Why the Bible Is Relevant
by Jacob Hudgins
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”(Heb 4:12).
Most books become obsolete very quickly. New, updated editions are produced. After ten or twenty years, they lose their influence. Soon the copyright is not renewed and they go out of print. In such a climate, how is it possible for a book that is 2000 years old to remain relevant? What is its secret?
The writer of Hebrews makes an extended argument from a part of the Bible that is even older. He looks back to Psalm 95—which looks back to the even older story of Israel’s wilderness wandering and the conquest of Canaan. He makes observations about the rest Christians hope to obtain, bringing up an old story to apply it to his present day. Then he makes this amazing statement about how he has used the Bible: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”(Heb 4:12).
The Bible is relevant because it is living and active. “For the word of God is living and active”(Heb 4:12). This means that God’s words do not remain locked into the era in which they were written. They deal with a God who is still living and people who are still fundamentally the same. They apply to me too. When God warns about the dangers of sexual immorality or speaks of the blessings of obedience to him, those things remain true. Times change, but God’s word is alive and continues to do its work.
The Bible is relevant because it is sharp and piercing. “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow”(Heb 4:12). The idea here is of separation, even of things that are closely related or deeply entangled. Soul and spirit are nearly indistinguishable; God’s word cuts down to that fine a distinction. Joints and marrow are hard to separate; God’s word does such separation. This is not a statement about the level of detail we need to study the Bible, but a statement of its emotional power and the effects it brings. God’s word cuts to the heart (Acts 2:37). It challenges us to see what kind of people we truly are and separates us into either the category of the obedient or the rebellious.
The Bible is relevant because it discerns thoughts and intents. “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”(Heb 4:12). God’s word reveals who we really are and what we really want. True character is revealed as we are confronted with a God who teaches us that we need to change. Will we rebel or submit? Do we think we have all the answers or can we trust someone higher than ourselves? God’s word lays us bare.
The Bible is relevant because it applies to everyone. “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”(Heb 4:13). No one escapes the purview of Scripture. There is no one to whom its truths do not apply. There is no one God does not see and speak to. This makes the word of God timeless.
As long as there are people, the Bible will remain relevant. It does things that no human word can do. Am I living by it?