July 21, 2019 DON’T NEGLECT SALVATION (3) Hebrews 2:1-4 As we have looked at this passage over the last 2 weeks I would like to go back and briefly look at what I have shared with you. I shared with you that we need to be careful that we do not drift away from God. We drift away when we do not carefully pay attention to what we have heard. If we do not pay attention, we treat the revelation of God carelessly and wrecklessly. The next step in this process is we ignore this salvation that was freely given to us by Christ death and resurrection. If we become lazy, careless and distracted and ultimately neglect salvation…what hope of escaping hell do we have? The answer is of course not to ignore such a great salvation, not to treat the message of God carelessly and not to drift but to set our course following the truth of God’s Word! Let’s look at the last part of vs. 3 & 4 this morning. In verse 3 these words, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” If we were to take this passage and look at the first part of the verse this way: “The beginning of its [salvation] being proclaimed was through the Lord.” The words and deeds of the Lord Jesus were the beginning, the source and the origin of the message of salvation. He is both the content and its first proclamation. Christ giving of Himself to cleanse us from sin brings us into God’s presence. He has provided and proclaimed this salvation. God the Father provided and proclaimed this salvation through Him in order to bring many to freedom from the bondage of sin. This salvation is firmly rooted in the saving and sanctifying power of God through Christ. The next part of that verse says, “…was confirmed by those who heard him.” The writer of Hebrews tells us the message of salvation was vouched for by eyewitnesses, chiefly the disciples. 2 Peter 1:16 says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 1 John 1:1 says, “From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in – we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.” (The Message) This is not some story that has been concocted over the last 2000 years! It comes from reliable witnesses who were there and experienced Jesus’ message of salvation firsthand. They confirmed the truth of the message to those who were listening in Jesus’ and Paul’s day and that message is being proclaimed today! The accuracy of this salvation is guaranteed, its validity is pointed to and its nature as the ultimate revelation of God’s divine will is attested to by those who first heard it and to those who are hearing it today! Let’s look at v. 4, “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” God confirmed the message of salvation through signs, wonders and miracles. This statement gives us solid evidence for the miraculous and extraordinary events that accompanied the proclamation of salvation to the listeners of the gospel. The writer of Hebrews isn’t trying to convince us that miracles happened…he is trying to get them to acknowledge that the miracles and the message are true. Galatians 3:5 says, “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the Law or because you believe what you heard?” Let me put it this way: “You know the message is true because it was accomplished by miraculous signs.” In the last part of v. 4 it says, “…and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” God gave gifts of the Holy Spirit to those in the early church and though we do not know what they were given we know it was used for the upbuilding of God’s people. Spiritual gifts are supernatural gifts given only by God that goes beyond our own human abilities. In the theological world we use a word called “Kerygma” and in the Greek it means “preaching.” It comes from the Greek word, kerusso, which means “to cry or proclaim as a herald” and being used in the sense of “to proclaim, announce, or preach.” We hear the Kerygma or the preaching of the early church. The distribution of the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will resounds strongly after hearing Peter’s preaching in Acts 2. In Acts 2:38 Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 2 you see Luke writing about Jesus and all the miracles, wonders and signs He did, which were common knowledge among the people. What Christ did was beyond human capabilities…it was supernatural and God was behind it. Verse 22 says, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” Notice that the writer is not sensationalizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit…he is only sharing them as a confirmation of the message of salvation. Both the miracles and the gifts were not given for the exaltation, manipulation or fascination of men, but for the people’s edification and God’s glorification. What God is doing here is manifesting his power in the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit as it was manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ before Pentecost! Each of us this morning who have heard the great message of salvation must not treat it lightly, for it is the greatest revelation of God’s will and it has been delivered to us by God’s own Son, Jesus. We must therefore pay careful attention, or we will drift away! We are to be like those who passed it on to us and pass it on to others! As, we proclaim the message of salvation, I am convinced that we too will see various miracles, signs and wonders! We must not neglect salvation and we must not neglect telling others about what God has done for us! As Christians we are called to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) My challenge to you this morning is to tell others about this great message of salvation that is free to all who believe! Remember this passage of scripture in Luke 9:26 that Jesus spoke, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him…” Let us go out and win some for the Kingdom of God.
