“Pay Close Attention” (Hebrews 2:1-4)
Listen to the Sermon:
As we’ll see today, all of that rich theology that was unfurled for us in chapter one of the book of Hebrews concerning Jesus Christ, although it was some pretty deep theology that we were in, isn’t in the slightest just some interesting theological musings for interested theologians. Far from it. These are truths that we encountered in chapter one that have life and death significance attached to them.
In chapter two our author makes the turn, as he so often does in this epistle, from exposition, from the theological discourse if you will, to exhortation, to telling us as a church what to do with all of that really rich theology that was unpacked for us. So, bearing that in mind.
Hear now the word of the Lord from Hebrews 2:1-4.
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:1-4, ESV
Friends, this is the word of the Lord.
When I was in grade school, and later in college, there was a popular tactic that many of my teachers and later professors used that was particularly effective, I think, in quickly overcoming any boredom that may have lingered among me and my fellow classmates in a given class. You see whenever they lectured through material that may have been particularly dry or dull and they having trouble holding the attention of teenagers, well they knew, and I assumed it was an intentional strategy one that they always kept in their back pocket that they could pull out at will and make use of, that they could draw everyone in the class back to attention by appealing to our more practical sensibilities and warning that this material, whatever it was, was going to be included on the next exam.
Now predictably as soon as everybody heard what was at stake, I along with my fellow classmates although I was always paying attention, snap to attention. You would notice glazed over eyes in the class suddenly became laser focused. You heard the click of pens as a chorus throughout the whole classes, everybody got ready to take meticulous notes. The once silent classroom was roused to attention with clarifying questions left and right for the professor. All it took was a gentle reminder of what was at stake for nearly everyone in the classroom to wake up and to pay attention.
When the stakes are high, we would do well to pay attention. We know that from other areas of our lives as well. This is what we also hear in our passage this morning.
When we turn to Hebrews chapter two, we are coming to the first of five what are called warning passages in the book of Hebrews. Now understand that throughout the book our author makes use of a variety of methods in order to stir our minds and our affections towards Christ in a whole host, a variety, of ways. He powerfully and effectively prunes our hearts so that we would begin to think more rightly and feel rightly and move rightly according to the greater salvation offered in Jesus Christ.
Among the many methods that our author employs to keep our attention focused and fixed on Jesus Christ and his gospel, well he also issues warnings as an ordained means for our perseverance as Christians in the Christian life. These warnings are intended to impress upon us just what is at stake, especially in those times in our lives where we might feel duller towards Christ. They are intended to drive us repeatedly to a life of faith and repentance. In short, warning passages like the one we encountered today are intended to stir us so that we would begin more and more to heed what we have heard about the gospel of our salvation.
Our big idea today is heed what you have heard.
We’re going three points that we’re going to work through.
1. A Command to Heed
2. A Warning to Fear
3. A Word to Embrace
A Command to Heed
Let’s start out with that first one, a command to heed. Again, in verse 1 we read,
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1, ESV
Now understand that up until this point in the book of Hebrews, really throughout the entirety of the first chapter as I already kind of alluded to, we’ve already heard this rich theology unpacked for us about the person of Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus Christ. Just to review a little bit of that, first we heard it in a variety of ways in chapter one that Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of the Father.
In verse 3 of chapter 1 we heard that Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. In verse 5 of chapter 1 we heard that together with the Father, so too the Son, and of course the Spirit is to be worshipped and glorified. We read in verse 5, “let all God’s angels worship him,” in reference to the Son. Then in verse 8 of chapter 1 we heard of the eternal reign of Jesus Christ the Son as king, where God the Father is also explicitly heard addressing God the Son as God. We read in verse 8, “your throne O God is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.”
So who is this one? Who is this So, we’ve encountered in chapter one and who the author of Hebrews exhorts us now to pay much closer attention to? Who is this Son who took upon himself flesh in the first century AD?
Well we learn in chapter one that this is very God of very God, who always was, always is, and always will be. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Yet that’s not all we heard in chapter one about the one who is Son, because we also heard about what the Son Jesus Christ accomplished in his in the flesh incarnate ministry on earth. When he, the eternal Son of God, took the form of a servant in history.
