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The main verse of today’s message is Heb. 12:15, which says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.”
Today we want to focus our perspective on God’s grace to us and how we can manage not to miss His grace.
In the last message, we focused and studied the verse, which tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith.” As we studied this verse, I pondered the meaning of the sufferings and hardships we experience in our lives. God sometimes allows us to go through sufferings and hardships for our benefit. Therefore in a sense, the life of believers is not always an easy one. However, we can receive great comfort and hope by understanding our lives from God’s perspective and the New Testament.
The era of the Old Testament is now over, and the New Testament era had begun. I desire that you will focus your spiritual eyes upon the grace of God as you ponder the whole theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews again.
Please read Hebrews 12:14 – 29.
12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
The Japanese New Translation Bible translates the beginning of this verse as “see to it” and the revised version in 2017 as “watch carefully.” These words, “see to it” and “watch carefully,” are the words of advice regarding the content written in verse 14 and the previous verses thereof. Verse 14 says to “make every effort to be holy.” God offers us a life to be made holy. One of the purposes that Jesus died on the cross on our behalf is to make us holy.
The Japanese New Translation version translates “See to it” as the same word related to a head coach or a supervisor’s role. This Japanese word reminds me head coach’s role on a baseball team. It is the job of a head coach to choose the best player in response to the game’s flow. When the player is not showing good performance, the head coach will decide to switch the player with another one who can cope with the situation. We can apply this role of the coach to our daily lives as Christians. We need to continuously “see” or “watch carefully” our walk with Christ in the situations we face in our daily lives.
For instance, I try to remind myself of Philippians 4:4 when I feel let down or overcome with disappointment. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God”. I choose to remind myself of this particular verse when I am down and weary. In situations like that, just as good head coaches do, I believe it is essential to see the big picture from God’s perspective, not to focus on the small things that happen in our lives.
Jesus is our High Priest, who completed the great work of salvation on the cross for all of us. He is now in heaven and continues to intercede for us in prayers. Jesus is also the intermediator of the New Covenant wherein the Old Covenant era is over, and the New Covenant era had come. We are now in the era of God’s grace.
Therefore we ought to focus on the fact that we receive such grace from Him. The author of Hebrews emphasizes the era of grace concerning worship in the Old and the New Testament.
Verses 22 to 24 say, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in the joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
The author uses the words “you have come” to express the style of worship in the New Testament era. The worship in the era of grace is different from the one taught in the Old Testament. Verses 18 to 21 express the type of worship in the Old Testament era. The worship then was bound by laws and regulations, which created patience and fear among worshippers. However, the worship in the era of grace is entirely different.
First, the place of worship was shifted from this earth to the city of the living God. It is the worship in which the angels serve the believers. (Please refer to Hebrews 1:14)
God sees our church as one of the firstborn registered in heaven. The firstborn has the right to inherit the property of God, who is the judge of all men. Our heavenly Father receives us believers as the righteous ones because of the work of redemption, which was perfected on the cross by Christ. “Righteous men made perfect” (v.23) means the ones who received Christ’s work of redemption on the cross. Please refer to Heb. 10:14.
Christ, who is the mediator of a new covenant, is in the center of our worship. Worship in the new era is opened to those who are determined to live in the grace of God. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed, there will be new believers and new worship.
Heb. 12:28-29 say, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire””.
As written, we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Jesus was hung on the cross, completed the redemption of sins, raised to heaven, and sat on the right hand of God’s throne. The fact that there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken should be enough reason for us to offer our thanksgiving. There is a way to live our life by serving and worshipping Christ with reverence and awe.
This chapter ends by saying that “God is a consuming fire.”
“A consuming fire” can be interpreted from the viewpoint of the gospel.
In the Old Testament era, as is written in Isaiah 33:14, it was interpreted as a horrifying fire that burns sinners forever.
However, those who believe in the gospel can interpret it as the fire that burns our sins and our old sinful characters. We can be transformed by God’s holy fire and start the life of sanctification. Let’s receive this fire as the fire of His love and the gospel.
In the end, let us all encourage one another so that none of us misses the grace of God.