July 14, 2019 DON’T NEGLECT SALVATION (2) Hebrews 2:1-4 This morning I would like to concentrate on vs. 2-3a but before I go into this message, I would like to recap what I shared with you last week. We looked at how we need to truly hear what is being spoken by God. The reason for this is if we do not, we will drift away from God! I am certain that most of us if not all of us here this morning believes in angels. We see the presence of angels all through the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. In this passage I just read you will notice these words, “For if the message spoken by angels was binding…” Now I don’t want to get caught up speaking about angels as that is a whole other sermon series. The words written by the author of Hebrews shows us that the Jews believed in angels and that they delivered the law from God to Moses and to the other prophets. If we think about angels, they are definitely the “messengers of God” but that is it…they have no powers other than delivering messages from God though there are warrior angels. The writer is trying to emphasize this: If what we received from angels to the prophets were binding and produced severe penalties for infractions then where do we stand today? We can read from the New Testament the words of Christ and if what we received during the times of the prophet carried so much weight…how much more respect should be given to the message brought to us by the Son of God, Jesus? The writer again uses two distinct types of violating the law. The first one is violation, which also means transgression and the second one is disobedience. Let me define those two terms: Transgression means to step across the line as a willful act. It is a blatant act of commission or intentionally doing something we know to be wrong! Let me give you an example, in Numbers 6:1-5 and Judges 14:8-9, Samson intentionally broke the Nazirite vow by touching a dead lion and in Judges 16:17, he allowed Delilah to cut his hair. This was is what David was referring to in Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Disobedience has two meanings in the New Testament. One refers more to conduct and the second to belief. For instance, the first would refer to an overt act of disobedience to one’s parents (Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2). The second one is used more often in which disobedience is really an attitude of the mind which finds its essence in a heart of unbelief and unfaithfulness. (www.biblestudytools.com) This means that it deliberately shuts its ears to the commands or warnings of God. It is a sin of neglect or omission…that is doing nothing when we should do something. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Let me simplify it this way: Transgression is to refuse to obey and disobedience is to neglect to obey. Both are willful and both are serious and they both require judgment! If disregarding the Law that Moses received from God brought about punishment, then what makes us think that we will get away from punishment when we disregard the Good News of Jesus Christ? I would like for us to look at v. 3a which says these words, “…how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation.” The Greek says it this way: “How shall we escape neglecting so great a salvation…” The NIV uses ignore but the better wording is neglect which means, “to make light of.” What this means is: We recognize but we neglect to do. We know but we fail to do. We admit but we fail to do. How do we escape? We escape through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What are we escaping from? I would believe that most of us here this morning know that we are escaping the pits of hell. Revelation 20:14-15 says, “Afterwards, death and its kingdom were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Anyone whose name wasn’t written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (CEV) You might ask this question: How great is our salvation? Let me share with you why our salvation is so great. It is great because of its ability. God’s plan of salvation can do what no other plan devised by any man or system can do: It can save the sinner. Luke writes in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God’s plan of salvation is a life changing plan. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” We are surrounded by men and women, boys and girls whose lives have been changed through the power of Jesus Christ. It is great because of its availability. The one fact that stands head and shoulders above other religious systems in the world is that it is open and available to anyone, anywhere!! You don’t have to be in a certain financial bracket or have a certain type of house or vehicle. From the richest to the poorest anyone can come to Jesus! Romans 10:13 says, “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It is great because of its reliability. God’s plan of salvation is 100% reliable! In other words, you can count on it doing exactly what God promised it would do! This is the only plan known to man that will never fail or be revoked! This morning you can’t afford to neglect your education…and grow up ignorantly! This morning you can’t afford to neglect your health…and die prematurely! This morning you can’t afford to neglect your crops…and become bankrupt! This morning you can’t afford to neglect salvation…and lose your soul! This is my challenge to you this morning: We are going to sing a song in a few minutes called, Have Thine Own Way, and I want you to look inwardly at your heart and allow God to reveal Himself to you and have His own way in you! My prayer is that you will respond to God’s call upon your heart this morning!