We heard that when Jesus did that, the eternal Son of God did that, he made purification for sins, in verse 3. He did what the priesthood of the Old Testament and the blood of bulls and goats could never accomplish. He became for us our great high priest. Actually the author of Hebrews is foremost concerned with unpacking Christ’s priesthood, as we’ll see walking through the rest of the book of Hebrews, and then in declaring to us the will of God and revealing God in his person in a more full way than any of the prophets of the Old Testament could do.
Jesus became to us our final word, the final word spoken by God, and the better prophet. Then in vanquishing the forces of sin, death, and the devil, and sitting down on his throne at the right hand of the Father on high, when everything was accomplished, the one who his Son was revealed to be for us our great king who even now rules and defends his church in the heavenly places.
So, in short, we heard throughout the entirety of chapter one that the one who is the Son is fully God, always has been and always will be. Then for us in the fullness of time he became fully man as our second Adam, our better David, and our great high priest. Friends this is the gospel. That the word of salvation that we’re commanded to pay much closer attention to, it’s the hope of the world.
Now when chapter two rolls around, our author tells us that these things, everything that was unpacked for us in chapter one about the Son, well these are critical matters of life and death. Despite the theological depth that chapter one plunged us into, this is not a theology that can be brushed aside or dismissed as only stuff professional theologians need to be concerned with, not in the least. Instead these are truths of life and death significance.
This comes out in verse 1 of chapter 2 where our author commands us, in view of everything that was said about Jesus Christ the Son of God in chapter one, that we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard unless we drift from it. Brothers and sisters understand first and foremost the great advantage that we have as the church of Jesus Christ, being recipients of the gospel of Jesus Christ and heirs of salvation.
First together with the first century Christians who heard and received the contents of this book at some point in the first century AD, we share an advantaged position redemptive historically. That is in comparison with believers who came previously in the Old Testament, because we see the glory of God unveiled in the face of Jesus Christ in a way that Old Testament believers could only look upon in a veiled and shadowy way.
Yet even in our own time and place we’re at a great advantage compared with peoples elsewhere in our world, who lack an established church in their midst. Those who don’t have a single soul among them to preach the word of the Lord, and who in many cases may even lack a translated copy of the Bible in their own languages. In contrast we have churches in every pocket of our city, we have more than 450 translations of the Bible into English, and a copious number of Christians to proclaim the gospel of our salvation to us.
Brothers and sisters there are incredible truths to hear in the gospel of Jesus Christ and we have every opportunity to hear them. With those great advantages that we have at our disposal, comes a greater responsibility to hear and to heed what has been graciously preserved and revealed to us in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In fact, this theme that greater revelation brings with it a greater responsibility is something that recurs throughout the scripture.
In Luke 12 for instance, Jesus himself tells us that everyone to whom much has been given of him much will be required. We have been given much by way of revelation and therefore we have all of the more reason to pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift from it.
So how do we do that? What does it mean to pay attention? Then on the flip side what it would look like to drift from that? Well in this opening verse it’s interesting that these two key words in verse one. The words that are translated in the ESV “pay attention” and then “drift away” are, in the Greek, sailing terms. Now I understand we live in Nebraska and some of you in Iowa and so you may be unaware that there are these vessels that float on water called boats. That’s the imagery that this text invites us to unpack a little bit. It’s imagery of keeping a ship on its proper course and intentionally fighting the currents or the wind to keep it steadily pointed in the right direction.
In the same way we’re urged, as the church, as believers, to stay fixed on the greater revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we have been advantaged in a number of ways to receive. We’re called here to continue to keep it before our minds and hearts at all times, to drive deeper into it, to fight the currents and the drift so that we never lose sight of it.
In that sailing analogy we also learned something about drift as well, the flip side of what it means to keep straight on the proper path. Now I’ve never sailed before, but I do remember as a child going to the beach and playing in the ocean for hours. Again, ocean is a big body of water that lies on either coast, if you’re unfamiliar with it.
There would be these long stretches of time as a kid at the beach in the water where I’d get so carried away, bobbing up and down in the water and looking out towards the oncoming waves and watching out for the sharks that as a kid I was terrified of, but oddly enough still kind of hoping that I’d see one. After about 10 to 15 minutes of bobbing up and down looking at the waves and watching out for sharks, well I turned back to shore and realize that without feeling it or being aware of it, in the moment that the current had actually carried me far beyond where my parents had set up our lawn chair and umbrella. It didn’t take long, usually about 10 to 15 minutes of inattention, before I would drift far beyond whereas a child, I felt safe or comfortable.
