Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

The Chastisements of God

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
It is a great privilege to be adopted as a child of God. That means God is your Father and He watches over His children. He shows His special care for you. There are many rich blessings attached to the adoption as children of God. GodÕs child shares in the fatherly love of God. God protects His children and shows His loving kindness to them. The heavenly Father will lead all His people to glory and everlasting salvation. God will be with His people forever. This is the great perspective of a child of God.

GodÕs Children Need Correction
There is also another aspect that relates to the adoption of the children of God. God, as a loving and caring Father, chastises His people. He chastises His children. They need correction and instruction.

The Lord instructs through His Word, but at times He will also instruct and teach by chastising His people. Chastisements can be necessary as a result of sin in the lives of GodÕs children. At time they tend to go astray and they need to be kept in the right ways of the Lord. Therefore, chastisement is not merely punishment. It is a divine measure of correction that is actually a privilege. If there would be no chastising, God's children would wander far away from Him and perish. Their natural inclinations would become too strong and they would give in to the sins of the flesh and succumb to the temptations of the world.

God chastises His people. It is very important for GodÕs children to realize that in the midst of afflictions GodÕs hand is in their life. What Naomi testified is true: ÒThe Almighty hath afflicted me.Ó This was a source of comfort for John Calvin when he was on his deathbed and was suffering severe pains. He could rest in the fact that it was not a stranger who was causing him to suffer, but that his faithful God was doing this. He was the same God Who had given His Son to die on the cross for him and Who had shown so much care and comfort to Calvin during his whole life. Therefore Calvin could fully submit and trust that God would do all things well, also in the midst of his afflictions.

God chastises his children. This can hurt. It can be painful; yet the fruit of these afflictions is sweet. It is as Richard Baxter commented: ÒHe is not drowning His sheep when He washeth them, nor killing them when He is shearing them. But by this He showeth that they are His own.Ó It was Thomas Brooks who pointedly stated:

The flowers smell sweetest after a shower; vines bear the better
for bleeding; the walnut-tree is most fruitful when most beaten;
saints spring and thrive most internally, when they are most
externally afflicted. Afflictions are the mother of virtue.
ManassehÕs chain was more profitable to him than his crownÉ All
the stones that came about StephenÕs ears did but knock him
closer to Christ, the corner-stone.

The apostle Paul, who was afflicted like few others in Scripture, could say under inspiration of GodÕs Spirit, ÒAnd we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purposeÓ (Rom.8: 28).

God Knows How Much Chastisement is Necessary
The Lord chastises His people. But also during these chastisements God is close to them. He deals carefully and most patiently with His people. He knows perfectly well how much they can take. He comforts them in the midst of these chastisements or afflictions. In Hebrews 12, we read of chastisements, suffering and of being robbed of goods for the sake of Christ. In Hebrews 11 we read of many who suffered afflictions. But they persevered and gained the end of faith: everlasting salvation. A key text is Hebrews 12:5,6: ÒMy son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.Ó

God Chastens In Love
GodÕs people tend to forget that the Lord chastens in love. When hardships come they do not understand why this is happening to them. When He chastises, God is not aiming to hurt, but to instruct and to prevent from greater harm.

David, after his sin with Bathsheba, was chastened. He had no peace with God because of his sin. These chastisements were intended to bring him to confession of sin. His soul had to be made right with God again.

In Job's life chastisements were to show that Job's faith was genuine. In AbrahamÕs life the chastisements were to show that his faith was strong. Paul suffered from a thorn in his flesh so that he would not exalt himself.

The aim of chastisements is explained in Hebrews 12:10. Referring to earthly fathers, the writer to the Hebrews says: ÒFor 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.Ó Through chastisements GodÕs child learns to desire holiness and to desire the perfections of heaven.

Our Response to Chastisements
How must we respond? We must not disregard chastisement by trying to ignore or gloss over the hardships and chastisements in our life. David was doing that in Psalm 32. God chastised him, but David didn't want to humble himself and bow down. Therefore God's hand pressed all the heavier upon him.

Is God telling you something by the hardships in your life? Are you resisting these chastisements? How much more does God have to chastise you?

Neither must we succumb in these chastisements. We must not give up. Hebrews 12:12 says: ÒWherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.Ó What we must do is to humble ourselves under these chastisements and acknowledge God's hand in them. Beg God to sanctify these chastisements to your heart, that there might be spiritual fruits resulting from them. Ask the Lord that these afflictions will lead you closer to Him, instead of further away from Him. Ask the Lord for special strength to bear these afflictions. Let His holy Name be glorified even in the midst of afflictions.

It can be that because of a certain sin in our life afflictions are happening to us. Let us examine ourselves. If there is a particular sin in our life, as in DavidÕs case, confess that sin before God and seek to flee from it. Be very careful not to fall into that particular sin again.

Look to Christ During Chastisements
In all your chastisements look to the Lord Jesus Christ. He suffered like none other. He despised the shame and took the cross upon Himself. ÒFor consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your mindsÓ (Heb.12: 3). He is the great High Priest and He understands you like none other.

The Lord Jesus Christ can comfort as a mother and can carry us as a Father. He understands your frame. During the usual experiences of life we often say to each other that to understand a certain affliction you have to experience it yourself. The Lord Jesus has experienced all afflictions. He was in all things afflicted. He understands loss, loneliness, pain, being misunderstood and desertion. He even suffered the terrible consequences of sin. He suffered like none of His children will ever suffer.

He took their sufferings upon Himself. He takes our sufferings upon Himself and lays them on His own shoulders. ÒSurely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrowsÓ(Isa.53: 4). He is the compassionate High Priest Who continually prays for His people. ÒIn all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them and carried them all the days of oldÓ (Isa.63: 9).

To follow the Lord Jesus is to also follow Him in His way of tribulations. But to suffer with Him is also to be glorified with Him. To enter the kingdom of God, His children must pass through many tribulations. The few afflictions of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the eternal weight of everlasting blessings the Lord shall give to all those who love His Name.

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