We have seen that Hebrews presents the Bible as God’s powerful Word, but it immediately blurs the distinction between the Bible and God, even the Bible as “the word” and Jesus as “the Word”. There is a Person behind all the ‘words’ of the Bible, who is himself ‘the Word’. They are essentially his ‘words’. To not believe and receive the Bible is not to believe and receive him.
In the book, “Taking God At His Word”, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Scripture, because it is the breathed out word of God, possesses the same authority as the God-man Jesus Christ. Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God.” Over the last 200 years, many critics have disputed such a claim. They have accused Christians of worshiping the Bible and not making necessary distinctions between the Bible and God. Some have said that we need to see the truths behind the Bible, and not worry so much about the Bible itself. However, the Bible itself actually supports DeYoung’s claim, and often deliberately blurs any distinction between God and the Scriptures.
Hebrews 4:12-13 is one of the most famous statements in the Bible about the Bible:
“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.”
This famous text assumes the closest possible relationship between God and his written word, even between Jesus and the Bible.
In context, it’s obvious that the passage is talking about the Bible itself. (Notice it says, “For the word of God is living…”) Hebrews has just been expositing and applying Psalm 95 for two chapters. In 4:2, it explains, “Good news came to us just as to them, but the message (literally, the ‘word’) they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” So “the word of God” in 4:12 is obviously the message of God written in the pages of Scripture that Hebrews has already been citing.
However, Hebrews goes on to describe the Bible with startling attributes, even the attributes of God himself. Consider the following:
“The word of God is living and active”
Earlier in the same passage, Hebrews had warned against falling away “from the living God” (3:12). The “word” is obviously being personified as “alive”, as having a power all its own (see Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 1:18, Col.1:5-6, 1 Thess. 2:13; also Deut. 32:47, Isaiah 55:10-11). Interestingly, in John 6:63, Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Jesus clearly makes a connection between the Spirit who gives life and his words. Hebrews 3:7 pointedly introduces Psalm 95 by saying, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says.”
As Hebrews 4:12-13 continues, the attributes it describes look increasingly like the attributes of Jesus as the “word of God”.
“Sharper than any two-edged sword”
Consider how Jesus is repeatedly described: Rev. 1:16, “In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” Rev. 19:11-15,
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True… He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God… From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.”
“Discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”
How do swords “discern”? For that matter, how does “the word” discern’? Who is it who discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart? In fact, this is an activity of God. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind” (Cf. Psalm 94:11, 139:23, Jer. 20:12; 1 Chron. 28:9, 1 Sam.16:7). Jesus says in Revelation 2:23, “I am he who searches mind and heart.” The prophet Simeon said of Jesus, in Luke 2:34-35, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
“No creature is hidden from his sight”
Did you notice how the subject changes? Suddenly, v.13 starts talking about a “him”, because it’s been talking about a “him” all along. You cannot separate God from his word.
“All are naked and exposed to the eyes of him.”