Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
This book is attempting to both encourage and warn Christians who were in danger, not only flagging and beginning to falter in their faith, but possibly abandoning it altogether. It can begin with a drift as we see earlier in the letter.
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Yes, their very faith was at stake. And drifting is cited here as a present and real danger. They needed to make sure they were well grounded in the gospel which is Jesus, and God in him in his Incarnation, life and teachings, death and resurrection, ascension and promise of his return when everything is completed and the full dynamic of the new world is in place.
Those professing believers were to press on into the ramifications of their faith, all that is involved, what we find in Scripture, and especially from Jesus’s teachings with all that follows. Best to begin though, since we’re in this book, with a thorough reading of this letter, Hebrews. It is evident that he was appealing to Jesus as better than what preceded him, indeed the fulfillment of that.
Are we grounded in the faith, settled, and learning to live and grow and mature in that, with good works of love for others? Or are we questioning our faith, even the faith? More likely, are we just drifting away, with hardly a realization of that until it’s too late and we no longer care?
Faith is not just a matter of assenting to a creedal expression of it, no matter how accurate that may be. We may be going through the motions, but our heart simply not in it, or more like our heart elsewhere. We have to work at this, as the writer to the Hebrews makes clear. To really begin to dig, even if it’s hard. And dig deeper. Into the life God has for us together. In and through Jesus.