I think there’s an analogy in that to what spiritual drift looks like as well. Now someone in my studies this week mentioned that our spiritual faculties are very often like leaky sieves in the sense that all it takes is some prolonged inactivity away from God’s word, or just a season of prayerlessness or maybe some lingering unconfessed sin and repentance in our lives, before we slowly have chipped away any progress that was made in this area or that area. It chips away progress, while simultaneously inviting other persuasions to minister to our soul.
Brothers and sisters the human heart is a fragile and a fickle vessel on this side of glory. I think we know that even the smallest persuasions can pull us well off course, sometimes without us even realizing it in the moment. So in light of all of that we are exhorted in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 1, in view of the spoil of riches that belong to us as children of God through Jesus Christ, truth that we are at an incredible advantage in a whole host of ways to have at our disposal, to press deeper into everything we’ve been privileged to hear and receive and for God’s glory and for our good to stay the course.
To paraphrase Paul from Ephesians chapter 4, don’t be children who are tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness, and deceitful schemes. Rather grow up into maturity by paying much closer attention to what we have heard in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s our exhortation that the author of Hebrews opens with that frames this passage. We are called to heed what we have already been privileged to hear and receive in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now maybe for you this prospect of drifting itself doesn’t sound all that foreboding. Now maybe the metaphor of drifting instead makes you think of one of those lazy rivers at a water park that kind of sounds pretty refreshing, doesn’t it? If you felt that this drift was refreshing in any way or really wasn’t a big deal, that there isn’t really much at stake, well when we turn to the next two verses, 2:2-3, well the author of Hebrews presses in this command to pay much closer attention by underlining precisely what is at stake if we drift away.
A Warning to Fear
So, our second point a warning to fear. Now again we read this in verses two through three,
2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:2-3, ESV
Now if you recall back in the introduction, I mentioned that throughout Hebrews we encounter a number of these warning passages. This is one of them. Now these various warning passages we encounter here and also Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 are intended to impress upon us the importance of persevering in the Christian life, by bluntly stating the consequences for turning aside and outright rejecting Jesus Christ and his gospel.
Now let me clarify that what these warning passages do not teach, and some interpretations I think get these warning passages just terribly wrong, is that someone who’s been renewed and regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit and who walks with Christ could lose that salvation. That’s not at all what this passage teaches. Warning passages like the one we find here in verse 2 and elsewhere in Hebrews, they aren’t intended to fill Christians with doubt and suspicion at every turn about our walk with Christ, but they are meant to impress upon us the need to persevere. In that way there are divine means for our perseverance in the Christian life.
When we on the one hand slowly invite temptations, whatever they may be, to minister to us. Or on the other hand we begin to water down and ignore the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed to us in the word of God, well these warnings boldly remind us precisely what is at stake so that we would adjust course and correct our drift.
That’s what we find in this passage too. Look at me again with the passage. First, we read about what happened in the Old Testament when the law of God was brushed aside or violated. Now bear in mind that when we read in our text about the message declared by angels or delivered by angels, well that’s not a reference to some esoteric knowledge that’s out there in the ether. No, rather that’s a reference to the law that was given to Moses, and by extension to Israel on Mount Sinai in the book of Exodus.
When the law is given in the book of Exodus, specifically in Exodus 20, there’s no explicit reference to angels in that passage. If we would look back to it, you wouldn’t see anything about angels. Yet elsewhere in the scriptures, as later authors reflect back upon that event of the giving of the law, they tell us that that giving of the law was accompanied by angelic activity. It clearly had its origins from God, that being the law, but it was also delivered by angels. Paul tells us that in the book of Galatians and Stephen tells us that in his speech just before he’s martyred in Acts chapter seven.
So, all that being said, when the author of Hebrews talks about this message delivered by angels, well he’s talking about the old covenant, that is the law of Moses, that we read about in the book of Exodus. We see it further unpacked in books like Leviticus and in Deuteronomy. Furthermore, we read in our text that this law the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and that every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution.
Now this word translated in your text, in the ESV, “reliable” is a little bit tricky. It seems that nearly every English translation adopts a slightly different understanding of it. I’m persuaded by what the NIV actually gets at when it translates the word “reliable” here as “binding”. That seems to get at the idea that the author of Hebrews intends. In that the idea is that in the law, the law was binding.
