You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life.–John 5:39a ESV
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 NIV
How many times have you heard someone, you know the person knows the Bible extremely well, yet it seems that the conclusion they’re coming to is way off base? I’ve had this happen all too often, especially over the past several years. If “the word of God is alive and active”, why does it seem that so many who study the Bible are coming to such ridiculous conclusions? As an Evangelical, I’d heard Hebrews 4:12 used to say that the Bible was living and active… In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d even heard it misquoted that way several times. However, the words “Scriptures” and “word” mean two different things in the Greek.
The Greek word for “Scriptures”, used in John 5:39a, is “graphas”; it referred to the written word of God, at that time the Old Testament. Now, we’d say it refers to the full cannon including the New Testament. See: https://biblehub.com/greek/1124.htm
The Greek word for “word”, used in Hebrews 4:12 is “logos”. This referred to the spoken word. It could be something spoken by an individual or by God. See: https://biblehub.com/greek/3056.htm.
Following the Protestant Reformation, we’ve placed a huge emphasis on the Bible. Depending on the denomination, we use terms like infallible or inerrant to indicate our level of confidence in our Bible and its accuracy. To question the Bible has become tantamount to heresy.
However, in the verse above, we see Jesus chastising the religious leaders because they were searching the Scriptures, but failed to realize that the Scriptures pointed to Him. The Pharisees were not encountering a living and active Word of God, but rather a dead and stale graphas. In our lives today, I question whether our desire to encourage daily Bible reading, Bible study, childhood Bible memorization, Awanas, etc., has led us to also having a dead graphas that we have put our faith and trust in, instead of a living Logos that is sharper than any two edge sword.
Often times we see the Logos when we’re talking with a friend and all of a sudden God gives you the right words and you see them instantly impact that person: they’ve divided between soul and spirit. Or maybe we’re driving down the road and someone’s bumper sticker jumps out and gives us chills and we hear the Holy Spirit say “that message was for you right now.” He just judged the thoughts and attitudes of our heart.
Now, before you decide to put your Bible back on it’s shelf and let it collect dust, that’s not my intention. The Bible is the most well preserved collection of the Logos that God has given to people in times passed to hand down to us. However, if all that’s nourishing you is Logos given to someone else 2,000-3,000 years ago in a different time and culture, that’s like living on stale bread.
We need to use the Bible to filter and verify what God is saying to us today. It should be the ultimate plumb line to test Logos against to confirm it’s from God. We need the Bible in our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can “remind you of everything [Jesus has] said.” (John 14:26 NIV). However, we also need to be careful that we not become so focused on “searching the Scriptures”, as the Pharisees did, and miss the Logos that God has for us today. The Logos is what is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,… [penetrating] even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;… [judging] the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).
As we start our week, I think it’s important to remember that our goal should be to hear the Logos of God. God’s Logos for today may be to go help your neighbor, give a donation, wrestle on the floor with your children, or perhaps spend more time studying the Bible. You may get that Logos while studying, while driving on the freeway or while having virtual coffee with a friend. Regardless, remember, God’s goal is to live in relationship with us and feed us with His Logos for our lives. Don’t get so stuck searching the Graphas that you miss the fresh bread of Logos that He has for you today!