Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 46
How Shall We Escape
Now as we open the Scriptures, we trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts, and it seems to be working. My, our mail is just so rewarding, that over and over for the first time in their lives, they’re enjoying their Bible. So we just trust that you’ll continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
Now getting back to our Bible study of comparing Scripture with Scripture. At the present we’re still in the Book of Hebrews, and periodically I like to come back as we teach this book and make some of the introductory remarks again. Because this is a book that I think is totally misunderstood, because people do not understand that the Book of Hebrews was first and foremost directed to Hebrews. Some were believers, but it was written primarily for those of the Hebrews that were on the fence.
Anyone who had been steeped in a religion or a cult for a lifetime can get a good understanding of where these Jewish people were. They were being pulled into this whole new concept of Paul’s revelation of the grace of God, but on the other hand they were being pulled back into Judaism. Remember it’s not easy to let go of something that you’ve had a whole lifetime of being steeped in.
So this is the whole thrust of the Book of Hebrews, to show, yes, where they had been was good, the Law was good – I mean after all it had carried Israel for 1500 years. But now, this tremendous grace is so much better. So this is what we’re going to be showing throughout the Book of Hebrews. For example the angels were great, but Christ is greater. The Aaronic priesthood was good, but the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec is better.
So, all the way through this book, Hebrews is going to be directed to those kinds of Jews who are primarily not able to make up their minds to make the break from Judaism. But as we study all the rest of Scripture, it is also for our learning as Gentile believers. In fact, before we even look at Hebrews come back for a moment to the Book of Romans chapter 15 and verse 4. This is a verse I use so often when we teach the Old Testament or even the Four Gospels, this is a verse that Paul writes so distinctly. And as we study the book of Hebrews keep this verse uppermost in your thinking. Even though it’s written to Jews, there is so much that’s in the book of Hebrews for our learning.Always remember, too, that once we get into Paul’s doctrine of grace, there is now no difference between Jew and Gentile. So even though it’s directed to the Jew, it is also directed to us.
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime (now that primarily goes for the Old Testament, but I think it also applies to the Four Gospels, as I think they were written before Paul’s letters, so I think we’re safe to also include the Four Gospels here) were written for our learning, that we (as believers in this Age of Grace) through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
And you remember I’ve been using, over the last several months, those two verses in Peter’s epistles, where Peter admonished his readers, which were also primarily Jews, that they were to go to the epistles of Paul if they really wanted to find the plan of Salvation. And in that next verse, he says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (of Salvation) hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,…” So he makes it so plain that even Paul’s letters are included in that word ‘Scriptures.’
Now I think we can come back to Hebrews with that as an introduction that we’re going to study the Book of Hebrews, realizing that it was written first and foremost to Hebrews who were having a hard time making that break, away from Judaism and into this tremendous Gospel of Grace, but it is also a Book that is for our learning. Now in the last lesson, we spent a little time in Hebrews chapter 2:3, but after Jerry sent me the transcript of that last lesson, I thought there was still so much that I didn’t even scratch the surface of. So I’m going to look at verse 3 again this afternoon, and we’ll dig out a little more than we did before. So let’s just begin with verse 1 so we can pick up the flow, because in chapter 1 we pointed out that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son. And it was in the Son that God completed the plan of redemption, and through the Son that our sins were purged, and then He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, never again to be humiliated with the death of the cross, as that had already now been accomplished. And the first word, “Therefore” is referring back to chapter 1.
“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.”
In other words we have to be sure that we hang onto these things that God has revealed to us, and that we have appropriated them by faith.
“For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast,…”
Which was a reference to the Ten Commandments, and we made the point in the last lesson that there are, I think, two places in Scripture where the angels are included in that giving of the Law. Now, normally we don’t think of that. We think of the Law as having been written by the finger of God on the tables of stone, but two different places it says it was given by the work of the angels. So this is what Paul is referring to here.
“For if the word (Law) spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;”
Now I’ve got to stop there and remind you, and I made the point when were teaching it, that the Law was severe! The Law was severe and there was no circumventing it, there was no compromising it. The Law said if you were caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath, what was the punishment? Death! So there was no twisting or compromising it, so this is what Paul is reminding us here. That even the Law that was given by the angels up there on Mount Sinai, it received a just recompence of reward. In other words, God is always true to His own Word. Now verse 3, and this is where we’re going to spend at least a program and maybe even two or more on these next three parts of verse 3.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;..”
