Lest We Drift
Lest We Drift
How great is Jesus? Everything in the universe belongs to Him. He is the Creator of all that exists. He is the exact representation of the Father’s nature and equal in glory and power. He holds the entire universe together. He died for our sins and He is presently sitting at the right hand of the Father. He is worshipped by all the angels and He will be around long after the entire physical creation is gone (Hebrews 1:2-13). Because of this, we need to realize how fortunate we are to have heard the gospel message that was revealed through Him (1:2; 2:1). It is the greatest message ever revealed to mankind, it reveals a great salvation (2:3).
The Past Precedent
Jesus is far superior to the angels (1:4), yet the Law revealed through angels (2:2) was backed up by God Himself and every violation of that Law received a just penalty. The Law of Moses proved to be “unalterable”, that is, it was firm, sure, valid, reliable, dependable and certain. What God said, God meant. He stood behind all His promises and warnings with action.
Christians and the New Covenant
A common myth in our culture is that God expected strict obedience in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament He is far more lax or lenient concerning His standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit specifically says, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard” (2:1). And, “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (2:3). If anything, we have been given even greater privileges and blessings, which means that we have a greater responsibility. Remember what Jesus said, “From everyone who has been even much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48).
The Men of Nineveh and Us
Jesus warned His contemporaries that at the Final Judgment, they would be condemned by previous individuals and generations:
- “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41).
The question for our generation is what will other generations like the men of Nineveh or the First Century Christians say about us and how we used our current privileges?
- We have our own personal copies of the Bible, and yet how often do we read them? Is it our prized possession? Is my cell phone more important to me than my Bible?
- We have the freedom to study, evangelize and worship. Do we prize and use such freedoms?
- We have benefited from various scientific discoveries that only reinforce what is taught in Scripture. Has this strengthened our faith? Or do we yawn in the presence of such information?
- We have so many modern conveniences that allow easy transportation to worship, to visit and help others, and to read the Scriptures even after the sun goes down.
- We have so many online resources to evangelize and strengthen our faith and yet are we wasting our time on what is not edifying?
- We have so many modern conveniences that give us more time to help others and pray, and yet are we wasting such precious hours (Ephesians 5:16)?
The Danger of Drifting: 2:1
The warning here to Christians clearly indicates that such can happen if we don’t pay close attention to what Jesus has said (2:1). The term drift means, “to flow past, glide by, where the significance is to find oneself flowing or passing by, without giving due heed to a thing” (Vine, p. 339). “The idea is in sharp contrast with ‘giving heed’. Lapse from truth and goodness is more often the result of inattention than of design” (Vincent, p. 393). “The word here can have a nautical sense, as of a ship slipping past its haven because the pilot has not paid attention to the course” (Coffman, p. 37).
- Things that drift are things that just go with the flow (Romans 12:1-2).
- Some that fall away do not do boldly and dramatically, but rather gradually. One can spend twenty years in the process of falling away.
- You don’t have to say “no” to God or to one of His commands, one can just put it on the back burner, or say, “maybe”, or “when I get around to it”.
- One can end up lost through inattention, carelessness, neglecting to meet with the saints, praying or studying the Scriptures. We need to be impressed that it takes time, attention, and effort to live the Christian life (Hebrews 5:11-14; Luke 8:14; 2 Peter 1:10).
- How many opportunities to learn and grow have we just let slip by? Every class and every service is an opportunity to learn, encourage others and grow.
- One of the great dangers in our own time is that often professed Christians just seem so busy with other things that they do not have time to invest in their relationship with God. Always intending to “get around to it”, one can end up lost by simply not having the right priorities.
Not a New Problem
- Solomon drifted away from God: 1 Kings 11:4 “and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been”. Is my heart wholly devoted?
- The church in Ephesus drifted: Revelation 2:4 “you have left your first love”. Is Jesus the great love in my life?
- The church in Laodicea drifted: Revelation 3:16 “So because you are lukewarm”. Am I lukewarm?
- Some of the Christians addressed in this letter were drifting: Hebrews 5:12 “by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food”.
Red Flags that I am Drifting
Observe that one can be a member of a congregation and be drifting at the same time, like the Christians in Ephesus, Laodicea and in this letter.
- My conscience is no longer bothered when I put other things before worshipping with God’s people. My attendance is not what it used to be (Hebrews 10:25).
- There really isn’t much difference with what I provide for my children and what non-Christian parents provide for their children. Very little spiritual instruction is being imparted. Yes, I am providing rides, meals, and a warm place to sleep, but I am not preparing them for eternity. “Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46).
- I spend most of my time with non-Christian friends. I am becoming more like my non-Christian friends than they are becoming like me (Hosea 7:8).
- Unless I actually told people, no one would suspect that I was a Christian.
- My life is lacking a convicting element, it seems I have become tasteless salt.
- People don’t ask me about my hope (1 Peter 3:15).
- I will tolerate language and concepts that are truly offensive to God and condemned in Scripture in the programs or movies that I watch. I am used to sitting through a movie and being sworn at repeatedly.
- Being entertained, watching what everyone else is watching, being culturally up to date, has become far more important to me than pleasing God. I have forgotten that I really don’t need the world to entertain me, that my life should be far more interesting than what I watch on Television.
“So Great a Salvation”
- Great in extent: “Whosoever” (John 3:16)
- Great in duration; not temporary, but eternal (Hebrews 5:9)
- The great price paid, the very blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28)
- The great cause (Hebrews 5:9)
- The great distance traveled and effort made to deliver it (Hebrews 2:14)
- The great condemnation from which we are delivered (1 Thess. 1:10)
- The great enemy fought
- The great spokesman who delivered it (2:3)
- The greatness of the eternal reward (1 Peter 1:4)
- The greatness of the love of God that underlies it (John 3:16)
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017