The Power of the Living Word

Heb 4:11-13

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. NKJV

As we continue this morning to talk about our spiritual growth, we want to consider the power of the Word of God.

I want to do this because you are probably like me. I struggle in my efforts to live a godly life. I struggle trying to get my life together. I struggle with family relationships. I struggle with my own desires and fears. But where can I turn. Each of us desires to finish well. No one says, boy I want to see just how much I can mess up my life.

I bring this message this morning to encourage us that God has given us something both tangible and yet spiritual that can help us along this way.

Not only can it help us but it is powerful in its effects on those who use it. It is living and powerful. The Word can accomplish in us what we can never do on our own. So if you struggle with life, then this message is for you.

We are kind of interrupting a long and involved argument that the writer is making concerning the rest that he is calling us to. We do not want to get sidetracked into that at this time. But in this presentation the author comments on the Word of God.

We have been talking about the Word of God and how it is one of the greatest means to our spiritual growth that we have access to. But we often do not think of the word in this manner. We think of it instead as a hard to understand book. But it is not.

To be sure we will not understand everything about it, but then we never understand everything about many things. The Bible is not a book that we read the first time and God teaches us everything there is to know about Him.

  1. First, it is the "Word of God."
    1. Not like the words of men which have none of the characteristics.
      1. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
      2. 1 Peter 1:24 because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the LORD endures forever." NKJV
      3. Spurgeon says, I say again that our words come and go: as the trees of the forest multiply their leaves only to cast them off as withered things, so the thoughts and theories of men are but for the season, and then they fade and rot into nothingness. "The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: but the word of the Lord endures for ever." Spurgeon
    2. Spurgeon says, To me the Bible is not God, but it is God's voice, and I do not hear it without awe, What an honor to have it as one's calling, to study, to expound, and to publish this sacred Word! I cannot help feeling that the man who preaches the Word of God is standing, not upon a mere platform, but upon a throne.
  2. Second, it is living,
    1. It is living
      1. The Bible is no dead book.
      2. It is just as living as the God who gave it to us.
      3. Life begets life, that is how we know it lives.
    2. It should be evident that the first thing emphasized here is that Christianity consists not so much of external conduct, as the place which the Word of God has within us. The Word of God "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit" is the effect which it produces, under the application of the Lord, when a sinner is regenerated. Pink
    3. Spurgeon says, For the gospel is such a living gospel that, if it were cut into a thousand shreds, every particle of it would live and grow. If it were buried beneath a thousand avalanches of error, it would shake off the incubus and rise from its grave, If it were cast into the midst of fire it would walk through the flame as it has done many a time, as though it were in its natural element. The Reformation was largely due to a copy of the Scriptures left in the seclusion of a monastery, and there hidden till Luther came under its influence, and his heart furnished soil for the living seed to grow in.
    4. The point of this passage is that the word of God has come to men and is such that it cannot be disregarded. The Jews always had a very special idea about words. Once a word was spoken, it had an independent existence. It was not only a sound with a certain meaning; it was a power which went forth and did things. Isaiah heard God say that the word which went out of his mouth would never be ineffective; it would always do that which he designed it to do. Barclay
    5. More than two hundred years ago when a copy of the Bible was muchmore expensive than it is in these days, a peasant who lived in the County of Cork, Ireland, heard that a gentleman in his neighborhood had a copy of the New testament in the Irish language. Accordingly he visited this man and asked to be allowed to see it, and after looking at it with great interest begged to be allowed to copy it. Knowing how poor the peasant was the gentleman asked him where he would get his paper and ink from? "I will buy them," was the reply. "And where will you find a place to write?" "If your honor will allow me the use of your hall, I'll come after my day's work is over and copy a little at a time in the evenings." The gentleman was so moved at this man's intense love of the Bible that he gave him the use of his hall and light and provided him with paper and ink as well. True to his purpose and promise, the peasant labored night after night until he had written out a complete copy of the New Testament. Afterwards a printed copy was given to him, and the written Testament is preserved by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Again, we ask, what other book in the world could obtain such a hold upon the affections and win such love and reverence, and produce such self-sacrificing toil? A.W. Pink; Divine Inspiration
  3. Third, it is mighty, "powerful, effectual" or creative energy
    1. Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
    2. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
    3. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
    4. 2 Tim 2:9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains ; but the word of God is not chained. NKJV
    5. Here are two or three men who land on a savage island. Its inhabitants posses no literature and have no written language. They regard the white man as their enemy and have no desire to be shown "the error of their ways." They are cannibals by instinct and little better than the brute beasts in their habits of life. The missionaries who have entered their midst have no money with which to buy their friendship, no army to compel their obedience and no merchandise to stir their avarice. Their only weapon is "the Sword of the Spirit," their only capital "the unsearchable riches of Christ," their only offer, the invitation of the Gospel. Yet somehow they succeed, and without the shedding of any blood gain the victory. In a few short years naked savagery is changed to the garb of civilization, lust is transformed into purity, cruelty is now kindness, avarice has become unselfishness, and where before vindictiveness existed there is now to be seen meekness and the spirit of loving self-sacrifice. And this has been accomplished by the Bible! This miracle is still being repeated in every part of the earth! What other book, or library of books, could work such a result? Is it not evident to all that the Book which does exert such a unique and unrivaled influence must be vitalized by the life of God Himself? Pink
    6. Some thirty years ago there resided in one of the Temples of Thibet a Buddhist priest who had conversed with no Christian missionary, had heard nothing about the cross of Christ, and had never seen a copy of the Word of God. One day while searching for something in the temple, he came across a transcription of Matthew's Gospel, which years before had been left there by a native who had received it from some traveling missionary. His curiosity aroused, the Buddhist priest commenced to read it, but when he reached the eighth verse in the fifth chapter he paused and pondered over it: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Although he knew nothing about the righteousness of his Maker, although he was quite ignorant concerning the demands of God's holiness, yet he was there and then convicted of his sins, and a work of Divine grace commenced in his soul. Month after month went by and each day he said to himself, "I shall never see God, for I am impure in heart." Slowly but surely the work of the Holy Spirit deepened within him until he saw himself as a lost sinner; vile, guilty, and undone...

