A person is not good who does the right thing because they have been forced to do so. A person is good who chooses to do the right thing especially in the face of adversity. This is why God gave humans a free will, so we can become good like He is and so we can truly love Him. Before He made the universe He decided He wanted us to become His children not His slaves. To be a child of God is very different from being a slave of God. Slaves must do what God commands, but a child is carefully raised until they become like their heavenly Father. A child must be trained and resourced until he or she grows up to become an adult. The moment we come to Jesus Christ we are adopted by the Father as His children, and our education starts immediately. Though we begin our new life as children and soon discover its wise to do something just because He said so, we also discover Hes willing to explain why He does what He does, we find weve been enrolled in a spiritual school which changes not only what we do but gives us understanding about why we do it. We discover: He wants us to understand His Word, He wants to speak to us in quiet moments, He wants to give us teachers (Barnabas) who help us understand His ways and He wants each of us to pass on to others all weve learned (Heb 5:12). Today, in this brief closing remark we hear the heart of a good pastor-teacher but if we listen we can hear behind it the heart of God who is willing to sit down with His people and patiently explain until they understand.
Answering questions (Heb 13:22, 23)
The author of Hebrews says,
for indeed I wrote to you in few words (literal), which must mean he has more he would like to say about the subjects he has addressed (9:5; 11:32). And he has certainly brought up subjects that would be enormously challenging for Jewish believers and would have provoked many questions that deserved to be answered in more detail. So without discounting the truth of what he has written, he says in effect, Please forgive me for stirring up discussion, but not being present to respond to your questions. However, as we discover in verse 23, he hopes to remedy the situation by personally visiting them soon. Then their questions can be answered face-to-face, confusion cleared up and practical advice given about how to handle specific problems. Being the good pastor that he is, he doesnt intend to simply drop all this information on them and then leave them to struggle to understand it alone. As soon as possible hell be there to help them.
Gods plan: children, not slaves
Over and over again in Scripture God reveals His plan for us: He wants us to become His children with hearts like His.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will
you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of Gods household
Romans 8:12-17 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God
Galatians 3:26-4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
God wants us to understand why we do what we do. He wants children who think like He does (children of light
). This is why its important that where possible we understand why we do what we do. He wants children who freely choose to do His will because we have come to genuinely love that which is holy and see life through eyes of faith.
Heres how Gods plan works:
God gave us a mind and a will which is capable of knowing and choosing good and evil. This is part of what it means to be made in His image.
God gave us a conscience which until it is deliberately silenced warns us of evil and prods us to do good. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to every human.
However, since Adam and Eve the entire human race is born with the uncontrollable desire to be independent and seek our own fulfillment. This leads each of us away from God and causes us to hurt each other. This is called sin.
To come back to God we must choose to submit our will to Him and daily decide to live for the benefit of others rather than ourselves. This is called repentance.
Coming back to God also awakens our conscience to see how much we have hurt God and others. We realize we have no right to come near God or ask Him to help us. We become sorrowful and ashamed. This is called the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
This is when the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus becomes good news to us. We realize God has been merciful and provided a way to forgive our sins. We choose to put our full trust in Jesus as our Savior and continue to cling to His cross for as long as we live. This is called receiving the righteousness which is according to faith.
When we repent and believe, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us. The sin which separated God from us is completely removed. We are now free to draw on His wisdom, goodness and strength whenever we choose. This is called being born-again.
At this point our relationship with God has completely changed. He considers us to be His adopted children (Ro 8:15). He initiates a process of freeing us from bondage, healing us from psychological and spiritual damage, teaching us to understand how He does things and why, pressing us to step out in faith, refocusing our lives onto helping other people come to Him, and drawing closer and closer to Him in worship and prayer. This is called becoming children of God.
God continues His process of growing us throughout our lifetime. Then someday, at a moment which the Father determines, Jesus will return to earth to set up a divine government for 1,000 years. At that time all believers will be resurrected and will assist Jesus in governing (and ministering to) the billions of mortals who still remain on the planet. At the end of that 1,000 years God will destroy this universe and create a new one, in which we will live with Him and each other forever. This is called the inheritance of the saint (Ro 8:17; Eph 1:18).
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man I did away with childish things
Read Ephesians 4:13
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Describe a spiritual truth God has taught you and tell us how you learned it.