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Hebrews 4:11-13 

THE PREDICATION OF THE WORD OF GOD (Vss. 12, 13—continued)

Although there can be no doubt that the termword of God cannot be separated from the personal Word, the Logos, contextually it seems that the term here refers to the preached word in the gospel. It is in accordance with this word, that God will judge the world and the secrets of men in righteousness. For in the context throughout, the writer is speaking of the gospel that was preached to us as well as to those who perished in the wilderness in unbelief. (Vss. 1, 2.) And the writer here quotes from the preached word, the Scriptures, throughout. (Vss. 6-8) Besides, the word as it is a “discerner” is a judge of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. Thus Jesus speaks of the word which he preached, in John 5:45“there is one that accuseth you, even Moses (the Scriptures) in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wroteof me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” Truly, the Word is the preached word as it is accompanied by the working of the Holy Spirit.

And since this preached word is “living,” the lively oracles of God, it can also be said that it is “powerful.” It is living energy, proceeding from God in Christ, even when it is preached by weak men. The term in the (Greek for powerful is “energees.” It is not a mere weak word of man, but is overpowering, so that it stops the mouths of liars, and convicts the sinner of his sin, and also is such that it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believeth. It is not a mere invitation of man, of the preacher. When preached purely this word is God’s living power. And what a living power! 

We have but to see how it works in the inner recesses of man, who is most wonderfully made. What the writer to the Hebrews here states about this word, David humbly confesses in deep awe and wondrous amazement. We have but to read what David utters concerning this “knowledge which is too wonderful for me; it is high. I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit: or whither shall I flee from thy presence . . . . . Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but s the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.. . . .Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139 

We do well to bear in mind that here we experience more than we can show by careful and painstaking analysis. 

However, let us attempt to understand the various elements in the text just a bit. 

This word goes right through us. There is nothing which this preaching does not affect, disclose and show for what it really is as to its spiritual nature and quality, whether it be good or evil. It penetrates (diiknoumenos) soul and spirit as an instrument in the hand of God which is sharper than any two-edged sword. No edge on any sword is honed so fine as is this one. It can pierce through, even between the boundary line of soul and spirit of man. Just where that boundary line is, no human eye can tell with exactitude. Oh, we may say that the spirit in man is as he is adapted to God as moral rational being, and his soul is the seat of his feelings; that “the soul” is life emanating from the “spirit” when connected with the body.” (Delitzsch) But even then we do not yet with our mind pierce through the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. Yes, this word even pierces through to the “joints and marrow,” says the text. It is living energy even here. Many a man has felt the effect of a sermon in his very marrow and bones, whether it were bone-chilling in fear, or whether it be in the ecstasy of heaven’s joys. Does not David say in his confession of guilt inPsalm 32:3 “when I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” Does not guilt of sin and unrest in the soul cause one to suffer physically? Here is where one finds a Biblical motif for a reappraisal of the psychosomatic therapy of I our day which will not acknowledge the deeper storms of life, the conscience of men as it roars within him, and when deep calls unto deep—at the pain of the preaching of the Word which is so sharp that it will not let him rest. . .will not let him rest! Yes, then the bones and marrow are affected. It always is thus under the preaching, this living preaching! When one comes under this preaching he comes under the lively oracles of the living God! What preacher has not had to deal with this effect of his own preaching in his own soul, spirit, bones and marrow! It is no solution to the problem to remove from the preaching, even upon a Christian (?) psychiatrist’s advice. That is only a fleeing away from the tree of life and from the flaming sword of the cherubim! 

Yes, it is even to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow! 

And the reason? 

It is because the preached Word, as accompanied by the Spirit, is a “Discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.” The Word acts the part of a competent and unerring “Judge!” He is a “Kritikos.” The word is exceedingly skilled in judging. It does not judge according to man; it judges a righteous judgment. It judges the thoughts of man, his basic spiritual considerations in relationship to God and his neighbor. The word of the preaching judges the “intents” of the “heart.” At the very fountain of man’s thoughts a judgment is made. This caused an Adam and an Eve to attempt to hide from God. It will make the entire world say: mountains fall upon us, and hills cover us. And that makes this word to divide asunder even to the joints and marrow, between soul and spirit! It is the searching out of the most High. And ever God is marshalling all His armies against the proud in the preaching, even as he lifts up the lowly. 

