In Danger of Drifting
Big Idea: We must adhere strongly to the message of salvation given to us by God through Jesus.
A. Fishing in my Grandma’s boat
1. Growing up in Michigan
2. Fishing from the dock
3. Going out on aluminum row boat with a cousin
4. After fishing for some time, losing sight of where we were supposed to be
5. Drifted off course, or away from our dock
B. Drifting definition - The deviation from a set course due to external forces, like cross winds and currents
C. In Danger of Drifting?
1. In marriage, one spouse or another may be moving away from the course that was set by their vows or from the common goals that they had once agreed upon.
2. Graduating – getting out of the home
3. Tight economic times, many are doing things that they wouldn’t normally do in order to try to save money or gain extra money
D. Role of circumstances
1. Circumstances change all the time.
2. We use circumstances as an excuse to compromise in areas where we once stood firm.
E. Result of drifting
1. Because of this drifting we may have found ourselves in a place where we don’t want to be.
2. We may have lost joy, or purpose, or contentment
A. In the Book of Hebrews, the author addresses people in just this situation: they are being confronted by outside forces that strongly desire them to change, and they are giving in to it.
1. The main problem that these Christians were facing was persecution from Judaizers.
a. Judaizers were Jewish people who would come in behind an apostle as he set up a church, and after he left, would begin to “encourage” the people to “modify” their faith.
b. They would adhere to “saved by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8)
c. However, they would say that as Jews, or as Gentiles who wanted to be “full Christians”, they would need to add certain things into their Christian walk.
i. They would tell them that they needed to add certain Jewish religious practices into their life.
ii. They needed to keep the Sabbath, keep Jewish festivals, worship angels and keep kosher.
iii. Paul addressed this very same issue in Colossians 2:16-23
d. If people resisted, the Judaizers would throw them out of synagogue, ostracize them from any community, and sometimes, even do them physical harm.
e. Peer pressure to the extreme.
2. Because of this, people were losing sight of Christ and His supremacy over all things as our reason to worship Him, and as a result, were substituting other, inferior things instead.
B. The author starts the process, with the opening verses, with re-educating the discouraged believers as to why we should worship Jesus and Him alone.
1. First, Jesus is God in the flesh (Heb. 1:3), and as such whenever Jesus speaks, it is God speaking.
a. God had spoken previously, but it was through prophets (in what we would call the OT)
b. Now, God was speaking, through His Son, which gives a superiority to His message
2. Second, Jesus is superior to angels in His relationship to God as Son, His attributes of deity, and in His dominion over the earth.
a. Again, the people were being coerced into worshipping angels as part of accepted Jewish practice at the time.
b. The author wanted them to remember that by doing so, they were actually worshipping something that was inferior.
C. At the beginning of chapter 2, the author seems to break from his flow of thought and the development of his argument in order to exhort or warn his audience over what he thought was an important point.
A. The Command (Heb. 2:1)
1. After going through all that he does in chapter 1 of Hebrews, the author says, “Therefore we must”
a. The imperative here is of the strongest force
b. Because of all that I have said, it is of a logical necessity to do what I am about to tell you.
2. What he commands the listeners then, and us now, is that we pay much closer attention to, we hold more firmly to, or as the Message says, “we keep a firm grip on what we have heard”, so that we do not drift away from it.
3. The language that the author uses here is nautical in nature and is evocative of a ship trying to enter port.
a. The phrase “pay much closer attention” is used to describe how a ship captain diligently concentrates on keeping his bearings so that he can hold the ship toward port.
b. “Drift away” is the exact opposite, where apathy and lethargy take over and the ship is allowed to go wherever the wind and currents take it.
4. What have we heard?
a. The gospel message spoken by the Son of God, which we will get to in a moment.
b. This is what we need to hold on to and not drift away from.
c. Next, the author gives two encouragements as to why we should hold on fervently to this message.
B. The Negative Reason (Heb. 2:2-3a)
1. The first encouragement has to do with consequences.
2. To make his point, the author tells a truth that everybody understood and could easily see.
a. He said that the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai was a valid and reliable message from God.
i. Later rabbinic teaching said that God gave the Law to angels to give to Moses.
ii. Reasons are God’s holiness and our sinfulness
b. The Law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7:12)
i. Because it was a legally valid document, every transgression or disobedience deserved just punishment
ii. The words for disobedience and transgression imply a willingness to stop listening to the message and deliberately turn away from what is being taught.
c. We see examples in the OT where deliberate sin is justly punished
i. On an individual level, after hearing the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8), a man in Num. 15 was found working on the Sabbath and was consequently taken outside the camp and stoned to death.
ii. On a national level, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were both removed from the Promised Land because they repeatedly broke the first commandment which says, “You shall have no other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3).
3. The author uses this point and argues from the lesser to the greater.
a. If angels are inferior to the Son of God
b. Then the message given by the angels is inferior to the one given by the Son.
c. Then, if the people were justly punished for deliberately disobeying the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses by angels,
d. How much more would they be punished for deliberately drifting away from and disobeying the message of salvation, which was given by the Son of God?
4. The point of the author is clear: We must not drift from what we’ve heard, because since what we’ve heard is so great, so will our punishment be.
