Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A GREAT CHURCH HAS A GREAT SALVATION”

Hebrews 2.3

 

The preacher of God’s Word is called by God to address certain issues and speak about certain topics and themes in scripture, which are, quite simply, beyond him. Such have been the messages I have attempted to deliver to you over the past few weeks, and will attempt again today.

We have a great God, so astounding and majestic in power and holiness, so immense and vast, that none of His creatures can step back far enough to gain any perspective with which to perceive Him. Press your nose to the outside wall of a skyscraper at street level and take note of what your eyes can see, and you can begin to imagine what a futile exercise it is to try to take in an understanding of God from your perceptions.

We also have a great Bible, that vast mine of spiritual riches authored by God, Himself, that is settled forever in heaven, which is exalted above His very name.[1] It is the infinite God’s flawless and infallible communiqué to those small specks of cosmic dust known as men, by which He reveals to us our uniqueness, our importance to Him by reason of His love for us, and our great trouble because of our sins against Him. It is the love letter addressed to us by God, Who cannot lie.[2] Ignore it at your peril. Discount its remedy to your destruction. The Bible’s remedy is God’s great Savior. Scripture speaks to matters that really are beyond the capacity of the human mind to fully grasp, no matter how carefully one is cultivated with education and philosophy. The egotistical fool thinks life is livable apart from the guidance provided by God’s Word.[3] It is the hopelessly depraved who thinks he has any preparation for eternity apart from the Savior who is the central figure and topic of this Book.[4]

Is it not astonishing that God would become a man in order to redeem men?[5] Is it not incomprehensible that He would be able to combine in one Person the nature of the infinite God and the nature of the finite man?[6] We are not challenged to comprehend these things in scripture, though we are challenged to accept these things as true and to then meditate upon the implications of such sublime realities. How do you explain the eternal Son of the living God not only becoming a man by means of the virgin birth, and then living in our midst for something over thirty-three years, but then taking upon Himself the sins of men and subjecting Himself to wicked hands, by which was poured upon Him the wrath of God for those sins.[7] He was at the same time, “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” yet also “taken, and by wicked hands” “crucified and slain.”[8] God then raised Jesus up, “having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”[9] The risen Jesus then showed Himself to hundreds of His earliest disciples, and then showed Himself to Christianity’s most vicious opponent, the Apostle Paul, on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, and to His brother James, who had been a skeptic.[10] His resurrection from the dead being firmly established, Jesus ascended to God the Father’s right hand in heaven.[11] Can One who does such things not be a great Savior?

Today we move from a consideration of our great Savior to a consideration of our great salvation. To do this, I would like you to read with me from Hebrews 1.1 to Hebrews 2.4. Please turn to that place in your Bible and stand to read silently with me while I read aloud:

 

1      God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2      Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3      Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4      Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

5      For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

6      And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

7      And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

8      But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9      Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

10     And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

11     They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12     And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

13     But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

14     Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

1      Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2      For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

3      How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4      God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

 

The writer to the Hebrews is engaging his audience to consider the relative merits of God’s dealings with His people “in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,” versus speaking “in these last days . . . unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” Therefore, understand that Hebrews is referring to then and now.

What is oftentimes overlooked in this passage that we have just read is the significance of angels in God’s dealings with the Jewish people in Old Testament times. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, reminded his antagonists that the Jewish people “. . . received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it,” Acts 7.53. Even the Apostle Paul points out that “the law . . . was ordained by angels,” in Galatians 3.19. Thus, the writer to the Hebrews is not only showing that Jesus is greater than angels, he is also implying that God’s dealings with men by means of their relationship with Jesus is superior to God’s dealings with men by means of the Law, because Jesus is superior to the angels who brought the Law.[12] What we have here, then, is an argument from smaller to greater, from created angels to Creator Jesus. If such and such is true for that, then it follows that such and such must also be true for this.

