Saturday, September 28, 2019

You Shall not Escape if You Neglect your Salvation!

Hebrews 2:1-4                   
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Heb 2:1-4).

A narrative from this church goes something like this, “I am reformed. I attend a very good reformed Baptist church. Our pastors teach from the Bible – consecutive expository preaching. We love fellowship, we even have lunch together on every Sunday! We are not compelled to plant the so called seed in order to be blessed as some of preachers compel their members in some of the churches. And yes, we are very involved in missions. We have planted churches all over the country!” Perhaps you can even hear your voice, saying these things. Really?
Let me ask you some questions so that I may I try to understand where you are. We ask why question when perplexed by what one is saying and how they are living:
·         Are you sure that this church is what you say it is?
·         So, do you really believe that you are spiritually privileged as you say?
·         Why do you not come for Sunday School or attend the afternoon meetings?
·         Why did you arrive so late for the worship of God today/last Sunday?
·         You are not intending or planning to be there for the afternoon worship service, are you?
·         We gather for worship of God, is there a greater or better appointment on the Lords Day?
·         Why have you not believed the message delivered?
·         And what is the message but what God has spoken?
·         Are you involved in any believer within the week for mutual encouragement and edification?
·         Why do you not fellowship with other Christians and yet you will spend eternity with them?
·         Is there a sinner you are reaching out with the gospel?
·         If I said you are a Sunday Christian would you deny it?
·         Why, my dear friend have you cherished sin in your heart?
Imagine a boat, on an anchor on the shore abandoned. The anchors and the ropes sooner begin to rust and to wear out because of one thing – neglect. A neglected boat, might by and by, very slowly, drifts away. Some of you have neglected your faith. After days, weeks, months and years of neglect, it has been rusting and corroding… Why? Perhaps  you may have forgotten how great a salvation we have. But the warning today is this – Wake up. Shake up and shake away all the dust of neglect and arise with a new vigour. For while you may and actually can afford to neglect your boat, but you cannot afford to neglect your salvation! If you neglect your salvation then you condemn yourself to the worst peril.

1.     Your duty - Pay much closer attention to what we have heard.
The four verses are applying what we have heard in the last chapter. Your knowledge of the supremacy of Christ has to distil to a transformed like so that you become Christ-like. The alternative is presented in these verses by a very strong warning. But before the warning is your duty – “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard…”
The teaching on the Supremacy of Christ has direct implications on how you live. You must listen to the Word of God taught, know and understand what He says and seek to live accordingly. When you read your Bible you must pay attention to it. When you come to church you need to be very attentive. When you listen to the sermons on-line you have a responsibility to seek to understand everything said for the purpose of committing it into action.
It is no good ever learning but never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth (2 Tim. 3:7) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col.1:10).
How would you be able to pay much closer attention to your salvation? Then you need to do the following:
1)      Know the doctrines of the gospel
The way to know God is by hearing the Word He has given. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word. Be there every time there is an opportunity of hearing the Word of God. Show me a Christian who is there for every ministry of the Word and I will show a person who will sooner mature in the faith. But show me a Sunday Christian and I will show you a malnourished spiritual baby.
Never be tired of hearing the Word of God. God says in His Word,
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Long and crave for the pure spiritual milk. This is the way to grow up into salvation. The balanced and regular diet of food for spiritual babes is the pure, or unadulterated Word of God. And we are told that for us to grow in salvation, we should have a great desire and appetite for the word of God, which is the proper food for the nourishing and strengthening of the soul.
From the point of regeneration, that is new birth, to the growth into the old age a child of God is fed and sustained by the regular intake of the Word of God. Strong desires and love for the word of God are a sure evidence of a person who is being born again. If one has such desires as strong as the baby has for the milk, he proves that he is born from above. Growth and development in spiritual wisdom and grace are to be the design and desire of every Christian. There is no doubt that the word of God, when it is rightly used and applied, can never leave a man as it finds him, but improves and makes him better.
