Every Christian, I suppose, has had an experience similar to mine a few days ago, in which a Bible verse that I had read many times and even memorised, suddenly took on a whole new level of meaning to me.
Hebrews 4:12 “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.”
I’ve read that verse hundreds of times now. I’ve always believed that it demonstrates the authority and uniqueness of Scripture – that it is God’s way of speaking to us. However, as I read it again recently and really tried to understand what it meant, I was overcome as I began to comprehend some of the complexity of that verse.
The thought that God’s word is alive impacted me the most deeply. It is alive and well. I genuinely felt goosebumps all over my arms as I read these sentences. I started thinking about the Bible and how I perceive it and use it. Do I honestly think the Word of God within this book is alive? People frequently mention the need for pastors to “make the Bible come alive” for them, or how they are looking forward to a movie adaptation of a Bible section because it will “give the passage new life.” But how is this possible? The Bible is already alive and functioning! We don’t need anyone to make the Bible come alive for us; all we need to do is accept and realise that it already is.
The Bible is a living book, which accounts for its ability to influence lives and penetrate a person as deeply as the separation of his soul and spirit. The Bible has the ability to pierce me to the heart of my being. And there have surely been occasions when the Bible has pierced me that deeply. It had to have done so in order for me to become a believer in the first place. And, yet again, at this period, the Bible pierced me with a deeper awareness of the true Word of God – Jesus Christ.
When we understand that Jesus Christ is the Word of God, then the Bible becomes a channel for Jesus Christ to impact our lives and our circumstances. We know that Jesus is alive and we know that Jesus is the Word of God. So why would we be surprised to discover that the Bible is the living Word when it’s all about Jesus?
I considered the Reformation and what precipitated such a monumental event. The period when Martin Luther fastened his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg is often regarded as the start of the Reformation. I wonder whether we shouldn’t go back even further to the time when Luther was in a monastery, urgently seeking a method to make himself straight with God. He tried everything the Church had to give, including repentance, contrition, confession, and flagellation. Nothing could persuade him that he was right with God.
Finally, a wise monk handed him a Bible, a rare book for the time, and encouraged him to look for answers in it. That Bible was the spark that ignited the Reformation. When the living word was placed in that man’s hands, it penetrated him to the core of his soul and spirit. The Word washed over him, convicting him of his wrongdoing and convinced him of the one way to be right with God. The living Word gave him life and actively spilled out into the entire universe.
Do we really appreciate the Word for what it is now that we have it so easily at our disposal? Do we truly believe it has the ability to influence lives and pierce hearts?
I believe I have a better knowledge of God’s Word today, which will help me to appreciate what a great gift the Bible is. I hope that God continues to impress the wonders of His Word onto me, and that this head-knowledge translates into my life, so that I might learn to live and breathe the living Word.