Journal – September 5, 2021
God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
DO NOT NEGLECT SALVATION (Part two)
Vs. 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. God Himself bore witness with and to the witness and testimony of the apostles by various miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit. He signified His approval and confirmation of the doctrines they taught; and stirred up by them the minds of the hearers to a diligent attention of the things they had heard. The gospel being of this nature, thus taught, thus delivered, thus confirmed, there is a neglect of it supposed (vs.3)—if we neglect. This word intends an omission of all these duties which are necessary for our retaining the word preached unto our profit, and that to such a degree as to utterly reject it. There is a punishment intimated upon the neglect of the gospel—how shall we escape a just retribution, a just recompense of reward? The breach of the law had a punishment suitable for the demerit of the crime which was assigned by God and inflicted upon those that were guilty. Therefore, there is a punishment for neglect of the gospel a punishment justly deserved for so great a crime; so much greater and sorer than that designed for contempt of the law, by how much the gospel, upon the account of its nature, effects, Author, and confirmation was more excellent than the law. There are three things intended in this question, how shall we escape?
- A denial of any means or way of escape;
- The certainty of the punishment;
- The inexpressible greatness of this unavoidable evil.
The observations for our instruction which these first four verses of the second chapter of Hebrews offer unto us are these:
- Motives to a due valuation of the gospel and perseverance in the profession of it are evangelical, and of singular use in the preaching of the word. Some would fancy that all threatening’s belong to the law, as though Jesus Christ had left Himself and His gospel to be securely despised by profane and impenitent sinners; but as they will find to the contrary to their eternal ruin, so it is the will of Christ that His ministers should let them know it. These threatening’s belong to the gospel, they are recorded in the gospel and by it ministers commanded to make use of them (Matthew 10:28; 24:50,51; 25:41; Mark16:16; John 3:36; 2 Corinthians 2:15,16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 and other places innumerable). If the dispensers of the word insist not on them, they deal deceitfully with the souls of men and withhold truth from the counsels of God. Let not men think themselves more evangelical then the Author of the gospel, more skilled in the mystery of the conversions and edification of men then the apostles—in a word this part of His ordnance. These threatening’s become the gospel, and it is meet that it should be armed with them, and that on the part of Christ Himself, its Author. A scepter in a kingdom without a sword, a crown, without a rod of iron, will quickly be trampled on. They also become the gospel on the part of sinners. It is meet that unbelievers, hypocrites, apostates, impenitent, disregarders of the great salvation should be kept by them in fear and awe, that they may not openly breakout in contempt of Christ; also, that they may be inexcusable, and the Lord Christ be justified in his proceedings against them at the last day. They also become the gospel on the part of believers, that because of them there may be kept up in their hearts with a constant reverence of the majesty of Jesus Christ with whom they have to do; also, they tend unto their consolation under all their afflictions and sufferings for the gospel. They are given a matter of praise and thankfulness when they see in them, as in a glass, a representation of that wrath from which they are delivered. And last, these threatenings of eternal punishment to gospel neglectors do become the gospel with respect to those that are the preachers and teachers of it; that their message be not slighted, nor their persons despised. This will be fully clear if we consider that the threatenings of future penalties on the disobedient are far more expressed in the gospel than in the law. The punishment threatened in the gospel as unto degrees, is far greater and sorer than that which was attached to the transgression of the first covenant; therefore, the Apostle calls it death unto death by reason of the sore aggravation which the first sentence of death will receive from the wrath due to the contempt of the gospel. A fond conceit hath befallen some that all denunciations of future wrath are legal, which therefore it doth make themselves wiser than Jesus Christ and all His apostles, yea they would disarm the Lord and expose Him to the contempt of His vilest enemies.
- All punishments annexed to the transgression either of the law or gospel are effects of God’s vindictive justice, and consequently just and equal. A just recompense of reward. God’s justice in constituting and in inflicting the reward of sin is essential unto Him; and this justice is inseparably accompanied with infinite wisdom, and it is He alone who knows the true desert and demerit of sin. Shall we make ourselves judges of what sin against God deserves? What a folly, what a madness is it, to make light of Christ, unto which an eternity of punishment is a just recompense of reward.
- Every transgression between God and man is always confirmed and ratified by promises and threatenings; “every trespass”—covenant transgressions are attended with unavoidable penalties.
- The gospel is great salvation, which if anyone neglects it shall unavoidably perish. It is “great salvation” declaratively, in that the salvation is of God by Christ, as declared, taught, and revealed in the gospel (Romans 1:16,17). But it is “great salvation” efficiently, as it is the great means whereby God bestows upon His elect; it is the “power of God” in regeneration, in the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ; in all the promises by which believers are actually made and are really partakers of the Holy Spirit in our justification, in which there must be a righteousness before God, on the account of the person to be justified is pronounced and declared righteous. There is no other but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His righteousness; and faith in Him is wrought in us by the word of the gospel, for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. It is “great salvation” as we may see if we consider the eternal contrivance of it, the way, and how it was wrought and accomplished according to the infinite wisdom and goodness of God, in the incarnation, sufferings, death and resurrection of His dear Son. It is “great” salvation, and we shall see it to be so if we consider what by it, we are delivered from, and what we are interested in and made partakers of.
And: How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Let believers learn to admire the riches of the grace of God which hath provided so “great salvation” for poor sinners. When Divine wisdom, goodness, love, grace, and mercy set themselves to work, what will they not accomplish? And the effect of them the Scriptures set forth in such expressions as God so loved the world, God commendeth His love toward us, Riches of grace, Exceeding greatness of power, and the like. Were our minds fixed on these things as they ought, how would the glory of them cast out our fears, sweeten our afflictions and persecutions, and take off our affections from the fading, perishing things of this world, and make us in every condition rejoice in hope of the glory that shall be revealed.
To stir us up, let us remember the excellency of the things themselves that are included in the great salvation, also our interest and propriety in them; to include the profit and advantage we shall gain thereby. In this exercise we shall find the profit of:
- Intense prayer for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, to give us an acquaintance with the mystery and grace of this great salvation.
- Diligent study of the Word.
- Sincere love to and delight in the things are by the Spirit of God revealed to us.
- A spirit of thankfulness, thankful for the things themselves, thankfulness for the revelation of them, thankfulness for the love of God and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some neglect the gospel, some despise it, some persecute it, some look upon it as foolishness, and some as weakness; but unto them that believe it is the power and the wisdom of God.
The excellence of the gospel comes from its first Revealer, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It was begun to be spoken by the Lord; therefore, the Apostle prefers it before the law. It is that word which the Son came from the bosom of the Father to declare, and surely deserves to be attended unto. Hence the gospel is called the word of Christ and the gospel of Christ not only because it is about Him, but it proceeds from Him and on that account, it is worthy of all acceptation. To neglect the gospel is to neglect and despise the Son of God who is the Author of it, so the Lord tells them that preach the gospel, he that despises you, despises Me, and he that despises Me despises Him that sent Me. This gospel was witnessed and confirmed by mighty works and miracles which attended the dispensation thereof, and though we did not see those miracles, yet to have an infallible record of them given to us, that we might thereby be stirred up to value and attend to the Word in a due manner, God has so ordered things in His holy providence that none can neglect the Word without shutting his eyes against such light and evidence of conviction as will abundantly leave him inexcusable on the last day.
Catechism Question 77
Q: What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A: The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts, words and actions.
1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
“Prove it” Catechism Question 112
Q: What does the cup represent?
A: The blood of Christ, shed for our salvation.
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.