Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Last week we looked at Hebrews 4:8-11. We understand from Hebrews 3 and 4 that Israel could not go into the promised land because of a pattern of rebellion and disobedience that led them into unbelief. Their unbelief descended into disbelief as the continued for many years in this pattern.
The message of both Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 4 is that we should not follow their example. God has something for the church that is even greater than what the Joshua generation received when they did eventually go into Canaan. The bible says their remains a rest for the people of God that no other generation has enjoyed. Hebrews 4 makes it clear that the nature of this “rest” is faith in God. If we give in to the same rebellion and disobedience that Israel did, we will not experience the rest of faith and we will not see our full destiny.
How can we be sure we will not fall after Israel’s example? We must labor or be diligent to enter the rest. We must make entering the rest of faith in God a priority in our lives. We must be willing to work to build faith to the point where we are no longer trying to believe. We must come to the place where we simply believe. That place is called rest and it guarantees our victory.
How do we enter this rest of faith? What is the nature of our labor? Hebrews 4:12-16 reveal two truths that make the rest possible in our lives. This week we will begin to study the first of these truths. The Word of God is alive and powerful!
I was born again at age 14. I grew up Catholic. We were not very good Catholics. We did not go to church much. I did the usual Catholic things that children do. I had my first communion and confirmation, but my family did not attend church regularly. When I was thirteen, I met the Baptist minister’s daughter who would become my wife. She led me to the Lord. At seventeen, I received the call to ministry and was sovereignly led into the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
From the age of 14 to 24, my wife and I learned all the popular charismatic teachings that flowed through the body of Christ. I went to work in a factory out of high school. I went through a few difficult years, as I did not want to work in a factory for the rest of my life. I thought God had made a terrible mistake by not putting me into fulltime ministry right away.
During this time in my life, I began hearing a message that changed everything for me. That message is the thing that unlocked the Word of God for me. The message was a simple truth but it confirmed some things I thought should be true but had never heard preached. That message was that the Word of God was a higher truth than natural truth.
This does not seem like such a big thing until you begin to realize the ramifications. If the bible is true, God created everything by speaking his Word into a void. In Hebrews 11:3 we read this.
Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV) 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
This verse says that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. We see this described in detail in Genesis chapter 1. God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light. God created with his Word. The truth that changed my life was that the nature of his Word did not change when it was written down. It is still creative in nature and the natural world created by the Word of God will still respond to that Word.
I learned that if I would believe the Word of God, I could bring about change in my life and in the world around me. I did not have to live dominated by life and by the world. I could believe “all the promises of God” which are yes and amen in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Faith would come by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). This faith could cause the natural world to be conformed to the promise. This faith could change me and help me become the person who could walk in the promise.
There have been many variations on this teaching. It has grown into a movement that has been both good and bad over the years. There have been misinterpretations and false ideas that have grown out of this teaching. That happens with any truth God reveals to the church. That does not change the fact that the Word of God is the highest truth in the universe and it has the ability to change the world that it created. (Is. 55:8-11)
I bring this up because Hebrews 4:12 cannot be completely understood outside of the context in which it appears. How can we avoid the mistakes that Israel made? How can we enter into the rest of faith? What is the nature of the labor we must do in order to enter this rest? Hebrews 4:12 follows Hebrews 4:11. I know that this is a bit obvious but it is important. The one follows the other because they are related.
The very first thing I must understand if I am going to enter the rest is that the Word of God is alive and powerful. That is the truth that started me on the journey I am sill on today. Some would say that this is speaking of the aspect of the Word of God known in Greek as Rhema. Rhema means the Word that God is currently speaking. It is Rhema that produces faith in Romans 10:17. They argue that we cannot treat the written Word, Greek Word Logos, the same as we do the Rhema Word of God. I would disagree.
Rhema comes from Logos. When I read the Logos of God in the bible, it contains the power of rhema. That power is in seed form. However, that does not mean it is any less powerful. Hebrews 4:12 begins by telling us that the Word of God is alive. The Greek word for “Word of God” in this verse is “Logos.” It is the written Word or the Word that God has already said that is alive and powerful. It is the written Word that will become the Word God is currently saying or Rhema when we allow it to fill our hearts and minds.
I believe the first step to entering the rest of faith is to believe that the Word of God we find in the Bible is alive and powerful. Let us read this verse in the Amplified Bible.
Hebrews 4:12 (AMP) 12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
The Logos is alive and full of power. The expansion of the word “power” is this. It is active, operative, energizing and effective. That is what the Bible is when I put it into my heart. It is active in me. It is operating to bring about the will of God in my life. It is energizing my spirit and strengthening my soul. It is effective in doing what needs to be done in my life and situation.
If I make the choice to believe that about the Word of God I will take the first step to entering the rest God promises us in this chapter. If I keep it in my heart and mind and meditate on it day and night, it will change me and then my circumstances. This is the first key to the rest of Faith in God. (Joshua 1:8)