Grace For The Journey
Yesterday we began to look at Hebrews 2:1-4, where the writer is warning his readers about the danger of drifting spiritually. In yesterday’s blog we looked at verses 1-2 and saw the first of three motivating truths that we should stand on that will help us not drift away spiritually:
The salvation Christ offers is indescribably great.
Let’s look again at what the Bible says in Hebrews 2:1-4, “Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
Today we will look at the second great motivating truth in verses 3-4 that will keep us from drifting away:
- Because God’s salvation is so great, the consequences of neglecting it are terrible.
The author does not specify here what we would face if we neglect this salvation. But all we have to do is read ahead (10:27), where he gets more graphic:
If we don’t escape,
We face “a terrifying expectation of judgment
And the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries”
(See also 12:25-29).
Some may be thinking, “How can these frightening warnings apply to Christians? Aren’t believers eternally secure?”
One of the mistaken ideas that the author of Hebrews confronts in this and in every other warning section is what we could call “the myth of the carnal Christian.” This idea was popularized by Lewis Sperry Chafer’s He That is Spiritual [Dunham] and by the Schofield Reference Bible (note on 1 Cor. 2:14) early in the 20th century.
It was later picked up by Campus Crusade’s booklet, “How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit.” The idea is that there are three classes of people: the natural man (unbeliever); the spiritual man (the Spirit-filled believer); and, the carnal man (the believer who is running his own life, not subject to the Holy Spirit). For the sake of time, I cannot go into many of the problems with this classification (see Ernest Reisinger’s booklet, “What Should We Think of the Carnal Christian?” [Banner of Truth]).
But one problem is that it gives false assurance to the person who says, “I believe in Jesus as my Savior, so I am going to heaven. But I am not submitting to Him as my Lord.” For the author of Hebrews . . .
Either you are holding fast to your
Confession of faith in Christ
And are striving against sin,
Or you are drifting spiritually
And are in danger of frightening judgment.
Those are the only options.
True believers may drift and may get entangled in sin. But when they are confronted with the truth, they will turn from their sin and pursue holiness. If they do not turn from it, they have no basis for assurance of salvation. The longer they continue in sin, the more reason they have to question whether their profession of faith was genuine. But no one has the option of saying, “I’m just a carnal Christian. I’m living for this world now, but when I die I’ll go to heaven.” That option does not exist.
The author sets forth the consequences of neglecting salvation by contrasting the Law with the gospel.
- The Law imposed some frightening penalties for disobedience.
“The word spoken by angels” refers to the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Old Testament does not state directly that angels gave the Law to Moses, but it implies such (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17) and the New Testament confirms it (Acts 7:38, 53; Galatians 3:19). That Law imposed frightening penalties for sin. Any defiant disobedience was punished by stoning to death (Numbers 15:30, 32-36; Joshua 7:1-26). Sometimes God sent punishment directly from heaven, such as when the ground opened and swallowed up Korah and his fellow rebels (Numbers 16), or when God sent plagues among the people (Numbers 16:46-50; 21:6-9; 25:8-9). In these judgments, God was not being cruel; He was acting in justice (Hebrews 2:2).
- The neglect of the gospel will bring far worse consequences.
The argument is from the lesser to the greater. Greater revelation imposes greater responsibility. If the Jews under the Law were punished for their disobedience, how much more will we come under God’s judgment if we associate with God’s people, but turn our backs on the great salvation that is offered through the death of God’s own Son? That is his argument and appeal.
We err if we think that the demands of the gospel
Are less exacting than those of the Law.
We also err if we think that grace means
That we can be sloppy about God’s standards of holiness.
That is a dangerously wrong way to think! As the writer states in chapter 10 verse 29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” To drift away from the gospel after you’ve been exposed to it is to turn away from God Himself, who sent His Son so that we could have His gift of salvation. You don’t want to do that!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”