How Shall We Escape ?

 

Will you escape?  That’s the question.

 

Hebrews 2, verse 3  asks us the question;  “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?”   We need to escape the condition, of eternal torment and suffering, that the bible calls hell!  But how are we going to escape hell, if we neglect the salvation that God has offered us?  You tell me, How are we gonna do it?  

Hell isn’t a “condition” that you want to be in.  Or do you think of hell as a place, and not a condition?  The bible uses a word that could give us the impression that hell is a place.   For example, in  Mathew 13:42,  Jesus says;  “..and will cast them into the furnace of fire..”  Now let me stop a minute here..  There is not a literal furnace of fire waiting for the lost.  That’s a metaphor, it’s an analogy.  That’s how God want us to picture it, so that we can grasp the seriousness of the situation.  You don’t want to end up in the condition that God is comparing, to being in a furnace of fire that never quits burning.  You don’t want to be “there”.

So let’s continue with the verse;  “and will cast them into the furnace of fire, THERE will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Where will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth?  In that condition that God likens to a furnace of fire, that’s where.

I’d really like you to try to view both, heaven and hell, as spiritual conditions, and not places.  We know they’re not physical places, because there isn’t anything physical in the spiritual realm.  But it’s much easier to grasp the idea of a spiritual condition, as opposed to a spiritual “place”.  It’s just like being saved or being lost.  Those are the only two conditions that our spirit can be in, either saved or lost.

I truly believe, that you will gain a much clearer understanding of the scriptures, if you view heaven and hell, as conditions, and not as places.  Even hades, is the condition that our spirit will be in, between physical death, and the resurrection.

Viewing these things as “places”, is just like how people view the church, as if it’s a physical place, but it’s not a place.  When God adds a soul to Christ’s “church”, He’s adding them, together with the others, who are in the saved condition.  That’s exactly what it says in  Acts 2:47;  “..And the Lord added to them, day by day, those who were being saved.”  That verse literally says;  “And the Lord added to THEM”.  God added, those who were BEING saved, to the number of those who had already BEEN saved.

 

Now I want you to think about the word “sanctify” for a minute.  Do you know what that means?  When God sanctifies us, He cleanses us, and He sets us apart.  That’s the literal meaning of the word “sanctify”.  It has a two-part meaning.  Not two different meaning, but two parts which make up the one meaning.  It means to “cleanse” us from sin, and it means to “set us apart”,  in a saved condition.  When our sins are “cleansed”, when they’re forgiven, we are “set apart” from those who are in a lost condition, and we are added to those who are in a saved condition.

Colossians 1:13  says;  “For He has delivered us from the domain of darkness.. (the domain of darkness isn’t a dark place, it’s the sinful condition, of being separated from the Light, separated from God) ..and translated us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  The kingdom of His Son isn’t a place either, it’s a condition.  Being in the kingdom of Christ, is being in a saved condition, and in a condition of fellowship with God, in a covenant relation with God, and with Christ.  The Apostle John said;  “Indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  (1 John 1:3)

After we hear the gospel of Christ, and after we believe it, and repent of our sins, and confess His name, and after we’re baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, we receive the promise of eternal life.  1 John 2:25  says;  “And this is the promise that he has promised us, eternal life.”   Eternal life isn’t a place either, it’s the condition of being with God eternally,  That’s why it’s called eternal “life”, because life comes from God, and apart from God, there is no life!   

  

So I’ve gone from talking about hell, to talking about eternal life.  But I’m going to go back to talking about hell again, and I know people don’t really like talking about hell, but that’s exactly WHY I’m going to talk about it.  If we don’t talk about hell, and if you don’t think about hell, you just might neglect the salvation that God has offered to you, and end up in the condition called hell.   And that’s a fact.  You might neglect what God has told you to do.  And I might neglect it, if we don’t talk about it, and if we don’t think about it, and think about the reality of the consequences of neglect!

