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The Tragedy of Neglect

Notes & Transcripts

The Tragedy of Neglect

Hebrews 3                   May 4, 1997

Scripture:         Unison Reading, Hebrews 3:1-6, page 1864, Pew Bible

Pastoral Prayer:

Introduction:

          Someone has written this very challenging description of an ever- present problem.

   "I have never been guilty of wrong actions, but on my account lives have been lost, trains have been wrecked, ships have been sunk, cities have been burned, governments have failed, battles have been lost, and a few churches have closed their doors.

   "I have never struck a blow nor spoken an unkind word, but because of me homes have been broken, friends have grown cold, the laughter of children has ceased, wives have shed bitter tears, brothers and sisters have been forgotten, and parents have gone broken-hearted to the grave.

   "I have intended no evil, but because of me talents have come to naught, courtesy and kindness have failed, and the promise of success as well as happiness has yielded sorrow and disaster.

   "I have no sound; just silence. No cause for being myself. I have no offering to make except grief and sorrow. You may not in an instant call me by name, but surely you are personally acquainted with me.

   "My name?...NEGLECT!"

          Neglect is enough to ruin a man. A man who is in business need not commit forgery or robbery to ruin himself: he has only to neglect his business, and his ruin is certain. A man who is lying on a bed of sickness need not cut his throat to destroy himself: he has only to neglect the means of restoration, and he will be ruined. A man floating in a skiff above Niagara need not move an oar, or make an effort, to destroy himself: he has only to neglect using the oar at the proper time, and he will certainly be carried over the cataract. Most of the calamities of life are caused by simple neglect.------

          Barnes.

He who neglects the present moment throws away all he has.

          Johann Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)

I.       The tragedy of neglecting the Person of Christ:  no home.

          Christ is superior to Moses.  (vv. 1-6)

          Notice the string of “therefores.”  The preacher of Heb. is building his case all upon what he first said about Christ.  Christ is significant, so man is significant, so don’t lose sight or focus upon eternal truth:  that because of the message, position, and relationship we have in Christ we should hold on tightly as one who has found a pearl or a treasure.  Here is Christ, so here is man, so here is warning, so here is reward.  Therefore if man’s significance is in only Christ, let man not return to insignificance by failing to believe his significance.

          A.      Fix your attention on Jesus.  (v. 1)

                   1.       Because of who you are:  holy brothers (the eternal                                           significance of mankind - ch. 2).

                             a.       Hebrews is written to believers.  This is why we                                               speak of neglect.  Unbelievers have not yet received                                anything to neglect.

                             b.       Believers are partakers of the heavenly calling.

                   2.       Because of who Christ is: the Apostle and High Priest                                        (the eternal significance of Jesus - ch. 1).

                             a.       Not just an apostle but the Apostle we confess.

                             b.       Not just the Apostle as God’s true messenger,                                          but our High Priest as man’s true representative.

                                      (1)     As God’s supreme representative he shows                                                        us exactly what God is like.

                                      (2)     As God’s supreme messenger he tells us the                                                       truth about ourselves and the world.

                                      (3)     With all authority and power he has control                                                       over all the world and over all of our life                                                   trials and circumstances.

          Under the old covenant, Moses held the office of apostle as God’s representative and Aaron held the office of high priest, but under the new covenant, Jesus holds both offices.  (Under the O.C. it was God’s requirement for man’s effort which was proven ineffective in his own strength, but under the N.C. it was God’s initiative to enable man’s effort which was proven effective through Christ’s strength to become ours by faith.)  Jesus perfectly represents God before man because he perfectly knows God and he perfectly represents man before God because he perfectly knows man.  Jesus is the perfect bridge builder.  (Rom. 8:33-34)  Here now in Hebrews is Christ introduced as High Priest which the writer will greatly expand upon.

          B.      He was faithful to God, even as Moses was faithful.  (v. 2)

                  

          Moses was the great freedom leader, law giver, nation builder, and friend of God in the eyes of the Jews to which he had been faithful.   Since these Jewish Christians were being tempted to return to Moses, the writer gives Moses credibility but quickly moves on to the supremacy of Christ in comparison.

          C.      He is the builder of the house; Moses was only a resident of the                         house.  (vv. 3-4)  (Frank Lloyd Wright)

                   1.       We have the house of the world or universe in v. 4.

                   2.       We have the house of God’s people or believers in v. 6.

                   3.       Every house must have a builder.

                   4.       Jesus is being declared as the builder.

                   5.       Jesus is being declared (found, or proved) God as much                                     as God the Father which we saw in ch. 1.

                   6.       Moses may have been the greatest man or leader or                                            religionist, but Jesus is greater because he is God himself                                   whereas Moses was just a man - one believer in the house                            of God which Jesus made.  (Jn. 1:3; Eph. 3:9)

          D.      He is the Son over God’s house; Moses was only a servant in                            God’s house.  (v. 5-6a)

                   1.       Everything Moses did pointed to the One greater than                                        himself in symbols and types and messages.  Even though                      he didn’t always completely understand, he was faithful                                to perform it.

