Summary: What is the application for our church? My thought for you today is a very simple one: a healthy church is one that studies the Bible.
HEALTHY CHURCH: ONE THAT STUDIES
READ HEBREWS 4:12-13
I. DESCRIPTION OF THE WORD OF GOD
I must confess that I love this passage because it is so descriptive about God’s Word. We have in this passage a wonderful picture of God’s Word and its purposes in our lives. The Scriptures are described as four things.
First, it is described as ’living.’ One of the first thoughts that we might have is, how is something, like the Bible, either alive or dead? That makes no sense. People and animals are living. Books are inanimate objects and therefore do not live. I then had a thought. I remembered that the Latin language, which some of you may have taken in high school, is described as a ’dead’ language. Why is that? Why that title? Latin is considered a ’dead language’ because it is no longer actively spoken or written anywhere in the world and there are no native speakers of Latin in the world. Latin is not able to change in anyway to accommodate new words or phrases. It has its uses, but for most people, Latin has no use (colfa.utsa.edu/drinka/pie/lang_latin.htm). For these reasons, the Latin language is considered ’dead’ and I hope that by seeing this, we can see how God’s Word might be considered ’living.’ The Word of God is the complete opposite!
* The Word of God reaches all people at all times and is not bound to any one language.
* The Word of God is actively used by Christians all over the world and is an essential part of Christian living.
* The Word of God is able to speak to situations and moral dilemmas that were not even dreamed of when it was
Second, the Word of God is described as active. What does that mean? This same word is used only three times in the New Testament and the other uses can help us understand what it means here in Hebrews. In 1 Corinthians 16:9, Paul says that a door for service has been opened for him in Ephesus and it will be ’effective’ service. The book of Philemon (1:6) records that Paul’s prayer for Philemon is that his faith would be ’effective.’ The picture that we get is that the Word of God is active and effective for those who read it. We know this to be true. God’s Word can change hearts. God’s Word can soften someone’s spirit. It is active and effective in people’s lives. God’s Word changes attitudes and actions and is an active force in someone coming to believe in Jesus.
Third, the Word of God is described as heart-dissecting. A double edged sword is a sword that has a sharp edge on both sides of the blade. It can cut up and down. Most of the steak knives and other knives that you have at home in your kitchen are single-edged and only cut in one direction.
ILLUSTRATION... A double edged sword [you will need a big double-edged sword for this]
[Hold up the sword, show it, swing it, explain about the sword and relate to the verses]
I have here, a double edged sword. This is what you are to think of when reading this passage.
The Word of God is just like this sword. This sword can penetrate anything that is needed and will find its target. This sword is sharp and will slice the finest materials. It is the same with the Word of God. The Word of God targets the heart of people and pricks truth into their souls. The Word of God can even divide the soul and spirit of a person, which most of us think are one and the same. The Word of God is described as heart-dissecting because God’s Word can indeed search your heart, find the target, and expose that which needs exposing.
Fourth, the Word of God is described as judging or discerning (maybe the better word). To me, this description of God’s Word makes the most sense. The Bible does in fact judge for us right and wrong, what is best, what is pleasing to God, what God’s desires are. The Bible does in fact show us when we are wrong, communicates to us the consequences of our sins, and describes for us over and over how not to live.
II. POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD
ILLUSTRATION... Reading Out of Context, www.ozsermonillustrations.com
A pastor was once approached by a young woman within his congregation. In a gushing voice she explained she had found the man she was to marry. The more he heard about this man however the more disturbed the pastor became. He shared few values with the young woman and did not have a Christian faith. Yet the young woman insisted that not only was he the man she would marry but that God had told her that he was the one. "And how did the Lord reveal this to you?" asked the pastor. "Oh" said the young woman, "well I had just finished praying about the matter when I opened my bible and read Matthew 16.24 - "If any man would come after me, let him". Now that is the power of God’s Word!