Warning against Neglect
Text: Hebrews 2:1-4
1 We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions (of gifts) from the Holy Spirit according to His will.
Romans 10:1 (HCSB) “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation!”
Intro: Hell is undoubtedly full of people who were never actively opposed to Jesus Christ, but who simply neglected the gospel. Such people are in view in these four verses. They know the truth and even believe the truth, in the sense that they acknowledge its truthfulness, its rightness. They are well aware of the good news of salvation provided in Jesus Christ, but are not willing to commit their lives to Him. So they drift past the call of God into eternal damnation. This tragedy makes these verses extremely important and urgent.
There are many such people. They know the truth, they stand on the edge of the right decision, but they never make it. They just drift. And they are the ones to whom this passage in Hebrews is speaking. The purpose of these four verses is to give such persons a powerful shove toward Jesus Christ.
This part of Hebrews might well be an invitation: is there a need for you to take it?
Application: Can you afford to drift away from what Christ gives?
We are given three great reasons to receive salvation: the character of Christ, the certainty of judgment, and the confirmation of God.
1. The Character of Christ: vs. 1
1 We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.
Jesus was God in the world, and to reject Him is to reject God. Who could possibly reject Him? What kind of person could reject that kind of Christ - the Christ who came into the world as God incarnate, died on a cross to forgive our sins, paid our penalty, showed us divine love, and offers to introduce us to God and give us blessing and joy beyond imagination?
I do not understand how a person can know who Christ is, admit that the gospel is true, and still not commit his life to Him. What an incomprehensible mystery - and tragedy!
This verse helps us to try and imagine a ship being unattended and floats or drifts right past the dock: we must the more eagerly secure our lives to the things which we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever.” The illustration is both graphic and appropriate. Most people do not go headlong and intentionally into hell. They drift into it. Most people do not deliberately, in a moment, turn their backs on God or curse Him. Most people just slowly, almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation out to eternal destruction.
It is not enough just to hear it. That is only the beginning, as we are reminded in Proverbs: 20 My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. 21 Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, 22 for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22 (NLT)
When you hear the Word of God, make it yours. Do not drift past it, for that is the most dangerous thing you can do.
One cannot help wondering how many thousands of people in hell were close to salvation, how many thousands were close to being safely moored and anchored, only to drift away forever by their failure to receive what they heard and, in many cases, actually believed. Drifting is so quiet, so easy, but so damning. All you need to do to go to hell is do nothing. It is extremely difficult to understand how anyone who has seen the character of Jesus Christ can ever reject Him. As a Christian who lives everyday with Jesus Christ and experiences Him, it is the greatest mystery to me that people do not rush to Him and except everything He has for them.
The character or nature of Christ is God with us! And what God has to offer is the gift of salvation our sins forgiven and eternal life. Does that sound like anything you would want? It is through Jesus’ character that we should be drawn to who He is and what He has to offer! I would think it would be hard to neglect this gift let alone drift from His relationship once you have received his gift!
2. The Certainty of Judgment: vs. 2-3
2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
We have all met people who say, “Yes, I believe that Christ is the Savior and that I need Him, but I’m not ready to make that commitment yet.” Perhaps your husband, your wife, your brother, or a good friend is like that. They come to church and hear and hear and hear the Word of God. They know it is true and they know they need it, but they are not willing to commit themselves and personally accept Jesus Christ. They have all the facts but will not make a commitment. They are like the man who believes a boat will hold him, but who will not get into it.
We believe this warning is to those who have heard the gospel, know the facts about Jesus Christ, know that He died for them, that He desires to forgive their sins, that He can give them new life, but are not willing to confess Him as Lord and Savior. This surely is the most tragic category of people in existence.
The message, of course, is not restricted to Jewish nonbelievers. It is for anyone who is on the edge of decision for Christ, but who—because of self-will, sin, fear of persecution from his family and friends, or any other reason—says no to Christ and continues to neglect Him. A man is a fool, a fool beyond fools, an eternal tragedy, when he neglects to decide for Jesus Christ.
Two words are used here for sin: transgression and disobedience Transgression means to step across the line, as a willful act. It is an overt sin of commission - of intentionally doing something we know to be wrong. Disobedience, however, carries the idea of imperfect hearing, but not like that of a deaf man, who cannot help not hearing. Disobedience deliberately shuts its ears to the commands, warnings, and invitations of God. It is a sin of neglect, of omission - doing nothing when we should do something. One is active sin, the other is passive, but both are willful and both are serious.
Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: the Lord, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe; Jude 1:5 (HCSB)
Maybe that is what I am doing today! Reminding anyone who needs to hear this: the day will come when God will destroy those who do not believe “Are you drifting?”
I know what some of you might be thinking, are God wouldn’t really do that! Would He? Can you afford to gamble your eternal state with that thought?
God is often accused of being unjust when His punishment seems to us to be out of proportion to the wrong committed. But God, by His very nature, cannot be unjust. Under the Old Covenant He punished severely those who were determined to live without Him and to defy Him. He removed them from among His people for the sake of those who were pure and holy and wanted to live for Him. His judgment on the people of Israel was severe because they knew better.
Hell is a very real place. In the New Testament it is called a place of eternal fire, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. It is called a lake of fire which burns with brimstone, a bottomless pit or abyss, outer darkness where there is continual weeping and gnashing of teeth, and black darkness.
The person who knows and understands and believes the gospel, but drifts away from it, will experience the severest punishment there is. So certainty of judgment should be a powerful motivation for accepting Christ.
3. The Confirmation of God: vs. 4
4. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions (of gifts) from the Holy Spirit according to His will.
The gospel was first given by Christ and was then confirmed by the apostles who had heard Him in person. Even more importantly, however, it was confirmed by God Himself bearing witness.
When Jesus preached the gospel, He also did some things that made it even more believable. He said, “But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” John 10:38 (NLT)
When He claimed to be God and then did things that only God could do, He confirmed His divinity and, consequently, the truth of His message. On the Day of Pentecost Peter reminded his hearers that “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with. miracles and wonders and signs”
What’s the Point?
There is a warning from Christ: this warning has to do with God’s salvation, the command don’t drift from the message of truth, don’t disobey the message that is why Christ came into this world, to preach this news. He did show proof of this and we cannot afford to neglect!
“not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 (HCSB)
Too many Christians today take the Word of God for granted and neglect it. I have discovered that neglect of the Word of God and prayer, publicly and privately, is the cause of most “spiritual drifting.” Every believer knows that this is true. He has either experienced this “drifting” or has seen it in the lives of others.
We as a Church must find a better way to encourage others as the day will come when it will be too late - we cannot afford to drift away from the first love we experienced when we first received Christ!
In : Sermon
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