“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”—Hebrews 2:3
Good News is the “good news” of salvation affected by the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. The message I bring to you this evening is a message that will apply to all of us. It will apply to Christians, to those earnest Christians, and it will apply to Christians who are neglecting their Saviour, their ministry, their worship. It will apply to those who are not Christians, to those who are hesitating, to those who are neglecting the doing of that which they know to be right and their obligation.
In order to get the setting of the text let me, just in a few sentences, lead your thought up to it. Evidently the writer of Hebrews was addressing Hebrew Christians who were on the verge of apostasy. Perhaps in no section of God’s word did the apostle display greater tact in meeting the situation than in this book. It is evident from the contents of the book, and from the history of the Christian church, that the church at that time was undergoing persecution. At first the persecution proceeded from the Jews as they saw their ranks being depleted and saw their people going after Jesus of Nazareth. They thought to defeat the movement by persecuting those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just a little later when the Church’s influence was being felt, the Gentiles became alarmed because it seemed clear to them that unless this movement was checked that paganism would yield to the movement, so they joined with the Jews.
When the Gentiles joined the Jews the dogs of war were let loose on Earth against these Christians. To accentuate the situation yonder was the Temple. How much in contrast was the ritual of the Christian church, and you can see what a tremendous impact that had upon them. No Temple, no priesthood, no ritual. This Book showed that, after all, Christianity was not inferior to Judaism but superior, and the method he used in making that demonstration was to show that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was superior to the prophets. And then he says that he is even greater than the angels, and then he goes on and shows that Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christian church, was greater than Moses, and then He was greater than Aaron, leading us up to the place where this one, after having completed his work, ascended on high and was then continually witnessing His grace to all the world by the Holy Spirit, through His disciples.
Having thus shown that the founder of Christianity, in His essential greatness, had accomplished such wonderful work, he comes back to show that after all those who have embraced this faith have nothing to be discouraged about. Nothing to turn them aside. And so he proceeds with his argument. Frequently, to interrupt the argument, he turned aside and made an exhortation that he might apply the truth.
How Shall We Escape?
He turned aside in order that He might impress upon the people the necessity of steadfastness and bring unto them the great danger of apostasy, and so he raises the question, “How shall we escape?” How much greater peril there will be if we neglect this great salvation which has been brought by the Lord Jesus Christ. That question which he raises in order to impress upon them the necessity of steadfastness, has three great outstanding truths, and those three truths I shall use as the division of my subject tonight.
- The Great Salvation.
- The way by which this Salvation might be lost—Neglect.
- The impossibility of Escape, if it is neglected.
Let us consider the matter in this light. Perhaps all of us have been more or less neglectful of the duty and the responsibility that is incumbent upon us. I am sure that you who have been postponing your decision, in the face of the consciousness of your duty,—you ought to be alarmed. You ought to consider the peril which is facing you as a responsibility.
Let us look at the great salvation. Of what does it consist? First, it is great because of the greatness of its author. This text, this Book, these verses show that Jesus Christ, the one whom God gave, the one who died on the cross of Calvary, was not a mere man. He was not an angel. He was the one who was very God of very God. He was the one from whom radiated divine glory. He was the greater than all things. The one who was high about the angels. He it was, who, on the cross of Calvary, made atonement in order that lost men might be saved. We understand that this salvation which has been offered to us, and which I offer to you tonight, has been wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ; that He died on the cross and it was not mere human blood. It was the blood of the Son of God. I trust those of us who are interested in this matter and who are going on day by day in our work, will take it to heart, and see whether we are living in the light and in the importance of our calling to the one who wrought out our salvation on the cross.
Then it is great because it saves from great sin. The peculiarity of the Gospel is, and the peculiarity of the mission of the Son of God is, that it is to save sinners. “He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Them that are whole need not a physician. Paul himself says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” And we read, “Though your sins be scarlet they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
A Great Salvation
This salvation which I bring to you tonight, which has been wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ and is offered to you on the simple condition of faith, is a salvation that saves from great sin. Jesus Christ did not come to save the sinless, the great and the high, but He came to save those who are sinners, and it does not make any difference how great your sins, Jesus Christ will save you. This salvation is more than equal to sin, for where sin did about grace did much more abound.
The blood of Jesus Christ is about to save you from your sins. I care not though you have been a thief, the salvation is more than equal for your sin. You need not go out a thief. You can go out with your heart and life washed clean, even as white as snow, in the blood of Jesus. I care not though you are a liar. This salvation that I offer is equal to your sin, more than equal. It will save you from your lying. Though you have plunged into the gulf of licentiousness, and even tonight you are a moral leper, this salvation can send you out clean and virtuous.
I trust that you will hear the message and consider the peril that faces you, for how can you escape if you neglect such a salvation as this.
It is great because it saves from great danger. The Bible represents man as a sinner. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. This Bible tells us that God hated sin, and that over the head of the sinner was hanging His wrath. In your natural state, apart from the blood of the Son of God, there is nothing awaiting you but endless ruin. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish but have everlasting life.” The wrath is upon you. The salvation which I offer to you is about to remove it, and you can go out of this house looking up in the face of God, and even calling him, “Father.”
