Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE GREAT SALVATION”

Hebrews 2.3

 

On this final night of this protracted meeting, I bring a message adapted from a sermon preached by Asahel Nettleton, the evangelist God used to ignite the Second Great Awakening.

Please turn to Hebrews 2.3. In the verses preceding our text the writer has lauded and praised the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Author of salvation. The writer of Hebrews calls Him “the brightness of” the Father’s “glory, and the express image of his person.” In view of His exalted character and of what He had done and suffered for the salvation of sinners, the writer of Hebrews warns you to take heed. “For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received the just recompense of reward,” Hebrews 2.2, “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.”

To paraphrase what I have just read to you, if every act of sin and rebellion that you have ever committed will be appropriately punished, and if when all is said and done you will actually get away with nothing, how will you escape if you neglect so great salvation?

This evening I propose that we consider three things arising from our text: in what the greatness of this salvation consists, who are guilty of neglecting this great salvation, and the importance of the words “how shall we escape?”

 

First, CONSIDER IN WHAT THE GREATNESS OF THIS SALVATION CONSISTS

 

It is a great salvation Jesus provides, for a variety of powerful reasons:

 

First, because this salvation delivers from great and awful punishment. The punishment that awaits you who are wicked is dreadful in its nature. Listen to these declarations in God’s Word:

 

·         They “shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” Revelation 21.8.

·         “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God,” Psalm 9.17.

·         God Himself will inflict this punishment. Romans 12.19 reads, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

·         When God arises to take vengeance, it will be inconceivably dreadful. “On the wicked” God “shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup,” Psalm 11.6.

 

This punishment will also be dreadful in its duration. The eternal happiness of the righteous is no more clearly revealed than the eternal punishment of the wicked. Those who shall be cast into the prison of Hell, and then the lake of fire, will have nothing with which to discharge your immense debt to the justice of God; and yet our Savior has declared, “I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite,” Luke 12.59. The duration of your punishment is seen in the following verses:

 

·         “And many of them . . . shall awake . . . to shame and everlasting contempt,” Daniel 12.2.

·         “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever,” Second Peter 2.17.

·         “To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever,” Jude 13.

·         “Punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” Second Thessalonians 1.9.

·         “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever,” Revelation 14.11.

 

However, what decides the point, are these despairing declarations:

 

·         “Cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched,” Mark 9.45.

·         “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” Mark 9.46.

·         “Nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned,” Hebrews 6.8.

·         “Whose end is destruction,” Philippians 3.19.

 

If there could ever be a time in eternity when you will be delivered from the torments of Hell, these statements would not be true. It could not be said, “their end is destruction.” If your torment is not eternal, then however long you will suffer in Hell and then the lake of fire, your beginning would be destruction and your end would be salvation. In Luke 16.26, Abraham said to the rich man, “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” What a great and awful punishment is here described. So, would not deliverance from such a punishment as this be a great salvation? So, you see, this punishment, so unimaginably dreadful in its nature, is also dreadful in its duration. W. G. T. Shedd explained it in this way: Since sinners are finite creatures who have sinned infinitely against an infinite God, because you cannot endure a punishment that is infinite in its severity, you must therefore be condemned to a punishment that is infinite in its duration.

Second, it is a great salvation because it could be secured by nothing short of the sacrifice of the Son of God. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . ; but with the precious blood of Christ,” First Peter 1.18-19. “And without shedding of blood is no remission,” no not of a single sin, Hebrews 9.22. Not the blood of a sinner. Not the blood of an angel. Nothing but the precious blood of the Son of God can atone for sin. And here both justice and mercy are gloriously displayed. For when Christ stood in the place of sinners, God did not in the least bit suffer His wrath to cool. He said, “Awake O sword against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow,” Zechariah 13.7. Surely a salvation purchased at so high a price, “He . . . spared not his own Son,” Romans 8.32, is a great salvation.

Third, it is a great salvation because it delivers from the reigning power and dominion of sin. This salvation, you see, is not merely a deliverance from punishment, the effect of sin; but a deliverance from sin itself. “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt,” Isaiah 57.20. With your present evil disposition, you will forever be hateful and hating one another in Hell, tormented and tormenting one another by the rage and fury of your passions. The glory of this salvation is that Jesus can deliver you from the dominion of sin and release you as a prisoner set free from all these dreadful evils. So, the Christian who now cries, “O wretched man that I am,” can add, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Author of this great salvation was called “Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins,” Matthew 1.21. This salvation is suited in every way to those who hate sin and who desire to be delivered from it as the worst of evils.

