Spirit – Eternal Being (Hebrews 4:12)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
The Scripture we have looked at today is Hebrews 4:12. When I read this verse, it reminded me of the time when I was in China about 15 years ago. I studied Chinese for around 2 years and my teacher at the time had great enthusiasm to teach me that in a very short time – after one semester – I was able to start preaching in Chinese. She taught me very well and so eagerly that I learned well too. She was approximately 45 years old at the time. I think it was on a Saturday. I was at the dorm studying when I heard someone knocking on my door. At that time, I was in my room with my wife and we were both studying. So, I opened the door and found my teacher standing there. By the way she was a beautiful looking lady. But when I saw her in front of my room, half of her body was all twisted. Her eyes, nose, lips, arm and leg were all distorted.
I was so shocked and asked, “What happened?” After coming inside, she said to us that a few days ago, she woke up from her sleep and found herself in that condition. She went to the hospital but they couldn’t do anything for her and told her to just wait and see. And I think she also found her situation so bizarre that she was laughing and then crying while speaking to us. She was so dumbfounded by what happened that she laughed. But when she thought about the possibility that she may not recover, she cried.
I don’t know if it was because I was full of faith at that time but after hearing her story, I said to her excitedly, “This is a good thing!” Without even realizing, that’s what I said. I said that because I believed it was an opportunity for her to experience the living God. So, I then told her to sit down. She was accompanied by another person at the time, who was her friend that came from the US not long before. This friend apparently met Jesus after going to the US and had just come back to China after graduating from seminary.
I had them both sit down and read to my teacher. And the scripture I read to her was this verse we just read. Hebrews 4:12. The word of God is living and active! It says that it pierces even to the division of the joints and marrow, let alone the spirit and soul. It says it penetrates to the division of the joints and marrow. To pierce and divide the joints and marrow in simple words can be like doing an operation. That means God’s word is going to operate on us. It is sharper than any double-edged sword. It is so sharp that it doesn’t even leave an incision mark and can finish the operation. What would happen if you operated with a blunt scalpel? Let’s say a surgeon needs to make an incision on a patient’s belly. If the scalpel he uses is blunt, that would be difficult, wouldn’t it? There has to be one clean cut, if not, he would have to saw through the skin. Then how big and severe would be the scar later on? But God’s word is so sharp that the procedure is so simple and quick, leaving no scar at all. I said to her, “That is what God’s word is. That’s what this means”.
And her friend said to her, “Yes that’s right! If you believe in God, you will slowly get better!” But after hearing that I said, “No! That’s not true!” Why do you think I said no? What was it about what the friend said that I didn’t like? I didn’t like how her friend said that she’ll slowly get better. If we carefully read the Bible, when Jesus healed the sick, He laid His hands on them or prayed for them, and on some occasions, the sick were made better over time. However, most of the sick were healed on the spot. When the blind man’s eyes were opened, Jesus asked, “How many are there?” and he was able to answer how many there were straight away.
Hence, I told my teacher exactly as the Bible says. “That is not true. You are not going to get better slowly. Of course, if you believe that you’ll get better slowly, you may get better slowly. However, God’s word can work immediately. If you accept God’s word now in this moment, that word is living and active and will do its work immediately. And your body can be healed. If there is a problem in your nerves, God’s word can operate on your nerves even now!”
When I finished speaking, she suddenly jumped out of her seat. Before she jumped up, she said just one word. Her eyes widened and after she said that one word, every part of her body that was distorted went back to their right places. It reminded me of a rubber band. If you take a rubber band, roll it all up and throw it up in the air, the rubber band untangles and bounces back to its original shape. Similarly, when I told her, “You can be healed now! God’s word can operate on you perfectly now!” every part of her body starting with her eyes went back to their right places the moment she said this one word and jumped up and down.
What do you think she said? If she believed in Jesus, what would she have said? She probably would’ve said “Amen!” But she was not a believer. So, what do you think she said? She said, “Really?” She said 眞的吗? (Really?) and her body was restored.
I did not pray for her. She was completely healed on the spot. At that moment, the four of us – herself, her friend, myself and my wife – all jumped up from our seats. We praised God, and after she had calmed down, the first thing she said was to her friend. She said to her friend, “Hey, you said you believe in Jesus too. Why didn’t you tell me about something so wonderful as this?” Her friend didn’t know what to say. Her friend did not put her absolute trust in God and she didn’t realize she could help her friend straight away. She just thought her friend would slowly get better if she believed.
At that time, I was able to experience once again what the word of God is. God’s word is truly living and active. This is not an abstract idea. People’s words are nothing more than abstract ideas. And using words people can explain certain shapes or persuade others. Therefore, a person with powerful speech can even move people’s hearts. They can convince others. However, people’s words cannot operate on a person’s body. They cannot rejoin the nerves that are severed. But if God’s word enters a person, it is not just an idea that we receive in our minds abstractedly; God’s word is real, though we cannot see it. And when the words come inside of us, it moves and works so that it heals the severed nerves and even removes cancer cells, and hence we can see the complete healing of our body then and there.
Concerning these things, Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit!” The spirit. We are spiritual beings too. I said this to you last week. In every man’s heart is a longing. If we are hungry, we want to eat; if we are cold, we want to put on clothes, and so on. However, these desires are quite easy to satisfy. So, I sometimes tell my wife, “Don’t go to the shops when you are hungry.” The reason is, if you’re hungry you’ll want to buy everything at the shops. But once you eat, your body is satisfied straight away and you no longer desire food anymore. Therefore, most of the wishes in our hearts are the desires of our flesh which are fairly easy to satisfy.
