Jesus Is . . .!
July 9, 2017
I’d like to start out simply by reading the passage for today. No cute stories or anything to get us going, because I really believe this passage speaks for itself. In many respects, it does not need an introduction.
We’re doing a series on the book of Hebrews looking at who Jesus is. This passage from Hebrews 4 gives us more detail about Jesus and the nature of God. Listen to the words from the writer of Hebrews ~
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I don’t know about you, but there is a lot of meat in these 5 verses. Maybe more meat than what you’re about to eat when I’m done talking.
Initially, when I was writing this sermon, I was going to talk about all 5 verses, but as I wrote and as the Spirit led me, I realized I had way too much to say about the first 2 verses, so we’re going to look at the verses 12-13 today, and 14-16 next week.
Let’s look at what the writer is getting at in these verses. In verse 12, we read ~
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I wonder if I were to take a survey and ask people what they thought about the Bible, I don’t think many would say the Bible is alive and active. Many look at the Bible as an old archaic set of laws and demands on people.
But that is not what the Bible is about. While there may be laws and commands upon you and I, it is for our safety, our neighbor’s safety and more than anything it is for you and I to be able to come to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, so we could have a real relationship with Him.
The Word of God is alive and active. Is it alive and active in your life? It could be . . . . IF we would allow it to be. You see, I tend to think we don’t read the Bible for a few reasons.
On the one hand, some people expect that to be the Pastor’s job. He’ll read it and tell me what the Bible says. He went to school to understand what the Bible says. He’s the expert, I’m not! Oh, people, don’t buy that lie. That’s satan at work. I may have the degrees, but if you are not reading the Word of God, then you are not prepared for the daily battle. You need to know how to defend your faith, simply put, you need to understand your faith.
My sister, Susie, was always Jewish. There was a definite spiritual side to her. For a time she and her husband, Chuck, would go to Friday temple services, she would light the Sabbath candles . . . but she was clueless what it meant to be Jewish. So, I bought only an O.T. for her and Chuck. I told her read this, it’s the story of what you say you believe in. I wanted her to understand what it meant to be Jewish.
On the same token, if you say “I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus. He’s my Lord and Savior.” Then fantastic, but do you really know what you believe in? I can help on Sunday’s, but there are 313 other days for you to be reading the Bible. Know what you believe. Help your belief. Equip yourself for your daily living.
Let me tell you something the Bible never tells us to do – – – It’s really kind of strange, but the Bible never says to STUDY the BIBLE! Most people would think, well of course the Bible says we should study it, but that’s not the case. I could read scripture after scripture to you, but I want you to get a sense for what the Bible says about the Word of God ~
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall MEDITATE on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:8
11 I have STORED up your word in my HEART, that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11
22 BE DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22
6 And this is love: that we walk in OBEDIENCE to His commands. – 2 John 1:6
1 You shall love the LORD your God and KEEP His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments always. – Deuteronomy 11:1
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he MEDITATES day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The call is not so much to study the Word, but to meditate on it, to obey it, to open your heart so that the Word of God would grow within you, so that you do know right from wrong, so that you better understand who God is, and who God is calling you to be. You learn how to treat your neighbors, how to love, how to care. It’s the greatest instruction book ever, yet, it’s really about how we can know and love God.
Do you hear the importance of reading God’s Word? God believes it is important. If it wasn’t important to God, He would not be reminding us over and over that we should be reading the Word. And the Word helps us get to know God better and better. It helps us better understand how we are to live our lives.
I remember when I was first reading the Bible. I was not yet a Christ-follower. I was reading through the N.T. I was reading the stories of the crucifixion. I would find myself crying. I was like, this is bizarre. I’ve never cried when reading anything. It blew me away, but it also led me to start questioning why I felt that way . . . . and I felt that way, not because I was so sorry for this guy, named Jesus, but because I was starting to believe in this guy, Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but there are so many times I have read the Bible and a passage just jumps out at me. And I look at it, and I wonder if somehow God super-naturally put this verse in the Bible that morning. I don’t remember ever reading it, yet there it was, jumping off the page to me.
That’s part of the Bible being alive and active. Have you ever read the Bible and you’ve been convinced and convicted of a sin nature in your life? You’ve not dealt with something and now God is exposing it to you, not to the world, but to you, so you can deal with it. That’s what this is about. It’s the same when reading the word and you finally believe God has fully forgiven you, or loves you so much that He really did die for you, and you can’t help but get on your knees or weep at the fact that He loves you so much! That’s part of the convicting God does through His Word.
His Word can pierce even the hardest of hearts. You’ve met people who you thought could never embrace Christ, and now you see they are different because of Christ. That’s the double edged sword that can penetrate into the deepest recesses of our being. It’s the power of the Gospel of Christ to divide the soul and the spirit. What we consider one, God can separate.
And what happens? God can discern, He can determine our thoughts and the intentions from our heart. This can be kind of scary, because most of the time we don’t want anyone to know the intentions or thoughts in our heart. Yet, God can do that. He knows what’s going on and we’re not going to fool God.
So, the writer adds ~
13 And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
We can’t hide from God. Our thoughts, our intentions, our desires are all laid bare before God. We are exposed to God. We can’t run, we can’t hide. We may try, but God knows what’s going on. We’re not going to fool God. Ultimately, we’re called to give account to God. We’re defenseless before God.
