Too Great to Ignore
September 03, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4
Opening Illustration: My child ignores my brother. With family, sitting in the back seat with my brother and one of my kids between us. My brother started to talking to this particular child for several minutes. And he was really trying to impress my kid. I think my brother was talking about animals and the zoo and who else knows what. The whole time, my kid, just stared forward and never said a word. After about 5 minutes, my kid turned and looked at my brother. And after a few seconds of just looking at him, my child said…“I’m sorry. Were you talking to me?” I would pay good money to go back in time and grab a picture of my brother’s face at that moment. It was a beautiful picture of a face that just ate a big slice of humble pie. He was completely dumbfounded that my child had completely ignore all the wonderful things he had been saying. In my brother’s mind, what he had been saying was too great to ignore! Today, we come to a passage in the Bible that looks us square in the eyes and asks the question, “Are you ignoring the truth?”
I’ll go ahead and give you a heads up today. This passage is pointed and direct. If you have kept God’s truth at an arms length, then this passage removes that distance. You can’t stiff arm these four verses. Here’s what we are going to see in our time in God’s Word this morning: God’s truth is too great to ignore. As I studied this week, God challenged my heart. How often do I go a day, a week, a month without marveling at what God has given me? How often do I let the routine of my life dull my ears from hearing just how great of a truth and how great of a salvation God has given me? I never want to lose sight of the greatness of God’s truth. So, let’s turn to Hebrews 2 and let that be the challenge for all of us. We are in our current Sermon Series: Hebrews: The Complete Work of Christ. If you are new, we are going through the book of Hebrews as a church. We started two weeks ago and already it’s been rich. There were two major aspects to chapter 1: 1) Jesus is better than anything else; 2) We must be fascinated by Jesus more than anything else. Let’s pick up in Hebrews chapter 2. Read Hebrews 2:1-4. Pray. We are going to start with verse 1. Here’s what we see first: Keep God’s truth close.
1) Keep God’s truth close. (vs. 1) In the first chapter of Hebrews there was not a single command. We saw some amazing truths about Jesus, but there wasn’t anything specifically commanded for our lives. Now, we enter into chapter 2 and it starts with a command. This is a pattern we will see throughout the book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews will teach how Jesus is better and then follow up with a warning. This will happen 5 times. Today, we see the first of the five warnings. Let’s look at verse 1. It’s a simple verse with a big warning. 1So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. What’s the command in verse 1? To listen. We are told to listen, how to listen, what to listen to, and what happens if we don’t listen. How are we supposed to listen? We are to listen “Very carefully” For some reason, this was my dad’s response to almost any question I asked growing up as a kid. “Dad, how do the leaves stay green? Very carefully.” “Dad, how do you become successful in life? Very carefully.” “Dad, how are babies born? Very carefully.” And I don’t know if his intention was to teach me to think more deeply on things or just to avoid answering my questions, but that idea of doing something very carefully has stuck with me. As Christ followers, we are called to listen to God’s Word with careful attention. We are called to take God’s Word and keep it close to us. Because what happens if we don’t? We drift away from it. The Greek word used that we get the term “very carefully” is most likely a nautical term. It means to moor a ship or hold a ship to part. The idea is that God’s truth is to be a fixed point in our lives. The danger if we don’t moor to God’s truth is that we drift away. The phrase “drift away” also comes from a Greek word that is a nautical term. “Drift away” means a ship being allowed to slip past the harbor because the mariner forgot to calculate the wind. Here’s what this means for our lives: The Bible must be an intimate part of our lives. The Bible can’t be a casual acquaintance. The Bible can’t be a cheap fling. Because there is no small thing when it comes to God’s truth.
Now, some of you might be sitting there going, “Jess, this seems to be a bit much. Does the Bible, God’s truth, really have to be an intimate part of our lives? I know it’s important, but can’t I just open it up at church when I come?” I want to try to illustrate the importance of keeping God’s truth close. The power of trajectories. We are all anchored to a truth: God’s truth or Culture’s truth. One small step away from God’s truth puts us on a trajectory that takes us further away as time goes on. There is a quote from CS Lewis that is worth repeating often. It’s from the book Screwtape Letters. It’s about how a demon keeps someone away from Jesus. This demon is being coached by another demon. Quote: “You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”―S. Lewis.
When we think about the ease at which we can just slowly drift away from Jesus, how much more should desire to stay close to God’s truth? How do we stay anchored in God’s truth?
- Cherish God’s Word.
- Long for God’s truth.
- Let God’s truth speak into your life.
- Let it guide your life.
- Keep God’s truth close.
- See how great God’s truth is.
Which is exactly what we see in verse 2: When you see the greatness of God’s truth, you can’t ignore God’s truth.
