For about 25 years one of the most frequently diagnosed behavioural conditions among children (and adults) has been Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a supposed medical and psychotic disorder, which renders children (and adults) unable to pay attention. It is often the diagnostic label given to children who struggle to sit still and to do their work. In spite of all pleading and motivating incentives, it seems that such children just cannot (or will not) pay attention. This diagnosed condition is frequently treated with such drugs as Ritalin.1
This is not the place for an extensive discussion of this issue but I do want to point out that there is absolutely no medical evidence to substantiate that these “disorders” are the result of some disease or virus or any other medically-proven cause for such behaviour. Sadly, all too often the treatment is worse than the problem. So much of the real cure to do with understanding biblical anthropology and the need for self-control.
But without getting sidetracked, I want to make the parallel between ADD in children and ADD in the church. Just as many children struggle with a very real challenge to pay attention, so do many who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And like children who struggle with an attention deficit, those with spiritual ADD suffer painful consequences, not the least of which is drifting away from Christ. And when such a drift occurs, as we began to see previously, the result can be dangerously destructive—even damningly so.
But such spiritual ADD also has a cure. And the great Physician has revealed the prescribed medication right here in the passage before us. Yes, there is a cure for the otherwise soul destroying malady of spiritual ADD.
I will remind you that the author was burdened for the recipients of this letter. He was burdened that they might drift from Christ and find themselves shipwrecked; perhaps eternally lost in the sea of God’s just wrath. And so he writes to exhort them to pay attention. Whatever deficit they claimed to have when it came to the ability to stay faithful to Christ, nevertheless the writer tells his readers to “give the more earnest heed” or “pay much closer attention” (ESV) to the things they “have heard.” That is, they are to listen to the gospel. “The language implies that the community had grown lax in their commitment to Christ and were neglecting the Christian message.”2
As we return to this passage we will pick up where left off previously. We diagnosed the problem of spiritual drift and looked at some of its indications and causes. We also noted the dangerous and even eternally damning consequences of such drifting. In this study we will go further and note the means to overcome this problem—means that have everything to do with the salvation of our soul.
To What We Must Pay Attention
Of course, we first need to understand just what it is that we are not to drift from. We need to understand precisely to what we must pay the closer attention. The author tells us in vv. 1-3a:
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord?
This exhortation implies that they were paying attention to something but that now they are to pay much closer attention to something else. So, what were they previously paying attention to? The answer, of course, is that they had been paying attention to the covenant that had been mediated by angels. They had been paying attention to the old covenant. They were now being called to pay even closer attention to the new covenant; the covenant mediated by God’s Son; the covenant mediated by the one who had a more excellent name than the angels; the covenant mediated by the one who, though He experienced humiliation (2:9), yet ascended after His resurrection to exaltation above all.
They were being exhorted to move beyond a deficient view of Christ to one that was doxological. They were guilty of an attention deficit when it came to Christ and His gospel and this needed to be corrected. And as Jones observes, “The Hebrews are exposed to forces that will carry them away from what they have heard unless they repeatedly make efforts to counter them. Doing nothing will result in the loss of everything.”3
This is so often the same problem we face. For various reasons we find ourselves not paying attention to Christ and the glorious gospel by which we have been and by which we are being saved. The result is that we drift and live unproductively—even irresponsibly.
Like the recipients of this letter, we need a correction of our attention deficit problem. We need help.
The Problem with Old Wineskins
There were no doubt several factors impeding their ability to pay attention, but a large one was an obsession with the past. In keeping with the parable of Jesus, they were being exhorted to move beyond a fascination with the old wineskins and to appreciate the new wine of the gospel as experienced in new covenant structures. And as we saw previously, a major issue here was that of the visible versus the invisible.
They were being told that they needed to listen to God’s final Word and that in doing so they would not drift. Apparently some of them were struggling with an attention deficit when it came to God speaking to them through the Lord Jesus Christ and so they needed this exhortation to pay attention.
I suppose that one of the problems they faced was that of the familiar blinding them to the new. They had become so used to the old covenant rituals and to the old covenant prophets that they were having a difficult time accepting this major paradigm shift.
Previously, we saw that one of the reasons that we are tempted to drift is because of the familiar, but here the familiar becomes a different kind of temptation. Whereas the familiar can become ritualistic so that we drift from the truth that the traditional was intended to point, there is another danger that attends the familiar: That is, we don’t want the familiar challenged or changed.