5. However, there is not just a negative encouragement not to drift, but also a positive one.
C. The Positive Reason (Heb. 2:3b-4)
1. Again, the reason we are to pay must closer attention to what we have heard is because it came directly from the Son of God Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. What He delivered, He delivered to the apostles and to the first disciples
a. That by believing in His name for the forgiveness of sins, they would be saved (John 3:16-18),
b. And that by being faithful to what He has given us here and now, we will rule and reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 6:20-21 (Treasures in heaven); Luke 19:16-17 (Parable of the Ten Minas))
3. And those apostles and disciples faithfully delivered that message to them, and they heard it.
4. In addition, the Son’s message was verified and validated with miraculous attestations
a. In the OT, the most serious charges against someone was not considered valid unless it could be testified to by two or more witnesses (Deut. 17:6).
b. Here, the author is saying that not only did God the Son say these things, but God the Father and God the Spirit confirmed them as witnesses
5. Therefore, we must not drift from the message of salvation given by Christ because it has the highest validity because it was faithfully retold by those who originally heard it, and because the Trinity bore witness to the message when it was given.
A. The God of the OT is the God of the NT
1. The God of the OT speaks, just as the God of the NT speaks.
2. The God of the OT is jealous for His glory, just as the God of the NT is jealous for His glory.
3. The God of the OT promises to never leave us or forsake us, as does the God of the NT (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).
4. The God of the OT said that He would send a faithful servant to be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities, so that by his stripes we would be healed (Is. 53:5).
5. The God of the NT allowed His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and be buried, so that our sins might be atoned for.
6. The God of the OT, in His holiness and righteousness, judges those who transgress His word.
7. The God of the NT also judges those who transgress His word, spoken by His Son, we’re just not told what that punishment will be.
B. We’re not in danger of losing our salvation, but losing sight of it
1. Not talking about losing salvation
a. The “we” is inclusive to the author.
b. The author and the audience have both enjoyed the purification of sins spoken of in Heb. 1:3.
c. In addition, Jesus Himself said in John 10:27-30 (read)
2. Talking about losing sight of salvation
a. It is drifting away from the deliberate obedience to the words of Christ.
b. It is neglecting, not defecting.
c. It is becoming apathetic to the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20)
i. Apostle Paul had to address the believers in Galatia with the same thing.
ii. Read Gal. 1:6-9
i. Priest defrocked in Washington State because she claimed to be both a Muslim and a Christian.
ii. Practiced both after hearing about Islam at an inter-faith conference.
iii. Ordained priest in a mainline denomination
iv. Gay-marriage legalized in Iowa – in “middle America”
ii. Prayer groups, Life Groups
C. Greater salvation requires greater responsibility and accountability
1. Typically, we tend to stay with a thing only as long as it meets our wants
a. We choose cars, clothes, computers and companies to work for not based on any sense of loyalty, but based on making us feel good or special for the moment.
b. Sadly, we shop around for a church with the same mentality
i. We make decisions based on the music style, how the preacher dresses, who attends or doesn’t attend, what their facilities look like.
ii. If we don’t like when VBS is being held, or someone says something to offend us, we leave and go find another place to worship.
2. The author of Hebrews tells us that our responsibility is to hold firm to the gospel of Christ and nothing else.
a. We should decide on a church, or a prayer group, or a Life Group, only by how they preach and how they live out the gospel of Christ.
b. Everything else is secondary, and pales in comparison.
i. The message delivered by the angels – inferior.
ii. The message delivered by Mohammed – inferior
iii. The message delivered by the Dalai Lama – inferior
iv. The message delivered by politicians – inferior
v. The message delivered by New Age proponents – inferior
vi. The message delivered by emergent churches – inferior
vii. The message delivered by preachers of tolerance and inclusion at the expense of truth – inferior
c. Since what we have is superior, in that it is complete, total and permanent, we must hold onto it and not drift from it.
3. Why? Because there is greater accountability.
a. With responsibility comes accountability, where we are held to account for what we did with this message of salvation.
b. Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”
c. Again, this does not affect our eternity in Heaven by losing our salvation
i. In one regard, there is a present accountability
a.) In Heb. 10 the same author warns the same people about the same problem and says that if we keep on deliberately sinning, we will be judged by God, and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
b.) Without going into detail about what it might look like, there can be a present judgment or discipline that believers who have turned their back on Christ might experience in the present.
ii. In addition, there will be a testing of works with rewards given in the future (read 1 Cor. 3:10-15)
d. We do have help – the Holy Spirit
i. John 16 – Jesus calls Him a helper, and the spirit of truth who will guide us into all truth.
ii. When we begin to drift, the Holy Spirit, who is in us (Eph. 1:13), will convict us according to the truth and will guide us back to the truth.
A. Hebrews is meant to be a book of encouragement for those drifting away.
B. Much of the encouragement is that we can always come back to what is true
1. Prov. 24:16
2. God doesn’t mind the slip or fall as much as the refusal to get back up
C. God has given us help to come back or to stay on course.
D. God has given us encouragement to hold on tight and not grow lazy or apathetic.
E. God has given us a superior message
1. Delivered with words and blood
2. Jesus dying for us so that we might live for Him