Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4, ESV)
After each major argument this author makes to help this congregation see the folly of returning to a superseded Judaism, he gives a stern exhortation to stay with the Christian faith. This passage is the first of those stern exhortations.
The appeal is that if angels had a role in giving God’s commands and must be obeyed or the consequences suffered, how much more must the readers pay attention to Jesus’ commands, to the salvation he declared. The word of the Son speaks even louder than that of angels. If you drift away from his word, neglect his salvation, there is no escape from God’s retribution. You have failed to heed His Son.
The author describes how this gospel was received from those who were with Jesus, the apostles, and how the readers saw signs and wonders performed to confirm this gospel and saw the Spirit’s gifts distributed to them. They knew then how real this salvation was. They had no doubt then. This is a call to remember what they experienced.
Can you do the same? Do you recall how filled with joy you were when you experienced forgiveness and a restored relationship to God? Do not treat that lightly. You may rationalize this as a naïve interpretation of what was going on but in reality it is when you were most clearly seeing the truth and responding with the proper emotion and intensity. It is only the days that followed that dulled this reality for you. You didn’t become less naïve but more jaded. You let the cares of the world creep back in, chose to move toward comfort away from the suffering the gospel brings.
How will you escape if you neglect this salvation, this so great salvation? This warning is not meant to suggest that you can lose your salvation but to challenge you to consider whether you really did get saved. Where is the evidence? If you find yourself repentant for how you’ve let your faith get dulled, this is evidence that you were saved. If this talk of a new life of joy and love for God seems odd to you, perhaps this is evidence that you have never experienced this great salvation.