About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Warning To Pay Attention (ch.2:1-4)


Before we start into chapter 2 we must be reminded that the author of Hebrews is writing to Jewish Christians, who, were facing much trials and tribulations, not only from the Jewish establishment but also from the Roman world.  It would have been very tempting for them to recant their faith, or, at least drift away from their faith.  


Chapter 2 opens this way.  "We must pay more attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away."  This is obviously an admonition to stay on track.  This could suggest that some of the Jewish Christians were being led astray from the true faith, or at least, being tempted in that direction.  This exhortation is just as important for us today, as it is in every generation.  Man has always the tendency to drift away from the truth.  Everything needs to be maintained, or looked after, or it will decay and fall apart.  It's what is called the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics, or, entropy.  Our trust in Jesus is no different.  It must be kept in good standing.


The term "drift away" is clearly, and the cultural context proves this, a shipping term.  As one's ship might drift away, so one's faith can drift away as well.    


The phrase "To what we have heard" refers to the gospel that these people heard from the apostles, and for some, from Jesus Himself. 


In the first chapter, the writer of Hebrews refers back to the Old Testament to make and to prove his point.  His exhortation to pay careful attention to what they heard, meaning the gospel, was very important.  What they heard was not in Old Testament times but was in their own life time. 


"For if the message spoken to angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation."  This verse is packed with good things.


The writer is referring to the Law of Moses when he speaks of "the message of angels."  If one violated or disobeyed the Law, even one law, there were serious consequences.  The just punishment for such violations was eventually experienced by Jesus on the cross, and it was death.  Yet, now that the Law has been replaced with Jesus and His act of love, what greater consequences will one have if he ignores this great salvation. 


I have said this before, God is just.  If He was angry enough to execute His own Son in order for us to experience salvation, how much more angry will He be towards those who reject this great salvation.  This is one very serious matter in the eyes of God. 


The author speaks of the message, the Law of Moses, being spoken or attended by angels.  There is very little evidence of this in the Old Testament.  It is alluded to in the Old Testament but specifically addressed in Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19.   


We see the words "Just punishment" in verse 2.  The word "just" is important when it comes to God.  Our present secular world has absolutely no idea what this means.  Our western culture views God as being loving and tolerant towards everyone because of His great love.  This is far from the truth.  The words "just punishment" says a lot.  The word "just" means that God is just and cannot and will not tolerate that which is wrong in His sight.  The word "punishment" means that God will punish those who do wrong.  The good news is that God punished Jesus instead of us, the ones who really deserved the punishment.  Once again, if we ignore or neglect what Jesus has done for us by receiving our punishment, then we will be eternally punished.  This is also why I say that people will not be eternally punished for their sins, or wrong doing.  They will, however, experience eternal damnation for their rejection of Jesus.  Jesus has already been punished for our sins.  Unbelievers will be punished for their unbelief, for their rejection of Jesus. 


In verse 3 we read that Jesus Himself  "First announced" this great salvation and then it was "confirmed to us by those who heard Him."  The writer does not include himself in the group who heard Jesus speak to them directly.  The author includes himself in the word "us."  This means that men like Peter, James, John, and others would have relayed that which they heard to men like the author of Hebrews.  Some suggest, then, that Paul did not write Hebrews because of what he says in Galatians 1.  In Galatians 1 Paul emphatically makes the point that no man taught him the gospel.  Jesus, and Jesus alone, by revelation taught him the gospel.  For, this reason, I don't think Paul would include himself among those who were taught the gospel by men who heard it directly from Jesus' lips.      


In verse 4 we see another way of confirming this good news.  It is through "signs, wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will."  This sounds a little like Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.  Here we see the importance of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit in the early church that confirmed the gospel.  Some use this verse to state that these gifts of the Spirit were for the early church only to confirm the gospel that Jesus preached.  They say the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today.  I do not draw such a conclusion from this verse.  First of all, it does not say this in the text.  Itís merely conjecture.  Second of all, if the church needed such confirmation, only a few short years after Jesusí earthly existence, how much more do we need such confirmation today.  


Note the words "Distributed according to His will."  The simple point here is that not everyone has the same gifts of the Spirit.  God distributes the gifts according to His will.  The emphasis is on the word "distributes."  One person might get one gift while another person might get another gift.  Everyone does not have the same gift.  We are all called to different callings. We are not all apostles.  We are not all pastors.  We are, or at least should be, what God has called us to be.  This is an important Biblical truth in light of the fact that many Pentecostal Charismatic Christians believe that we all should have the ministry of healing.  I think this verse says otherwise.    

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