Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”
Theme – “God speaks to people through the Bible”
THE DECK OF CARDS
A story has been told about a soldier in the North Africa Campaign during World War II. After a week of heavy fighting the men returned to camp. The next day being Sunday, the Chaplain had set up for church service and the men were asked to take out their Bibles or prayer book. The Chaplain noticed one soldier looking at a deck of cards. After the service he was taken by the Chaplain to see the Major.
The Chaplain explained to the Major what he had seen during church. The Major told the young soldier he would have to be punished him if he couldn’t explain himself. The young soldier told the Major that during the battle he had neither a Bible nor prayer book so he would use his deck of cards and then he explained:
You see Sir, when I look at the Ace, it tells me that there is one God and no other. When I see the 2, it reminds me there is two parts of the Bible, the Old and New Testaments. The 3 tells me of the Trinity, of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The 4 reminds me of the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When I see the 5, it tells me of the five unwise virgins who were lost and the five who were saved. The 6 makes me mindful that God created the earth in just six days and God said that it was good so He rested on the 7th day.
As I look at the 8, I remember that God destroyed all life by water except eight people. Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. When I see the 9, I think of the nine ungrateful lepers that God healed. There were ten in all, but only one stopped to thank Him. The 10 tells me of the “Ten Commandments” carved in stone by the hand of God. The Jack makes me remember the prince of darkness. Like a roaring lion, he devours those he can. When I look at the Queen, I see Mary, the Mother of Jesus. As I look at the last card I see the KING, this reminds me Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
There are 365 spots on the cards, the number of days in a year. There are 52 cards to a deck, the number of weeks in a year. There are 12 picture cards, the number of months in a year. There are 13 cards to a suit, the number of months in a quarter. There are 4 suits, the number of weeks in a quarter. And so the young soldier then said, to the Major, You see Sir, that my intentions were honorable. My deck of cards serves as my Bible, my Prayer book, and my Almanac.”
OPEN IT OR DELETE IT?
We all have received emails or text messages. Some we opened and others we deleted simply because we didn’t know who the writer of the message was! God will never send us an email, text message, or tweet; however, if He did, we all would certainly open it with great eagerness. Yet, we aren’t always that eager to open the message He has already given to us. The Bible is God’s Word, and we should be interested enough to open it every day. After all, He wrote it especially for us! This study will help us to understand the reality of the Word of God and its value in giving us purpose and especially direction in our everyday life.
THE BIBLE TRULY IS GOD’S WORD
Today many Christians consult the Bible only when they need a lift or when they want inspiration for making a decision. Loren D. Esthleman said this about the Bible, “Lay chosen faith aside and read this beautifully written book.” Madeleine L’ Engle Franklin added, “It is the foundation stone of the English language.” John Jakes urged people to read the Bible “for the magic, and the possibilities, of its English.”
Although these writers had some high praise for God’s Word, their endorsement isn’t the reason we should read His Book. To treat the Bible that way is insulting to God the Father Who inspired it, the Son whose story of redemption it contains, and the Spirit Who empowers it. We must treat the Bible with the utmost respect, for it is highly valuable and merits our attention because it is God’s breathed and inspired Word of Truth, which He has preserved for us as stated in the book of Isaiah.
The Bible is inspired – (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Perhaps no doctrine in all of theology is as important as the inspiration of Scripture. If we can’t be sure the Bible is inspired, then we can’t be sure of anything it says. That’s why God made it completely clear in the Scriptures that they are indeed the inspired Word of God. The Greek word for “inspiration” accurately means “God-breathed.” The idea is that the very words of Scripture originated with God and He is the sole source of Scripture.
In 1942, the U. S. Army recruited and trained 29 young Navajo Indians and sent them to a base surrounded in secrecy. These Indians, who were called “wind talkers,” had been asked to devise a special code in their native language that the enemy couldn’t break. They succeeded, and the code was never broken. It secured and greatly speeded up war communications. For 23 years after the war, that secret code remained classified in case it might be needed again. Their contribution to victory in World War II was enormous, but few people even knew about them.
