The Heartbeat of Hebrews

By Blake E. Jones

Chapter 12


The Race (12:1-4)

A common analogy in Scripture compares the Christian life with a race. Paul uses this figure extensively in his epistles. He says, "So run that ye may obtain" (I Cor. 9:24); "Ye did run well, who did hinder you..." (Gal. 5:7); "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14); and "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (II Tim. 4:7). The analogy breaks down at the point of prizes and winners. We all can be a winner in the Christian life and reach the prize of eternal glory.

I. The Grandstand Onlookers (12:1a)

1a Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, After the impressive list of faithful heroes in chapter 11, we cannot but feel that history's winners press us forward, toward the goal. They may not be aware of what is transpiring in our lives, however, being dead they yet speak. Their lives have left us a legacy of faith that spurs us forward to similar strength and purpose.

Maynard Woolworth tells of a time when a circus truck got stuck in a ditch and wreckers were unable to move it. Finally, an elephant was taken out of the circus vehicle and hitched to the front of the truck. It was a show animal and accustomed to the crowds and the grandstand cheers. As the onlookers encouraged and cheered it on, the elephant planted its feet and leaned into the rope harness. Just by flexing its great muscles, it budged the truck that seemed hopelessly stuck. As the crowd urged it on, it ponderously stepped forward, planted its feet and flexed its muscles until, at last, it brought the truck out of the ditch to the cheers of the bystanders.

What little we know of our Godly heritage ought to cheer us forward in this race. The voices of those who died in faith are calling out, "We kept the faith and so can you! You can make it; don't quit; be strong and press on!"

I like to think that the angels, and even my Heavenly Father, lean over the celestial grandstands and call out to me, "Blake, you can do it; 'by the word of your testimony and the blood of the Lamb' you can make it. Come on, Son, come on!"

II. Stripping for the Race (12:1b)

1b let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us],

The writer urges Christian runners to strip themselves of hindering factors that will impede their spiritual progress. First, we are urged to lay off those weights that encumber our lives. We are familiar with ankle weights and loaded wrist bands used to build strength and endurance. They are worn during practice sessions and work-outs, but are never left on for the actual race. When those added burdens are dropped off, the body feels light, nimble and ready to run. For those of us in the North country, it is much like the welcome day when we put on a light wind-breaker or spring jacket after months of wearing our heavy, insulated, winter parka. It feels as though you have no coat on at all. You have laid aside a great weight that is not necessary for spring weather.

Adam Clarke says, "Christians, professing to go to heaven, must throw aside every thing that might hinder them in their Christian race. Whatever weighs down our hearts or affections to earth and sense is to be carefully avoided; for no man, with the love of the world in his heart, can ever reach the kingdom of heaven."1 What these things might be the writer does not suggest, but the Holy Spirit will be faithful to our individual awareness. For all Christians, these weights may not be the same. God, knowing our weaknesses and our keen affections, may place His finger on a particular area in my life that He does not deal with in yours. It is not sins that we are speaking of here, but earthly things that may divert our attention, hinder our fellowship with God, and possibly cause us to be a spiritual casualty along the track. May we be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and not reject His leadership as merely a foolish notion. These weights might include our business partnerships, our hobby or sports involvement, our friendships, pastimes, reading material or a thousand other possible areas of daily living.

Along with this directive to runners, the call is to get rid of "the sin that so easily besets us". This is not referring to sinful deeds that need to be abandoned. Mr. Vaughan notes that "the reference is not to one particular sin, as being especially dangerous, but to sin itself. The article is generic."2 "The sin" is the nature or principle of sin that saps the runner's effectiveness. It is part of the very fiber of his being and is constantly confronting him in his efforts to progress. However hard he may try to ignore its presence, still it faces him at the next bend in the track as if waiting for an opportunity to trip the ready runner. This is not a call to holy living, but a command to holiness of heart. Mr. Fletcher aptly asks, "Is not indwelling sin a clog rather than a spur to the heavenly racer?"3 Certainly, such a directive would not have been given if it were not possible for the blood of Christ to cleanse the soul prior to the moment of death. The Hebrew readers are already believers and initially sanctified, or set apart as belonging to God. It is the work of entire sanctification that they are urged to obtain. This "sin" can be laid aside by confessing its presence to God, yielding self and self will to the great Sanctifier, and trusting the blood of Christ to cleanse the heart for the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just as really as we can "pray through" until we know that faith has taken hold and our sins have been forgiven, so we can definitely reach through in faith and know that the work of purifying has been done in our hearts, and that the Blessed Comforter reigns without a rival. Do not stop with just the witness of the Scripture that God will sanctify you wholly, but press your case through, in earnest desperation, until you know the witness of the Spirit's confirmation and your own soul's inner affirmation of cleansing, perfect rest, and divine love.