                   2.       Moses knew a little about God, but Jesus is God.

                   3.       Moses was raised up by God, but Jesus raised up himself.

          E.      He is building His house, but entrance into His house is                                     conditional.  (v. 6b)

                   1.       This thought of being conditional may trouble us.  After                                   all, we thought salvation was free didn’t we?

                             (Rom. 10:9-13)

                   2.       It is conditional upon remaining in our confidence upon                                     the message we believed - until the end.  It is conditional                                   upon persistent faith, hope and joy in salvation.                                               (Martyrs)

                             a.       If a ship doesn’t remain on course it never reaches                                             port.

                             b.       If I neglect a gift someone gives me to the point of                                              even forgetting where I placed it, do I still have it?

                             c.       In order to collect on a warranty, I have to retain                                               ownership.

                             d.       If we don’t stay firm in the message of salvation,                                               can we say that we ever truly received it?  Perhaps                                           it was just an attractive option at the time.

                             e.       Lot’s wife.  Parable of the sower.

                   3.       If we neglect the builder and owner of God’s house, can                                     we say with confidence we are a part of his house?

                   4.       So let us fix our thoughts on Jesus.  He is more than                               worthy of our attention.  He is the only way of being                              admitted into God’s house. 

                             (Mt. 10:22; 1Pt. 1:13; 2Pt. 3:17; Rev. 3:11)

II.      The tragedy of neglecting faith in Christ:  no rest.

          The danger of unbelief - hardening one’s heart.  (vv. 7-19)

          We have already been warned to pay attention to the message in ch. 2 and now we are warned to remain in it and obey it consistently.  The warning is directed to the apathetic and unbelieving.  The judgment is missing God’s rest.  And, of course, there is no place to rest if there is no home.  The importance of this warning and the danger of not obeying is seen in the present tense voice of both the Spirit and the Son who still speak today.  We must believe and obey Christ’s promise of salvation and eternal rest in the promised land of heaven in order to receive it.

          A.      Do not harden your hearts.  (vv. 7-11)

                   1.       A charge from the Holy Spirit.  (vv. 7-8a)

                   2.       An illustration from Israel. (vv. 8b-10)

                             They committed four gross sins that hardened their hearts.

                             a.       Provoked God. European company benefits in U.S.

                                      (1)     They disbelieved God would provide.

                                      (2)     They complained against God and Moses.

                                      (3)     They regretted they ever left Egypt.

                                      (4)     They lost their vision, rejecting God, failing                                                        to believe the Promised Land was in their                                                  reach.

                             b.       Tried (tested) God for 40 years.

                                      (1)     God protected and provided, yet they                                                                 disbelieved and distrusted.

                                      (2)     They continually put God to the test to see if                                                      he really was good and would meet their                                                   needs.

                                      (3)     They continually tried God to see if he would                                           meet their approval.  If he proved faithful,                                                         then he would be worthy of their obedience                                                        and loyalty.

                                      (4)     They wanted God to meet their approval                                                  before they would meet his.

                                      (5)     They were unwilling to allow God to test and                                           prove them to see if they were worthy of                                                   him.

                             c.       Always went astray.

                                      (1)     They always chose to disbelieve, disobey and                                           distrust God.

                                      (2)     Hardness of heart results from hardness of                                                         head - a progressive disease.

                             d.       Did not know God’s ways.

                                      (1)     True knowledge of God is heart knowledge.

                                      (2)     True knowledge of God (Father) is childlike                                                        faith in which we:

                                                          Learn to draw near God.

                                                          Learn to fellowship with God.

                                                          Learn to trust God.

                                                         Learn to depend upon God.

                                                          Learn to walk with God.

                                      (3)     These are the ways and will of God for his                                                          children that they all failed to learn, and they                                            died in the desert outside the Promised Land                                                      and the rest it promised.

                   3.       Result:  a sworn wrath--shall not enter God’s rest.  (v. 11)

                             (Acts 28:27; Pr. 28:14; Pr. 29:1; Is. 30:15)

          B.      Take heed:  watch unbelief.  (v. 12)

                   1.       Reveals an evil heart.

                   2.       Results in forsaking the living God.  The sin of unbelief is                       terminal if it persists.

                   3.       We must see to it that none of us do what Israel did,                                 having a heart of unbelief:

                                      Standing off from God.

                                      Standing aloof from God.

                                      Renouncing God.

                                      Rebelling against God.

                                      Not believing in God.

                                      Not trusting God and his promises.

                                      Not following God as he demands.

                   4.       I believe it is saying here that in God’s economy,                                                negligence and unbelief are two sides of the same lost                               coin.  Either heads or tails, sweep until you find it and                              spend it on faith in Christ.

          C.      Exhort one another daily.  (vv. 13-19)

          Believers are to constantly exhort (strengthen, encourage) one another to guard themselves against unbelief and sin.  To encourage one another relates to the idea of ‘house’.  There are eight reasons why we are to do this.

