The Word of God is Living and Active (Hebrews Sermon 17 of 74)
February 06, 2011 | Andrew Davis
The Doctrine of Scripture, The Word of God
The Secrets of Swordmaking
I am so excited to preach this message. I said that last week didn't I? I just am. I just feel blessed to the core of my being, for the privilege of unfolding the Word of God before you week after week. And I celebrate today that the topic is the Word of God itself, for I love the Bible, and I love everything that it says.
Throughout history, no technology was so carefully developed and guarded, protected as that of swordmaking. The sword itself, the most powerful weapon in the world before the advent of gunpowder. And thus, it became a symbol both of military conquest and of the governmental power that followed it. To live by the sword, or to die by the sword, meant to live or die by that military conquest. David said, "The sword devours one, as well as another," referring to the power of the sword to take life. Swords are mentioned over 400 times in the Bible.
The merest mention of the word sword conjures up in our hearts, our memories, the thoughts of heroic courageous figures or terrifying figures from history, the Roman gladiators, the Roman legions who carried that short stabbing sword. English Knights. King Arthur who pulled Excalibur out of the rock, as you remember. Or the terrifying power of the Viking warriors. Or the stealth of Japanese ninjas, the sword.
When I was a missionary in Japan, I was fascinated by the katana. The legendary Samurai sword that was forged with astonishing precision by ancient technologies. If you looked at the edge of one of these exquisite swords, you could see them on display in museums. They had an interesting kind of ripple quality to them. You know, smooth as silk, smooth as glass, but still, you can see these ripples within the crystal structure of the actual steel. And that's because they use two different kinds of steel and they sandwich them one after the other, and pounded them down under the heat of the forge. They use high carbon steel which is exceptionally hard and could be honed to a razor-sharp edge, but was very brittle and it just won't do in the middle of a battle to have your sword snap in half. And so, they would put in then a layer of low carbon steel, which was softer, more malleable, which absorbed the blow and could give the sword a kind of a toughness and through secret technologies were able to make these remarkable swords, a katana.It took centuries for the Japanese blacksmiths to develop this art and they guarded the secrets of it very closely and then stories, a kind of mythology, grew up around the katana, around this special Samurai sword, specifically of two individuals, one named Masamune and the other Muramasa, two men who actually lived at different times from each other, but no matter for the myth or the legend. The legendary contest that occurred between them had the elder Samurai blacksmith, Masamune, as the mentor and trainer to the younger Muramasa. Masamune's swords are regarded as the most beautifully crafted, most skillfully katana ever made. Surviving swords are priceless national treasures. By contrast, Muramasa's swords were regarded as violent, brutish and evil. The swords of Masamune considered to be deeply spiritual, pure, and benevolent. In the legend, Muramasa was Masamune's student. The student became arrogant and at some point challenged his master to see who can make the finer sword.
To test the swords, each sword was held into the current of a mountain stream. And the student Muramasa's sword was so perfectly sharp, honed to a razor sharp edge, it was said to have cut a leaf in half that floated down the stream and just met the edge of its blade. But the Master Masamune's sword did not cut a thing. When the leaves would get near to its edge, it would miraculously avoid the sword and float around it, showing that the sword somehow possessed a benevolent power that it would harm nothing that was innocent or undeserving a punishment.
The Cutting of the God’s Word
Friends, that's just a legend, it never happened. But I say to you in the passage that we read of today, you just heard read, we hear of a more perfect sword, sharper, more penetrating and more pure, more spiritual than any of these legends can describe. As a matter of fact, this sword is actually said to be alive even better than the Samurai legend, the sword only ever cuts in order to heal, it only ever cuts in order to bring life, it cuts in order to engraft faith, it cuts in order to surgically remove the tumors of sin. The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything's uncovered and laid bare, before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Every time you pick up a Bible, you're holding in your hands a miracle, a living miracle spiritually alive. Only the power of Almighty God can explain the existence and the potency of this book. Over the centuries, God forged this sword in the furnace of human history, on the anvil of human experience and hearts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have this Scripture.