There is a general consensus among the older people and especially the ladies who believe in complementarity not to develop or grow in their knowledge of God (theology). Yet, how will your faith be built since it comes by hearing the Word of God? How will your hope be solidified if you do not highly esteem the Word of God? It should be your great desire to know the truth of the gospel by regularly attending to it by reading, hearing, studying, memorizing, meditating and applying it in your life. It should be your great delight to highly value and esteem it, to heed with uttermost diligence what God has said, and to be conformed to the Word of God. Matthew Henry puts it like this:
We must embrace them in our hearts and affections, retain them in our memories, and finally regulate our words and actions according to them.
2)      Consider the evidence of salvation in your life
The evidence that you are actually not in your sins, guilt and condemnation, is that you have faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Unless you have gone to the cross of Calvary and repented of your sins you remain under condemnation. Repent and live. Confess and renounce your sins to Christ. I do not mean that you confess your sins to the priest – I mean to the great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only he can pardon.
Secondly, Anyone who names the name of Christ must depart from iniquity. Paul, told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:21 that he testified both to the Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So unless you have learnt the doctrine of trusting in the Saviour of sinners, even the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the forgiveness of our sins, and learnt to renounce your sins, there is no hope that you are paying a close attention to what you have heard.
3)      Consider the fruit of your faith
The fruit of your faith is godly living. Living as one whose sins, Christ has taken and atoned for. Living as one who has been conveyed from the domain of darkness to the light of His marvellous kingdom. Living as a child of light. Walking in the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh. Putting to death all the deeds and passions of the flesh and put on Christ. Dying to flesh and living to Christ. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you – sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness which is idolatry because on the account of this, the wrath of God is coming. The fruit of your faith is putting them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth.
The fruit of the Spirit is to put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its Creator. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. May the Lord help us to see where the fruit of the Spirit has not been manifest in our lives that we may seek to grow as we ought by His help. And in so doing we shall keep in step with the Spirit and not neglect our salvation.
2.     The warning: You could drift away
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The fact that it is possible to drift away from the good news of our salvation and live as if we never heard it is real. The Bible gives us a strong warning, lest we drift away from it. We must realize that it is possible to hear the purest gospel, but have it leak and run out of our heads and hearts. Our minds and memories are like a leaking jug, if we do not pay much closer attention. This leaking comes from the corruption of our natures, the enmity and subtlety of Satan (for like birds of the air, he steals away the seed of the word), from the entanglements and snares of the world, the thorns that choke the good seed so that it does not bear fruit.
The Lord in His kindness, does give us various incentives to enable us to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and to be in His grace. In this passage He employs a strong warning of the possibility of drifting away. Just as a boat that is not anchored can slip, and drift into the sea, and be forever lost, it is possible for a professing believer, even a member of the church to lose his profession and be lost in his perdition. I did not say that it is possible for a true Christian, a true son or daughter of God to be lost, I said a member of a church, even this church. The phrase means to flow or drift aside like a ship that a contrary wind causes it to drift past its harbour so that it is prevented from reaching its destination.[1]
This is what happens to spiritual children that Paul describes in Ephesians 4:14, who are tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about in every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I began by pointing out the fact that you need to be solid in your beliefs, that are based on the living Word of God. If this is not the case then the risk of drifting away is indeed great. So great that you should give this warning the seriousness it deserves.
It is possible to drift away and make a shipwreck of your faith just as Hymenaeus and Alexander did. They were unable to hold faith and good conscience and the result were catastrophic – they were handed over to Satan! It is possible for you to come to a point where you are lost in sin, and in rebellion.
 Therefore, I adjure you from the Word of God, pay close attention to what you hear. Hold fast the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Do not entertain speculations, dissensions and seemingly clever doctrines, that lead to doubt and drifting away. Rather, only accept the doctrines that are in the Bible. It is the life-giving truth that will make you a serious believer. Live the truths of the Bible you hear. Put them into action. Walk the talk of faith. Fight the good fight of faith. Run in order to win the prize of the upward call.