2) When you see the greatness of God’s truth, you can’t ignore God’s truth. (vs. 2-3a) To understand the fullness of what is being said in verses 2 through 4, we need to understand the original audience of this letter was thinking. The groundwork was laid in chapter one that Jesus is better than the angels. If you remember from last week, the original recipients of this letter were Hellenistic Jews – or Jews living in Greek culture. These Hellenistic Jews took a major fascination with angels. The author is appealing to both the fascination with angels, as well as their knowledge of the Old Testament. Look at verse 2: 2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. The message of God delivered through angels is referring to Moses receiving the Mosaic Covenant. That covenant included the 10 commandments. This covenant defined the relationship between God and the people of Israel. And part of the relationship was that if the Israelites disobeyed, they would be punished. Verse 2 sets up verse 3. And in verse 3, there is both a sobering reality and a hopeful reality. The sobering reality is presented in the form of a question. 3a So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself? What the writer of Hebrews is saying is this, “If God’s people ignored God’s truth that was delivered by angels and were punished for that, do you really think you can escape punishment if you ignore God’s truth that was announced by Jesus Himself?” There’s the sobering reality: if you ignore God’s truth, you can’t escape God’s punishment. Drifting from God’s truth doesn’t make you immune from God’s truth.
But don’t miss the hopeful reality! How is God’s truth described in verse 3? 3a So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself? “This great salvation!” When you see the greatness of salvation – that Jesus died for you so you can have eternal life. When you see the greatness of the gospel – the good news that you don’t have to be eternally punished – you can’t help but listen very carefully to God’s truth. Maybe you’re sitting here thinking, “Jess, I’ve ignored God’s truth for too long. I’ve drifted too far away. There’s no way I can come back. There’s never too big of a gap that God can’t pull you back. Illustration: My child drifts into the bay on a paddleboard. It was a light breeze that we didn’t think much of, but when you are on a paddleboard a kid, that breeze is much stronger than you realize. He was on his way to the next city! Did I yell at my kid, “I told you to say close. You’ve drifted too far. I’m not going to save you.” No! I went out and got him. There was no too big of a gap that I wouldn’t go get him. That’s exactly what this great salvation is!
I like how one pastor put it: Don't neglect being loved by God. Don't neglect being forgiven and accepted and protected and strengthened and guided by Almighty God. Don't neglect the sacrifice of Christ's life on the cross. Don't neglect the free gift of righteousness imputed by faith. Don't neglect the removal of God's wrath and the reconciled smile of God. Don't neglect the indwelling Holy Spirit and the fellowship and friendship of the living Christ. Don't neglect the radiance of God's glory in the face of Jesus. Don't neglect the free access to the throne of grace. Don't neglect the inexhaustible treasure of God's promises. This is a great salvation. Neglecting it is very evil. Don't neglect so great a salvation. We should want to keep it close. We should want to let it anchor our lives. Why? God’s truth is great. And God’s truth can be trusted. That’s the last part of the passage today: You can trust God’s truth.
3) You can trust God’s truth. (vs. 3b-4) What takes place in verses 3 and 4 is a confirmation of witnesses. Look at these two verses: 3b this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? 4 And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. This great salvation, this great truth, was first confirmed by God the Father. God is the author of salvation. We see that God chose Jesus, the Son, as the one to announce this salvation to the world. Who did Jesus deliver this truth to? “delivered to us by those who heard him speak”. On a side note, we learn a little bit about the writer of Hebrews. He groups himself into those who directly heard from Jesus. So, this great truth from God through Jesus to the apostles would be confirmed by who? What does verse 4 say? 4 And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. The Father confirms this great truth through the gifts from the Holy Spirit. Not only do we have the proclamation of God’s truth and the hearing of God’s truth, we also have the effectiveness of God’s truth. These signs and wonders show the power of the God’s truth. I can sit here and say, “God gave us His truth through His Son which was received by the apostles and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.” I can tell you it’s trustworthiness is unlike any other message this world has heard. I can tell you the Bible is the most tested and proven literary source of all time.
The question you need to answer is “Do you receive God’s truth?” What does it take for you to trust the authority of information? I’ll go ahead and say it this way: It’s amazing how quickly we will accept a social media post that is 10-minutes old, yet we will sit here and deny the truth that been in existence since before this world began. The problem isn’t that God’s truth isn’t true…The problem is that we don’t have hearts that want to receive God’s truth. God’s truth isn’t outdated. God’s truth is eternal. For some reason, our culture is willing to trust an ever-evolving truth over that never changes. I’ll ask the question again: what does it take for you to trust the authority of information?
- It takes the witness of other people.
- It takes the witness of other people who are trustworthy.
- For me, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the apostles are pretty good witnesses…
- It takes a heart that is willing to receive the truth.
- Illustration: “Babyproofing” my house with outlet covers
- We did all the babyproofing things with our firstborn
- The thirdborn… play with this knife
- The babyproofing that frustrated me the most?
- The outlet covers
- Every time I went to plug something in, I had to spend 5 minutes getting that thing out of the outlet
- When we choose not to trust God’s truth, we’re just like those outlet covers
- We’re plugged up and missing out on this incredible power and truth
- You can trust God’s truth.
- Illustration: “Babyproofing” my house with outlet covers
There’s one thing I don’t want you to do today: Please don’t sit here, listen to God’s truth, and then go, “I’m sorry God, were you talking to me?” That last thing I want you do is meet face to face with God one day and say, “I’m sorry God, were you talking to me?” GOSPEL PRESENTATION. I don’t want you to spiritually wander away from God’s truth. It may not seem like a big deal, but you have to keep God’s truth close. Stay locked on God’s great truth. You can trust God’s truth. God’s truth is too great to ignore. Let’s pray.
Transition to Lord’s Supper and Prayer Time
Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain. This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.