Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Sword of the Spirit

Good friend, fellow Western grad and future super-pastor (FSP for short) Brad Kautz shared an excellent reflection on the Bible being a tool for us to use in life. In his reflection he talked about selecting the right tool for the job and I think that it is a very important thing to think about in terms of the Bible. In my small group last night we were talking about the Word of God in terms of being a sword. One of the verses that we were looking at was Hebrews 4:12:

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.

We also looked at Ephesians 6:10-20 (specifically verse 17) which is talking about putting on the full armor of God which includes "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

During our discussion we talked about how the Word of God is our only offensive weapon when it comes to Spiritual Warfare. One person shared how someone they knew that was not a Christian would always challenge them with the Bible. The non-Christian would claim to know the Bible better and would try and head off any discussion. This led us to talk about how the Bible can be misused by non-Christians (and even Christians) to make it say things that it does not really say.

In light of "FSP" Kautz's discussion on picking the proper tool for the job it is important to think about how those tools are used. One of the most important things about using a tool is to not use it in a way that it was not intended to be used. As a young lad I remember working on some sort of project where I was using one of my dad's ratchet wrenches (I really hope he is not reading this). I needed a hammer and instead of getting up and grabbing the hammer I decided to use the ratchet as a hammer. After a couple of good hard smacks the back came off the ratchet and parts started to spill out. Fortunately I was able to get them back in and while the wrench still worked it wasn't quite the same and looked obviously abused.

We do the same thing with the Bible when we start trying to bend it to say what we want it to say. We can fall into the trap of finding verses that make the point that we want them to make regardless of what the surrounding verses say. For example it is very easy to read Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

And to claim that God has great plans for us. But we don't usually quote the immediately preceding verse:

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

If we did then it would be clear that verse 11 doesn't really apply to us but rather it applies to the exiled Jews in Babylon. Of course that doesn't suit our desires.

The Bible is a great tool but it is just as Brad says:

And so a tool did provide me with something for reflection, although it was not a tool made by human hands and for human work, but the tool of God’s Word, provided by him, to strengthen and encourage us to serve him, to love him and to glorify him, now and forever

We need to remember that the Word of God is not a tool made by human hands and is not intended for human work. We need to take great care in handling it properly and to allow the "sword of the Spirit" be the Spirit's sword and not our own.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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