Now I’m going to divide them into three parts. “How shall we escape,” is part one. “if we neglect” That’s part two. “so great salvation;” is part three.
Now if I was the kind that set up a point sermon, that would be it. A good three-point sermon, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation.” So I think if nothing else this afternoon, if you can remember these three aspects of this verse, we will have accomplished something. So now let’s look at the first part.
“How shall we escape,…”
Well escape what? Come back with me now to Malachi chapter 1. That’s the last Book in the Old Testament so that’s real easy to find. And this is the question that we’re going to answer, “How shall we escape?” Now of course the “we” is speaking of the whole human race in general. Yes, it’s written to Jews who could not make up their mind to come on in, but it’s also written to unbelieving Gentiles, which of course we were. See, we can never take ourselves out of the picture. Now as believers we’ve already escaped it, haven’t we? We don’t have to worry about the indication or the wrath of God, because all of that’s been laid on Christ for all of us who have believed. But we’re still part and parcel of the human race who in one way or another were faced with this something to escape from. Remember this is the Old Testament, and we’re still dealing here with the tribes that surrounded Israel, and in this case it’s Edom, the offspring of Esau.
“Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, the border of wickedness, and, the people against whom the LORD hath indignation (for how long?) forever.”
Now that’s a blanket statement, not just for the Edomites, but for all those who have rejected God’s offer of Salvation. Now I’m going to take you into Matthew chapter 25, and this is just two of the many instances when Jesus spoke of the doom of the lost. I think you’ve all heard at one time or another, maybe even from your own pulpit, that Jesus spoke far more of the eternal destiny of the lost, than He did of heaven. He spoke a lot more, and I’m just going to give you two of them that are real easy to find. And this is Jesus speaking here in this passage, so if you have a red letter edition, then it will be in red, and He is speaking during His earthly ministry.
“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Now that includes the lost of all the ages. Now you can come up to verse 41 of the same chapter.
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
Plain English? It can’t get any plainer than that. That is the future for the lost of the ages. Now come up to Romans if you will, chapter 2, and verse 3. Now here in Romans, this is from the pen of the Apostle Paul. I’ll wait until you find it, because I want people to see it with their own eyes. Don’t go by what I say, but rather by what the Book says.
“And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, (a Pharisee type individual) and doest the same, that thou shall escape the judgment of God?”
And of course the answer is obvious, “They will not escape!” Now I Thessalonians chapter 5 is the next one. I’m going to start at verse 1, but verse 3 is where we will find the word “escape.”
I Thessalonians 5:1-3
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; (what does that sound like? Well that sounds like the politicians right now today. Oh, they’re always trying to bring in world peace, and when they say peace and safety) then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child and they shall not escape.”
They’re lost, do you see that? Now let’s go on into Hebrews chapter 10, and we’ll use verse 30 and 31. And remember the whole theme of these verses is, “The lost will never escape if they leave this life never having cashed in on God’s offer of Salvation – they are doomed!” And this is the reason.
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me,…”
Now we’ve got to stop and ask ourselves, “How can God say that? How can God say some of these things we’ve been looking at?”
“Well you see the reason is, when He finished the plan of Salvation, when Christ suffered at the hands of those Roman soldiers, and even as He went down the road to Golgotha, and they laid the heavy cross upon Him, and He fell under the weight of it, suffering every step of the way. And that was only the very tip of the iceberg compared to when they nailed Him to the cross, lifted it up, and then the epitome of it all, was not just the physical suffering, but God laid on Him the punishment and the wrath of God, that would take away the sin, of not just the small percentage of believers, but rather for the whole world! The whole world was laid on Him, that was the suffering that He accomplished on the world’s behalf. And then God turned right around and through the power of His resurrection and the power of new life, offered it freely to the whole world. I mean FREE, and that’s Grace.”
