Such a Great Salvation (3)
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. Hebrews 2.5-9
The world to come
The writer of Hebrews was concerned that his readers were beginning to neglect their great salvation. They were not pressing on to grow in their understanding of the faith. They had allowed the fear of man to compromise their witness, and they were reverting to former ways of seeking the Lord – ways which, though embracing them placated hostile neighbors, were of no benefit to followers of Jesus Christ.
These readers had become content with the state of their salvation, which they must have regarded as great, at least, great enough. They were looking back to where they had been and not attending actively to becoming mature servants and disciple-makers. They believed themselves to be saved, and the writer of Hebrews believed as much as well (Heb. 6.9), though he was concerned that the evidence of true faith (Heb. 11.1) was in rather short supply and diminishing.
The first readers of the book of Hebrews were missing the greatness of the Lord’s salvation, and the writer was urgent to turn them from neglecting the gift and calling of the Lord to seeking Him earnestly, lest the Lord Himself step in to discipline and correct them (Heb. 12.3-11), which they would not wish to endure.
The writer’s main point is not so much to chidehis readers as to encourage them to see the greatness of their salvation by looking to and considering Jesus, so that they would press on, whatever the cost, in laying firmer hold on that great blessing.
In our text he says that the great salvation he was writing about can also be thought of as the world to come. Put another way, our salvation is as big as the world around us, the world that Jesus has redeemed, and that He is reconciling to God. God so loved the world that He gave Jesus for its salvation (Jn. 3.16). The world that is to come is the world of God’s Kingdom, in which an economy of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit is flowing and overflowing, like a river of living water (Jn. 7.37-39), to refresh, revive, and renew the entire world.
That great salvation goes forward within the part of the world assigned to each believer, where God has sent them in the Name of Jesus to rule and transform all things for His glory.
Appointed to rule
This is no new mandate. From the beginning of creation, God intended His people to exercise the kind of rule over the entire world that would see the goodness of God increasing throughout (Gen. 1.26-31; 2.15). The entry of sin through the disobedience of Adam and Eve complicated, but did not set aside, that mandate. David pondered the meaning of this appointment in Psalm 8, which the writer of Hebrews quotes in our text to remind his readers that their salvation is a great as the entire world.
God has appointed His people to exercise dominion over and judge the world as a nation of priests and kings (1 Cor. 6.1-3.; 1 Pet. 2.9; cf. Ps. 110). That work of ruling the world begins the moment we enter “the regeneration” that comes by the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 19.28; Jn. 3.3-16). All believers are charged with the task of seeking the Kingdom of God for a world to come of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. As they do, their lives and efforts reify the rule of King Jesus toward the world which is to come.
This is what it means to be saved. Our great salvation is as large as the world, all its creatures and things, cultures and peoples, interests, activities, diversions, and concerns. What Jesus has accomplished on the cross in cancelling the power of the devil and removing our sins, and what He is accomplishing at the right hand of God in making all things new, comes to expression in and through the lives of those who know the great salvation of the Lord.
And nowhere else.
Look to Jesus
We can agree with the writer of Hebrews, that we do not yet see that world-to-come-great-salvation to the extent God promises and intends. Indeed, if anything, it seems the tares are taking over the Lord’s field, choking out the wheat and threatening to ruin the world rather than to renew it.
And to the extent this is true, it is only because we as believers have not put down roots into the great salvation of the Lord. We have become satisfied and complacent with the current state of our faith. We are not looking to Jesus, Whom to see is to know power, beauty, goodness, compassion, love, strength, and renewing and transforming grace sufficient to bring the benefits of salvation to everyone and everything in the world.
We do not see our great salvation and the world to come unfolding as God intends. But we see Jesus. Or we should be looking to Jesus, immersing ourselves in Jesus, resting in Jesus, and walking on the waves of this tumultuous world with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, His command to “Follow Me” resonating continuously in our ears.
Unless we see Jesus as He is, we will never know how great is the salvation He has gained, and we will be of little use in seeking and realizing the promised world which is to come.
1. In what sense or senses does our great salvation encompass the whole world?
2. How could you tell when someone was beginning to neglect his salvation? What can believers do to help one another keep from doing this?
3. Have you identified your Personal Mission Field? If not, watch this brief video (click here), download the worksheet, and get started.
Next steps – Preparation: Review your Personal Mission Field. What should you be doing to seek and advance your great salvation in that sphere of influence? Talk with a Christian friend about this question.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.