[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fNWTZZwgbs[/embed] Last week, we talked about the purpose of Hebrews as revealed in Hebrews 1: to elevate Jesus as superior to anything else.
"The Son, who is the radianceof God’s glory and the exact expression/image of His nature, sustains all that exists through the power of His word. He was seated at the right hand of God once He Himself had made the offering that purified us from all our sins."
This leads us into this week’s passage.
"That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven’s messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore (neglect) this great salvation?"
Notice this was written to believers. The salvation in this particular passage isn’t about that initial act of surrender. It’s about neglecting the salvation we have been given. Initially we thought it was great, but now it’s kind of, “meh.” It’s cool that we are saved and all, but we don’t remember that we were saved from destruction, or that we ‘are beings saved’ (1 Corinthians 1:18) in an ongoing process of sanctification."
"We heard this great salvation first from our Lord Jesus, then from those who passed on His teaching. God also testifies to this truth by signs and wonders and miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit lighting on those He chooses."
The writer started this section by saying we dare not ignore this great salvation that is given to us. Now he offers a little bit of an aside, almost a footnote, about how his readers knew this message of salvation was true: 1) Jesus taught it, 2) the disciples and apostles have passed it on, and 3) God confirmed it with miracles acting as signs that point toward God as the author of the message.
Notice the role of everything miraculous mentioned in this section: It was given or done as God willed to testify to the truth of salvation. Some have called these “inaugural miracles” or “inaugural gifts.” God made sure the reality of the supernatural world was clear, and it all pointed toward God, the author of this great salvation (John 2:23). Think of the story of the lame man (Matthew 9; Mark 2) to whom Jesus said, “I can forgive your sins.” His audience didn’t believe he could do that, so Jesus said, “So that you might believe…” and healed the man’s lameness.
In other words, there was a visible validation from God so that claims of invisible power and realities were confirmed.Last week we talked about how it was easy it was for the audience of Hebrews to become distracted by angels and focus on their glory of the messenger rather than the glory of the One who made them and sent them. Same with miracle-working. Miracles are always meant to be signs pointing toward the one who makes miracles possible; any time the person doing the miracle or the event itself overshadows the glory of God, it’s a problem. So…
Don’t neglect your great salvation.
That message of salvation is legit – it came from trustworthy sources, and God has affirmed it through miraculous signs.
Now, back to angels for a little bit, because we didn’t get enough in Chapter 1.
"Now clearly God didn’t set up the heavenly messengers to bring the final word or to rule over the world that is coming. In one place the Scriptures say:“What is man that you are mindful of him,or the son of man, that you care for him?, You made him for a little while lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” When God placed everything under the son of man, He didn’t leave out anything. Maybe we don’t see all that happening yet; but what we do see is Jesus, born a little lower than the heavenly messengers, who is now crowned with glory and honor because He willingly suffered and died. And He did that so that through God’s grace, He might taste death on behalf of everyone."
This gives us answer to the question at the beginning of this section: “How will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation?” The answer? “[Jesus] willingly suffered and died. And He did that so that through God’s grace, He might taste death on behalf of everyone.”
That is our great salvation. And yet, we tend to drift.
“That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking [about this great salvation] so that we will never drift away from it.”
This imagery was used in literature to describe a lot of things:a ship whose anchor does not hold, an arrow slipping from the quiver, snow melting and sliding, a ring slipping off a finger, water leaking from a poorly constructed vessel.
Drifting happens easily. It’s not a verb that requires much work to accomplish. When we tube the Boardman, I drift. I just sit there and get floated from one place to another, banging into banks and dodging branches along the way. I don't have to do anything to drift. This is how we neglect our salvation: we drift in the currents of the world.
How do I get lost on a trip? Just drive with no worries about direction.
How do let my garden become a lawn? Do nothing.
How do I get out of shape? Do nothing.
How do I become more ignorant vs. more knowledgeable? Do nothing.
How hard would Braden have to work to get his college scholarship revoked? He wouldn’t. He could just do nothing.
