Hebrews 12:18-24 – Scared Straight

This morning we're in Hebrews 12:18-24 looking to be from the fear of law to the flood of release in Christ.Are you visiting? www.transcendchurch.info

Posted by Transcend Church Harrisburg on Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Scared Straight

Pastor John Weathersby

Sunday September 23, 2018

Hebrews 12:18-24


Do you remember something called the “scared straight program”?


Here is how one writer described it online:


“As the name implies, a scared straight program is a rather controversial approach to teen misbehavior that is focused on fear. Also known as juvenile awareness programs or prison programs, this concept attempts to frighten children into obedience and compliance”


Here is what I don’t like about that description, the children are victims and the lesson is fear based – you know what, let me tell you a MAJOR reason why I follow the law, sadly it’s not because I desire to follow the law; it’s that I’m terrified of the consequences. And the scared straight program tries to scare kids, who are on the path to jail, but it’s because their future reality is terrifying – so does it leverage fear, YES, but to inform them that the future is scary – unless things change.


The Author-Pastor of the book of Hebrews brings the Scared Straight program to the Hebrews.   Because God works through us as He works on us and he knows if the Hebrews understand God’s holiness and their own fallenness, the reality outside of Christ IS fearful. BUT their reality is that they have Jesus, so they need to be scared straight BACK to Christ in center view because there are consequences to life outside of Christ and to trying to work to God through the law.


We have to remember as we read this book – it was written to a people who were Jewish people that encountered Jesus’ grace and mercy and love, entered through Him into the Kingdom of God on earth – yet started to turn away from the Grace of God purchased by Jesus to their own works of law and ceremonial worship over direct worship made possible when the veil tore from top to bottom… (Mat 27:51, Mark 15:38)


Matthew 27:51 (ESV)

51       And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.


Mark 15:38 (ESV)

38       And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.


The author here will take them back to Mt. Sinai – the giving of the law, listen to these first words:


Hebrews 12:18–24 (ESV)

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

18       For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest

19       and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.


Read this in the woods, alone in the dark of night and imagine the scene, because this scene passes us by without a true impact.   The voice that came made the hearer BEG that no further messages be spoken to them – church this is sheer terror, have you ever been there, terrified for your safety – it may be that you’ve not, the hearers begged that no further message be spoken to them, but the Author-Pastor told them YOU HAVE NOT come to these things that were former, things that could be touched, blasting fire, and darkness…. Why is this important?


Maybe they wanted something more. Maybe the Spirit of God in them and the Grace of God in Christ wasn’t something they could feel, so that called them back to law – but law wasn’t good for them. In fact they’re reminded:


20       For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”

21       Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”


This is NOT comfortable – this is near paralyzing fear, sheer terror – but the author wants them terrified! Why – to simply modify their behavior, well, no and yes. Do we think that this approach is a controversial approach to calling the believer to the Grace of God in Christ?




What if the fear is simple realty and not just a manufactured environment designed simply to engender a reaction (*like many church “worship services” today). That’s the manipulation I see – creating a lulling environment, designed to make you happy – designed to make you say the music was amazing and NOT that God must be incredible – we see much advanced worship of man, and little focus on God – and so, how does the Author-Pastor who seeks to drive them to grace continue?


22       But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

23       and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

24       and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.


This is the conclusion of the scared Straight program it comes back to freedom. The scared straight program stops with fear, the fear of this reality, but God’s plan, the Author-Pastor brings them from the fear of law to the flood of release in Christ.


Church, this is where we live! As Hebrews 12:22 said but you (who is you – you is the believers redeemed by Christ) what have “we” done? We have come to Mount Zion and the living city of God the heavenly Jerusalem.


Food tastes so much better after a restrictive diet, your home feels so warm after being out in the snow cold and miserable like we’ll be again soon…


This is what’s important, the author-pastor wants them to KNOW that they’re already in God’s Grace; “you have come”. He’s not calling them to some change in state, he’s calling them to remember WHO’s they are.


They’re God’s, why, because of Jesus, not because of law. So they need to return to the knowledge of WHO’s they are – they need to be scared straight knowing that the law they’re chasing, can only burn them, and that they’re ALREADY in God’s Grace in Christ.


If we are the assembly of the first born enrolled in heaven and belting to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant – but we’re those people of Hebrews 12:23 (ESV):


23       and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,


We’re righteous (because of Jesus) and are individually being “made perfect”. I love this mentioned “made perfect”, why- because here it’s in the shadow of people who’ve been trying to perfectly live the law are told they’re righteous in Jesus and being made perfect


How can we, knowing we don’t have to do the works of law, enjoy the freedom of participating in being “made perfect”?


I’ll give you a few times Jesus himself, who was made perfect as sacrifice (see Hebrews 2:10), used the same word teleo from the Author-Pastor’s encouragement. We’ve said that the cloud of witnesses encourages us, but eyes on Jesus continues us forward, we said looking to the words of Christ helps us keep our eyes on him, so we continue that.


Hebrews 2:10 (ESV)

10       For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.


John 17:4 (ESV)

4          I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.


Jesus accomplished the work God gave him, the teleo’d the work, He participated in the accomplishing of the will of God for His life, and so can you….


How, last week we noted that we’re encouraged to “strive” for peace – did you strive this week? Or try once, get mad and move on – the command was continuing into the future keep on striving church – accomplish the work God’s given you.


John 17:23 (ESV)

23       I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.


Perfected in the teleo – here, the work is unity, because unity shows the world the love of God for His people, church are you unified, are we unified? Do you fight for unity or run for preference?


Consider John 17:4 and 17:23 this week, discuss them in home groups as you’re reminded that your calling in this life is to do God’s will while already IN His Grace in Christ. The works we do aren’t of law; they’re from grace, which is given to us already.


We’re scared straight, not as manipulation but to know how good grace is, and to encourage us on to grow and to be, being, made perfect. Church participate with God in that, it IS His will for you and as He works that out in you, others are drawn to Him because he works on us as he works through us.


Scared Straight!