Such is the predication of the preached word: living, energetic, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul, spirit, marrow and joints. 

He who preaches such a word must say: my sufficiency is of God! II Cor. 3:5


The writer to the Hebrews says further as a word of explanation concerning God that “there is no creature which is not manifest in his sight.” This is the penetrating omniscience of God in every creature. The so-called “nature Psalms” are replete with this truth and reality. God does not need a physicist, and expert in thermo-dynamics to lay bare to Him the secrets of the atom, or the ultimate essence of all created existence. He does not need a psycho-analyst to tell why what is in man. He does not need a proud humanist to tell him of the excellencies of fallen man. God looks down from heaven and sees that there is not one that doeth good, no not one! He calls the stars by name because of the greatness of his power. This is what we read in Isaiah in the wondrous 40th chapter. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.” (Isaiah 40:28)

It is with this God with whom we have to do in the preaching. It was with this God that Israel had to do in their wanderings in the desert, with the Word of God in their ears; the living, powerful, soul-searching Word! Yes all things are naked and opened before Him. They are not merely “open”; no, they are open-ed! They are in a continual state of being opened. They are opened before God, but also so that man understands the deepest intents of his own heart before God, whether faith or unbelief. God turned us inside out! This he does in the preaching! 

And this is the great reason for us, under the preaching, to beware how we hear! Let it be a hearing mingled with faith which takes refuge to the Cross of Christ, and to the great High-Priest, Jesus, who is greater than Moses!

Thus it is unto the eyes of the Lord. His all-seeing eyes behold the secrets of men and all things.

And this is the great sphere, under the preaching, where the hearers of the Word either walk in the example of unbelieving Israel, or walk with a hearing of faith. Yes, the unbelievers hear the gospel preaching, but do not understand spiritually. They are disobedient to the gospel-preaching which rings in their ears, together with the command to enter into the rest of God. That unbelief refuses, and, in this refusal, the horrible unbelief of their hearts is laid opened and naked, even to themselves! However, those who give diligence to enter into the rest look under the preaching of the promise to Christ, the Great High Priest! 

Let us give diligence to enter into the Sabbath-rest of God! 


In this verse the writer once more returns to the starting-point in Hebrews 3:1-6. Only if we hold fast and persevere does it show that we are indeed striving to enter into the rest. Then we must hold fast to the profession concerning the Great High-Priest, who is greater than Moses and all of the prophets together. 

The writer will again speak of “holding fast” inHebrews 10:23. Ever that is the watch-word against all apostasy from the faith, which is apostasy from the living God. 

To hold fast to the profession means that we cling by faith to the preached word, and the promise of entering into the rest by faith. 

The term in the Greek for holding fast means: to take hold of, to seize, and hold fast, and never let go! To cling to Christ by a true and living faith, which does not merely consist in a certainty of all that God has revealed in his word, but is also a hearty trust which the Holy Spirit works in our hearts by the preaching of the Gospel, that not only to others but to me also there is forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and eternal life, merely for the sake of Christ’s merits. 

If then the Word of God lays this bare to us that we are sinners, and that God is true in His promise of salvation in the Gospel, then too we will be incited by the Holy Spirit to hold fast what we have that no one take our crown, Negatively, we will then not swerve from the profession of our faith. No influences of Satan and of the false preachers, and lies and propaganda of the lie, will induce us to be terrified by their threatenings, even to the spoiling of our goods and the suffering unto blood. 

For in the preaching of the Gospel Christ says to every one who believes; fear not, I am with thee. Hold fast that thou hast, and I will give you the victory. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down from heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:11, 12

We are Christ’s house—if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope, firm to the end!