“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."
So begins the second chapter of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.
It is interesting that the writer begins the chapter with a term of conclusion. You may have heard your pastor or a Bible teacher point to this word therefore as a very important word; when you see the therefore, they may have said, you need to determine what it's there for.
What is it there for? What is the conclusion the writer of Hebrews is drawing as he begins this chapter? Remembering, of course, that the writer of Hebrews didn't actually write in chapters and verses; those were added later.
Therefore, he says, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard. And what had the recipients of the letter, these Hebrews, heard? Chapter One gives us the answer to that question. Long ago, the writer says, God spoke through prophets. But, he says, in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son. (Hebrews 1:2a ESV).
Then he goes on to tell them, and us, exactly who Jesus is:
- heir of all things
- the One through whom God created the world
- the radiance of God's glory
- the exact imprint of God's nature
- the One who upholds the universe by the word of His power.
- the One who made purification for sins
- the One who is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God
And if we don't pay attention, what will happen? We will be in danger of drifting away.
There's another danger as well. Verse 2 reminds us that throughout recorded history, there were consequences for those who didn't pay attention, who didn't heed the message of God. The conclusion is, since that is true, what makes us think we will be any different? How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:3)
In a devotional reading titled "Drifting from the Word", Dr. Charles Stanley writes: "Drifting begins subtly and usually includes compromising the principles found in God's Word. No one is immune from drifting. All of us have felt the temptation to let our devotion slide so as not to become too serious. However, Jesus gave up everything to come to earth and die in our place. We have eternal life because He took the principles of His father seriously. By His grace we are saved and set free from sin. Once realized, this should be enough to curb any notion of drifting. Anchor your life in the Word of God and you will not drift."
That's what the writer of Hebrews is saying to us. Pay attention to what [you] have heard. God has given us His Word. He has spoken to us through Jesus. We have that message contained in the Scriptures. We need to pay attention!
Because God has spoken.
Because He has spoken in Jesus.