As an important admonition, the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews stated:
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and the every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will? (Hebrews 2:1-4).
Indeed, we must pay careful attention to the New Testament of Christ. The inspired writer is not concerned with theological abstractions nor with delving into impenetrable mysteries. He seeks to remind his readers and himself of those fundamental concepts of those things that they have heard, read, and believed. God’s truth deserves the most earnest heed that one can give. The word of God is of great consequence. Such constitutes matters of eternal life, or eternal death.
The key word for our consideration in the text is found in Hebrews 2:1. It is the term slip, translated from the Koine Greek word pararreo.This term as translated slip is often used to refer to that which slips or drifts away. It is used in such contexts as one describing a ring slipping off the finger, or an idea that slips from the mind. The literal definition of the term means to flow by or to flow past and seems to be a reference to the sense of a boat adrift.
The late J.D. Tant (1861-1941), a very capable and faithful preacher and debater of years gone by, would often conclude both his sermons and articles with the phase, “Brethren, we’re drifting.” Brother Tant was a native of Paulding County Georgia. He, along with his family moved to Texas in 1875. After a few years as a Methodist preacher, Tant renounced Methodism in 1881 and was baptized into Christ in 1884. It was during this time that digression and liberalism were introduced into churches of Christ in Texas. Many of his friends became caught up in this movement and ended up in the Christian Church apostasy. Brother Tant noted the slow drift that took brethren away from the truth and into error.
Beginning in the 1970s, religious error made deep inroads into churches of Christ. Brethren were caught up in the drifting currents and compromise, liberalism, and worldliness. Today we are witnesses of the current apostasy that has caused many to depart from the faith. Are you drifting and would you know it if you were?
It is crucial that we understand certain specifics regarding drifting. Drifting requires no effort. When one ceases to oar the boat it will begin to drift. The same will happen to Christians individually and local churches collectively. We must give the more earnest heed.
It is often an unconscious process. In a boat or airplane, gravitational forces cause movement that is unnoticed. The same is true for Christians and local churches regarding drifting. Many drift into doctrinal error and sin before they are even aware of what is going on. One never drifts upstream or against the tide. Due to this truth, we must work diligently not to drift. Faithfulness to Christ is comparable to rowing upstream (2 Peter 1:5; 3:18).
The speed downstream always increases. When one hears the sound of a waterfall, it is already too late! The further we drift from the truth the less we care what we do.
All drifting is dangerous to others (Ephesians 4:14; 6:4). It will end in a shipwrecked faith (Hebrews 2:1-3).
Common signs of drifting. There are common signs for which to be on guard that will assist us in preventing drifting. We must not allow ourselves to have a diminishing desire to study the scriptures and pray (Psalms 1:1-3). We must be careful not to allow ourselves to be removed from the fellowship of those faithful (Psalms 122:1; Romans 14:9; Hebrews 13:3; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 15:33). We must not permit ourselves to lose the desire to present and defend the gospel of Christ (Acts 8:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:8). We need to take great care not to become overly interested in the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:4).
Remedies that will destroy drifting. We need to be diligent in our rowing uphill (2 Peter 1:5,10). Let us determine NOW never to retire from serving the Christ (2 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:12-15). We must keep on guard for undercurrents that will drag us down (1 Peter 2:11; Galatians 5:16-18). Expect to go against the tide (Matthew 7:13-14). Develop a strong anchorage (Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 4:14-15; Hebrews 6:18-19; Ephesians 3:16-18).
Concluding thoughts. Are we drifting? Those who are in the most danger of drifting away from God and truth are those who think that such cannot happen to them. When one arrives at that point of thinking, he is in a danger zone. Drifting can happen to any of us—even those who are strong! Let us truly strive to remember that God has not given us salvation only to possess it. God saves us to enable us to become the very best Christians that we possibly can become.
In becoming such we will ensure ourselves eternal life in Heaven as well as point the way of truth to those with whom we have a proper influence.
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