THE DISCERNING WORD
Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 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. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The apostle is concerned with the danger of the apostatizing of his current professors of Christ, warning them not to follow in the paths of those who did so in the wilderness journey from Egypt. Therefore he gives to them an understanding of the great spiritual benefit afforded them in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He did this same thing in his letter to the church of Corinth. For there, in chapter ten, verses eleven through thirteen we find the same pattern of instruction. 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
In verse eleven he here gives them the same type of warning as in our verses in Hebrews 4:11 and 12. Then in that thirteenth verse of chapter ten of his Corinthian letter, he presents to them the help of God’s faithfulness to those who are attempting to bear their christian afflictions. And that is the same as in our Hebrews 4:12! For here he presents to them the extremely valuable word of God which will always help them to rightly discern their own hearts.
For one of the characteristics of the human heart is to always think more highly of itself than it should, even to the justifying of its every desire and determination. And this needs to be addressed with the spiritual graces provided through our gift of faith! Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
And the word of God applied by the Holy Spirit will honestly, and without reservation, discern and expose every thought and intent of that heart. Therefore it is of the greatest benefit, however painful to endure, in the working out of one’s salvation with fear and trembling! It is a joint effort of the believer with the indwelling Spirit to maintain a proper worshipful fear of his mighty Lord. Phil. 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Then in verse thirteen of our Hebrew text we are informed of the vastness of the perception of the word that so powerfully aids the believer in keeping his own heart. (See Prov. 4:23) For not only does the word have depth in discernment, but it also has width in the vastness of perception!
Do you recall to whom the Lord commanded his gospel to be preached? Was it not to every creature? (Mark 16:15). And our verse thirteen of Hebrews 4 informs us that there is not any creature not manifest in his sight! Think about it! He knows every creatures heart. He commands that every creature have his gospel preached to them. And he commandeth all men every where to repent! (Acts 17:30). But he is a discerning word for the benefit of only the true believer, elected in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4).
Therefore one of the spiritual benefits that accompanies the gospel which opens our hearts is that its discerning spirit also makes the believer aware of those with whom he is dealing. He learns to listen to the still small voice within, quietly telling him why he was not able to cast his precious gospel pearls before some souls. He concludes that even though the Spirit opened his mouth wide to speak in depth and freeness of the glorious Lord to some, those must be of a swinish nature before whom the Spirit hindered his vocal witness. Matt. 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Also this verse thirteen makes us fully aware that the judgment of the Lord that was set at Calvary, (John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.), is a gospel judgment, even taking place as it is preached to every creature. For that same word, which knows every creature, shall be the very implement of judgment against those who reject it! John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
For the “stone” to build one’s faith upon also becomes the stone to crush and grind to power! Matt. 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
But what about that twoedged sword? The key to the inclusion of that rather abrupt reference to the sword has to be understood by the previous reference to Joshua, (misinterpreted incorrectly, as in Acts 7:45, as “Jesus”), in Hebrews 4:8. We simply need to keep in mind that the Apostle Paul is referring to the falling away of those in Joshua’s day, in order to prevent his present professors from doing the same. And then we need remember that both Joshua, in his day, and the Apostle John, in our gospel day saw the Lord Jesus in possession of a sword!
Here is the text for that appearance to Joshua: Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
And here is the reference from John’s receiving the Revelation of Jesus Christ: Revelation 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
What do you see that is immediately clear? Is it not the relationship of the sword to the Person of the Captain of the Lord’s hosts? In the old economy (Old Testament), where God is mostly seen through the physical realm, the sword is outside of His Person, in his hand! But in the new economy (New Testament) where he clearly states, It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63), the sword is contained within the confines of his Person. It is in his mouth!
For in Joshua’s day the sword was used to destroy the human lives of those outside of God’s covenant people. But now in our gospel days, the sword is clearly seen to be the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph. 6:17). For once the world was ruled by the former physical sword of the Lord, but now it is governed from within his glorious Person, by the gospel word from his own mouth and lips! For the gospel is the fire that proceedeth out of the mouths of His prophets as they preach the word. (Rev. 11:5).
Listen at the Eternal Son of God speaks through his servant Isaiah’s prophetic lips concerning this matter, some 800 years before his Incarnation: Isaiah 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. 2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; 3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
He states along the lines of the Apostle Paul’s writings in the ninth and tenth chapters of the Book of Romans, that nothing is at fault concerning the word of God in regards to national Israel’s failure to be recovered. Christ, the Word (John 1:1,2,14), is glorious within his own self whether men reject his gospel or not! (For it is His Person referred as Israel in verse three of that passage. And it is national Israel spoken of in verse five.) Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
The Lord Jesus makes this perfectly clear to Pilate during his interrogation. John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. No physical wars, even if said to be “in God’s name and will,” are authorized by King Jesus for the advancement of his spiritual kingdom!
And this is the key to the understanding of his communication with the disciples as his time of death drew near! Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
He was not instructing them to begin a stock pile of physical weapons for an overthrow of government! When they took his words as literal instead of knowing that he was speaking of trading in anything physical in order to invest in the spiritual realm, he just brushed it aside by his words, It is enough!
For that would have been in direct contradiction to his instructions through the Apostle Paul. And be sure that human government does have a physical “sword” to keep order in the world for the peace of the church! Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Human government, as already stated, is authorized by God to have a physical sword, and is set forth to keep order for the church’s sake. 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Here is the church’s authorized weaponry: 2 Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Pastor Gene Breed November 30, 2013.