Now why does the author celebrate the Word of God here in Hebrews 4? What is the context of this celebration of the living and active Word of God? Why here? Well, remember the overall context of the Book of Hebrews, the author to the Hebrews is deeply concerned about a congregation of Jewish people who had made an outward profession of faith in Christ, but who under the pressure of persecution were waffling in their commitment to Christ. Their commitment to Christ outwardly seemed to be decaying. Some of them weren't attending church anymore, they were afraid to do so. And so they were in a decaying orbit with Christ, and so he writes this letter of warning, this letter of exhortation to stimulate and strengthen them in their faith so that they will not fall away.
And for the last two chapters in Hebrews, Hebrews 3 and 4, he has been marvelously meditating on just five verses in the Old Testament, Psalm 95. He's just ruminating very deeply on phase after phrase of Psalm 95. And he's taking the spiritual lessons of that Psalm from the Old Covenant, and moving them over to New Testament, New Covenant believers like you and me, and applying those lessons to our spiritual situation to our condition. He's taking Psalm 95 and bringing it over. "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" as that generation did when they refused to enter the promised land. And so it says, "I declared on oath in my anger, they shall never enter my rest." So, the author has meditated powerfully on some key words like the concept of today as long as it is called today, today is the day we have to believe Christ. Today's the day we have to take in the Word of God to live for Jesus. We have today. It's all we'll ever have.
So, he's meditated on this idea of today or he's talked about God's rest. "I swore an oath in my anger, they shall never enter my rest." What is God's rest? We found last week very clearly that it's the Sabbath rest, of eternity in God's presence, in heaven. And the danger then, of a hardening of a heart. "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." And so he's warned them about the danger of a hardening heart and the only remedy there can be to the deceitfulness of sin that comes and hardens our heart is this, the living and active Word of God. It's the only remedy.
And so he's wielding this sharp double-edged sword. He's been wielding it now for these two chapters, he's been wielding it really from the very beginning, The Book of Hebrews is saturated in Old Testament quotations, saturated in the Word of God, but I think he's really specifically saying, "Look at all that Psalm 95 can do in your life." And it's just five verses of the Old Testament. Oh, the beauty of the Scripture, the power of it, how it can be unleashed in your life. So he's talking about it, that's the context. And so what does he say? What does he say about the searching qualities of the Word of God?
I. The Searching Qualities of the Word of God
Well, look again at verse 12, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow."
The Word of God is Living – It Imparts Life
First he says that it's living. The Scripture is living. The Word of God as a living thing. It's alive in some mysterious way, it is a mystery, this life of the Scripture, it's a mysterious thing, but it is alive. These are living words. JI Packer, the Puritan scholar, speaking of Richard Baxter's 'Reformed Pastor' said this, "Its words have hands and feet. They climb all over you, they work their way into your heart and conscience and will not be dislodged." Well, dear friends, if that is true of Richard Baxter's uninspired book, 'Reformed Pastor,' how much infinitely more is that true of the Word of God?
It has hands and feet and it climbs into your heart. These words are living things, they run into your brain through your eyes as you read and your ears as you hear. They find their way quickly through your spiritual bloodstream, into the vital organs of your spiritual experience, and they settle in there, they are alive, they begin to multiply their effects on you, they send off related thoughts and implications, they challenge an ever widening circle of issues in your heart and mind. They're multiplying, replicating, they're moving and churning, they're running roughshod over every objection you may have. They take your whole way of viewing everything in the world captive and transform it and make it like God's.
The Bible is living and it's also life-giving, Basic principle and biology is life comes from life. If any biologist anywhere in the world is studying looking through a microscope at a living cell, plant or animal, that biologist knows one thing, that living cell came from something living. If something is alive, something living gave it birth. So also dear friends, if you are alive spiritually, it is the living Word of God that gave you life. That's where you got it from. Life comes from life, so the Word of God is living. We were spiritually dead, and now we are alive forever more.
