Neglecting Your Soul
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:3)
Are you straying from the strong, church-going lifestyle instilled in you by your parents? Perhaps you slowly drifted away from Christianity as you married, had children, and got into the fast-paced life of work, rearing children, and being part of your community. This happens to many of us, but maybe it is time for a change. Maybe you have been drifting long enough.
The author of Hebrews is writing to professing, second generation believers who are not showing the same zeal as their parents. So the writer seeks to stir up their commitment to Christ. Sometimes he shows the superiority of Jesus to angels, Moses, and Old Testament priests and sacrifices. At other times he pronounces severe warnings on them. He is doing the latter in Hebrews 2:1-3. After making a case in chapter one for the superiority of Jesus over angels, saying that all the angels of God worship Jesus, becoming his ministers, he then writes, ‘For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?’
What does the writer mean by these words? He begins by saying, ‘For this reason.’ In chapter one the writer lays down the glorious truth that God had previously spoken through the Old Testament prophets in many ways, but in these last days “” meaning at the coming of Jesus and his death and resurrection “” God has now spoken to us in his Son, the One whom he has appointed as heir of all things, through whom he has made the world. In other words, Jesus is God’s appointed Messiah, the heir of all that the Father has, and the Creator of everything. This is the context of these important words in Hebrews 2:1-3. Because of the superiority of Jesus to all the angels, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard. Why must we pay close attention to these words? Because men tend to drift away from these things!
Here’s the bottom line “” how can you possibly escape the certain, terrifying judgment of God if you continue to neglect this great salvation?
So what must you do? You must once and for all put away the false notion that some other god can save you The writers of the Bible cannot be any clearer. Luke says that there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). David said, ‘I shall call upon God and the Lord will save me (Psa. 55:16). Paul said, ‘I deliver to you of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins, that he was raised again from the dead according to the Scriptures’ (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Isaiah said, ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. And he will have compassion on him’ (Isa. 55:6-7). And Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me’ (John 14:6). Those who say many roads lead up the mountain to God are terribly mistaken. Those who say that sincerity is all that matters in religious issues do not understand the magnitude of our problem. The animistic gods of Irian Jaya will not do. The neo-pagan gods of Sophia or Isis will not do. Allah will not deliver. Nor will the myriads of Hindu gods. We need radical grace, something profound, something powerful to overcome the sentence of original sin that enslaves, blinds, kills, and destroys; something that will assuage the shame and guilt of actual sins, millions of them that continue to pile up against us, rendering us unfit to stand before the gaze of pure holiness.
If religion is man’s effort to reach up to God, then Christianity is God’s great act of condescension, ripping open heaven, coming into the world as a baby born in a manger, born in obscurity and poverty, living perfectly, proclaiming the kingdom of God by his life, words, actions, and death, proving that he has purchased the redemption of his people by being raised from the dead and ascending to his Father’s right hand.
Second, you must stop neglecting this great salvation. Enough is enough. It is sheer madness to not consider the sure and certain ending of your life. You will die, and then comes the judgment. You will stand before God and give an account of all you have said, thought, and done. Do you feel good about your chances to pass the perfected gaze of unmitigated holiness? Where will you go when you die? Contrary to what so many believe “” you will not simply die and cease to exist. You have a soul that will never die. You will not merely return to the dust from which you came. You will not get a second chance in purgatory. There is no such place. God has given you time to repent during your lifetime and thus far it may be that you have refused to heed his cry. You will not come back from the dead as some other person. There is no such thing as reincarnation. These are all lies of the devil to blind you to eternal verities, to drug you, as it were, so that you will live and die in your spiritual stupor.
Don’t neglect this glorious, marvellous, and majestic salvation any longer. Stop your drifting. Come to Jesus right now. What does it mean to come to Jesus? By this I don’t mean a mere religious life of church-going, though this is important. I don’t mean an emotional decision wrought by sheer terror at the thought of dying. But by this I do mean coming to grips with your mortality, your lack of true spirituality, the just condemnation for your sins under which you are now living. I mean seeing that you have offended a holy God, that Jesus is your only hope of eternal salvation, that you are willing to acknowledge your sinful rebellion against him, that you are willing to hate and forsake your sin, that you ask God to save you by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. By this I mean you trust only in who Jesus is and what he did on the cross. You must see that you have nothing to offer him, that your righteousness is like a menstrual cloth before him. You must believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the full payment and satisfaction of God for your sins. It means you say to God, ‘Be merciful to me, the sinner.’ It means that you are able to say about yourself with Paul the Apostle, ‘I am the foremost of sinners.’
Are you willing to do so my friend? It matters not how long you have been away from God. It matters not how sinfully you have lived over these many years. It matters not how dreadfully you have hurt others, though surely you will want to make restitution to those whom you have hurt, by confessing your sins to them and asking for their forgiveness. It matters not that the consequences of your sin are so profound and far-reaching that you can never unravel the deceit and hardship you have caused others. Jesus is ready, willing, and able to save you right this very moment. Turn from your sin, my friend, and believe on Jesus Christ to save you. You will find him to be all that he promises. You will know his peace, love, guidance, and provision all your days. And when you close your eyes in death, you will see grandeur and majesty beyond comprehension. Only Jesus can save you and he can do so right now!
Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Al Baker’s sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.
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