(Summary Notes of a Bible Study Conducted with Kemaman BPC on 20 May 2021 over Zoom)

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”
(Hebrews 12:14)

The epistle of Hebrews was written to the Hebrew Christians who were discouraged in the
faith due to the trials and tribulations of the times. Some of these Christians were even
considering to turn their backs on the faith and to embrace the old ways of Judaism again.
Thus, the writer of Hebrews strived to show them how Christ was superior over all things
in this world, and how it would be foolish to turn away from Christ having learned that He
is the Messiah. The Jewish Christians must persevere in their faith.

Having encouraged the drooping hands and hearts of the Jewish Christians, the writer of
Hebrews (which I believe to be the Apostle Paul) now exhorts them to follow two things
which is so lacking in the entire world – peace and holiness. These are two things which
will differentiate them from the rest of the world. And they are to pursue after them
relentlessly (dioko) and urgently, throughout their pilgrim journey on the earth.

Firstly, we are to pursue after peace. Calvin rightly notes that “men are so born to shun
peace; for all study their own interest, seek their own ways, and care not to accommodate
the way of others.” Thus, there is no peace in the world. However, it is different for
Christians. We have already found peace with God, for our sins are forgiven in Christ
Jesus. Therefore, we ought to be men and women who love peace and to seek peace with
others. Matthew 5:9 affirms this truth – “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be
called the children of God.” Christians are peaceable people.

Of course, the way for others to know peace is also to proclaim the good news of Jesus
Christ to them. Nevertheless, Christians are expected to be peaceable despite the trying
circumstances around them. Others may seek to destroy the Christian, but he is not to seek
his own vengeance, leaving vindication in the hands of the Lord. This is not natural to the
world as noted above by Calvin, as men would often desire to destroy others for their own
self-interest. However, the Christian, being a recipient of the grace of God is expected to
seek peace with others, and in the process to lead others to know the true peace that can
only come through the Lord Jesus.

While we deal with the unbelieving in the world, we must not forget that the church ought
to be the first place where peace ought to be pursued with all men. In fact, the immediate
application of this verse in its context deals with peace within the church (see 13:1-3; 16-
17). Paul in Ephesians 4:3 exhorts the Ephesian Christians to endeavour “to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And thus, we ought to strive to be peace lovers
among ourselves in the church and not to strive with each other like the rest of the world.
Alas, sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the world, we forget about this exhortation and
strive with each other for carnal reasons. On the other hand, a peaceful church is a
powerful witness of the peace that can only be found in Christ Jesus.

It is also important to understand that this peace must not be in compromise of holiness.
Thus, the writer of Hebrews exhorts the Hebrew Christians to pursue holiness. The
importance of this pursuit is highlighted by the reminder that no one will see the Lord
without holiness. Indeed, Isaiah’s declaration of woe as he came in the presence of the
thrice-holy God, testifies to this truth. Thus, those who are called by the name of the
Lord must never forget the importance of holiness in one’s life.

Now the Bible teaches us that we are called saints of God. As saints, we are positionally
holy before the Lord, as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and set apart for
His glory. This is the reason why we are able to approach the throne of grace before our
Holy Father as we pray in the name of Christ. The fact that we are positionally holy
should also inform us of the necessity to pursue after true holiness in our daily walk. Our
attitudes and behaviour should reflect our new relationship with God in Christ. As 1
Peter 1:16 says, “Be ye holy as I am holy”. We must thus press on in holiness in a world
swirling with sin and debauchery.

Dear friends, the world will often times present challenges to your walk in Christ. In the
midst of persecution, will you peace- loving Christians, cling on to holiness? May the
Lord grant us grace to be strong in these areas.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of
bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
(Hebrews 12:15)

I doubt not but that he refers to a passage written by Moses in Deuteronomy 29:18; for
after having promulgated the Law, Moses exhorted the people to beware, lest any root
germinating should bear gall and wormwood among them. He afterwards explained what
he meant, that is, lest any one, felicitating himself in sin, and like the drunken who are
wont to excite thirst, stimulating sinful desires, should bring on a contempt of God
through the alluring of hope of impunity. The same is what the Apostle speaks of now;
for he foretells what will take place, that is, if we suffer such a root to grow, it will
corrupt and defile many; he not only bids every one to irradiate such a pest from their
hearts, but he also forbids them to allow it to grow among them. It cannot be indeed but
that these roots will ever be found in the Church, for hypocrites and the ungodly are
always mixed with the good; but when they spring up they ought to be cut down, lest by
growing they should choke the good seed.

He mentions bitterness for what Moses calls gall and wormwood; but both meant to
express a root that is poisonous and deadly. Since then it is so fatal an evil, with more
earnest effort it behoves us to check it, lest it should rise and creep farther.