This brings us to Hebrews chapter two, where the contrast between then and now continues. If Jesus is greater than angels, and it follows that this present era of God’s dealings by means of one’s relationship to Jesus is superior to God’s dealings with men by means of the Law, then it is all the more important for us to pay careful attention to what we have heard declared to us. Hebrews 2.1: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” This word “slip” having to do with something gradually drifting away.[13] In short, do not lose this profound truth through inattention. I am reminded of a time when I preached at another church where the pastor’s son sat in the back of the auditorium talking to his girl friend while I preached the gospel. What that sweet talking son of a preacher man was doing was exactly what this epistle to the Hebrews warns about, letting the truth slip past him through inattention.

To emphasize, the writer to the Hebrews reminds his readers what it was like under the Law. Hebrews 2.2: “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward.” The point is that violations of that spoken of by angels, the Law, resulted in sure consequences. Why so? If the Law was one thing, it was firm and solid. Sin was met with punishment. Idolatry resulted in stoning. Violating the Sabbath resulted in stoning. Taking a life resulted in stoning. Stealing resulted in retribution. Under the Law, there was a just recompense of reward.

This brings us to the central argument of the writer to the Hebrews at this point. I have already pointed out that he is arguing from lesser to greater. It is now pertinent to point out what is called a first class conditional statement.[14] The formula is, if such and such is true, then so and so is also true. Assuming the first half of the conditional statement to be true, what is called the protasis, then the apodosis is true, which is the conclusion.[15] For example: “If you go to the store, I will go with you.”

In our text, notice the beginning of the first class conditional statement: “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward.” This being a true statement, the conclusion is then taken as being true, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” Hebrews 2.3-4. Granted, it is a complicated passage. You might overlook such a conditional statement if you are not looking for it. However, the essence of what is said is this: If there were unavoidable punishments for violating the Law, how can anyone hope to escape the consequences of neglecting so great a salvation as is now offered to us, which has been confirmed in so many different ways? In other words, if you think there were terrible consequences for neglecting the Law, how much worse must it be for neglecting the great salvation the greater than angels Jesus provides?

Of course, we all know what the consequences are for neglecting so great salvation. It will be Hell immediately and the lake of fire for all eternity eventually. However, this message is about our great salvation, so join me in making sure that we do not let neglect so great salvation, by seriously considering it in the time we have remaining this morning.

Allow me to arrange my remarks under three headings:

 

First, THE PLANNING OF SO GREAT SALVATION

 

Need we be reminded that the great salvation of which the Word of God speaks was not devised as an afterthought following Adam and Eve’s surprising disobedience to God’s specific command? Genesis reveals to us that God created the heaven and the earth in six literal days, and rested on the seventh day. Genesis also reveals to us that God created Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and commanded him not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[16] God then created a help meet for Adam. Her name was Eve, and she was deceived by the serpent into eating the forbidden fruit. She then offered to her husband and Adam did eat, bringing about the Fall. No one should think the serpent’s deception of Eve and her subsequent offer of the forbidden fruit to Adam, who then ate in disobedience to God, was something God in His foreknowledge did not know would happen. Nothing surprises God.

My friends, God’s plan to provide a great salvation for His own was formulated long before Adam sinned, and long before God created this universe and everything contained herein. How can we be sure? In Matthew 25.34, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. In Luke 11.50, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of the blood of all the prophets, “which was shed from the foundation of the world.” In Ephesians 1.4, the Apostle Paul refers to believers being chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world. In First Peter 1.18-21, the Apostle Peter shows us that our redemption with Christ’s precious shed blood “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God.” Finally, John the Beloved reveals to us in Revelation 13.8 that Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

It would be quite simple to rehearse to you the many prophecies found in the Hebrew scriptures showing us God’s plan to send His only begotten Son, Who would then offer Himself a sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross and shedding His blood, after which He would rise from the dead. Instead, however, I have chosen to show you that God’s entire plan of salvation, which included His plans for the coming kingdom, the sending of His prophets, the choosing of Christ’s own, as well as the shedding of His precious blood, was all in accordance with the plan devised by God before the creation of all things. Thus, we see that God has never been caught by surprise, and that our great salvation is not an afterthought. It is an integral part of God’s divine plan of the ages.

