Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV)
Short passage. Lots of stuff. Okay, let’s break this down:
2:1a Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard… You better wake up. If you’re a believer, do you still remember what it was you heard that caused you to believe? Do know what you believe? Can you articulate it? Have you studied it at all? Have you been told (or chosen to believe) that now that you’re saved you’re covered, you don’t really need to spend any more time developing your faith? You better wake up. You’re about to find out why.
Stay with it
2:1b …lest we drift away from it. Don’t wonder off. When you were a kid, how often did your parents tell you not to wonder off? Why do you suppose they told you that? If you’re a parent, you’ve said the same thing to your own children so you should be able to answer this one pretty easily. What happens? Mischief. What seems like innocent fun can result in any number of bad things.
2:2a For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable… What you heard the first time was true. You experienced it. It wasn’t your imagination. You got the message. It hasn’t changed. It hasn’t left you. It hasn’t ever let you down. It didn’t come from just anybody. It was a message given to you by God through His messengers. You can rely on because of the source as well as your own experience.
2.2b …and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution… Righteous payback is coming. Yes, salvation is a free gift. Yes, salvation depends on faith, not works. But does this mean works are meaningless? No. Does this mean faith can exist without works? No. Now that you’re saved can you go on sinning? No. If you don’t believe the answer to these questions is no, then you better wake up (2:1a). Reward and punishment are based on behavior. If you don’t think so, read Rev 20:12-15 and Mt 16:27.
Remember what’s important
2:3a …how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? News flash: you won’t. It makes no difference if believe in the doctrines or Calvin or Arminius. It makes no differences if you embrace the adage, “once saved, always saved.” Those debates are all red herrings. The question at hand isn’t what the other guy can get away with. The question you’re asking is what can you get away with. That’s a dangerous attitude. You better wake up. You better not wonder off. You better know the source of truth and remain faithful. Quit worrying about interpreting doctrine and remember who saved you, why, and for what purpose. Trust, love, and obey. Works do not save, but they are the fruit of salvation and they demonstrate saving faith. Is your knowledge of scripture going to save you? Is knowing about Jesus going to save you? Is showing up at church or being in a Christian family going to save you? Is paying for an orphan’s meal going to save you? No, it is the blood of Jesus Christ shed to redeem you from your sins that will save you, and even then you must repent and believe to be converted from death to life. Would you die again? No. So do not neglect your faith. Do not treat it as a thing to be dusted or admired. Embrace it and live it for you are saved for life and life abundantly.
God said it
2:3b …It was declared at first by the Lord… You heard it from the source. The Old Testament warned us. Jesus himself explained it. Then he went through with it. Then he explained what he did. Then his Holy Spirit came to keep us mindful, teach us, and guide us.
There were witnesses
2:3c …and it was attested to us by those who heard… You are not alone. You have the witnesses mentioned at the end of each gospel. You have the witnesses mentioned in the opening chapter of Acts. Elsewhere in the New Testament we read of Paul’s vision of glorified Jesus, and later of visions recorded by John. Paul writes in one place that more than 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus at one time. More than this, you have contemporary witnesses who have shared your experience. Every believer who is really born again has had some sort of life changing encounter with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. If you have not had such an experience, then you better wake up. If you surround yourself with people who cannot tell you of their experience and cannot testify to at least one miracle – that of their own salvation – you better wake up and not neglect your salvation.
And you’re one of them
2:4 …while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. You’ve seen miracles. Do you recognize them? Have you stored up in your heart the wonders God has revealed? Can you point out the miracles in scripture? Can you point to the baby in its mother’s arms – maybe your own arms – and fail to see a miracle? Have you met someone cured of cancer by a miracle? Have you met someone cured of diabetes? Have you met someone who has been cured of any other disease or malady? Have you had an experience that could not be written off as coincidence? Have you received, experienced, or at least witnessed any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Does your life demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit? If you can answer yes to any of these, you have your supernatural testimony of God bearing witness to his own divine revelation. He claims authority and willingness to forgive sin, but he demands life changing belief.