A Book of Better Things - A Better Salvation

Sermon Summary 

This message discusses how Jesus brought a better salvation through God's grace as apposed to human effort to keep the letter of the law. The writer of Hebrews is concerned that some of his hearers are considering going back to strict adherence to the law as apposed to receiving the salvation Jesus died to give them. Many religions in the world today seek to gain salvation or enlightenment through human effort. However, in Biblical Christianity it's not what we do for God, but what God has done for us that gives us salvation! That's precisely why it is a better Salvation! It's a gift, a perfect gift! The second chapter of Hebrews explains why.

Community Group Discussion Guide 

1. What are some of the negative effects on a person's life when they attempt to gain salvation by human effort?

Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

2. The writer of Hebrews asked a very daunting question: Heb 2:3a  how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? In other words, if we seek to gain forgiveness and eternal life by works or merit, we are all in trouble. Our dilemma was spelled out by the writer of the book of Romans. Read the following verses and discuss our dilemma without Jesus.

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death...

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

3. No go back and read the context of these two verses and discuss why the salvation Jesus offered was indeed a "better" salvation!

Rom 3:19  Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Rom 3:20  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Rom 3:21  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
Rom 3:22  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Rom 6:20  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
Rom 6:21  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
Rom 6:22  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4. Humankind was made a little lower than the angels in that we are for this life confined to a physical body that sometimes suffers and will eventually die. Jesus was made like us when He left heaven and took on human flesh. Read the following passage from Hebrews and discuss why Jesus did what He did and what some of the results were. 

Heb 2:7  You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor
Heb 2:8  and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Heb 2:10  In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Heb 2:11  Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.

Full Sermon Notes

A Book of Better Things - A Better Salvation

"There is no One like You!" Sometimes people might be prone to think we are being arrogant when we sing songs like this. "You have no rival, You stand alone!" Well, let me set the record straight. One of the most important things that set's our God apart from the god's of other religions is this...

"In Biblical Christianity it's not what we do for God, but what God has done for us that gives us salvation!"

That's precisely why it is a better Salvation! It's a gift, a perfect gift! Today we will let the writer of Hebrews explain why! Let's pray!
Last week we talked about Jesus being a better revelation of God to man. Let's go back and read the last couple of verses of our text from last week because it serves to transition to our text for today.  

Heb 1:13  To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?
Heb 1:14  Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Angels Serve/Jesus Saves

You've heard the old saying, "My guardian angle must have been watching over me!" Well, an angel can certainly serve God by protecting you in a dangerous situation in life. There are many things an angel can do, but an angel can't save your soul. Only Jesus can do that! You can't save your own soul either. Only Jesus can save your soul. As I eluded to earlier, most religions are based on an adherent earning or working for their salvation. But salvation that leads to eternal life is inherited by being a child of God. It is a gift given by God because of what Jesus did on the cross when He lived a perfect life and made the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Angels have played an important role down through the years in many ways. Many times they have been the messengers of God to humankind. Angels many times were sent by God to inspire the writers of Scripture and as such angels are messengers of God's Salvation to us, but they are not our salvation. So the writer of Hebrews says this…

Heb 2:1  We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Heb 2:2  For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,
Heb 2:3a  how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him...

Don't Ignore Such a Great Salvation

Remember the Book of Hebrews was first a sermon and later a letter. The preacher of this sermon was very concerned that his hearers were beginning to drift away from the truth of salvation found in Jesus. He asked the cutting question: "how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" He was concerned that some were considering rejecting the gift offered by God and going back under the Old Covenant to try and earn salvation by strict adherence to the law. We see this later in the book of Hebrews. So he reminds them of the consequences of not being able to keep the law when he says violations and disobedience received its just punishment. In fact God's Word says...

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death...

And here's the problem we face in these words…(we read this last week in the spoiler alert part of the message)

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Sin is missing the mark and we've all missed the mark! The Old Covenant in the Old Testament was based on man's faithfulness to keep the covenant and follow the law. So salvation was dependent on the individual's own righteousness. But God saw that no one was able to fulfill the righteous commands of the law, so He promised a Messiah would come who could and would be a Savior!

Listen to the second part of verse 3...

Heb 2:3b  This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

A Greater Salvation Announced and Confirmed

We see this salvation announced in the Old Testament in a prophecy concerning Jesus. We read it a few weeks ago in our Christmas series, but it is so worth reading again…

Isa 53:4  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isa 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

And then in the New Testament, Jesus made an announcement of His own...