By contrast, the Bible wasn’t sent down to us in some unbreakable code impossible to understand. Although it contains rich images, vivid metaphors, the records of men and women, the message of God’s love and salvation is clear and unmistakable? The biblical writers were moved by God’s Spirit to record exactly what He wanted us to know. For centuries people have been freed from their sin and guilt by believing His message. We own a great debt to the wind talkers; however, we own an even greater debt to the writers of Scripture, who received God’s Word and wrote it down.
THE SCRIPTURES AREN’T OF PRIVATE INTERPRETATION
2 Peter 1:20-21, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”
Peter warned believers to be wary of the “unlearned and unstable” who take the Scriptures and “wrest,” or “twist,” them (2 Peter 3:16). Some even used the Scriptures to satisfy their greed (2 Peter 2:3). He further warned believers to “beware” lest they be led away by the same error.
In every era there has been a spirit of the age that challenges our acceptance of Scripture. The temptation is to remove or alter those portions that seem old-fashioned. Whether it’s the doctrine of hell or God’s view on sexual behavior, many feel pressured to reject parts of the Bible. Inevitably, some truths will be offensive in every day and age.
Centuries ago, a Jewish king was handed a scroll with a message from God. As the document was read aloud, the king took offense, and with a small knife he cut out a portion of the scroll and threw it into the fire. Eventually the entire text was thrown into the flames, yet the king and his servants who had heard the words of the Lord “were not afraid” (Jeremiah 36:24). In the end, the king lost his kingdom because of his disobedience.
When we selectively edit the Bible to suit our fancy, or neglect its teachings, we show that we do not fear God. Rather than submit to what He says, we exalt our own finite reason and fallible conscience above the inspired text. When you’re tempted to overlook or ignore a portion of the Word of God, remember, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It tells us all we need to know to live a life that pleases Him.
So no one has the right to twist them by taking them out of context. God inspired the Scriptures, but He didn’t physically write them Himself. Instead He used people to write His words. The human authors each wrote from their own personalities and according to their personal styles. The Apostle Paul’s writings are uniquely his, while Peter’s are distinctly his. Some individuals have a hard time getting past this fact. Perhaps it could also be a reason why people feel free to use the Scriptures as they wish.
However, God purposefully preserved the writers’ personalities and styles as they wrote because He wanted them to write with their own personal flavor. When we consider that God gave the writers their personalities, seeing evidence of their personalities in the books they wrote should not be a problem for us. The end result is the inspired Word of God and is word for word what God intended it to be.
THE BIBLE IS A LIVING, ACTIVE, POWERFUL, PENETRATING & DISCERNING BOOK
Hebrews 4:12-13, “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. 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”
The classic text on the power of the Word of God is found in Hebrews 4:12, “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. This section begins with the word “for” or “therefore” tying what follows with what the author has previously told us concerning the consequences of Israel’s disobedience.
The author wants us to get it through our thick heads that Israel’s awful tragedy can strike us as well. Today I want you to see why we should not disregard the Word of God so lightly, because it is God’s Eternal Word as stated in Psalm 119:89, “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” and:
(1) Its A Living Word (v. 12a)
The Scriptures, the word of God, is unlike any other book you have in your home or in the library. The Library of Congress lays claim to be the largest library in the world, with more than 150 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 32 million books and other printed materials, 3.0 million recordings, 15 million photographs, 5 million maps, and 61 million manuscripts. Yet among all these volumes the only one that lays a claim to being alive and powerful is the Holy Scriptures.
This places The Word of God in a unique category all to itself. The Word of God is alive, actively alive, and as the tense indicates, constantly alive. The word of God is no dead letter, it is living, and it is alive…. And it will penetrate your very soul. A story is told of a man who said he had received no inspiration from the Bible although he had “gone through it several times.” “Let it go through you once,” replied the elderly pastor, “then you will tell a different story!” The Word of God is not only a living word but;
(2) Its an Active and Powerful Word.
“For the word of God is living and active.” The word of God is continually at work. Charles Swindoll comments, “News articles may inform us. Novels may inspire us. Poetry may enrapture us. But only the living, active Word of God can transform us.”It is alive! Thus, the Scriptures are living and active and when we read its words they reach out and touch the needs of our lives in an almost tangible way.
