How Is the Word Active in Your Life?
December 29, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
For Christmas 2010 my family and I celebrated one of our most unique Christmases. I was teaching at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary for the school year. While in Africa, we did not have access to all of the normal Christmas amenities we enjoy in America. No Christmas lights. No evergreens for a tree (we did have a Christmas tree, but it wasn't an evergreen). No shopping malls or Amazon Prime.
Considering gifts for the boys, we had to be creative with what was available at the weekly market. Since one of our favorite activities had become exploring the woods near our home and finding sticks to carve and whittle, we decided to get knives for our older boys (ages 9, 7, and 5 at the time). Of course, we taught our boys knife safety. Knives can be useful for many things, but they also come with an inherent danger.
The writer to the Hebrews compares the word of God to a "two-edged sword." Just like any knife, the word of God is useful for many things, but it also comes with an inherent danger. This is what the writer of Hebrews highlights. Consider Hebrews 4:11-12.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
This comes at the end of a section where the writer is warning the readers to enter God's rest, unlike the Israelites in the wilderness, who failed to enter into his rest. Their hardness of heart and disobedience led them to fall away from the living God. The word of God's inherent danger is the warning of condemnation for those who ignore the word. God's word is the sword that threatens.
The writer of Hebrews does not commend the word of God only as a threat, but also as a positive help. The writer commends at least three ways the word is useful:
1. Exposes areas of weakness to the deception of sin. The writer says in 3:13, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." The "meat" of such an exhortation is the word of God, as the writer demonstrates by quoting from the Old Testament. God's word is necessary for unveiling our sin and weaknesses. Otherwise, we may continue, unbeknownst, in habits of destructive, deadly sin.
2. Exalts the goodness of Christ to our souls. Shortly after comparing the word to a sword, the writer says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." The word not only threatens, but also commends the high priest, who is the saving balm for our souls. Exposed sin is then laid at the foot of the cross and forgiven and cleansed. There is no victory over sin or growth in grace apart from the saving work of Christ.
3. Assures us of our righteous standing before God. In connection with exalting Christ, the writer commands, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (4:16). This is the gospel, the message of Scripture from the beginning. God has done for us, in Christ, what we could never do. The Bible not only explains God's grace for us, but also gives us God's grace. It speaks God's grace into our whole being (division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow).
The word of God, active as a sword, exposes our sin, commends Christ to our soul, and gives us confidence before God. The word of God is also active in our lives even if we ignore it, condemning lack of faith. How is the word of God active in your life?
- Pastor Dale