When we are handling Scripture, we are handling something that is ALIVE.
The Bible says it of itself.
Hebrews 4:12 12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Discerning the thoughts and intents of our heart. That is getting deep into our being. That is why Paul said we must let it work in us—because its commands, understood and followed, will change change us. That is how we learn to follow it, as Paul said,
1 Thessalonians 2:12–13 12that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
“Walk worthy of God,” as worthy representatives of our high calling—that is a tall order. Apparently Paul had brethren who were doing very well. His comment shows his appreciation of them.
13For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
Here is the word alive, because it is “in truth the word of God.” And what is it doing? It “effectively works in you who believe.
So let the Word discern, let it show us what we are and where we lack. It it be for us the Word alive.
There is another sense—even greater—in which the Word is alive: when it is alive IN US.
When God wanted to make known his ideal life, he sent Jesus Christ to show it, to actually BE that ideal, that living word of God in flesh and blood, our perfect example. We can only stand back and say, How lovely!.
We don’t appreciate it fully until we get into the depth of His Word and see what it entails, what God is really looking for in us. But when we begin to see, we begin to admire Jesus more and more for His truly great attainment, to live sinlessly in the midst of a real world and everyday human life.
We know from the divine record that Jesus filled this role perfectly and precisely.
Hebrews records of Him:
Hebrews 5:8–9 8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
Again it says, from a different direction,
Hebrews 4:14–15 14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Yet without sin. Hebrews has another statement about Jesus’ attainment:
Hebrews 7:26 26For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
People may scoff or deride, but this is the testimony of Scripture: that Jesus kept “separate from sinners.” And for good reason. He didn’t want to be reflecting them on his shoulder.
The apostle John especially documented Jesus’ attainment.
John 1:14 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Perhaps John was thinking of the glory of Jesus’ transfiguration in front of them? So fully did Jesus represent the Father’s ideals that he could say,
John 14:9 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The apostle Paul insisted that the glory of God was made known in the face of Jesus Christ!
2 Corinthians 4:6 6For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Imagine that statement. God gave the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God” in the face of Jesus Christ! What a crowning statement on a life of fullest devotion and obedience! To see His face shining with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God!
Yes, it was all true. In Jesus the Word of God came alive. It walked, it talked, it worked, it lived, it breathed, it moved, it spoke the truth, it taught among men.
Wherever Jesus went, the word went because he was the word alive!
Someone has said that if you want to make a virtue visible, bundle it up in a life. This is what God did in sending Christ. Jesus did not only tell others what to do, He showed them.
It’s the difference between learning from the printed page, or by witnessing a step-by-step demonstration.
Words need definitions, and when it is something unfamiliar to us, like the law of God, we need something to SEE.
The same is true in Scripture. Sometimes we see the life lesson, and sometimes we must realize that a word or idea is powerless until it is lived, until it is converted into flesh and blood.
Don’t we frequently associate people with words? If we say someone was a wet blanket, we get a picture in our minds. What did Jesus say about Herod?
Luke 13:32 32And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox.”
When a word is spoken, what leaps into our mind is not a dictionary definition of that word but someone who is the living embodiment of it. Take, for example, the word optimism. Think about it in connection with this passage:
Ecclesiastes 11:6 6In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.
Both good? That is optimism, encouragement to keep on!
Or take the word discipline. When we think of discipline, we think of certain experiences in our life that represent this word to us. What does Hebrews say about discipline? Let’s take it from the Revised English Bible:
Hebrews 12:11 (REB) 11Discipline, to be sure, is never pleasant; at the time it seems painful, but afterwards those who have been trained by it reap the harvest of a peaceful and upright life.
Take it from a real life lesson that has changed us or our pattern of life. Or think of another person whom we consider self-disciplined, self-denying, self-controlled.
The thought is vital when applied to our spiritual life. It challenges us to do and BE what we naturally are not.
This is what Jesus did, to make the word ALIVE in His life.
We like Christ must transform into our own flesh and blood all the high and holy principles to which God calls us, what James called the “wisdom from above.”
James 3:17 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Contrast this with the “wisdom from beneath.”
James 3:14–16 14But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
When our name is mentioned, what are the images that spring into others minds? This is a question worth asking ourselves. When we have been among others, what impression of us lingers when we leave? Do they feel as though one like Christ had been there?
This was the impression left by certain brethren in the early church. Their names were Peter and John.
Acts 4:13 13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
There was something different about them—because they were reflecting Jesus. The people were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Any virtue is real only when it is lived.
What is the ideal as Paul saw it in the virtue of true, godly love? Paul put it into words in 1 Corinthians 13 as the ideal example of the word ALIVE. Let’s take it from the New Jerusalem Bible.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8 (NJB) 4Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, 5it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. 6Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. 7It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. 8Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.
Such love is not an emotion but an active demonstration of Christ-like living.
It is love that serves, endures, forgives, sacrifices, purifies.
This is love that transforms purity into LIFE.
We do this in such small ways as being always patient, always kind, always pleasant with those who might be irritating, always keeping our promises, monitoring our conversations, paying our bills, disciplining our desires, practicing absolute moral integrity in even the smallest transactions of life.
In all these ways and countless more, WE become the WORD ALIVE.
Alive because we are LIVING it.
This is what Christian living is all about, the word made flesh and blood in us. Every day. It is the one and only way to be LIKE CHRIST and become His true disciple.