How could someone neglect salvation?
By Norm Fields
Minister, Church of Christ Northside
The question, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3), is based on the statement made in Hebrews 2:1. “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” So, neglecting salvation in Hebrews 2:3 is the same thing as drifting away in Hebrews 2:1. It is drifting away from faithfulness to Christ, his church and the salvation he gives.
The “therefore” in Hebrews 2:1 connects this admonition against drifting away back to what was said in chapter one. Christ, the son, himself God, has fulfilled the promise of a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 1:1-3; 8:6).
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed” to his word! Having purged our sins and given us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19), once we have obeyed the gospel of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8) we must continue “in the faith” (Colossians 1:23).
To do otherwise would be to “neglect” or “drift away” from the salvation we received when we obeyed the word of God. It was confirmed to be the word of God with “signs and wonders, with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:4). So, the great salvation is clearly talking about obedience to the word of Christ.
That is exactly the point that the Hebrews writer wanted to make to his audience.
They were in danger of drifting away from Christ, i.e. his word and the salvation that results from obedience to his word, back to the law of Moses.
The law of Moses was no longer effective for their justification, having been fulfilled by Christ (Hebrews 7:12-14).
After rebuking them for not growing in the doctrine of Christ (Hebrews 5:12-14), he reminded them that they had repented of — turned away from — the dead works of the law (Hebrew 6:1).
Another term the Hebrews writer uses, that would be synonymous with “drift away” and “neglect,” is “sin willfully.”
In Hebrews 10:26 it says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”
Again, the specific drifting away, neglecting, sinning willfully, that the Hebrews writer was talking about was turning back the law of Moses from the doctrine of Christ.
However, we can do the same thing today. Having heard the word of God, believing what it teaches about Christ and his kingdom, repenting of our sins, confessing our faith in Christ and being baptized into Christ; if we fail to continue in the faith, then we too have neglected our salvation.