After continuing for more than a year in this miserable condition the priest one day heard that a "foreign devil" was visiting a town nearby and selling books which spoke about God. The same night the Buddhist priest fled from the temple and journeyed to the town where the missionary was residing. On reaching his destination he sought out the missionary and at once said to him, "Is it true that only those who are pure in heart will see God?" "Yes," replied the missionary, "but the same Book which tells you that, also tells you how you may obtain a pure heart," and then he talked to him about our Lord's atoning work and how that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Quickly the light of God flooded the soul of the Buddhist priest and he found the peace which "passeth all understanding." Now what other book in the world outside of the Bible, contains a sentence or even a chapter which, without the aid of any human commentator, is capable of convincing and convicting a heathen that he is a lost sinner? Does not the fact of the miraculous power of the Bible, which has been illustrated by thousands of fully authenticated cases similar to the above, declare that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, vested with the same might as their Omnipotent Author? A.W. Pink; Divine Inspiration

  1. Some forty years ago a Christian gentleman stood upon the quay of the Liverpool docks distributing tracts to the sailors. In the course of his work he handed one to a man who was just embarking on a voyage to China, and with an oath the sailor took it, crumpled it up and thrust it into his pocket. Some three weeks after, this sailor was down in his cabin and needing a "spell" with which to light his pipe felt in his pocket for the necessary paper and drew out the little tract which he had received in Liverpool. On recognizing it he uttered a terrible oath and tore the paper in pieces. One small fragment adhered to his tarry hand and glancing at it he saw these words, "Prepare to meet thy God." When relating the incident to the writer he said, "It was at that moment as though a sword had pierced my heart." "Prepare to meet thy God" rang again and again in his ears, and with a strickened conscience he was tormented about his lost condition. Presently he retired for the night, but sleep he could not. In desperation he got up and dressed and went above and paced the deck. Hour after hour he walked up and down, but try as he might he could not dismiss from his mind the words, "Prepare to meet thy God." For years this man had been a helpless slave in the grip of strong drink and knowing his weakness he said: "How can I prepare to meet God, when I am so powerless to overcome my besetting sin?" Finally, he got down upon his knees and cried: "O God, have mercy on me, save me from my sins, deliver me from the power of drink and help me prepare for the meeting with Thee." A.W. Pink; Divine Inspiration
  2. Look at the power of the Word of God in the days of Josiah.
    1. 2 Chron 34:14 Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD given by Moses. 15 Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. 16 So Shaphan carried the book to the king, bringing the king word, saying, "All that was committed to your servants they are doing. 17 And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen." 18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king. 19 Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes. NKJV
    2. Josiah spared not even the high places which pious Hezekiah had left, nor those of Solomon in his apostasy, nor their priests (Chemarim), as Zeph 1:4 foretold; also Manasseh his grandfather's grove (Asherah) in the Lord's house (2 Kings 21:7; 23:6). He defiled Tophot in the valley of the children of HINNOM (which see), where the people used to make their children pass through the fire to Moloch; and burned the chariots of the sun, and took away the stored horses, and destroyed Ahaz' altars on the housetop. He fulfilled on the Bethel calf altar the prophecy of the man of God to Jeroboam, given three centuries before, and declaring his very name (as Isaiah did that of Cyrus ages before), but respected the prophet's sepulchre (1 Kings 13). His purgation thus extended to northern Israel as far as Naphtali, as well as to Judah. (from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)
  3. The word of God is effective. It is one of the facts of history that wherever men have taken God's word seriously things have begun to happen. When the English Bible was laid bare and the word of God came to the common people, the tremendous event of the Reformation inevitably followed. When people take God seriously they immediately realize that his word is not only something to be studied, not only something to be read, not only something to be written about; it is something to be done. Barclay
  4. Spurgeon says, How powerful it is for conversion! It comes on board a man, and without asking any leave from him, it just puts its hand on the helm, and turns him round in the opposite direction from that in which he was going before; and the man gladly yields to the irresistible force which influences his understanding and rules his will. The Word of God is that by which sin is slain, and grace is born in the heart. It is the light which brings life with it. How active and energetic it is, when the soul is convinced of sin, in bringing it forth into gospel liberty! Spurgeon
