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Glorious, Inexpressible Joy

11/12 – Show Gratitude (Hebrews 12:25-29)

 

Introduction — Here the writer reminds these followers of Christ of their standing, their relationship, in Christ.  The writer urges them to lay aside ever encumbrance and sin, and to remain faithful to Christ, fixing their eyes on Him (12:1-2). The writer wants these folks to remember that Jesus is the author of their faith from beginning to end (12:2). The writer wants this group to consider what Christ went through so that they will not grow weary and lose heart (12:3). Next, the writer urges them to receive God’s discipline, knowing that He disciplines the ones He loves, and God’s discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (12:4-11). In light of that discipline, the writer stresses the need for these Christians to strengthen one another, to pursue peace will all people, to ensure that no root of bitterness springs up among them, and to ensure that no one comes short of the grace of God (12:12-17). The writer once more affirms their standing in Christ: you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire . . . but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God (12:18, 22). Here the writer contrasts the visible with the invisible, the temporal with the eternal. In soaring language, he reminds these folks that they are living a fantastic new life by faith in Christ Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (12:24). God, the Father has spoken to them (and to us) in His Son (1:2), so they (and we) must see to it that they do not refuse Him who is speaking. They must see that God’s kingdom is unshakeable. They must see that they belong to that kingdom by God’s grace. They must, then, show gratitude, by which they may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe. Did they follow these clear words? Do we follow these clear words? Do we refuse God’s word to us? Do we turn our back to Him? Do we take His grace lightly? Do we hold His grace with disdain or delight? Do we show gratitude to God? How?

 

By God’s grace, we now live a fantastic new life in Christ. We stand upon an unshakeable kingdom through faith in Christ.

So, let’s not turn our backs to God. Let’s show our gratitude to God, worshipping Him with reverence and awe.

 

Since God calls us and bring us into His kingdom through Christ, then . . . let’s stand firm in Christ.

 

Let’s not turn ourselves away from God. (25-27)

25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 

 

Comment: Throughout this section, the writer urges these followers of Christ to stand firm. This man wants them to keep looking to Christ (12:2). He wants them to consider Christ, so that they will not grow weary and lose heart (12:3). He encourages them to encourage each other, strengthening each other, ensuring that no one comes short of the grace of God (12:12-15). And now, after reminding them of where they stand in Christ, he tells them to make certain they do not refuse Him who is speaking. The phrase see to it is an imperative. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command. See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. What is God speaking? He is speaking warning. He is speaking patience. He is speaking promise. He is speaking power. He is speaking judgment. He is speaking hope. And God is speaking in His Son, who is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by His word (1:2-3). Question: Do we see to it that we do not refuse God when He speaks? Do we help each other pay attention to God? Do we help each other keep ourselves turned to God? Do we listen to Him? Do we keep our eyes fixed on His Son? Do we see the reality between the temporal and the eternal? Do we know where we stand by God’s grace? Do we stand firm in Christ? Application: Let’s not turn ourselves away from God. If we know Him, then let’s keep close to Him. Let’s not keep distracting ourselves. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Christ. Let’s not grow weary and lose heart. Let’s strengthen each other. Let’s consider ways to spur one another on to love and good deeds (10:24).

 

Let’s hold on to our gratitude for God. (28-29)

28 Therefore, since we receivekingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

 

Comment: Here the writer concludes the section by calling these folks to show their gratitude. As A.T. Robertson states, the [therefore] is “ground for loyalty to Christ and for calm trust in God.” In light of who is speaking, and in light of where they are standing, and in light of what they are receiving, they must keep on having gratitude. They must show forth the grace of God. The must hold on to that grace. And by that grace they worship God. They serve God with reverence and awe, knowing that He is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). By the grace of God, they have a fantastic new life in Christ. They stand upon an unshakeable kingdom through faith in Christ. Therefore, they can and must keep a firm grip on the grace of God that first gripped them. To know the grace of God is glorious, inexpressible joy. To show forth the grace of God is another facet of true worship. For it’s no small thing to worship our great God. He is our authority. He is our strength. He is our salvation. He is our hope. He is our security. He is our resplendent, holy, and glorious God. Our God is a consuming fire. Question: Do thoughts of God thrill us? Do we hold firm to the grace of God? Do we show forth the grace of God? Do we offer worship that pleases God? Do you approach God with reverence and awe? Do we live as people who are all in for God all the time? Application: Let’s hold on to the grace of God. Let’s show forth the grace of God. Let’s quickly give thanks to God. Let’s offer God worship that pleases Him. Let’s approach Him with reverence and awe. Let’s remember where we stand. Let’s remember what we receive (an unshakeable kingdom). Stay focused on Christ. Show gratitude for who we are in Christ. Stand firm in Christ. Stand firm.

