Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. 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. –Hebrews 4:11-13
Verses 12 and 13 above are among the Solid Gold Top 40 scripture memory verses. I memorized them in my youth and have recalled them many times. And without question, I applied these verses to the bible. The “word of God” that is “living and active” means the bible.
Giving it a little more thought, plenty of the Newer Testament books weren’t written yet when Hebrews was being written and it’s unlikely that the writer knew about most of those books that were already written. I realize that ruins the assumption that so many people make, but it’s simply the fact of the matter.
So what then is the “word of God” sharper than any two-edged sword? Is it the Older Testament books? In a sense, yes. But there is a more specific answer. Instead of making a general statement about the bible (as most people tend to take it), the writer is referring to the scriptural texts that Hebrews has been using, notably the Psalms of the last few chapters. Most recently he used Psalm 95, which especially has a way of cutting right to the heart.
That makes a lot more sense of the verse coming right before. We must strive to enter rest. That sounds a little contradictory: striving and resting. The thrust of this passage is a warning but also leads to great encouragement. If you have the choice between being cut to the heart now as a living person so that the surgery of the Word of God (“piercing souls and spirit; discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”) will lead to unassailable faith, or having it cut you to pieces in the Judgment (“naked and exposed” when “we must give account”), surely now is the better of the two options!
If you open yourself day by day to the message of scripture and allow the faithful preaching of Jesus and his victorious work to soak you through and through, you’ll enter God’s rest. You are not on your own with your creative ingenuity and stalwart will power. Instead we have God’s word, living and active. And that’s the gospel!
Come hear it preached and enacted in the Supper this Sunday!