They needed to pay close attention to what they had heard rather than to what they had seen. And this was different.
It is not a profound insight to say that people do not like change. After all, we become very comfortable with the familiar. But when we confuse the structure itself with what the structure holds then we are in trouble. In the example that Jesus gave us, when the wineskin becomes more important than the wine then we have completely missed the point (Luke 5:37-39).
I would guess that only a fool would pay a lot of money for the bottle and then pour out the award-winning Chardonnay. But in many ways, as we will increasingly see in future studies, this is precisely what a lot of first century Jews were doing when it came to the gospel. They were hanging on to the old wineskins while emptying it of the substance of the new covenant gospel. They were missing out on the wine of Christ as they bragged about the bottle! And in a parallel sense, we can be guilty of the same.
Sometimes we can miss the wood because of the trees. We can even miss the cross, not because we are bored with it, but because we become blind to it (see 2 Peter 1:5-9). We can be so obsessed with form that we fail to see what the form exists for! That is precisely why Paul had to write to an established church in Ephesus to instruct them on how to conduct themselves as a church (1 Timothy 3:15).
For example, we know that the local church is the pillar and ground of the truth—God’s instrument by which He preserves His gospel from generation to generation. But all too often we can become so focused on how we “do” church that we can actually lose sight of why we “do” church.
And so, for example, musical styles—and even instruments—change, sometimes from generation to generation. The way that certain gatherings are structured sometimes need to change (perhaps from a midweek corporate gathering to small home group meetings). As the church reforms according to the Word of God then with doctrinal clarity will come change in some previously cherished beliefs and practices.
But all too often when such changes are suggested we find ourselves behaving in a very unChristlike way and hence find ourselves drifting away from Him as we become obsessed with the old wineskin; a wineskin that no longer helpfully aids us to pay attention to Christ. Though this issue opens many different cans of worms, I simply want to emphasise that forms that do not have scriptural mandates, or forms that have been abrogated by Scriptural fulfilment (such as the abrogation of the Levitical priesthood, animal sacrifices, etc.), are expendable. What is not expendable is what such forms were originally intended to point us to: the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. If you become obsessed with the form then you will not fix your eyes on the author and finisher of the faith. In fact, the so-called worship wars only exist because somebody, or somebodies, in the battle have confused the form with the function.
I knew a man once who stopped attending our church because we sometimes laugh in the services. I once experienced some resistance to holding a Christmas Eve rather than a Christmas Day service. I was even accused of caving into a “user-friendly, worldly pragmatism”! Our change as a church in our eschatology had many up in arms. But none of these issues had the slightest impact on the church’s focus on the centrality of the gospel.
The point should be clear: If we will not drift then we must determine to pay devoted attention to Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospel. And we must do so daily. If we find ourselves with an attention deficit here, then we must take biblically practical steps to correct such deficiency. We will look at a few of these later.
Why We Must Pay Attention
The author also tells us why we must pay attention. He tells us that this great salvation
at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
This question can be addressed in different ways. For instance, we must pay attention because if we do not then our eternal destiny is at stake. That certainly answers why it is necessary that we overcome an attention deficit when it comes to Christ and His gospel. But having addressed that previously, I am now asking this question from a different perspective.
On what basis must we pay the closer attention? Fundamentally, the basis for demanding that we pay much closer attention is because of the greatness of God’s salvation. The salvation, both from our sins and from the wrath of our sovereign God, is so great that we must pay attention. But how do we know that it is so great?
This passage answers with a threefold explanation: “in its original announcement, in its convincing proclamation, and in the manifold attestation to its truth.”4 Let’s explore the “triune” basis to the question.