It’s easy to drift – but it’s dangerous. If all the boats on the water drifted, they would run into each other or eventually crash into land. God forbid a storm arises. A drifting boat is in deep, deep trouble. I once heard a phrase: “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” And that’s usually not where you want to be.
“Pay even closer attention” (give heed) is bringing a ship to land (these verses were heavy on nautical images). How do we do this? I’m sure there are a number of approaches you can take, but I am going to focus this morning on observing godly disciplines." You can find spiritual disciplines discussed in a variety of ways; I have chosen this helpful breakdown from Nathan Hale.
I don’t offer these as a legalistic requirement. I offer these as a way of showing how Christians throughout the centuries have ordered their lives so that they do not neglect their great salvation.
Prayer – communicating with God ( 6:9)
Meditation – focusing on God and his will ( 4:8)
Fasting – a reminder of the source of all nourishment (Luke 5:35)
Study – careful attention the reality that God reveals to us, especially through Holy Scripture (Luke 2:46)
Simplicity – seeking God’s Kingdom first ( 6:33)
Submission – placing God’s will above one’s own (Luke 22:42)
Solitude – withdrawing from the world to spend time with God ( 14:23)
Service – supportive action toward others (Mark 10:45)
Confession – acknowledging one’s sin with and to others in the community of faith(James 5:16)
Guidance – giving and receiving direction from others along the journey with Jesus (Acts 15:8)
Celebration – taking joy is what God has done (1 Cor 5:8)
Worship – giving God glory through attitudes and actions, and words (1 Cor. 14:26)
But at the end of the day, these are not our salvation. They are tools God has given us to help us be focused so that we don’t neglect the amazing grace that has been given us.
“The salvation mentioned here is the whole system of Christianity, with all the privileges it confers; properly called a salvation, because, by bringing such an abundance of heavenly light into the world, it saves or delivers [us] from the kingdom of darkness, ignorance, error, superstition, and idolatry; and provides all the requisite means to free [us] from the power, guilt, and contamination of sin.” (Adam Clarke)
This language of ignoring or neglecting is also found in the parable in Matthew 22 when people disregarded their invitation to a marriage supper. They did not give it the weight it deserved and failed to take advantage of the opportunity offered to them.
Interesting note from Adam Clarke’s commentary: “It was common thus to express the testimony of any of the inspired writers… thus saith a certain scripture….Thus even the heathens were accustomed to quote high authorities; so Plato… ‘as a certain person saith’, meaning Heraclitus…It is such a mode of quotation as we sometimes use when we speak of a very eminent person who is well known… The mode of quotation therefore implies, not ignorance, but reverence.”
“That God should remember in the way of mercy these wretched beings, is great condescension; that he should visit them, manifest himself to them, yea, even dwell among them, and at last assume their nature, and give up his life to ransom them from the bitter pains of eternal death, is mercy and love indescribable and eternal.”– Adam Clarke
It was a custom in ancient times to take off criminals by making them drink a cup of poison. Socrates was adjudged to drink a cup of the juice of hemlock, by order of the Athenian magistrate… The reference in the text seems to point out the whole human race as being accused, tried, found guilty, and condemned, each having his own poisoned cup to drink; and Jesus, the wonderful Jesus, takes the cup out of the hand of each, and cheerfully and with alacrity drinks off the dregs! Thus having drunk every man's poisoned cup, he tasted that death which they must have endured, had not their cup been drunk by another. Is not this the cup to which he refers, Matthew 26:39; : O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me? But without his drinking it, the salvation of the world would have been impossible; and therefore he cheerfully drank it in the place of every human soul, and thus made atonement for the sin of the whole world: and this he did, by the grace, mercy, or infinite goodness of God. Jesus Christ, incarnated, crucified, dying, rising, ascending to heaven, and becoming our Mediator at God's right hand, is the full proof of God's infinite love to the human race.” (Adam Clark)
This list is from “The 12 Spiritual Disciplines: Essential Tools for Spiritual Growth.”
“What Are Spiritual Disciplines?” https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-are-spiritual-disciplines