Fourth, it is a great salvation because it introduces those who accept it into a state of complete holiness and eternal happiness, in the full enjoyment of God, and the companionship of all who are holy. In other words, you who are saved will someday go to heaven. There the saved will be adorned with every grace which can make them happy in themselves and lovely in the sight of God. “He will beautify the meek with salvation,” Psalm 149.4. They will be “accounted worthy to obtain that world,” Luke 20.35. “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels,” Luke 20.36. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father,” Matthew 13.43. And they shall sing, “Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever,” Revelation 7.10. This, friend, is the salvation offered in the gospel through Jesus Christ my Lord.

 

NOW THAT WE HAVE A SENSE OF THE VAST IMPORTANCE OF THIS SUBJECT, LET US INQUIRE . . . WHO ARE GUILTY OF NEGLECTING THIS SALVATION?

 

Do I need to mention the openly immoral? The covetous, drunkards, swearers, railers, thieves, and all liars, we are sure shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. All who live in open wickedness, all who speak lightly of Christians and Christianity, are convinced in their own consciences. They already know that they are guilty of neglecting salvation. So, passing by these obvious candidates for perdition, let me say that everyone who does not comply with the terms on which salvation is offered is guilty of neglecting it. And these terms are repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone, therefore, who does not repent and believe in Jesus is, by the living God, charged with the guilt of neglecting the salvation of the gospel.

But is the awakened sinner, who trembles with a fearful expectation of God’s wrath, and who cries earnestly for mercy, also guilty? Jesus did say, “He that is not with me is against me.” So, it is plain that all who do not repent, whatever else they may have done, shall perish. It is equally plain that all who perish from under the sound of the gospel, whatever may have been their distress and their strivings, however “close to getting saved” some might think they were, will be charged with the guilt of neglecting salvation and of treading under foot the Son of God. We must remember that this is a holy salvation. The name of its Author is Jesus. He saves His people from their sins. So, whatever you may do for the purpose merely of escaping punishment, so long as you do not desire deliverance from sin, you are still guilty of neglecting the Savior. “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.” If, therefore, you do not desire deliverance from your sins, you do not desire the Savior spoken of in the Bible. And what the prophet says is true of you: “He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” You see, every sinner wants to be delivered from punishment and to be made eternally happy. But if this is all you are after then you do not desire the salvation that is offered in the gospel, which is a salvation from sin. My friend, do you desire this salvation? Is sin ugly and disgusting to you? Is sin your greatest burden and that from which, above all things, you want to be delivered? If so, then you desire the salvation of the gospel; and this salvation shall be yours. But if you do not desire to be delivered from sin, then you do not desire the salvation of the gospel; and you do, of course, neglect it. Do not mistake your hatred of punishment for hatred of sin. Do not mistake the fear of Hell for the dread of offending a holy God. “Devils believe and tremble.” Let none of you imagine that you desire the holy salvation of the gospel while you cannot be persuaded to lead a holy life, or while your repentance does not flow from supreme love to God. However much you may flatter yourself that by your tears and attentiveness you are seeking salvation, if you do not now come to Christ you are still under the condemning sentence of God’s law, and you stand charged with the guilt of neglecting the only method of deliverance.

 

LET ME PROCEED TO MY FINAL POINT OF CONSIDERATION, WHICH IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EXPRESSION “HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE?”

 

This is a question containing the strongest assertion that you who neglect the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ shall not escape destruction. All you need do is neglect salvation to guarantee the result. Overt acts of wickedness are not mentioned in our text. It does not say that only those who have been guilty of grossly immoral conduct shall not escape. All that is necessary to make your damnation certain is indifference and neglect. You need not ridicule Christianity. If you will only leave it alone and play, if you will only care for none of these things, you will be lost. Those who are saved must strive, and run, and fight, and make great exertions; but to treat this subject with neglect is all that is necessary to destroy your soul.

If this salvation is neglected, all your schemes to escape will utterly fail. I know that those of you who have to this point neglected Christ flatter yourselves that you will in some way escape. But how will you escape? Do you presume that you will repent and embrace the Savior before you die? You think this sounds like a plan, but has not your heart been hardening under the gospel for a long time? And is it not becoming harder and harder every day? So, what reason do you have to suppose you will someday love what you now hate? Have you not great reason to fear that you will continue to reject God’s offers of mercy and die in your sins?