III. Patient Running (12:1c)

1c and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

To every runner, wherever he may be on the Christian course, the admonition to "run with patience" is very timely. To the young who are anxious for rapid progress and vivid results, there must be a blend of vision and patient endurance. They should not sacrifice their heaven-inspired vision and fervent involvement in the cause of Christ, but in addition, strive to embrace faithful perseverance and patience. For those who have borne the heat of the day and laboured through life's long years for the One they love, still the message and call for patience is keenly necessary. Some have struggled through many deep disappointments and cruel misunderstandings. Some have faced unexpected opposition, not from the world, 'then they could have borne it"; but from those they held in high and brotherly esteem. Others have suffered through physical and emotional trauma until they feel their spirits are spent and their hopes flattened. Run on, dear Friend. Plod on, though you may feel you cannot take another step. Keep headed in the right direction. Don't defect; for there's nothing behind you. Look up! Look up and see Jesus!

IV. Looking unto Jesus (12:2-4)

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Have you ever been running across a yard and looked back over your shoulder at your pursuers, only to run "smack" into a tree? It is imperative that we keep our eyes on our goal. We must get our eyes off the rugged track we are pursuing; stop looking at the commotion along the sides of the course and focus clearly on "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith".

As I understand it, in karate, when a board or brick is to be broken by a hand strike, the performer does not aim at the surface of the board. Instead, he focuses upon a point on the other side of his challenge and then strikes. Too often, we look at the circumstances and fail to look through to Jesus on the other side.

It seems to be a common, human malady for each to think that he has worse problems than anyone else. But just look about you--how easy you have it; and look at what Jesus went through to provide salvation for you. Let your gaze linger long on His nail scars and wounded side. Gaze until you know that you can go on in His strength. Gaze until you are filled with love that motivates your faint and panting soul. Gaze until faith can grasp the prize in the Person of Jesus Christ. He will be your rich reward. Keep your eyes upon Him. Someday, every hardship will be more than compensated when you see the smile of His face.

Isaac Watts caps our discussion when he asks,

"Must I be carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas? Are there no foes for me to face? must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me unto God? Sure I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage Lord, I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word."4

A Father's Love that Must, but would Rather Not (12:5-13)

I. Chastening's Proof (12:5-8)

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Many Christians have found great comfort in the fact of divine discipline. It has confirmed to their troubled hearts their own position of sonship; for certainly God would not be correcting them if they did not belong to Him. It is a proof of the Father's love and gracious concern. It hurts Him more than it hurts us, if there is any comparison with a human parent's discipline. Failure to receive chastening would be a cause for alarm. If a child does not bear the father's surname, he is an illegitimate child. Often, along with the man's disrespect for himself and the woman he has defiled, he has no regard for the offspring. He pays little attention to the direction the child goes and offers little in the way of constructive guidance or correction. How different the picture is when a father loves his sons or daughters so much that his love constrains him to correct them effectively. He may have to stop what he is doing to deal immediately with some wayward tendency. He may have to sacrifice his leisure time to establish a proper relationship. He may far rather wish to ignore the problem than deal with his dear child; but love constrains him. He cannot let a seed grow in his beloved child's life that will lead him on the wrong road. He cannot fail to apply discipline in order that the son may learn to discipline himself. It has been said that before we can practice self discipline, we must be disciplined. As miserable as the whole process may be sometimes, it is a wonderful proof of a parent's deep love.

II. Chastening's Parallel (12:9)

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Surely, even childhood wisdom has taught us that it is best to submit to parental authority. We have been taught to respect our parents and give them honour. This is a basic ingredient in successful living. Young people who have not learned respect are not likely going to make it in the world of business. On top of that, they will find it very difficult to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. What a disfavour, and sometimes an eternal disfavour, when parents do not expect, command and demand proper respect from their children.

