Bayou City Women is walking through the powerful and mysterious book of Hebrews this spring. You’re invited to follow along with our study notes as we dig into a letter that calls believers to stand firm in the face of suffering. We can do this because Jesus is greater. Sisters, we want to follow Jesus by following Scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit, alongside each other in relationship. If you are craving connection during this season of social distancing, please check the notes at the end for ways you can still be a part of the Church. Whoever and wherever you are, you’re welcome here!
“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4 NIV, emphasis mine)
Study tip: the word “therefore” is a linking word. It connects what the author said before to what the author is about to say. I like to think of it as “IF:THEN.” Hebrews 1 is all about the supremacy of Christ, as the Son of God, higher than the angels and all the prophets gone before. Hebrews 2 says, “IF” Jesus is greater, “THEN” we must hold fast. But we all know that is easier said than done.
Hebrews 2:1 warns us to be careful to not pararreo, or “drift away.” This word paints a picture: a boat, firmly tethered, slowly slips its moorings and drifts away with the current.
When I consider whether I ignore my salvation (verse 3), my immediate thought is, “I would NEVER.” How can a believer, who daily encounters the living God, indwelt with the Spirit, forget the gospel? The honest answer is “easily and often.” When I when I discount my costly redemption, when I make light of my heavy atonement, when I neglect my heavenly calling and the continuous invitation to follow Jesus…I slowly become untethered.
To pararreo is to allow the world’s message to be just a little louder than the Spirit – to let the world’s culture pull a little harder than the current of the Kingdom.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV)
Under the old law, humanity was still subject to fear. The new covenant of Jesus breaks the power of death and offers us a new, complete salvation from slavery and restores our original identity. We were created to live in unity with God and reign on earth. This chapter of Hebrews offers a glimpse of the spectacular future Jesus has secured on our behalf. We are who he says we are. Look:
Q&A WITH LESLEY
M: We don’t want to neglect or ignore our salvation. What are some practical ways we can give the gospel of Jesus our attention in everyday life? How can we retain it?
L: In the ESV translation the author of Hebrews warns us to “pay closer attention….lest we drift away from it”. Two parts of this verse caught my attention. First, “pay closer attention”. The implication is that no matter how closely I am already paying attention, I need to PAY CLOSER ATTENTION. My salvation is a free gift, yes; but it came at a great cost. I don’t want to forget that. Practically speaking, for me that looks like remembering, recalling, recounting what the cost was, what Jesus did so that I can have salvation. It’s easy to do that right now with Easter knocking at the door. To stay awake and alert to it all the time is hard, though. But absolutely vital. I also want to remember that Hebrews 2:1 is in the Scripture for a reason…it is our natural tendency to stop paying attention, otherwise the author wouldn’t have included it! The other part that caught my attention was “lest we drift away”. We vacation at the beach every summer and the kids love to get on a giant float with all their friends and ride the waves. The problem is that they don’t realize (or even feel) the current is taking them farther away from the beach every second. They are drifting…but they don’t know it until it’s too late (and I’m running down the beach waving my arms and screaming like a lunatic). So the implication here is that if we are not always paying closer attention, we will find that we have drifted away. It’s slow and unnoticeable…until suddenly it’s not.
M: How would you define “temptation” in your own words? What help and support does Jesus offer us when we are tempted?
L: I define temptation as giving consideration to the thing(s) that I know will lead me to sin. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t just offer us help – He offers us Himself. He IS the help, THE way out. First Corinthians 10:13 clearly says He is THE way, not A way of escape from temptation. There is no other way. I will literally say his name out loud “JESUS. JESUS. JESUS.” when faced with a temptation. I know myself and it’s too easy to stay in my own head and give myself permission to ask for forgiveness later. But when I speak his name out loud into whatever space I’m in, then I am empowered by Him to resist the temptation AND FLEE. I find so much strength and comfort in knowing that Jesus himself was tempted. He can relate, He can empathize, He is not looking down on me in my struggles – He is waiting for me to lift my eyes, say His name and let Him rescue me.
M: Our dignity is often maligned in this fallen world. We were created and saved to be holy and whole. Which part of Chapter 2 captured your attention and made you long for that piece of your identity to be restored?
L: I can’t wait for the day that I don’t have to fight so dang hard to believe the Truth. And when using my spiritual gifts is just as natural as breathing. I love verse 17: “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” He was made to be like me, so that I can be made like Him for eternity. I can’t even begin to comprehend what that will look like. But I can’t wait.