Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 10:25 Downloads & Resources How Shall We Escape? Dr. Jon Morrissette - 1/19/2003 The church wasn't growing, at least not as I thought it should. Each week I inevitably found myself sitting in my church office, staring out the window at the busy highway, watching as hundreds of cars would drive by. I'd look across the street into the community and notice people busy about their lives. People were doing yard work, fixing up their homes, raising children, relaxing after a day's work, hanging out, piddling in their garages, or cleaning fish. In the distance I could hear the occasional family in turmoil. I'd hear cursing, shouting, beer bottles being smashed, gunshots, or sirens. I'm not kidding! Our church was the only church in town and apart from the occasional funeral dinner or Emergency Squad fundraiser dinner, most of the people in the community hadn't set foot in the church for decades! Every week I kept hoping that somehow they would show some interest. One day the Lord put it on my heart that I should stop sitting around waiting for these people to come to church. So I walked across the street and used every excuse imaginable to strike up conversations with these people who were busy about their lives. I learned their names and their stories. I asked about their experiences with the church throughout the years. I tried to gather information that might be useful in helping lead these people to Christ. Spiritual disinterest. I don't know what I expected to hear, but there was one complaint I heard over and over again. "B-O-R-I-N-G. Church is a drag. I'd rather hit the snooze button on my alarm clock than endure another church service! I don't get anything out of it." And so from that point on, I resigned myself to the idea that our church's greatest challenge was to somehow interest people in their salvation. Yesterday I attended a small funeral for my great aunt up in Kankakee. My aunt was a little rough around the edges, but she was a very nice person. She lived on the Kankakee River. Every year we used to hop on her pontoon boat and drift over the to community college to watch fireworks. We had some great times. Our family would stay at her place late into the evening talking about everything imaginable, enjoying each other's company. But there was one subject that was absolutely off limits. Religion. My parents tried on a number of occasions to talk about Jesus Christ but every time my aunt would snap, "Don't give me that religion stuff." Then she would promptly change the subject. "I'm not interested. That's not my thing. Can we talk about something else?" In general, people have been conditioned to believe that everything is okay. We do not accept the premise behind the idea of salvation. The premise of salvation is that we desperately need to be saved from someone or something. As we go about our business, nothing could be further from our minds. The reason so many people have lost interest and become bored is because we don't perceive any danger. We don't sense any urgency about spiritual things. We do not have this sense that we need to be saved from someone or something, or that we need a savior, or that we need to prepare for eternity now. What we have instead is false confidence. Pride. Even arrogance. We believe everything is okay. We think to ourselves, "I'm a good person. God is a big teddy bear. Heaven is sure. My sin is no big deal. Holiness is optional. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow I die but even if I do, I'm okay." You could say that many of us have lost perspective concerning the gravity of our need for salvation, of being saved. As we read Hebrews we discern a similar apathy concerning the need for salvation. The Christians in Hebrews were growing complacent and losing interest in spiritual things. Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) indicates that they were slowly starting to, "drift away." One sign of this fact is evidenced in Hebrews 10:25. A number of the believers were in the habit of forsaking the assembly or not meeting together. Even more alarming, in Hebrews 6 we discover that some were walking away from their faith and their salvation hope in Jesus Christ. I think this is an apt description of what is happening today. So many are slowly drifting away. So many are in the habit of forsaking the assembly. Every once in a while we get a wake up call, a doctor's report, or a catastrophic event like September 11, and we renew our spiritual interest. But then we drift again. A simple question. There isn't anything different happening today than what was happening in the first century among the Christians to whom the book of Hebrews was written. The challenge is still the same. We must find a way to interest people in their salvation. The writer of Hebrews uses a very simple technique in order to renew the interest of the faint-hearted. In Hebrews 2:3 (NIV) he asks, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" I think there is an important lesson here that we must not gloss over. It is so tempting to want to ask the disinterested a thousand other questions in the hope that they will become interested in spiritual things and Christ. It is tempting to ask, "If you came to church, what kind of sermons would you like to listen to? What kind of music? What kind of programs? What kind of atmosphere? What kind of service? What kind of people? What kind of gimmicks?" These questions might interest the unchurched for a while, but they have never proven to sustain their interest long term. It is extremely important in our day and age that we remain true to our message. Our purpose isn't to entertain the bored, to compete with the box office, to outdo comedy central, or to be the church-o-jungle-of-fun. That's not who or what we are, nor is it something we should become! There isn't any attempt in the entire book of Hebrews to cater to the whims of the faint-hearted, or the bored, or the disinterested. Instead, the writer unleashes this intrusive, reality-invoking question. "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" This, my friends, is the singular question we should consume ourselves with. There isn't any question that is more important or of greater consequence. And yet this is the very question we are the most reluctant to ask. We don't want to pressure. We don't want to seem intolerant. We don't want to offend. Well forget all that stuff! Not everything has to be about us or about how we feel! Tightening your grip. I would like you to find the opening verses of Hebrews 2 in which this question is found. I'm not going to give you an outline. Let's just take these verses a phrase at a time. Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) says, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." I think the English translation of this verse in your Bible is greatly diluted. I was studying this verse and its meaning is greatly amplified in the original Greek language. Consider this translation. "It is absolutely necessarily that we excessively grip what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." We hold on to a lot of things for dear life to find security and to find meaning. These are questions you need to ask. What am I excessively gripping? What am I holding on to for dear life? What am I putting my trust in? I see people who are holding on to their money for dear life because their security is rooted in wealth and prosperity. A lot of people have been living in fear these past few years as the market has deflated. I see people who hold on to their health with a death grip, believing that this life is everything they have. There are many people who hold on to this life's relationships, their job, their status, their good works, material things, and their pets. We tend to grip those things we can see and feel. This is why so many of us are drifting in a sea of despair, hoping against hope. Hoping in hope itself. Hebrews 2:1says, "It is absolutely necessary that we excessively grip what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." What is the writer of Hebrews talking about here? What is it that we have heard? The answer is in Hebrews 1:1-4 (NIV)."In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs." Anchoring your soul. We should excessively grip the word of God so that we will not drift away. We should excessively grip the Son of God, Jesus Christ, through whom God has spoken and made himself known and provided purification for sin. We will surely die holding on to the things of this world, but we can surely live holding on to the word of God that has been given to us in the person Jesus Christ. Will you die excessively gripping the one who can save your soul? Or will you die a hopeful, but hopeless drifter? The word of God, Jesus Christ, is an anchor for our souls. In Hebrews 2:2-3 (NIV) the writer continues to build the case for our need for salvation. He says, "For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him." The scriptures teach us that the Old Testament law was given to Moses through the angels. Many of you have read the Old Testament and know about the law. Many of you memorized the ten commandments in Bible school as children. In the Old Testament every violation of the law and every act of disobedience received its just punishment. A lot of people don't like to read the Old Testament because it so clearly portrays God's justice and wrath against sin. The Old Testament teaches us that all of us must answer to and are ultimately accountable to a holy and perfect God. None of us by ourselves will ever be able to answer to a holy and perfect God. You will not be able to explain away your sin. Your excuses and blame-shifting will not stand up in your day of judgment. You will not be able to justify yourself by your good works or your good intentions or your religious deeds. There is only one thing that is going to matter in your day of judgment. The thing that matters is what you are excessively gripping when you pass from this life into the next. Were you curious about the strong language in Hebrews 2:1, "excessively gripping"? Why excessively gripping? I'll tell you why. Because what you grip is a matter of life and death. When you stand before a holy and perfect God you are going to be trembling in your boots. But not if you are clinging to Christ's righteousness. Not if you are trusting in purification from sin that Christ provided on the cross. That's what will save you. The cost of carelessness. The question is Hebrews 2:3 could, and probably should, be worded differently .In the Greek the question in verse three could read, "How shall we escape if we are careless with such a great salvation?" This is probably a better description of the mistake we are mostly like to make. It isn't that we ignore the great salvation we have in Christ. It is more like we become careless with it. We get distracted. We lose focus. We neglect. The Super Bowl is sneaking up on us. Have you ever noticed the excessive grip those professional athletes must have on the football at all times? Carelessness is what costs a team the game. The opposing team doesn't just tackle the ball carrier. They tackle the football. They do everything to pry that ball out of the hands of the ball carrier. These three hundred pound musclebound linemen strip it. They punch it. They rip it out. Their job is to cause a fumble. The enemy is constantly trying to strip the word of God out of our hands. He wants us to be careless. He wants us to loosen our grip because he knows that if we excessively grip our salvation in Christ, we will win and be victorious! But he also knows that if he can get us to just loosen our grip a little and forsake Christ, we will never survive the wrath and justice of a holy and perfect God. Then he will win and we will be the losers. So do you want to be a winner or a loser? Paying close attention. The rest of Hebrews 2:3-4 (NIV) is an affirmation about the word spoken through Christ. "This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." It is pretty difficult to ignore the salvation that God has provided in Christ. It's not like Christ came in total obscurity. God spent at least two thousand years preparing the world for Christ's arrival by using the nation of Israel as his special instrument and by speaking through the prophets. When Christ was on earth, he spoke clearly and boldly about his identity. He radiated God's glory and character. He commanded men to embrace him as their lord and savior. His crucifixion sent shock waves throughout history. His resurrection vindicated his claims to divinity and kingship. The signs, wonders, and miracles God has worked throughout history in the church substantiates that Jesus is the way, truth, and life. No one can come to the Father except through him. If we look, we have all the confirmation we need that Jesus is God's chosen vessel of salvation to all who believe. There is no other alternative, no other means, no plan B. Our salvation is given to those who excessively embrace Christ. My great aunt was never interested in religion, but there was great irony in her death. On the day of her funeral we noticed an old Bible was laid in her coffin. When my mom asked about it, the funeral director told her it was his custom to buy used Bibles at garage sales and put them in the casket with the deceased. Oh man, my aunt would have greatly protested! My aunt didn't want any preachers speaking at her funeral, nor did she want her funeral to be in a church. So she made arrangements with the VFW women's auxiliary to conduct her service. She also asked to be cremated. Much to my surprise, the women's auxiliary came through. They read scripture. They clearly presented the gospel of Jesus Christ. They spoke of our resurrection hope. They prayed to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Near my aunt's coffin was an antique, backlit hologram image of Christ. The picture was turned on and placed in a prominent place for all to see. I could hear hymns quietly, subtly playing over the speakers in the background. Here is the irony. The very thing that could have given her hope in death, the very thing that couldn't have escaped anyone's notice during her funeral, was the very thing she carelessly ignored most of her life. I wonder if from the perspective of eternity, she feels any differently about her need for salvation in Christ? We only have this life to wrestle with our eternal destiny. How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? The only answer I know to give you, the answer God has plainly revealed in scripture, is Jesus Christ.