Amazing Chapters in the Bible for All the Chapters in Our Lives, Pt. 2
Study Guide, June 13, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
We are to be preparing for our own homegoing and helping others prepare for it as well. So let’s explore another amazing chapter that will prepare us all for all the chapters in our lives. We turn to Hebrews, chapter two.
Heb 2:1-4- “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” NASU
All of that in four verses! ‘For this reason…’ For what reason? The reason that is connected to what was said in the opening verses of Hebrews. So maybe we should look at that, too. Heb 1:1-2- “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” NASU Did that say ‘in these last days’? Yup! That’s interesting, because we often hear people asking if we are living in the last days. To which the writer of Hebrews says, “Yes, we are!” And the event that triggered the ‘last days’ was the first advent of Jesus Christ! Jesus coming to Earth set the ‘last days’ into motion. Jesus came in the ‘last days’ to accomplish the impossible. Which was what? That’s pointed out later in Heb 10:4- “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” NASU It was impossible to take away the penalty for mankind’s sins, that is, apart from the only possible way…which was by the sacrifice of the unique sinless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. As we have pointed out before, when John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”, that was the first time in all of history that this truth could have been claimed. Why? Because, “…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” It took the Lamb of God to do that!
So the ‘last days’ were set into motion by the First Advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ accomplished the impossible and therefore made it possible for whosoever believes and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior to become saved, before the completion of the ‘last days’. And the completion of the ‘last days’ will be set in place by the Second Advent of Jesus Christ…which could be any time now, since we are living ‘in the last days’, and Jesus is now standing at the door of Heaven, and about to return any day now.
Therefore, or ‘for this reason’ we need to be paying much closer attention to what Jesus instructed us to be doing while we prepare for His return. So what’s the problem? One word: ‘Drifting’. ‘Drifting?’ Yeah, of all the things, or all the cautions that the writer could have started with, he says, “…we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” Really? Is drifting away from the things our Creator and Savior spoke to us really a thing we need to put into our ‘reminders’ notes on our cell phones and smart watches? Like, ‘Daily reminder: Don’t drift today!’ Yes, that would probably be a good idea. Why? Because of this…More Christians are damaged in their discipleship because of drifting than because of departure. Now ‘drifting’ in your faith can also lead to ‘departure’ from the faith, but just ‘drifting’ by itself leads to living for ‘the self’ instead of living for ‘the Savior’. So again, be careful, because there’s a little bit of ‘a drifter’ in each one of us.
We must know that about ourselves; we must know that about our sin nature, and that is; we tend to drift. Now, that’s not the same as being a ‘little drifty’, from time to time. Perhaps you have been teased about being a ‘little drifty’ about things now and again. I think a lot of us can relate to that. It’s like the guy that said: “That’s funny, I don’t remember being absent minded.” Or like the guy who said: “Not to brag or anything, but I can forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it.” Or, I like the supposition that says that absent mindedness is really a mark of genius. Hey, that makes you feel smarter already!
Because of our sin nature, or our sheep nature, we tend to drift…we tend to stray…we tend to go our own way. That’s one reason why we are in need of consistent instruction by the words of our Lord in the Word of God, especially now that we are living ‘in these last days’. We don’t have time for drifting. And if you think that you do, then you are even ‘driftier’ than you think! For not only are we living in the ‘last days’, there are also signs and markers everywhere that we are also living in the ‘end times’ of the ‘last days’.
So whatever you want to do in your service for the Lord Jesus, or whatever you wish you would have done when you get to Heaven, you had best be doing that now! For, tomorrow, you could be in Heaven, and you do not want to have been drifting in the days or weeks or years before you arrive there, for those times will have all been wasted times, as well as forfeited inheritance rewards. Plus, you don’t want your first face to face meeting with Jesus to be at a time when you were drifting from Him; to be at a time when you were living more for yourself instead of living for your Lord. No, you want your first face to face meeting with Jesus to be at a time when, even though you may had drifted in times past, now you had been seeking to daily worship and serve Him and please Him day after day in your intentions and actions. You were actively following Him and His instructions for your life, and you were seeking to do whatever you could do in order to be more and more useful to God in building up His Kingdom and building up His family. That’s the way you want to meet Jesus face to face for the first time!
So mark it down: Since we tend to drift into our own wants and ways and thoughts and judgments…and on and on, it is essential that we recommit, day by day, to the disciplines of discipleship in order to follow God’s wants and God’s ways and God’s thoughts and God’s judgments…and such. You will either be ‘an intentional disciple’ or you will be ‘an unintentional drifter’. You choose…day by day.
Okay, now the writer adds another warning. And we say ‘the writer of Hebrews’, because, even though many historians think it was probably Paul, others are not sure. So, we could just say that ‘probably Paul, not sure’ then went on to say this: (Though we are sure of what he said and that whatever was said in the Canon of Scripture was actually said to us by God the Holy Spirit.) So, with that said, here’s what ‘probably Paul’ said about the great salvation that Jesus provides for those who accept it. He said: “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
Again, the application of this warning is world-wide! And the warning is first that there is something to escape. Escape? As in, like escape from being imprisoned? Exactly! Notice what Paul said about that in Gal 3:21-22- “Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” NLT ‘We are all prisoners of sin’? That is, every person who has not escaped their imprisonment in sin is still a prisoner of sin.
