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“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1–3).

IN CHRIST, WE ARE SECURE IN HIS LOVE AND PROTECTION, BUT OUR VERY GRATITUDE FOR GOD’S GRACE CAUSES US TO BE ALL THE MORE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN OUR SALVATION. After affirming that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” Peter wrote, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:3–11). Both of these points of emphasis are needed. Each makes the other more meaningful.

But think carefully. After obeying the gospel, we may cease being faithful to Christ and end up being rejected by Him. But under what circumstances might that happen? Is it only open defiance and rebellion that would cause Christ to turn away from us?

Most of us would say we’re “doing our best” and any problems we have are only those of “weakness.” So if we believe that a deliberate, premeditated choice to leave Christ is the only way we can be lost, most of us will overestimate our security (Revelation 3:17).

But even a quick look at the Scriptures shows that there are other ways we might turn away from Christ, short of outright rebellion. One is the problem of “drift.” As Hebrews 2:1–3 warns, we will lose our salvation if we “neglect” it. The writer hoped his readers would not be “sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Since the way is hard (Matthew 7:14), sluggishness can be deadly.

In Christ’s letters to the churches of Asia, there were warnings against a lack of love (Revelation 2:4,5), doctrinal error (2:14–16), lukewarmness (3:16), etc. If they didn’t repent, these Christians were going to be disowned by Christ. Today, we need the same message of caution. Rebellion is a temptation for all of us, no doubt, but it is not the only way we may depart from Christ. In a dangerous world, our confidence needs to be balanced with carefulness — so don’t let the devil tell you that “drift” won’t ever be a problem for you.

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance” (John Philpot Curran).

Gary Henry — +

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