We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? (verses 1-3)
We are presented here with an “a fortiori” argument – a “how much great than” comparison. And it has huge impact – huge consequences.
The writer has spent the whole first chapter detailing the absolute, incomparable majesty of the Son. It’s truly glorious. The Son is the Father’s final word and the full embodiment of his glory. He holds all dimensions and all worlds together by his own all-powerful word. And in his mercy and grace he has stooped down to bring us full purification, providing salvation which we never could have attained on our own.
His glory completely surpasses that of the hosts of heaven. “He became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Hebrew 1:4).
Then comes the “a fortiori” argument. If the angels, as ministering spirits, delivered the law to Moses (as Acts 7:38 tells us), a law which “was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,” then how much greater in magnitude would be the consequence of ignoring the “great salvation” brought, not by angels, but by the Son himself.
How much greater, indeed.
There are several things that come to me as implications:
(1) The tragic consequence of ignoring this salvation is real and severe. “There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). To ignore it is to completely refuse the life preserver thrown across the water – landing easily within reach – as you’re going down for the last time. Irreparably disastrous.
(2) But the flip side of the coin gives us a view of wonder. If this great salvation – confirmed by signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit – truly brings us rescue from judgement, purification from every sin, and full welcome into the Father’s household, then there is no greater gift. This is “great salvation,” indeed!
(3) The compelling impetus, then, is that we must make this salvation known. How can we hold back? If the consequence of simply ignoring it is so great, and the eternal blessing of accepting it is so boundless, then the good news must be shared.
As I write, I am sitting in a Prayer Room with a stunning view, looking down Princess Louisa Inlet from a Young Life camp called Malibu. This place and its people have been hugely formative in my own life. The memories crowd, as does the mist on the Inlet at this early morning hour. But what is most significant to me in this moment is what’s inside the room itself. Inscribed on two massive blackboards are literally hundreds of names of campers from each week of this past summer, crammed sharply and concisely side by side, names which have been prayed over, again and again, that they might each receive this great salvation for themselves.
Those boards represent a small taste of the magnitude of this “a fortiori” argument. The eternal opportunity for each of those names is so great, while the tragic prospect of ignoring it looms so large. Meanwhile a band of believers have laboured to provide a context for these students to hear, and the effort to write each name is but a fraction of the cost of making that salvation known.
As the mist lifts from the Inlet, and the glory of shimmering water and sparkling sky – impossibly connected by soaring mountains – emerges into sharp focus, the glory of the Son, who holds all things together, becomes yet more clear. May his great salvation likewise come clear to those who have been prayed over in this room. May the Good News be made known to all.
Lord Jesus, you are the eternal Son, the Great Saviour, the One who has provided such a great salvation for us, each one. May we not hold back in eagerly receiving. May we not hold back in making the Good News known. To your glory, and the eternal blessing of those who receive.
Reflect: Who can you pray for, that they, too, might hear and receive this great salvation?
Photo by Tim MacIntosh