The Characteristics of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:11-13)
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The Characteristics of the Word Of God
Hebrews 4:11-13 (Pastor Heo)
11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
12 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. 13 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.
As I mentioned already, last Sunday, we saw an invitation of REAL rest by Jesus, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I’ll give you rest…”
This is “freedom, salvation, inheritance, peace, joy” rest.
Hebrews 4:11 “Therefore, make every effort… “ (work hard) – wait, this is a paradox. Last Sunday, “Rest” – but now, “work hard”?
Actually, rest does not mean “not working” – rather through hard work we can find rest. We must work hard to find and enjoy real rest – this is a paradox.
Also, we know, Jesus saves us, but we must work hard for our salvation.
Phil 2:12 “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
Do you have faith? This is the gift of God, from hearing the Word of God. This is a gift, but we must work out our faith hard – day-by-day and drawing close to God in our daily practice.
Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is living and active…”
How can we “work out” our faith? Through and by the Word of God. This is a living power – a timeless truth.
Genesis 1:1 “God created the heavens and the earth.. with his Word” – he made something out of nothing – only his Word.
- “God said, ‘Let there be light'” and there was light (Day 1)
- “Let there be an expanse between the waters and the water” (Day 2)
- “Let the water be gathered in one place and the land as well – and the land produce vegetation” (Day 3)
- “Let there be lights in the sky – sun, moon, stars” (Day 4)
- “Let the water have creatures and the sky as well, the land be filled with all kinds of living creatures” (Day 5)
- “Let us make Man in our own image” (Day 6)
This is the story of Creation – “God said, it happened” – still today, God’s Word is living and active and powerful and effective. Do you believe this?
Isaiah 55:11 “My Word which goes out from my mouth will never return empty but will accomplish what I desire and the purpose for which I sent it…”
Hebrews 4:12 “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.”
This is a classic text of God’s Word in its power. This text has broad positive application, but even though this is true, this text (in context) is negative – as a warning to those who disregard and disbelieve the Word.
That’s why 11b says, “….so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.”
It means, we must be careful not to also be disobedient – like the Israelites in Exodus.
Repeat: We know the story of the Exodus. After the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites journeyed to Canaan and arrived at the border. At the border, Moses sent 12 spies into the land to explore and bring back a report. Their task was only to SEE, not to decide about going in or not – but after 40 days of exploration, 10 of them said, “Oh no! we can’t go in there!” That night, all Israel raised their voices and shouted, “Oh geez! If only we had died in this desert or in Egypt!” God, “Say again? Then I will do to you exactly as you said.”
Today also, God is listening to what we are speaking.
God said, “You asked for it, you got it.”
So… please, don’t say negative things like this to God.
The 10 who gave a bad report were struck down by a plague and God told the people, “OK, go back into the desert tomorrow morning – just to wander until you die.” (It was 40 years – one year for each day of exploration).
Interestingly, the next morning, some said, “We have sinned. We will go up to Canaan and enter it.” Moses said, “No, you will never succeed because God will never go with you.” But nevertheless, in their presumption, they went and tried to enter (disregarding and disobeying God twice). They tried to enter without God, his blessing, God’s promise, Moses, the Ark of the Covenant (a symbol of God’s presence) – and what happened? They were completely destroyed.
With this background (historical example), verse 11b says, “so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. ” Why? Because v12 “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.”
Remember, whatever we are doing, God’s Word is still alive. Regardless of what we do, the Word of God is piercing us and judging us negatively (if we act negatively) – and doing it positively to us (if we act positively).
Timothy “The Word of God is God-breathed and useful for training in righteousness so that the Man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So, let me share the characteristics and functions of the Word of God. (3 points) – and verse 13 is the conclusion.
Characteristics of the Word of God
“For the Word of God is living and active.”
It is active and effectual. The point: the Word of God has come to Man so that it cannot be disregarded. The Word of God has something that every person (you and me) must face. We must accept or reject it. That is our decision. But we cannot escape a confrontation with the Word of God. We can choose to accept it or reject it.
This is one of the facts of human history. Whenever, wherever a person has taken God’s Word SERIOUSLY, things begin to happen.
Once we take it seriously, we realize that the Word of God is not merely something to read about, but something to be done and fulfilled.
The Word of God gives us life.
Also it can change your life / my life. It is so powerful and active, it can change your life regardless of your age or your past.
Please remember, parents: You cannot change your own children. Only the Word of God can change them. 10, 12, 15 years old? Only the Word of God can change their lives. So, we must allow the Word of God to change their lives and our lives. If we trust the Word of God, God allows it to change our lives and claim his promise.
