Warning signs are everywhere nowadays. What are we to do with warnings? Well, it depends on the warning. Sometimes warnings are humorous. Coffee cups make sure to warn you that the “Contents are hot!” Consider this warning label for a sleep aid: “May cause drowsiness”. A hair dryer had this warning: “Do not use while sleeping”. A Reflective sun shield for a car had this warning: “Do not drive with a sun shield in place.” And to top that, Rowenta Irons had this doozy: “Do not iron clothes on body.”
Not all warning labels and/or signs are comical. “Deer Crossing” warning signs are very important (especially if you have ever hit a deer while driving). “Bridge Out” is also another important warning. Another very important warning is found in Hebrews 2:1: “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” In other words, God is speaking through Jesus Christ and we had better pay attention.
Hebrews 2:1-4 is the first of five warnings scattered throughout the book of Hebrews (see 2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29). While there is the obvious (eternal) danger of a complete rejection of the Gospel, in this warning we are told of the danger of drifting away from the things we have been told concerning the Gospel. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Christians in order to encourage them to cling closely to Christ, especially during a time of trial. We must pay much closer attention to the Gospel we have heard. The Gospel is not just for unbelievers. Milton Vincent wrote a helpful book entitled A Gospel Primer for Christians. In it he writes:
This book is based on the premise that all Christians should become experts in their knowledge and use of the gospel, not simply so they can share it faithfully with non-Christians, but also so they can speak it to themselves everyday and experience its benefits. In fact, if Christians would do more preaching of the gospel to themselves, non-Christians might have less trouble comprehending its message, for they would see its truth and power exuding from believers in indisputable ways.
Specifically, we must pay attention to Jesus. God is speaking through His Son. Pay attention to the Gospel. We must reflect on Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, sovereign resurrection, glorious ascension, loving intercession, and His certain return.
The Temptation to Drift
We must pay much closer attention so that we would not drift away. The metaphor used here is of a current carrying one away from a fixed point. The warning is that this may happen through carelessness and/or unconcern. We are instructed to keep a firm grip on our fixed point (the truth). We need a secure anchor by which we may keep ourselves from drifting from the gospel.” In Hebrews 6:18-19, we read: “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”
How do we drift? The first sign that we have begun to drift is spiritual laxity. While we ought to be on guard against legalism, we must be just as vigilant against becoming careless. It is a challenge for Christians to not grow complacent. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit preserves us and will convict us of our drifting. I know many Christians (including myself) who praise God that they have countless “wake up calls” from God spurring them to renewal and revival.
The Remedy for Drifting
How do we avoid drifting? We avoid drifting by paying much closer attention to what we have heard. Specifically, we pay attention to the means of grace God has provided for us: the Bible, Pray, and the Church.
The Blessing of the Bible
We must be faithful to read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. Do not neglect to read the Bible. Read it regularly and it will be an anchor for your soul. It is true and trustworthy. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Are you being blessed by the Bible?
The Provision of Prayer
Be faithful in prayer. Prayer is communication with God. It is the intentional act of speaking to and listening to God. If you don’t know what to pray, tell it to God. Pray for what you need and what others need. Spend time praising and thanking Him. Are you praying?
The Goodness of the Gathering
Be faithful in a local church. While it is understandable that some Christians are not physically able to gather, it is God’s design that spiritual growth occurs in a Christian community (i.e., a local church). For this reason, being connected to a local church is essential (not optional) for spiritual growth. This is why those who are not able to physically gather lament this because they know its importance. Are you gathering?
The Punishment for Drifting
If “every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty” in the Old Covenant, “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation” in the New Covenant? Jesus has accomplished so great a salvation for us, how then shall we dare neglect this salvation? How can we dare to neglect Him? How can we drift away from such great love? God is speaking; are we listening? Don’t drift away from the Gospel you have heard and received. Are you fighting apathy? Are you striving against the current of the world? Jesus is our anchor!