Hebrews 2:1-4 | "Jesus: Has Spoken Salvation" [Live Stream Edition]

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Sunday, April 26, 2020. Hebrews 2:1-4 "Jesus: Has Spoken Salvation" [Live Stream Edition] The Father and Spirit testify with the Son about a great salvation we ought to pay close attention to.

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I. Reading of Scripture

Hebrews 2:1–4 ESV
1 Therefore 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.
Pray

II. Introduction

A. Introduction to Theme

We’ve heard this text read. What is the nature of this text?
Is it a warning? Is it an invitation?
Hebrews tells us what it is. It is an “exhortation.”
The book of Hebrews is a “word of exhortation.”
Hebrews 13:22 ESV
22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.
What is an exhortation?

Exhortation — (OT and NT) A message urging action that is characterized by warnings, advice, instructions, and urgent appeals.

So this text is a warning. It is an invitation. It is an instruction. It is an urgent appeal!

B. Proposition

The Father and Spirit testify with the Son about a great salvation we ought to pay close attention to.

C. Introduction to Text

Hebrews 2:1-4 has two sections.
The first part, verse 1, is the exhortation.
The second part, verses 2-4, explains why we are to do what verse 1 tell us as hearers to do.

III. Exposition

I. Hebrews 2:1

Hebrews 2:1 ESV
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The word “therefore” in the original language is the phrase “because of this” (Gk).
Because God has spoken in these last days through His Son (Heb 1:2)
Because of who this Son is, being the heir of all things, through whom the world was created (Heb 1:2), being the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of his nature (Heb 1:3)
Because of what this Son does and has done, upholding the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3), having made purification for sins and having sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high (Heb 1:4)
Because this Son is better than angels, with a more excellent name than theirs (Heb 1:4-14)
Because of all of these things, Hebrews 2:1 says:
“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard” (Hebrews 2:1a).

Question: Who is “We”?

Who is this exhortation for?
Is it for us, as people of faith, as Christians?
Is it for those who are seeking, or interested in the things of God?
Is it for outsiders to the faith?
This is a debated question, and I think the answer may surprise us!
Christians tend to think that once we are “saved,” we don’t need to concern ourselves with matters of salvation any longer. So a text like this, that exhorts hearers to pay attention to salvation, is set aside as if that is not our concern any more, and that this is only for those who are not of the faith.
But notice in verse 2, that this exhortation is not addressed to “YOU,” as if it is someone outside the faith.
It is addressed to “WE.” To “us.” The author is included in the group being addressed.
So who is this “we/us”?
We can answer this question in two ways:
1.) Who was Hebrews originally written to? Who was the original audience?
2.) Who is Hebrews speaking to today?

1.) Who was Hebrews originally written to?

If we look first at Hebrews itself, an addressee is not mentioned in an introduction as in most epistle, but Hebrews does give us a clue in the first two verses of chapter 1.
Hebrews 1:1–2 ESV
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
First, the original audience of Hebrews is a people whose fathers heard God speak by the prophets. Who were those people? Israel.
So the original audience of Hebrews is likely a Jewish audience.
But more importantly for the exhortation of chapter 2, the original audience of Hebrews is those people who have heard God’s word by his Son. As verse 2 says, “he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:2).
So the original audience of Hebrews is likely a Jewish audience, who have heard the message of Jesus.

2.) Who is Hebrews speaking to today?

Hebrews is speaking likewise to any who have heard the message of Jesus today!
If we have heard God’s word through His Son, the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, we must pay much closer attention to that word! This exhortation is for us!
It is not written to those who have never heard about Jesus, but this exhortation is written for all who have heard about Jesus.
Hebrews 2:1 ESV
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
That word “must” is the verb. It is a present action, meaning: “It is necessary.” This exhortation is not optional. It is a requirement that we act on this exhortation now.
And the text says that we must not only “pay attention,” but must “pay much closer attention.”
Literally, the original language reads: “because of this, it is all the more necessary that we pay attention.”
In other words - “pay attention to a greater degree.”
ILLUSTRATION: Think about this knife (butter knife). This is a butter knife. It is rounded and dull. Good for spreading butter, but not good for cutting.
This (sharp MAC knife) is a knife meant for cutting — it is large and very sharp!
We pay attention when we use the butter knife because it is still a knife.
But we pay much closer attention when we use this MAC knife, because if we don’t, we can be seriously harmed by our carelessness.
As a matter of principle, we pay closer attention to the things that impact us the most. We are careful not to create a spark around gasoline.
God wants us to pay close attention to what we have heard through the Son.
(This does not mean throw the Old Testament away, for Jesus Himself showed multiple times how the Old Testament all points to Him and is fulfilled in Him).
But all the more, we are to pay attention to the teaching of Jesus.
It is because we are exhorted to pay close attention, that we realize it is very possible and even likely for us to neglect God’s word (see Lane, WBC, 38).
This was Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden — a careless, indifference towards the commands of God (see Wuest, 50). And this sin is passed on to each of us — it is part of our sinful nature.
Jesus told this parable:
Luke 8:4–8 ESV
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:11–15 ESV
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Listen to that last verse again:
Luke 8:15 ESV
15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
We must hold fast to God’s word and bear fruit! These are not passive actions, but these are things God’s people actively do with what is heard!
The word “pay attention” in Hebrews 2:1 has a similar sense of “hold firmly” (LN). The exhortation is to follow the message that has been given to us from such a great messenger as the Lord.
Hebrews 2:1 ESV
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The warning is this — if we fail to pay attention and follow what we have heard, we will drift away from that message.
And in drifting away from the message, we are drifting away from the Lord who spoke that message — because the word of God is not separated from the God of the word!
To “drift away” uses imagery of flowing water (BDAG).
ILLUSTRATION: Think about a boat that hasn’t dropped its anchor. It drifts.
Not everyone has a boat — but think about laying on a raft in a pool. If you lean back, close your eyes, relax — at some point later you will open your eyes and you won’t be where you were when you started. You’ve drifted away.
This is what will happen to us if we neglect to pay attention to the Gospel message — God’s word spoken through Christ.
REMEMBER: This text says “it is necessary” — we “must” pay much closer attention.
God knows that what we don’t pay close attention to we will drift away from.
God does not drift. God does not change! We drift. We change.
Many things compete for our attention — but hear this exhortation from God —
Pay close attention to His word, and in doing so you won’t drift away from it!

