The Armor of God, Part 6: The Word
Posted on 04/22/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
RIVER OF LIFE
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear
TAKE A LITTLE TIME
Thank you, Lord,
I just want to thank you,
I just want to thank You;
I just want to take,
take a little time right now
to say thank you, Lord
for all you've done for me.
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
For the past few weeks, we've been talking about the Armor of God, drawing from a series outline we covered three years ago. We've seen that the only way to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil is to put on the whole armor -- not just the parts we like or the parts that are comfortable to us, but the WHOLE armor, every single piece, and every piece in its entirety.
We've talked about the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel, the Shield of Faith, and the Helmet of Salvation.
We started with Truth, and we pondered the fact that Jesus IS the Truth, and that the pieces of the armor begin and end with Jesus, for He is both the Truth and the Word of God.
We saw that the pieces in the middle overlap and compliment, they are woven together intimately -- Righteousness and Faith, and The Gospel and Salvation.
Today, let's talk about the last piece of the armor of God, which is both the beginning and the end of the journey.
Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 through 17 says this:
Ephesians 6:10-17 (KMV)
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And the title of today's message is, "The Armor of God, Part 6: The Word."
Hebrews 4:12 (KMV) says this:
12 For the word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Now, that one verse is just packed with meaning! Let's take a closer look at this verse. In fact, let's take it bit by bit, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us today through His word.
But before we do, let's take just a moment to ponder this question: "What is the Word of God?"
Luke 1:70 tells us that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been here from the very beginning; and Jesus refers to the Old Testament as "The Law and The Prophets." And what was the law? It was the law of God, given by the prophets and those he appointed and anointed to lead his people.
So we know the Old Testament is the Word of God. Jesus attested to that fact in John chapter 10, when he said "the Scripture cannot be broken."
The Scripture cannot be broken. What does that mean? Well, the word "broken" comes from a Hebrew word which means "to do away with, to deprive of authority, to annul, to subvert, to dissolve something coherent into parts, to destroy, to overthrow."
He was speaking of the Torah, the Old Testament, saying the Word of God came to them, and so the Scriptures cannot lose their authority, they cannot be overthrown, their authority over the lives of men and even the course of nature and time cannot be broken.
So we can be certain, from the words of Jesus himself, that the Old Testament is the Word of God. It cannot be broken -- it cannot be weakened, nor can its authority be destroyed. It did not pass away with the New Testament nor did it lose any of its authority.
It did not die. It is the Word of God, and the Word of God is alive. It cannot die.
As we study the Old Testament, and we've talked about this before, we see over and over again a recurring theme, as the old is a foreshadowing of the new. The Old Testament speaks both of the New Covenant and the New Covenant giver, who sealed that covenant with his own blood.
The Old Testament is embodied in Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God incarnate, clothed in human flesh.
So what about the books we know as the New Testament? Well, let's consider that for a moment.
In John 14:26, Jesus says this to his disciples:
26 But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and will bring all things to your remembrance that I have said to you.
Have you ever wondered how the Gospels can agree, overlap, and complement one another, years after Jesus had left this earth? It was the Holy Spirit, giving supernatural guidance in the writing of the Gospel accounts.
You might have heard of what's called "The Gospel of Judas." How about that book? Wasn't he a disciple? Yes, he was. But let's keep in mind that, aside from the fact that the writings supposedly from Judas are highly questionable in their authenticity, they also are in sharp contrast to the rest of Scripture, regardless of WHO wrote them.
Remember that the Word of God cannot be broken. That means that one part of it will not go against any other part. So when supposedly lost books of the Bible come to the surface, but they are not in harmony with the rest of the Scriptures, we can know they are not the Word of God, for the Word of God cannot be broken.
In the middle of the second century, the Church began to put together what we know today as the canon of Christian writings -- writings which could be considered apostolic and which are in perfect harmony with the Old Testament Scriptures which had already been established by Jesus as the Word of God.
And they didn't do this for no reason. Actually, they had very compelling reasons to assemble certain writings as recognized Scripture. You see, there were at that time, not unlike today, many spiritual leaders who embraced writings which were in opposition to Scripture and to the teachings of Jesus.
Marcion, for example, rejected the Old Testament and accepted only a carefully edited version of the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's epistles. There were many others who taught false doctrines, promoting writings which were not in line with the true Word of God.
From that time until the present, worlds full of writings have come and gone, full of all sorts of ideas and doctrines which are not in agreement with the ancient Scriptures.
