Summary: A message imploring listeners not to neglect the opportunity to be saved.
Introduction: I was not one of his fans personally, but for many NASCAR fans, the death of racing legend Dale Earhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500 is still fresh in their minds. On the final lap of the race, he crashed into the wall at a speed of around 180 miles per hour after being tapped from behind. I remember seeing the accident on TV and it did not seem to be too bad at first.
The autopsy report stated that he died of blunt force trauma to the head. It has been suggested that he may have survived the crash if he had been wearing a special safety device called a HANS or Head and Neck Safety Device. At the time however, he had decided against using the device complaining that it restricted his movements too much. His neglect probably cost him his life.
The Bible reveals that each individual is on a collision course with God’s judgment. He has provided a safety device – the cross of Jesus Christ – that will keep us from suffering eternal death and separation from God. But like Dale Earnhardt, we each must chose to accept and not neglect what God has offered. (Adapted from Michael Owenby, Carrollton GA.)
Today, we are going to look at three dangers associated with neglecting the cross.
When we neglect the cross, we run the risk of…
I. RIDICULING GOD’S SUMMATION (v. 2)
a. What is God’s summation of the human condition? (Gal. 3:22, 1 John 1:8, 10 & Jer. 17:9) The cross is proof of God’s summation of the human condition.
b. It is easy to minimize God’s estimation by excusing sin…you can call sin, mistakes, character flaws, and imperfections and not recognize your true moral guilt before God. (James 2:10) Illustration: My first speeding ticket.
c. Sin also comes with a penalty, for every transgression and disobedience shall receive its reward apart from Christ…(Reward here means the payment of wages due…) (Romans 6:23)
II. REJECTING GOD’S SOLUTION (v. 3)
a. God provided a great salvation from the human sin problem by sending his only Son Jesus who lived a perfect life and died willingly on the cross for your sin and mine and rose from the dead on the third day. (John 10:17-18)
b. When we reject the cross, we try to implement our own solutions…morality, good works, church membership…none of these things will satisfy God. (John 14:6) “How shall we escape…”
c. Illustration: Man who sought to pay the rent for a destitute widow (John 3:16-17)
III. RESISTING GOD’S SPIRIT (v. 3)
a. The word neglect in this verse means to recognize something but ignore it or to know, but to fail to do…its indifference, carelessness, negligence…possible to know the truth, but not believe
b. The Holy Spirit of God has been impressing the truth of Christ upon the hearts of some of you for a long time, but you have resisted…(Gen. 6:3, Pro. 29:1)
c. Illustration: Use the story of Christ standing before the Annas, the high priest prior to his crucifixion to illustrate resisting the Spirit (John 18:20) Annas heard the truth time and time again but refused to believe in Jesus.
Closing: The cross is before you even now and you have to make a choice. Simply choosing to remain neutral or to wait a little longer is the same as rejecting the cross. Today is the day of salvation. Will you embrace the cross? Will you come to Jesus and be forgiven of your sins? Will you receive His gift of everlasting life?
Point I Illustration: I remember the first speeding ticket I ever received. I was on my lunch break at work. I was going to a restaurant to pick up some food. That day, I was in a hurry to get back because of my workload. As I passed over a bridge and into the next county, I met a state trooper in an unmarked patrol car tucked into a line of oncoming vehicles. He turned his car around to stop me for speeding. When asked if I knew how fast I was driving, I said, “I am not sure. I am trying to get to the restaurant and get back to work as soon as possible because I have so much to do.” He was not impressed with my excuse and gave me the ticket for driving 67 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. Afterward, I remember feeling bad – but not because I had broken the law. I felt bad because I had been caught speeding! It wasn’t until I went to court to stand before the Judge that I realized I had gotten what I deserved for breaking the law and that I was guilty.
Point II Illustration: It seems that a businessman found out about an aged widow in his town that was unable to pay her rent. He wanted to help her so he went his friends and collected enough money to pay for two months rent. When he went to her house to bring the money, he knocked on the front door but received no answer. He continued knocking because he could tell she was at home. After trying several times, he gave up and returned to his business. A few days passed and he finally saw her downtown. He spoke to her saying, “Ma’am, several of us wanted to help you with your rent and collected enough for two months. But when I went to your house the other day with the money, you did not answer the door.” She put her hand to her face and said, “Oh my, I am sorry. I thought you were the landlord coming to evict me!” We should understand that God is not out to punish us but is out to pardon.