Pay Closer Attention

December 22, 2013
Hebrews 2:1-4
Heb 2:1-4 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.


  1. We come to the first therefore directed to the recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews.
  2. These will build for the rest of the book. The author will continue to lay foundation and build upon his point until he reach his ultimate conclusion.
  3. Verses
    1. Heb 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
    2. Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
    3. Heb 3:7-8 7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
    4. Heb 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
    5. Heb 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
    6. Heb 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
    7. Heb 10:19, 22 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
  4. This particular therefore is built on the comparison Paul has been making between the angels and Christ.
    1. Therefore, the message delivered by Christ must be superior to the message of the angels
    2. Therefore, the gospel must be superior to the law
    3. Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard.
Seeing the gospel has such a blessed Author, we ought to take care that we forfeit not our interest in it --Owen

Pay closer attention

  1. The message delivered by Christ is of the greatest importance.
  2. This message is the message of salvation (cf 3)
  3. Diligent attendance unto the word of the gospel is indispensably necessary unto perseverance in the profession of it. Such a profession I mean as is acceptable unto God, or will be useful unto our own souls. The profession of most of the world is a mere not-renunciation of the gospel in words, whilst in their hearts and lives they deny the power of it every day. --Owen
  4. 2Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
    1. Why does Paul seem to say with exhaustion that he has kept the faith, was the faith really so hard for him to have kept?
    2. If your faith isn't hard to keep maybe faith for you isn't the same that it was for Paul.
    3. If your "run" your "fight" doesn't exhaust you maybe it isn't the same type of fighting and running that Paul was doing.
    4. Christianity never coasts.
  5. If the gospel be not more unto us than all the world besides, we shall never continue in a useful profession of it. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, must all be despised in comparison of it and in competition with it
    1. Luke 14:26-27 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
    2. Keeping faith, keeping this kind of faith, requires close attention.
  6. Constant high thoughts, then, of the necessity, worth, glory, and excellency of the gospel, as on other accounts, so especially of the author of it, and the grace dispensed in it, is the first step in that diligent heeding of it which is required of us. Want of this was that which ruined many of the Hebrews to whom the apostle wrote. And without it we shall never keep our faith firm unto the end. --Owen
  7. According as our esteem and valuation of it is, so is our heeding of it and attendance unto it --Owen
  8. We must labor to see the beauty, power, and wisdom of the gospel.
    1. This is work. I begin almost every day bored with the gospel. I must pay close attention to this fact.
    2. Furthermore, every day I don't taste God's goodness. Everyday the gospel doesn't become new wonderful once again, I seem to slide into farther degrees of lukewarmness.
    3. What will put a stop to this slide? Close attention is to be paid here.


  1. There is a change of voice from what has come before. The author now puts himself in the same consideration as his hearers
    1. There is no one who does not need to pay strict attention to the message delivered by Christ. Paul did not exempt himself from this.
    2. This sliding, this drifting into lukewarmness, this carelessness and forgetfulness must be taken seriously by all of us.

Drift, slip, pour out, run out

  1. The danger of the neglect of this duty of paying close attention.
  2. Literally flow out
    1. Picture this ...
  3. Take care, "lest at any time we should flow out"
    1. We shall perish as water that is poured on the earth
    2. 2Sam 14:14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
  4. Take care, "lest at any time the message should flow out of us"
    1. Are we not sometimes the leakiest of containers. God diligently sends to us the message of the gospel, which falls on us as the rain which waters the earth.
    2. Yet, like water running out of a container full of holes, so the gospel can pour out of our minds when we do not give it due diligence.
    3. With a leaky bucket, there is one way to fill it but a multitude of ways for the water to run out. So with us, we are filled with the gospel by the Word of Christ but it runs out of us many ways.
    4. Deut. 32:2 "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew ... and as the showers upon the grass."
    5. Joel 2:23 “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.
    6. Heb 6:7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
  5. Drift like a ship without an anchor
    1. Picture this ... a ship in a storm hears news of a safe port. A harbor where shelter can be found.
    2. Heb 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
  6. It is, then, our sinful losing of the word and the benefits there of which the apostle intends --Owen