 

Word Study for Hebrews 12:25-29

25 refuse (paraiteomai—be excused; ask from; entreat; reject ; not associate with)[1]

25 escape (ekpheugo—flee out or flee from; acquitted)

25 warned (chrematizo—make known a divine message; give a name to; make answer; engage in business)

26 shook (saleuo—be distressed; cause to rock; afflict; sway; agitate; cast down)

26 promised (epangellomai—profess; assert; lay claim to)

27 once (hapax—once; once for all, once and never again; one time)

27 denotes (deloo-make visible or manifest; make clear; make known; show; bring to light)

27 removing (metathesis—departure; change; a taking up; transfer)

27 remain (meno—abide; stay; continue to exist; keep on; lasting; enduring)

28 receive (paralambano—inherit; bring along with; learn from someone; take)

28 cannot be shaken (asaleutos—unshakable; enduring; immovable; unchangeable; definitely fixed)

28 show (echo—have; hold; hold on to; wear; bear; possess)

28 gratitude (charis—grace; favor; kindness; goodwill; thanks)

28 offer (latreuo—serve; worship; work for hire; to be bound or enslaved)

28 reverence (eulabeia—caution; reverent submission; have holy fear; caution; circumspection)

28 awe (deos—alarm; dead afraid; reverence)

 

Application for Hebrews 12:25-29

Let’s see the wondrous fellowship to which God calls us.

Let’s see Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.

Let’s see that we do not refuse Him who is speaking.

Let’s see the power of God.

Let’s see the permanence of the kingdom God gives.

Let’s see the gratitude we must hold.

Let’s see that we must offer God reverent and awe-filled worship.

Let’s see that our God is a consuming fire.

 

Gospel Connections for Hebrews 12:25-29

Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. He never refused to hear and obey the Father. He did not turn away from the Father. Jesus honored the Father always. Jesus is worthy of worship. He is worthy of our service. He is worthy of our gratitude. He is worthy of our reverence and awe. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our best.

 

Thoughts and Quotes for Hebrews 12:25-29

I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can't worship without giving thanks. It just isn't possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others. ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude

 

Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.

~ John Ortberg, When the Game is Over, It all Goes Back in the Box

Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian virtues; ingratitude, one of the most vicious sins. ~ Billy Graham

 

Only those who are aware of God's wrath are amazed by God's grace. ~ C.J. Mahaney

 

Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace. ~ Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

 

Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. ~ John Piper, The Pleasures of God

 

Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness. ~ Jim Elliot

 

Commentary for Hebrews 12:25-29

12:25. This chapter concludes with a powerful message about God. He had spoken earlier to the Israelites at the giving of the Law through Moses. That generation had refused God’s message on earth. They did not escape (see Heb. 3:14–19). This should warn us not to turn our backs on God, who is still speaking.

God speaks to this generation from heaven in the work of Christ. Those who ignore Jesus’ message will not escape God’s wrath. Surely we must listen carefully to him.

12:26–27. These verses contrast the instability of the old covenant with the security of the new covenant. In giving the old covenant, God had shaken the earth with a mighty earthquake (Exod. 19:18). A quote from Haggai 2:6 now promises that God will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. This refers to the final judgment in connection with the concluding events of the age (see 2 Thess. 1:7–10).

This shaking of the earth in judgment involves the destruction of created things. This judgment will reveal the greater, spiritual realities which cannot be shaken or removed. Christian believers share in a kingdom which no amount of final judgment can destroy. The security of our position in Christ gives us an incentive to endure in faithfulness.

