How Will We Escape If We Neglect So Great A Salvation?
Hebrews 2:1-4 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
Last week at Thrive we talked about the responsibility of the Elders in refuting false teachers. We described false teachers as those who pervert, distort, add to, or detract from the Word of God. And while we gave a few examples of false teaching, we didn’t go into a great deal of detail as to how false teachers tend to work. I hope this short post will speak to that in some measure.
I chose this particular passage for a couple of reasons, the first being the phrase, “So that we do not drift away from it.” What the writer has heard, and what he is warning the church not to drift away from, is the Gospel message. And I love that phrase “drifting away” because it perfectly describes much of the false teaching out there today. On Sunday we talked about the more obvious, anti-Scripture type of false teaching. This false teaching is usually so obvious that any spirit-filled believer can distinguish it from true doctrine. A greater danger to believers individually, and the church collectively, are those false teachers who are “just barely off”, those who have drifted away. These kinds of false teachers may not deny the truths of the Bible, they just neglect to give them all to you. They focus on one aspect of God’s truth, to the exclusion of another.
For instance, how many of us have heard messages that speak exclusively about the love of Christ. It is truly a great thing that in His grace, God loves us, but if I were to speak solely about His perfect love, and neglect to talk about His perfect justice, then I’ve distorted the truth of Scripture (drifting away) and essentially created a God of my own making. This is idolatry. And it points out the great need of the Elders (pastors) to constantly and consistently frame their sermons around Scripture. The hunt and peck method of preaching, where the pastor culls his points from many different portions of Scripture, or the felt needs type of preaching, where the pastor focuses solely on the congregation’s needs to the exclusion of what the Bible calls, “the full counsel of Scripture,” leave the church dangerously open to this distorted type of false teaching. And there might come a time when a church needs to hear a sermon on a particular topic, whether based on their need, or on a particular doctrine, but the wisest and safest method of preaching is that which is centered on and structured around a passage of Scripture. And the most difficult aspect of this truth is that not all hunt and peck or felt needs pastors are doing so with ill-intentions. Many, if not most, truly love their people and are trying to meet their needs. But they’re doing so in a way that, ironically, is actually doing their people more harm. This is why Paul told Titus to refute for the purpose of reconciliation. As I said on Sunday, it all comes down to our belief, not only in the Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture, but also in the Authority and Sufficiency. So like the writer of Hebrews I ask, “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”