The point being made by the writer in verse 9 is simply that if we have given such respect to our earthly parents, how much more should we yield to the discipline of the great God of the universe. This submission brings life and spiritual well-being. Remember the times when, as a child, you surrendered to the correction of your father, threw your arms around his neck and expressed your love to him. Just so, surrendering to the Lord of our lives will bring a greater bonding to our relationship and a deepening to our devotion. We will find, as He lavishes grace upon us, that which loomed before us as such a difficult mountain will become our joy and delight. Surrender to God's chastenings will bring a new dimension of delight, victory and spiritual fulfilment that we had not known heretofore. Charles Carter helps us understand these verses when he writes, "Man is not saved by the discipline of suffering, but he is seasoned thereby. Thus, the whole outcome depends on the attitude taken in the experience of discipline."5 It will make us either bitter or better and we will individually choose which it will be.

It might be added here, as we note the parallels between human correction and divine chastening, that after the Lord corrects us, or makes us back-track and say, "I'm sorry", He blesses our yielded, surrendered spirit. We would do well to always pick up the child we have disciplined and take time to hug him and confirm our love to him. This is modelling God's type of correction.

III. Chastening's Profit (12:10-13)

10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

God does not haphazardly chasten His children. He has a definite purpose in mind and it is for our profit that He corrects us. As undesirable as all this is, correction is both a deterrent to evil and a push toward righteousness. There ought to be the profit of godliness, righteousness, motivation and holiness that rises from a correct response to God's dealings. Sad, but it seems that for so many of us, our Heavenly Father has to teach us many lessons over and over. If we could only demonstrate a greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's checks and spankings, we would make better spiritual progress and find less cause for "feeble knees" and drooping shoulders.

Pursuing Holiness (12:14-17)

I. Maintaining Peace (12:14a)

14a Follow peace with all [men],

Ralph Earle has laid out a clear outline of verse 14 that may help to introduce the inspired writer's appeal to us. He has suggested that:

"1. You can't pursue peace with people successfully unless you first make peace with God.

2. You can't maintain peace with God unless you keep on pursuing peace with people.

3. The third proposition is: You can't pursue holiness without getting sanctified wholly.

4. You can't keep sanctified without pursuing holiness all your life."6

Much could be said about the endeavour to maintain peace with each other. We are not responsible for the level of tranquility that other people enjoy, but we are responsible for making an honest attempt to heal and mend the misunderstandings and hurts that may arise. This is not a recommendation but a command. Some people want to shout from the housetops the call for holiness, but seem to overlook the directive of diligently following after peace. It is spiritually criminal to make a hobby out of the second half of verse 14 and ignore the first half in life and practice. More harm can be done to the cause of holiness by such actions than can be undone by evangelists and pastors in a lifetime.

Dr. Dale Yocum, in a message he preached at Hobe Sound, Florida, passionately pled for a proper pursuance of peace among God's people. He noted that the Scripture teaches us to go to our brother if we have aught against him. If we feel they have wronged us then we are not to wait for an apology, but go to them in love. Also, the Bible directs that if I believe that my brother has aught against me or he feels that I have done wrong, again, I am to go to him and get things cleared up between us. "Who is to go first, Mr. A. or Mr. B.?" asked Dr. Yocum. "Mr. A. is; and Mr. B. is." The lesson is that I am responsible for following after peace; and you are responsible for the same. Do not leave it to someone else. Diligently seek for peace yourself.

The bulk of our study is going to follow the theme that the writer has been covering in the body of this letter to the Hebrews. Having established Christ's position and "uttermost" ability to save to the very limit of man's need, and to the farthest extent of time, He calls us to an aggressive move toward holiness.

II. Hot Pursuit (12:14a)

14a Follow peace with all [men], and holiness,

One of my cousins worked as a Canadian Mounted Police in an undercover capacity. As you would expect, living as a plain-clothes officer, much of his time was spent keeping his eyes open and gathering information. You see, often his purpose would be to follow a possible suspect and mingle, undetected, without any attempt at making an arrest. That is what might be understood in the English word "follow".