It says in Ephesians 2:1 1, "But as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live." You were the living dead. You were biologically alive, but you were spiritually dead. But in Ephesians 2:5, it says God "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved…" and God used as an instrument of that spiritual life-giving, that spiritual resurrection of you, the Word of God, the Word of the Gospel. Jesus said in John 5:24, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned, he's crossed over from death to life." So the Word has power to give life to the dead.
You remember that story in 2 Kings 13, where some dead person was being buried and it was a time of turbulence, military turbulence, as frequently happened in Israel's history, some raiders rode into that town and so the people in the middle of the funeral hurriedly took that dead body and threw it into Elisha's tomb where his bones were and suddenly that dead person sprang to life. That really happened. But it's also a kind of a living parable. If Elisha's bones can give life to a dead corpse, how much more can the living and enduring Word of God give life to a spiritual soul. Just spring to life when you hear the Gospel. We live on a living planet, don't we? This green, glowing, pulsating, alive, Emerald-like thing, just in the middle of blackness of space. Where does all that green come from, all those plants? Well, they come from seeds. Where do the seeds come from? They come from plants, and on and on. Read about it in Genesis 1.
But the most remotest piece of land on earth is an island in the South Atlantic called Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic. It's 1509 miles from the nearest landmass, which is also another tiny little island in the South Atlantic, St. Helena, where Napoleon was exiled because it was so distant itself from every other landmass. It is just like half the continent of North America away from any land, and yet it's just covered with lush green vegetation. How in the world did that happen? So, biologists study this, and they wonder how the seeds got there to begin with. Well, I have no idea. Maybe they were carried there on wind currents. Maybe they were lodged in logs that floated from South America or from Africa, I don't really know. Maybe they were in the intestines of birds that ate some plant and then died, flew there and died and then the plant sprang to life. People have different theories, but it doesn't matter how distant or how far life can get there, how much more than to the distant shores does the gospel go with life in Jesus' name?
And it doesn't matter how old it is either. I was reading recently about an archaeologist that found some old wheat seeds in the burial shrouds of a mummy from Egypt, he decided to plant them and he got wheat out of them. They were 3000 years old. But apparently no water had ever touched them and so they were vital, they were ready to go. In the 16th century, there was a copy of the Scriptures in some old Augustinian cloister, Martin Luther blows the dust off the pages, reads and comes to life spiritually, and the Reformation just jumps up out of that.
It doesn't matter how old the Bible is, it is still vital, still alive. Bible also has power to revive you spiritually, to renew you, to give you new life in your walk with Jesus. As it says in Psalm 23, "He restores my soul." Or in Isaiah 40, "Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings as eagles, they'll run and not be weary, they'll walk and not be faint." All of that gets ministered to you through the Bible. That's how it comes, the Scripture comes and gives you life.
Have you ever heard it said of a great teacher, a preacher, "That individual makes the Bible come alive"? I hate that expression. The Bible is already alive. We are the ones with the problem. No, a skillful teacher is using the Bible to make you come alive. The Bible's forever young, it's forever ancient. It will never lose its youthful vitality or its ancient wisdom and experience. It's never gonna get old and feeble, or decrepit. It cannot become out of date and uncool or is the word "vintage." The Bible is never gonna be vintage, dear friends. The Bible is alive and active today. It's younger than you are, and it's older than you are. It doesn't matter how old you are, how young you are. It's vital, it's strong.
And also beautifully, the Bible cannot be killed, though many have tried to do it. You just can't kill it. The Roman Empire sought to do it, they couldn't do it. The barbarian Dark Ages that spread over Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire couldn't do it. Vikings and all their depredations on the monasteries, they didn't care about the Word of God at all, so they sacked the monasteries, because there is no one there that could fight them, or would fight them. And they burned all these worthless scrolls, and took the gold and silver they found, and off they went. About 150 years later, they're converted to Christianity. That's what happens with the Vikings.