Now, some have said that "Scriptures" are simply all supposedly holy writings. But if we were to interpret the word "scripture" as simply "writing," we would have to accept anything written down as truth. So let us abide in the safety of the shadow of God's wing, and trust that Jesus was telling the truth when he said that the Scriptures, the Old Testament, cannot be broken. And if anything disagrees with those Scriptures, then it most certainly is not the Word of God and it should be rejected as false.
Let's take for an example the Gospel of Thomas. We know Thomas as "Doubting Thomas," and we don't seem to hear any more about him after his encounter with Jesus, when Jesus said, "Thomas, you believe because you see me. Blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe."
Some people accept his writings as Scripture. But put on your discerning ears and listen to this in light of the rest of Scripture, and what Jesus said. This is from the Gospel of Thomas:
"Jesus said, 'Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.'"
Or consider another saying he says came from Jesus:
"The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"
Does that sound like Jesus? To the unregenerated mind, everything Jesus told us may very well sound just as impossible to understand. But to the mind that has the Holy Spirit, they are nothing alike.
A little bit later, we read this:
"When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, 'What did Jesus say to you?' Thomas said to them, 'If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you.'"
Or how about this one:
"Jesus said to them, 'When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].'"
What in the world?! According to these writings, Jesus supposedly said, "Doctors don't cure those who know them." Those of you who know Jesus, or even know the story of Lazarus, know Jesus didn't say that, because it's a lie. There's no point in wasting any more of our time reading this garbage.
I think most of you would agree with me that either Thomas did not write this, or there was something that kept Thomas from being a vessel of the Word of God or of even grasping the things Jesus had said, even after he rose from the dead and breathed the Holy Spirit upon them.
Maybe doubt? Unbelief is equated in Scripture with disobedience, and is an enemy of faith. But whatever the case may be, the Gospel of Thomas is just one example of writings that are not in harmony with Scripture. It is disjointed, and sounds like someone who does not know the truth, trying to teach that unknown truth to others.
So the New Testament books were not chosen lightly. They were very carefully selected, and are in harmony with one another, with the teachings of Christ, and with the Old Testament books.
God didn't leave us without clear instructions. He knows better than any of us that without a solid foundation, every single one of us will walk in darkness and stray from the path.
So he gave us his Word, from Genesis to Revelation, as everything we need to realize our destitution because of sin, to see our hopelessness without a savior, to understand what Jesus did for us as he took our place on the cross and took our sins upon himself, to believe that he is the Son of the Living God because his tomb has been empty for over 2,000 years, and to fill ourselves with the meat of the Word, revealing the deep mysteries of the kingdom and of how our lives should be lived as heirs of salvation.
So today, as we talk about the Word of God, we are talking about those things which are written in the Holy Bible, and those things which the Holy Spirit speaks to us that are in 100% uncompromised harmony and agreement with the Scriptures.
Let's take another look at Hebrews chapter four verse 12, then we'll talk about the four things this tells us about the Word of God; and then we'll close.
Hebrews 4:12 (KMV)
12 For the word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
First, it says the Word of God is Alive.
As I mentioned not too long ago, the Word of God cannot pass away. It cannot lose its power and authority. And it cannot become outdated or obsolete.
The Word of God is alive. Now don't think for a moment that I mean this in the same way some people say the U.S. Constitution is a living document. The Word of God does not change with the times, or with the whims or perversions of the societies in which we live.
When the Bible says that the Word of God is alive, it means, among other things, that it speaks to men throughout the ages, just as it is. It does not change.
And God has not changed, not from the first verse in Genesis, to the last word in Revelation, to today where we are, to the last day of time.
Some people think that God has "seen the light" since Jesus came and died. He used to demand justice, but now he's become all soft and cudly and is merciful to everyone.
But in Romans 9:15, Jesus quotes the Scripture in which God says, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
God has not ceased to be just and to demand that sin be paid for with death. He simply has made a way, he has provided an atonement for your sins, he has accepted the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment for the sins of those who turn from sin to serve the Living God.
You see, within the designation as "Living" as it relates to God, comes the definition of "Unchanging."
We don't have to re-write Scripture to say "Be faithful in marriage," as the Contemporary English Version says, when the Bible really says, "You shall not commit adultery." We don't have to supposedly clarify Scripture by changing 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 15 through 18, for example, which, according to a modern and very popular paraphrase, The Message, says this:
"Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever -- the kind of sex that can never 'become one.'"
Of course homosexuals can claim commitment and intimacy, as can those who are living together but are not married.
And besides that, this, which is supposed to be the Word of God, says, "the kind of sex that can never 'become one.'" But the Bible says, "do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh.'" So the Bible REALLY says you DO become one, while the writer of this paraphrase says you do NOT become one unless it's a Godly union.