3.     The reason: You have heard God’s message
For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,
Why should you pay a much closer attention to what we have heard? Several reasons are given from verse 2,
1)      The message declared by the angels proved reliable
2)      The Word was declared to us initially by God the Son
3)      The word of salvation (the gospel) was attested to us by the Apostles
4)      God bore witness (of the gospel) by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit
5)      There is a just retribution for those who transgress and are disobedient
This is the logos which was mediated by the angels. The law that was given to Moses by God in Mt. Sinai was through the angels. This is what Paul says in Galatians 3:19 that the law was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place, through angels by an intermediary.
Stephen’s indictment against the Jews is also clear that, “…You who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:53). Therefore, angels somehow participated in the giving of the law. But this participation of the angels in so far as the giving of the law was concerned, shows that the law was inferior to the gospel, which was given to us through the Son!
But either way, the message proved reliable and those who did not obey were dealt with accordingly, for every transgression or disobedience (of God’s message) received a just retribution. The threats of the law came into effect, not one of the word was empty rhetoric. God will punish every unrepented lie; every gossip, every covetousness, every lust. God is holy and he will vindicate his holiness by his justice in due season. Are you ready to meet your Creator God?
What does it mean that God bore witness? He testified that the messengers were authorized and sent by him to preach Christ and salvation by him to the world. And how did he bear them witness? He bore witness by signs, and wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will:
1)      Signs of his gracious presence with them, and of his power working by them;
2)      Wonders, works quite beyond the power of nature, and out of the course of nature, filling the spectators with wonder and admiration, stirring them up to attend to the doctrine preached, and to enquire into it.
3)      Miracles, in which an almighty agency appeared beyond all reasonable controversy;
4)      Gifts of the Holy Ghost, qualifying, enabling, and exciting them to do the work to which they were called.
Such is what God did to authenticate the message of the gospel in order that all should believe. Such will be the evidence against those who live in disobedience. Those who refute the claims of God’s Word will attest that they acted against knowledge, they suppressed the truth to their own detriment, for the wrath of God will soon be revealed from heaven against such (Rom. 1:18).
It is God who distributes spiritual gifts according to His will. It is not according to the desire of the recipient or of the preachers that the gifts of the Spirit are given. All we can do is earnestly desire, and God determines how to distribute according to His own will. It was the will of God that we should have sure footing for our faith, and a strong foundation for our hope in receiving the gospel. As at the giving forth of the law there were signs and wonders, by which God testified the authority and excellency of it. Therefore God witnessed to the gospel by more and greater miracles, as to a more excellent and abiding truth. How can you not believe this and neglect that which God has so wonderfully bestowed? To whom shall you go? Only God has words of eternal life.
4.     The possibility: Neglecting such a great salvation
The next question does presuppose the possibility, not of rejecting the message of salvation, but of receiving it and neglecting it. To neglect is  let it lie unattended. It should be clear to everyone here that being indifferent to salvation is a huge crime, but for the youngest believer to contemplate that he can profess salvation and neglect it and think that he is on the right road to heaven, is to deceive himself. Salvation is the supreme solution that every sinner needs, whether he knows it or not. But to receive it and let it lie in neglect is to sign your own eternal death warrant.
Yet, my dear brothers and sisters, some of you have neglected your salvation, not once or twice but many times and for some of you – for many years! You wake up to go to work every day Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturdays as well. You go to make money in order you would be more comfortable here on earth. And yet, you put so little effort in your intake of the Word of God either privately or publicly. How would you explain your coming to church so late and for so few hours? How would you explain spending so much money on yourself and your family when you spend so little in the cause of Christ? How would you explain your lethargy in building lasting relationships in the church and yet are so keen to do networking in your profession in order to ascend the career ladder? This is neglect of salvation. This is taking for granted the fact we have been ransomed, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.