You can't destroy the Word of God. You can burn some copies of it. You can burn some scrolls. Many have done that. The Medieval Roman Catholic church burned Luther's German translation of the Bible, they burned the Bible, because it was in the vernacular, but still it lives. The enlightenment's mockery under Voltaire couldn't stop it. The enlightenment philosophy under Immanuel Kant couldn't destroy it. It's still here. And the murderous and totalitarian regimes of the 20th century Nazism and Communism, they tried to destroy it. Nazism is dead and gone, communism is going to join it soon, but the Bible still stands and it will stand forever.
Persecution can't kill the Bible, neither can worldliness. Our worldliness will not kill the Bible. It may kill us but it's not gonna kill the Bible. Doctrinal error can't kill the Bible, lazy neglect of its teachings cannot kill the Bible, nor slanderous misrepresentations of its teachings, that cannot kill it, nor unbelief by whole regions and generations of people, that cannot kill it either, it still lives. Charles Spurgeon put it this way, "The gospel is such a living gospel that were it cut into a thousand shreds, every particle of it would spring to life and grow. If it were buried beneath a thousand avalanches of error, it would shake off the rubble and rise from its grave. If it were cast into the midst of a fire, it would simply walk through the flame, as it has done many a time as if it were in its native element." So, the Bible is living.
The Word of God is Active
Secondly, the Bible is active. And now, you're wondering how long this sermon is going to be. Now you're wondering, Okay, we're only on the second descriptor. Well, don't worry, Eric already said you're going to get out before the Super Bowl, right? When is that? 6 O'clock, 7 O'clock. Worry not, dear friends.
The Bible is active, the Word of God is living and active. What does it mean active? Another translation, would be powerful or perhaps energetic. I take it to mean effective. The Bible is effective, it's able to produce the effect it desires. When drug manufacturers want to test the effectiveness of a drug, they have to remove any questions about what's called a psychosomatic effect. In other words, people who take pills and medication think they're going to get better and that helps them to get better. So in order to test that they come up with things called placebos; they have the same shape and size and color of the other pill and they do tests. The placebo however is studied because it has absolutely no chemical effect on the body at all, at least in the areas that they're trying to study. So, it just removes that at all, and then they can compare.
Let me tell you something, the Bible is no placebo. It is effective, it's an effective agent, it steps in and does what God sends it to do, every time. And the clear testimony of this, Isaiah 55:10-11, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." God sends forth His word and it comes back to Him having done the job.
By the way, in that passage, Isaiah 55, I discovered this morning. I hadn't thought it through. The Word of God is compared to rain there, precipitation. In other places, it's compared to the seed, so the Word of God is everything, it's the rain that comes down, it's the seed that it receives. God's all over the whole process. The Word of God produces an unmistakable effect and God said, "Let there be light and there was light." Genesis 1:3, or in Genesis 1:9, "And God said, Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear, and it was so." The Word of God produces the effects specifically on human hearts spiritually, for the elect, those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The word brings them to life, and sustains them in life until they are glorified in the presence of God.
For the non-elect, they are hardened and offended by the Word. They are confirmed in sin and in patterns. They are given over to their sin, as it says in Romans chapter 1, by the same Word. And so it says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, "For we are to God, the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and to those who are perishing, to the one the smell of death and to the other we are the fragrance of life."
Now, preachers need to trust wholly in the Bible to transform the church. Put your trust here. Anyone who wants to see a church transform, they must put their trust in the Word and not in some technique or gimmick coming from a Christian book store that you can buy for $39.99 and you get out of a box. Reformation of a church doesn't come out of a box, it comes out of the Scripture. Spurgeon says this to his fellow pastors, "You may study your sermon, my brother, and you may be a great rhetorician, you may be able to deliver it with wonderful fluency and force, but the only power that is effectual for the highest design of preaching is the power which does not lie in your word nor in my word, but in the Word of God." Have you never noticed when persons are converted that they almost always attribute it to some text that was quoted in the sermon? It is God's word and not our comment on God's Word, which saves souls.
