Sunday, January 29, 2006

Thinking about: Hebrews 4:12

The word of God does things to people. Don't believe me? Somebody reading this right now is either accepting it or rejecting it. Someone is either ducking it or being discerned by it. Why? Because God's Word is contemporary despite all temporal gaps, applicable despite all geographic and cultural gaps, and personal despite opinion.

God's word is living. Older translations say God's Word is ''quick". Though the word used in Greek is that rightly translated ''life' or ''living", we should not be so hasty to dismiss ''quick", which is really an older word for "life". Our current use of "quick" is used to denote speed and haste. I like this word because the English helps us grasp the kind of life the Bible has--expedient. The Word of God does not sneak up on people as it is ''there" already, waiting for us to catch up to it that the Holy Spirit can interpret it to us.

It is alive, has life. This is why it is effective. Martin Luther wrote, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” A Kenyan Pastor friend of mine would say it "pulls out my claws and breaks off my tusks."

George Campbell Morgan was born in 1863 in a farmhouse in England. The son of a Baptist preacher, he preached his first sermon at age 13. When he was twenty years old, he suffered a crisis of faith. He read every book he could find, both for and against the Bible, both for and against Christianity, until he was so confused he couldn't go on. In desperation, he closed all of his books, put them in his cupboard and locked them up. Going down to a bookshop, he bought a new Bible, returned to his room, sat down at his desk, and opened it. He said: "I am no longer sure this is what my father claims it to be - the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself." As Morgan began reading the Bible, studying its form and structure and unity and message, he was amazed. He later said: "That Bible found me. I began to read and study it then, in 1883, and I have been a student ever since."

The word of God meets us at the borders of our existence and demands change. This means that just as in times past, when God spoke some were convicted while others were converted. Some were saved while others were condemned and destroyed--and this ministry of the Word is still happening today. The living word of God meets life and shows its death, extending to the receiver the life of its author. Just a few days ago I posted this African hymn that is worth repeating again here:

“In the beginning was God,
Today is God, Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is as a word which comes out of your mouth.
That word! It is no more,
It is past and still it lives!
So is God.”

If God’s Word were not living, then we have the best opportunity to increase knowledge. Treat the Bible as just any other book, and it remains just another book. Recognize how it lives and you will find it is not like any other book.

Gipsy Smith is quoted to say, "What makes the difference is not how many times you have been through the Bible, but how many times and how thoroughly the Bible has been through you." That’s what swords do. They go through. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word of God is that which is found in the mouth of the golden lampstand-walker, the son of man, the golden girdled one with head and hair white like snow, the bronze-footed one, the seven star-holder.

The Word of God pierces to the finest point where soul and spirit meets. This is incomprehensible, yet God allows us to do the impossible and see what cannot be seen. We get to see how deep it penetrates, and there is no place that remains untouched by it.

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