“THE WORD OF GOD IN 2017” Heb. 4:12
INTRO – I’ve seen a lot of people saying that they are glad that 2016 is gone & 2017 is here. Many people talking about the losses that happened in 2016 – lots of well-known celebrities died in 2016. Seems like the headlines were regularly filled w/ the name of the next famous actor or actress who had died.
While each of these deaths is tragic – especially if they didn’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior – there’s no guarantee that just turning the page on the calendar is going to slow down the rate of deaths or tragedy in our world. There’s certainly nothing magical that happened at midnight this morning that is going to insulate us from heartache & grief & pain. If anything, we can be assured that tragic events are going to continue to happen.
“Well, thanks for the uplifting Happy New Year, Jon!” Here’s the best Happy New Year message that I can give to you: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday & today & forever” (Heb. 13:8). In a world that is rapidly changing, He is our constant, our true North who will guide us perfectly to His will for our lives. While everyone else is wringing their hands in fear & anxiety, you & I can stay calm as we experience the peace that passes all understanding. When folks all around us are confused as to why these things are happening, you & I will have the calm assurance that we can face uncertain days b/c our Lord Jesus is alive & unchanged & unfazed by all that’s going on in our world.
So, as we take our first steps into this New Year, let’s make sure those first steps are firmly placed on the truth of God’s Word. As we’ve placed these new Bibles in the pews to be used in our corporate worship times, let’s make sure that we place the Word in our hearts & lives. Let’s renew our commitment to the Word of God & to the God of the Word. Let’s make a commitment today that we will not take a step without seeking God’s direction through His Word. We will not make a decision without making sure that it lines up w/ God’s Word. We will strive to live our lives aligned w/ His Word & will be quick to confess & repent when our lives get out of line with His Word.
It’s not just any old book – It’s “living & active.”
I remember when I was in college at MC how much it cost to buy the books I needed for my classes. And I remember thinking how much of a waste of money that was. And I also remember actually burning some of those books after my classes were over, being so thankful that I would never have to look at another physics book again in my whole life!
Not a single one of those books that I bought was a “living & active” book. Not my Western Civilization book, my English literature book, not my biology book. There’s only 1 book in all the world that is a living & active book. It’s that book that you placed in that pew rack. It’s that book that you have opened up on your iPhone right now. It’s that book that maybe you got for Christmas this year b/c you’ve realized that you need to read it more, study it more, & apply it more to your life.
It’s living & active b/c it’s the personal utterance from God to us. The Word is living & active b/c God is living & active. The Word is perfect b/c He is perfect. The Word is holy b/c He is holy. He’s a living & active God, our Father, our Creator, our Redeemer. He’s not a static, lifeless deity that has no interest in our everyday lives. He’s alive – He’s watchful – He’s alert – He’s involved – He’s all-knowing, all-powerful, & everywhere present.
Its purpose is clear – It’s “sharper than any two-edged sword.”
There are a lot of places that you could get bogged down for hours in discussion about the different pieces of this verse:
- What does joints & marrow mean?
- What’s the difference between soul & spirit?
- What’s the difference between thoughts & intentions?
- Is the heart mentioned at the end of the verse different from the soul & spirit mentioned earlier in the verse?
These are all good questions & worthy of discussion. In fact, some of you were answering them even as I was asking them.
But this morning, I don’t want to miss seeing the forest for the trees. I think we can all agree on the fact that this verse makes it clear that the purpose of the Word of God is to penetrate deeply inside of us, cutting through all the tough layers that are there, & make true judgments about what if finds there.
Listen, that’s why the Bible has been under attack throughout the centuries of time. Its critics know that there’s something different about this book. They can’t put their finger on it, but they know it’s a different kind of book. They know it’s not just a novel, or a fairytale book, or a history book. If it were just those things, they would have left it alone a long time ago.
But it continues to accomplish its purpose of drilling & boring & piercing through every barricade that man erects against it, showing itself to be true time & time again. J.C. Ryle: “The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are his marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which he nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!”
It won’t leave us unchanged – It “pierces” & “discerns.”
“Piercing” & “discerning” – the 2 action words in this verse. They’re the words that tell us that there something significantly different about this book. They’re the words that clearly show us that this book will not leave us unchanged.
It “pierces.” Like this dagger, it is sharp on both sides & on its point, & will penetrate whatever it presses against. There’s no barrier or wall that we can erect against the Word that God is not able to penetrate through. Our opinions, our prejudices, our habits, our self-righteousness – all are as flimsy as a house of cards in a hurricane when they encounter the piercing power of the Word of God.
It discerns. It’s the judge of our thoughts, motives, & attitudes. It passed judgment on our feelings, showing them to be true or false, authentic or fake. What we regard as secret & hidden, God brings out for inspection through His Word. Nothing is hidden from Him & His Word. There are no secrets w/ God.
The Word of God will always bring about the change that God desires for it to bring in our lives. Isa. 55:10-11 – “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
For that change to happen, we’ve got to apply the Word to our lives & live it out. The world is not necessarily waiting to see if we completely understand & comprehend the Word; they’re waiting to see if we really believe the Word. And the way they’ll see that we believe the Word is when we are living out the Word. They know we say our Bible says to love others, no matter who they are, how they live, what color their skin is, what their socioeconomic status is; they want to see that happening. They know our Bible says that we are people who walk by faith & not by sight; they want to see if we do that. They know that our Bible says that we love each other in the Church; they want to see if we truly do that. The Church that will make a difference in our world today is the Church that lives & obeys the Word. The world doesn’t want flashy programs; the world wants “real.”
Let make a new commitment today to live out & obey the Word of God in our lives.