In the church of Jesus Christ, some are in grave danger of merely "following" holiness, keeping their eyes on it, gathering information but never comfortable that they really understand it and never actually pressing into the experience of holiness of heart. Too many are satisfied to let all this be a doctrine that is taught and preached, without enjoying the privilege of a clean heart for themselves.

These somewhat unconcerned individuals stand in grave danger of turning back to the "beggarly elements of the world" and forfeiting their place in grace, just as these Hebrews did. Simply following along with the church is not enough. Just dawdling along at a distance will not do. Peter followed "afar off" and succumbed to the test of his crucial hour.

The original word that is translated "follow" in the King James Version is actually a much stronger word and is very full of intensity and diligence. A much better translation would be "pursue". Probably this can be best illustrated by those who are familiar with hunting using hounds. Allan Langstaff, who hunts raccoons with dogs, fears that someday one of his dogs will tree a raccoon in someone's beautiful, ornamental, yard tree. The dog, in its loud and vigorous pursuit, may approach the tree and literally chew and destroy it. That is hot pursuit!

Again, so often we are content with so little. Grace offers us much more than we pursue. We have heard the message of heart purity, but have we experienced it? Have we made it our clear objective to receive the cleansing experience? Dr. J. B. Chapman was asked if he thought his church would ever lose the message of holiness as a second, definite work of grace. "His reply was, 'No'. But then, with tears streaming down his face, he added: 'The thing I fear is that the time will come when our people will have the theory but not possess the experience'."7

III. The Tollgate and the Turnpike (12:14b)

14b and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Richard S. Taylor, preaching at a ministerial meeting, presented the picture of a turnstile as the crisis moment of heart cleansing and the turnpike as the process of growth in the life of holiness. I have changed it to the tollgate and the turnpike.

Our verse at hand calls us to pursue diligently "the sanctification" as a state of holiness that is to be obtained. There is very definitely growth in grace after we are saved and leading up to the experience of entire sanctification, but we cannot grow into, or mature into, holiness. There is a definite moment at which the work is done, by faith in the Sanctifier, Jesus Christ. This is the tollgate. An earthly tollgate suggests a price that will be paid later when an exit is taken from the turnpike. However, this spiritual tollgate marks a price of surrender and commitment that is paid here. The cost to pass the tollgate is death to self, and a plea for cleansing from an inherited nature.

Dr. Taylor taught us that we could expect from this crisis experience, first, a unifying of our heart (freedom from double mindedness); second, a perfecting of love as the master motive of life; and third, a growing spiritual mindedness. Carnal evidences of bitterness, unbelief, rebellion, worldlymindedness, covetousness, etc. will no longer dwell in the sanctified heart.

It should be understood, however, that the tollgate was not meant as a place to park and live. No, it is the entrance to a growing, ongoing pursuit of a holy life. Actually, the Greek tense of the word translated "follow" suggests an ongoing endeavour. Entire sanctification is not a plateau to be attained, upon which the individual sets back and waits for heaven. Too often it has been viewed as an end instead of the entrance to a progress that is not hindered by an inner spiritual drag. The drag was gotten rid of at the tollgate so that we might move forward in a life of holiness.

On the turnpike, there will be a keen, purposeful, striving after continued holy attitudes, holy obedience, holy submission to new and unforeseen demands, holy conversation, and holy deportment. One should not expect that entire sanctification relieves him of all effort in pursuit. The mind, heart and life must still be carefully guarded. For example, apologies will still have to be made. John says that "if we walk in the light...the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). The original tense declares that Christ's blood goes on cleansing my heart as I continue in obedience. The pursuit of holy submission and continued yieldedness is the key to keeping one's soul in a sanctified experience.

A perfect heart before God does not mean absolute perfection in head, tongue, judgement, discernment, decision making or service. It was the stamp of Satan's image that was removed in the crisis; not humanity. It was the defilement of an unsubmissive nature that was purged; not our native infirmities. A thousand mistakes are consistent with a holy heart that is housed in a mortal, limited, human body.

Temptation is still going to confront the mind and soul of the sanctified person, but it does not have an echo within the soul. Sin can still be yielded to and the blessings of salvation and holiness forfeited. A clean heart does not take away the power of choice and man's free moral agency. It could be lost; and yet the very nature of sanctification is a boon to the soul, for it promotes consistency.

