Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“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” (Hebrews 2:3).
The Greek word “amelesantes” is translated neglect and it means to be careless of, to neglect. It’s the same word used in Matthew’s Gospel to show indifference.
“But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise” (Matthew 22:5).
The “they” in this verse refers to those who were invited by a king to the marriage of his son. They were offered a wonderful opportunity but ignored it disregarding what was freely offered to them. They made light of this invitation. Parables always teach a deep truth, and in this one, a king (representing God the Father) sent out (through prophets) an invitation for His subjects (Israel) to attend the wedding of His Son (Jesus). The nation rejected the invitation and took it lightly. They “neglected so great salvation.”
We can be critical of the Jews for rejecting Christ, but are people any different today? How many people neglect their salvation? Most people come right out and deny Him, but many who claim to be Christians take Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf lightly. Instead of living for Christ they relegate Him to some place low on their list of priorities. The first chapter of Hebrews establishes who Christ is, using many Old Testament Scriptures.
In the past God spoke through the prophets, but “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus wasn’t just a nice guy who talked about God. He was God incarnate. He is heir of all things…He is the Creator.
“Who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
The chapter goes on to tell more about Jesus, and it is worth the time and effort to do a deep study of it. Jesus is God and we can’t begin to imagine how much love He has for us and what it cost Him to purge our sins. With even a minimal understanding of the price He paid, how can we take our salvation lightly? He left heaven, became human, walked among men, and was rejected by most. He was mocked, beaten, and crucified for our salvation. But He was also separated from God the Father. In his anguish over that separation He cried out …Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
In our sin we are separated from God, but Jesus was never separated from God the Father until He bore our sins on the cross. He took our salvation seriously so how can we take it lightly? How can we neglect it? Christians today have never been under the Law of Moses and don’t understand the burden it placed on people and how difficult it was to submit to it. Even Orthodox Jews today cannot fully submit to the Law because there is no temple in which to make the sacrifices required.
We can get somewhat of an understanding of what was involved if we read Leviticus. Too often, Leviticus is skimmed through and not really studied. It tells what to do and what not to do in order to be pleasing to God. It also lines out the penalty for each transgression. The Jews took the Law seriously, but still were unable to fully adhere to it. As many Jews, including some Pharisees, turned to Christ for salvation they felt that converts first needed to become Jews and adhere to the Old Covenant before they could become Christian.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).
It was difficult for them to let go of what they knew of the past and understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law. It was hard for them to understand that salvation is through Jesus alone and that the Law cannot save a person, it could only convict. If we take a long hard look at Leviticus we can only begin to understand the blessing of salvation through Jesus.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24-25).
We should be praising Him continually for the salvation He offers.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward” (Hebrews 2:1-2).
Every transgression of the Law received a just punishment, but Jesus took the punishment we deserve. How then can we escape if we neglect what was brought to us by One greater than angels? Since Jesus is greater than the angels, His words are of greater importance and will have greater consequences if neglected. As Christians we know Jesus is God and as such we would do well to heed His words. We need to read His words and take them in, carefully digesting each one. This is how we “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard.”
Do you take Christ’s finished work on the cross lightly and neglect salvation? Christians have a tendency to drift away from His Word and take our salvation for granted. Other things become more important to us and get in the way. We car pool to soccer games, work overtime in our jobs, devote time to hobbies, watch television. The list of what comes between us, and studying God’s Word is long. We might show up to warm a pew on Sunday morning, but we keep our cell phone on just in case a text comes in. After a while we are no longer reading God’s word, let alone studying it.
God’s Word is an anchor and it keeps us from drifting away. Neglecting to study His Word will most certainly allow us to drift, and with some very unpleasant results. Many Christians have been drifting in the sea of despair, setting themselves onto the currents of the world and of the flesh because of a simple neglect of God’s Word. By neglecting their salvation they embrace the world and the carnal things therein.
The letter to the Hebrews was written to Christians, specifically Jewish Christians but to all Christians in general, as an encouragement and a warning not to neglect a steadfast walk with our Lord Jesus. How does that neglect come about? Slowly, at first, usually not by dramatic giant steps but through baby steps until one day we no longer abide in Christ.
Those Christians that have drifted away by neglecting their salvation are easy prey for Satan and his evil hoard. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not promoting the doctrine of losing one’s salvation. We can’t lose what has been sealed within us. What I’m saying is we can fall away from our fellowship with God and ultimately become so distracted that we lose our joy and become bitter and defeated Christians of no further use as witnesses for the kingdom of Christ. We miss opportunities to share our faith because we become numb to the shock of sin and don’t notice when someone is entrenched in it and in need of hearing the gospel. When we neglect our own salvation and don’t see it as anything special we often don’t bother to share God’s truth with others.
Neglecting our salvation can and does bring swift reckonings. To be in fellowship with our Father in heaven means we stay in His Word…we read, we study, we do whatever we can to keep in fellowship with God. In this way we keep the joy of the Lord within us and are not overcome by evil fleshly desires. Fellowshipping with God means we aren’t neglecting Him but heeding His words.
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:21-25).
God needs to be first in our lives. If we neglect our salvation it is easy to forget how ugly sin is and slip back into old ways. If we become doers of the Word we form the habit of putting God first. We remember the price that was paid for our salvation. God’s love for us should never be taken for granted─but treated as the valuable treasure it is.
There are consequences for every decision we make. Deciding to neglect Jesus’ words is a sure way to bring about unpleasant consequences. The Bible is His Word and it is given to us to study and learn who He is and why He came and what He expects of each one of us. If we neglect His Word we are telling Him that we take our salvation with a grain of salt…that His sacrifice was a nice thing for Him to do, but other things are more important to us.
Jesus Christ paid a price that we cannot possibly comprehend. As Christians our gratitude should show in everything we do and Christ should be first in our lives. Never ever should we neglect─salvation.
God bless you all,