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What Makes the Word “Living and Active?”

God’s Word is an amazing thing, always ready to challenge, encourage, empower, and teach us. Hebrews 4:12 tells us,

“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.”

This verse is definitely a deep one! Let’s start with the latter part, “...piercing the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This is ultimately a poetic way to say that the Word of God gets at the core of who you are! No matter the distinctions we may make between soul and spirit, heart and flesh, the Word reveals the true motives in our hearts. It is the standard by which the human heart can be measured. Thoughts and intentions were bolded because they are of particular intrigue. It is often our assumption that our thoughts and our intentions are in total alignment, but sometimes it is not so simple. Just as the words we speak to others can conceal our true intentions, even the thoughts we think to ourselves are able to do the same. As such, it is key that the Word can evaluate us in both thought and intention, an utterly wholistic look at the human heart. Both who we are consciously and who we are unconsciously are a part of this process; the Word sees who we really are. This makes the Word dynamic - more than mere text.

Then there’s the first part, saying, “For the word of God is living and active...” What does that mean? Well, whether intentionally by the hand of Hebrews’ author or unintentionally by the inspiration of the Spirit, this statement has a twofold meaning. Perhaps less literally is the interpretation that Jesus, titled “the Word” by John’s first chapter, is indeed living and active. The story of Christianity would be utterly incomplete if not for the resurrection of Jesus; by Him being alive, so we too may live. However, He also didn’t return to life and simply disappear. Hebrews goes on to say in Hebrews 4:14-16,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been temped in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The Word of God, Jesus, then is not only alive, but He is ever active. He continually intercedes for each and every one of us to the Father, and He has the authority as the Father’s right hand to be heard. Thanks to His active intercession, we can be bold in our prayers to God!

However, a much more literal look at Hebrews 4:12, using the context of the preceding verses, reveals that the author of Hebrews is writing about the people of God, and the history leading to entering God’s “rest.” By extension, the word of God likely does literally refer to the scriptures - at least the Old Testament, which would have been the scriptures familiar to the Hebrews. But then, what on earth does it mean that the word of God, the scriptures, is living and active?

Many who spend a great deal of time reading the scriptures know the answer in an intuitive way. Have you ever read a passage of scripture or heard verses in a sermon that hit home just perfectly in your situation? Sometimes it feels like God knows exactly what part of His Word we need to hear and exactly when we need to hear it, and it feels that way because it’s true! The Word, supported by the Holy Spirit within us as believers, is active in that it is always ready to meet us in our situation, giving us the encouragement and conviction we need, and revealing God’s infinite character in brand new ways.

In a connected way, the Word is also living. There are many verses that we have heard many times, and this is even more so for those who read the Bible every single day. What makes the Word of God living compared to the words of other books is that every time we read a given passage of scripture, we are able to receive a new lesson from it. It is easy to scoff and say, “I’ve heard this one before!” when we come across a familiar verse, but taking the time to diligently meditate upon it gives the Spirit and opportunity to show you something new through it. Let’s take probably the most familiar verse of all for example, John 3:16, which of course says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The first time you read that, your heart may focus on freedom from death and getting to live in the joy of “eternal life”. The second time, “God so loved the world,” may catch your attention, and that love may come as a much-needed comfort to you. The third time, perhaps you’ll see “he gave his one and only Son” with new depth.

What Does Any of This Have to Do with Bookmarks?

We encourage this approach to scripture in general; it is living and active, so it is always worth your time to study it and dwell on it. Because we believe that genuinely, we are happy to provide a great variety of Christian bookmarks to help you in your study of the Word. Whether you’re using them as Bible bookmarks or as bookmarks for other books, we cover our bookmarks in passages of scripture so that the living and active word can always be before you. Each Bible verse bookmark is what it is - the scripture printed on it isn’t going to change overnight or anything mystical like that - but because the Word of living and active, you can look at these Christian bookmarks over and over again, still receiving something new in your heart.