Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living 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.13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.
Todayís text begins "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;" and is a good opportunity to speak of the rest that is the gift of God, which is the Sabbath. It is something we all know, and the problem we face is that people hear different things when we speak of the "Sabbath rest", not that Godís Word means different things to different people, or that it is all a matter of interpretation. Rather, some people hear this as a message of Good News, they hear that such rest is a gift of God, his grace and blessing bestowed on us, quite simply some people here this as Gospel. We know that Gospel shows us our Savior, shows us the grace of God, shows us what God has done and still is doing for our salvation. On the other hand, many people hear "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;" as law. They hear it as law for they know that the law shows them their sin, reminds them of the wrath of God against the lawless, and encourages them to do good works, namely, "to observe the Sabbath, to keep it holy."
And rather than talk about the Sabbath, about which you all know. I would rather talk about the incredible power of the Word of God. For what other Word can touch us so deeply, or speak directly to where we are right now? Who knows at what times we need to be reminded about Godís order for the world and for us specifically, and then again, that at other times we are already troubled because of our sins, and need to be reminded about the gracious promises of God, in which we hope for our salvation, the forgiveness of sins which is ours in the blood of Jesus.
In our text, the chief image is one of not only wisdom, but power. And the 2 points we want to observe are these: 1. The Word of God penetrates, it can get to the heart of the matter, it can get through any obstacle, or any armor. And while such penetration is great power, it is not a power with out both purpose and guidance, for the 2nd point we must make about the Word of God, is that it is able correctly to divide.
One of the things we often talk about as Lutherans is Law and Gospel, and much of the problems in the church, in any time, has been problems of correctly dividing Law and Gospel. Luther once said that anyone who can correctly divide Law and Gospel should be given the degree of Doctor of Theology, he goes on to say that this ability is not a work of man but a gift of God. It is a gift of God, given in and through His Word, for the Word has this wisdom and the power to correctly divide. For the promise we are given is that the Word can divide between "soul and spirit, joint and marrow". One of the standard ways of speaking about humans, was to speak of the 3 parts, it is important to know that we have 3 parts for it is what marks us as different from the animals. The 3 parts are the body, the soul and the spirit. It takes no genius to recognize the body, for we can see that with our own eyes, we can touch it. But the Word of God can divide even further, it can divide also between soul and spirit. Here the spirit, simply refers to the life force that is within all living beings, but the thing that makes us different from the animals is that we also have a soul, given to us when God breathed life into us. The Word of God can correctly make this distinction, something that all the philosophers could never properly distinguish, nor divide, though they spent considerable ink trying. The Word can correctly divide all things. Wise people look to it for guidance in all things.
This brings us back to the 1st point, that the Word of God penetrates. Its something more than the oil that loosens rusty bolts, its a greater power than that. For when we think we are on top of the world, when we think that we are safe in our armor, when we think that we have every fortification so that we can be secure in our sin, [for this is the devilís will for our life] the Word is able to penetrate all our barriers, and show us our sin. This is good because some people have massive fortification around the sins which have become central in their lives.... just think about people who hold grudges, and how defensive they can be.... the word of God can cut through all that in an instant, and in that instant they see their sins, and they see that they need a savior. And the Word of God penetrates a 2nd time, with the good news that shows them their savior Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness of sins. Here it is not our defense and protections that it must penetrate, but ever defense and protection that the devil has thrown up and in our way, for the devil doesnít mind if people see their sins and curl up in hopeless despair, but the devil will do everything in his power to prevent anyone from hearing about the grace of God in Jesus Christ, in which we stand, the forgiven children of God, for Jesus sake. And the Word of God can cut through all the devils works, designs and purposes, and brings to us the good news of Jesus Christ. So we give thanks to God, for his powerful, wise and most penetrating Word.