The Context Of The Warning
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were in danger of giving up their Christian faith to go back to Judaism. But the writer also knew in that church, as in all churches, there were some people who were not yet Christians. Many of you reading this have already trusted in Christ, but some of you have not yet made that decision. In Hebrews 2:1-4, the writer talked to those who had not yet committed to Christ. They had heard the gospel, and perhaps they thought they needed to receive the gospel, but they had not yet made that final step. The writer warned that those who failed to respond to the gospel were in severe danger.
What is that danger? The writer said, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). There are two key phrases in this warning, and they are both translated from Greek nautical terms. “Pay much closer attention” in the Greek language referred to a fisherman who forgot to tie up his boat at night, so the next morning it was gone. The writer was saying, “We must tie up to the message of salvation.”
I have seen that danger illustrated many times in my ministry. I know people who have heard the gospel and intellectually believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again on the third day. They even feel like they need to trust in Christ, but they never make that decision. They say, “I will do that someday, but I have other things I need to do first.” When people get that close and fail to respond, it is like a light goes off inside of them, and they never come back to that place of conviction. They drift further and further away. If you understand your need for God’s forgiveness through Christ, you better tie up to the message of salvation.
The second warning is this: “so that we do not drift away from it.” The Greek word translated “drift away” referred to a ship that missed the harbor because of the sailors’ inattention. The sailors wanted to guide the ship into the harbor and go home, but they got distracted by other things. That is why the writer was saying, “If you heard the message of the gospel, you better tie up to it right now.” Most people do not reject the gospel; they simply neglect the gospel. I do not know many people who say, “I think I would like to go to Hell when I die.” But the surest way to make sure you end up in Hell is to do nothing. We were all born into this world separated from God, and if we go through life continuing to be separated from God, then we will die separated from God. If you want to make sure you end up in Hell, just don’t respond to the gospel.
The writer of Hebrews said you better tie up to the message of the gospel; otherwise, you are going to drift away. You drift away not only through rejecting the gospel but by neglecting God’s invitation for eternal life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “So Great A Salvation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2013.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.