July 7, 2019 DON’T NEGLECT SALVATION (1) Hebrews 2:1-4 Today we’re going to look at the dangers of drifting. When you hear the word “drift,” what comes to your mind? If you grew up in the Snowbelt, you may think about snowdrifts. If you’re into motorsports you might think about racecars intentionally skidding to navigate a tight turn, that’s called drifting. If you’re a pilot you might be thinking about wind drift, the effect the wind direction has on your intended heading. And if you didn’t sleep much last night in a few minutes you might be drifting off to sleep. The word drift can mean many things—if you catch my drift. Drifting away can be a good thing. If you’ve ever been at one of those nice resorts that has a lazy river, it’s nice to lay back and just drift along with the current. But there is a kind of drifting that is dangerous. There are all kinds of warning signs on the Niagara River warning boaters of the danger of drifting too close to the falls. There is a dangerous kind of spiritual drifting that this passage addresses as well. Let’s read Hebrews 2:1-4 together. The writer is addressing this letter to believers. There is the real possibility that a believer can drift away from God and His Word. Today there are thousands of Christians who have been slowly drifting away from a place of great joy, peace, and service for the Lord. We all know people, who at one time were faithful servants of the Lord and have just drifted away from the Lord. I don’t know but perhaps you may be drifting right now. Drifting is something that happens slowly and gradually. But here’s the truth about spiritual drifting: You never drift toward holiness, you always drift toward ungodliness; you never drift into faithfulness, you always drift toward faithlessness; you never drift toward goodness, you always drift toward wickedness. John Courson wrote: “Most of us are not in danger of plunging into the sea of carnality. This week or next week most of us are not going to be murderers or drug addicts. The danger is not plunging into the ocean of perversity, but rather drifting away from goodness almost imperceptibly. “ Are you drifting away from God? Do you know someone who is drifting away? Let me give you some danger signs of drifting away. We drift away when we listen to God’s Word, but our lives do not change! Spiritual drifting occurs when we stop paying attention to what we hear. Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” This letter was written to Jewish believers who had heard the Gospel and had turned from all the rules and rituals of Judaism to place their faith in Jesus. But they were slipping back into their old comfortable religious rituals and rules. The first time they heard the Gospel, it was revolutionary. Grace? Wow! That’s amazing! You mean I don’t have to observe the Sabbath rules and the dietary laws? That’s amazing! But the more they heard it, the less amazing it seemed. It became old news. That can happen to Christians today. You’ve heard the Gospel of grace so many times, that it has lost its sense of wonder and amazement. It’s like the first time you fly on an airline the flight attendants go through the pre-flight briefing, and you are listening to every word. But after you’ve flown hundreds of times, you no longer pay attention to their briefing. James warns about the danger of being hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word. And Jesus asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46 NIV) When you stop obeying God’s Word, you face the danger of drifting away. Even pastors can drift away. None of us are immune from drifting, but you can also return to the Lord! We drift away when apathy replaces a desire to gather with believers. Do you know what apathy is? Do you care what apathy is? They recently gave a survey to Americans asking, “What’s the bigger problem in our country, ignorance or apathy?” The most common answer was, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” Apathy is just indifference or unconcern. When it comes to attending church, some people just don’t care. It is a simple mathematical fact that there are millions of people who are on the rolls of churches in the United States who never darken the door of the church. In almost every church I know of, about 50% of the members never give a penny or attend a single service except perhaps occasionally on Easter and Christmas. We need to lovingly remind them that there’s an eternity of difference between having your name written on a church roll and having your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven. We know this was a problem among the Hebrew believers because in Hebrews 10, the writer addresses these no-show Christians. “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT) I’ve said it before but going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car. But if you love the Lord, you will want to gather with God’s people on a regular basis. I know I’m literally preaching to the choir. You’re here! Good for you! I challenge you to continue to show up with God’s people on the Lord’s Day. We drift away when we forget that ending well is more important than a good start. The spiritual landscape is littered with the remains of men and women who started well, but somewhere along the track, they gave up. They left the race. They drifted away! The Apostle Paul had a laser focus toward finishing strong for the Lord. He wrote, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:24) Paul wanted to keep his eyes on the prize of finishing well for the Lord. There have been many amazing stories coming from the Olympics. One of my favorites came from the women’s 5000-meter event at the Rio Olympics. As the runners were bunched up in the turn, New Zealand runner, Nikki Hamblin, lost her balance and fell to the track. American runner Abby D’Agostino tripped over her and fell to the track, injuring her knee. Hamblin was devastated, and momentarily thought about quitting. But she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Abby saying, “Get up! Get up! We have to finish this race. It is the Olympics!” Then leaning on each other, they limped their way to the finish line. Neither won a medal, but they were winners in other ways because they realized the importance of finishing the race. Here’s the reality: none of us have finished yet. But if you finished your race today or tomorrow would you be finishing well? Followers of Jesus Christ pace themselves in the race of life so they have enough gas in the tank to sprint across the finish line. What is the solution for spiritual drifting? You need to link your life to Someone strong and secure. You need a solid anchor. I’ve been told that the heaviest anchors ever made are the ones used on U.S. Aircraft Carriers. Each carrier has two and each one weighs 60,000 pounds. When the navy drops those two anchors, that huge ship won’t drift in the harshest seas. We have an anchor even more powerful than that. His name is Jesus. The best way to prevent spiritual drift to stay firmly anchored to the hope we have in Him. The Bible says, “Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:18-19) My challenge to you this morning is: Be aware of the danger of drifting away from God. Bind your life to the solid anchor of hope. End well!