THE POWERFUL WORD OF GOD NEXT YEAR
JERRY A COLLINS
v Is the Word of God a sufficient word?
v Is the Word of God an authoritative word?
v Is the word of God the word of God?
I attended a college that had the following motto; the Word of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. I attended a Seminary that’s motto was; Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. It is obvious that the Bible’s view of the Bible is that it can make a huge impact in one’s life. The Word of God has not been given to satisfy our curiosity but to change our lives by changing our worldview by changing our paradigms. It is a Word from heaven—literally from the vantage point of God’s perspective, God’s paradigm, and God’s worldview. So studying it and applying it is adopting and adapting to the way god views the world. The Word of God then is the vehicle through which we gain that perspective. If you take it at face value and do not play games with it by changing it, or adapting it or marginalizing it or belittling it or adding to it or taking away form it, you end up with the pure word meant to transform us while we walk in this world. Hebrews testifies to the dramatic effect God’s Word can have in your life. This verse is in the larger context and argument for us to enter God’s rest. God offers us his rest as stated in vs 11. It is clear that this rest is only entered into with a lot of effort. We must be diligent to enter it. It does not come to us by default. This rest is not the result of accepting our fate—whatever will be will be—not is it simply relaxing—letting go and letting God. The reason for all this effort is because it is possible to fall from this rest God offers us in this life. 1. The rest described here (beginning in 3:7-11 thru 4:16) is one of constant attention, being careful, watching ourselves, and each other, to be sure we enter in to it. Our sin nature does not allow a relaxation because that would only lead to personal sin. Only in heaven does such a relaxation exist because only there are we rid of our sin nature. 2. The rest the author describes here includes life on earth. The Sabbath is used as an example of this rest but that was not a time of relaxation. If violating any of the specifications they were to be put to death. It was a time of forced inactivity but not relaxation—naps in the afternoon etc.,. This rest then is linked to the assurance of our salvation and the maturity of our fellowship with God and this is what this rest is. And one of the ways we pursue this rest, this assurance and maturity is the Word of God which confronts us and exposes what is hindering us from entering this rest so that we can adjust, repent, and move in the rest direction. There are five ways the Word of God is described as being capable of assisting us to enter this rest.
1. THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE
Actually it is a living Word. We get the same word for zoo and zoology and it describes that which is living. So the Bible is the book that lives not the physical pages—similar to the artifacts that come alive in night at the museum—but the Word of God written on those pages. For example, most books can only be read with interest once and a few several times. But the Word of God can be read continually and it is never stale or boring to a believer illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Yesterday watching cspan 2 book tv, Theologian Harvey Cox reviewed his book ‘the future of faith’ before an audience. His view is the Bible is not a literal word from God and we should not assume that any one group can decipher and own it s message. It is for all peoples and any time its message is used to be conflictive or intolerant it is being abused and misused. Of course people are always wanting to discredit the Bible by claiming it does not really mean what it says or must be redemptively adapted to cultural mores. The author tells us it is alive as it is. No adapting, no redaction, no assimilation but just as it is.
2. THE WORD OF GOD IS ACTIVE
The word conveys the idea of effective and at work. It is doing something. It is causing something to happen in people’s lives. The word of god is not only alive but it is impacting. It has a way of rearranging our prejudices. Actually, you are hopeless to change yourself—it is the word of god at work in you that changes you. It causes something to happen to those who meditate upon it. James says Take it upon yourself to receive the implanted Word. You didn’t implant the Word, but you are to receive the Word that has been implanted. The attitude in which we are to receive it is “gentleness” or “submission” to an inner strength placed inside of you by God, that is, the Word of God. This implanted Word has the power to save your soul. “Power” is where we get the English word “dynamite.”
“to save your soul.” Soter is the Greek word for “save.” It means “to deliver from problems.” It is the Old Testament usage of the word, which is the mentality James brings to the word: Isaiah 59:1-2; Psalm 59:1; 69:1-4; 70:1-2; and 79:8-11. This is what David prays when he asks God to save him from his enemies. So James is saying that the implanted Word is able to deliver your life from a life of uselessness and to deliver you to reward at the judgment seat of Christ.
3. THE WORD OF GOD CUTS
It is sharper than any two-edged sword. The key idea is having the capacity to cut effectively. Therefore, the Word of God, like God Himself, is not safe. The word will cut into your worldview, your moral values, your religious views, and everything you think is valuable. This is one reason why people do not like the word of God. It does not affirm their worldview and if the surrounding culture takes precedence then the only alternative is to isolate the Bible, throw tomatoes at it, or absorb parts of it into one’s own worldview. The nature of the Bible is to cut into us.
4. THE WORD OF GOD DIVIDES
The reference to cutting our joints and marries is a continuation of the sword metaphor. But the significant phrase is piercing or passing through as far as or until the division of the soul and spirit. The word soul indicates the place of intellect, emotion and will or our personality. Humans have this in common with animals. The other word is ‘spirit’ and refers to that spiritual part of man that distinguishes him from animals. Human spirit is reflected in our thinking about morality, purpose, destiny, and our ability to function creatively. Each of these, both our soul (mind, emotion, and will) and our spirit (our morality and creativity) are pierced by the truth of the word of God. So the core of our being is impacted by the word.
5. THE WORD OF GOD JUDGES
This word judges and discerns the thoughts, or deliberations and ponderings as well as intentions, our thoughts and understandings of the heart. Heart is part of the metaphor representing the intentions and purposes, which come, from the core of our being. So the word of god acts as a judge, which measures our ponderings and understandings and core purposes against those of God. The Bible, using the character of God and values of God, judges us as we read it. That may be why the world continually tries to discredit it. Vs 13 is an elaboration of this last phrase indicating that the word of god is a judge of our deepest thoughts and intentions. Vs 13 adds the fact that no creature is hidden from god’s sight. Everything is exposed to his sight. Here is an expression of ther omnipresence of God in the context of judgment. We cannot hide from the judgment of the word of God vs 12 and we cannot escape from the judgment of the God who wrote the Word vs 13.
1. Do not ignore Gods word instead invite its scrutiny. There is no other way to change your life. 2. Your growth and maturity depends upon your knowledge of and application of the word. Make it the center of your attention.