Isaiah 55:11 describes scripture as being a living agent or messenger that God sends to touch our lives. Listen to what God promises in this passage from Isaiah…My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” So, unlike any other book, the Scriptures are living and active and.
(3) Its a Penetrating Word.
“Sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing, penetrating until it divides soul from spirit, and joints from marrow.” Like a sharp sword which can lay open the human body with one slashing blow, so the sword of the Scripture, can open our inner life, and expose it to ourselves and to others. In the Roman world there were two distinctly different swords.
There was a large sword, which was long, heavy and destructive and there was a short sword that was lightweight, double-edged and deadly because it cut both ways. This is the sword Peter used to cut off the ear of the servant of the High priest in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus arrest (Mark 14:47). What the author of Hebrews is saying is that God’s Word can reach into the innermost recesses of our very being! No heart is too tough nor any soul too dark for it to penetrate.
Mr. Thorpe in 18th century Bristol found that to be true. Thorpe was a part of a band of men who called themselves, the “Hell Fire Club.” Their reason for existence was to mock and ridicule the work of the famed evangelist, George Whitefield. On one occasion, the “Hell-Fire Club” gathered at a pub for such mockery. Mr. Thorpe offered his brilliant imitation of Whitefield, whom he and his friends called, “Mr. Squintum” because of Whitefield eyes. Thorpe delivered his mocking sermon with brilliant accuracy, perfectly imitating Whitefield’s tone and facial expressions as he quoted Scripture.
Suddenly amidst the laughter Thorpe had to sit down for he was pierced through and was converted on the spot. Mr. Thorpe was a thoroughly nasty man, .engaged in nasty actions, yet the Word of God pierced his heart and changed him in an instant. Mr. Thorpe went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol. The Word of God I not only a living, active and penetrating Word.
(4) Its a Discerning Word. (vv. 12d -13)
It is a discerner and judge of the thoughts and the intentions of our heart. Hear Gods word from Hebrews 4:13, “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” God sees everything and there is no escape. We want God to see us when we are hurting and when we are going through difficult times. We want Him to see us and to come to our aid; however, when it comes to our sin and wrongdoing we would rather that God look the other way. Yet, the Word of God is a judge and discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As the Word of God penetrates into the innermost recesses of our being: it does so as a critic, and as a judge. God sees everything and there is no hiding. Only the Word of God is capable of exposing the thoughts and attitudes of the human heart. Why is it when we fear that something isn’t quite right physically we tend to put off going to the doctor because we fear we will hear bad news? The same is true spiritually. Ignoring it will not make it go away. It will not make it disappear.
With God we cannot smooth over our sin with outward actions. He knows the real intentions of our hearts. We may appear to be sincere to others but God knows our true motives. God Sees Everything. Guide your life by the Scriptures. Live by its principles. Follow its precepts. No one is uneducated who knows the Bible, and no one is wise who is ignorant of its teachings. The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Thus, the God who sees all we are uses the Word of God, activated by the Spirit of God, to expose us to the reality of who we really are. We should be convicted of any sin in our lives as we read and study God’s Word, even sins of our attitude, motives, and intentions. However, we should also be encouraged by God’s offer of forgiveness and the fact that as we serve Him in His power He will one day reward us. The Bible, God’s breathed Word is alive and as such, we as believers should never treat it like just another book or an annoying e-mail. We should guard it, study it, cherish it and devour it!
THE BIBLE IS A MESSAGE OF LOVE & JUDGMENT
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
The Bible is a love letter to humanity from our Creator. Just imagine the hopeless chaos without the special revelation of the Scriptures. The love of God is plentifully supplied throughout the Bible. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, God lovingly provided for Adam and Eve’s sins and promised a permanent solution would come (Genesis 3:15). That solution came in the Person of Jesus when God showed His love toward us by sending Christ to die for us (Romans 5:8).
God is very clear on the consequences of dying without trusting in Jesus as Savior. He tells us that message to encourage us to share the gospel and to motivate the lost to trust in Christ as their Savior. Perhaps we could summarize the Bible with the phrase “for God so loved the world” (John 3:16). If we truly appreciate the love of God, then we ought to be concerned about what He in His love has revealed to us in His Word.
