The Word of God
There are three great passages dealing with the subject of the written Word of God and each tells us in a different way its value and why it must be an integral part of the Christian’s life if he is to grow spiritually.
The first, 2 Timothy 3:16, the content of which could be summed up by the word “profit.” The second passage, found in 2 Peter 1:21, has the key thought of preeminence. The third passage is in Hebrews 4:12, and the key word is power. It is upon this third passage we shall focus our attention.
In the third chapter of Hebrews the writer is reminding his readers of the failure of God’s chosen people —the nation of Israel. He summarizes the sad history of Israel in verse 19, “So we see that they could not enter in (to the Land of Canaan) because of unbelief.
In chapter four the writer turns to the present and proceeds to outline four very real provisions for the Christian which will enable him to be successful in his Christian life. This, of course, is in direct contrast to the nation of Israel which fell in the wilderness. The four provisions suggest a breakdown of the chapter for analysis.
The Rest of God — (v1-11).
The Word of God — (v 12-13).
The Priest of God — (v 14-15).
The Throne of God — (v 16).
Each one affords a wealth of blessing if studied in detail but we will confine our thinking to the second —the Word of God.
May I suggest that in our meditation on verses 12 and 13, we study the message of the writer under five points:
Vibrant in its Life
Our verse says that the Word of God is “quick.” The word translated quick is the Greek word “Zao.” It is the same word that is used by Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live, is Christ.” The word is used by the Lord Jesus in John 18:19 “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
Let us read Hebrews 4:12, that way. “The Word of God lives.” The life that filters through the pages of the Word of God will begin to filter through the life of that person who addicts himself to it. One cannot continually read the Word of God and not be affected. It is alive and is able to revitalize the cold heart and warm it towards the Saviour.
Vigorous in its Action
The next word used to describe the Word of God is “Powerful.” Strangely enough this is not the normal word for power and had the passage been written by man no doubt the normal word would have been used. Instead the writer uses the Greek word “Energees” and our word energy is derived from it. This particular word is found in only two other places in the New Testament. It is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:9 where he says that an “effectual door” was opened unto him. He uses it again in Philemon 6 and describes the communication of Philemon’s faith as “effectual.” The effectual door was an active door in that it allowed Paul to spread the gospel. The effectual communication of faith meant that Philemon’s faith was operative — not stagnant. Hence, when it says that the Word of God is effectual it means that it is active and operative. In fact the word could be described as meaning “Life (point 1.) in action.” There is no limitation to the activity of the Word of God in a Christian life. It can transform a Christian who is weak, defeated and wasted into a living, active and vibrant vessel for the Lord Jesus Christ. Try it and see.
Vindictive in its Judgment
First, the verse tells us that the Word of God is “sharper than any two edged sword.” The sword in Scripture is, almost without exception, a picture of judgment. When the record of the message to the church at Pergamos is made in Revelation 2:12, the message comes from One “which hath a sharp sword with two edges.” In other words the church was subject to judgment. In Revelation 19:15, there is recorded that great event where a sword goes out of the mouth of Him who is called “The Word of God,” and the mission of the sword is to smite the nations, again an indication of judgment.
Here in Hebrews 4 it would seem that the sword of the Word of God judges the individual Christian’s life. A sword cuts. Thus, as we allow the Word of God to take control and govern our lives it will ruthlessly cut away those things that would mar fellowship with our Saviour. How we need the sharp cutting of the Word of God!
Second, the writer tells us that the Word of God is a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The word discerner comes from the same root as the word judge. Let us read it that way. “The Word of God acts as a judge of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Thoughts are those things with which our minds are occupied. Intents, on the other hand, are motivation — the reasons behind our actions. Now if the Word of God is judging daily our occupation and our motivation the logical conclusion is that what comes out must be right. It is a matter of cause and effect. If the cause is cured so is the effect. If my car is noisy due to a faulty muffler, by correcting the faulty muffler I correct the noise. So it is in spiritual things. Allow the Word of God to judge your life and what comes out in deed and action will be pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to others.
Violent in its Operation
The writer tells us that the Word of God is “piercing, even to the dividing assunder of soul and spirit and joints and marrow.” It is indeed interesting that the word “piercing” translated literally means “coming through.” The picture, of course, is that of a sword being thrust and coming through on the other side. It is certainly suggestive of the powerful effect the Word of God can be in an individual’s life.
But what does the writer mean when he writes of the “soul and spirit” and “joints and marrow?” May this be suggested, the soul and spirit are those things that we cannot touch, see or feel, and hence they represent that which is spiritual. The joints and marrow, on the other hand, can be felt, handled and seen, hence, remind us of that which is material or carnal. Now the Word of God divides between these two; that is it divides that which represents the spiritual from that which represents the carnal. In other words, the Word of God is the basis for our separation.
As we meditate upon this we become increasingly aware that there is much, so called, separation among assemblies which is not founded upon the Word of God. Separation is primarily a positive force and secondarily negative. It is always “unto Him” and then “without the camp” (Heb. 13:13). Any separation which does not join God’s people in a mutual attraction to Christ, but rather separates God’s people from themselves is contrary to the Word of God and harmful to God’s people.
Valuable in its Revelation
Our passage tells us that the Word of God reveals two things to the Christian.
First, it reveals the “sinful heart.” “All things are opened.” The word translated here is the Greek word “tetrakelismena” and it comes from the Greek word meaning neck. What is the connection? Perhaps the reference is to a custom of the priest in the old economy. Just before the sacrifice was offered the priest would seize the animal by the neck and hold its head back. The reason for this was to ensure that the animal was without spot or blemish, so the priest would take this last look before plunging the knife into the animal’s heart. By seizing the animal’s neck and holding the head back all the animal was exposed to the priest’s scrutiny. The Word of God also reveals all the spots and blemishes in our lives so that correction may take place.
Second, the passage tells us that the Word of God gives a revelation of the “Steward’s hope,” “To the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” A more correct rendering would be, “To the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.” All my activities should be in view of that day of reckoning. Just as the financial audit reveals the faithfulness of the accountant, so that eternal audit will reveal the faithfulness of the steward. All that we have, whether spiritual or material is only given to us in trust. One day we must give an account. No wonder we say that the Word of God is “valuable in its revelation.”
As I bring our little meditation to a close I would like to underline the message of Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them (addict yourself to them).” Just as the dope addict cannot survive without dope, in that measure should the Christian be dependent upon the Word of God.