1259 Route 12A, Plainfield, NH | (603) 675-5673

Sermon Date

April 22, 2018

Sermon Series

Bible Passage

Hebrews 2:1-4

Author

Sermon Topics

Hebrews 2

Title: Hearing with faith

Text: Hebrews 2:1-4

Main Idea: Do not neglect what you have heard about Jesus Christ

Memory Verse: Hebrews 2:3,4

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 2:1-4

 

Christian Warfare

Physical warfare

  • Read history about war, watch the news as battles rage, and notice how potential battles are on the rise
    • History - WWI, WWII, The Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War
    • War today – Trade war with China, Chemical attacks in Syria, the ongoing conflict in the middle east, Aleppo
    • Potential – Japan has established their first Marine Corp since WWII
      • Rumors of war are always swirling
    • Public battles, political battles, and School shootings are everywhere!
    • Battles in Families
      • Battles against husbands and wives
        • Battles against siblings
          • Who ate the last pop tart!!!!

Warfare within the mind

  • We are in a constant battle of what to believe in
    • Truth or lies
      • As Christians we know what to believe in but for some reason we question if we should.
      • Did God really say that?
    • Lies are crafty - this may not be everyone’s struggle
      • Believing in the lie of prosperity
        • Look how well God has blessed you. He must really love you
          • House, kids, food, clothing, air to breath, water
        • Believing in the lie of trial
          • God must be angry with you. He has taken your health, finances, struggles in family.
            • You can’t be a Christian
          • Lie’s center around the character of God
        • The battle Grace vs Performance
          • This may be the greatest battle we fight daily

This is how it looked in my life:

I am most intimate with my own experience. I know many people talk about the immense joy one has when they embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This wasn't my experience to begin with.

What characterized my life with God at the beginning was a strong sense of performance and how far I fell short. I was in the mindset to get things right the first time with no wiggle room for failure or else. This was accompanied by an understanding that I could not meet the standard I was striving for. This resulted in much stress, anxiety, and depression.

Everything I heard was a rule to follow. Tithe 10%, treat your wife a certain way, treat your kids a certain way, and share your faith every day. What I heard is if I didn't do these things then I wasn't a true Christian.

Performance, the standard of perfection, the consequences of disobedience, began to be the major voice that I was listening to. This was constant record that was playing repeatedly in my mind.

The question I kept asking myself was, “how could I be a Christian if I have so much sin in me?”

Fear gripped me as I knew I didn’t meet the standard. I loved reading the Bible but commands like don’t lust, don’t get angry, honor your father and mother, love you wife as Christ loved the church became more rules that drove a deeper sense of fear in me.

The yoke is easy, and the burden is light was a farce to me. This Christianity thing was more about fear, anxiety, and depression than love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Who would want to subject themselves to this yoke of slavery. To the bondage of fear! I was trying to get away from fear, but it just got worse.

The standards of obedience to the Lord was just overwhelming and life didn't have much purpose at all other than, be obedient or die.

The command to share the gospel became another whip of fear for myself! I shared the gospel more out of fear of getting in trouble. 

Because of this mentality I was living in, which was largely performance based and self-driven, I was very judgmental. My focus was on my performance, so my focus of others became about their performance.

For some, I envied. They seemed to have it together. They were tithing, raising their kids in a Godly way, and loving their spouses correctly. These people were the untouchables. I would feel a sense of shame because I didn’t even meet their standards.

There wasn't much I was going to share with them for fear of rejection or fear of being disciplined. Thoughts of discipline for a fear motivated rule follower is not good.

For others, my thoughts of their obedience and their lack of performance was judgmental. They must be going to hell because they don’t act like a Christian.

To be honest, fear is not a bad thing. Especially if it is tied with love but my fear was unhealthy. My fear was tied to my performance and my inability to follow the rules perfectly.

I don't know how many times in those early years I just wanted to walk away but something held onto me. Rather, someone held onto me.

Bad thinking usually is a result of terrible listening. By default, I am not a good listener, but I have learned through my experience to slow down and listen more productively. Especially to the words of a tender and compassionate Father whose priority is to love me unconditionally through Jesus.

