What does God mean by every one He loves He CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES? What is the difference in these two words and how does God do these today?
The passage about which inquiry is made is Heb. 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. To understand the passage the context must be considered. The previous chapter is the great faith chapter of the Bible. As it concludes the author reminds the readers that these women and men of great faith did not receive the promise. In the last verse he assures them that God had prepared better things of “us” – Christians – and that with us the O.T. characters of faith would be made perfect or complete. Chapter 12 begins with that great connecter, “Wherefore” or “Therefore.” In view of these witnesses (chapter 11) they (we) should live a life of holiness with our eyes upon Jesus who is the author and finisher of the “greater things.” That which we shall see when we keep our eyes on Jesus in his having endured the cross and then sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God. From this we should be encouraged and enabled not to become weary or faint in our minds.
Following this language the writer begins his discussion of chastisement. He begins by reminding the readers that, unlike the Old Testament heroes of faith and unlike Jesus, they have not resisted unto blood in their striving against sin. Such resistance showed a determination, courage, and purpose not to yield. Of course, these are Jewish readers (Hebrews), and in verses 5-6 he reminds them of the Old Testament admonition found in Proverbs 3:11-12. The words reminded (or should have reminded) the readers that God still had a loving regard for them and treated them as his children. The words translated chastening refers to all of the training and discipline necessary to develop a child is all aspects of life, moral, ethical, and spiritual. The word translated scourges is a stronger term, meaning to beat severely with a whip. Some of that which they are called upon to endure will be severe.
In verse 7 the writer applies that passage to his readers – if they endure chastening it is a sign that God loves them and deals with them as sons. He uses the chastening for the spiritual growth of his children. They should understand this from the discipline that their earthly fathers used to train them. Indeed, the absence of discipline would mean that they were illegitimate children and not sons. V. 8. If we gave our fathers reverence even though they disciplined us for our earthly lives, how much greater reverence should be give to our Father who disciplined us for our heavenly lives by subjecting ourselves to him. V. 9. After all, he continues, our earthly fathers corrected us after their own pleasure while our heavenly Father corrected us for our profit that we might partake of his holiness. V. 10. No chastening is pleasant when it is administered, but we then recognize that it yields the fruit of righteousness.
V. 12 begins with another “wherefore.” From that which as been discussed we are to be strengthened, walk in the paths of righteousness, follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man can see the Lord, and be diligent lest we fail of the grace of God and a root of bitterness spring up within us.
While the Hebrews writer continues to develop this thought, this is sufficient to answer how God disciplines his children. While the question mentions “today,” it is not necessary to the question or to the answer. There is no reason to think that God deals differently with his children either in the manner or the extent to which he administers the discipline spoken of here or elsewhere in scripture. It is clear that that which the readers are called upon to endure is persecution. That persecution could be avoided if, instead of enduring faithfully, they renounced their faith, accepted the demands of the world, and walked in the path that leads to destruction. This language cannot be referring to the sufferings of this life that all men are called upon to endure, be they so-called “acts of God such as hurricanes or tornadoes, or sickness, pain, and death. If everyday issues suffered by all were in view one of two things would have to be true. It would either be impossible to distinguish between those who are God’s sons and those who are not, or else all men would be sons of God in the familial sense (not in the sense that God created all men). This type of suffering is shared by all and cannot be avoided except in the sense that not all suffer the same disasters.
In 1 Peter 4:16 Peter speaks of that type of suffering that is in view in Hebrews: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” That type of persecution comes only upon Christians, and only upon faithful Christians. Those who bend to the winds of the world can avoid this present suffering, but at great cost. The remainder of Hebrews 12 describes that which is both possessed and received by the faithful who endure, and that which is received and possessed by those who fail to endure. See, Rev. 2:10.
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)