Message declared by angels

  1. Nothing is more unquestionable than that the law was given from God himself
  2. The law was given from God, but it was given by angels
  3. They raised the fire and smoke; they shook and rent the rocks; they framed the sound of the trumpet; they effected the articulate voices which conveyed the words of the law to the ears of the people, and therein proclaimed and published the law; whereby it became “the word spoken by angels.”
  4. It is nowhere affirmed that the law was given by angels, but that the people received it "by the disposition of angels," and that it was "ordained by angels;" and here, "declared by them"

Escape / Retribution / Neglect

  1. 3 times in the book of Hebrews do we receive such a warning. And if anything there seems to be an escalation of them.
    1. All three warn of an inescapable doom
      1. Impossible to be restored again if you fall away.
      2. Heb 10:26-27 26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
  2. Sins against the law and sins against the gospel.
  3. Deut 28
    1. Deut 28:15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.
    2. Cursed shall you be in the city
    3. cursed shall you be in the field
    4. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl
    5. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb
    6. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out
    7. The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land
    8. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever
    9. The LORD will make the rain of your land powder
    10. The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies
    11. The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed
    12. The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind
    13. you shall grope at noonday
    14. you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually
    15. you shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her
    16. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it
    17. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit
    18. Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless
    19. You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity
    20. the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything
    21. he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you
    22. you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you
    23. The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating
    24. And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you
    25. Deut 28:45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you.
    26. How much greater (this list was the light list, the easy list, the curses of breaking the covenant of grace are more severe than these)
  4. Lamentations
    1. Lam 3:15-20 15He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. 16He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; 17my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; 18so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” 19Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! 20My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
    2. How much greater
  5. As the blessings of the gospel are greater than the law so to the greater punishment will befall gospel transgressors
  6. If this does not scare you something is wrong with your soul.
    1. Heb 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
    2. Jer 32:39-40 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
  7. Godly fear is a part of taking care of your soul.


  1. We hear too often that people are glad that they live in the supposed easier covenant. Easier! ?
    1. Which of the apostles was it easier for. Was it easier for Paul who beat his body lest he should be disqualified? Was it easier for Peter who was crucified upside down?
    2. In which covenant was it said that through many sufferings you must enter the kingdom of God? Not the old, but the new. (Acts 14:22)
    3. Do you not get the sense sometimes in your reading of the word that if the early Jews had merely kept themselves from idols they would have done well? Not so in the days of the prophets and the fuller revelation they gave to the people. Stricter still when the Son of man came into the world calling the religious elites of his day a brood of vipers.
      1. Now we live in under the fullest revelation known to man. Not only do we have the revelation of the Son of Man, but we now live after the Spirit has come, who has come to reveal Jesus' teaching in even a more full way than Jesus did. Hence we have an even greater revelation of the truth and greater responsibility to it.
      2. John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
      3. Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
  2. Does not our thinking go something like this? I am so glad that I live under the easier covenant under the less stringent covenant under the covenant which does not require exactness of life like the old covenant did, with law heaped upon law until it was impossible to follow. But I have come to Mount Zion I've come to the easy road I've come through the narrow gate to the broad way, to the way of grace.
  3. Paul in this second chapter of Hebrews goes the opposite direction
  4. Gospel obedience is not legalism nor is it strictly speaking obedience to the law itself but it is obedience to God and it is not less stringent in the Old Testament law which is put in place by angels but it is more stringent and requires more exactness of its adherents.
  5. This is Paul's point: angels put in place a law, when that law was disobeyed severe punishment followed. Now Jesus Christ has put in place the gospel and when that is disobeyed and neglected a more severe punishment will follow.
  6. Furthermore, the law that was put in place by angels was to be followed with exactness, now a law has been put in place by Jesus Christ we must follow it with more exactness for the giver of the gospel is greater than the giver of the law.
    1. Look at the lives of David Moses and Elijah, were these more or less exact than the life of Paul? Were they more or less exact than life of Jesus?
  7. Paul tells Timothy:
    1. 1Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
    2. Why take hold? Take hold of what? Doesn't Timothy already have eternal life?
  8. 1Pet 4:17-18 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
    1. The gospel is to be obeyed. We have fallen to using the term gospel in an unbiblical way if it is not something to be obeyed every bit as much as the law was.
  9. Tough vs Tender (Another way to look at the same thing)
    1. In the law we see the toughness and severity of God and in the law we see the kindness, tenderness, and love of God. NOT BIBLICAL.
    2. Law tough and tender but shadowed
    3. Gospel tough and tender but reveals God in a more perfect way than the law. Tougher and more kinder.
For if the law that was published unto our fathers by angels was so vindicated against the disobedient, how much more shall the neglect of the gospel be avenged?’ --Owen

