“How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
Hebrews 2:3a NASB
We heard this past Sunday about the danger of neglect that is mentioned in this verse: how though we may not be in danger of rejecting such a great salvation, yet we may still neglect it. Neglect is our risk, but because it’s much less hostile-seeming than outright rejection, we can regard neglecting our salvation as much less serious than it actually is.
As I meditated on this message, I wondered, “What am I in danger of neglecting, in my own Christian life?” If we picture our lives with Christ as building a tall tower, there are many possibilities on each floor, and many things to bear in mind as we build - which floor am I most likely to neglect? I felt the Lord answered me clearly from the very next chapter in Hebrews:
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God... For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.”
Hebrews 3:12, 14 NASB
I see here that falling away starts when I don’t hold onto the foundational truths of God’s Word. So when I think of the danger of neglect in my Christian life, I need to recognize that I’m in danger of neglecting the beginning of my assurance. This is a humbling thing to admit, because we spend so much time attending to many other floors, and can assume that if we are neglecting anything, surely it's some "upper level truth." But it’s the foundation I’ve got to be careful not to neglect. I can be busy busy with many things, like Martha, making sure the floors of service are being attended to, all the while, the dangerous cracks in the foundation go unnoticed.
Neglecting the Foundation
I was especially struck by the Lord’s warning to the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation. They had many outstanding qualities, and had many floors of work, so to speak, on their tower:
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.”
Revelation 2:2-3 NASB
We can think, what a tower! They’ve advanced beyond the level of toil and good works, and now they’re at the level of discerning false prophets! Amazing! What a tower! Yet the Lord continues,
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Revelation 2:4 NASB
And here we see the great danger, where we have to be especially watchful of neglect: they neglected God’s love! It’s no surprise why Jude admonishes us to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21) - he had watched his brother Jesus do the same thing Himself. This man who had watched Jesus at home for 30 years, when it comes time to tell believers how to be triumphant, says, “pay close attention that you don’t drift out of God’s love.”
A Subtle Attack
I was struck by the teaching in the third “Fundamental Biblical Truths” message, how from the very beginning, Satan has attacked our confidence in God’s love. Even in the garden, his aim was to get Eve to doubt whether God’s plan was best.
And I was marveling at how now, rather than employ a direct attack (I think we’d be wise to his scheme if he came right out and said, “does God really love you?”), he uses a much more subtle tactic: just cause us to neglect, just cause us to drift, from the very most important thing in our Christian lives.
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”
Hebrews 2:1 NASB
The thing about drifting is that it happens almost imperceptibly, without warning, without alarm. Like a frog will boil to death in water that’s gradually heated, so also we will meet our spiritual death if we gradually drift from our confidence in God’s love.
How will we escape if we go on neglecting this great salvation? For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to the word we have heard, of God’s unfathomable love for us. We have become partakers of Christ if hold fast the beginning of our assurance — that God loves us immensely — firm until the end.
The Remedy is Repentance
I must admit I was surprised to see the Lord’s prescription to the church in Ephesus in this context. What does He command the church to do, once He acknowledges all their work on the various levels of their tower, and points out their neglect of the foundation?
“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:5 NASB
I was challenged by the question, “when’s the last time you confessed neglecting God’s love as sin, and repented of it?” I have to be honest and say I haven’t seen it like that, as a most grievous sin that I have to treat soberly. As long as I think of neglecting to be renewed in God’s love as “mere forgetfulness,” I put it in the bucket of benign human weakness, and I remain blind to the schemes of the enemy. He wants me to drift; he wants me to doubt God’s love! When I neglect it, I want to call it sin!
I want to pray as Moses, the humblest man of his time, this prayer of utter humility:
“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalms 90:14). I want to confess every single day, "Lord, I need to be satisfied with Your love again today. Shine Your love into my heart afresh. It doesn't matter how many levels are in my tower, or how long I've been building; if I am not refreshed in Your love again today, I'm in danger of drifting away from You."