1. The Book of Hebrews contains what may be the most comprehensive presentation of Christology ever penned. The doctrine of Christ expounded in this epistle is a work of comprehensive scholarship and profound theological detail. Anyone who has undertaken a serious study of this book knows that it can be at times hard to fully understand. Some have decided that Hebrews is best studied from the lectern instead of the pulpit. This morning's text passage is one of the reasons why I do not agree with that assessment.
2. That the author of this letter was a scholar is beyond question. But four or five times in Hebrews he reveals that within him beats the heart of a shepherd. He exhorts; he encourages; he warns; he...preaches! Yes, he wants earnestly to instruct his readers, to lay before them the intriguing doctrine of Jesus Christ for the purpose of equipping them with the vital knowledge of God the Son, proving with thorough Old Testament references that Jesus is, in fact, the Promised One. But he is not content only to teach. He longs to engage the heart of each reader because he knows, as all pastors know, that only then will the will of each reader be moved to action on behalf of the kingdom of God.
3. It is the familiar formula presented often from this pulpit, too:
a. First, the m __ __ __ must be renewed: the believer l __ __ __ __ __.
(1) John 16:12-15
(2) Romans 12:1-2
(3) 2 Timothy 3:14-17
b. Next, the h __ __ __ __ must be changed: the believer is t __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.
(1) Psalm 119:9-11
(2) Matthew 12:33-35
(3) Colossians 3:12-17
c. As a result, the w __ __ __ is energized: the believer becomes a d __ __ __ __ __ __ __, one who actively follows Christ.
(1) Luke 9:23
(2) John 8:31-32
(3) John 15:5-8
4. It would appear that the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews regarded his Holy Spirit-inspired work as something other than a scholarly treatise. He refers to the letter in 13:22 as "my word of e __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __."
B. TEXT: Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? [ NKJV ]
So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. The message God delivered through the angels has always proved true, and the people were punished for every violation of the law and every act of disobedience. What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself? It was passed on to us by those who heard him speak, and God verified the message by signs and wonders and various miracles and by giving gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose to do so. [ NLT ]
1. The readers are warned about the dangers of "d __ __ __ __ __ __ __." To be adrift is to be without an anchor, to be caught in a current.
a. Spiritual "aimlessness"
b. Being carried along by whichever "current" in my life is strongest at the moment.
a. NEGLECTING our great s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
(1) What does "our great salvation" consist of?
- purification from s __ __ ( 1:3 )
- freedom from the fear of d __ __ __ __ ( 2:14-15 )
- our a __ __ __ __ __ __ __ as "sons [ and daughters ] of God" ( 2:10 )
- the I __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ we have been promised as such ( 2:5, 11:16 )
- the privilege of bold a __ __ __ __ __ to God ( 4:16, 10:19-22 )
- the privilege of w __ __ __ __ __ __ ( 12:28, 13:15-16 )
(2) How might a believer "neglect" this great salvation?
- By living a life which is "spiritually incognito"
ref: James 1:22-25
- By forgetting ( or refusing ) to worship God in spirit and in truth
ref: Matthew 22:35-46
b. "l __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __"
ref: Revelation 3:14-19
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS / OUTCOMES
a. d __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ( sins of o __ __ __ __ __ __ __ )
b. t __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ( sins of c __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ) A believer "transgresses" when he/she "steps across a line" drawn by k __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and c __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.
c. God's j __ __ __ "reward" ( The Greek noun here would be better translated as penalty or retribution. )
ref: Leviticus 10:1-2
Numbers 16:1-35, 41-50
2. Other notes from this passage
a. The "word spoken by angels" is the writer's matter-of-fact reference to the widely-held belief ( particularly strong at that time ) that angels played a role in God's delivering His Law to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. This may be hinted at in Deuteronomy33:2, where the Hebrew noun rendered "saints" is literally translated as "holy ones," a common Old Testament reference to angels. The agency of angels in the mediating of the Law of God is further alluded to by the apostle Paul in Galatians 3:19.
