October 4, 2015

Able To Judge – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of  soul and  spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge (“a discerner” NKJV, ESV) the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

(Hebrews 4:12 NASV)

According to the 1931 horror movie, an obsessed scientist constructs Frankenstein from parts of exhumed cadavers. When electricity is pulsed through the assembled corpse, it begins to move. The would be creator shouts, “It’s alive!”

The analogy is crude, but there are dramatic parallels. Human efforts to bring the dead to life are often imagined but are purely fictitious. God is the origin of life. The author of the book of Hebrews says God animated dead human words with His Divine spirit; “…the Word of God living and active…” “It is alive!”

Then he says it is, “sharper than any two-edged sword,…” The original Greek literally says it is a two-mouthed (stoma, mouth) sword, possibly implying double devouring power. The sword (macaira) was commonly used for the short, two-edged sword of the Roman hoplite or legionary. It was certainly able to pierce, to sever joints, even the bones themselves, exposing the marrow.

Linski’s commentary expressed the thought well.

“All the links of our soul life, of our thoughts, emotions, etc., as well as all the inner substance of them are penetrated, laid bare, exposed in their true nature by the Word. …The Word of God is the only power that can penetrate so deeply and expose so completely the inwardness of our being. …In the light of the Word we recognize the vanity and the sinfulness of many of our earthly thoughts, strivings, purposes, and achievements, especially also our earthly, worldly, unspiritual opposings of the spirit. The world may laud many of these activities as being good, even praiseworthy; the Word pierces right through … The Word makes us see the very joints and marrow of all these things.”

Our text continues saying the word is “able to judge” or as other translations say, “is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Greek word for “discerner” is kritikosß (kritikos) and is used only this one time in the Bible. Our word “critic” is derived from it. Its discernment is a critical, judging discernment—one that convicts and corrects, as well as one which understands.

The following Greek lexicons may provide insight:

BDAG: “able to discern/judge”

Thayer: “relating to judging, fit for judging, skilled in judging”

Louw & Nida: “pertaining to the ability or capacity to judge legal cases…”

Linski observes that the word…

“passes true and genuine judgment as an infallible, unimpeachable, impartial judge. In order to escape the verdicts of the judge. In order to escape the verdicts of the Word of God many try to dethrone this judge, to alter or in some way to evade his true verdicts. …But who can escape? Heaven and earth shall pass away but not the Word (Matt. 5:18); it shall judge us at the last day (John 12:48).”

Ironically, we hear a lot about textual critics who often presume to judge the Bible when our test says it should really be the other way around. Often those called “higher critics” critique vocabulary styles and concepts, trying to show that the traditional authors did not actually write the books attributed to them. Others apply “scholarly” techniques to criticize the Bible’s miracles, morals, history etc. in what appears to be a desperate effort to justify their rebellion against the Word.

Like an anvil that wears out the hammers, the Bible is justified again and again by real evidence. It stands in judgment on our lives and our subconscious motives. It will have the final word.

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12)

Wouldn’t it be better to submit to the constructive criticism of the Word now, than to hear its damning judgment later.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

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