Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Danger of Drifting Away

Have you ever gone to one of those gift shops in a vacation destination that sells fancy driftwood? I’ve seen those pieces of wood in many places. What amazes me the most is how expensive some of them are. Some cost hundreds of dollars. For a piece of wood. A piece of wood that is dead.

Via: WikipediaGranted, some of the pieces look very cool. They are quite interesting. But let’s be honest: Where else but in America would we pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a piece of wood that died and drifted far away?

In Hebrews 2.1-9, the writer discusses the grave danger of drifting away from God by neglecting the great salvation He has made available. Drifting away involves death, whether a slow death or not. Notice how serious the warning is in these verses. He tells us some things to beware of.

Beware of drifting away from the word of God. (v. 1)

The writer is helpful to begin by specifically stating what we must beware of drifting away from: Beware of drifting away from what we have heard. And what had they heard? God’s word. So he says they and we must “pay even more attention” or “pay much closer attention” to His word. Why? Because God’s word is truth, and God’s word is power.

James also highlights the problem with someone who hears the word of God without really listening and acting on it. He says:

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1.22, HCSB)

So the first thing he tells us to beware of is drifting away from God’s word. That leads to the second one.

Beware of falling away from the salvation of God. (vv. 2-4)

Having stated the place from which our drifting begins—from the word of God—now the writer tells us that neglecting “such a great salvation” will cause us to fall away from it. He questions how we can escape our due punishment if we neglect His salvation. And he says we have all the proof we need: Jesus spoke it; those who heard Him confirmed it; signs, wonders, miracles and spiritual gifts testified to it. How much more evidence do we need?

The Bible graciously warns of a great falling away, and it comes after people have been deceived and have drifted from the truth:

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy [rebellion, falling away] comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2.3, HCSB)

Sadly, it seems that many will be deceived by the false signs that will be on display (see 2 Thessalonians 2.9-12), and they will believe the lies of the adversary instead of the truth of the cross of Jesus. Many in our day think that this kind of talk is foolishness, but God graciously predicted that, too (see 1 Corinthians 1.18).

Beware of missing out on the glory of God. (vv. 5-9)

If drifting away from the word of God can make us fall away from the salvation of God, the worst part is missing out on the glory of God. The writer here is saying that Jesus was subjected to suffering and death so that we don’t have to face the due and just punishment described in verse 2 if we trust in Him and do not fall away. What is that just punishment? Eternal death…separation from the glorious God. He then says that because He was subjected to death, He has been crowned with glory and honor—glory and honor that we get to experience when we are with Him. In addition to being with Him, which we don’t deserve, look at what else happens:

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20.6, HCSB)

Missing out on God’s glory happens because we fall away from His great salvation. And falling away from faith happens when we drift away from His word. There’s a terrible pattern of regression here. God desires that you know Him through His word so that you can delight in His great salvation and begin to share in His true glory!

A dead piece of driftwood may appear beautiful and have value to many people. But it’s still dead.