The Book of Hebrews #6 chapter 2:1-4
The Book of Hebrews
The Tragedy of Neglecting Salvation, Part 1
Hebrews 2:1-4
           
One of the strong disagreements I have with Calvinism is irresistible grace.  Their position is that if God calls you, you have no choice but to come to Christ.  I think hell is full of people who said “no” to Christ.  And there are numerous Scriptures that support that thought.
 
One of my favorites is Acts 28:24.  Some chose to believe; others chose not to.  Another one of those texts is where we will study tonight.  It is
 
Hebrews 2:1-4.
 
It seems to me the author is talking about people who know the truth, who even believe the truth, who are well aware of the good news of salvation provided in Jesus Christ but who never are willing to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. And so they drift on past the call of God into eternal disaster.
 
Remember, the book is written to Jews.  Some had become Christians; some were considering it, and others rejected Christ was the Messiah. 
 
It is that middle group that the words are intended for.  They knew about the good news of salvation. They'd heard of the forgiveness of sin in Christ. They'd heard the message but they'd never been willing to commit themselves to it. They may have even been attending the gathering of the church. 
 
But to the point of the writing they had neglected to believe.  And the writer is trying to convince them about Jesus and His superiority.  So far we’ve seen that His is a superior revelation and He is superior to the angels.  And he’s not finished talking about angels as we’ll see later in chapter 2.
 
But he stops for a moment an offers and invitation. 
All along he's been saying, Christ is the greatest one. Christ is God. Christ is the creator. Christ is worthy of your worship. Jesus Christ is the exalted one.  And now he gives a personal invitation for his hearer to respond to what he's been saying.  And he does it through a warning.
 
In fact, this is the first of five warnings in the book of Hebrews.  Every so often, interspersed through this great writing about the superiority of Christ, are warnings.  It's as if the author is so passionate about Jesus, he can’t continue without giving others an opportunity to get in on what he has.  So he stops and says, “You really need to do something about what I’m telling you or you’re going to die and go to hell!”
 
So here we come to the first of five warnings and this one is directed to Hebrew non Christians who are intellectually convinced.  And by the way, the warning fits anyone who kind of likes Jesus and church and goodness and all that, but isn’t saved.  There are lots of folks like that, especially in the Bible belt.   They've got all the facts but they've never made the commitment.
 
So what we have here are three great reasons to not neglect God’s offer of salvation. 
 
The first one is
 
1. The Character Of Christ
 
verse 1
 
Now notice how the verse begins.  The “therefore” connects what he is saying with what has previously been said. 
 
All he’s been talking about is the superiority of Christ, and now he says, because of who Christ is you ought to listen more closely than you ever have so these things don’t slip past you. 
 
And notice what is drifting or slipping away.  It’s not the things that have been heard, but the hearer.  These things are the basis for putting our faith in Christ.  He’s talked about Jesus being:
 
"the Son." In verse 2 He's called "the heir of all things, the one who made the world." In verse 3, "the brightness of the glory of God, the exact image of His person."
 
He's the one who upholds all things by the word of His power. He's the one who purged our sins. He's the one who's seated on the right hand of the majesty. He's the one in verse 4, better than angels. He's the one in verse 5 who is the Son. He's the one in verse 6 of whom the angels worship. He's the one in verse 7 whose angels are His servants. He's the one in verse 8 called God who is forever and ever. He's the one in verse 9, anointed above all others. He's the one in verse 10 who is the Lord of creation. This is who He is.
 
The person who understands who Jesus Christ is and rejects Him is a fool above all fools. And that’s why this warning is given. 
 
There are two key phrases in this verse that I want to draw your attention to. 
 
The first one is “give the more earnest heed”. Literally it means to give close attention to.  The other one is the danger of “drifting by” or “letting slip”.
 
Let’s try to understand the significance of these phrases.  Both of these phrases are one word in the original language.  Not the same word, but a single word. 
 
The first word is most often translated as “giving attention to”.  We see it as “Give the more earnest heed”.  On the basis of who Christ is, we must give attention to the things we've heard about Him. We can't just hear these things and let them just slide through our brains. We've got to give attention to what we're listening to.
 
The other word is translated several ways historically and scripturally.  It can be used of something flowing, or slipping past. It can be used of a ring slipping off a finger. It could even be used of something slipping and getting caught in the wrong place. It can also describe something which has carelessly or thoughtlessly been allowed to slip away.  And depending on your translation preference, you’ll see it as “let slip” or “drift away”.
 
 
But there is another interesting connection between these words in that both of them have a nautical significance.  They both have to do with ships and sailing and are used in that regard.  And I think that is the significance here.   
 
The first one, the “paying attention” one, means to moor a ship, to tie it up so that it doesn’t get loose. 
 
The second one, “the drifting away” or “let slip” is used of a ship which has carelessly been allowed to drift past the harbor because the sailor has forgotten to attend to the steerage or he has forgotten to chart the wind, the tides and the current and he misses the port.
 
So with that in mind, the verse could be translated this way, "Therefore we must eagerly anchor our lives to the things which we have been taught so we don’t drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever."
 
Far too often, that is exactly how it happens.  It's not that men go headlong diving into hell.  They just slowly drift into it. Most people don't deliberately and in a moment turn their backs on God, curse God. Most people just slowly drift away from the faith of their childhood, and without even knowing it, they slip past the harbor of salvation and are lost forever. 
 
This is just a careless sailor. And so you need to take heed to what you’ve heard.  Many of these Jews had heard the gospel. They knew about Jesus.  But just like many today, it wasn’t that important to them.  Or they would do something about it later.  Maybe they aren’t convinced in spite of what is so obvious. 
 
It’s overwhelming to think about how many people are in hell, when at one time or the other they were so close to salvation. But they drifted right by the truth.   They were close to being safely moored and anchored only to drift away from their moorings forever through a failure to receive what they heard and in many cases what they actually believed.
 
Drifting is so quiet and so easy.  All you need to do to go to hell is do nothing. And many go there in spite of knowing about the character of Christ. 
 
I don't really understand how anyone who knows the character of Jesus Christ can ever reject Him. As a Christian who lives every day with Jesus Christ and experiences Him in my life, it is the greatest mystery in the world to me that people wouldn't rush to Jesus and want everything that He has for them.
 
And so, the hearer is urged to respond because of the character of Christ.
 
I read about explorer Edward Perry who took a crew to the Arctic Ocean. They were trying to move further north in some of their chartings, and so they charted their location by the stars and they started a very difficult and very treacherous march north.
 
They walked; and they walked hour upon hour upon hour upon hour for multiple hours. And finally in weariness, being totally exhausted, they stopped after all the walking north and they took their bearings again from the stars and they found out when they checked the stars that they were farther south than they were when they started.
And then they discovered that they had been walking on an ice flow going south faster than they were walking north.
 
I wonder how many people who think their good deeds and their merits and their religiousness is taking them step by step to God when in fact they're on an ice flow moving south infinitely faster than any steps would ever take them north?
 
And that's the tragedy of it. And they awaken one day to find, like Edward Perry's crew, that they're in the midst of a disaster and all the life time have been going backwards.
 
Far too many people are satisfied with merely coming to church once a week or being the son or daughter or grandchild of a Christian.  They are satisfied with church activity or knowing the right words to say. 
 
But they are drifting into a Christ-less hell because they have rejected their only hope; salvation based upon the character of Christ. 
 
There are two more reasons not to neglect salvation in these verses.  But there is too much there to finish tonight.  So we’ll stop for now and pick it up there next week.
 
Let’s pray.
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