It was when something was commanded and when God’s people went the other way, well then punishments were stipulated for breaking this law or that law, they had to be enacted because the law was binding. There was no way to skirt the law, no way to get around the commandments and the sanctions because the law was binding. Justice demanded that every time the law was violated, regardless of who was doing the violation of it, well they had to be punished, they were subject to the demands of the law and the repercussions for breaking the law.
Throughout the Old Testament, this is exactly what we find when someone disbelieves or disobeys or transgresses the law of God, we find throughout the Old Testament that they’re punished accordingly. When in the book of Leviticus, a young man curses the name of God, well he’s stoned to death because that was what was required in the law of God. When in the book of Numbers, a man was found picking up sticks on the sabbath, well he too was stoned to death because that was what was required in the Mosaic Law.
Now bear in mind that that these specific sanctions in place under the old covenant are no longer applicable for us to apply in the new covenant, in the church today. Both of these examples, nevertheless, underscore what the what the author of Hebrews is teaching us in this passage, that the covenant that God entered into with his people on Mount Sinai was binding. It was binding in its promises, it was binding in its stipulations, and it was binding in its sanctions. That’s why our author comments in verse two every transgression or disobedience of the law of God received its just retribution. If you break a binding law. well you’re required to pay the price.
Yet as true as that was under the old covenant, the certainty of sanctions that would be enacted given a binding law, well that’s not even the main point of our author. In fact, everyone that our author writes to in the first century AD would have agreed on that point. Instead he’s establishing what was absolutely certain, without a doubt, to have transpired under the Mosaic Law, something everyone would have agreed with, to make the case that in the new covenant while the stakes are raised.
Remember we have far greater advantages and benefits in the new covenant. So, if retribution for the neglect and disobedience of God’s word was certain to befall transgressors and the shadowy administration of the old covenant, well how much more certain is judgment for those who neglect and disbelieve the word made flesh the only Savior of sinners, Jesus Christ? We might say it’s doubly certain now.
If you recall, I titled the second point a warning to fear. Now the idea that fear would function as a proper motivation to direct this course of action or that course of action is often perceived today, I think, as an undesirable motive. After all, to accuse someone of being motivated by fear isn’t to give that person a compliment. I’m sure all of us could identify things that we fear as Christians that we have no need to fear.
There is a certain sense in which the author of Hebrews wants to impress upon his readers and upon you and me the fearful prospect of apostatizing, that is of saying either through words or actions I’m done with Jesus Christ, I’m done with the church, I don’t want to have anything to do with either any longer. If this is the road you’re walking down, if this is where your drift is slowly leading you to, well then you need to know our author is saying that no escape is possible.
Escape was not possible under the administration of the old covenant, how much more impossible is it in the new covenant if you stand outside of union with Christ? So, to do just that to apostatize, to reject Jesus Christ, is indeed a fearful thing.
A Word to Embrace
Yet while this ominous note of judgment is quite stirring, we’re also provided as Christians with another motivation for staying the course. This leads to our final point where we see third that there is also a word to embrace. Look with me at the final part of our passage where we read this,
4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:4, ESV
Whereas the law that our author just talked about was delivered by angels, friends the gospel of our salvation that we read about so richly in chapter 1 of the epistle of Hebrews was declared through the Son of God himself. When the eternal Son of God took on human flesh and he came to earth to save us for our sins, well we find that he declared as our great prophet the fullness of the gospel message that we have come to believe and receive.
We see this throughout the gospels in the teaching ministry of Jesus in action. We see it when in Matthew 5, for instance, when Jesus ascends a mountain and he begins to deliver the famous Sermon on the Mount. He teaches with authority, as the new Moses. It’s no wonder why at the end of the Sermon on the Mount the crowds respond in astonishment that this is one who’s teaching them with authority, not as their scribes have done.
Then in Luke 4 Jesus he stands up in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, and with that same prophetic authority declare something bolder than any of the prophets who came before him would have done. Namely that in him, and in him alone, the day of salvation has gone. Unlike the false prophets of the Old Testament who announced comfort comfort when there was no comfort, Jesus announces an everlasting comfort in his ministry, in the greater salvation that we accomplish on our behalf, as our mediator, as the perfect prophet, priest, and king.