12:28–29. How should we respond to this word of security and comfort about a kingdom which will endure forever? First, we are to be thankful. We must be thankful that God has put an unchangeable possession in our grasp. Second, we must worship. We must worship God acceptably, in a manner pleasing to him. We must also worship with reverence for God’s greatness and with awe for his mighty power.

Reverence and awe are linked with the fact that our God is a consuming fire. We must focus attention on this feature of God’s character in addition to celebrating his grace. When Jesus returns in glory, the fire of God’s holiness will consume all that is false and evil. Those with wickedness will be consumed by the fire of this judgment. Those who profess faith in Christ cannot expect mercy if they willfully turn from Jesus back to sin, disobedience, the Law, or a false god. We must show the reality of our confession by our obedience and worship. “Reverence and awe before His holiness are not incompatible with grateful trust and love in response to His mercy” (F. F. Bruce).[2]

 

 

 

Look ahead—the unshakable kingdom (vv. 25–29). God is speaking to us today through His Word and His providential workings in the world. We had better listen! If God shook things at Sinai and those who refused to hear were judged, how much more responsible are we today who have experienced the blessings of the New Covenant! God today is shaking things. (Have you read the newspapers lately?) He wants to tear down the “scaffolding” and reveal the unshakable realities that are eternal. Alas, too many people (including Christians) are building their lives on things that can shake.

The “shaking” quotation is from Haggai 2:6 and refers to that time when the Lord shall return and fill His house with glory. As events draw nearer to that time, we shall see more shaking in this world. But a Christian can be confident, for he shall receive an unshakable kingdom. In fact, he is a part of God’s kingdom today.

What shall we do as we live in a shaking world? Listen to God speak and obey Him. Receive grace day by day to serve Him “with reverence and godly fear.” Do not be distracted or frightened by the tremendous changes going on around you. Keep running the race with endurance. Keep looking to Jesus Christ. Remember that your Father loves you. And draw on God’s enabling grace.

While others are being frightened, you can be confident![3]

 

 

 

Further Illustrations for Hebrews 12:25-29

 

 

For many years Dr. Jeff Ray served as professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He taught into the 1940s when he was more than eighty years of age. Trouble and tragedy etched their influence on the life of Jeff Ray.

Early in his adult life his first wife died, leaving Dr. Ray to serve as mother and father to his children. His sorrow was compounded when one day in the 1930s he received the news that a beloved son had died. This calamity, added to life’s other burdens, threatened to drive the vitality out of Jeff Ray. For a time he quit teaching and preaching in area churches. Dejected and depressed, he was unable to develop interest in anything and was ready to say, “I cannot go on!”

Mrs. L. R. Elliott, wife of the Seminary librarian, sent her husband to visit Dr. Ray with a scrapbook filled with poems and articles which had encouraged her. After Dr. Elliott’s departure the weary professor listlessly leafed through the pages of the scrapbook. A poem with the engaging title of “I Won’t Let Go!” caught his attention. Realizing that he had been wanting to do just that, Dr. Ray read these words:

 

I want to let go, but I won’t let go.

There are battles to fight,

By day and by night,

For God and the right—

And I’ll never let go.

 

I want to let go, but I won’t let go.

I’m sick, ‘tis true,

Worried and blue,

And worn through and through,

But I won’t let go.

 

I want to let go, but I won’t let go.

I will never yield!

What! lie down on the field

And surrender my shield?

No, I’ll never let go!

 

I want to let go, but I won’t let go.

May this be my song

“Mid legions of wrong—

Oh, God, keep me strong

That I may never let go!”

     —Author Unknown

 

After reading the poem, Dr. Ray closed the scrapbook, arose from his couch of grief and defeat, and put behind him any thought of giving up and quitting. He returned to the classroom to teach and to pulpits to preach. For many years he distributed copies of the poem to his students. Many of them found encouragement from Dr. Ray’s testimony and from the poem so that they did not let go.[4]

 

 

 



[1] Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains by James A. Swanson

[2] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 223–224). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 326). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 217–218). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.