Chapter One The Explanation of Chastening.

The word used for chastening and words akin to it in the Scripture come from a Greek word, paideuo„. There are different translations of this word, an examination of which helps us to appreciate the meaning of Divine chastening.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read that the Scriptures have been given to us, and are profitable for “instruction in righteousness.” Here our word is “instruction.” When the Lord Jesus stood before Pilate he (Pilate) sought to appease the Jews by offering to chastise Jesus (Luke 23:22). Chastise Him by scourging. Chastisement may be a painful experience. A deriviation of the word is “schoolmaster.” (Gal. 3:24). If we group these three references together we learn that chastening, causing us suffering, becomes the Divine Schoolmaster instructing us in the paths of righteousness. Most of us know what Laban meant when he said, “I have learned by experience.” (Genesis 30:27).

It is interesting to know that the modern words, pediatrician and pedagogue, are closely allied with our word paideuo„. We are familiar with these words and what they mean. The Pediatrician is the child specialist; he cares for the body of the child. In the Pedagogue we see one who trains the mind of the child. Conjoining the functions of both we learn what chastening really is; it is child-training. Our Heavenly Father is the Divine Pediatrician. He is the Divine Pedagogue.

Chastening may be viewed under a four-fold nature or character:1) Punitive; 2) Preventative; 3) Provocative; 4) Extreme.

Punitive chastening a saint must experience where a course of determined evil is followed; it is sent by God upon the believer that he may learn the error of his ways. King David experienced many sad days, and in his Psalms teaches us clearly he knew the Divine hand in punishment. In Psalm 39 he writes: “Remove Thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of Thy hand. When Thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, Thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth.” (vv. 10, 11).

Preventative chastening coming upon the believer has often withheld him from a step, which, if taken, would have plunged him into a path of disobedience and forfeiture of fellowship with God. In this same Psalm we read: “I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle,… while the wicked is before me. (v. 1) .

Paul’s “thorn” was preventative chastening. He wrote: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) .

Provocative chastening must be seen in sharp contrast with punitive chastening. In the latter I feel the Divine hand in something wherein I have failed. In provocative chastening God has drawn me closer to Himself; my heart has been made tender; in the days that follow spiritual fruit is seen, the product of the Divine provocation. This shall be considered later in our paper, but one reference may be made even now. “Every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2).

Extreme chastening is intensely solemn. Quoting again from the parable of the Vine the Lord spake a searching word: “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away.” (v. 2). It is the “sin unto death” of which the apostle John wrote, and was the bitter experience of the church in Corinth. Paul had to teach those Corinthian believers that because of un-judged sin in their midst some had “fallen asleep.”

Did Paul himself fear this? Writing of himself as a servant of the Lord he penned these words: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

A saint may so blemish the testimony of the assembly and the Name of Christ that he must needs be removed from earth to Heaven. The Lord said: “Salt is good, but, if the salt have lost its saltness wherewith shall ye season it?” (Mark 9:43). Again: “…but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.” (Matthew 5:13).

In the Lord’s letter to Ephesus (Revelation 2), after commending them He censures; then follows this warning: “Repent and do the first works, or, else I will come unto thee quickly; and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (v. 5). Church history reveals the sad story of Ephesus’ declension. Today, what once was the city of Ephesus, known as “Light of the world,” is known as Ayasalook. A traveller describes it: “…a ruined archway, a Moslem dwelling and a forbidding castle amid desolate hills. It is now wrapped in the gross darkness of the deadly folds of Mohammedianism.”

As one dwells on this solemn phase of our subject the words of God to Israel are cogent: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. The Lord’s voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” (Micah 6:8, 9).