Pay much closer attention.
After studying that encouraging passage in Hebrews 1, I came to a similar call to perseverance in faith in Hebrews 2:1-4, except this time, the pastor uses a warning to motivate the Christians. Again, following along with JR Vassar, I was extremely convicted. Lately I’ve really been feeling the reality that everyday I have the choice to choose sin and give into my idols or persevere unto Jesus, trusting that Jesus and his promises are GREATER than sin and its false guarantees. The pastor of Hebrews lovingly reminded me of the great danger of neglecting Jesus and his Gospel.
Hebrews 2:1-4 says:
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The message that the pastor is warning us to pay more attention to and not neglect is the message of the Gospel. The previous message of the law proved to be reliable because both a refusal to follow it (transgression) or a refusal to pay attention to its calling (disobedience) DOES provide a just penalty- both earthly penalties of disorder and frustration and an eternal penalty of hell. The message of the law DOES lead to salvation, IF anyone could follow it. But we are all diseased with sin and cannot escape continuously falling short; continuously deserving condemnation. JR Vassar said…
“Life is linear. We are moving toward a last day where we will have to give an account to God. And there will be a verdict on our lives from God who made us and have the divine prerogative to evaluate our lives. This verdict will either be a verdict of commendation or condemnation.”
The reason why the pastor urges us to pay more attention to this greater message of the Gospel and not neglect it, is because it leads and ensures sinful people to salvation and God’s commendation- the way the law was never able to do!
“Those who are commended on that great day will not commended because of their purity or performance or morality, but the scriptures teach that we will be commended by our faith. We are declared right before God not on the basis of what we do for God, but on faith in what he did for us through his life, death, and resurrection.” -Vassar
Jesus fulfills and attains the promises of salvation for us! If we put our faith in Christ and believe that he claimed our sin on the cross so that we could claim his righteousness, all of the promises of salvation are ours! This faith is only saving however, if it is a persevering faith that lasts til that last day and is proved to be authentic through action and good works. While listening to the sermon about this passage, Vassar claimed that there are two types of “Christians”:
1.Those who have persevering faith: True believers who respond in faith to greatness and grace of Jesus and then listen to the warnings to stay near to Jesus. They live their lives striving to run to Jesus alone as their salvation and continuously throwing off the false promises of sin.
2. Those who do not have persevering faith: Those who have a casual interest in Jesus, who maybe once showed an outward expression of faith but then later drifted away due the business of life, a painful life event, or just seeing him as irrelevant or silly.
The pastor of Hebrews is saying that Jesus will not be taken lightly. “How will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Christianity and faith in Jesus is all or its nothing and it requires a holistic response to the greatness and grace of Jesus and making him Lord! Vassar says that life is like a fast-moving river and because of our sinful nature, it is flowing away from God. If we are not continuously swimming toward him, we will inevitably drift away. Oh how often to I feel like I’m apathetically standing in the river! Little do I know I am drifting further and further away toward a hardened heart. This is a WAKE UP call! He is warning and reminding us to keep our eyes forward, striving toward Jesus because there is no salvation apart from him.
Questions I’m meditating on: Am I paying attention to what I’ve heard or am I drifting? Do I view the message of the gospel as reliable? Do I see the danger of ignoring it? Do I view the word declared by Jesus as supreme in my life?
Encouragement in the perseverance:
God provides the perseverance he requires. He does not leave us alone to complete our sanctification. Just like God provided the means by which we came to saving faith, he will also provide the means by which we come to completed, lasting faith. Not only does he promise to complete the work he started in us (Phil. 1:6), but he is able to keep us from stumbling in faith (Jude 24-25). In Luke 22:31, Peter failed in obedience and allegiance to Christ, even denying him in a moment of fear. But even though Peter failed, his faith did not. After seeing his sin, he was able to weep, repent, and set his eyes on the cross. How encouraging that when we really and truly encounter Christ, we are kept by God! We will be so changed by the glory and love of Christ that our faith can never be compromised, even in the midst of failure and sin. “Therefore…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Considering him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted!” (Hebrews 12:2-3)