Study 10 HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE, IF WE IGNORE SUCH A GREAT SALVATION?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis W. Dixon
(Scripture Reference: Hebrews 2:3)
In the New Testament there are three unanswered questions: Mark 8:36; 1 Peter 4:17; and the question we are to study here, which is a very solemn one. It falls naturally into three divisions. (1) A great provision that God has made for us all – salvation; (2) a great peril that faces each of us – the peril of neglect; (3) a great problem – “if we ignore … how shall we escape?”
1. THE GREAT PROVISION
The great provision that God has made for everybody can be given in one word – ‘salvation’. But what does this word mean? Does it mean simply that if we are saved we shall go to heaven when we die, or does it mean being religious, going to church and saying our prayers? We can illustrate its meaning by reading the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7. The sheep was away from the shepherd, unhappy, wandering, outside the fold and in danger; then the shepherd searched for and found the sheep, placed it on his shoulder and once again the sheep was happy and safe. This is a faint picture of the meaning of salvation, which provides for the complete restoration of the sinner. It is the provision that God has made for bringing us back into fellowship with Himself and into the safety of the fold. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the writer of Hebrews uses two qualifying words when speaking of salvation? First he says it is a “great salvation”, but more than that, he speaks of “such a great salvation”.
(1) It is great because of the great love that provided it: “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan”. When was that? Away back in eternity. “Oh, the grace that brought it down to man.” When did salvation come down to man? In time, and in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation is great because of the great love that prompted it and provided it. Look up John 3:16 and notice the ‘so’ there!
(2) It is great because of the great price paid for it. Salvation cost God the best that He had. To provide salvation for us it cost Him the gift of His only Son (1 John 4:9). Creation cost God a word – “And God said” (Genesis 1:3); but redemption cost Him “the Word” – it cost Him the gift of the Saviour who went to the Cross to die for us (John 1:1-2,14). There are two verses which help us to understand something of the price He paid for our salvation – 2 Corinthians 8:9 and 1 Peter 1:18-19.
(3) It is great because of the great blessings included in it. Salvation includes every blessing that we need, because salvation provides for our need completely in the gift of Christ Himself (Ephesians 1:3). When we talk about being saved we mean being forgiven (Acts 13:38-39); being cleansed (1 John 1:7); receiving eternal life (1 John 5:11-12); having joy (1 Peter 1:8); peace (Philippians 4:7); grace (2 Corinthians 9:8); and heaven as our home (John 14:1-3). What provision God has made for us!
2. THE GREAT PERIL
This is the peril of ignoring the salvation that God has so graciously and freely provided. Three words describe the attitude of every person to the gospel, and we are each doing one of these three things with the salvation which is offered to us in Christ:-
(1) REJECTING. This refers to a conscious and deliberate refusal to receive what is being offered to us. It is like saying, “I refuse”, and it is solemn (John 5:40; Acts 28:24).
(2) ACCEPTING. This means to hear, to believe and to receive – to trust and be saved – look up and compare the gift in John 3:16 with the acceptance of the gift in John 1:12.
(3) NEGLECTING. This refers to people who do not deliberately reject but at the same time they do not accept salvation – neglecting what God has provided. They have a careless, passive attitude of neglect. Many people like this attend church and hear the gospel but do nothing about it, they ignore it. They do not believe on the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31); they do not receive Him as their Saviour (John 1:12); they do not come to Him (John 6:37); they delay (Acts 24:25); and this is a very dangerous thing to do.
This is the dreadful peril of neglect that faces millions of people. How easy it is for any of us to be absorbed with home, business or pleasure, and yet to completely ignore this salvation! It is dangerous to neglect our health, our business, our children, our studies. Somehow, though, people think it is different with the soul, with spiritual matters and with salvation. The neglect of some things brings only temporal consequences, but the neglect of the soul brings eternal consequences. Are you neglecting the salvation of your soul?
3. THE GREAT PROBLEM
If you ignore God’s provision for your soul’s salvation how will you escape the consequences of such neglect? Can you solve it? It is a logical and a reasonable question that is asked here. If anyone ignores and refuses the only salvation that has been provided and that is available, how can they possibly be saved? If there is only one way for a man to travel to heaven, and he rejects that way, how can he possibly go to heaven? This is the problem, and it is great because God cannot solve it, you cannot solve it, nor can anyone else solve it. How will you escape if you ignore God’s salvation? How will you escape His wrath? (John 3:36); His condemnation? (John 3:18); His word of banishment? (Matthew 26:41).
Two men were standing on the end of a pier. Suddenly a third man rushed past them and plunged into the water. The two men threw in a rope and it fell right across the man in the water. They cried out, ‘Catch it, and we will pull you in!’ The man looked at the rope and said, ‘It’s very kind of you…’ and went down and was drowned. Is it possible that, although at tremendous cost God has made salvation available to you, you are saying to Him, ‘It’s very kind of you…’, and that is all? You are ignoring this great salvation? – you are just doing nothing about it? If that is true, how will you escape…?