The Bible isn’t a written record of perfect people (except for Jesus Christ). From beginning to the end, God’s Word points out in painful detail the mistakes made by its characters. Adam and Eve failed to obey God’s specific restrictions (Genesis 2:15-17); 3:1-7). Abram lied about his relationship to Sarai (Genesis 12:10-20). Moses grew angry and struck the rock in disobedience to God (Numbers 20:7-12). David committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). Solomon started out well but turned from God for a time (1 Kings 3:5-9; 1-43). Peter denied knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75).
No human words can compare with the written Word we have from God in Scripture. Paul wrote, “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). In the life-changing wisdom of the Bible, we have a personal message that tells us what God desires for us to be and what He desires to be for us. He has given us His written Word so we “might have hope” as we face the many issues of life. Someone has said that God speaks through His Word to those who listen with their heart.
THE BIBLE IS A SUFFICIENT MESSAGE
2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness”
The Bible does not merely contain truth, it is truth. The apostle Paul, describing the character of Scripture to Timothy, writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”. Peter also asserts that “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
Many popular writers of today might make us feel better or believe we can handle life more effectively, but popular writing alone will have little effect on our lives or on eternity. To put in bluntly we will always need God’s Breathed Word. So, let’s take a look at 2 Timothy 3:16, and see what the Bible provides for us:
(1) It provides doctrine.
The apostle Paul wrote to a pastor named Timothy about the sufficiency of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In his letter to Timothy he said all Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Doctrine is what the Bible says is right and if we follow the Bible’s doctrine, we will stay on the road God has planned for us. But none of us are perfect. All of us eventually leave the narrow road to drive into the wilderness. Even the apostle Paul admitted his struggle to stay on the road (Romans 7:14-23).
The Bible and the work of God’s Holy Spirit are like a map and a compass. The Bible is our map. The apostle Paul assured Timothy that Scripture lays out the route of sound doctrine and righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). But you are thinking where’s the compass in this passage? The compass is the work of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s “manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance” (2 Timothy 3:10, 14). Because Timothy carefully followed Paul’s spirit-led example, he didn’t lose his way.
My brethren, we need to take to heart the words of the apostle Paul when he reminded young Timothy of the importance of knowing God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17) and of carefully and diligently carrying out his ministry of teaching others (2 Timothy 2:15). The goal of such teaching isn’t just learning, but Christlike living. Paul also urged him to tell others about Christ and to warn them not to turn aside (2 Timothy 4:1-5). We must always remember the domain in which we live is that of our adversary satan, and as such, the values of this, his sinful and wicked world, can very easily influence and tempt us to despise “sound doctrine” and to accept that which is false.
Satan wants us to get off and stay off course; wherein the believer neglects God’s Word and the purpose for which each of us have been called. Perhaps Bible reading, prayer, and Sunday worship were once part of your childhood, but you no longer practice them. Now you’re wandering and don’t know what to believe. Look to the map and compass once again (God’s breathed Word)! Read the Bible and recall the life of parents, ministers, and friends who walked with Christ and get back on the right course.
(2) It reproves us.
As we begin to drive into the wilderness, the Bible will give us “reproof” to show us where we have gone wrong. Sometimes God uses a pastor’s message, a Sunday school teacher’s lesson, a Christian song, program on the radio, or a challenge from a friend to reprove us with His Word. Other times it comes as we read or study God’s Word for ourselves. And if we have memorized God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will use those verses to reprove us.
(3) It corrects us.
“Reproof” is not an end in itself. “Correction” is needed to point the way back to the road God wants us to be on. The word “correction” comes from a root word meaning to “set up straight” that which is crooked. Solomon talks about the crooked way of the wicked in Proverbs 2:6-15).
“Correction” shows us how to get back on the path of the upright. Ephesians 4:17-24 is a clear “correction” passage. It even uses the walking metaphor. The main passage in lesson one of this study also have passages with “Correction” in them (Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:30-34; Ephesians 5:3-17). Philippians 2:15 tells us we are to shine as lights in the midst of the crooked generation around us. The path of the upright is light, while the crooked path of the wicked is “darkness” (Proverbs 2:13). As we stay on the path of the upright, we shine the hope of the gospel to the wicked of this world.
