Series on Hebrews, I Superior Potentate, C Superior by Proof, Text: Hebrews 2:1-4, Title: Inescapable Decision


We must never lose sight of the main point of Hebrews. Persecuted Jewish Christians were tempted to return to their synagogues and abandon their confession of Christ. The author has set before us the appearance of the Son of God as the long awaited Savior in Chapter 1. The Old Testament of the Jews only prepared the way in hope. Christ is the hope. And once the hope is realized they must not turn back. The exhortation here is the conclusion drawn from Chapter 1. The warning is not new. It is implied throughout Chapter 1, but the author has to pause and remind us in verses 1-3, We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? Let’s not kid ourselves. We do not endure the persecution that these Jewish Christians suffered, but we are still in danger of allowing the truth to slip away. “Pay more careful attention” is something every preacher and teacher has said. If you’re a young person your parents say it, your teachers say it, your youth leaders say it. So listen, The Book says, pay abundant attention. The very best you have to give. The Greek is superlative. It is not more: it is most. The words “slip  or drift away” are used in Classical Greek to refer to a ring slipping off your finger. Did you ever have a loose ring? Did you ever lose one? It’s ridiculously easy to do. This Greek word translates a phrase in Proverbs, “Don’t let the words of the wise out of your sight.” We can hardly say we are doing our best when we’re late or preoccupied with other thoughts, or when we leave to go to the bathroom, some may need to, but not bored kids? That would happen just once in my family, then somebody would get their act in gear. Or maybe we are turned off by the music . A. W. Tozer said “We make a lot of religious din and assure ourselves that worship is going well, conversely we suspect silence as a proof that the meeting is dead.” Or perhaps we are bored by the preacher. Isaac Newton said, “I look with my telescope into the vastness of space but when I go to my room and pray I see more of heaven.” If we are bored in church what do we feel when we’re alone with God? Or when we neglect Bible reading and prayer in the family, or we forget the Word when it is convenient because we don’t want to obey. Is this paying the most attention so that we do not slip? It reminds me of the tourist who said to an old guide in Yosemite National Park, I only have an hour to spend so where should I go and what should I do. He said, Lady if I were you I’d go over to that rock, sit down and cry. So what is the argument here? Do not let the truth slip away because the final word is here. It is a Gracious word and it is a Guaranteed word.

I A Gracious word worthy of our best attention

There is a contrast here between the law and the Gospel. The moral law is the absolute and unchanging  revelation of God’s character and His demand for holiness. In one sense the law and the gospel make the same demand for holiness. In another sense the law is opposed to the Gospel because the law has no mercy for lost sinners. The Apostle John says in Chapter 1 of his gospel, The law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The law is holy just and good but it cannot save us. The Author is not contrasting a punishment with a punishment here. Surely if we ignore Christ we will suffer for it beyond our ability to understand.  But that is not the point.  The thing to escape is the binding law which justly punishes every violation and disobedience. It is the law by which we shall be judged. It is the penalty of the law we need to escape. We are condemned already. Surely this is the point of John 3:18-21 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. Men are not consigned to hell arbitrarily. All are judged to have fallen short. Sin is any transgression of or want of conformity to the law of God. But the gospel offers us escape if we do not neglect or ignore it. The most awful prospect conceivable is to have had the opportunity to be saved and to ignore it. Christ delivers us from the penalty of the law by suffering it in our place on the cross. Jesus parables consistently point out the folly of  neglecting mercy. For example in Luke 15:1-7, where the Pharisees murmur that Jesus welcomes sinners, Jesus tells the story of the one lost sheep out of a hundred. The shepherd leaves the flock and seeks the one that is lost. Such mercy from God ought to bring us to a feverish pitch of devotion. We ought to give rapt attention and be enthralled by every word. We are being swept downstream by the currents of  false opinions and evil habits and actions. The Gospel is a life preserver thrown to us in peril. Would you treat that lightly and ignore the precious word?

II A Guaranteed word worthy of our best attention

After reflecting on the character of God’s final word in Christ the author turns to its certainty. If the sound of the trumpet is uncertain the army does not gather for battle. Clearly, an unreliable witness does not compel our attention. Surely, if the truth is doubtful, we will not hold fast through suffering and persecution and temptation. But the Gospel is a reliable word. We are given three confirmations of this in verses 3 and 4, This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

A. The Lord- The gospel was originally announced by Jesus. They said nobody ever spoke like this man. In Matthew 7:29 we read, He taught them as one who had authority and not as the teachers of the law. Make no mistake the ring of authority came from the plain truth he spoke in contrast to the vain and empty sophistry of the Scribes and Pharisees. In fact This statement occurs at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus deliberately contrasts his teaching with that of the scribes using the formula, “you have heard it said, but I say unto you.” The people felt the truth of his words because he went to the heart of the matter and was not preoccupied with mere appearances. Today you can discover that same authenticity and authority in Jesus words.

B. The Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel are those through whom It was confirmed to us because they heard Him. The apostolic witness was confirmed by the integrity of the Apostles. They were eyewitnesses who reported what they had seen with their eyes and heard and touched with their hands as John says. Peter adds in II Peter 1:16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. They not only reported Jesus resurrection and teachings but they endured indignity, suffering and even gave their lives for Christ. In II Corinthians 11:16-29, Paul defends his authority to preach and there it is that he gives long lists of all that he has endured for the sake of the Gospel.
God Himself confirmed the Gospel with signs, wonders, miracles through Jesus and the Apostles and by giving the Holy Spirit who further enabled the church in extraordinary ways during its early days. Notice even at this early date, this is written in the past tense. That is, the confirmation is a matter of record. It is not that they were to look for present miracles to confirm the truth. The confirmation had already occurred. But we should not miss the main point. Our great salvation in Jesus Christ has been reliably reported. No one who investigates  it can deny it is trustworthy. Did you hear about the man who bought an expensive barometer and when he got home it indicated hurricane. It was a beautiful day so he wrote a nasty letter to the store and mailed it on his way to work. When he got home you can guess what he found.  We ignore the truth at our peril.


Thus the author says this is the reliable truth. Not the vain imaginings of religious men. And this is the truth that saves us from condemnation. Never let it slip away. Exert every last vestige of strength you have. Use every moment of time, all your energy, and give your full concentration to the truth. J. I. Packer reminds us that “Modern Christians stagger from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog. Muddled, weak, paralyzed and lacking certainty.” Could it be dear friends that we need the advice of this passage? Eric Barker was a missionary to Portugal and in his absence his wife and eight children, who were enroute to England, were killed. When he was finally reached with the information about their death, he turned to his companions and said, I have received word that my wife and children have arrived safely home. This is the kind of assurance that matters.