The gospel may be proclaimed in its clearest sense but if a person or a group of people are not embracing the truth of God's grace through Jesus Christ, then bad things can happen like a rule following Christianity motivated by unhealthy fear.

This is what I believe was happening to these first century Christian this letter was written to. They heard the gospel of Jesus, embraced it, and then began to stop listening to the truth of grace and started to listen to the lies of rule following to be a Christian.

Like me, the lie of performance was largely winning out over the truth of grace in Christ. This was the battle of their lives and it is the battle of our lives.

The writer addresses a few things and gives many warnings that help us understand what they may have been listening to and drifting away from.

Few things:

  • False teachings
    • About angels – Chapter 1 and 2
  • An inappropriate view of the law
    • This author speaks a lot about how the law is to teach them about the priesthood of Jesus.
  • False understanding of God’s discipline – Hebrews 12:5-11

Warnings

  • The warnings of not embracing the gospel
    • Hebrews 3:7–8 (NASB95) 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
    • Hebrews 3:12 (NASB95) 12Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
    • Hebrews 4:1 (NASB95) 1Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.
    • Hebrews 4:10–11 (NASB95) - 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

 

  • I believe the author is seeing a group of people who are turning from the grace of God and adopting a form of legalism!
    • The verses we are studying today will help us understand this.

 

Hebrews 2:1-4 is the first warning about falling away from the unconditional love of God through Jesus.

Hebrews 2:1-4

1For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

For this reason,

  • Hebrews 1:14 In Speaking of Angels (NASB95) “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”
    • The Father makes the Son superior over angels
    • The Father reveres and adores the Son over angels
      • Worship
      • The purpose of the angels is to serve those who inherit salvation
    • Hebrews 1:2 is huge to understanding this text and it gives greater depth to chapter 1.
      • “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son.”
      • A Jew of the first century would equate the “last days” and Son to that of the Messiah.
        • Daniel 7:13–14 (NASB95) 13 “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
          • This is what we studied last week
        • Jesus used the term, “Son of Man” 80 times in the NT about Himself

we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

  • They heard about the good news of God through Jesus.
    • They heard about how their long-awaited Messiah came and how He saved them from eternal punishment through the cross and is now ruling the world with grace.
    • They heard about how they were made a child of God through the performance of Jesus by accepting what He did for them by faith.
    • They heard about how the old covenant was abolished and how they don't have to follow rules to be a Christian
    • They heard about how they have free access to God through Jesus and God will never leave them or forsake them
    • They heard about how God was removing their cold selfish hearts and replacing them with hearts of love for God and love for others
    • They heard about how Jesus is coming back and will make all things new, including themselves
  • What is “it”?
    • Total Lordship of Jesus Christ
      • Lordship means supreme power and rule
      • To be saved is to confess your sin of self-rule and self-love and submit to Jesus as your Lord and savior
        • The first act of submission to Jesus as Lord is to submit to the salvation that Jesus purchased for us and them.
          • He has the supreme power and rule to save forever all who will believe in Him
        • No strings attached
          • No works or rule following involved
        • Adding works to be a Christian is disobeying the Lord
      • This next statement makes me believe they started to adopt a legalism that was severing their relationship with God and others.

 

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

They can’t escape!!

  • This warning makes me think they started to go down the path of legalism like the Galatian church we are studying.
    • What the angels spoke was a temporary conditional covenant that pointed to Christ.
      • It taught people about Jesus, but it is not a list rules and regulations to make someone a Christian
    • The word spoken through angels
      • 613 commands in the Torah with dire consequences
      • 68 verses in Deuteronomy 28
        • 14 blessing and 54 curses
        • The curses are intense and descriptive
          • You can read them on your own
          • If this temporary covenant promised disaster for disobedience of which God carried out, then why did they want to disobey grace!