The Saviour Who Proclaimed It
First, this salvation is so great because of who brought it to pass: it “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.” Morris writes, “Anything Jesus said is of interest and importance to his followers, but his proclamation of salvation must be regarded as especially important.”5
“The Lord,” of course, is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. This does not meant that the gospel was only first announced in history by Jesus, for we have already been told that “God spoke in time past . . . by the prophets.” The gospel, in fact, was announced as far back as the Garden of Eden, and was reiterated and prophesied on many occasions and in many ways. In fact, each sacrifice offered at the tabernacle and then at the temple foreshadowed the gospel. It was a proclamation of so great salvation to come. What this verse means is that, with the incarnation, and with the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, this great salvation was fully inaugurated. Shadow became substance and prophecy became fulfilment. The all glorious Saviour indeed had come to usher in this so great salvation. “He is said to have ‘first’ proclaimed salvation, not because no one before him had had anything to say about it but because he actualized it in time and space.”6
Now, follow the argument: If these Hebrew Christians were assured of the greatness of the old covenant because it had been mediated by angels, then how much more should they believe and embrace the gospel under the new covenant—a covenant mediated by the Son of God (see 1:1-14!)? As Brown notes, “If Christ is all that this letter so clearly asserts, then it is essential for us to hold to his gospel. In the passage before us he emphasizes the transcendent superiority of the gospel and insists that the good news of this revelation of God must make a practical difference in our everyday lives.”7 In other words, it should drive us to pay attention.
This salvation is so great because of the one who purchased it. If you have not seen that yet in chapter one then reread those verses and you will be moved—if you pay attention—by the revelation of our glorious Saviour. He who is the Son of God, Creator and the sustainer of all, who is exalted to the right hand of the Father, became sin for us—the one who knew no sin—that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Saints Who Confirmed It
Related to this evidence of the surpassing greatness of the gospel of Christ is that there was apostolic witness that the Lord had proclaimed this great salvation. It “was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” The word “confirmed” speaks of “the saving message was guaranteed to us.”8 As Lane says,
The ministry of the Lord marked the first phase of God’s final revelation. It was succeeded by a second, which consisted of accrediting the word, in the sense of guaranteeing its accuracy.9
For three years, these men had been eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ proclaiming this salvation. Most importantly, they were eyewitnesses of His resurrection and of His ascension. They were eyewitnesses of the coming to pass of those texts quoted in chapter 1. What is so essential in this argument is that in a sense these men were what some might call hostile or unlikely witnesses. That is, they were not exactly stalwart, courageous and zealous in their original response to the gospel spoken by the Lord. That is, they did not initially believe that Christ would rise from the dead. In fact, they denied and forsook the Lord and then hid on the weekend that he was buried. They were even hiding on the day on which He rose! But the fact that they then were willing to risk their lives to proclaim that He was risen—the fact that they were willing to be martyred because of this salvation—is a wonderful proof that this salvation is great indeed!
The changed lives of the disciples is a wonderful legal proof that Jesus is Messiah and that the salvation He provides is so great indeed! And countless other saints through history are further proof.
The Sovereign Who Sealed It
Not only do we have the witness of the Son and those who followed Him but we also have the confirmation of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 says, “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.”
It has been noted that, had Jesus never performed any miracles, He would still have been God and we would still be required to believe on Him for salvation. But these miracles and wonders served the purpose of signifying the salvation brought (and bought) by Jesus.
The word “signs” points to the fact that “wonders” are not just eye-catching but have something to say to mind and conscience, and “miracles” indicates that these stupendous events are inexplicable on any other basis than that God is at work.10
The Father testified that Jesus is the Saviour of the world—God’s final salvific Word—and for this reason it is the only salvation worthy of the name gospel (see John 10:37-38; Acts 2:22; 14:3; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
In v. 4 we are given additional reasons why we must pay attention to this gospel: namely, because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. As you can see, the triune God—Father (v. 4), Son (v. 3), and Spirit (v.4)—stands behind this gospel. Surely there is no excuse for attention deficit! God has spoken and is speaking, so pay attention. As Phillips highlights,
The writer of Hebrews speaks of this attestation in the past, not the present, tense: “God bore witness” by these signs and wonders. We have already been given all the proof we need to believe the gospel, namely, that it was given by the Lord himself and fully attested in the ministry of the apostles.11
The text tells us that the gospel was confirmed by “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Literally, the term is “distributions of the Holy Spirit,” and such wording is duplicated in 1 Corinthians 12:11. The idea seems to be that the Holy Spirit authenticated the greatness of this salvation by bestowing various gifts or various manifestations on those who believed this gospel. And He did so by His sovereign will.
