Lesson 12

Jesus and the Christian Walk

(Hebrews 12)
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Introduction: Last week, in Hebrews 11 we learned the importance of our faith in Jesus. That faith will help us through good and bad times. This week, Hebrews 12 turns our attention to the importance of right living and specific reasons why things sometimes go "wrong" in our life. Let's dive into our study and find out more!

  1. The Jury's Verdict


    1. Read Hebrews 12:1. All of those faith witnesses that we studied last week (Hebrews 11)should bring us to what verdict? What conclusion? (We should decide to throw off those things that interfere with our relationship with God.)


      1. What do you think it means to "throw off" something?


      2. Notice that we are called to "throw off" not simply sin, but "everything that hinders." What does "everything that hinders" mean in your life? Are we to be concerned about more than sin? (The Bible clearly warns us about what I call "pre-sin." In Matthew 5 Jesus warns us not simply about murder, but also about anger. He warns us not only about adultery, but also about lust. The point of Jesus' teaching is that we shuffle into sin. Read over 2 Samuel 11:1-5 and decide when it was that King David actually committed sin. You will see that the line got "gray" pretty quickly. That is why Hebrews tells us that "pre-sin" is something to throw off because it hinders our walk with God.)


    2. Read Hebrews 12:2-4. Instead of fixing our thoughts on "pre-sin," what does God say is the best focus for our thoughts? (Jesus.)


      1. What reason is given for focusing on Jesus? (Looking to Jesus encourages us in difficult times. Unless we have been killed by our opponents (in which case we would not be reading this book), we have not had it as bad as Jesus. Jesus is our model of victory over difficulty.)


    3. The writer of Hebrews says, "You've made the decision to believe in God, stop thinking about those things that hinder you, instead think about Jesus. Have you ever tried that?


      1. How does television affect our focus, our thinking?


  2. Discipline


    1. Read Hebrews 12:5-7. When something bad happens to you, what is your first thought?


      1. What do these verses suggest should be your first thought?


      2. There is a popular book by Harold S. Kushner entitled "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People." What answer do these verses give to this question? (These verses tell us that bad things happen to us for our good. Just as the punishment your earthly father gave you as you were growing up was for your good, so the punishment that your Heavenly Father gives you is intended for your good.)


    2. Are all bad things intended to make us better? (If you look at the history of Israel, you see God's people swing from doing little to obey God to trying to obey God so minutely that they lost sight of God. Neither extreme was good. I think a lot of Christians today take the extreme position that a loving God never imposes any discipline. Bad things never result from sin. This position is clearly contradicted by Hebrews. On the other hand, we should not take the equally extreme position that every bad thing that happens to us is intended to make us better. That was the erroneous position of Job's "friends." Job suffered even though we are taught Job "was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." Job 1:1.)


    3. Read Hebrews 12:8. If we have never had anything bad happen to us, what does that mean? (This text tells us it is a bad sign if we do not experience discipline.)


      1. What about those who obey without the need for applying discipline? Isn't there a "hard" way and an "easy way" to learn to obey? The easy way is just to obey? (I think this is generally true, but the parenthetical says "everyone" who is God's child undergoes discipline.)


    4. Read Hebrews 12:9. What is the "downside" of discipline? How can we "mess up" when it comes to bad things in our life? (This text suggests that we can refuse to submit to it. Sometimes we react to problems with a spirit of rebellion rather than a spirit of understanding and growth.)


    5. Read Hebrews 12:10-11. How should we compare the discipline of our parents to the discipline of God? (Parents discipline "as they thought best." Parents can be wrong. God is always right in His discipline which, if accepted, produces "righteousness and peace.")


      1. How important is it to know that God's discipline, if accepted, produces "peace?"


    6. Read Hebrews 12:12-13. Is the writer of Hebrews off the discipline topic now? Has he suddenly switched to another subject? (No. This is the conclusion to the discipline discussion. If you are feeling weak and helpless because of discipline, accepting discipline as a tool to produce righteousness and peace in your life will make things easier. It will "make level paths for your feet" and end with your healing.)


  3. Right Living


    1. Read Hebrews 12:14-15. On the surface, the instruction to "live in peace" is a problem for me since my work is to fight religious liberty battles against the "bad guys." How can a lawyer "live in peace?" (The whole idea of the judicial system is the peaceful resolution of disputes. I think Hebrews adds another layer to this however - don't be needlessly obnoxious to your opponents.)


      1. What is the relationship between "effort" and being holy? (Here is a footnote to righteousness by faith. Hebrews tells us to make an effort to be holy.)


      2. When working on living in peace, what are we trying to avoid? (Bitterness. We do not want to create bitterness with those around us.)


    2. Read Hebrews 12:16-17. How are sexual immorality and the Esau story similar? (Both are a "cheap" sell-out. You get hungry, you really want to eat. But after you eat, the meal does not seem that important. There is an excitement about sex with a new partner that goes away after a while. Hebrews says "Don't give up eternal life for fleeting pleasure." That would be stupid and Godless.)


    3. We previously studied Hebrews 12:22-24 where we see a picture of heaven filled with those who welcome us with joy. Let's continue by reading Hebrews 12:25-27. What historical event stands as a warning to us to accept God's offer of eternal life? (The parallel referred to here is the failure of God's people to enter Canaan. (See Numbers 13 & 14.) The people who lacked the faith to enter the promised land died in the desert.)


      1. Hebrews 12:26 quotes from Haggai 2:6 that God will "once more" shake heaven and earth. What is this "once more" shaking? (The Second Coming of Jesus.)


        1. What special understanding does Hebrews give us about the phrase "once more?" (Hebrews tells us when God says "once more" I will shake heaven and earth, He is telling us there will be no later shaking because those things are going to disappear!)


          1. What will remain? (That which cannot be shaken.)


            1. What cannot be shaken? (What God has promised us cannot be shaken. Hebrews is simply telling us that everything we trust and covet here on earth is going to burn. It will be destroyed. We should place our trust and our hope on the eternal gifts that God promises to those who accept Him.)


    4. Friend, what do you say to God's offer? Will you, by faith, walk in peace in God's ways even when things might get a little difficult? Will you choose those things which are eternal?


  4. Next Week: Jesus and Our Future.

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