The Active Word of God
“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” (Heb. 4:12).
The Christian life is a journey, and the trials we encounter require us to strive all the more intently after the prize of God’s rest that is promised to us in the Gospel. If we do not strive with diligence, the suffering we go through will cause us to take our eyes off of Christ and prevent us from entering fully into His rest.
Hebrews 4:11 warns us to strive so that we may not fall into the same sort of disobedience as the first generation that left Egypt. The question now has to be asked: In what way were they disobedient? Though it may seem like a simple answer, their disobedience was against God.
But what does disobedience to God involve exactly? Hebrews 4:12 makes it clear that disobedience to God means disobedience to God’s Word. The “for” at the beginning of verse 12 is a logical conjunction that connects the “word of God” with the disobedience of verse 11. The Israelites disobeyed God by disobeying the Word of God and were punished.
This should not surprise us. Disobedience to God necessarily involves disobedience to His Word, and disobedience to His Word necessarily involves disobedience to God Himself. We see how this is so in verse 12 in which we find the author’s description of the Word of God. The Word of God is described as “living and active.” These are the same attributes that characterize God Himself. He is not the God of the dead; rather, He is the God of the living (Matt. 22:32). He moves in the world and causes things to happen. He took the earth and created mankind from it (Gen. 2:7). He fights and subdues Leviathan (Job 41:1–8). Just like God Himself, the Word of God is also living and active. By His Word, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1). The people of Israel feared their destruction if they were to hear the Word of God directly (Ex. 20:18–19). The Word of God creates, destroys, and sustains. The power of God’s Word cannot be separated from the power of God Himself.
Today we find God’s Word contained in sacred Scripture. He moved apostles and prophets to faithfully record His will and write it in Scripture (Ex. 34:1; Isa. 30:8; Heb.1:1). If we want to persevere in the faith, by God’s grace, we will obey His Word. Otherwise we will fall away and not inherit our promised rest.
Many times people will claim that God has commanded them to do something that violates the Bible. But as we have seen, if we disobey God’s Word, we disobey God Himself even if we think we are hearing His voice. When you sense the Lord directing you, make sure that the direction you hear does not violate Scripture.
Passages for Further Study
- Deut. 4:1–2
- Isa. 55:10–11
- 2 Tim. 3:16–17
- Rev. 22:18–19