Throughout Jesus’s teaching ministry we see the greater prophet in action who, in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, “was ordained by God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”
All of this is in view when the author of Hebrews tells us that the gospel message that we have come to receive and believe was the message that was first delivered by the Lord God himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the one who came to earth to atone for our sins and to vanquish sin, death, and the devil. He also declared that in him the kingdom of God had come and then on the cross declared that the work of redemption that he had accomplished was finished.
Now it’s true that the first century Christians immediately addressed in the letter to the Hebrews, including perhaps the author of Hebrews himself we don’t know a whole lot about this author, but it would seem that both were not actually firsthand witnesses to this incarnate ministry of Jesus Christ. Rather they, it seems, heard the gospel message through other teachers and preachers including the apostles.
So, our author continues by assuring his readers that this message that was declared by Jesus Christ was also declared by his apostles by those who you yourselves have heard. These eyewitnesses and apostles were in turn validated by the resurrected Lord himself. The same mighty works, and wonders, and signs that God did through Jesus Christ were in turn poured out by the Holy Spirit to validate the apostolic messengers who followed on Christ’s coattails, who would bring that same gospel message to the far reaches of the known world. Then who would write down what they declared for generations long after they were gone, including for you and for me.
Just as signs and wonders attested to God’s endorsement of the messenger and the message in Jesus ministry, so too in the days of his apostles’ signs and wonders accompanied their ministry. Not of the means to themselves, but rather to validate and authenticate the gospel message that they carried as a God-given endorsement. Brothers and sisters the same signs and wonders that authenticated the apostolic spokesmen in the first century are no longer be present with us today. Most certainly the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who spoke this gospel message at first, is no longer present incarnate with us on earth he’s in the heavenly places and though he will come again he’s not here with us on earth right now.
That doesn’t mean that we’re at a disadvantage. Though we lack the physical presence of Christ with us on earth, and though we lack an interaction with Christ’s apostolic spokesmen, though we lack the same signs and wonders that validated the ministries of both, well we do still have the same word that they spoke and the same Spirit who attests to that words in our hearts. every time we open up the scriptures and we hear the gospel message of our salvation declared.
So what is our motivation for staying the course when we find ourselves drifting? Well it’s the fullness of the gospel message that was spoken first by the prophets, proclaimed and accomplished by the Son, and attested to by the apostles. All of which has been preserved in the word of God that we have at our disposal. Also, in the ministry of the Holy Spirit who powerfully speaks into our hearts and drift tendencies, every time we sit under the ministry of the word.
Friends this is how we heed what we have heard. Not by our own power, but rather through the power of the Holy Spirit who’s been richly poured out among us, who ministers to all of our spiritual faculties, the word of the Lord. Yes, there is a warning to fear, and we must heed that warning as such, but brothers and sisters there is a great encouragement to cling to as well. Namely that we have words of life that have been preserved for us, which attest to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, with that said what are a few applications or takeaways from this passage. Well I have three questions to ask. Three questions, not that I’m expecting you to respond right now to but rather to think a little bit about in your own lives.
1. Are you currently drifting? At present are you drifting now? If you recall we saw in our first point, and others have made this point too, that drift may not be all that perceptible. You may not appreciate it that you’re drifting when you’re in it in the moment, until you look back to shore and you recognize just how far you strayed from the place to which you were once so securely moored to and anchored in.
Now understand that the objective reality is that in Christ we are infallibly and inaudibly secure. We never ever slip into justification and out of justification and back into it again, not in the slightest. Yet there are times in our lives where our drift tendencies may lead us into sin. Unbiblical doctrinal persuasions might grip our mind, social persuasions may lead us to embrace something that just cuts against the grain of scripture, and moral persuasions can derail our pursuit of holiness.
There are a number of ways in which drift takes place in our lives, but often when it does one of the telltale signs that that’s happening is that our assurance of salvation is diminished. Our confession, The Westminster Confession of Faith, actually talks about how things like the negligence of the means of grace. That means things like the word and prayer or falling into some special sin, whereas the confession words the, “vehement temptations”. All of these things can collaborate together in our lives and plunge us into doubt about our standing with Christ or about even the gospel promises themselves.
Now understand again, and this is important, that a lack of subjective assurance doesn’t mean that our objective standing is ever in doubt in Christ. As long as you’re receiving and resting upon the promises of God found in Christ, nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. When doubt begins to mount on account of drift that’s taking place in our lives, well in those moments it’s fitting that we would turn again to the word of God, that we would correct the drift through partaking of the ordinary means of grace like the word and prayer. Through that we would be washed and renewed by the promises of the gospel once again.