Do we all realize the magnitude of our salvation? It is substantively a great salvation because God the Father had to give the Son and so great that the Son of God had to bring it to us. It is qualitatively a great salvation because the Son of God had to die for the salvation of sinners. It is such a great salvation because effectively every single sinner for whom Christ died is saved. It is such a great salvation that it contains and brings rescue from mortal danger and brings us to the land of safety in the arms of the sovereign God.  Ours is such a great salvation that ought not to be neglected.
The description of the gospel is it is a great salvation. So great salvation that no other salvation can compare with it. So great that none can fully express its extent. None can yet conceive, or perceive how great it is. It is a great salvation that the gospel discovers, for it discovers a great Saviour, the Lord of ages, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. The gospel reveals the one who has manifested God to be reconciled to our nature, and reconcilable to our persons. It is a great salvation for it shows how we may be saved from so great sin and so great misery, guilt and and be restored to so great holiness and so great happiness.
This salvation that we have in Christ is so great that we can not afford to neglect it. How can you neglect such a great salvation in sanity? How can you neglect such a great benefit of eternal bliss and joy for your soul? How can you neglect such a great salvation offered so freely? How can you neglect such a great salvation offered so fully? Our salvation is offered full and free – absolutely graciously. Completely priceless!
This salvation is fully secure in Christ – it cannot be reversed or withdrawn. Christ said it is finished – that is, it is complete. It is eternally done, that there is a way to come to God and be fully reconciled to him and be adopted into his family and be made his son or daughter and enjoy all the blessings of eternal bliss. Therefore, this salvation is firm and sure. It is good and perfect. It is well and done. The Christian message of the gospel is the news that those who are saved are actually saved and remains in salvation for ever! Saved not by their good works for they have none, but for ever saved by the perfect good works of Christ who is our great Saviour.
But the warning is sure - you shall not escape if you neglect such a great salvation. In other words, there is no way to flee and there is no where to flee for anyone who neglects such a great salvation. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him in contempt (Heb. 6:4-6).
And if you neglect your salvation by pursuing ungodliness and worldliness, the Bible very clearly says, "For if we go one sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries." (Heb. 10:26-27)
Back to where we began. You came to this church, usually very enthusiastic. I know that some of you have been born and raised here, others have become members by the virtue of their parents, others have joined along the way, etc. Yes, a vast majority of us, found a church where we were not constantly subjected to heretical teachings, and a church where various burdens were not being laid on our shoulders, and we gladly signed in. Some of you escaped the tyranny of the pastors, and yet others the heresy of their religious systems, and deceitfulness of their schemes.
But while you began with excitement in Spirit, this has waned over the years. Slow fade, it has been. You well know that deep within your heart the dust of neglect is collecting, choking your spiritual vitality. Perhaps it is cobwebs of worldliness that are rapidly building up constraining your spiritual life. It may as well be that your spiritual machine has not been oiled for long and so rust and rot are killing your soul. Or perhaps it is weeds – thorns and thistles that is making the garden of your spiritual life unfruitful. I have one word for you renounce them today and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your soul.
It is possible that you have tried to justify yourself with such statements like, ‘the pastor does not understand, I’m unwell, I have young children, my husband is too demanding, my job, etc. yet these excuses will not be accepted by God in eternity. As Aaron’s rod swallowed all the magicians’ snakes – your excuses are swallowed by the Word of God. Your excuses are inexcusable!
The way forward is to face the reality of your destiny. Soon you will come face to face with the shocking reality, when you shall stand before God and his glory will shine upon all the rust and cobwebs and weeds and it will be a great shame. I am here to inform you that the time to appear before the throne of God will be too late for your soul. Tomorrow, yeah tomorrow, you say, I will shape up and I will win the crown. But the time to turn to the great physician of the soul, the Lord Jesus Christ is now and he will permanently, eternally shape your destiny. It is now, my friend, not tomorrow – what do you know about tomorrow? If you are not ready to face the holy God now, then you won’t be tomorrow. Turn to Christ and live!

[1] Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews P. 63, 64

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