So, what effect does the Word of God produce? Well, it releases those that are held captive to sin, it unlocks the doors of hearts and the prison cell of unbelief, and lets the captive go free into a free life of Jesus. It unlocks the doors of depression and discouragement and sets the captive free into lives of joyful selfless service to the Savior. It convicts sinful twisted hearts of deep patterns of selfishness, it reveals hidden lusts and the cliff edges of materialism and other things in the heart to keep that soul walking in Jesus, that's what the Scripture can do. And all servants of Christ, pastors or not, it doesn't matter, should put their full trust in the Word of God because the Word of God alone is effective.
The Word of God is Sharp
Thirdly, the Word of God is sharp, sharp. It says sharper than any double-edged sword, the sharpness of the Word of God. Its ability to divide and render asunder things that ordinarily would be together, that's what's discussed here. What is a double-edged sword? Literally, the Greek is two-mouthed sword, one that cuts both ways, two sharp edges, two honed edges. No dull side. Friends, there are no dull passages in the Bible. There are only dull minds as we come to those passages.
Spurgeon was relating a story of a man who was just reading a Sunday school lesson, just reading the Sunday School lesson. And he came to that genealogy in Genesis 5, which goes from Adam to Noah. And it's just this kind of rhythmic so-and-so lived so many years after the birth of so and so, and they had other sons and daughters, and then he died, and then he died, and then he died and then he died, and then he died, and the man was converted because he was considering his own death. He was cut to the heart by that passage because it has piercing, it has cutting abilities. The Word is sharp. It is sharp and it cuts both ways. A preacher unleashing the powerful convicting word of the Bible ought to see, does see, if he's a godly man, that it's cutting both ways. It's not just the people that are being cut, but it's the preacher as well. He stands under the convicting, converting, the transforming power of the Word, because he is having those same things happening in his life.
And I was meditating on this cutting because there's a Greek word that relates to the cutting. It made me think of another passage of Scripture, 2 Timothy 2:15, which says, Paul's talking to Timothy, a young pastor. He says "Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." Orthotomeo is a Greek word, rightly cutting it, cutting it right. So I thought, Now this is strange. In Hebrews, it talks about how the word is sharp, but then in 2 Timothy, it's that he's to cut the word straight.
So I was meditating on this and I came up with my onion illustration. About two or three months ago, I was making spaghetti with fresh onions, big white onions from the produce section. And I got a sharp knife and I sliced right through the center of that onion, and opened it up, and I was weeping within 30 seconds. I was just weeping as the pungent chemicals just oozed and flowed up into my face. And so I think that's how these two relate. A skillful pastor cuts open the Scripture so it can cut you open, just unfolds the Word of God so that you are cut open before it and brought to tears over sin, brought to conviction and brought to joy over what Jesus has done at the cross. And so the Word of God does have power to hurt you and it also has power to heal you from that hurt. He wounds, and then he binds up the wounds, and he does it by the Word.
Take someone with a malignant tumor growing up inside their body, strangely, the body is supporting and nourishing that malignant tumor with blood vessels, feeding that tumor with blood vessels. The surgeon comes in with a scalpel and cut those blood vessels and there is bleeding. But the intention is healing because that tumor will kill you. And so the Word of God is sharp to heal you from sin.
The Word of God is Penetrating
And it's also penetrating. The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. So it's not just a slashing kind of thing, but a piercing kind of thing. There's a sense of piercing. Well, what's being pierced? Our hardened hearts. That's what's being pierced.
It says in Hebrews 3:12-13, "See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Sin is deceitful. And the effect is a hardening of the heart. The Word of God has a remedy, it pierces the hardness that sin has produced. As in the days of Peter's sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2:37. When the people heard his sermon, it says, "They were cut to the heart," they were pierced in their hearts, "and they said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'" "Repent and believe in Jesus" is the answer. But because they were pierced. The Word of God can pierce like a rapier point.
