Characteristics of the Word of God
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…

What is the connection with the context? Is it not this that the Word of God, living and abiding forever (1 Peter 1:23), stands in its constant living relation to every generation of men? So far as we are essentially in the position of that generation which came out of Egypt, so far as we have Divine promises before us the conditions of which we may neglect, so far are we the objects of the same Word of God. Essentially the same Divine visitation, judicial visitation, comes on all who fail to show that trust which is their duty. The same things must happen to all who will not believe what is true and trust what is trustworthy. And yet what is here said of the Word of God only takes a threatening aspect if we choose to have it so. The Word of God has a double function. It may penetrate, physician-like, to heal, to purify, to illuminate the depths and dark- nesses of our being, or it may penetrate to furnish the irresistible evidence for our condemnation. It is sufficient, then, that we look at the characteristics of God's Word in themselves. What they may become in action it is for us to decide.

I. THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING. Every word concerning truth and duty, every word of promise, comfort, revelation of the unseen, is like a living being sent out into the world, going to and fro in the earth, so that none of us knows when, with all its fullness of life, it may take hold of us. "Moses," says Stephen in his great discourse, "received the lively oracles (λογία ζῶντα) to give to us." It is well that we should bear in mind how the written Scriptures, though an invaluable help, are not an absolute necessity. Apart from the living Spirit of God which fills them with life, they would be, perhaps, the least comprehensible, the most perplexing, of antique writings. Nor must we be forgetful of that Divine Logos spoken of at the beginning of John's Gospel. In that Logos was life - life which was the light of men. The Word of God finding its highest expression, the expression of what would otherwise be ineffable in a manifested human life; human, yet Divine; Divine, yet human.

II. THE WORD OF GOD IS POWERFUL. Powerful, but powerful in a peculiar way. Energetic, shall we say? Leaven - leavening the whole lump, undermining cherished principles of worldly wisdom, falsehoods, prejudices, superstitions, and putting in their place the Christian - the true and the rational. Note the expression of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:12, where he speaks of life energizing in us.

III. THE WORD OF GOD IS PENETRATING. This would seem to be the characteristic most to be borne in mind, considering how language is multiplied and varied to declare it. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Some plain word of God with the Spirit's force behind it is a sword, sharper than any two-edged sword; and yet, unlike the carnal weapon, it is not for killing, nor for mischief. Here is the penetrating power which reveals all secrets, opens out all mysteries. It hacks its way in and in till it is face to face with the real man. Every man has, as it were, a holy of holies with respect to others. They cannot get behind the veil. But God is never anywhere else in relation to us. His ways are past finding out by us. But all our ways in every winding are known to him. And all this deep, infallible searching is for our good. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

WEB: For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Characteristics of the Sacred Scriptures
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