  5. Spurgeon tells of a man who mocking a sermon that he had heard quoting it and the Scripture was converted even as he did.
    1. There was one who went to hear Mr. Whitefield-a member of the "Hell-fire Club," a desperate fellow. He stood up at the next meeting of his abominable associates, and he delivered Mr. Whitefield's sermon with wonderful accuracy, imitating his very tone and manner. In the middle of his exhortation he converted himself, and came to a sudden pause, sat down broken-hearted, and confessed the power of the gospel. That club was dissolved. That remarkable convert was Mr. Thorpe, of Bristol, whom God so greatly used afterwards in the salvation of others. I would rather have you read the Bible to mock at it than not read it at all. I would rather that you came to hear the Word of God out of hatred to it than that you never came at all. Spurgeon
  6. Through the "washing of water by the Word"-that is, through the washing by the Word-may we be cleansed every day, and made to. walk in white before the Lord, adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things! Spurgeon
  1. Fourth, it is "sharper than any two edged sword."
    1. Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
    2. There is no sin-killer like the Word of God. Wherever it comes, it comes as a sword, and inflicts death upon evil. Spurgeon
    3. Blessed is that man who knows the Word of the Lord by its exceeding sharpness, for it kills nothing but that which ought to be killed. It quickens and gives new life to all that is of God; but the old depraved life which ought to die, it hews in pieces, as Samuel destroyed Agag before the Lord. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." Spurgeon
  2. Fifth, it is penetrating, "piercing."
  3. Sixth, it is regenerative, "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit."
    1. James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
    2. 1 Peter 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
    3. Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?''
  4. Seventh, it is revealing and exposing, bringing to light the "thoughts and intents of the heart, etc."
    1. Finally the writer to the Hebrews sums things up. He says that everything is naked to God and compelled to meet his eyes. He uses two interesting words. The word for naked is the literal word (gumnos, GSN1131). What he is saying is that as far as men are concerned we may be able to wear our outward trappings and disguises; but in the presence of God these things are stripped away and we have to meet him as we are. The other word is even more vivid (tetrachelismenos, GSN5136). This is not a common word and its meaning is not quite certain. It seems to have been used in three different ways. Barclay
      1. It was a wrestler's word and was used for seizing an opponent by the throat in such a way that he could not move. We may escape God for long enough but in the end he grips us in such a way that we cannot help meeting him face to face. God is one issue that no man can finally evade. Barclay
      2. It was the word that was used for flaying animals. Animals were hung up and the hide was taken off them. Men may judge us by our outer conduct and appearance but God sees into the inmost secrets of our hearts. Barclay
      3. Sometimes when a criminal was being led to judgment or to execution, a dagger, with point upwards, was so fixed below his chin that he could not bow his head in concealment but had to keep it up so that all could see his face and know his dishonour. When that was done, a man was said to be tetrachelismenos (GSN5136). In the end we have to meet the eyes of God. We may avert our gaze from people we are ashamed to meet; but we are compelled to look God in the face. Kermit Eby writes in The God in You: "At some time or other, a man must stop running from himself and his God--possibly because there is just no other place to run to." There comes a time to every man when he has to meet that God from whose eyes nothing ever can be concealed. Barclay

Conclusion

Ere passing on let us earnestly press upon the reader what has just been before us, and ask, has the Word of God thus "pierced" you? Has it penetrated, as no word from man ever has, into your innermost being? Has it exposed the workings of your wicked heart? Has it detected to you the sink of iniquity which dwells within? Make no mistake about it, dear friend, the thrice holy God of Scripture "requires truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6). If the Word of God has searched you out, then you cried with Isaiah "Woe is reel for I am undone" (Hebrews 6:5); with Job, "I abhor myself" (Hebrews 42:6); with the publican, "God be merciful to me the sinner" (Luke 18:13). But if you are a stranger to these experiences, no matter what your profession or performances, no matter how highly you may think of yourself or Christians think of you, God says you are still dead in sin. Pink

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com