Ultimately, the Word of God leads to change. God’s word seeks to bring about salvation and righteousness. When the word of God comes into contact with unrighteousness, it seeks to change it into righteousness. Where there’s sin, the word of God seeks to open the eyes of our heart and bring forgiveness and repentance. The hope is to make things right, to show the power of God at work.
Jesus was in a constant state of making things right. When He encountered the sick, He made them well. He forgave the sinner. He challenged the religious oppressors. He brought light to the darkness. His mission was to give us life, so we could live the abundant life – – a life of fullness.
We don’t like facing the truth about ourselves. And, we don’t like others knowing our faults. So, we cover up our weaknesses and faults. We are, by nature, defensive. So, we put up emotional walls. We avoid situations that would uncover our faults. We hide from our sins. But, God’s word penetrates our defenses.
Think about the story Jesus told in Matthew 19 about the rich young ruler. He appeared great on the outside. But he had covered up his sinfulness. He came to Jesus with evidence of his righteousness in a way that was hard to argue with. Jesus countered by challenging him to give away his wealth so he could follow Jesus. The invitation cut to his heart and exposed the truth of the rich young ruler’s heart. He didn’t want righteousness, he wanted to be right enough to still get what he wanted. Right enough is not righteousness. So, he walked away with a great deal of sadness.
God’s word comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes from simply reading and meditating on Scripture. Sometimes, it comes from a friend who notices something that’s not right in me and reminds me of God’s Word. Sometimes, it comes from a family member. Ultimately, if we are not familiar, if we don’t know God’s Word, then we don’t have the opportunity to grow into the person who is filled with the fulness of Christ. We must open His Word and know it, not for the next Bible quiz, but so we can apply His Word in our lives.
One of the most dramatic transformations was involved in the true story of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty. Following their rebellion against Captain Bligh, nine mutineers, along with the Tahitian men and women who accompanied them, found their way to Pitcairn Island — a tiny dot in the South Pacific only two miles long and a mile wide. They set fire to the HMS Bounty.
Ten years later, drinking and fighting had left only one of the original men alive—John Adams—no relation! Eleven women and 23 children made up the rest of the Island’s population. Now, so far I imagine this is the same familiar story made famous in the book and motion picture. But the REST of the story is the best part.
They were able to survive by farming and fishing, but there were major tensions among the settlers. Alcoholism, murder, and disease had taken the lives of most of the mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams, Ned Young, and Matthew Quintal were the last three mutineers surviving in 1799 when Adams and Young killed him with a hatchet.
Then in a crazy twist of events, Adams found the Bounty’s Bible in an old chest and he and Young began to read the Bible. As they read the Bible, the Words came alive to them and they changed, and their society became filled with love and peace.
Adams and Young embraced Christianity and taught the children to read and write using the Bible. Young eventually died, but Adams continued his work of educating the women and children. The entire island converted to Christianity.
Isn’t that great!! All because of the transforming power of this book.
As we prepare to close, I want to give some thoughts about what we can do that’s really applicable so that we would really trust that the Bible is alive and active – – –
1. Read the Bible. If you’ve never read the Bible, or you just aren’t sure about what to do – – let me suggest reading the Bible as you would a book.
I say that because when we read a book, we read it with emotion. We read fictional books, and we put ourselves in their places. However, I don’t believe we read the Bible with emotion. We just read it like it’s really an old, old, dead boring book.
If you don’t know where to start – – start with the gospel of Mark. It’s the shortest of the first 4 books of the N.T. It’s also the most action filled book. Add to that the fact that 95% of Mark is found in Matthew and you can read Mark without the confusion. Basically, within 8 days, if you read 2 chapters a day, that’s maybe 7-10 minutes of Bible reading, you will have read that gospel book.
2. Choose the proper version of the Bible. There are so many different translations available, some which are more literal, some are more about getting the meaning of the passage, called Dynamic Equivalence. Choose the version which best fits your reading ability. If you have a question, ask me.
3. Don’t race through your reading. Too often we make reading the Bible or prayer as something we need to check off our to do list. Take your time reading. Allow the word to filter in and touch your heart, spirit and mind. Stop when you need to and meditate on the Word. If you don’t have a plan, I can come up with one.
4. Ask questions! Don’t just read and say “well I don’t understand, so I’ll skip all of that!” Ask me, or ask others.
5. Come to Bible study. If you can’t come here, I’ll help you form your own Bible study. Have a group of people come to your home, or set up a time to come to church and we’ll open the doors for you to have a group meet to study.
6. Pray before reading. I believe you should say a short prayer before you read the Bible. I’m not talking about a 5 minute prayer. I’m talking about 15 seconds. Ask God to open your heart, spirit and mind so that when He speaks to you, you will be receptive and will listen and learn.
7. Scripture Memorization. I used to enjoy doing this, but I have gotten away from this. Starting in the next couple of weeks, I will have a scripture in the bulletin we are to memorize.
8. Don’t not read the Bible because you are afraid you won’t understand it. I have extra Bibles I can give to you if you need one. There are all different versions, some harder to understand, some easier. Let me know what you need!