That puts quite a new twist on the common quest that so many people take or are continually on in ‘finding themselves’ or finding his or her personal identity. But think about it: If an unbeliever really wants to go on an honest quest to find themselves, they need to go to the Word of God, because the Scriptures openly reveal a person’s true identity apart from Christ. Here they will find in the revelation of God’s Word that neither do they own their own life, or own their own bodies, or anything else…nor were they ever ‘born free, as free as the wind blows…as free as the grass grows…born free to follow your heart’….no matter how many times they sing that song…no, rather they will find that in reality, they are a prisoner of sin, and they are also being held captive by the devil to do his will. (2Tim. 2:26) So the reality is that every person on planet Earth that has not yet escaped from their penalty of sin are still a prisoner of sin, and each one is being held captive by the devil to do his will.
And that is really shocking, because that means that even someone who, let’s say, is religious, but they have never, like Isaiah calls for all people to do…they have never forsaken their thoughts and ways and turned to God in repentance and received Jesus Christ into their life as their Savior from their sin, well, although they may be religious, they are still prisoners of sin if they have never repented and received Christ in order to have a saved relationship with the living God. Having a Religion doesn’t save anyone. Only having a relationship with the living Lord and Savior saves someone!
So, in neglecting their need to repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness of their sins and to receive this new life, new spiritual life in union with Him….in neglecting Christ’s offer of salvation, that is the same as rejecting Christ’s offer of salvation. And if they continue their neglect, how then will they escape? How will they escape their imprisonment to sin and their captivity to the devil to do his will as they neglect so a great salvation? And the answer is: They won’t!
Think about it: How would it change the way you see the world if you looked at every person as either a being a saved child of God’s or an unsaved prisoner of sin, being held captive by the devil to do his will? Try it! It will totally change the way you see everybody! Regardless of a person’s social status, whether they are rich or poor, without having received Christ into their life, they are still a prisoner of sin. Regardless of a person’s nationality or ethnicity or gender, without having received Christ into their life, they are still a prisoner of sin. Regardless of a person’s accomplishments in business ventures or athletic pursuits or community achievements, without having received Christ into their life, they are still a prisoner of sin.
Plus, it’s also a striking wake-up call to understand that just a normal person with a normal job in a normal family going about the normal things of life, if they have neglected/rejected receiving Christ and the offer of His great salvation, that in whatever they are doing, they are ultimately doing the will of the devil. Why? Because the will of the devil is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. And if they are living for themselves, unsaved and without new life in Christ, and still prisoners of sin, then they are stealing from God’s right to rule over their life. Plus, day after day, they are daily dying in their sin. And they will one day be destroyed in judgment in their eternal separation from God because of their sin. And that is the will of the devil, who does not want anyone to come to repentance and be saved.
But God wants for all to come to repentance and be saved. That’s why Jesus said He came to Earth: Luke 19:10- “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” NLT And so, for anyone who will honestly seek God, they will find Him. Praise God. Amen? For as this Hebrews passage says: “…it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
Remember, the Prophets foretold that when the Messiah came that He would confirm His identity with ‘signs and wonders’, or with ‘proofs’ that He truly was God in human form. All the ‘miracles’ we see throughout the Gospels could also be called ‘proofs’! They proved that Jesus was the promised Messiah, was the Christ, the Annointed One…Annointed of God, ‘Jesus Christ’, and thus Deity.
Some examples of the prophecies are: Isa 29:18- “On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” Isa 35:5-6- “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.” Isa 61:1- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…” NASU
And even when John the Baptist wanted more confirmation, what did Jesus tell His disciples to tell John? Matt 11:4-6- “And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” ESV So again, Jesus confirmed His Godhood and Saviorhood with His signs and wonders. But with many, just like with today, the problem is not that there is not enough evidence that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, it’s something else. It’s this: Matt 13:15- “Yes, the minds of these people are now closed. They have ears, but they don’t listen. They have eyes, but they refuse to see. If their minds were not closed, they might see with their eyes; they might hear with their ears; they might understand with their minds. Then they might turn back to me and be healed.’” ERV The reason that so many people today are still prisoners of sin and are still being held captive by the devil to do his will is because their minds are closed to Truth. They have ears, but they do not listen. They have eyes, but they refuse to see.
But for any prisoner of sin who will listen and will see and will seek, God has this promise for them: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…” Jer 29:13-14 NASU
God is a seeking God. He initiates the seeking…but unsaved people must respond by seeking God in return. And when they do, they will find Him. And then they can forsake their thoughts and ways, and turn to Him as their Lord and Savior, and escape the prison of their sin and escape being held captive by the devil to do his will. And then…then they can do the will of God instead of the will of the devil. We can do God’s will. But one thing we cannot do is…we cannot drift. There’s no time for drifting! We’re living in the Last Days, and no doubt, even in the End Times of the Last Days. So let’s do whatever we can do for our God while it’s still called ‘Today’!