The problem seen in the book of Hebrews: Jewish Christians were digressing in following Jesus as Lord because of persecution and going from drifting (2:1-4), to doubting/unbelief (3:7-4:13), to dulling (5:11-6:20), to drawing back (10:26-39) to denying/refusing Him (Heb. 12:25-29). Likewise, the world, the devil and our flesh wage war against our soul and tempt us to do the same. The author reminds us continually to "fix our eyes on Jesus" as the way of spiritual growth and the entire epistle exalts Him.

The writer shows us in Hebrews 1 that Jesus is superior to all the OT prophets and that He is superior to angels (which he expands on in chapter two) because He is fully God in expression and substance. Then he pauses to give his first (of 5) exhortations/warnings to these Jewish believers and to us today.  "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable (or binding), and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."(Heb. 2:1-4)

Commentators differ on whether the "penalty" here is for believers or unbelievers but is seems clear that these are believers since the writer of Hebrews includes himself using "we" or "us" several times. Also the word "salvation" means more than justification (forgiveness of sin) but often refers to our future inheritance and reign with Christ based on our obedience to Him in this life even as seen in Hebrews 1: 14 that precedes these verses (There are no chapter breaks in the original Scriptures).  "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? So the warning is to us as believers to not drift from the wonder and blessing of the gospel announced by our Lord Jesus Himself (seen in His love to save us and keep us forever). That Jesus is God and speaks to us- this alone demands that we pay close attention. Also the gospel is so much greater than the Jews' deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the Law. This was an awesome event (see Exodus 19) involving myriads of angels and God descending on Mount Sinai in fire and smoke and trumpet blasts but it pales in comparison to the gospel – God becoming flesh and dying on a cross to make us His own forever and then validating its truth in miraculous, supernatural ways as we will look at next week. {Jesus was a person of history. Many ancient prophecies pointed to Him. He really existed, and He came with signs, wonders, miracles, and the Holy Spirit's gifts. These were stamps of God's approval on Jesus' life, His ministry and His apostles who delivered the message. Copyright © 1999-2006 Like The Master Ministries. All Rights Reserved.} (Compare Exodus 19:10-25 to John 1:1-18.)

Though believers have God's assurance of His unconditional love and thus eternal security (Rom. 8:1, 38-39) there are temporal and eternal consequences for sin as seen in the OT saints who wandered and died in the desert because of unbelief and disobedience and the NT saints who became weak and sick or even died because of sin (1 Cor. 11:30-32; Also see Acts 5:1-11). Yet far more serious are the eternal consequences for sin as seen in many passages both in the gospels and epistles. (Matt. 25; Luke 19; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-11)

So how do keep from drifting away from God's love and truth? The word picture in the Greek (prosecho) is a nautical picture of a boat drifting away from the dock and headed toward the waterfalls. We need to quickly throw out an anchor. That anchor is our union with the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 6:19) which is strengthened and grows through communion with Him through time in His Word and in prayer – a dialogue with the living God. Our communion with Him can also be enhanced through corporate time in the Word and prayer as we fellowship with those who know Him, as well as through acts of service for Him (evangelism, discipleship, acts of mercy, giving financially to His work, etc). These spiritual "disciplines" as the word implies, requires our daily choices and many times our desire and feelings run contrary to doing what is best for us. Yet, have any of us ever regretted spending time in the Word or sharing our heart with God in prayer and waiting for and receiving His Word of encouragement?

Our problem as Steven Covey points out is not a lack of time but wrong priorities as seen in his four quadrant analysis of our use of time: Quadrant 1:Urgent and Important – Fire Fighting; Quadrant 2: Important but not Urgent – Production; Quadrant 3:Urgent but not Important – Distraction; Quadrant 4: Not urgent, not important – Time wasting. If you change the word Production to Spiritual Growth in Quadrant 2 you can see how the priority of time with the Lord both privately and corporately in His Word and in prayer is the most important thing we can do. (See Martha versus Mary in Luke 10:38-42). "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny." Ralph Waldo Emerson (Also see Gal. 6:7.) as I have heard it said, "Our failures are not like a blow out but a slow leak."

The above are things we need to do and the following are some things we need to avoid: "The worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19).

Later on in Hebrews 12:1-4 the writer gives us both things to do and things to avoid in this passage: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter (finisher) of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

Yet for me, and from what I hear from others, our greatest discouragement often comes from hurt and disappointments with people. We wrongly look to fallen man instead of a perfect, never-failing God Who loves us passionately and unconditionally. Yet when people hurt us we can turn away from Him in our anger and self-pity. This is why we must pay much closer attention to the gospel "so great a salvation"  to the passionate and perfect love of our Savior and God versus the imperfect love of man that we all too often give to each other. Only when we "experience" His love through time with Him in His Word are our hearts filled and set free to love and serve others. "May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" (Eph. 3:16-19 – Amp.)

"Work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).  [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Phil. 2:12-13 – Amp.)                                             


1) "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, – do not "neglect so great a salvation." What have all believers heard and what should we never drift away from or neglect?                                                                   

 2) What are the positive reasons to pay much closer attention to the gospel (look at Jesus) and what are the negative reasons?                                                                                                                                                                         

 3) What helps you most in maintaining an intimate, enjoyable relationship with Jesus?                                                        

4) Read Mark 4:19 and Hebrews 12: 1-4 and share which of the following things hurt your relationship with the Lord, the most, or the least.  The worries of the world; the deceitfulness of riches; the desires for other things (list some "other things" that may be in the time-wasting category); the sin that so easily entangles; grow weary and lose heart; in your struggle against sin you fail to resist it.  Ask the men at your table if they have dealt with some of these issues and gained some victory that may help you.                                                                                                                                                                         

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