Mark 8:31  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

And just what happened as a result of His suffering and rejection? He took away the eternity of suffering we were due and because He was rejected we have been accepted! Those two verses that spelled out our dilemma, one which we looked at last week, are surrounded with good news of salvation for us. Let me show you...

Rom 3:19  Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Rom 3:20  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Rom 3:21  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
Rom 3:22  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

And let's look at the context of Romans 6:23, beginning with verse 20…

Rom 6:20  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
Rom 6:21  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
Rom 6:22  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So why is the gift of salvation so much better than a salvation that is earned? Well for starters, if you had to earn your salvation you would live in fear always wondering if you had done enough, been good enough, and for long enough to get in! If it were me I would worry like crazy. There would be no peace, no comfort, no security, no guarantees. Living life like that is no fun, no fun at all!! Years ago I made a tee shirt that said, "Don't die wondering!" When it comes my time to die, I won't have to fear what happens next! Why? Because I was given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ the Son and God the Father will always honor that gift! It never expires and cannot be voided! In fact, I love this verse by one of the eye witness who also confirmed the greater salvation. John, a first cousin of Jesus and one of the twelve disciples would later write these words…

1 John 5:13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Are you beginning to see why the gift of Salvation through Jesus is a greater salvation? The preacher who wrote the book of Hebrews gives additional evidence to back up his views on this greater salvation…

God Gives Testimony Concerning This Greater Salvation

Heb 2:4  God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Signs, wonders, various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit! God had sure given signs of the coming of Jesus. Signs were all over the place in the Old Testament Scriptures. The Old Testament was finished by 450 B.C. and contains over 300 prophecies about the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled. And when you look at the wonders of Jesus' entry into the world like the timing, the culture,  and the political and religious climate. Add to that the miracle of the virgin birth, the way Jesus was announced to the shepherds, and found by the wise men, and protected from Herod who killed anyone who threatened his power. I did a Christmas series a few years ago that looked at the miracle that Jesus was even born. Back in those days, an unmarried woman who became pregnant could have been put to death and the fact that Joseph listened to the Angel and did not break off their engagement, but married her and took care of her and her child Jesus is amazing. All of this was a testimony from God to the salvation that was coming to the world through His One and Only Son Jesus Christ! And then our text tells us that God allowed the gifts of The Holy Spirit, who was poured out on the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, the gifts of The Holy Spirit were further testimony that salvation had indeed come to humankind through Jesus!

Greater Salvation Possible Because of The Greater Savior

Watch this in our text...

Heb 2:5  It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.
Heb 2:6  But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
Heb 2:7  You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor

A little lower than the angels references the temporary taking on of human flesh along with its limitations in order that Jesus might live a human life and then taste human suffering and death in order to defeat death and the grave for you and me! We'll see this stated clearly in just a moment, so let's continue and let the preacher of the Hebrews sermon explain...

Heb 2:7  You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor
Heb 2:8  and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

So Jesus was lower in that He, God almighty, took on human flesh and left the splendor and majesty of heaven and all of its heavenly beings, but He was greater than the angels in that He became our great Savior, Lord and King, crowned with glory and honor! Why?

Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Heb 2:10  In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Heb 2:11  Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Heb 2:12  He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."
Heb 2:13  And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."
Heb 2:14  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--
Heb 2:15  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Wow! We're no longer held captive by fear of death! We are victorious in our great Savior who has given us a greater salvation than we could have ever gained on our own! God has offered to you and me all the help we need to be overcomes in this life and in the life to come. Our writer, our preacher, goes on to say...

Heb 2:16  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.
Heb 2:17  For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

We're going to talk about Jesus' role as the high priest next week when we talk about the a greater Mediator! I want to close today with two things. The words to a song and a Scripture. There was a song written years ago by Dottie Rambo that puts this into beautiful perspective.  Listen...

He left the splendor of heaven knowing his destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha there to lay down his life for me
And if that isn’t love then the ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky and the sparrows can’t fly
Yeah if that isn’t love then heaven’s a myth
There’s no feeling like this if that isn’t love
Even in death he remembered the thief hanging by his side
Then he spoke of love and compassion and he took him to paradise
And if that isn’t love then the ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky and the little sparrows can’t fly fly aye
Yeah if that isn’t love then heaven’s a myth
There’s no feeling like this if that isn’t love it’s got to be love

Written By Dottie Rambo

1 John 1:1  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
1 John 1:2  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
1 John 1:3  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

So what's the practical application of this to our lives? We no longer live in fear wondering if we've been good enough or have done enough for salvation. Salvation is God's gift to us through Jesus. Therefore we don't live for God our of fear, but out of gratitude and thanksgiving for His indescribable gift of a greater salvation. Let's pray!