A Systematic Expository on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 5: THE TRAGEDY OF NEGLECTING “SO GREAT SALVATION”
Hebrews 2:1 - 4
Chapter 2 begins with the word, “therefore” - referring to the previous chapter. The exhortation in our study today is given on the basis of what had been stated in chapter 1 concerning the Person and pre-eminence of Christ. Scriptural teaching demands the right response. Here is an exhortation that says, if Christ is superior to everyone and everything, if He is the exalted One, if He alone can purge sin, if He is God, the Creator that angels worship, we must respond to His message and offer of salvation.
An effective teacher must do what the writer has done here. After presenting biblical facts, he must warn, exhort and encourage his hearers to obedience. It is not enough to preach and teach sound doctrine, the preacher or teacher must move the hearers to respond and act on the word. God’s word demands response, and a faithful teacher of the word teaches for response.
As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews convincingly presents the superiority of Christ to angels, he then gives a moving invitation to receive and keep salvation from Christ. As all good invitations, it includes both exhortation and warning - what to do and what happens if you do not do it. We can know all the truth there is to know about Jesus Christ and yet go to hell if we do not receive Him as Saviour and experience transformation of life through Him.
EXHORTATION TO RIGHT RESPONSE
Hebrews 2:1; 1:1-4; 12:25,26; Deuteronomy 4:9,23; 32:46,47; Proverbs 4:20-22; 2 Peter 1:12,13,15.
The word “therefore” at the beginning of Hebrews 2:1 connects us to what had been said before. If Christ is the supreme One who is set forth in the first chapter, and occupies the pre-eminence in God’s universe as the writer sets forth, that puts upon His message an importance and a pre-eminence of equal weight. Christ’s message is inseparably interwoven with His Person. We cannot think of His message without thinking of His eternal pre-existence, His incarnation, His supernatural birth, His perfect, sinless life, His miraculous acts and deeds, His resurrection and ascension, His eternal exaltation. Jesus and His message are one. You cannot reject any portion of His message without rejecting Him and facing the eternal consequence.
Jesus was God’s voice. Jesus was God in the world, and to reject Him is to reject God. To reject God is to reject mercy and everlasting fellowship with Him in eternity. In the original, the words, “lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1) have a nautical sense of a ship which is drifting, one that has no anchorage. The language is both graphic and appropriate. Most people do not go headlong and intentionally into hell. They drift into it. Most people just slowly, almost imperceptibly slip past the harbour of salvation out to eternal destruction.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). The exhortation is directed at all of us who have heard God’s word. Christian workers, church members as well as all believers who are still faithfully holding on to what they have heard must give the more earnest heed to God’s word. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
THE DANGER OF NEGLECT
Hebrews 2:2,3a; 10:28,29; Deuteronomy 17:2,5,12; 1 Corinthians 10:3-12; Jude 5; Hebrews 4:1,11; Romans 2:3; 1 Peter 4:17,18.
There is great peril or danger if sinners neglect “so great salvation”. Also the believer is in great danger if he neglects to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:9-11). Our loss will be incalculable and unbearable if we neglect the message of full salvation (so great salvation) preached by Christ and by the eyewitnesses who heard directly from Him.
The Hebrew christians were in danger of turning away because of persecutions and distresses that were confronting them. We in these days are in as much danger of letting the word slip as they were: If we neglect watching and praying or neglect the attendance of Bible Study, fellowship or worship service, give too much time to temporal issues or to our own business, we may find ourselves in the same position these Hebrew Christians were in danger of lapsing into. There is certain danger if we reject so great salvation, but there is danger too if all we do is neglect God’s offer of salvation and holiness.
There are those who neglect to hear this Word of life: others after hearing neglect to take heed, respond and receive Christ; some who claim to be saved neglect warnings in Scripture to watch, pray, resist temptations and keep themselves unspotted from the world; others carelessly neglect and forsake the assembling of ourselves together, while some neglect God’s provision for christian growth and maturity. Through neglect, our souls and the souls of others can be lost. Through neglect, serious cracks may appear in our spiritual walls and we may become weak and even backslidden. Fierce punishment and judgement await the unsaved and the backslidden. Those who disobeyed God in the Old Testament suffered severely for their disobedience. The God of the New Testament is not an indulgent God. Sinners who die under the blazing Light of the gospel will suffer greatly in hell fire. The hottest place in hell belongs to those who have rejected the most Light. The more you know, the greater the punishment for not abiding by what you know!!
CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S WORD
Hebrews 2:3b,4; Acts 2:22; John 10:37,38; Mark 16:20; Luke 24:47,48; Acts 14:3; Romans 15:19.
“So great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the LORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him” (Hebrews 2:3). This great salvation - was first preached by Christ. The doctrine of salvation - justification by faith in Christ - is not a new doctrine. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who provided it on the Cross as He died for our sins, preached it clearly before He went to the Cross. Then after His resurrection, He commanded His Apostles to preach the same message to all creatures in the whole world.
Christ, in His earthly ministry confirmed His message with miracles and wonders and signs (Acts 2:22). God gave similar confirming signs through the Apostles, in the first century of Gospel preaching after the resurrection and ascension of Christ (Mark 16:20). God bore witness to the message of salvation preached by the Apostles by giving them the gifts of the Spirit to do the same things that Jesus had done - Miracles, Wonders and Signs.
The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is supremely a supernatural Gospel, attended by supernatural power. God has never left His true disciples destitute of that invaluable affirmation of the truth of His Word. God still confirms His word with signs following today.
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