Now after God has done all that, and then lays it out to be had free (for nothing), and men walk it under foot, do you really think he’s being unfair then by coming back with the vengeance, and the wrath that is promised? Of course not – be reasonable. He’s already paid the sin debt, it’s all done, but mortal man will not give in. So consequently, verse 30:
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord, And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
Now first and foremost we’re talking about the Nation of Israel, but we’re also talking about the whole human race, in fact, come back to Romans chapter 3 for a moment. As you know, I hit these verses as they come to mind. Here in Romans chapter 3, maybe this will help us understand what I’m talking about in Hebrews all the time. Yes, Hebrews was written primarily to the Jew, because that’s what it says, “To the Hebrews.” But listen we can’t just say, “Oh well that’s not for me, that’s for the Jew.” No, we’re all in the same boat now, because God has reached out beyond the Nation of Israel, and the whole world is now part and parcel of all this.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, (the Mosaic system) it saith to them who are under the law:…”
Now I think everyone of you in this room know, who was under the Law? Israel. The rest of the world didn’t come under the Mosaic Law. God didn’t expect the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks, to come to Temple worship. That was only for the Nation of Israel. Now read on.
“…it saith to them who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
Do you see how plain that is? Yes the Law was given to Israel, and Israel was expected to abide by it, not the rest of the world. But the condemnation of the Law went to every human being, and not just Israel. Do you see how it reaches? Yes, for those under Law it was a system, it was worship, it was modus operandi, but the condemnation of the Law went to the whole world, not just Israel. Now with that as a backdrop, come back to Hebrews chapter 10 again. So, it’s the whole world, not just Israel who are under the anathema and the wrath and the vengeance of a Holy God, because He made Salvation possible not just for Israel, but the whole human race. Now verse 31. Consequently:
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Do you know why? Because He can do what He says He will do. He is all powerful, He’s Sovereign, and He will keep His Word, and when He says that the lost are going to suffer indignation forever, then you’d better bet your last dollar that it’s going to happen, because He Sovereign, He’s the One Who has spoken it. So all of these references are merely to show us that yes, God is a God of grace. God is not willing that any should perish, but when they reject his offer, then He has every right in His Sovereignty and in His Holiness, to bring about their doom and judgment. Now let’s go a little bit further, in the few moments we have left, to the Book of Revelation, chapter 20.
I’ll never forget, I was supposed to be teaching for an hour one Sunday morning in a Church in a state a long way from Oklahoma, and it was one of those times, I got up to teach, and I just didn’t know where to start. I was just sort of standing there dumfounded, and in order to get a trigger to what I should be bringing, a gentlemen in the back of the room, said, “Well Les, you’re always talking about we’re under grace, faith + nothing, without works – then how do you explain the word ‘works’ in Revelation chapter 20?” Well I was just dumfounded, and I said, “Do you realize what you’re opening?” Well I didn’t give him time to answer me, and told the audience, “Let’s turn to Revelation 20.” Well that’s the Great White Throne judgment for the lost!
After the lesson was over one of the gentlemen came up and said, “Les, we haven’t heard hell-fire in this church for 50 years.” I said, “Well, he opened it, I didn’t.” But here it is, and it’s true. Hardly anybody touches this anymore, because they don’t want to hear it, because it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. This is when all of this judgment will come to a head. This is when all the lost of all the ages from Cain on up to the last lost human being that comes off the earth will be meeting at the Great White Throne Judgment for their punishment. So let’s start at verse 11.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away: and there was found no place for them. (that is the earth and universe) 12. And I saw the dead, (the lost. There will be no believers at the Great White Throne) small and great, stand before God; (So they’ve been resurrected, and will be standing before Him bodily, not with a body fit for bliss in glory, but rather with a body that’s fit for their doom, the lake of fire) and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
Which is a record of their deeds during their life on earth. Now verse 13.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; (in other words nobody is going to miss this that is lost. Every lost person from the very beginning of the human experience until the end is going to be brought up before this Great White Throne. My, what a horrible place that’s going to be, and Christ will sit as the Judge, not as the Saviour that He is for you and I as believers. Because He has been pleading with mankind throughout their whole lifetime, but now they are judged:) every man according to their works.”
Now verse 15, and what a horrible statement, and that’s why most people try to avoid it, but it’s in your Bible, and what does it say?
“And whosever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”