As we can see in the book of Acts, those who believe the gospel are characterised by four things: repentance, faith, baptism by immersion and reception of the Holy Spirit. This is the norm in the Christian era. In some cases in Acts, the evidence of having received the Holy Spirit was that the people spoke in tongues. This was particularly helpful to form a harmony amongst the different people groups that made up the church. Over time, of course, such a supernatural manifestation became redundant. Nevertheless, what remains is the reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When one experiences so great a salvation, they experience the life-transforming, powerful and persistent presence of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit applies the gospel and transforms sinners into saints, we have sufficient motivation to pay attention to what we have heard. We have every reason to pay attention to the gospel. To slight the gospel—to treat it lightly—is to slight the sovereign Lord. And, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 12, this is eternally dangerous.
Summary: The Scriptures that Preserve It
We need to realise that this confirmed message is preserved for us in the Bible for the “miraculous verification of their message was reserved for those whose teaching or writing gave us the New Testament.”12 Therefore we need to pay attention to them. This brings us to the last, very practical point.
How We Must Pay Attention
Four things are fundamentally necessary if we will pay attention: the Scriptures, the Spirit and self–control.
The recipients of this letter were responsible to persevere in their profession of faith. They were required to take themselves in hand and to pay much closer attention to the gospel truths they had heard. No one could do this for them. The responsibility was theirs.
This is important for us to realise as we become concerned for those who begin or who are drifting away. Yes, we are to throw out the lifeline, but we cannot force someone to take hold of it.
If the professing believer refuses to pay attention, there is not much we can do to save them. We can (and should) preach, pray and plead, and we can (and should) offer assistance. But ultimately we cannot persuade someone to follow Christ. Therefore, if you are drifting from Christ, realise that you must take responsibility to stop your drifting.
There is no spiritual Ritalin that will reverse your direction. And even if there was, it would only temporarily stop the bleeding. Like children who are treated with psychiatric medicines, this would not cure their problem. Rather they need to learn self-control. If they do not, their medically induced good behaviour is a sham that merely masks a deeper heart issue.
Without repeating all we said in our previous study, if you are drifting away you must exercise the necessary self-control to break destructive relationships. Exercise self-control to stop with an addiction to soul-destroying entertainments and recreations. Stop with your lame excuses about why the local church is not for you and start loving what Christ loves (Ephesians 5:25). Take yourself in hand and be done with a lazy approach to your spiritual life. Stop with the self-pity and the self-absorption and become obsessed with Christ, the Lord of all!
Scripture is replete with exhortations to take personal responsibility. These passages, in a very real sense, are exhorting us to not just stand there, but to do something. (Sometimes, don’t do something; stand there!) See, for example: Romans 6:1-14; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 11:1; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:16; Ephesians 5:1-7; Philippians 3:8-14; Hebrews 10:19-25; 2 Peter 1:2-8; 1 John 1:5-9; Jude 20-21; Revelation 2:5-7, 16-17. Note that each of these passages calls for personal effort hence self-control. If you will recover from drifting, or if you will avoid drifting, you must take responsibility.
When it comes to drifting, there is no doubt that the Scriptures call us to exercise self-control—as we have just seen. But this effort is not merely self-effort, but rather is Spirit-driven-effort. Paul put it this way: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). Note that the source of the drive for self-control, when it comes to following Christ, is “God who works in you.” And as we know from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:9 and other Scriptures, the Holy Spirit indwells those who belong to Christ. The Holy Spirit motivates us to exercise a Christ-focused self-control.
This is essential to grasp, for if someone continues to drift aimlessly on the sea of life and to be characterised by spiritual ADD, we have every reason to be concerned that perhaps they actually cannot pay attention because they lack the Spirit of God to do so. In other words, they have not yet been born again; they have not yet been saved from their sins. They are still neglecting so great a salvation.
Let me put it this way: Those on whom God bestows His gift of so great salvation, who have been graciously blessed to inherit the salvation that Christ purchased for His own (Hebrews 1:14), are characterised by a pursuit of holiness by the convincing work of the Holy Spirit who now inhabits them.
I once heard John MacArthur relate his experience of counselling a practising prostitute, who came to him for help. As he shared the gospel, she made a profession of faith. Very wisely, MacArthur asked her to hand him her book of clients, telling her that she needed to make a clean break with her sin. Sadly, she was unwilling to do so. In her own words, “I guess I didn’t want Jesus as badly as I thought.” Texts like Romans 8:1-17 make it clear that true conversion is attended by a break from the old life as one begins to walk in the Spirit.
