is born of him, or from the fathers of our flesh, implies a discipline essentially different from vindictive wrath, or retributive vengeance, exacted only by the demands of inflexible justice: the former is a family discipline, administered and love for the good of the erring child, and in evidence of eternal love; while the latter is only in evidence of indignation and wrath, as in the case of those who despised Moses’law, who died without mercy. May we by grace be enabled in spirit to meekly say, Father in heaven, thy will be done.
Elder Gilbert Beebe,
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 10
May 15, 1880