Summary: This passage informs the hearer about the nature of God's word and prepares them for what is going to happen to people who expose themselves to it.
The Junior Bible Quiz Sermon Series
How Powerful is God's Word?
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. (Hebrews 4:12)
Purpose: This passage informs the hearer about the nature of God's word and prepares them for what is going to happen to people who expose themselves to it.
How to introduce: An evaluation process is essential for improvement. As a sports official, I subject myself to the critique of others in order to become a better referee. However, as important as it is to receive outside feedback, I dread the process of being criticized. It is natural for me to want to hear people say, “You are terrific just the way you are.” But, I know that kind of feedback doesn't help me improve. I need correction, no matter how refined the correction is. Our faith walk needs evaluation as well. As believers, we improve by measuring our walk against the word of God, the Bible. That process refines how we think and what we do. However, the process doesn't make us feel good.
You need to know that the word of God is meant to change you, and you need to be changed, whether it makes you feel good or not.
I. The Word of God Lives.
a. That is, the Word of God causes change. Things that move themselves are alive. Things that interact with others, and that have desires are alive. That is true of the God's word. God's word seeks to bring about righteousness. When the word of God comes into contact with unrighteousness, it seeks to change it into righteousness. Where there is oppression, the word of God will seek to bring freedom. Where there is sin, the word of God will seek to bring forgiveness and repentance. Where there is wrong, it will seek to make things right.
b. Jesus, the Word made flesh, was in a constant state of making things right. When he encountered the sick, he made them well. He forgave the sinner. He challenged the religious oppressors. He taught the ignorant. He brought light to the darkness. His stated mission was to “so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
c. The point: The word of God is alive, and therefore it is going to change things wherever it interacts with people. If the Word is in you, you will be a change agent. If the Word confronts you, you will be forced to change. If the status quo is your thing, the presence of God's word won't be a welcome thing.
II. The Word of God penetrates.
a. We don't like facing the truth about ourselves. And, we don't like others knowing our faults. So, we cover up our weaknesses and faults. We are, by nature, defensive. So, we put up emotional walls. We avoid situations that would uncover our faults. We hide from our sins. But, God's word penetrates our defenses. And yes, we often attempt to fight it off. But, a living word won't settle for a superficial relationship. So, it cuts past your excuses. It cuts past your explanations. It cuts past your image of yourself. It gets to the truth and exposes it. Are you acting out of fear? God's word reveals that. Are you motivated out of selfish ambition? That gets exposed, too. Is lust driving you? God's word reveals that.
b. Biblical support: The rich young ruler had covered up his avarice with good behavior. He came forward with evidence of his righteousness in a way that is hard to argue with. Jesus countered by challenging him to give away his wealth and come follow him. The invitation to become a disciple exposed the truth of the rich man's heart. He didn't want righteousness, he wanted to be right enough to still get what he wanted. Right enough is not the same as righteous.
c. The point: God's word will penetrate your defenses and expose what needs to be changed. When confronted with it, expect to be exposed. It is not a pleasant feeling. But, it is a necessary thing. Avoiding the truth doesn't help you become righteous. It doesn't help your relationship with the Lord. So, suck it up and come to the light.
III. The Word of God Judges
a. Judgment follows an evaluation of the evidence. The Word exposes what is hidden and allows a judgment to be rendered. In my experience, such judgments include encouragement for what is right, and a list of things that need to be improved. Sometimes, judgment calls my attention to something that needs to be urgently changed. God's word comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes from privately meditating on Scripture. Sometimes, it comes from a friend who notices something contrary in me. Sometimes, it comes from my doctor. Sometimes, it comes from a colleague. It is God's will for His people to change continually from a place of unrighteousness to a place of righteousness.