Do you imagine that you may in some way or other appease the anger of God? But how can you appease His wrath while you continue to reject the Savior, His beloved Son? God, outside of Christ, is a consuming fire. He is angry with the wicked every day. This is why a little boy who recently told me he was saved by coming to God and exchanging his sins for eternal life is most definitely not saved. God is angry with sinners. He is a consuming fire. He cannot be approached by sinners. Sinners must come to Jesus!

Do you imagine that if you earnestly cry to God for mercy at some future time He will for certain pity you and have mercy on your soul? But how can you presume on His mercy if you refuse now to listen to His calls? His Spirit shall not always strive with man. And your day of grace is limited. There is a day, an hour, a moment, a window of opportunity, which if you pass by without turning to Christ you are lost forever.

Do you flatter yourself that you will not die suddenly, but will have sufficient warning of approaching death to make preparation? But will God, in condescension to your desire to continue in sin, delay the stroke of death, so you will not go down quickly into Hell? Do you know that those who are now in Hell once thought and felt exactly the same way as you do now? But “he that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Proverbs 29.1. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10.31. How do you plan to escape the solemn hour of death? How do you expect to retain the life that is within you when your body turns to corruption and crumbles into dust?

The blood of Christ now proclaims mercy to sinners such as you, but it will shortly cry for vengeance on your guilty soul. “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,” Revelation 1.7. And how will you escape that dreadful sight, you murderer of the Son of God? Will you flee from the presence of the Judge? Will you escape into the rocks and mountains for shelter, or will you dig into the bowels of the earth to find a place of concealment? “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and come forth,” John 5.28-29. The sea shall give up the dead that are in it. Death and Hell shall deliver up the dead that are in them. The Judge shall “sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him, shall be gathered all nations.” In vain will guilty sinners now call to the rocks and mountains, saying, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” How will you escape? Who will be able to stand? Will you be able to stand?

Do you expect to be overlooked among the millions of others who are judged on Judgment Day? Will you be overlooked in the vast assembly? Will the righteous Judge lose track of you? How can you escape the all-knowing and all-searching heart of God?

Will you resist? Will you put up a fight? Do you have the strength to oppose God? Will you raise your feeble arm against the Almighty God? Then how shall you escape?

Now, the righteous Judge descends. The long neglected Savior comes. Every eye shall see Him. Mercy turns to wrath. Sleeping vengeance now wakes up. Rebels once deaf to His call, now shall hear His voice.

 

“See the judge’s hand arising,

Filled with vengeance on his foes.”

 

Jesus, whose charming and inviting voice once invited you by the gospel, will at that time pronounce your final doom: “Depart.” And how will you escape the dreadful sentence?

Horror and despair will then seize your guilty soul. And how will you escape the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels? Now they that are filthy will be filthy still, Revelation 22.11. When ages on ages have rolled away, how will you escape the wrath that is still to come? How will you, a filthy and horrid blasphemer, pay your still increasing debt, or pass over that great gulf that is fixed, or enter the pure and spotless place called heaven?

 

Let me ask you one more time to project your thoughts forward into an endless eternity, before you take the tremendous leap into the bottomless pit, and remember that the great salvation is still within your reach.

Think. What will your memories be once you have lost your soul? You will think to yourself, “I once enjoyed a day of salvation. I once heard the offer of pardon. But wretch that I am, I rejected it.” You will suffer for millions of ages, and then say to yourself again, “I once enjoyed a day of salvation. Once, millions of ages back, I well remember the time, it was near the beginning of my existence. I was for a moment on trial for eternity. I heard of heaven and I heard of Hell. I was warned to flee from the wrath to come, but I neglected the great salvation.”

Again, you suffer on for millions and millions of ages and then reflect again. “O, what a delightful but brief life on earth I once enjoyed. But now, it is gone forever. O, if only I could once more hear the voice of the Savior and the sound of the gospel.” But

 

“In that lone land of deep despair,

No Sabbath’s heavenly light shall rise,

No God regard your bitter prayer,

Nor Savior call you to the skies.

No wonders to the dead are shown,

The wonders of redeeming love:

No voice his glorious truth make known,

Nor sings the bliss of climes above.”

 

We are looking forward to the blackness of darkness forever. Eternity. It is an ocean without a shore. O eternity, eternity.

But wait! Here you are. You are not in Hell. Right now is the time that millions of souls will look back on, and regret for their neglect of salvation, through a never-ending eternity.

Wake up, sinner! “Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” Now heaven, with all its glories, is brought within your reach. Neglect not the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.



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