This is very effective.
“…Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”
If someone puts something sharp in your side? It hurts.
Also, the Word of God can do this in positive and negative ways (cleaving, cutting, piercing, performing surgery).
Please do not focus on “what are these nouns?” – the focus of the verse = the holistic physical being (Greek: pushke)
Also in Greek: pneuma = spirit – a characteristic of Mankind (it is by the spirit that we think and reason and look beyond the visible world to that which is invisible – God)
- The Word of God can cut through anything and bring conviction.
- It cleaves through our hard souls like a hot knife through warm butter.
- There are sections of the Word of God that cut through all hypocrisy and religious intention and leaves us convicted.
- The Word of God convicts us (if we receive it seriously, sincerely).
The Word of God is called “The Sword of the Holy Spirit” (Eph 6:17 “The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit…”) – so it convicts us.
What kind of conviction?
- I’m a sinner – I need salvation
- Jesus is God (John 1:1 “In the beginning there was the Word (logos) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And all things were made through that word. Nothing that has been made was made without him…”)
The Word of God gives us conviction that Jesus is the true and eternal God. We are saved only by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead for your salvation, you will be saved. It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth you confess and are saved.”
Continually, the Word of God says, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved “ (and not put to shame).
John 1:12 “To all who accepted his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Are you children of God? By grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.
This is the conviction the Word of God is working through us.
- Living & Active
- Penetrating & Dividing (conviction)
- Judging & Discerning
“…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
This can be both positive and negative – just as the other 2.
- If I’m “in Christ” and trust him – I’ll welcome his judgment
- But if I’m “in sin” and reject him – I’ll fear it
The Word of God tests our physical lives and spiritual existence. It scrutinizes our thoughts and attitudes of the hearts (and desires and intentions).
- Desire = our emotional part
- Intentions = our intellectual part
So, our emotional AND intellectual parts are exposed to the scrutiny of God’s Word.
What is the heart?
- It’s the center of human personality.
- It is hidden from ALL. This is the biblical meaning.
Only the Word of God will tell us what is in our hearts. This is the message of the Word of God.
If we really want to know and understand ourselves, we must fill our hearts with the Word of God.
All human hearts are hidden from all creation, and only the Word of God reveals what is in our hearts, so if we REALLY want to know what is truly in our hearts, you must fill it with the Word of God.
Colossians “Let the Word of God dwell in your richly.”
Read, study, meditate, prayerfully apply it – gives us discernment and deep self-knowledge.
Only the Word of God reveals this.
“The Word of God is like a mirror that reveals who we are really in front of God.”
We cannot escape our passions, dreams, intentions in front of God (we cannot keep secrets from God).
v. 13 “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.”
“…we must give account.”
Are you happy with this sentence? Someday, maybe soon, we must stand before God face-to-face to give account. Are you OK with that?
We have been speaking of God’s Word in its Living, Penetrating, Judging powers – but in v.13 the focus switches from the Word of God to God himself. God and his Word are inseperable.
God knows and sees all. Yes, I “know” this, but practically, this fact that God SEES and KNOWS all, this is either a:
- Great comfort – when we have nothing to hide from him OR
- Great discomfort – when we have something to hide
Remember Adam? After the first sin, his next sin was attempting to hide himself from God. He thought God would not see him because God was not “there.” But actually, when he ate the fruit, God saw it and was there. When he hid, God saw it and was there. He knew where he was and how he was, so God said, “Where are you?”
In our practical lives, even if we are unaware of God’s presence, we must remember: “God is there.”
No creation is hidden from God’s sight. All are totally naked and exposed before the eyes of him before whom we must give account.
God knows instantly, effortlessly, all minds, all beings, all spirits, all thoughts, all motivations, all purposes, all pluralities, all hidden motivations, all dreams – visible, invisible, time, life, death, space, heaven, hell.
ALL THINGS God knows.
We cannot deceive him and cannot fool him. We cannot give excuses. We cannot rationalize. We are totally naked and exposed before God. We are powerless and defenseless before God. He is the final judge. Someday, we will stand before him to give an account and be judged.
Conclusion: John 1:1 “In the beginning, the Word (Jesus Christ)…”
So, we will give an account according to how we treat Jesus Christ in this world.
- A promise
- A warning
Especially the book of Hebrews always does this: promise/warning, encouraging/discouraging, challenge/trial.
Someday, we will stand before God to give account according to how we treat Jesus in this world.
God bless you.