However, our hearts have this longing desire for eternity. “Give me eternal love! Give me eternal happiness! I love you forever and I want you to love me forever too!” But our bodies don’t desire what is everlasting. So then why am I longing for something that is everlasting? Because there is an eternally living being inside of me. And that eternal being is called, soul-spirit.
One of the characteristics of this eternal being is that it cannot be seen with our eyes. That is why people think that it doesn’t exist. Who else is an eternally living being? God! But He cannot be seen. Therefore, people say, “There is no God”. There are also angels which we can’t see with our eyes. And people say that they don’t exist because they can’t see them. However, all of them exist eternally.
Therefore, what we need to understand about God’s word is that unlike man’s words, God’s word remains forever. The word is an eternal being. An eternal being. Thus, if we receive God’s word, it does not disappear but remains forever. If God’s word was not spirit and did not exist forever, then even though my thoughts might change on account of the word, my body will not be healed suddenly through the word. So, what we need to receive when we come to church is this. That which is eternal and spiritual, which God has given and is what we must receive.
It was for us to receive this that God created us as spiritual beings. People didn’t know that they have a soul-spirit and believed that their flesh was who they were. But we are spiritual beings. And to give us what is everlasting, God sent His Son Jesus Christ so that we may know God and open our hearts wide to God. He has given us such grace.
Just because it’s the pastor speaking doesn’t mean that everything he says at any time is God’s word. But there are words which the pastor preaches in the name of God, through the inspiration of God and in reliance on the spirit of God. And if you accept them with faith, they are spirit – an eternal being.
I’ll share one more testimony. When I was preaching in China, I preached for about 12 hours a day. At that time, I was not a pastor. I had only come to believe in Jesus about 5 years prior to that. I was just the laity. Normally when there were revival meetings, people would stay sitting down for the whole day without moving except for when they had to eat. So I was preaching for some days like that and then I thought, “Huh? Am I eloquent in speech?” But I really didn’t like that. I didn’t want to be just an eloquent speaker; I wanted the word that came out of my mouth to be God’s word, that is, spirit. Thus, I prayed to God to give me a testimony.
And then something happened. Over the first, second and third day of the meeting, there was a lady who was standing at the back and listening to the word. So I thought she felt drowsy so that she was standing up at the back. But on the last day, which was the day I had to leave after the morning session, she was sitting right at the front. So, before the service started, I asked her, “How come you are sitting at the front today?” Then she pointed at a man who was next to her, whom I had never met before, and said, “This is my husband!” I answered, “Oh, I haven’t met your husband before. Do you normally go to church?” And he told me it was his first time.
I asked, “How did you come today? What made you want to come?” And her husband answered, “I came home yesterday and was completely shocked when I entered the house”. “Why is that?” “My wife was sitting down and doing some housework” “Oh, why is that so shocking to you?” “My wife could not sit for so many years now. She had a problem with her back which was so excruciatingly painful that it was unimaginable for her to be sitting down. So, she either stayed standing up or lying down.” So that was why she had been standing the whole time she listened to the word. He then went on and said, “But yesterday, I found her at home sitting down and washing the bean sprouts! So, I asked her what happened and she said she went to church and as she listened to God’s word she was healed!”
Actually, I didn’t know that she had been healed like that until then. So, I asked, “Were you healed yesterday?” And she answered that she was. “When were you better?” I asked and she answered that while she was standing at the back listening to the word, she was so joyful. She was so joyful that she was smiling and chuckled as she listened. And in that moment of listening, she was healed of her sickness. I asked her, “Why didn’t you tell us?” “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell you. I wanted to go home to my husband quickly and tell him!”
“What word was I preaching at the time?” I asked. During that sermon I was preaching, “Jesus resurrected and went up to heaven. But He promised saying, ‘I will return and take those who believe in Me to be with Me where I am’. So, we are not going to remain on the earth forever but will live in heaven forever. Jesus will come back to take us! He is risen!” When I said that, the people were laughing out loud, “Hahaha!” But it was not that they were making fun of what I said but because they were so joyful. That was something different. The Chinese people at that time were very pure-hearted. While the people were laughing, she felt something coming inside of her and instantly she was healed. I was truly thankful when I heard that. I had not prayed over her but what was it that healed her? The word. Because the word entered her, the word operated on her and healed her back problem.
Therefore, this word is not just words. It’s an eternal being. It is living. It is active because it is living. Hence it is able to heal our sickness, operate on our body, but not only that, it can heal our minds. Most importantly, it can penetrate to the division of the spirit and soul, so that everything in us is laid bare before God and we are brought to repentance and thus receive God’s grace.
The word you are receiving at church, the word which can change you is not just the word of man. And if you hear and receive it as the everlasting being that God is giving with “Amen!” or even “Really?” then you will see the word at work in you.
There was a person who wanted to quit smoking but couldn’t. But he realized, “Oh God actually detests this! I want to stop doing it then! But I can’t with my own strength. God help me!” After that, when he took up a cigarette, it smelt funny and weird to him. I heard testimonies like that. It is God’s word that is working within us. In Jesus’ name I bless you that the word of God will be active in you!
God our Father, help us who are here today, that we do not come to church to hear the words of man or the sound of the wind, but truly receive the word – the eternal being – that God has given which is the living and active word, so that we can fully enjoy every good thing you bestow upon us. If there is anyone who is unwell, just as God works upon us as we hear the word, may the word of God be active within them so that they can experience the living existence of God. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center