By Shawn McMullen
Ever wish God would speak to you directly? Probably at some point we’ve all felt it would make decision-making—and life in general—much easier. Maybe it would. But it really isn’t necessary. God speaks to us every day—if we’ll listen.
The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). God spoke to the world through Jesus Christ, the living Word (see John 1:1, 14). Later he sent his Holy Spirit, who inspired men to put the Word of God into written form.
God continues to speak to us today through his written Word, the Bible. What’s more, God has imparted special properties to the Bible, making it superior to every other written work. The writer of Hebrews adds, “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. 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” (4:12, 13).
These verses describe several one-of-a-kind characteristics of Scripture.
It lives. “The word of God is living,” the writer notes. How can a written document—paper and ink—live? It lives because the Holy Spirit who inspired it continues to work through it to communicate God’s nature and will to humankind. Reading God’s Word puts us in touch with the living Spirit of God who authored it.
It acts. Leon Morris observed, “There is a dynamic quality about God’s revelation. It does things.” The Word of God acts by bringing to bear the influence of the Holy Spirit on the life of the reader. Listening to and obeying God’s Word bring about radical change in our lives. Peter says we have been “born again . . . through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). James explains, “The word planted in you . . . can save you” (James 1:21). Jesus indicated that God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17). The Word of God acts decisively in our lives, if we allow it.
It penetrates, “even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” God’s Word permeates the deepest recesses of our lives, separating truth from falsehood, genuine from counterfeit.
It judges. Kritikos means, “tracing out and passing judgment on the thoughts of the mind.” Through the power of the Spirit, God’s Word speaks to our hearts and works in our consciences, urging us to act in ways that honor the Lord.
It reveals. The writer reminds us that nothing escapes God’s notice, and that we’re accountable to God for our thoughts and actions.
Such a unique document deserves careful and faithful reading. And when read carefully and faithfully, it can bring about radical change in the reader.