Salvation Gives Assurance
It is a great salvation in that it exalts men; lifts men to a high estate. Coming broken and ruined, He will impart unto you His own nature because the believer becomes partaker of His divine nature. Those who are lifted up shall be lifted up higher because when He comes He will take them to Himself and they shall be with Him forever. It is a wonderful salvation which can take men and women down in the depths and lift them up and ultimately put them as high as the eternal Son of God. It is a great salvation and the coming glory will reveal how great it is.
A minister in London after a gospel meeting was walking down the street singing. A man blurted out, “Are you drunk?” The minister replied, “Yes, I am drunk with the coming glory.” This great salvation will take men and women and lift them up and give them this assurance.
It was accomplished through great suffering. I wish I could picture to you tonight the greatness of the suffering which secured us this salvation. “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” He was made to be sin for us. He was so wounded and bruised that they did not recognize him. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openth not his mouth.” That is what this salvation which is offered to you cost. It cost the sufferings of the Son of God. Oh what suffering! All for you. All for me, in order that men and women in His own image might be brought back home.
Lost Through Neglect
The way you may be lost is through neglect. There are some things that you can afford to neglect. Frequently we neglect this, that and the other things, and do not suffer any serious consequence. There are some things in life, which to neglect, means irreparable loss. It is not necessary that there be any grave offense against morality in order to go to hell. You may be honest, you may be a worthy citizen, you may be a model husband or wife, and yet go to hell. Because the only thing you need to do in order to go to hell is to neglect this salvation.
It is not a question of being lost. The race is lost now. All you need to do is to continue to neglect. There need not be any decided disregard to God or to His Word, or Jesus Christ. You may go right on respecting men, honoring the Bible, going to church, listening to sermons, but if you neglect to receive Jesus Christ, if you neglect to lay hold upon eternal life, you are lost forever. There need not be any open rebellion against God and his ministers. All you need to do is to neglect.
A man is sick with a deadly disease. The physician comes and provides him medicine. He has ability to apply that medicine and if he takes the medicine he will be cured. What does that man need to do in order to die? All he needs to do is to neglect the medicine. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the medicine which God has sent down from Heaven to cure sin, and unless you apply it you are going to die in your sin.
There are three short steps to hell. The first one is neglect. It is but a very short step to the second, which is indifference. There are some here tonight who once were interested, but you said, “Oh, I have time enough.” You neglected that salvation and tonight the same appeal that moved you then will not touch you. Why? Because the psychological reaction in your own soul is that you are indifferent tonight.
Years ago I was speaking and at the close of my message, in response to the invitation, a number of young men came forward. Afterwards one of the young men made this statement. “When you were speaking I recalled how I felt some time ago, but,” he said, “I realized that I was farther away, and simply knowing the peril that was facing me, by sheer force of will I came forward and accepted Jesus Christ.”
The next step is a very short one still, and that is hardness of heart. Oh, how many people have been brought under the influence of the Gospel. They have felt the calling of the Spirit. They have felt the wooings of God, until tonight they are so indifferent. Yea, they have come to that place of hardness of heart. So all you need to do to go to hell is just to do nothing.
Wooings of the Holy Spirit
The last division which is set forth in the text is, “The impossibility of Escape if this great Salvation is Neglected.” Why is it impossible, you say. First of all, God says in His Word, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” The way to come to Jesus Christ is through the wooings and calling and aid of the Holy Ghost. The only way we can come is as the Holy Ghost draws us to Him. As the Holy Ghost induces us to yield.
If you hear the Holy Spirit calling you then you had better consider it very seriously. God says, “My spirit shall not always strive,” and if you neglect this matter until God withdraws His spirit, then your condition is absolutely hopeless. If He has taken His departure, then you are lost, hopelessly and eternally lost. So I warn you, I urge you, to hear God’s word, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”
It is impossible to escape because you have just one life to live and that life is made up of a bundle of opportunities, and if you neglect those opportunities you are doomed. You are lost. Because it is appointed unto men once to die, after that the judgment. As death leaves you judgment will find you.
Don’t be deluded with the idea that beyond the grave you have another chance. That doctrine is unscriptural. You have just one life to live and if you neglect Jesus Christ in that life you are doomed—doomed eternally. Oh, how serious it is. How long do you know you are going to live. You may not live until you get out of this building. And if you get out of this building you may die before you get home. In view of the uncertainty before you, I beseech you to lay hold on eternal life, and be assured of the blessedness of peace with Him.
The Final Sacrifice
Giving us Jesus Christ on the cross is God’s last effort to redeem the race. When the time had come for Him to yield His life to God, He exclaimed, “It is finished.” By the event the redemptive work of Jesus Christ had been accomplished. If you pass this by remember that you have passed by your last opportunity.
If you neglect this salvation it is impossible to escape because there is no other sacrifice for sin. Jesus Christ is God’s last word. There is none other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. He died on the cross. The final sacrifice that ever shall be made for sin was made, and I hold up before you tonight the offer of salvation in the Book “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Believe means yield. Now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. Today if you hear His voice harden not your heart.
I beseech you, as an ambassador of Christ, that you be reconciled to God. Be assured that if you do, all your sins are washed away and you have eternal life. So I ask you to give this matter serious consideration. There is not difficulty about it. No mystery about it. God gave Jesus Christ. He provided salvation. The offer is for you now on the simple condition of acceptance. God never says, feel and you will be saved. He says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”