Summary: God's Word is living and active because it reveals who we really are to God in our hearts.
DRAWING NEAR THE THRONE OF GRACE
Text: Hebrews 4:12-16
"To better understand the human body, in 1994, researchers made available a new computer tool called "The Visible Man." The Visible Man consists of almost two thousand computer images.
"To produce images, scientist at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center took a man's body that had been willed to science and took CAT scans, X rays, and MRI images of it. The they embedded the body with gelatin. They froze it, sliced it crosswise into 1,800 millimeter thin sections, and digitally photographed each cross section.
"Medical students can look at The Visible Man from any angle, call up an image of any cross section they desire, rotate the images, and put them back together again.
"What The Visible Man does for the body, the Word of God does for the soul. God's Word pictures the inner person---our motives, priorities, thoughts and sins." (Craig Brian Larson. ed. Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, p. 281). God's Word is living and active because it reveals who we really are to God in our hearts.
WE ARE JUDGED BY GOD'S WORD.
God's Word scrutinizes our character. God is omniscient (all knowing) and already knows everything that there is to know about us. God's Word which is living and active, convicts us when we go astray. It is those who have gone astray from God who are restless and remain "restless until they find their rest in God" as St. Augustine put it. It is those who do not believe who cannot enter God's rest (Hebrews 3:18-19). They will continue to fall short of entering God's rest and remain restless until they believe (Hebrews 4:1). It is the spiritual hardness of the human heart that causes people to turn deaf ears to God's pleading through His Word. There are those in every age who are God's witnesses who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Their message is not always received. It is unfortunate that there are some who will remain disobedient to God's calling to repentance until it is too late. It is then that the door will shut (Matthew 25:10) because the time for entering into God's rest has passed.
God's Word reveals to us who we are and where we are in relationship to God. No one can hide from God. God's Word will display the truth about both who we are and where we are in relation to God. God's Word will reveal our need of repentance and also where this need is neglected. Consider Ephesians 5:6-11: "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light. (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them" (RSV). We will always be tempted by the devil and his fellow fallen angels to participate in the "unfruitful works of darkness" because Satan wants to take away the joy of our salvation.
God's Word is like a sword and in fact sharper than any double-edged sword. Since God is omniscient (all knowing), there is nothing that can be hidden from God. God uses His Word to let us see how it is that God searches us, discerns our thoughts, knows us and is acquainted with all our ways (Psalm 139:1,2,3). God therefore knows our every weakness and all of the areas where we are vulnerable to temptation. As someone has wisely said, "The nature of our temptations will prove what we really are. The higher the moral and spiritual character is the higher and more subtle the temptations will be. Christ could never be tempted by the coarse and common forms of sin. The devil brought his tempting baits up to the level of the Son of God. Therefore, being tempted as a Son on all points like as we (sons) are, He is able to succor them that are tempted with the comfort wherewith He Himself was comforted of God." (James Smith. Handfulls On Purpose: IV. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997, pp. 247-248). Since Jesus was tempted as we ourselves have been, will be and sometimes are tempted, Jesus sympathizes with us.
God's Word reveals our level of obedience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes". This relates well to the ideal of what Charles Colson conveys on the same topic. That ideal is that belief and obedience go together: "For maturing faith---faith which deepens and grows as we live our Christian life---is not just knowledge, but knowledge acted upon. … Like learning to balance a bicycle or mastering a foreign language, faith is a state of mind that grows out of our action, just as it governs them". (Charles Colson. Loving God. Geand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002, p. 34). Colson is right, obedience and belief go together and are reflected in our faith and growth in faith. It is obedience that enables us to enter God's rest (Hebrews 4:3,6).