We were talking about how are we going to escape the condition of hell, if we neglect God’s salvation?  What’s the worst condition that you’ve ever been in?  Have you ever been in a bad financial condition?  Or maybe in a bad emotional, or psychological condition.  Maybe you’ve actually been close to death, from sickness or disease, or from a terrible accident.  Lot’s of people are in that very condition.  But you know what?  That’s nothing compared to the condition of hell.  That’s why God gives us such a graphic description of it.  And He gives us a description that we can relate to.  Burning forever in a furnace of fire.  We don’t even want to think about it, let alone talk about it.

But maybe if we did think and talk about it more, maybe we wouldn’t be so prone to neglecting God’s salvation.

 

“How shall we escape”?  Actually, we’re not expected to answer that, because it’s a “rhetorical question”.  The answer is obvious, there IS no way to escape, if we neglect God’s way of salvation.  It’s God’s way or no way at all, right?  Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”, right?  (John 14:6)   “There is no other name under heaven, that has been given among men, whereby we must be saved”, right?  (Acts 4:12)  

And we can’t change that, right?   Hebrews 2, verse 2  says;  “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression received a just recompense”, then how can we escape if we neglect God’s way of salvation?   You can’t escape, you won’t escape, it’s that simple, you won’t!

Can we trust God’s word?  Of course we can.  The word of God is unalterable.  Every transgression receives a just recompense.  It’s a fact, there’s no escaping it.  Just like there’s no escaping the fact that “It’s appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27)   There’s simply no escaping it.  

People always want assurances in religion, well here’s some assurances;  You’re gonna die, and you’re gonna be judged.  And obeying Jesus Christ is the only way that God has given us to be saved, and if we neglect that way, then there will no escaping eternal hell.  You can be assured of that, it’s that simple.

But here’s the point that I want you to understand today;  You don’t have to be murderer, or a big time thief, or a drug dealer, or anything of that sort, to be assured of eternal hell.  You can be assured of it, simply through negligence.  You can be a really nice person, with really good intentions.  But because of simple negligence, you can be lost eternally.

Just negligence, that’s all it takes.  And it’s pretty easy sometimes, to be negligent.  We see it in other people, but are we willing, to see it in ourselves?  You know,  James 4:17  says;  “Therefore, to him who knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  How many times do we sin, simply because we didn’t do, “the good thing”?  And then, we think it’s “of no significance” and so we don’t even repent.   “How shall we escape?”

 

Have you ever asked someone to have a bible study, or maybe invited them to come to worship services, and maybe they even said they would do that some day, but then somehow that day never arrived?  That person is lost, and you want to help them, but they’re being negligent, and so they remain lost.  That’s sad isn’t it?  But it’s a fact, that’s the way most people are.  They’re nice people, that’s why you’re friends with them, but they’re neglecting their soul.

But you know what’s even sadder than that?  It’s when people who are already Christians, are negligent, because you know, that if their life ended right now, or if Jesus came back right now, they’d be lost.  They’re Christians, and they know better, but they’re negligent.  If that doesn’t make you sad, I don’t know why not.

We usually don’t neglect things that we really value though.  You know, like if you were to buy a new car, you’d probably take really good care of it, you wouldn’t just neglect it, and let it get filthy inside and out.  No, you’d be washing it, and waxing it, and vacuuming the inside, because you really value it.  We always take care of the things that we value the most.

So then why would a Christian, neglect their own soul?  Why would they do that?  I mean, what’s the value of your soul!  “What would a man give in exchange for his soul?”  That’s what Jesus asked, in  Mark 8:37.  I know what people sometimes GET, in exchange for their soul.  Satan gets their soul, and they get things like money, and fun, and recreation, and popularity, and sometimes friendship and relationships.  (Although it’s probably not relationships with the right kind of people)  But people get all sorts of things, in exchange for their soul.

And the real reason, behind what people will trade, in exchange for their soul, is that they value those things, MORE than they value their soul.  That’s a sad reality.  But the people making that exchange aren’t even the ones who are sad, they’re having too much fun to be sad.