(4) It gives us instruction in righteousness.
“Instruction in righteousness” keeps us on the path of the upright. On the road it serves as the white lines and guardrails. “Instruction” means “training” or “guidance.” It is similar to the teaching process a parent takes his child through. In order for us to benefit from “instruction in righteousness,” we need to admit we need the training and that takes humility on our part.
The result of doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness is becoming a man of God who is “perfect,” or “complete,” and “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17). In other words, the Bible is a sufficient message and has all that we need to become what God wants us to be.
Isaiah 40:8 tells us that, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever”. Do you believe that? I do! I wanted to close this lesson with a hymn written by George H. Carr. I couldn’t find any information regarding the writer of this precious hymn; however, I would like to mention a few things concerning the “Old Book” and the “Old Faith”, which this hymn writer speaks about.
Today, I believe the greatest cause for our neglect of the Bible isn’t a lack of time but a lack of heart, concern, interest and of indifference. The words of someone else are taking the place of the inspired and eternal written Word of God. I agree there are many good books to read; however, we must never neglect the mysteries of God’s mercy, His amazing grace and His eternal love written on the pages of the Bible, which will change a person’s heart, mind and life forever more. No other book will do that for you!
If you have accepted Christ as Savior, you can attest to fact the Bible, God’s breathed and eternal Word, changed your life. Then you need to ask God to give you a desire for His Word and a hunger to taste His grace, mercy, love and goodness each and every day. It is the only Book that will bless, strengthen and encourage you while you’re still in this world, and will show you that through faith in Jesus Christ, you can be sure of eternal blessedness in the world to come. This old hymn is for everyone, so I trust you will consider the simple message of salvation through God’s Son, which is so clearly given.
– The Old Book and the Old Faith –
’Mid the storms of doubt and unbelief, we fear,
Stands a Book eternal that the saints hold dear;
Thro’ the restless ages it remains the same—
’Tis the Book of God, and the Bible is its name!
The old Book and the old faith
Are the rock on which I stand!
The old Book and the old faith
Are the bulwark of the land!
Thro’ storm and stress they stand the test
In every clime and nation blessed;
The old Book and the old faith
Are the hope of every land!
’Tis the Book that tells us of the Father’s love,
When He sent His Son to us from Heav’n above,
Who by richest promise creates hope within,
For ’tis through His blood we are saved from every sin!
’Tis the Book that tells us of the will of God
And the Savior’s teachings while the earth He trod—
How He soothed earth’s sorrows and relieved its woe,
Through whom strength is given to conquer every foe!
’Tis the Book that tells us of eternal life,
After faithful service in a world of strife,
And this glorious triumph over death’s dark fears
Is the world’s best gift in an age of countless tears.
Oh, the grand old Book and the dear old faith
Are the rock on which I stand!
Oh, the grand old Book and the dear old faith
Are the hope of every land!
Have you even considered that we have at our very disposal the complete and precious written Word of Life, given to us, by God its author. The God who created you and me, has given us His Eternal Book, and everyone needs to make it their Book. By reading it, pouring over it, meditating on it, and putting into practice what it says, we begin to know God Himself, and in the process, we realize for ourselves the psalmist’s quest, “I have sought Your precepts … I have seen the consummation of all perfection.”
Furthermore, it’s the only Book that speaks of earthly things and human experiences (good and bad). It also describes with clarity and authority areas of heaven and earth, things seen and unseen; revealing facts about God, angels, men, time and eternity, life and death; of sin; of heaven and hell. More importantly we find within its pages everything we need to know to receive salvation and have a personal relationship with God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Someone put it this way, “We won’t give up the Bible, for it alone can tell the way to save our souls from sin, death and hell”. My beloved, without the Bible, God’s Eternal Word, you :
(1) Could not see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
(2) Could not know “the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus.”
(3) Would not know you are a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.
Do you love the Bible because it gives the wisdom that leads to salvation, and shows you that this salvation is nothing less than seeing and savoring the glory of Christ forever, and then provides for never-ending ways of seeing, knowing and enjoying Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, Savior and LORD!
No one is good enough to save them self; No one is so bad that God cannot save.