                   1.       Time is urgent, Eph. 5:15-16; Jas. 4:14.  (v. 13a)

                                      Today is the day of salvation / obedience.

                   2.       A person can be hardened, Rom. 2:5.  (v. 13b)

                                      Sin is deceitful, progressive and enslaving.

                   3.       Salvation is conditional.  (v. 14)

                                      It is not enough just to say we are saved, we must                                              partake of salvation by partaking of Christ -                                                       holding fast to him.  Belief must be active.  There                                            are those who reject the message outright but there                                        are those who also reject it by neglect.  But this is                                        an issue ultimately        between the individual believer                                               and God.  The primary ‘see to it’ is individual.  The                               secondary is         corporate in which we encourage one                                                 another.  Just to reaffirm:  we can know for sure in                                          our hearts we are saved.  The H.S. will testify to us                                           of this.

                   4.       Each day is important, 2Cor. 6:2.  (v. 15)

                                      This is a repeat from vv. 7-8 meaning that the                                           present time is most important.  We must daily live                                          in Christ, listening to the voice of the H. S. to                                        prevent the disease of hardness.  Israel is our                                                negative example.  It is a dangerous thing to                                                      provoke God.

                   5.       Some do provoke God, Num. 14:11, 23.  (v. 16)

                                      We, like Israel, provoke God when we do our own                                             thing instead of his thing.

                   6.       Judgment is sure, Pr. 11:19.  (v. 17)

                                      There is no escape today for any who do not                                                      believe and obey Christ, even as there was no                                           escape for Israel.

                   7.       God judges unbelief, Jn. 16:8-9.  (v. 18)

                                      The meaning here is that there is no coming rest for                                  those who disbelieve or disobey.  They are equal.                                             It is to refuse to be persuaded (obey) despite the                                         evidence (believe).  There is no eternal rest for the                                                wicked and the wicked do not believe God.

                   8.       Unbelief shuts a person out, Rev. 21:27.  (v. 19)

                                      Nothing will keep a person out of heaven except                                                unbelief.  Unbelief means we have never settled on                                            God, therefore there can be no rest.

Timeless Truth:           The tragedy of neglect is that it equates with the sin of unbelief.  It is truly a vain presumption that we can possess whatever holds no sustainable interest or devotion for us.  Is Christ Jesus your pet rock or your corner stone?  If he is just your pet rock, your house has already crumbled.  Rebuild on the solid foundation of an undying faith and your life will not be a tragedy but a victory.



The Tragedy of Neglect

Hebrews 3            May 4, 1997

 

I.       The tragedy of neglecting the Person of Christ:  no h _ _ _ .

          Christ is superior to Moses.  (vv. 1-6)

          A.      Fix your attention on Jesus.  (v. 1)

                   1.       Because of who you are:  holy brothers.

                   2.       Because of who Christ is: the Apostle and High Priest.

          B.      He was faithful to God, even as Moses was faithful.  (v. 2)

          C.      He is the b _ _ _ _ _ _  of the house; Moses was only a

                   r _ _ _ _ _ _ _  of the house.  (vv. 3-4)

          D.      He is the S _ _  over God’s house; Moses was only a

                   s _ _ _ _ _ _  in God’s house.  (v. 5-6a)

          E.      He is building His house, but entrance into His house is                                     c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 6b)

 

II.      The tragedy of neglecting faith in Christ:  no r _ _ _ .

          The danger of unbelief - hardening one’s heart.  (vv. 7-19)

          A.      Do not harden your hearts.  (vv. 7-11)

                   1.       A charge from the Holy Spirit.  (vv. 7-8a)

                   2.       An illustration from Israel. (vv. 8b-10)

                             a.       P _ _ _ _ _ _ _  God.

                             b.       T _ _ _ _  God for 40 years.

                             c.       Always went a _ _ _ _ _ .

                             d.       Did not k _ _ _  God’s ways.

                   3.       Result:  a sworn wrath--shall not enter God’s rest.  (v. 11)

          B.      Take heed:  watch u _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 12)

                   1.       Reveals an evil heart.

                   2.       Results in forsaking the living God.

          C.      E _ _ _ _ _  one another daily.  (vv. 13-19)

                   1.       Time is u _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 13a)

                   2.       A person can be h _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 13b)

                   3.       Salvation is c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 14)

                   4.       Each day is i _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 15)

                   5.       Some do p _ _ _ _ _ _  God.  (v. 16)

                   6.       Judgment is s _ _ _ .  (v. 17)

                   7.       God judges u _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (v. 18)

                   8.       U _ _ _ _ _ _ _  shuts a person out.  (v. 19)

Timeless Truth:           The tragedy of n _ _ _ _ _ _  is that it equates with the sin of u _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  It is truly a vain presumption that we can possess whatever holds no sustainable interest or devotion for us.



 

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