One of my favorite stories from church history concerns George Whitefield, he was a powerful preacher of the Word of God, very dramatic but very biblical, very God-centered. He was an expository preacher but very passionate and dramatic in his presentation. He's just going verse by verse and going through this and unleashing the power of the Word of God. And the Great Awakening, just by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Great Awakening was just pouring down as this man and others preached this Word. However, everywhere Whitefield went, he stimulated tremendous opposition, people hated him, and opposed him. Some would blow trumpets in his ear while he's up on the stand preaching, others would throw dead cats at him or worse. He had enemies, and as he was doing it in one particular ministry in Bristol, England, he had stimulated some specific opposition.
Now, George Whitefield had a defect with his body. His eyes were constantly crossed. He had crossed-eye like that, and so those that sought to mock him called him Dr. Squintum. And so he had these squinty kind of crossed eyes, and there was this one particular group of young men who made it their business to mock Whitefield everywhere he went. They organized themselves in something called the Hell-Fire Club and there was a particular man named Thorpe, who was kind of the ring leader of the Hell-Fire Club, and they just kind of mocked him wherever he went in Bristol, England. And apparently, Thorpe was very good at doing impressions, he was good at it, and he had all of Whitefield's mannerisms and gestures down pat. So he went with his buddies, the Hell-Fire Club, to a certain pub like a bar and he got a copy of one of Whitefield's printed sermons, and he has the copy in his hand, gets up on the table and starts to mock Whitefield by preaching one of Whitefield's sermons. Ten minutes into it, he is converted by the power of what he's mocking.
He just sinks down on his knees in tears and begs Jesus to forgive him, forgive. This piercing power of the Word of God, and then he became himself a preacher of the Word, and led many to faith in Christ.
It's the piercing power of the Word of God. You can't escape it, if you're one of God's elect; and the Word of God has power to discriminate in your mind between this and that, to set it apart, to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow. I don't know what that means exactly. Some theologians say that there's a difference between the soul and the spirit. They say that the soul is that part of you that relates to God and they even, some of them, talk about it being implanted at the new birth, relationship with God. And then they say the spirit's the natural kind of immaterial part of you that enervates you, that gives you life, etcetera. Look, I don't know, I think that the word soul and spirit are frequently used interchangeable in Scripture, but I know this, if there can be a distinction made between soul and spirit, it's the Word of God that can do it, and it can divide between joints and marrow too. And so it discriminates.
Charles Spurgeon put it this way, "The Word not only lets you see what your thoughts are, but it criticizes your thoughts. The Word of God says of this thought it is vain and of that thought it is acceptable. of this thought it is selfish and of that thought it is Christ-like. It is a judge of the thoughts of men and the Word of God is such a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart that when men twist about and wind and wander yet it tracks them down."
II. Judgment Day Before the Word of God
And so, the written Word of God is vibrant, and its job is to bring us now, now, today, while there's time, spiritually in our minds to bring us to Judgment Day. That's its job. It brings Judgment Day to you or you to Judgment Day because it says it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The function of Scripture is to save your soul. 2 Timothy 3:15, "How from infancy, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." That's what they can do. And so, before salvation can happen, a sinner has to be made to see himself as guilty in the eyes of the holy God. That sinner has to be brought to the judgment bar of God and stand guilty, and the Word of God has power to do that. It's a mirror that shows you your corruptions, and it has power to illuminate your thought-life and reveal it to be godly or corrupt at any moment, it has the power to lay open the twists and turns of your tricky heart.
It says in Jeremiah 17:9 and 10, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" That's not a rhetorical question, it's a real question. Who can understand the human heart? Next verse, "I the Lord search the heart and the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." God knows your heart. He knows everything about it, even in its sinfulness.
Hunters catch foxes by studying their habit patterns and how they are clever and tricky, and how they double back on their ways and all that, what their layers are, and so human beings can hunt foxes successfully. But we can't hunt our own hearts successfully, can we? But God through the Word can hunt our hearts successfully and the Word of God works together with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit uses the Word, and the Word and the Holy Spirit go together. And so the Spirit brings conviction of sin and it brings us to the judgment seat of God. And why is that?
