So, back from vacation. The family and I had a great time while we were away, and I successfully unplugged from church, school, and blog. It was a much needed break, filled with trips to the beach, parks, swimming, grilling, and catching up with friends.
That said, let’s dig in….
In the opening pages of his book, Rising to the Call, Os Guinness writes:
Deep in our hearts, we all want to find and fulfill a purpose bigger than ourselves. Only such a larger purpose can inspire us to heights we know we could never reach on our own. For each of us the real purpose is personal and passionate: to know what we are to do and why. Kierkegaard wrote in his Journal: “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wants me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.”
The church of Jewish Christians the letter to the Hebrews was sent to was asking that very question. It’s one thing to believe in Jesus when it’s the “in thing,” or when Jesus is just one of any number of roads to follow to get to heaven. Being a Christian today, here in America, does not really entail much in the way of personal cost. But would you still show up at your church for worship if it meant being made fun of, or if it meant losing your job, or having your possessions confiscated, or going to jail, or even if it might mean losing your life. That was their reality. Is Christianity the truth for which you can live and die?
The author of Hebrews argues “yes.” In the first three chapters the Apostle gives a number of reasons why they should hold on to their faith above all else. Jesus is greater than the angels, so if they were willing to endure these same persecutions and trials for the word God delivered by an angel, how much more should we endure those same things for the Son of God whom the angels serve. Jesus is greater than Moses, so if they as Jews knew that following the law and teaching of Moses meant giving their lives to that message, how much more to Jesus whom Moses served?
From 3:12-4:11 the Apostle then reminds his church that failure to listen to God’s word as relayed through His angels, Moses and the rest of the prophets cost those people their lives. Specifically he reminds them of the forty years of wandering in the desert during which time all the adults who refused to go into Canaan when God first commanded them died. And if God held the Israelites accountable to those messengers, how much more right did He have to hold them accountable when the messenger was His own Son, Jesus Christ?
His justification for making faith in Jesus so completely binding is the passage of Scripture I want to focus on today, verses 12 and 13.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
What is the Word of God? The Word of God is Scripture, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. These books comprise everything God wants his church in all times and all places to know about Him. The Bible is not simply a history of the Jewish people and the Early Christian Church. It is the supernatural revelation of God to you and me. The Bible says:
1 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Scripture is not our thoughts about God, it’s God’s thoughts communicated to us in a way we can understand and relate to.
2 Peter 1:20-21 No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. While God used people to record His communication to us, it was always God speaking. The Bible is the Word of God.
The Word of God is described in these two verses as having these five characteristics:
- Word of God is living. It’s not static. It speaks to people from generation to generation. John wrote in his Gospel In the beginning was the Word, and…in him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-5).
- Word of God is active. God’s Word always brings results. God spoke and the world came into being. God says, As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).
- Word of God penetrates. It sees past the surface and searches out the depths of our being. O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD (Psalm 139:1-4).
- Word of God judges. God’s Word is the standard that all people are held to. Do we take God at His word that there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ? God’s words, no matter how true they are cannot help the person who refuses to believe them. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day (John 12:47-48).
- Word of God uncovers. The secrets we carry, the sins we keep in the dark, the thoughts that would kill us if people knew them, God sees clearly. And he is not content to leave them buried but to bring them into His light and forgive us for them. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51:3-6).