Conditional Security – [Hebrews 2:1-4]

Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Hebrews 2:1-4
1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?

2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.
2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
2:3 how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard;
2:4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.
1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?
This is in reference to “angels” (He 1:13) who are sent out by God to minister to those who are to inherit salvation.

So what we have here in verses 1-4 of chapter 2, is a continuation of that thought, namely salvation through Christ, as verse 3 confirms. This same line of thought continues throughout this chapter. Indeed, throughout this book.
2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.
ESV –Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
Here the writer refers to “we” three times. Who is the we? As the context makes clear, he is referring to Christians. This is confirmed by the author’s reference to “brothers” in Heb 2:11 & 3:12 and “holy brothers” Heb 3:1.
That the writer of this book is talking to Christians, and is talking about Christians leaves no doubt.
Therefore in regard to Christians, the author says:
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Can Christians drift away from faith in Christ, and forfeit their salvation? This writer indicates that we can. We can’t drift away from something we don’t have. Again, he confirms that he is referring to salvation in verse 3:
“how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?  
How do we drift away from the faith? It’s by neglect. When we neglect our walk with Christ, and begin to focus on the things of the world, we gradually drift into unbelief. True faith is characterized by faithfulness.
So if we drift back into the world and begin serving our own desires again, without any real concern about the will of God, it’s a clear indication of an absence of true faith. The way we live our life is a reflection of our heart, and of the substance of our faith.
2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
ESV –  2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,

“message”

This is likely a reference to the Old Covenant, and that angels had a part in the delivering of it, as Galatians 3:15-19 confirms. The message of the whole Old Testament that is probably in view.
“and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution”
“A just retribution” means punishment. The point the writer seems to be making is this: If under the Old Covenant disobedience to God was punished, why would it be any different under the New Covenant? If they did not escape punishment, why would we? God hates sin under the NC just as much as He did under the OC. Disobedience under the OC indicates the very same thing under the NC. Namely, that disobedience, or rather a life characterized by disobedience, is an indication of a lack of genuine faith in Christ. Disobedience (sin) leads to spiritual death (Rom 6:16,21; Rom 7:5; Rom 8:6,13; Gal 6:8).
2:3 how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard;
“Neglect” of our walk with Christ leads to weakening of our faith and to a lifestyle of sin. And ultimately it can lead to spiritual death, separation from God, a forfeiture of our salvation.
Having an understanding of what neglect can do to our faith, Peter exhorts us to “make every effort” to “supplement” our faith with certain character traits (2 Pet 1:58 ESV). He continues to exhort us in this same passage to “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (2 Pet 1:9-11 ESV). He says that if we do, then we will be provided “an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:11 ESV).
Read this whole passage here in 2 Peter and then compare it to our passage in Hebrews. Neither Peter nor the author of Hebrews is implying that obedience is the means of salvation. It’s just that they both agree with James who taught that our works are a reflection of our faith (James 2;14-26). True saving faith is characterized by a sincere allegiance to Christ and His teachings.
If we’re neglecting our relationship with Christ, it means that we are not in His Word. Faith only comes one way, and that’s through the intake of God’s Word, as Paul states in Rom 10:17. If we’re not in the Word of God, there is only one direction for our faith to go, and that is down.
Therefore, we must “make every effort” and we must “be all the more diligent” to ensure that what we have is genuine faith. We must be actively pursuing a growing relationship with God, and seeking to do His will. In this way we prove our faith. Salvation is not simply a home in Heaven. It’s living under the authority of Christ the King.
The argument that this passage does not refer to Christians, but to the unsaved in the midst of the assembly being addressed, is unreasonable. For something as important as this, it seems entirely reasonable to me that if the author has the unsaved in mind, he would make that distinction, since he is obviously talking to Christians. But he does not do so. Instead he over and over refers to “we,” as in “we” Christians. Since when does “we” among Christians refer to the unsaved? As we continue to work our way through Hebrews, we will see confirmation over and over that it’s Christians whom the writer has in mind in all of the warning passages of this book.