b. Three methods by which God's salvation message has been delivered:
(1) "spoken by the L __ __ __" ( The Greek proper noun here is Kyrios, a deliberate linking by the author of Jesus Christ and Jehovah. )
(2) "confirmed to us by those who h __ __ __ __ Him" ( Bible scholars see this phrase as indicative of the fact the author was a "second generation" Christian, one who had not received the word of salvation from the lips of Christ Himself. )
(3) authenticated by "s __ __ __ __ and w __ __ __ __ __ __, with various m __ __ __ __ __ __ __, and g __ __ __ __ of the Holy Spirit" ( These constitute God's powerful confirmation of the New Covenant message of the Gospel preached first by the apostles.)
ref: Acts 5:12-16
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
2 Thessalonians 2:9
1. The exhortation - warning "couplet" in Hebrews 2:1 should give each Christian pause to reflect honestly on what impact the words of Christ actually have on his/her life. Are they an active, relative, truly essential part of my waking hours? Or are Christ's teachings something I "dust off" once a week, admire for a couple of hours, and then carefully "put away" once again?
2. The exhortation: PAY MORE CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE THINGS SAID BY THE SON OF GOD.
3. The warning: IF YOU DON'T DO THIS, A SUBTLE, GRADUAL, BUT ULTIMATELY POWERFUL LOSS WILL OCCUR.
a. The Greek phrase translated "lest we drift away" in the NKJV has a pictorial or allegorical richness which is slighted in English.
(1) It can mean "slipping away" in the sense of evaporation. If a believer does not give sufficient heed to the truth of Christ's gospel, it will simply "vanish into the air" as regards its impact on his or her life.
"The process is not dramatic, nor sudden; rather, it is insidious and quiet. The shock comes when one returns to use the faith in a time of need and finds it has evaporated with neglect." - Louis H. Evens, Jr.: Hebrews ( Volume 10, The Communicator's Commentary )
(2) The phrase was sometimes understood to mean "leaking." The implication here is that the powerfully effective truth of the gospel of Christ is contained in a faulty container. This notion can be applied with equal impact to both individual believers and local churches.
"Truth leaks out of a mind that is sloppy in its lack of discipline, or unclear because of insufficient mental activity toward understanding. Good ideas fail to mature and so leak out and are lost forever."
"The image of leaking can be likened to our soft-minded relativism of the twentieth century. Yielding to the popularity of new moral fads and philosophies of convenience causes imperceptible cracks in our vessels of spiritual clarity....leaving flaccid Christians who are incapable of standing tall in a high wind. I am appalled at the soft doctrine of many church members and leaders that has winked at human sin, de-emphasized the atoning death of Christ, and diminished the importance of the experience of redemption and salvation. The magnificent truth of Christ's atoning priesthood so dramatically portrayed by the Epistle to the Hebrews has leaked out of the life of the church, leaving it empty and sterile in contrast to vastly reproductive secular ideologies." - Louis H. Evans, Jr.: Ibid.
ref: 2 Timothy 4:2-4
(3) The literal translation of the phrase brings to mind the image of a boat which has slipped its moorings overnight and has disappeared downstream. The implication is that it had been carelessly tied to the dock by an owner who was lackadaisical, impatient, or otherwise occupied.
"Too often we are tempted in our impatience to tie quick and easy knots so that we may hurry on impulsively to something else. As the restless tides nudge and urge our craft against its moorings, its ties loosen and it slips away. Later, in the midst of critical need, we seek out the boat of faith but find it is gone. Only a lonely desolation haunts us as we gaze with searching eyes for some sign of spiritual assistance. We paid the cheap price of carelessness. Now we have nothing." - Louis B. Evans, Jr.: Op. cit.
4. The antidote:
a. earnest h __ __ __;
b. intense c __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __; and
c. searching the S __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for clarification of what we see, hear, and experience.
5. CLOSE: John 15:22-68