How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

Text Hebrews 2:3a Date 11 02 18 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church

This morning I want us to look at a text. It is found in Hebrews 2:3a. It is a question and the question is this
how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

We do not know who wrote the letter to the Hebrews - perhaps it was Paul but it is more likely to have been Barnabas or Luke or someone else in that circle. It was written some time before 70 AD. The people to whom the letter is addressed were Jews who had professed faith in Christ but were thinking of going back to being just Jews again. The letter argues that is not possible to do that and urges them rather to seek the Lord more earnestly.
Chapter 1 begins with an exposition of the superiority of Jesus Christ to all angels. That is followed by the words that we find at the beginning of what we call Chapter 2 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels the giving of the 10 Commands was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?
He adds that This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him the apostles. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will mainly to the apostles but also to others.
What is said to these ancient people needs to be heard by us too. We are not tempted to become Jews or follow some other religion I'm sure but that danger of drifting away is ever present and so I want to call on you this morning, if you believe, to consider this vital question - how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?
There are four important words here that we need to understand in order to benefit from this verse. The words are escape, ignore, great and salvation. Let's ask four vital questions then.
1. Do you know what the salvation he speaks about here is?
When the New Testament talks about salvation or safety or deliverance it is referring to the present reality for every true Christian - the fact that a person is saved - saved from their sins, from themselves, from death and from hell.
We can think of salvation as salvation accomplished and salvation applied.
The reason we need to be saved, of course, is because sin has come into the world. A rebellion began before the creation of the world that was led by Satan. This later led to man joining the rebellion and all the consequences that meant for the whole of creation - chaos, sickness, death.
How did God intend to accomplish salvation for his people? Long before, he had decided that it should be through a man. There never would be a man good enough to do such a work and so it was decided that God himself, God the Son, would be that man. Indeed God would become a man. Now if there was to be such a man on earth he had to belong to a certain people and live in a certain place.
And so throughout the Old Testament period you can read of how God chose first one man - Abraham - a man as good as dead the Bible says but who became the father of Isaac who in turn became the father of Jacob or Israel from whom the Twelve Tribes come. These people ended up as slaves down in Egypt but God raised up Moses who led them out through the wilderness to a Promised Land the land of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were godless and so God gave his people the task of destroying them and taking their land. They did this with mixed success. There was also a split between north and south following a civil war. The temptation to turn to Canaanite ways was always strong and the northern tribes were so given to such ways that in God's providence they were taken away by the Assyrians never to return. Eventually the southern kingdom was taken away by the Babylonians too. However, in an amazing turn around God brought them back to the Promised Land.
Finally the Jews were established in their own country with their own language. They were under the Roman yoke but they were there and it was to these people that eventually the Messiah was born - Jesus of Nazareth. Now this Jesus, a you know grew up in obscurity but when he was about thirty he was baptised by John the Baptist and he began a three year ministry of miracles and preaching. At the end of that period, after much persecution he was taken and put to death on a cross, a cruel instrument of torture. Although he died he rose again from the dead before ascending into heaven again his task complete. When he died he took the punishment his people deserved for their rebellion and sin and so he accomplished salvation for them.
Then ten days after Jesus had ascended into heaven he poured out his Holy Spirit on his people. The Holy Spirit is the one who inspired his servants to write down the Scriptures and he is the one who applies salvation to his people. As the Word is preached the Spirit takes hold of a person and they are transformed so that they begin to live for the glory of God. They know and believe that Jesus has died in their place and by the help of the Spirit they live the life that God calls them to on earth until they enter heaven and the glories of that place.
This is the salvation we are talking about then, the deliverance accomplished by Jesus Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit.
2. Why does he call it a great salvation? Do you understand in what sense it is a great salvation?
From an early age in this country you learn that this is Great Britain. That Great is actually a actually a geographical thing Great or Greater Britain or Brittany as opposed to Brittany in France. However, that doesn't stop patriotic Brits from telling you all the reasons why Britain is great not geographically but in other ways. Any number of arguments are given.
You notice secondly that here he calls it a great salvation. In what sense is it great? Not geographically, of course. It's not like great grandparents are great either.
Many things come to mind as to why salvation is great. Most obviously
1. It is a salvation accomplished by a great Saviour
There are various DIY self help remedies out there that claim to be able to do something for you. Forget them all. Once you see this Great Saviour you will give up on yourself. Then there have been various movements that have formed behind charismatic leaders of the past. Such men die and do not rise again. Loo rather to the great and risen Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. It is a salvation applied by the Holy Spirit
Here is another thing that makes it so great. It is not a man centred movement but something God himself does.
3. It is a salvation that is all of grace and does not depend on me
This salvation is all about the grace of God. He does all the work. He is the one who saves us. It is not about righteous things we have done, but about his mercy. Nothing greater than that.
4. It is a salvation that I cannot lose
Once you are saved you are saved forever. That really is great. Jesus says of his sheep I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.
5. It is a salvation that cannot be improved
Sometimes people are tempted to think they can add to it and so improve it but in fact all additions only dilute and obscure it. No this great salvation cannot be improved.
6. It is a salvation that is open to all
It is difficult to think of anything as open and available to anyone and everyone as is the case with salvation in Christ.
You see what a great salvation this is.
3. How can it be possible for me as a professing Christian to ignore such a great salvation?
They say that during the Revolutionary War in America a loyalist spy appeared at the HQ of Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. Rall was leading an army from Hess in support of George II. The spy's message was that General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessian army was encamped. The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to Rall who it is said was playing poker. Whatever was the case, he stuffed the unread note into his pocket. Rall still not realise what was happening until his camp guards began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington's army. With no time to organise, the Hessian army was captured. The date was December 26, 1776.
Now what the writer here is saying is that these Hebrews are in danger of doing what Rall did - ignoring something vital. The danger they are in is of ignoring this great salvation. How could that be? Why would you ignore such a great salvation? And yet it happens. People become complacent. They take salvation for granted and begin to think that may be they can do better elsewhere.
Do you ever find yourself thinking like that? Are you tempted to think about giving up and just drifting? It is always a danger but it must be avoided.
4. Why does he see no way of escape for those who ignore such a great salvation?
The Great Escape is a 1963 American World War II epic film based on an escape by British and Commonwealth POWs from German POW Camp. It starred Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough. it is a fictionalised account of real events. Now in this case only three of the 76 men who escaped actually got home. Really speaking it should be called The Great near escape. A real escape gets you all the way home.
The whole point of this verse is that if we do ignore such a great salvation then there is no way of escape left. How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? I don't think there is any doubt about the answer the writer would give to the question. Escape? There is no way we will escape if we ignore this great salvation.
Later on in the Book the writer repeats himself (10:28, 29) Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
12:25-29 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
I plead with you not to ignore this great salvation. Trust in Jesus today. God on trusting him always.