Culture Crash Week -1
Everyone draws the line somewhere! Will your line be God’s Truth or your truth?
When you think of an authority figure, who first comes to your mind?
What gives that person authority?
For many of us growing up, our fathers and mothers were our authority figures. They helped teach us right from wrong, and they enforced the rules of the household. When we did well, we were praised. When we did wrong, we were punished, and most of us could count on mom or dad to find out when we had done wrong!
For the Christian, the Bible is our authority. The Scriptures are the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, written without error. We turn to the Scriptures to learn the mind of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, our minds are enlightened through the Word, and we are slowly conformed to the image of Christ.
1 Timothy 4:1-2, Galatians 6:7-8, John 14:6, 17:13-17, 4:23-24, 8:31-32
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. 13 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.
Ask a Volunteer to read Hebrews 4:12.
What does it mean for the word of God to be “living and effective”?
Why do you think the Word of God is described as a “double-edged sword”?
The writer of Hebrews speaks of the Scriptures here with almost god-like quality. One, it isn’t as if the Bible is merely words on a page, but the Scriptures are “living,” like God is alive. As we study the Word of God, God uses it to bring us to life. He changes us by His Word. The power of the Word of God lies within the Word itself, not in us. That’s why we can teach and preach it with confidence.
A double-edged sword was one of the most dangerous weapons of its day. Neither side of the blade is dull, and so there is no safe side. The Bible is like the double-edged sword in that while it is wielded by the messenger, it will do the work God intends for it to do. It will pierce our souls and expose us for the people that we really are.
Why does the Word of God need to penetrate our souls? What is the picture that the writer of Hebrews is conjuring?
If a sword is an offensive and dangerous weapon, why would God wield such a weapon against us?
In Colossians 3:5, the apostle Paul teaches us that we must “put to death what belongs to [our] worldly nature.” The way that we put to death the sinful nature of the old man is by the Word of God. Sin is so ingrained from our old nature and behavior that it takes the Word of God to reveal it to us. The Word of God is able to show us our true motivations, and the Word is powerful enough to destroy those motivations as well.
The writer of Hebrews is teaching us that the Word of God is a powerful, offensive weapon to help us be rid of the “old man” that desires the things of the flesh. We are in combat against our own sin, and the Word of God is the only means we have to fight against our sin and emerge victorious.
Ask a Volunteer to Hebrews 4:13.
Why would the writer of Hebrews tell us that “no creature is hidden from Him”? What does this remind you of?
What does it mean to be “naked and exposed”? Why do you think that the writer of Hebrews uses this imagery?
What does it mean to say that “we must give an account”?
After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, they “hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). This of course did not work, and it will not work for us either. The Lord knows everything we have done—we cannot possibly hide anything from Him. When the Scripture says that we are “naked and exposed,” it means that we are vulnerable before the Lord. We have nowhere to hide, and we have nothing with which to defend ourselves. The writer makes it perfectly clear that we have nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.
Someday, we are going to “give an account to God.” Jesus said that “on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Not only is God going to judge our every action, He is also going to hold us accountable for every word we have spoken! This is why is it crucial for us to pay attention to the living Word of God. We must study the Word, listen to the Word being preached, and encourage one another with the Word of God. We must be open to it even though it pierces our consciences and sometimes gives us pain.
How can we help one another make certain that the Word of God is active in our lives?
In what ways do you try to hide from the Lord? How does God always find you and bring you back to Himself?
How does fellowship help keep us from hiding from the Lord?
In a time of group prayer, thank the Father for giving us the Scriptures to teach us the gospel of Christ and to convict us of our sins. Pray that we will all be careful to study the Word of God so that we might grow in holiness. Ask God that He would be with our pastors and teachers as they labor to teach us the Word of God, so that we might become more Christ-like.
Verse 12. In the larger context of this passage (3:7–4:13), the writer is warning against neglecting God’s word by failing to obey Him. He used the example of the exodus generation of Israelites. They refused to believe and obey God and therefore not were not permitted to enter the promised land (3:18; 4:6). We must be faithful to hear and obey God’s word. The consequence of disobeying God’s word is judgment.
In the Greek text “living” is the first word in verse 12, making it emphatic. The living God speaks His living word. God’s word is not confined to a distant past but comes to us now with freshness, power, and clarity. That word is effective or energetic, powerful. His Word causes things to happen. Additionally, the word of God is active, an emphasis virtually identical in meaning with the term living. God’s Word is not something we passively hear and then ignore. It actively works in our lives, changes us, and sends us into action.
What did the writer mean by God’s word being a sharp two-edged sword that pierces into the depths of people’s beings? One view is that he meant the word’s thoroughness. The living word permeates every aspect of a person’s being. It affects the whole person. A second view is that the sharp sword penetrates and divides the whole person similar to the way a surgeon’s scalpel lays bare the organs inside a person. This view emphasizes judgment. God’s word judges the ideas and thoughts of the heart. It reaches into the center of a person’s being and correctly perceives motives and intentions.
In light of verses 12-13, the latter interpretation seems to be the writer’s meaning. He well may have meant that God’s word lay bare in the Hebrew believers any faithlessness, disobedience, and indifference or complacency in advancing toward spiritual maturity.
Verse 13. The activity of God’s Word is an extension of the activity of God Himself. The word of God exposes our innermost thoughts and intentions. The Greek word translated “exposed” literally means “to grip the neck,” “to bend the neck back” to make bare the throat. We get the English nouns trachea and tracheotomy from the Greek verb. The term was used of wrestlers who seized opponents’ necks and bent their heads back, exposing their throats. Basically, the word means “to lay bare to view.” It conveys the idea of uncovering something. Here the term emphasizes that God’s sovereign power brings a person’s whole being into full view in God’s eyes. Those who dare to examine their lives in the light of God’s Word discover their true moral and spiritual condition.