Summary: Sermon 11 in a study in HEBREWS
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” NASB
“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. 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.” NIV
These two verses of today’s text will be very familiar to anyone who has been a Bible-studying believer for any length of time. These verses, I would dare to assume, will be more familiar than the verses immediately preceding or succeeding them, because preachers and teachers love to talk about the Bible. We love to say that it is the sword of the Spirit and talk about the ability of God’s Word to cut to the quick – get right to the heart – expose all wrong and illuminate all right.
The temptation is very strong, therefore, to go to Hebrews, find these verses, start with an illustration that explains what a double-edged blade is and maybe tell an eye-popping story of some hero who has wielded a sword in ferocious battle and won the day, and then go on to cite all the statistics one can find about the Bible’s history and its endurance through all attempts to blot it from the earth, and proofs of its accuracy and infallibility and so forth and so on.
What we really need to be careful to do though, is to keep these verses in the context of what the writer has been saying in chapter 3 and 4, remembering that he is issuing a warning for the true believer in Christ, and he is not quite finished; hence, the word ‘for’ at the beginning of verse 12.
THE ESSENCE OF THE WARNING
In order to get the full impact of these two verses today we need to begin by backing up just one step and looking at verse 11.
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.”
You may remember that last week I offered a recipe of sorts to help you remember what we are called to in this portion by the author.
Fear unbelief, - hear the good proclamation, - mix with faith, - add diligence and enter in.
Again, what verse 11 is concluding is that the true believer, once called and given life from above, must exercise a diligence to avoid falling back into a worldly, empty façade of religion.
There is a reason the word ‘rest’ is used so much in this portion of HEBREWS, Christians. Worldly religion is of necessity founded upon rules and traditions. It does not have the Spirit of Christ, so in order to keep its adherents in line there must be a rigorous routine of imposed behaviors to show the follower to be faithful to duty and doctrine.
If you want an example of what I am talking about, you only need to look at the people who go around, usually on Saturdays, in black suits and white shirts, going door to door wanting to talk to you about Jesus.
Now I have heard preachers on occasion use these people as examples of faithfulness and diligence, saying that we of the true church could take a lesson from them in their sincerity and their tenacity. But what I want you to understand today is they are a people in chains of legalism.
They do not have the Spirit of Christ, and they live in fear of disobeying, not God, but their church. They have not entered the rest that God provides and their diligence and faithfulness are born of enslaving fear.
But we needn’t look that far to find people in this sort of bondage. We don’t have to go to the cults and the false religions at all. These people are found even in every denomination of Christ’s true church.
Just the day before I came to my study to prepare this sermon I saw an article in the Baptist Press, citing results of survey’s printed in a book by Brad Waggoner, Vice President of B&H Publishing Group, titled “The Shape of Things to Come”.
The book reports that only 69 per cent of adults who attend a Southern Baptist Church at least once a month strongly agree that ‘the Bible is the written Word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches’.