1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
3 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,
4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
We cannot preach the gospel without speaking the whole Word of God, for even when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He still made a point to open up the Scriptures to them. (Luke 24:27,44) When Philip brought the Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ, he started with Old Testament scripture and “preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35) We are to open up the whole Word of God, so that all the saints may be equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) And, most importantly, we are to bring the bitter with the sweet. (Ezekiel 2:10-3:1, Revelation 10:10-11) We must not be afraid to speak the words of both life and death, so that people can make a knowledgeable choice about loving the Lord and following Christ.
But having heard the whole Word, we must heed what it says. If all we ever preach to others is the sweet promises of God, then they will not understand His discipline and punishments. If all we ever say to someone is, “God will make all things good in your life,” then they will become bitter when God allows testing and trials in order to form their faith. The tendency today is to avoid speaking the hard words in order to speak only the winsome words, to get people into the seats and get them thinking about God’s mercy without ever telling them WHY we need God’s mercy. Salvation is salvation FROM something–namely, the just punishment for our sin–and Christ paid that price willingly on our behalf. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in the gospel of Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), and the gospel tells us that Jesus lived among us, died for our sins “according to Scripture,” and was raised again on the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) Everywhere in the letters of the apostles, we read how all that Jesus said and did–and especially His death and resurrection–was all “according to Scripture,” and everywhere we see the evidence if we would look ourselves into the law and the prophets.
11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
12 “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
14 “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”
And so, since this Word is now very near us, in our mouths and in our hearts, we must, as the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, take heed of it, “lest we drift away.”
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
We must not forget! We must listen to ALL of the Word of God, study it, know it, and share it. The Scriptures that were spoken through the angels are worthy, and they guided us to knowledge of our Savior, but when Jesus came, He came in the authority of God Himself. Jesus gave us the words of life! (John 6:68) Jesus Himself is the Way, the Truth, AND the Life. (John 14:6) And so, having these words from Jesus Himself, how then ought we to live?
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
There is light and there is darkness, there is condemnation and there is salvation. Shall we hear these words of the Savior and forget them? Having heard the Word of God, having had the Scriptures opened to us, ought not our hearts to burn within us every time we hear the gospel, every time we meditate upon it? (Luke 24:32) And if our hearts burn with love for this merciful Lord who died for our sins, should we not remember this and govern our ways accordingly every day?
Our nation today is a nation of drifters, a land of people who have allowed themselves to forget the truth of Jesus Christ and His salvation for us. We love our entertainments and leisure time, we treasure our idols and addictions, and we love money and fame and earthly success more than our own lives. We love the promises of God but none of the judgments, love the sweet but neglect the bitter of God’s Word. We urge people to believe in Jesus as their “personal Lord and Savior,” but we forget the other part of that equation:
Mark 1:14-15 (my emphasis)
14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. REPENT, and believe in the gospel.”
Repentance is the key, for only when we humble ourselves and acknowledge our sin can we remember that Jesus came to save us FROM our sin. We have become a nation of “slackers” who think our own temporary amusements are more important than eternal salvation.
2 Peter 3:5-9
5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
People continue living as if they will ALWAYS continue living like things are now. “I still have time to repent, still have time to believe, still have time to change my life. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so it takes time to change my life. In the meantime, I’ll just have one more entertainment, one more fix, one more affair, one more idol…”
2 Peter 3:10-12
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
We won’t have “one more day”! Having heard the gospel of peace with God, having been given this great treasure of eternal life through Christ Jesus, having the Word of God laid out before us, how then ought we to live? As the writer of Hebrews said, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”? How shall we know the peace of God if we neglect the gospel and forget it? How shall we be guided on the path to God’s righteousness if we do not seek His righteousness every day? How shall we know His kingdom come if we do not make ourselves subject to the King of kings?
God is not slack, and so neither can we be slack. We must “give the more earnest heed” to the Word of God, and be sure that we receive and share the WHOLE Word of God. If our preachers are slack concerning the true gospel–sin AND salvation–then we must call them out, rebuke them with the Word of God, guide them with the truth of Scripture so that their hearts burn again with repentance and faith.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
The commission we were given by our Savior was not to preach the sweetness of God, nor to make disciples for Sunday picnics. Our commission was to preach the whole of the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), and to make disciples and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19-20) Therefore, armed with the truth of the gospel, let us more earnestly heed it, more diligently conform our lives to the Word of God, and genuinely repent and lead others to repentance. Let us not forget the Word of God as some tend to do, but remind ourselves of the gospel every day.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
May we never forget that, lest we drift away.
Father in heaven, I am always amazed when I consider the gospel of Jesus Christ, when I look upon the Cross and remember that my sins were nailed there for all time. You know, Lord God, how I continue to set my life aright, how I struggle with this flesh to bring it into conformity to Your will and Your Word. All I seek every day, Father, is that I should be more like Your Son, that I should never forget His sacrifice, that I should never drift away from You and the salvation You so mercifully and graciously have given me. Amen.