How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord…
A sinner having heard that sin deserves God's wrath and curse, the question that natively follows is, What way one may escape them? This is answered by the weighty question in the text, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Which we may take up in these two things.
(1) There is no escaping for sinners, if they neglect the great salvation; they perish without remedy.
(2) They that do not neglect it, shall surely escape. Here let us consider —
1. The danger sinners are in by their sin.
2. The way how they may escape; namely, by not neglecting, but falling in with the great salvation. The words intimate —
(1) That there is a possibility of escaping; sinners are not shut up hopeless under the curse.
(2) The way of escape is not by fleeing from the Judge, and the execution of His sentence: nay, He is omniscient and omnipresent; one cannot outwit Him, or get away from His sight, or out of His reach. Nor is it by resisting, for He is omnipotent, and none can outbrave Him, nor make head against Him. But he may escape by falling in with the means of escape appointed by Himself, and required by Him to be made use of by us. It is neglected by unbelief, impenitency, and not using the means prescribed. On the contrary, then, He requires of us faith and repentance, which are the substance of the gospel (Acts 20:21); and He requires of us the use of the means by which the salvation held forth in the gospel is obtained (Proverbs 8:34); for surely they neglect and slight the gospel, who do not believe, repent, or use the ordinary means of obtaining the salvation.
I. THE NECESSITY OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, in order to escape the wrath and curse of God due for sin.
1. There is no pleasing God without it (Hebrews 11:6).
2. It is the great duty of the gospel, whereby one is made partaker of the remedy provided, and without which neither your persons nor performances can be accepted.
3. It is that which enters one into the covenant of peace; unites him with Christ" and by which he comes to partake of all saving benefits.
4. Salvation and damnation turn upon this very point (Mark 16:16).
II. THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE.
1. The Word of God certifies us, that whosoever does not repent shall perish (Luke 13:5). Your souls. then, lie at stake.
2. Heaven's door is bolted against all impenitent sinners; it is not so wide as to let in a sinner with a burden of unrepented of guilt upon his back (Revelation 21:27).
3. Repentance is the other duty of the gospel; thereby signifying that without repentance there is no possibility but we must perish under God's wrath and curse. John Baptist preached repentance, so did Christ Himself, the apostles, &c. How can one think then to escape without it?
4. True faith does always bring along with it true repentance (Zechariah 12:10).
III. ARE FAITH AND REPENTANCE IN MEN'S POWER, SINCE GOD REQUIRES THEM OF THEM? They are not. For God's demands of us are the measure of our duty, but not of our strength, which reaches not to these. For —
1. They are the gifts of God, and the operations of His special grace (Ephesians 1:19; Acts 5:31).
2. Sinners by nature, and in themselves, can do nothing which is good, and therefore cannot believe nor repent (John 15:5).
IV. THE CONNECTION BETWIXT FAITH AND REPENTANCE, AND ESCAPING THE WRATH AND CURSE OF GOD DUE TO US FOR SIN. Those who believe and repent shall certainly escape (John 5:24; Ezekiel 18:30; Romans 8:1). In the moment the sinner comes into Christ, he is no more liable to eternal wrath, nor to the curse; for he is not under the law, but under grace: and the utmost he is liable to, is fatherly chastisements (Psalm 89:30-33). Thus faith and repentance have the connection of appointed means prescribed by God Himself, which, by His blessing, are rendered subservient to this great end of obtaining salvation.
V. THE NECESSITY OF USING ALL THE OUTWARD MEANS WHEREBY CHRIST COMMUNICATETH TO HIS PEOPLE THE BENEFITS OF REDEMPTION.
1. God has peremptorily required this (Luke 13:24).
2. We hare no ground to expect grace or salvation but in the use of the means (Proverbs 8:34).
3. The neglect of the means is a contempt of the thing. If we would be healed, we would lie at the pool. If not, we say we care not for cure. And there is required here, not a careless or merely superficial use of the outward means, but a diligent one; that is an embracing of every opportunity that God in His providence gives us for attending upon them, a careful improvement of them, and a looking earnestly to Him for His blessing upon them.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;