No matter how long the saint of God has been travelling on the highway of holiness, there will be more growth ahead. Richard Taylor suggested that on this holy turnpike there would be the process of gaining knowledge, a growing ethical sensitivity, added self discipline, increased Christlikeness and new self-understanding. It may be that you have questioned someone's testimony of holiness when, in fact, you should have simply chalked up their supposed lack to the turnpike process. Again, let me stress, sanctifying grace does not mean that one has arrived. God will still be working on the life of that saint. Some may feel that because they have "lined up" to a list of outward requirements or standards, that they have no further need of pursuit; but that is simply not so. The Holy Spirit will be adding new light, bringing new challenges of service and continued calls to obedience. At times, the call to minute areas of obedience, things that seem so insignificant, will effect the greatest boost in this growing process. So, you see, the crisis at the tollgate is not the victory that ends all victories; no, it opens the door that you might go from victory to victory on the "turnpike of holiness".

None need expect to enter heaven and "see the Lord" who is not pursuing a proper standing before God. Simply a claim on some experience of the past will not do; for there must be a vital, up-to-date relationship with Christ. Both, those initially sanctified, and those entirely sanctified, must be pursuing a holy life as best they understand it. Adam Clarke has said that "no soul can be fit for heaven that has not suitable dispositions for the place".8

It must be understood that a regenerated person is going to go to heaven if he dies even though he may not have received the blessing of heart holiness. This may seem like a contradiction to the plain statement of verse 14. Dr. Dale Yocum clears this for us when he writes the following exceptional explanation:

"No trace of sin whatever can be admitted to that holy place. There must be cleansing from all sin either before death or at death in order for the convert to gain admission to everlasting life in glory. Let it be added immediately that it is not death which provides the cleansing, but the blood of Jesus Christ. A new convert stands in somewhat the same relation to God as a little child who has never discovered his moral responsibility. He is unconditionally covered by the benefits of the atonement until he receives light on his moral accountability. A child of God walks by faith....By faith, if he should suddenly die, the benefits of Christ's atonement would bring him glorification translation into the glorious kingdom of immortality and light. By faith, in such an instance of sudden death, the blood of Christ would provide full cleansing also, so that he could go into the presence of God, purified and made fit for that holy realm."9

Some might think that they could rest on their oars since cleansing can come at the time of death for those who belong to God. This is not the case, however. When a person has sensed conviction of his need, and has realized the provision of Christ to meet that need, he has moved into an accountable realm of responsibility. He should be urged to seek heart cleansing with all diligence, in order to maintain a right relation to God.

IV. The Danger of Rejecting the Call to Holiness (12:15-17)

15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;

16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Verses 15 - 17 are emphasizing the need for heart cleansing, lest a most unfortunate outcome fall upon the lives of those who fail to press into this inheritance of believers. There is the frightening possibility of failing or falling from the grace of God. This is the bent of the "evil heart of unbelief" that still resides within the unsanctified soul. The gaze of that nature is certainly not forward in Christ. In fact, though the outward expression of that nature has been removed from the believer's life, still this root of sin dwells in the heart. As is the case with trees that have been cut down, if the root is left one may well expect to find new shoots of the original species growing and producing another tree. It is just the same in the soul and careful diligence must be rendered by the unsanctified person "lest any root of bitterness" sprout up and sinful acts are again an expression of its presence.

It should also be noted that the entirely sanctified individual must also beware lest he allow a wrong attitude or feeling to germinate in his heart from some misunderstanding or hurt. To fail to continue to pursue holiness, in submission of our thoughts and feelings to the control of the Holy Spirit, will open the soul to the germination of bitterness again. It will be a seed from without, and not a root still within, that marks the difference between these cases.

The devil will not rest as long as he has an opportunity to vent his hate and retaliation against God. No one is past Satan's schemes in this life, even if heart holiness is enjoyed as a present state of the soul. Little wonder then, that Jesus urges us to "watch".