And verse 18 says, "Flee sexual immorality," NOT, "we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy." We don't simply stop pursuing non-optimal sexual encounters, but we RUN AWAY from what God considers immorality. It doesn't matter if you're committed, or if you engage in true intimacy; what matters is whether what you're doing is right in God's eyes, and he tells us very plainly what is good and what is evil.
So the Word of God is not living in the sense that it needs to be re-written with the times in hopes that it will be more easily understood and accepted. No, the only words that have the power to change men's lives are the Words of God, and when we read a translation of them in our own language, let's accept only those which mirror the original as closely as possible, not only in our perceived meaning, which is objective and prone to error, but in word, which is everlasting and sure.
The Word of God is Alive. It's not a collection of dead writings. It's most certainly not a book of fables and myths, or it would have changed and evolved through the thousands of years it's been hand-copied over and over again.
The Word of God IS God. Just as the Word of God created the heavens and the earth; Just as the Word became flesh and lived among us, becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sins; so the Word of God IS God. And we serve the True and Living God.
His Word is alive. It speaks to us today. And when we take it into ourselves, base our lives and everything we do upon it, and truly become one with it by putting it into practice, then it will breathe life into us and through us.
Do you have a situation in your life that is dying or dead? Speak the Word of God into it, and apply the Scriptures to it in what you do, say, and think. And in doing so, you will be bringing life into that thing which was dead, for the Word of God is Alive.
Do YOU feel as though you are dying or dead inside? As though you just can't seem to move forward? As though you just can't seem to overcome? As though the devil just keeps on stepping all over you? As though the things with which he's bound you will never let you go?
Then speak the Word of God. Fill yourself with it. And infuse it into your dying soul by living by it in every single area of your life, down to the most dear, most sacred parts of your being. And life will begin to spring forth from your inermost being, for the Word of God is Alive!
Next, not only is the Word of God Alive, but the Word of God is Powerful.
We might hear a stirring speech and think it's powerful. But if it's not the Word of God, it is weak and fleeting, no matter how it feels, and it has no true power or authority.
As we read earlier, the Scriptures cannot be broken. The Word of God cannot lose any of its authority and power. The Word of God cannot pass away or be superceeded by any other word, or even by the word of all the powers of heaven or all the peoples of the earth.
So what if the general consensus is that many roads lead to God, or that a God of understanding would not condemn homosexuality, or that a God of love would not send anyone to hell?
The Word of God has not changed, nor has it lost the smallest bit of its unfathomable power.
The Word of God spoke into nothingness, that nothingness which random chance or the Godless imagination of fools could not alter, and the entire universe and all it contains were created.
What will happen when that word becomes the center of your life? What will happen when that word becomes the center of your situations? What will happen when that word becomes the center of even the most seemingly hopeless circumstances in your life?
Something will be created. And it will not be something you dreamed up, or something of your wildest imagination, but it will be something of God's perfect design, and will take you further on the perfect path he has designed for you to travel.
For the Word of God is Powerful beyond imagination or comprehension. And the Bible is not just a collection of ancient writings, but it is the power of Almighty God, written and preserved for us so that this same power that said, "Let there be light!" can be spoken into your darkness, and by putting it into practice, all things can become new!
So the Word of God is Alive, and the Word of God is Powerful.
Next, Romans 9:15 says that the Word of God is Sharp.
The piece of armor we're talking about today is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I've heard Christians refer to the Sword of the Spirit as just doing what you feel you are being led to do, or perhaps speaking in tongues. But this verse defines for us exactly what the Sword of the Spirit is; and it is the Word of God.
I don't know about you, but I've seen people who are truly being moved by the spirit, as well as people who just THINK they are being moved by the spirit; and trust me, the latter is anything but spiritually sharp.
And, the latter all too often stray from the Word. Sometimes they stray into the realm of feelings, in which they are led by feelings which they follow even if they do not completely agree with the Word of God.
But the Sword of the Spirit IS the Word of God, not feelings or experiences. Feelings and experiences are wonderful things, and God does use them, for he operates in the realm of the emotions just as surely as he operates in the realm the intellect. But they should never be our doctrinal guide.
It's the Word of God which is sharp, which divides the joints from the marrow, which makes clear distinctions between right and wrong, Godly and ungodly, wise and unwise, between the slightest shade of gray and that which is pure light.
And as this verse tells us, the Word of God is "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit."
Our soul likes to mimic the spirit, and it will lead you astray if you let it. "I feel as though God is telling me that in the end, no one will go to hell." Well, the Word of God talks about that very plainly, and if you believe and depend on the Word, you'll know that your soul, not the Spirit, is telling you that lie.
