As Seen On Sunday: Don't get a paper cut from your Bible
Today we end the bones of our belief series where most people start: the Bible.
And I didn't know where to start. We preach every week from the Bible as the basis of our faith. We believe that since the Bible claims that it is from God that it has authority. It’s a circular argument: the Bible is true because God says that it’s true within the Bible. The Bible is authoritative because it claims to be from God. I have faith that this is true and it doesn't hurt that the Bible has a pretty good track record in its translation and historically.
If course I thought of a classic description of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
But I’m not going to use that verse to preach on today. The reason I mention it, is because I thought that it was a proper primer for the passage that we will be exploring, Hebrews 4:11-13, in that they send very similar messages.
(I’ve never been able to say this before) Last week, I mentioned how the author of Hebrews is unknown. Also, we do not know who the book was originally written to since it lacks a greeting, but the title that we refer to this book by gives us a hint into who would have been originally reading it: Christian Jews. This book contains so many references to the Old Testament, to the point that some of it is lost on someone who is not familiar with it. A Jewish audience would have easily made the connections that are offered in this book. The author uses this background to draw many comparisons between Christians and the nation of Israel.
In chapter three (3:7-19)The author acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is the inspiration behind the Bible, which is important to remember as we talk about what the Bible does. Then the author reminds us of history: Israel rebelled in the wilderness and thus that generation did not enter God’s rest (Hint: rest is important) and warns us of falling into the same sin trap thus not entering into God’s rest. It was because of disobedience and unbelief AKA rebellion that they did not enter.
This brings us to chapter 4, which centers on belief and obedience. The Israelites knew of the promise of rest but did not have faith and the author warns Christians of falling short of entering the rest, due to a lack of faith. We then are given comparison of God’s rest on the 7th day after He finished His work, whereas the Israelites never finished their work and never entered the rest. He Cites a psalm as proof that there was still rest to be had when it was written and through application rest was available at the time of the writing of Hebrews and even now today there is still a Sabbath rest for those who are obedient to God.
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. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. - Hebrews 4:11-13
So the goal is still that rest. I would say that this rest comes from perfected relationship with God which is ultimately had once Jesus returns. But the author of Hebrews emphasizes that rebellion is still a problem since we continue to disobey and disbelieve. In comes the word of God. Each event in the history of the Israelites has hinged on the word of God. In their case it was what God was saying to Moses, but here in Hebrews it would have been the Old Testament and perhaps any letters that had been circulating around. For us it would be the whole Bible.
What does this passage tell us about the word of God?
The Word of God Is: Living and Active
That is to say still it’s for today. It wasn't just something for the Israelites to disobey, but for Christians then and Christians now. So that they can strive to enter God’s rest through faith. The Amplified Bible says “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective].” This describes its usefulness and is reminiscent of the 2 Timothy passage.
The Word of God is: Two-Edged Sword
What? the Bible is a sword? The Bible is often described as a sword but I feel as if the connotation that this takes is often a misnomer. It seems that the Bible as a sword sometimes is preached as the weapon which Christians may slay the infidels. I didn't do a complete biblical study on “the Bible as a sword,” but I think that it is a mistake to have that type of image in our heads. The Bible as a sword is more accurately seen 2 ways:
- The first way is that the Bible defends us from deception. We find in Ephesians 6:17 that says that the swords of the Spirit is the word of God. We see this when Jesus uses scripture to refute deception/ temptation from the Devil while he was in the wilderness.
- That sword then is turned inwards towards ourselves as it “discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It calls out the deception within our heart. It is able to do this because it’s so sharp that it can pierce to the division of soul and spirit and joint and marrow. This comparison is meant to demonstrate the power and accuracy of the Bible, not to say that the soul and spirit are things to be separated. A note in the Amplified Bible says, “In addition to “sword,” the word in Greek was used for the knife used by the priests to slit the throats of the sacrificial lambs and for the knife (scalpel) used by a surgeon.” The Bible surgically exposes, sifts, analyzes, judges, and discerns the thoughts, purposes, and intentions of the heart.
The Bible is important to the Christian as it is the ruler by which a Christian may measure their heart. It is often difficult to distinguish between what is “me” and what is God- the Bible has been given to us for this very purpose. Nothing is hidden from God and the Bible through the Holy Spirit can drill down to the depths of ourselves. It is said that the Holy Spirit would remind the disciples and us of the things Jesus said and I believe this extends to the whole Bible, which is why it is important to hid the word in our heart. I personally imagine the Holy Spirit taking the word and cutting out of our hearts those things that keep us from believing and obeying God - the motives that keep us from His rest.
As I prepared for today, I found it scary how it feels as if we have fallen into the same trap that the author was warning his readers about not hardening their hearts or doing as the Israelites did when they disobeyed. If Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and our unbelief keeps us from rest since something is left unfinished, we have denied Jesus and left our faith unfinished. As a people with the most access to the word of God ever, we do not allow it to penetrate our hearts because we do not know it. I personally do not feel very good about the account that I would have to give if I had to give it at this very moment, how about you?
My challenge to us is that we would actually examine the scriptures, that we would actually read the Bible, and that we would accept the reproving and correction that comes from it.