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It is a remarkable fact, at once dead earnest and comforting for the believer, that the Word of God is always practical. The Bible never is dry scholasticism. It is never interested in a system of truth and doctrine for the mere sake of this system and doctrine. It is always the Word of God, the means of grace employed by the Holy Spirit to work faith and repentance in Christ, or to take away all excuse from unbelief and disobedience.

But mere system of truth the Bible is never.

This, of course, does not mean that the body of truth as systematically arranged in Reformed theology is not Scriptural.

But that is not the question here.

We merely mean to state that the Bible is not at all a mere system. It is the Word of God spoken in former times by God through the prophets and the Word of God spoken in these last times through His Son. As such it contains a system of truth. But these truths are so used and handled in Scripture as to be the doctrine of godliness. Thus the apostle Paul writes: Every inspired Scripture (writing) is profitable for instruction, admonition, correction, for the chastisement unto righteousness, that the man of God be thoroughly made fit unto every good work. Paul is here not speaking in defense of the inspiration of Scripture. That is assumed. He did not here write in its defense. But he calls attention to the very tendency, the inherent practical import of the Word of God. And this practical inherent quality is there just because it is inspired of God.

This practical thrust of the Bible must not escape us in the words of our text. Our text does not here speak about the church in the abstract. It does not speak in the third person. Such is the case in dogmatics! Yes, we need dogmatics. But in our text it is not dogmatics. But it is the Heavenly Father addressing His “sons”. He is speaking to them, He is addressing us. God here “reasons with us as with sons”, and says to us: My son! do not count lightly the chastening of the Lord, neither faint thou when thou art rebuked of Him!

This must not escape us.

We must surely give heed to this direct speaking of God to us!

Now someone may remark, that the book from which the writer to the Hebrews here makes this quotation is the book of Proverbs, and that this book is not really a book at all, revealing the mystery of faith and of godliness, but that it merely is the sum-total of the many “proverbs” written by Solomon, a collection of very practical sayings containing earthly wisdom. Thus, at least, has been the contention of many so-called Biblical scholars, and of not a few who insisted that they believe the Bible to be the revelation of the full counsel of God in Christ.

We would place over against this contention, that in the mind of the Old Testament church, the church as she was guided by the Holy Spirit of Christ, this book received its rightful place in the Canon, a place among those inspired writings which are unto the instruction in righteousness, that the man of God be thoroughly furnished unto every good work! Thus it is here understood by the inspired writer to the Hebrews. It is here laid down as the rule of faith and godliness for the believers in Christ Jesus.

Then, too, it must be remembered that the very real subject addressing the “son” in Proverbs is not Solomon at all, but God, the Lord, as He is the Father of all His sons in Christ. Only, He employs Solomon to say this. But God remains the speaker. Not to keep this in mind will take the very power out of this text, the power of comfort and admonition. But keeping this in mind we hear the voice of our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, which speaks unto us as to sons!

This word of exhortation of God may come to us in divers manners and times, (Heb. 1:1), but it always speaks to us as unto sons. It is always a word of the heavenly Father to His sons, sons by virtue of election and adoption unto children. Such is the implication of the Word of God here in Proverbs. And that such is its very nature is also proven by the selection of the relative pronoun “which” in the Greek (eetis) in the phrase “which speaks unto you as unto sons”. This particular pronoun in the Greek indicates that this which is here stated is always true. It underscores the very nature of this “exhortation”. Literally we should translate: “the exhortation, which is always of such a nature, that it speaks to you as to sons”, (vs. 5).

Hence, what was true in the” case of God’s people in the Old Testament dispensation is still true now in the New Testament. The speaking of the Father, and His attitude and purpose in speaking did not change. This purpose of the word of exhortation is just as unchangeable as God is Himself, for Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!

It was not only the word of exhortation of this particular text in Proverbs 3:11-12 that speaks thus, but thus is the language of the Father in every “divers times and manner”. Also when God speaks in the form of the prophecies such is the case. For God uses this same language in all of the prophets, saying: “I shall be unto you a Father, and ye shall be unto me as sons and daughters”. Thus speaketh “the Lord Almighty”. II Cor. 6:18. And Paul does not here give us merely an isolated instance of this speaking of the Father, but this is a compendium statement of the very constant attitude and treatment of the covenant God with His children. This will be verified by a hasty comparison of II Sam. 7:8, 14; Is. 43:6; Jer. 31:9 and Jer. 32:38; Hos. 1:10 and Amos 4:13. A detailed discussion of this matter, which would indeed be interesting and edifying, would lead us too far from our purpose in this article.

We are satisfied if only it is clear, that the “which speaketh unto you as unto sons”, is the constant and ever repeated way of the Father in addressing us!

