Our home group Bible study were finishing off Hebrews last night. We did a bit of an overview and I asked what we'd all take away from the book.
One person said that the warning passages leapt out at them. Things like:
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)
Another person said they were struck by the once-for-all finished-ness of Christ's work. Jesus - our Brother - has become our High Priest and accomplished it all on our behalf. Amazing grace!
So there I was, leading the study, sat between these two reactions to the Letter. How would I acknowledge both these realities?
Here's one option: "Indeed, you both make excellent points. We need to balance the warning passages against the grace passages. The grace stuff is nice, but the warnings prevent us going too crazy with the grace thing."
Have you heard that kind of teaching? It comes from people who have a high view of the Bible. They want to honour both strands of teaching and for that we can commend them. But...
Isn't there another way of taking both elements seriously?
Imagine if the warnings are grave admonishments not to forget the grace of Christ? Imagine if the thing we're tempted to drift towards is legalistic, ritualistic, earnest spiritual points-scoring? Imagine if Christ's finished work is the truth we're always forgetting?
Well then... be warned - Christ alone has achieved salvation, by grace alone, received by faith alone. Be warned! If that's true then there is no spiritual life to be found in any other message, any other system, any other life. Return at once to this hope:
Let us flee to take hold of the hope offered to us [that we] may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever. (Hebrews 6:18-20)
We must beware. All of us naturally drift in the Christian life. We must flee from those temptations. We must take hold of true gospel hope. But remember - the direction in which we're tempted to drift is towards earnest spiritual endeavour. When the Bible says, "Don't drift!" it's not trying to bring you back to serious-minded religious behaviour, it's calling you from it.
Don't drift! Open your Bible and return to your true hope - Christ alone.
PS - in this light, you might like to consider Dan Hames' post on Lent