In Christ we have every reason to be assured of our salvation. So, our invitation is to heed the promises of the gospel, to hear the word of the Lord over and over again. In the words of Peter, “to be all the more diligent to confirm you’re calling and election.
2. This leads to the second and a closely related application question to ask yourself. Are you listening to this message of salvation? Now as we work through our passage, you may have noticed that speaking and hearing language is found throughout. The message of salvation was first spoken by the Lord and then by his apostles.
We have the responsibility to hear the message and to heed the message. It’s not that we just hear this message as good pious advice that we filter through our own sensibilities, taking a little of what we like and leaving aside the rest. Or as if we hear this message and then place it on par with other philosophies or truth claims as something with an equal authority claim.
No, not at all. Instead we’re called to hear this message not as the words of men, but what it really is, the word of God. It is a word that demands that we treat it as the only rule of faith and obedience. So, are you listening to this message of salvation for what it is, but more than that are you listening to the whole council of God?
Now our confession makes this point in one of the paragraphs in which it elaborates on our doctrine of scripture or our theology of the Bible. That although everything necessary to know and believe for our salvation is clearly propounded in the scriptures, such that whether you have a Ph.D., or you’re a little kid, you can open up the Bible and you can know what God requires us to believe to be saved. The scriptures are abundantly clear. With that said, the confession also notes, “that all things in scripture are not alike plain in themselves nor alike clear unto all.”
In other words, there are also some complex and difficult things to understand in the scriptures. Interpretations of what good Christians have and do disagree on. Just because there are difficult things that we find in the scriptures, doesn’t mean we ignore them.
You know one of the prevailing philosophies of the day in America, actually one of the philosophies so I’m told that that America is responsible for exporting to the world, is a philosophy known as pragmatism. Pragmatism, in short, is the belief that what is true is what works.
While probably most of us would outright reject that philosophy, sometimes the way we read the scriptures false prey to a certain kind of pragmatism. You see sometimes when we read the scriptures, we only pay attention to things that are abundantly clear, those things that the scriptures tell us we have to believe for salvation and those are good things and necessary things to pay attention to. Those things that speak most immediately to what we’re called in the Christian life we should pay attention to those things.
Then when we encounter some of the more difficult things in scripture, some of the more debatable things in scripture, rather than engaging those matters with prudence and charity, well sometimes we end up ignoring them all together because we don’t see on the front end how those things really immediately apply to our lives.
Now make no mistake about it, all doctrine is practical and all of it is applicable. Sometimes we prejudge that question before we really spend the time to engage with and carefully listen to the whole counsel of God. Remember we encountered some deep and weedy theology on the person and work of Jesus Christ in chapter one. To plunge into the depths of Christology, that is our doctrine of Christ, or our doctrine of the trinity may make our heads hurt a little bit. The payoff when we do so is so enriching and worth it.
So, as you listen to the scriptures, as you listen to the message of salvation that we find in the scriptures, listen to all of it for the sake of growing up into maturity, as our passage would have us do.
3. The third question is this; do you have this salvation? Now admittedly most of this sermon has focused on the topic of our sanctification, our growth as Christians in the Christian life or our perseverance, how we maintain the course in the Christian life. Perhaps you read this text, you heard it read, and now you heard the sermon, and now you aren’t quite sure whether you’ve come to believe this message of salvation in the first place.
If that’s you, recognize two things. First, the warning of this passage is real. There is no escape outside of Christ, period. Second, the invitation stands to hear this gospel message anew. To know that salvation really is available in Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ has indeed fully satisfied the justice of the Father and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father has given to him.
If you’re not sure you have this salvation, friends don’t neglect it but instead turn to Christ and him alone as he’s freely offered in the gospel.
Let me pray.
Heavenly Father, Lord we thank you for these words of life that we encounter in the scriptures. We pray Lord that you would continue to sharpen us, to mold us by your Holy Spirit. Convict us so that we would pay much closer attention to the words of life of your scriptures. Lord convict us of our sin. Help us to correct drift tendencies by encountering your word over and over again, by sitting under the ministry of your word, by attending to ordinary means of grace like word, sacrament, and prayer. Lord shape us as people who love you more and more and who love our neighbors as ourselves. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.