"I feel as though I have a very close relationship with God, and that he doesn't judge me for my homosexual lifestyle." Well, the Word of God also talks about that in no uncertain terms, and if you stop running from its blade, it will separate the soul from the spirit, cutting out that which would drag you into hell.
Not only is the Word of God sharp, but it is "sharper than any two-edged sword." It cuts coming and it cuts going. Having two edges, it also has a point, and it will prick your heart as it points to things in you that do not please God. And since it is powerful and alive, the Word of God can circumcise your heart, cutting out the sin.
It is sharp. It divides truth from error. Have you ever noticed that doctrinal errors so often rely on the dulling of some part of the Word of God? For example, one particular denomination's teaching that instrumental music in worship is evil relies on the nullification of the Old Testament. But remember, Jesus said the Old Testament cannot be broken, its authority cannot be weakened, it cannot die. What pleased God in worship in the Old Testament has not changed, for God does not change. He still delights in the pouring out of our hearts through our hands, our mouths, our feet, our minds, our emotions, and our gifts; through the harp and lyre, through the cymbals and resounding cymbals, through the trumpet, and yes, even through the electric guitar.
Don't try to hammer away at the edge of the parts of God's Word that don't fit into your doctrine, or you most certainly can be sure you will fall into error.
We could talk about error after error, and we would be here next year at this time still talking. But when the Bible says "Man shall not live by bread alone," it implies that we do have to eat, so for the sake of growling bellies, let's move along.
But seriously; do you see the point? Let's make sure that we are taking up the whole Sword of the Spirit, the whole Word of God, not explaining away the parts that don't fit in with our beliefs or that we don't like, but instead allowing the Word of God to do its job and cut away our doctrines, our beliefs, our lifestyles, and any thing within us that does not line up with that which is written.
So the Word of God is Alive, the Word of God is Powerful, the Word of God is Sharp, and the Word of God is Discerning.
"For the word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
For the most part, we all generally think we have pretty good motives, and we're pretty good people inside. But Proverbs 21:2 tells us this:
2 Every man's ways are right in his own eyes, but the LORD measures the hearts.
The word translated "measures" can also be translated "adjusted to the standard." You see, we measure our hearts according to what we think is right, and what we think is right generally comes from our heart, making our heart its own judge of whether it's right or wrong.
But God measures our hearts according to HIS standard, his Holy Word. And the Word of God is Discerning. It knows the thoughts and the intents of our heart even when our heart has deceived us into thinking it's good and right.
We could be seeking our own glory even when we think we are selflessly seeking the good of others. We could be trying to satisfy our own prideful flesh even when we think we are giving our all to serve Jesus and to please him.
But the Word of God knows. It is sharp and powerful, it is alive and discerning. And if we take up the whole Word of God, not guiding it as we would a sword, but allowing it to guide us instead, then it will reveal to us the true nature of our hearts, as we see them in the shadow of the nature of God.
You see, the Word of God is Alive; it is Powerful; it is Sharp; and it is Discerning. It is the last part of the Armor of God, and is also the first part, the Belt of Truth; and it is the center of Righteousness, The Gospel, Faith, and Salvation.
If you think you have a relationship with Jesus but you do not live by all of the Word of God, then you really don't know him as well as you think you do.
But there is life in the Word. There is power in the Word. And if you'll immerse yourself in it and hold it in front of you as a living sword which will guide your way, then you will walk on the path God has set before you; and even if you stumble, you will not fall.
Let's close today's service with a time of prayer and ministry.
This altar is open. If you believe God is speaking to you today, you're invited to get out of your seat right now, and make your way to the front, and just spend some time seeking after God and waiting in his presence.
If you'd like to commit yourself to living by the Word of God, taking it in just as faithfully as you eat every day, and realizing that you cannot truly live without it, then let your coming forward be an act of dedication to the Word of the Lord.
And if you have not accepted the Lordship of Jesus over every area of your life, then I'd like to invite you to come. Not just to this altar, but come to Jesus. He said in John 6:37 that those who come to him, he will certainly not cast out. So come to Jesus. Turn away from sin and ask him for forgiveness and to make you a part of the family of God.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed. If you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're all invited to make your way to the Fellowship Room to your left for a time of fellowship.
But for now, let's all gather at the altar, and spend some time in the presence of the one who has given us, and who is, the Word of God.
Lord God, thank you so much for your word, for giving us something reliable, something that does not change, and something that is dependable and that, if we live by it, will guarantee we walk on the right path.
I ask that the seeds of your word would not be lost or fall to the wayside or be stolen away, but that they would take deep root and would grow life inside of us.
Bless each one here, and bless us all with a continually increasing hunger for your word, as we are drawn closer and closer to you.
And we ask all these things in Jesus' name.