So far, we have concluded that we can find protection from drifting by the exercise of a Spirit-empowered self-control. But this requires the means of the Spirit, which is the Word of God—the Scriptures, which were inspired by the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:15-21) and preserved throughout history by the triune God through the church of God.
If we will avoid the drift, or if we will recover from having drifted, then we need to pay much closer attention to the Scriptures. The way to overcome spiritual ADD is through large and regular doses of the Word of God. We need to go to the medicine cabinet of God’s Word and ingest the remedy that He has prescribed to combat the dangerous drift.
This is so obvious, and it stands out clearly in text before us. After all we are told to pay much closer attention to that which we have heard. And as we have seen, what they had heard was the gospel of God, spoken by God and authenticated by God.
The writer of this exhortation was not admonishing them to merely remember what they had heard (though no doubt this was important); rather, he wanted them to continue to hear. He wanted them to continue to pay attention to what was continually being proclaimed. And since very few believers in that day (probably only a handful) had a copy of the Scriptures, he was actually exhorting them to listen to preaching. In the words of Acts 2, this writer had the pastoral concern that they would give themselves continually to the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship (Acts 2:42). Yes, as old fashioned and as outdated such a suggestion might seem, he wanted them to go to church and to listen to preaching and teaching.
Faith Comes by Hearing
The Word of God preached is a major antidote to drifting, and is the medicine that must be ingested as the treatment for spiritual ADD. As we have seen, the two are related. If you do not overcome the tendency to not pay attention then you will drift, and if you drift you will need to start paying attention! Of course, the problem is that so many professing Christians seem to have ADD when it comes to preaching!
We recently had several visitors to our church who apparently made a comment to one of our ushers that we have a long service. In an age characterised by thirty-second sound bites and texting shorthand, it is increasingly difficult for some to pay attention to a 45-55 minute sermon. In fact, nearly 25 years ago I was warned in a book published by Leadership magazine that the days of the long twenty-minute sermon are over!
Nevertheless, once we grasp the power of God’s Word, we will find ourselves more and more convinced that the only way to experience so great a salvation is by the proclamation of God’s Word. Of course, once such salvation is experienced, exposure to even more proclamation is required; if, that is, we will not become careless about it. That is why the longer that we are followers of Christ the more we will appreciate God’s Word proclaimed. We will increasingly find ourselves desirous to pay closer and closer attention to biblical proclamation through biblical exposition.
Now, much could be said here and I will say some of it.
First, some preaching, as I am well aware, is difficult to listen to. Sometimes spiritual ADD is the fault of the preacher! Sometimes he is the source of the sickness! I am painfully aware of this.
Sufficiency of Scripture
Having acknowledged the ongoing need to improve preaching, nevertheless a large part of the problem is that many who do sit under preaching—even under faithful and Christ-exalting exposition—are not convinced of its importance.
They may attend the preaching, but are they convinced that it will make any difference in their lives? I am afraid that many view Scripture as insufficient to meet our “modern” or “postmodern” needs. This, as an aside, is the reason that so many Christians today don’t even think twice about using psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin and other SRRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors; better known as anti-depressants) to treat emotional and behavioural challenges. We sit under preaching, but we are not sure that it will make any difference. The result is that we really are not paying attention. We listen deficiently and hence have an attention deficit problem. The end result is that we drift.
If we will pay close attention, then we need to come to the Scriptures with a sense of expectancy. We need to gather with the expectation that we will hear the gospel. We need to attend expecting that we will hear the Lord. And, all things being equal, such expectancy will not be disappointed.
He Is Not Silent
Finally, and related to the above, we need to come to the preached Word with the conviction that God speaks. And obviously He speaks through His Word.
Dever and Gilbert make the following observation:
One of the most interesting themes of the Bible . . . is the argument it makes over and over again that it is precisely God’s words—His power to speak, to command, to be heard and understood—that sets Him apart from the false gods His people are always tempted to worship.13
In fact, God mocks such false gods, gods who are mute, in Isaiah 41—44.
What we need to recognise is that we spend the vast majority of our week inundated by false gods and demonic ventriloquists who pretend to speak with authority. In other words, through the week we hear pseudo-gods proclaiming their lies and are all too easily deceived into believing them. So we hear about how great we are, and that if we will only believe in ourselves then we will be successful in life. We listen to the lies that our significance is found in the size of our bank account or in the make and model of our car. We find ourselves inundated with the lies of the so-called academic world mocking the idea of a Creator God, or we find ourselves seduced by the lie that if there is a God then He is pretty boring and that an hour or two on Sunday is sufficient investment of our precious time towards having an relationship with Him.
