The Word A Sword
By Charles H. Spurgeon
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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” (Heb. 4:12).
The Word of God is said to be “quick.” The Word of God is alive. This is a living Book. This is a mystery which only living men, quickened by the Spirit of God, will fully comprehend. No other writing has within it a heavenly life whereby it works miracles and even imparts life to its reader. It is a living and incorruptible seed. It moves, it stirs itself, it lives, it communes with living men as a living Word.
Have you ever known what that means? Why, the Book has wrestled with me. The Book has smitten me. The Book has comforted me. The Book has smiled on me. The Book has frowned on me. The Book has clasped my hand. The Book has warmed my heart. The Book weeps with me and sings with me. It whispers to me and it preaches to me. It maps my way and holds up my goings. It was to me the Young Man’s Best Companion and it is still my Morning and Evening Chaplain. It is a living Book – all over alive – from its first chapter to its last word it is full of vitality which makes it have preeminence over every other writing for every living child of God.
The Word of God is always fresh and new and full of force. “…The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever…” (1 Pet. 1:24-25). Its vitality is such as it can impart to its readers. Hence, you will often find that if you yourself are dead when you begin to read God’s Word, it does not matter – you will be quickened as you peruse it. You need not bring life to the Scripture. You shall draw life from the Scripture. Oftentimes a single verse has made us start up – as Lazarus came forth at the call of the Lord Jesus. When our soul has been faint and ready to die, a single word, applied to the heart by the Spirit of God, has aroused us.
It is a quickening as well as a living Word. I am so glad of this because at times I feel altogether dead. But the Word of God is not dead. And coming to it we are like the dead man, who, when he was put into the grave of the prophet, rose again as soon as he touched his bones (2 Kgs. 13:21). Even these bones of the prophets, these words of theirs spoken and written thousands of years ago, will impart life to those who come into contact with them. The Word of God is thus exceedingly alive.
The Word of God lives and abides forever and in every soil and under all circumstances it is prepared to prove its own life by the energy with which it grows and produces fruit to the glory of God. While God lives His Word shall live. Let us praise God for that. We have an immortal Gospel incapable of being destroyed which shall live and shine when the lamp of the sun has consumed its scant supply of oil.
The Word of God Is Powerful
In our text the Word is said to be “powerful” or “active.” Perhaps “energetic” is the best rendering, or almost as well, “effectual.” Holy Scripture is full of power and energy. Oh, the majesty of the Word of God! To me the Bible is not God, but it is God’s voice – and I do not hear it without awe.
What an honor to have one’s calling to study, to expound and to publish this sacred Word! You may study your sermon, my brother, and you may be a great rhetorician and be able to deliver it with wonderful fluency and force. But the only power that is effectual for the highest design of preaching is the power which does not lie in your word nor in my word but in the Word of God. It is God’s Word, not our comment on God’s Word, which saves souls. The Word of God is powerful for all sacred ends. How powerful it is to convince men of sin!
How active and energetic it is, when the soul is convicted of sin, in bringing it forth into gospel liberty! We have seen men shut up as in the devil’s own dungeon and we have tried to get them free. We have shaken the bars of iron but we could not tear them out so as to set the captives at liberty. But the Word of the Lord is a great breaker of bolts and bars. It not only casts down the strongholds of doubt but it cuts off the head of Giant Despair. No cell or cellar in Doubting Castle can hold a soul in bondage when the Word of God, which is the master key, is once put to its true use and made to throw back bolts of despondency.
It is living and energetic for encouragement and enlargement. O beloved, what a wonderful power the Gospel has to bring us comfort! It brought us to Christ at first and it still leads us to look at Christ till we grow like Him. The Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, is exceedingly powerful in promoting sanctification and bringing about that whole-hearted consecration which is both our duty and our privilege. May the Lord cause His Word to prove its power in us by making us fruitful unto every good work to do His will! Through the “washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26) – that is, through the washing by the Word – may we be cleansed every day and made to walk in white before the Lord, adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things!
The Word of God, then, is quick and powerful in our own personal experience and we shall find it to be so if we use it in laboring to bless our fellow men. If you seek to do good in this sad world, and want a powerful weapon to work with, stick to the Gospel, the living Gospel, the old, old Gospel. There is power in it sufficient to meet the sin and death of human nature. All the thoughts of men, use them as earnestly as you may, will be like tickling Leviathan with a straw. Nothing can get through the scales of this monster but the Word of God. This is a weapon made of sterner stuff than steel and it will cut through coats of mail.
About the Gospel, when spoken with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, there is the same omnipotence as there was in the Word of God when in the beginning He spoke to the primeval darkness saying, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Oh how we ought to prize and love the revelation of God! Not only because it is full of life but because that life is exceedingly energetic and effectual and operates so powerfully upon the lives and hearts of men.
A Sword that Pierces and Divides
The Word of God lays down very straight lines and separates between the natural and the spiritual, the carnal and the Divine. The Word of God gets at the very marrow of our manhood – it lays bare the secret thoughts of the soul. It is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Have you not often, in hearing the Word, wondered how the preacher could so unveil that which you had concealed? Yes, that is one of the marks of the Word of God – that it lays bare a man’s inmost secrets. It shows him that which he had not even himself perceived. The Christ that is in the Word sees everything. Read the next verse – “...All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (v. 13).
The Word not only lets you see what your thoughts are, but it criticizes your thoughts. The Word of God says of this thought, “it is vain,” and of that thought, “it is acceptable.” Of this thought, “it is selfish,” and of that thought, “it is Christ-like.” It is a judge of the thoughts of men.
Let me speak concerning practical lessons which these qualities suggest to us. The first is this – brothers and sisters, let us greatly reverence the Word of God. If it is all this, let us read it, study it, prize it and make it the man of our right hand.
Next, dear friends, let us, whenever we feel ourselves dead and especially in prayer, get close to the Word, for the Word of God is alive. When you have nothing to say to your God, let Him say something to you. The best private devotion is made up of half searching Scripture in which God speaks to us and the other half of prayer and praise in which we speak to God.
Next, whenever we feel weak in our duties, let us go to the Word of God and the Christ in the Word for power. And this will be the best of power. The power of our natural abilities, the power of our acquired knowledge, the power of our gathered experience – all these may be vanity – but the power which is in the Word will prove effectual. Get up from the cistern of your failing strength to the fountain of omnipotence. For they that drink here, shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint.
And lastly, since this Book is meant to be a discerner or critic of the thoughts and intents of the heart, let the Book criticize us. If the Word of God approves you, you are approved. If the Word of God disapproves you, you are disapproved. Have friends praised you? They may be your enemies in so doing. Have other observers abused you? They may be wrong or right, let the Book decide.
Cling to the living Word and let the Gospel of your fathers, the Gospel of the martyrs, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – be your Gospel and none but that – and it will save you and make you the means of saving others to the praise of God.
– Condensed from a sermon.