“I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation” (Heb. 13:22).
Invitations to salvation must provide both exhortation and warning.
Hell is undoubtedly full of people who did not actively oppose Jesus Christ but simply drifted into damnation by neglecting to respond to the gospel. These are the kinds of people the writer challenges in Hebrews 2:1–4. They were aware of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, but they weren’t willing to commit their lives to Him. As a result, they were drifting past the call of God into eternal disaster.
The Word of God always demands a response. Any effective teacher of it must do more than just dispense facts; he must warn, exhort, and extend an invitation. He may have impressive knowledge of the truth, but if he doesn’t have a passionate concern for how people react to it, he is not a worthy representative of Jesus Christ.
Jesus had that kind of compassion. Despite the rejection of His own people, He ached for their salvation: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). You can feel His heart go out to the people.
Paul had similar compassion: “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of My brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:2–3). A true teacher is interested in more than just academics; he is concerned that people respond rightly to what is taught.
Just as the writer of Hebrews had to warn and exhort his readers, at times it becomes necessary for us to warn those to whom we are witnessing. If you want to see unbelieving friends, relatives, or associates come to Christ, warn them. Let them see the passion in your heart and your love for them. Please don’t allow anyone to slip into eternal destruction without being warned sufficiently.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you wisdom regarding when to warn the people to whom you are witnessing.
For Further Study: Read Hebrews 3:7–4:13, 6:4–8, 10:26–31, and 12:25–29, noting the pattern the writer followed in presenting these other warnings.