 

3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? – centerpiece of the text

  • If these Jewish Christians were not resting in the finished works of Jesus Christ, then they had been severed from a relationship with Him.
    • Once saved always saved
    • Saved Christians can damage their relationship with the Lord and with others by adopting a form of legalism

 

  • You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. – Galatians 5:4

 

  • The Grace of God through Jesus Christ is Holy Ground.
    • Moses had to take His sandals off when He approached God at the burning bush
      • These Jewish Christians needed to remove the works they were adopting like Moses needed remove his sandals
        • The only performance that matters is that of Jesus Christ
      • We will make the Gospel of Grace impure if we bring our works to the throne of Grace
        • We cannot approach the throne of Grace with any of our works
          • We cannot come to God and say, “I have done this in your name and I have done that in your name.”
            • He will say depart from me I never knew you.
          • This is a grave warning to not adopt a form of legalism or a performance-based attitude.

After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

  • Several witnesses are described that confirms the truth of salvation in Christ alone
    • The Lord – we have the four gospels
    • The Apostles – we have the book of acts
    • And God Himself through His Spirit – we have the book of acts showing us their works and the rest of the NT
  • The book of Acts
    • Peter healed Tabitha in Acts 9:36-41
    • Paul preached until midnight and put people to sleep in Acts 20:7-12
      • Gave God the opportunity to raise Eutychus from the dead

Conclusion – The only performance that matters is that of Jesus Christ! This is a warning not to add anything to what Jesus has done or the Gospel of Grace becomes impure.

 

How can we relate today?

 

In my testimony at the beginning, how many times did you hear about the total grace of God through Jesus Christ?

 

Answer: none – it was all about me, my performance, and the rules I set for myself.

 

  • In reading the Bible I would skip through all the Gospel proclamations to the duty parts
    • A sense of defeat already existed because I knew how weak I was.
    • This spiraled into anxious and depressed states

 

We can very easily adopt a performance-based attitude without even knowing it.

  • It’s east to adopt a performance-based attitude
  • What I have learned is that performance-based people cannot love others as God would like us to
    • When we are performance-based we look more at people’s performance rather than learning to walk in their shoes with love

 

God's goal in sanctification is to conform us into the image of Jesus

  • God came to us in Jesus to love us as He would like to be loved
    • God basically said, “If I was them, I would want to be saved.”
      • So, He did it.

Ezekial 36:26 says, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

 

Basically, God is removing a cold-hearted, rule following, self-absorbed heart, from an individual and replacing it with a heart of compassion for others just like God did for us in Jesus.

 

  • Performance based people do not look at others and themselves with compassion but as objects of performance

 

The rules we adopt today may not be like they were when this letter was written.

 

  • Then it may have been the need to be circumcised as in the book of Galatians

 

  • Today it may be around how someone dresses when they come to church
    • More specifically, how someone should dress when they preach the word of God.
    • I purposefully wore a T-Shirt and jeans today.
      • I totally feel uncomfortable to be honest
        • I am a performance driven guy who is a rule setter
      • You don't need to raise your hands to this but how many of you felt uncomfortable?
    • Maybe what happened last night is my house burnt down and this is the only outfit I have left
      • It didn’t, but this is an example of how easy rules and performance can take over
    • We set rules that are nowhere to be found in the Bible without knowing it.
      • We end up living by them and then they become the standard instead of loving others
      • We begin to look at others based on the rules we set in our own minds
        • We set rules on how someone should teach, preach, and share the word of God
        • We set rules on what attire to wear
        • We set rules and try to find formula's about how to raise our kids, treat our spouses, and so on that help us create more rules.
        • We set rules on how someone should respond to us and others if someone is going through a perceived trial.
          • These things and more can tear apart churches.
          • There is no grace when rules dominate a person or church body
        • It's not a bad thing when we set rules out of hearts of compassion as the Lord does for us
          • He wants us to be safe and be free to worship Him and love others to the best of our abilities
          • Be faithful to your spouse, don’t be so critical, and put away that heart of bitterness because it will just enslave you.
        • A true test of if we have drifted away from grace is if we look at others as objects of performance rather than a human who needs to be loved.
          • We were created to love others and be loved
            • We all have needs

 

The battle is to believe in grace.

 

The battle is to rest in the total grace of God through Jesus Christ and nothing else.

 

  • Head the warning to not drift away from the total grace of God through Jesus by adopting a rule based, performance driven life, and live in the total performance of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.