III. The Searching Omniscience of God Himself
Look at verse 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," of God. This is God's universe. He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and His holy eyes search out everything there is on this planet. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. We in our sin yearn to hide, we yearn to hide.
Adam and Eve made those fig leaf coverings for themselves and then when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they ran and hid behind trees. They're looking for a covering and they think that God cannot see what they do in the dark. But even the darkness is as light to God, there's nothing in all creation hidden. Our secret lusts, our secret deeds, our secret desires, our secret histories, the things we've done in the past, the Word of God uncovers them in His holy presence so that we can bring them to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness. So that we can bring those things to Jesus and say, "Lord I am a sinner, oh Be merciful to me. Oh, Jesus, you shed your blood for sinners. I am a sinner. Save me, save me." Even the best men in the Bible forget that God sees everything. We always think we sin in the dark, don't we?
So Moses right before he kills the Egyptian, what's he do? He kind of looks here and there. Well, what's he looking for? For eyewitnesses. Seeing that there were none, he proceeded and killed the man, but he forgot the most important eyewitness of all, Almighty God. Or Jonah, he runs down and gets on the ship. Why? To get away from God. You can't do that. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. There's nowhere you can go from His Spirit, nowhere you can flee from His presence. And we yearn for a covering. And why?
IV. Judgment Day Before God Himself
Because some day in verse 13, we are going to give God an account. We are going to stand before Him and we will give Him an account.
Later in this book of Hebrews, "Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment." And we are not ready, in our naked sin, we are not ready to stand before Him. We need a covering, amen? We need a covering. And there is a covering; the covering is the blood of Jesus, and so it says in Romans Chapter 4, "Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." We need a covering and the covering is provided. His name is Jesus, His blood was shed that we might be covered, that we might be forgiven, that we might stand clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
And so, what application can we take from this? Prize and reverence the Word of God, revere it. I don't mean set the book in front of you, and bow down to it like some heathenish idol. Not saying that. I'm saying open it up and read it, listen to its message and realize that God's speaking to you by it. And let the Word of God convert you. You may be here in an unconverted state, you should tremble about that, it should cause you to be worried and concerned about your soul. I plead with you to flee to Christ. Jesus shed His blood for sinners like you and me, God raised Him from the dead on the third day, trust in Him. The Word of God has power to convert you. And if you're already a Christian, but you're feeling saggy in your Christian life, you're feeling drained, you're weak, especially in your prayer life, let the word of Christ revive you spiritually. Go to the Word to derive new strength from it and let the Word of God strengthen you for His service. You're given a ministry but you're getting weary in it, you're not seeing the fruits of the results, you're tired of it. Go back to the Word through the Spirit, and let the Word of God revive you and renew your strength so you can go out and serve Him. And let the Word of God be your main strategy for fruitfulness.
If the Lord tarries and if the Lord calls me away from this pulpit, either by death or by some other calling, which I don't intend at all, it's not in my mind... I'd like to stay here till death. But if you're here and the time comes to get another pastor, get one that'll preach the Word, that's what you're searching for. And if you're looking, you're searching for a church, if you should leave from this place as our covenant says, or you're not a member yet, find a church that preaches the Word above all else, that's what you need. And finally let the Word of God search your innermost heart. I would suggest you physically lay down on your bed from time to time and say Psalm 139:23 and 24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way and lead me in the way everlasting." And then having been renewed and revived and strengthened, then take the Word of God out to a world that needs it. You're surrounded by people without hope and without God in the world, minister the Word of God to somebody this week, say the words of Scripture to a lost person this week, get into a great conversation like Jesus did with that woman at the Samaritan well. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank You for the power of the living and active Word of God. We thank you for everything it does in our souls. I pray that you would take the words that I've spoken and that You would blow away the chaff, the influences and effects that I have given that are unhelpful for human hearts. Blow them away, but let the eternal seed of the Word of God take root in hearts and grow to bear fruit for eternity. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.