For others, the false gods of a sexual free-for-all is the authoritative voice that they hear, and so they find themselves engaged in pornographic voyeurism having drifted a long way from Christ.
We are inundated with the lie that a woman finds her significance in the workplace rather than as a homemaker. We hear and believe the lies that parents cannot educate their children and that the future of our children is dependent on what school they go to. And, of course, our week is bombarded with the lies of the god of this age, who shouts that the church’s cause is a lost one and that it is time that we admit defeat. After all, the autonomous self, including the attendant sexual and (im)moral revolution, has won the war and we should simply raise the white flag of surrender. We are told the lie that we should stop expecting that things will ever change.
All too often, we hear and are tempted to believe the lie that Christian parents should just give up on any idea that they can actually influence their children for Christ and righteousness. Does that pretty much capture the false religion that surrounds us in any given week? I think so.
And so, in the light of such lies, it is even more incumbent on us to gather to hear God speak. And of course He speaks the truth. We need to hear God speak His truth in the midst of these mindless and futile (and eventually to be silenced) lies of the false gods of our age.
We need Ezekiel’s experience in the valley of dry bones. On the surface, they seem to have no future, but they come to life as God’s breath enters into them by His Word proclaimed (see Ezekiel 37).
Preaching may not be in vogue, but it is still God’s ordained means to translate those from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13).
Preaching may be mocked by the biblically ignorant or the by the biblically faithless, but it is still the God-prescribed means to changes lives and cultures. Preaching may be marginalised by the emergent generation, but it is still the prescribed and proven means of producing saving faith for those who will not neglect so great a salvation. It is still the God-appointed and therefore God-approved and God-anointed means of keeping His people from drifting. The only people who debate this are those who have already drifted out deep into the sea of unbelief. If that is you, then perhaps today you will grab the lifeline that is being thrown to you.
Please grasp this essential biblical revelation: “God’s speaking is the basis for our relationship with Him.”14 The basis of a relationship with God is that God speaks to us and we respond to Him. That is the key to both embracing and then continually experiencing so great a salvation.
God breathed life into Adam, and it was His voice that spoke and commanded fellowship with Adam and Eve. When our first parents sinned, God called to them and redeemed and rescued them with His words. Jesus spoke to raise Lazarus from the dead. And, again, we need to hear the voice of God, not only to be raised from spiritual death, but to maintain a vibrant spiritual life.
Listen again to the insight of Dever and Gilbert: “But if preaching really is the proclamation of God’s life-giving, ex nihilo creating Word, then the stakes are raised considerably, and it’s no longer a matter of preference whether we do it or not. It’s literally a matter of life and death.”14
So, if you are struggling from spiritual ADD then take your medicine. You don’t need some synthetic Ritalin offered by the religious world; you need to listen. By the aid of the Holy Spirit, take yourself in hand and listen for the voice of God in His preached Word.
Leon Morris states the solemnity of our need to stay anchored in Christ: “The Epistle leaves us in no doubt but that we who are saved are saved from a sore and genuine peril. Christ’s saving work is not a piece of emotional pageantry rescuing men from nothing in particular.”16 Don’t ever drift from the gospel; do what you need to do to love the gospel. Pay attention. Begin today to take God’s prescription to deliver you from spiritual ADD. Oh hear this! And rather than drifting look to Christ and be delivered unto so great a salvation.
- In fact, Ritalin is so prevalent that my spell checker just told me that I was not paying attention and misspelled it! ↩
- William L. Lane, Hebrews: Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 1:37. ↩
- Hywel R. Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2002), 17. ↩
- B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 39. ↩
- Leon Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:22. ↩
- Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews, 18. ↩
- Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 46. ↩
- Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12:22. ↩
- Lane, Hebrews, 1:39. ↩
- Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews, 19. ↩
- Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006), 54-55. ↩
- Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne: Hebrews Simply Explained (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2003), 76. ↩
- Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert, Preach: Theology Meets Practice (Nashville: B&H Books, 2012), ??. ↩
- Dever & Gilbert, Preach, ?? ↩
- Dever & Gilbert, Preach, ?? ↩
- Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 52. ↩