Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hebrews 2:1-4 Pay attention, people!

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)

The author of Hebrews, just like Paul in his letter to the Galatians, is trying to keep the backward-looking Jewish believers from slipping away from the freedom that is in Christ. Jon Courson writes about their struggle:

You see, the people to whom it is addressed were Christians who had come from a Jewish heritage. Yes, they had been converted to Christianity, but because they had grown up in Judaism, whenever they heard the trumpets sounding from the temple, whenever they smelled the incense, whenever they heard the swishing sound of the priests’ robes, memories and traditions tugged on their minds and hearts. (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament, P. 1453)

Traditions are like that. While there is nothing innately wrong with traditions, sometimes we are so caught up in our traditions that we are willing to let go of our freedom in Christ to tie ourselves back into the bondage of thinking we need to keep the traditions to be saved. We think, God will not accept us if we don’t do a particular ritual every Sunday. Sometimes our traditions have become superstitions. We are sure the answer to our prayer won’t come unless we perform some particular task or pray in a particular way.

The author of Hebrews is reminding the Jewish believers in Christ that they are in danger of slipping away from the essentials of the faith. They are thinking they need the rituals to find security, when the security offered in the finished work of Christ on the cross is the ONLY guaranteed salvation. When Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin, Peter boldly insisted on this fact:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)

Jesus Christ is superior to EVERYTHING, including our traditions and rituals. Do you hold onto some of your traditions in the same manner as these Hebrew believers? Are you in bondage to rituals because you actually believe they are what save you? Jesus is better. He alone saves. Put your faith in HIM, not the rituals. We have been freed from the bondage to works - all works - because ours our insufficient. Only the work of Christ on the cross bought our salvation. Instead of elevating the religion, put your faith in the relationship you have in Christ. Then watch the works flow freely from love.


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