We trust that such now is clear.

We, therefore, now turn our attention to the specific instant of this exhortation. We notice that the following points are here underscored:

1.  That in the very general and glorious perspective of the book of Hebrews the call to return to the beaten path of the saints, the way of faith and godliness, the way of boldness and freedom to enter into the most holy place of God, comes to the sons.

2.  That it is emphasized in this letter that we are these sons in the eternal Son, Who having made a purification for all of our sins sat down at God’s right hand. All of God’s dealing with Christ was exactly as with the sons. Christ, to be sure is in the unique position of being the King-Priest, the Redeemer. Yet, even so the Christ must learn obedience from that which He suffered, and must be perfected through suffering. Heb. 2:10. He must be tempted of all things just as we, that He may be a merciful Savior and High Priest. God always says even to Him: My Son, in whom I have all of My good pleasure, I can only make of you what I desire through your sufferings. It thus behooved God” to speak to His Only Begotten Son in our flesh! It is the must of God. The Son of man must be lifted up on the Cross and thus be perfected!

3.  In Him we too are then treated as Sons. He who does not receive this treatment in Christ is not a son! For all the sons are partakers of this. To this Jesus referred when He said: let it be enough unto a servant to be like unto his lord! Hence is filled up in us what is still lacking in the suffering of Christ. Col. 1:24. If we suffer with Christ we shall also be glorified together with Him. Rom. 8:17.

4.  That into this general perspective of Holy Writ, which is full of grace and glory, we must place our text which has an immediate context. It states: And ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. (vs. 4). That was true of Jesus. He resisted unto blood. He is the chief captain and finisher of our faith. He has walked this way of the dealing of God with His Sons in His place as the One Who is not ashamed to call us brethren, saying, “Behold, I and the children which Thou hast given me”, Heb. 2:13; Is. 8:18. He never fainted when He was reproved, yea, not even when He was utterly forsaken of God, saying: My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me. Even there the word of exhortation came: My Son, do not faint when Thou art reproved! He did not faint for the joy that was set before Him. Thus He endured the cross and despised the shame!

5.  Not to see the Father’s dealing with us in our personal way of suffering and affliction is therefore indeed not a sign of spiritual strength, of the power of faith and necessary patience, but is a sign of feeble hands and weak knees. It is not the “faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. And in this case what is “not seen” but believed is that our lot, our particular afflictions are a cause for real joy and encouragement, because the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places! Our affliction is that of the treatment of a Father for His sons. We have the same lot as that of the external Son. Suffering to enter into glory. And it thus behooved the Father to deal with us, as speaking unto sons!

Such is the glorious truth of the gospel, the glad tidings concerning the redemption in Christ turning all of our sorrows into joy, and our tears into laughter!

For we must become partakers of God’s holiness in Christ Jesus. And to make us partakers of this, God casts us into trials, afflictions in infinite love. We have such a long way to come, but the way leads into the most holy place through Jesus’ flesh; for this flesh is the rent veil through which we enter, in humble boldness by faith. Here we see with Asaph the real character of our afflictions that are ours every morning. And from this vantage point of faith in the holy place we also see distant scenes and exclaim: Thou wilt lead me with Thy counsel, and afterwards take me to glory!

Here in the holy place we have a foretaste of the eternal joy, and exclaim: O love of God, that will not let me go!

And, O, the blessedness of seeing this. More and more we then begin to ask by faith after His will. Thus we become partakers of His holiness. Thus our faith is exercised. We exercise ourselves unto the godliness that has the great reward for this life and for the life to come. All other things do not merely recede to the background, but all things are then viewed in the light of this glorious treatment of God, who always speaks unto us as unto sons! This affliction is then not the overpowering might of the tyrant to crush us, but it is the master touch of the Chief Architect and Builder, of the Father making us perfect sons. And then in faith you say: That son am I. God is speaking to me! Nay, we turn unto the Lord and cry: Thou art my Father! Abba, Father. God, my Father, the Father of Jesus my Lord corrects me and thus perfects His love in me!

Our life is then not barren but fruitful. Our feeble knees are then no longer evident and the weak hands and strengthened, and our youth is renewed like that of the eagle. Our heart will then no longer be fearful, for God has come to save us in His chastening.

Our life, which otherwise is as a desert will then blossom as the rose in the excellencies of holiness. And the hope of presently seeing the Lord shall glow in our hearts and we shall thus be kindled on toward that day, when the ransomed of the Lord shall come with singing unto Zion, to which mountain we have arrived. (Heb. 12:22-24). And everlasting joy shall be on our foreheads!

Being thus exercised by affliction and the Father’s chastisement we shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.