II. Hebrews 2:2-3

Hebrews 2:2–3 ESV
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,
This is evidence from THEN to NOW.
What God communicated to humanity as recorded in the Old Testament, what was mediated through angels — it was reliable. The Law, the Prophets, the Writings of Scripture — all true.
For every law, there was a penalty if that law was broken.
When God’s message was disobeyed, there was a penalty for that disobedience.
God is righteous. God is just.
He was then, He is now, and He will always be.
So how much more then are we responsible for the message we have heard through One greater than the angels?
Verse 2 speaks of the message “through angels.”
Verse 3 speaks of the message “through the Lord.”
And the haunting question of verse 3 is this:
Hebrews 2:3 ESV
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,
Escape” and “salvation” speak of our problem of sin. Sin leads to judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 ESV
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
A day of judgment is coming! And all who have sinned will meet the justice of God.
But God made a provision for your sin to be paid for, in His Son!
Do not neglect such a great salvation! That word “neglect” means to not be concerned about it.
Remember who this exhortation is for! Not those outside the faith, but those who have received the message of faith!
Salvation is not a “one and done” work.
Romans 8:30 ESV
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
In Christ, I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.
Listen to God’s Word to the Philippians:
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Christians, do not neglect what God has done, IS doing, and WILL do in you through Jesus Christ for salvation.
Do not be unconcerned for your own salvation.
We need to explore this doctrine of “once saved always saved.” I believe in that.
But to believe that you’ve been saved, and you never need to be concerned about your salvation again is miss the exhortation of Hebrews 2 that says — don’t neglect such a great salvation. Pay close attention to it! For it is a work God is doing in you until you are glorified with Him in eternity!
That word “neglect” is for us — we are not to neglect such a great salvation.
That word is used one other time in Hebrews, and in Hebrews 8:9 it is something God does:
Hebrews 8:9 ESV
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
That word “disregarded” is the same word “neglect.”
Like Israel in their disobedience, if we neglect the commands of the Lord, the Lord will neglect us.
What does Matthew 7 say?
Jesus is speaking:
Matthew 7:21–23 ESV
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

IV. Conclusion | Hebrews 2:3-4

We have heard this word of exhortation, with its warnings, invitation and instruction.
It is important for us to close with one more feature of an exhortation — encouragement.
And this text does that — it frightens us, it shows the seriousness of the matter of the Gospel and salvation, it shocks us by speaking to US as people who HAVE heard and received this message of God’s grace in Jesus —
but it also reminds us of God’s faithfulness.
This message of salvation:
Hebrews 2:3–4 ESV
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.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in these two verses working in perfect unity to declare and bear witness to salvation in Jesus! And preserving for us the witness of Scripture and the testimony of those who have heard from Jesus as eyewitness of His resurrection.
God has performed many signs, wonders and miracles.
But what is the greatest?
The greatest witness, sign, wonder and miracle is when God raised Jesus from the dead!
Christ is risen! And because Christ is risen, we are invited to come to the Father through Him.
Here is the take-away:

Proposition

The Father and Spirit testify with the Son about a great salvation we ought to pay close attention to.
That salvation was bought with the precious blood of Christ — who died on the cross for our sin, was buried, and raised again to life so that we might be forgiven.
Romans 10:9 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
When God acts, we are compelled to act in response to what He has done.
The exhortation of Hebrews 2:1-4 urges all of us to act with faith in God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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