It appears that Esau is an example of one who allowed a small thing to cost him the very best in life. Spiritual fornication or unfaithfulness can so often start from a very small deviance. It is not a bank robbery or some heinous crime that removes people from Christ. It is usually a little carelessness here, or a little unyieldedness there, that leads to miserable apostasy. Some feel that too many minors are majored on by preachers. They feel that some of these "little things" are not significant enough to mention. However, Reader, give good heed! It is the small things where real victory is won and true character and faithfulness is developed. One test of your own spirituality is the carefulness by which you handle what may appear to be insignificant directives of the Holy Spirit.

The Contrast (12:18-29)

I. An Ominous Dispensation (12:18-21)

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which [voice] they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21 And so terrible was the sight, [that] Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

As we approach the conclusion of this majestic epistle, the writer once again issues a clarion call for attention to be paid to what God has said. Due to the physical, visible, and audible nature of Old Testament revelations, man still seems to stand in reverent awe of the God of the former dispensation. The fire, the darkness, and the trumpeting voice of God leave us trembling at the thought of such a display of divine authority and power. The point is that all this took place on an earthly mountain, not a heavenly setting. This is the writer's basis of argument, from which he underlines the far surpassing responsibility of we who know the glory of access to the heavenly mount.

II. A Glorious Access with Forceful Implications (12:22-24)

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.

A powerful contrast is pictured for us as we turn from the glimpse of ominous darkness, thundering voices, and trembling servants, to the light and glory of heaven's royal city and noble inhabitants. The beauty of the New Covenant's open door is set before us but not without strong implications of added liability.

III. A Solemn Caution (12:25-29)

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:

26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27 And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.

Since chapter one, the superiority of Christ has been plainly delineated. We have His word and ministry which obligates us to an extent that pre-gospel generations were not indebted. Those who are anticipating lighter treatment are in for an eternal, terrifying revelation.

"Oh," it is argued, "we live under grace and not under the law." Thank God this is so, but it does not mean that God has started to countenance sin. In fact, the old moral law has been given greater force, not less! Jesus' coming, to usher in mercy and grace, actually obligated believers to a higher standard of obedience and conformity to the moral law. Whereas the law declared that it was wrong to commit murder, Jesus strengthened the command to include hatred as a violation of that order. Also, now the lusting look has been added as a breach of the command, "Thou shalt not commit adultery". God has not softened His demands in the least, but He has offered greater inner impulsion to live up to His requirements. That is grace at work! The fathomless love of God is seen in the fact that it cost Him His Son's life-blood to put this season of grace into effect.

The modern religious society is almost totally presenting a false notion of God. He is being shown, even by churches and preachers, to be nothing but a loving, soft, grandfatherly type who never is moved to anger or vengeance. This is a fallacious presentation and is certainly leading many astray. People, who have lived outright sinful lives, are being preached into heaven at their own funerals. Unless they have done some fast repenting that no one knows about, they are not

It seems that we have forgotten that the God of the Old Testament is still the God of the New Testament. The New Administration has not brought in a new Administrator. God did not lose an election and thus move into retirement while another took over. He is still the awesome God of anger, justice and vengeance upon sin and unrepentant sinners. We do people an eternal disfavour by not preaching a balanced message a message of the Holy God who is perfectly loving and merciful, and at the same time the epitome of perfect justice and judgment.

In the present countenancing of sin, we have lost the clarion call of preachers like Jonathon Edwards. He warns,

"O sinner, consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in Hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it and ready any moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment...You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty, merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains...O, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: for 'Who knoweth the power of God's anger?'"10

End Notes

1. Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, (Nashville, New York: Abingdon Press) Vol. VI, p. 776.

2. Quoted in H. Orten Wiley, The Epistle to the Hebrews, (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1959) p. 385.

3. Quoted in Albert Harper, Gen. Ed., The Wesley Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers,1990) p. 1861.

4. Isaac Watts, Praise and Worship Hymnal, (Kansas City, Missouri: Lillenas Publishing Co., n.d.) p. 408.

5. Charles Carter, The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972) Vol. VI, p. 161.

6. Ralph Earle, Sanctification in the New Testament, (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1988) pp. 55-56.

7. Earle, p. 10.

8. Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, (Nashville, New York: Abingdon Press) Vol. VI, p. 779.

9. Dale Yocum, The Holy Way, (Salem, Ohio: Schmul Publishers, 1976) pp. 139-140.

10. Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, (Louisville, Kentucky: Pentecostal Publishing Co., n.d.) no page numbers.