 

Next, THE PURCHASE OF SO GREAT SALVATION

 

For a salvation to be a real salvation, for a deliverance to be a real deliverance, and especially for a great salvation to be a truly great salvation, two things must be true which are demonstrably true of our great salvation:

First, so great salvation must be a salvation of great cost. Can you imagine a higher cost than the passion of God’s holy Son? Consider that, He paid the price of leaving heaven and temporarily setting aside His divine prerogatives, and concealing His great glory behind human flesh while He was here on earth. He then paid the price of living in the midst of sinful men, with all our moral filth and defilement, while He Himself was without sin. Then He subjected Himself to the astonishing humiliation of taking upon Himself all our sins, and then suffering the just punishment for our sins on the cruel cross atop Mount Calvary. Oh, the blasphemy and wickedness of the brutalities He suffered, the shame He endured, and the precious blood He then shed for the remission of our sins. My friends, the purchase of so great salvation as this could not have been more expensive than it was. No higher price than the precious blood of Christ, God’s Own Son, exists. Yet He paid that price to pay for my salvation, which is a great salvation for so lowly a sinner.

Next, so great salvation must be a salvation of truly great deliverance. What salvation could be greater than a salvation so great that it delivers across an impassable gulf? First, consider that the salvation of Jesus Christ is a salvation so great that it bridges the gulf that separates life from death. Sinners truly are dead in their trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2.1, yet Jesus is the resurrection and the life, John 11.25, who gives eternal life to sinners, John 10.28. Next, consider that the salvation of Jesus Christ is a salvation so great that it bridges the gulf separating holiness from defilement. God is so holy that even the holy angels in heaven must cover their eyes in His presence, Isaiah 6.2, yet Jesus provides so great salvation that He washes sins clean away in His blood, First John 1.7. Jesus completely reconciles the vilest sinner to His holy Father, so you can some day be presented holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight, Colossians 1.21-22. Third, consider that the salvation of Jesus Christ is a salvation so great that it bridges the great gulf of the incomprehensible distance that separates the sinner from the Savior. Ever consider where we are and where Jesus is at present, at the Father’s right hand? What distances! Yet the salvation He provides is so great, and He is a savior who is so great, that the great chasm of space will someday be bridged, whether it is by Jesus coming to us or by Jesus bringing us to Him.

Oh, what cost is this great salvation. As well, what great benefit is this great salvation, delivering us from the wrath to come to an eternity with our precious Lord Jesus.

 

Finally, THE PERFORMANCE OF SO GREAT SALVATION

 

Planned in eternity past, purchased two thousand years ago in time and space on the cross of Calvary, a great salvation is one that must also be implemented, that must be performed. In Romans 8.29-30, we see God’s great salvation planned under five headings: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Allow me to confine my remarks to the final headings, justification, and glorification.

The sinner begins to enjoy so great salvation when, in response to being exposed to the gospel by means of preaching, witnessing, or reading the Bible, he embraces Jesus by faith. Romans 5.1 declares, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” To be justified is to be declared righteous without ever having experienced righteousness or actually being righteous. It is the possession of a standing before God that is wholly undeserved, actually based on the merit of Another, Jesus Christ. Imagine One who is so holy, so regal in splendor, so infinitely powerful and glorious, so terrible in majesty, that physical creatures such as us simply cannot interact with Him without being consumed. Our God is a consuming fire.[17] Moses’ face was burned by his proximity to God in the thick smoke atop Mount Sinai, and had to veil his face to hide its frightening appearance from that on.[18] Therefore, to make it possible for us to approach so great a God, God condescended to become a man, and established the ground for sinners to deal with Him by means of faith.[19] You see, we cannot deal with Him by means of our senses, since even to look upon His glory results in death. Therefore, to benefit us, to make it possible for tiny little specks of dust that we are to interact with and to be saved so as to partake of the very nature of so great a God, we must deal with Him through faith in His Son.[20] That relationship is established when the sinner comes to Christ and is justified, declared to be righteous in God’s sight by virtue of the righteousness of Jesus. That, my friends, is truly great.