Storehouse of Grace

  1. If at the end of your life God were to take you to his treasure house of grace and show you all his treasures therein, if he were to show you all the riches offered to you throughout your life in Christ; the faith you could've had, the blessings that were by all right yours, all the wonders of his grace offered to you in Christ.
  2. If you saw shelves lined with boxes labeled to you, and God said to you, pointing to a box; "Here was victory when you were tempted but you never received it," and to another box; "here was consolation in your darkest hour" and to a whole endless row of boxes "here are all the unanswered prayers that would have been yours had you believed and persevered and taken for yourself that which I was freely giving you: treasures bought with the blood of my Son and here they sit wasted, neglected, disbelieved, undervalued."
  3. We creep and crawl where we could run. We draw back in retreat where he could have victory. We go along hanging our heads where we should consider ourselves sons and daughters of the Most High.
  4. Why do we not live the life that Christ bought for us? Is it indifference, callousness, disbelief, arrogance, pride, vanity, love of the world?
  5. And the things which we neglect, the promises that we don't seize, they are not-only for our good but they are for his glory and they did not come without cost but they were purchased with the blood of Christ.
  6. How will we answer him should he ask us to give an account for our lives.
    1. I am a thief who robes you of your glory.
    2. I have spurned the Son of God, and have profaned the blood of the covenant by which I am being sanctified,
    3. I have outraged the Spirit of grace who is my Helper and my Comforter
  7. How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
  8. Every promise was ours and every one of them came to us at the cost of his blood – how shall we then escape if we neglect such a great salvation.
  9. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

God Justifies the Ungodly

  1. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
  2. God justifies the ungodly, God sanctifies the ungodly, God makes the ungodly so the he can stand in the day of judgment. Are you ungodly, then you qualify for salvation!
  3. Though this passage talks of severe things it comes in the tone of hopefulness.
  4. Is there not a hopeful ring to this passage. (read it)
  5. There is an assumption built into the verses that the reader is going to comply. This warning is only a warning, not a promise of what is to come for them. For them, he is hopeful for better things.
    1. Heb 6:9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things-things that belong to salvation.
    2. Lam 3:21-25 21But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
  6. What is our hope what is it in? Our hope is not in:
    1. The law
    2. Our efforts pleasing God in themselves
    3. Carelessness in the gospel
  7. Our hope is in God working in us fear, love, compliance, joy, peace.
    1. Past - God saves sinners in forgiving them, in justifying them, in cleansing them with his own blood and causing them to be born again
    2. Future - God saves sinners in making them stand upright in the day of judgment
    3. Present - God saves sinners by transforming them into his image day by day. Granting them to put off the old man and to put on the new man. Giving them victory over their sins and progress in their holiness.
  8. Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  9. 1Thess 3:11-13 11Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
  10. 1Thess 5:23-24 23Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.