Do you know what the word “neglect” means in that scripture?  It means to be careless, and to disregard, and to be without concern, because the thing you’re neglecting, is of  “little significance”.  How will we escape, if we have such little concern for our salvation?  If we’re so careless with it, and if we view it as having little significance?   How are we going to escape, when that’s our viewpoint?  We won’t escape, we won’t!

 

Let’s think about this salvation for a minute.  We’re being saved from the consequences of our sins aren’t we?  Sure we are, that’s the whole purpose of God becoming flesh and shedding His blood, and dying.  So that God Himself could pay the price for our forgiveness, so we don’t suffer the consequences.

“The Word was God”, right?   John 1:1,  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, right?   John 1:14.   “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”,  Philippians 2:8.  So then, “Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us”,  Romans 8:34.

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world”,  1 John 2:2.   And if we neglect so great a salvation, then we’re lost, eternally!  Right?  Right.

It’s so easy to be neglectful, and to NOT put His kingdom and His righteousness FIRST in our lives.  Like we’re told to do in  Mathew 6:33.  

 

If you had the choice, whether to assemble with the saints, (that’s us) or to go out an have “fun”, (and actually we all have that very choice, several times a week) what would your first choice be?

Let me read to you,  Hebrews 10:23 thru 25;  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stimulate one another, to love and good works.   (How we gonna to stimulate, one another if we’re not here?)  Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the manner of some, (sometimes people are negligent) but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”   

You want to hear  verse 26?   Maybe, maybe not?  Some people don’t want to hear this;  “For if we go on SINNING, willfully, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”   When there’s no more sacrifice for sins, how you gonna escape?   Here’s what remains if we go on sinning willfully, remember, it’s our choice, right?   Here’s what remains;  “..But a CERTAIN terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire  (there’s that analogy of fire again) which will consume the adversaries.”  

When Kevin Ruiz was here the other week, he made a good point in one of his lessons.  Concerning that command to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”  He reminded us that most congregations don’t only assemble, once, on Sunday morning.  Most congregations, like this one, assemble a few times every week.  Which assembly is God commanding us not to forsake?  The first one, the second one, the third, one, maybe the fourth one.  

I guess you’ll have to be the judge, because God didn’t specify which assembly.  God simply commanded us to “stimulate one another”, and to “encourage one another”, by “NOT forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..”  And then in the very next sentence He gives us this warning;  “For if we go on sinning willfully..  there’s no more sacrifice for sins.”  End of story, no escaping.

 

We were talking about putting the kingdom first, right?

Is our first choice to be diligent, not negligent, but diligent, and to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, correctly discerning the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15)  Obviously, if that’s not our first choice, we have need to be ashamed.  I didn’t say it, God did.   The choice is ours, are we gonna to be diligent, or are we gonna be negligent?   How are you gonna escape?  Oh, and by the way, we do assemble here for bible study.

We can be negligent in many ways though.  We can be negligent to the point of never even becoming a Christian.  And we can be negligent by not assembling for worship, and for bible study, once we are a Christian.  And we can be negligent by not putting God first, in ALL things.  And what about actually doing for others?  Can we be negligent in that?  I’m sure we can, as a matter of fact, I’m sure we are.  Can we be negligent in denying ourselves?  That would be the same as putting ourselves first, wouldn’t it?

Here’s a question for you;  Do you know how to be forgiven of your sins, and be added to the body of Christ?  You know that you have to hear the word of God, and believe the word of God, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, right?  And you know that you’ve got to repent of your sins (that means stop sinning!  Turn from your sins, turn from your negligence, and turn to obedience to God) And you know that you’ve got to confess your faith in Christ, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.  You know that you’ve got to do these things, right?

Well then, let me ask you this final question;  Would you be negligent to NOT tell that to everyone you can, so that they would also have the opportunity to be forgiven?  Would that be negligent?  I’m thinking that it would.   We will not escape, if we neglect God and His word, and obedience to His word.  You don’t have to be a “bad person” to one day find yourself in the condition called hell.  All you have to do, is be negligent.

 

 

 

 

 

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