The sinner now become saint continues to enjoy so great salvation when, in response to having life in Christ, he then experiences spiritual growth by means of God working in him to obedience to preaching and instruction, which also occurs by faith. Romans 6.17 reads, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Ephesians 2.10 reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Second Peter 1.3-11:

 

3      According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4      Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5      And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6      And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7      And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8      For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9      But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10     Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11     For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

My purpose at this time has not been to explain how sanctification takes place, but to show that it does take place. When a sinner becomes a Christian he is much like a newborn in many ways, and it is needful for him to experience spiritual growth. This spiritual growth process, called sanctification, is what happens from the time a sinner is justified by faith in Christ, to the time he passes to eternity.

The sinner become saint finally enjoys so great salvation to the fullest when, after he has passed to eternity or Jesus comes to take him up, he experiences glorification. Turn to First John 3.2 and read with me: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” The Apostle John here speaks of the believer’s future glorification. No creature can set eyes upon God and live, not even the angels of heaven. However, our salvation is so great that God’s plan is to so alter His children that we will someday be able to look upon Jesus in all the brightness of His glory without fear, and without danger. Thus, you see what is being accomplished, and what will someday be accomplished by our great salvation. First, deliverance from the penalty of our sins and having Christ’s life imparted to us. Second, growth in the Christian life that features, not perfectionism and the complete absence of sin, but increasing victory over sins by means of spiritual progress. Finally, there comes glorification, which is our experience of the same kind of change our Lord Jesus Christ experienced when God raised Him from the dead.

To be sure, we participate in this entire progression of events. However, make no mistake about it; it is God’s grace working in us to both be and to do His will. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1.6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

My desire is that you can see through my feeble efforts that we who know Christ have a truly great salvation. Great because it was conceived in the mind of our great God before time began, great because it is described in our great Bible, great because it is a salvation procured at great expense and provided at great cost by our great Savior.

Think about it, my friends. When God brought the time-space-matter continuum into existence, He did so by the spoken word. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.” On it goes until all was made that was made, and God rested on the seventh day.

Consider the relative tasks of creating and sustaining all that exists, and the act of saving someone. God spoke the universe into existence, yet Isaiah 59.1 reads, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” To create all things required only that God speak the words. However, to describe our great salvation in figurative language, the prophet makes mention of God’s hand that is strong to save. My friend, it is a greater demonstration of power to save a sinner from his sins and ultimately deliver him to glory and the presence of God than it was to create this vast universe.

It is truly a great salvation. Therefore, it is not only foolish, but also extremely dangerous to neglect it. Neglect it at your peril. Neglect it and you perish, without remedy.



[1] Psalm 119.89; 138.2

[2] Titus 1.2

[3] Psalm 119.105

[4] Acts 4.12

[5] John 1.14

[6] Philippians 2.6-8

[7] Isaiah 7.14; 53.4-6

[8] Acts 2.23

[9] Acts 2.24

[10] 1 Corinthians 15.3-8

[11] Mark 16.19; Acts 1.9; Ephesians 4.8-10

[12] Matthew Poole, A Commentary On The Whole Bible, Volume 3, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), pages 813-814.

[13] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), pages 666-667.

[14] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1932), page 342.

[15] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 99.

[16] Genesis 1-3

[17] Deuteronomy 4.24; 9.3; Hebrews 12.29

[18] Exodus 34.28-35

[19] Hebrews 11.6

[20] 2 Peter 1.4



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org