LIVING WITH A CONFIDENT FAITH IN CHRIST
You Should Take God Seriously
Jerry A Collins
ØWhat is a root of bitterness and what does it do?
What is the contrast between Mt Sanai and Mt Zion?
What is the meaning of Godís kingdom will not be shaken?
It is the life of faith that God requires of us. Living out the life of faith requires a lot of commitment. So we will learn of the obligation we have to live a life of faith in our passage. The obligation is stated for us in 12-17. The motivation to live this life of faith is explained in 18-24. Finally a warning is given to us about failing to live the life of faith 25-29. The point is that we cannot escape the consequences of our lack of faith. We can only expect Godís judgment of our failure to apply the life of faith. We are responsible to God for the responsibility we have to live out the life of faith.
(1) WE ARE OBLIGATED TO LIVE OUT THE LIFE OF FAITH AS CHRIST FOLLOWERS 14-17
First, this requires pursuing peace with all men. The idea is that we are eager to do this. As a member of the community of faith I should be distinct from the world but not hostile to it. Peaceful engagement should characterize our walk of faith with those outside of it. For instance Matt 5:9 says blessed are the peacemakers. Rom 12:17-18 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone...If possible so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. 1 PT 2:23 and while being reviled He did not revile in return but kept entrusting to Him who judges righteously. (All men) includes your spouse, parents, children and enemies too. Let a passion for peace in your relationships guide you in your management of them. This is an obligation for living out the life of faith. Second, this requires participating in the ongoing process of becoming Christlike and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. It is this product that God determines to develop in our lives by means of His discipline in the previous section. Some thots: (1) God lives in you to help you to become holy but the process requires your cooperation. (2) Godís nature defines holiness. The more like Him in His nature you become the more holiness your life demonstrates. (3) The only way I know of to get there is not by experiencing God but by knowing Him. That requires spending time in His scriptures to us learning to think and prioritize and value what He does. (4) When Christ is your standard the more you grow in Him the more aware you are of your depravity. Even for Paul the constant awareness of His sin after many years of walking with and serving Christ caused him to be vigilant to please God (1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8). Now we have three dangers that may threaten us as we attempt to live out the obligation we have to the life of faith. First, see that we do not come short of the Godís grace 15a. The danger is that you may fail to make progress in your life of faith. You can come up lacking in such a way that you compromise, withdraw or rebel against the life of faith. Second, see that no root of bitterness spring up causing trouble and defile many 15b. Here the danger is that your failure to make progress will spread to others. Our failure to live by faith is contagious. (Dt 29:18). Bitterness is the product of a real or supposed ill treatment. Itís alias are wounded, anger, feeling bad, victim. Those receiving Godís discipline without allowing it to change their lives are the ones who become bitter. It leads to discouragement and eventually seeks to rectify the problem in oneís own way and breaks Godís commandments in the process. So we must be diligent about this tendency we are told so no room is given to bitterness in our lives. For instance, ask yourself Do I understand that this pain had its origin in God and that the people involved are merely Godís agents? Do I believe that God has my greater good at heart here? Affirmation is the path to healing. There are two consequences associated with bitter spirit.
A) The object of your bitterness is seldom hurt. Only you suffer the consequences of your failing the grace of God. Bitterness infects your attitudes and damages you more than the others.
B) Bitterness cannot rest. It needs an audience. Because others listening to your biased personal tale of woe they are drawn in to your side of the story and join in your bitterness and thereby many become defiled.
Third, see that you do not become immoral or godless 16-17. Esau was like this. He intermarried with Hittites who were outside of the covenant line (Gen 26:34-35). He also profaned his inheritance for the temporary gratification of a bowl of porridge. He mortgaged his future for a temporary pleasure. Unfortunately there was no undoing of what he had done. When later he remembered his inheritance, he tried to get it back without dealing with his sin but it was too late. The blessing had been passed on to his brother. He could not change his fathers mind and he was rejected by God. We are warned about losing our inheritance by our flippancy toward Godís commands. Sin has consequences and we cannot avoid them.
2. OUR MOTIVATION TO LIVE OUT A LIFE OF FAITH IS FROM WHAT GOD GIVEN US 18-24
And what is that? It is contrasted with 2 mountains one Sanai and the other Zion. First, we have not come to Mt Sanai 18-21. This is the Mt. where the law was given and it brought terror to the people. The fire, darkness, gloom,
whirlwind, blast so terrifying the hearers asked that God not speak directly (Ex 20:18-19). Moses felt the terror more than the rest vs 21. Second, we have come to Mt. Zion vs 22. (1) A city whose designer and builder is God (11:10). (2) A city that God has prepared for those strangers and aliens on earth (11:12ff). (3) A city of God the capital of Israel. (4) A heavenly Jerusalem not touchable not belonging to the created order. (5) A city of occupied by angels. (6) A city inherited by body of Christ. (7) A city where God is the judge of all. (8) A city inhabited by spirits of righteous men who are OT believers who will be resurrected later. (9) A city where Jesus is mediator of the new order because His blood gives access unlike Abelís whose blood only cried for vengeance, With all of this awaiting us there is not need to fail to live out the life of faith!
3. FAILURE TO LIVE OUT THE LIFE OF FAITH INVITES GODíS JUDGMENT 25-29 First, we have greater privilege and access in heavenly Jerusalem making refusing to hear and heed Godís voice (His Word today) from heaven a more serious offense vs 25, 29. Rejecting His Word makes us guilty of a greater sin than those in the past. A greater privilege carries with it a greater responsibility. Second, Because we are receiving a kingdom that will endure forever we worship with gratitude, pleasing God 26-28. At Sanai His voice shook the earth. At the end His voice will shake heaven as well as earth (Hag 2:6, Ps 102:25-27). Those receiving this kingdom must offer priestly service acceptable to God with gratitude. Failure to do so invites the judgment of God 29.
(1) Living out a life of faith is mandatory.
(2) It is the basis upon which judged.