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Hebrews: the Active Word of God (4:12-13)

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the active word of God

For the word of God is alive 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. 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.

Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV

The Word of God

Oftentimes we understand the ‘word of God’ to be synonymous with the Bible. But that is not the case here. The New Testament was still being produced when Hebrews was written. And even the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, was not yet fully canonized. The Bible most certainly falls into the overall ‘word of God’. But Jesus himself was also the Word of God (John 1:1-3, 14). James 1:21 also refers to the word planted in us that can save us. This word is neither the physical Bible nor Jesus himself. Rather it is the message that God has given to us.

And I believe that is what the author is referring to here. Over and over in these first four chapters, he has talked about God speaking in one way or another. Hebrews starts off with “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2). Most recently the author says that “a long time later he spoke through David” (Heb. 4:7). The word of God is the message he has us.

Alive and Active

The word of God is alive and active. It is not simply words on a page. But it is living and at work in the lives of God’s people. This is in line with what Peter says, calling it “the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). As expressed above, the word of God is more than the Bible. But the Bible is the word of God in written form. And when we read it the Holy Spirit can make it come alive and use it to change us.

The word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword. It is able to penetrate deep within our hearts and minds. And it can perform the necessary surgery to remove the cancers that it finds within us. Is your conscience pricked when you read the Bible? That is a good thing. It is an indication that the word of God is at work in your life. Submit to it and be made holy.

Nothing is Hidden from God’s Sight

Other people can only see what is on the outside, or what you choose to reveal to them. But not so the word of God. It knows what is hidden so deep within you that even you may be unaware of it. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight and the working of his word.

I have no fear concerning my eternal destiny. But I do not look forward to having to give account to God for all that I have done. Especially for those things that I have hidden deep within me. It seems best to allow God’s word to cleanse and direct me today so that when I stand before him I don’t have to hear him say ‘What about this . . . ‘.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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