Date: July 22, 2018
Pastor Matthew Burt
Title: See To It.
Text: Hebrews 12:15-17
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 147:1-20; Jeremiah 7:1-15; 23-28, Hebrews 12:15-17
15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
BIG IDEA: See To It
In the early dawn of the newly created world, the creator comes and speaks to one of the newly created men. God speaks to Cain and asks where is your brother? We knowthe answer that this man gave to His creator. Haughtily he answers: Am I my brothers keeper? Yes, you are. We are our brothers and sisters keepers. Even if we agreed, we may not know how to do this.
The verses that we have before us today are the beginnings of knowing how to answer this question. In this passage there are three connected clauses..that no one… and they follow after this simple command “see to it”, and then there’s a bit of a warning. Brother keeping is a Christian duty.
In Hebrews:11 we have this list of 12 or 13 normal people that are recalled for us because of this little phrase: “by faith”. We remember that “by faith” means just this – they trusted that what God says God will do, He will do. Faith is believing that believing what God says, God will do. Faith is not something we plug into and not something we generate ourselves, Notice that the last verse of Ch 11 says “all of these though commended through their faith did not receive the promise”.
Then we come to Ch12 which starts with a great cloud of witnesses. The chief witness is our Lord Jesus Christ who also believed that what God said He would do, He would do. Our author says run the race set before you believing that God has something for you at the end. What did Jesus run for? For joy set before him. In this life we will have troubles and tribulations. There will come a time when we join the faithful cloud of witnesses and we will have great joy. Every frown will be turned into a smile.
Then in v5 of Ch12 he moves to a teaching about the fatherly discipline of God to his children. Hardships are often disciplines. They are meant to mold us into what He wants us to be. Because He is good, His discipline is good. So, strive to live at peace with everyone and strive for holiness. Immediately after that he says “see to it”! This command “see to it” is hard to clearly define. We all know what it means – make sure. For example, see to it that you don’t let the bills go unpaid. But there’s far more to this that explodes for us. The word that is used there is a noun, Episcops. This is the Greek word for overseer or bishop. So an Episcopalian church is one that is led and ruled by bishops. The leadership is by elders. The word takes Episcops and makes a verb out it. It’s a gerund. For instance, I went bicycling yesterday. The word bike is a noun which has been turned into a verb. With this word Episcops – he is basically saying make sure that you have oversight over one another. Be diligent to keep watch on one another. It’s a plural word. What he is saying to us is that we are members of one another. Yes God has given specific tasks of shepherding to certain men but that does not excuse our responsibility to look after one another.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY: Make sure that…
Point 1:No one misses the grace of God
Point 2:No root of bitterness
Point 3: No one lives a sexually, unholy, profane life.
We need to be careful how we approach our life as a congregation. We owe each other care, caution and communication. God has given elders to the church. It says obey your elders. Submit to their leadership. We are not just a conglomeration of independent individuals. We live our lives so that we would ask for help and advice from one another. Sheep are not expected to find their own pastures, they follow the shepherd. Sometimes people make life changing decisions without asking help from the men that God has sent to shepherd them. This is not a control issue. This is not a dictator issue but if this is a decision that effects you and your family; ask for help. We can’t look after one another if we don’t.
We will take each of these phrases and connect them to the broader context of Ch 12. We could just slide past these, but there is a context here.
Point 1:See to it that no one misses the grace of God.
What does this mean? In a race, sometimes someone falls back. In the Tour de France, There’s a fifth prize – the red lantern. The red lantern would hang in the caboose of a train. Someone is going to fall behind. We are to watch that no one falls behind.
Grace is the free and undeserved goodness of God to all people. It is the grace of God that we have air to breathe, lungs to process the oxygen, anything whatsoever. Everything you have. Someone might say I have worked very hard. Who gave you the ability? You have nothing that is not a gift, undeserved, by the grace of God. None of us can come to God and say you owe me. But then there’s a better grace. There’s a grace that says that you deserve eternity in hell because you have rejected the way of God but God chose to come to this world. God steps into our world and says I will live the life you cannot live and I will transfer my obedience to you. How can I get this? You can’t pay for it – He gives it to us.
In this context grace is neither of these two things. Verse 5 says do not regard lightly the discipline of God because it is one of His gracious acts to His children. I seldom thought my father was exercising grace when he disciplined me. He said this hurts me more than it hurts you. I didn’t believe him. The worst thing a parent could do is not to discipline their child. He is talking about the grace of discipline. Instead of saying “I reject this, complain about this, be angry about it” I need to say this is God’s grace to me. What hardship might you face: loss of money, sickness, rejection by family or friends, your secret sin has been exposed, lack of success in school or career, sick or needy child. We need to be able to say with David “it was good for me that I was afflicted”. If I say it was bad for me, why me, then I am in danger of missing the grace of God.
How can we see to it? Help one another. When trouble comes among our friends, show sympathy. Show a gentle caring spirit. One of the men who preached for us had a church split early in his ministry. He was devastated. The pain was real. He could not get out of bed for 2 weeks. For all of us, there is always pain. Show sympathy for that person. If you have pain, rejoice in that pain. Thank God that you have the beginnings of the ability to sympathize with others.
What you don’t want to do is join them in their grumbling and despair. Don’t let them go there. If they invite you to a pity party, don’t go there. Point them to Jesus. That’s what our author does. He says “consider Him” – look to Jesus. He not only made it but He opened the door so you can make it. Look to Jesus. Know joy will come in the morning. In the darkness there is sadness but joy comes in the morning. Pray for that person. Ask that God would lift the curtain of darkness, relieve their pain, overwhelm them with his mercy, give them a glimpse of heaven.
See to it that no one misses the grace of God in His discipline of them. Point them to1 Peter 2:20. You are going to suffer. Make sure that you don’t suffer for being a jerk. But if you do suffer, remember this, you have Jesus given to you as an example. You can put your feet in the footprints that He leaves behind. In snowshoeing, the first guy has a rough go of it, the second guy has it much easier. In the Tour de France, the front guy breaks the wind. Jesus broke the trail, killed the resistance and He says to you don’t resist God’s discipline but rather put yourself into the hands of God who always does everything right. So when troubles come, let’s bishop one another, shepherd one another, encourage one another to not miss the grace of God.
Point 2:Next week
Point 3:Next week