“I have the POWER!”— When our son Joshua was very young he enjoyed watching a TV cartoon called HE-Man™, a hulky warrior type who fought to rid the universe of evil. He did so by cooperating with the ultimate source of power in the universe, taking it into himself through his really cool warrior’s sword. To gain access to this power, He-Man would stand on some high pinnacle and cry aloud “I have the power!” and a bolt of lightning would surge out of the air into his body through his up-stretched sword. Then he would go off to banish the world of its invaders. Our son Josh would mimic He-Man’s behavior by lifting his modern wooden-plank sword into the air while shouting “I have the power.”
Not incongruously, the Bible also compares the Word of God to a sword— a two edged sword capable of dividing soul and spirit.
For the word of God is living 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.[i]
But is it the Word of God, the Bible, or is it the Word of God, Jesus Christ to which this passage refers? Is it even important we know? The point is that the Word of God, propositional or personal, has power to clarify reality; it/He has the right to weigh our thoughts, our actions, and to exact judgment upon us.
But what if an individual doesn’t accept the Bible as the Word of God? What if the Bible’s assumptions about reality are not his/hers? Can the words of the Bible have impact on that person? That’s where the other side of Truth comes in— its personal side. It is the Person of Jesus Christ who brings life to an individual, not the Bible; it is the Person of Jesus Christ who empowers a person to turn to Him for life, not the Bible. Yet one influence cannot have sufficient affect without the other— Christ, the Word of God, empowers: the Bible, the Word of God, clarifies what has just taken place. If anything, the Christian life is about being empowered by God to live a life that is in keeping with the principles for life God has set down for us— the Bible.
So which came first, the chicken or the egg? No matter— have eggs for breakfast, chicken for dinner. You need both. (Personally, I like a little salsa with my eggs. Life needs a little spicing up.) And the Christian life, if not empowered by God, is reduced to mere words. Faith without spice. Religion without life. Life without spice— no way.
So on one hand we have the Bible, the propositional explanations of what God is doing everywhere. [Note— Written in stories, songs (Psalms), historical documents (Pentateuch, Prophets, Gospels), poetry, personal correspondence (Epistles), & summaries.] On the other hand we have Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the Godhead here on earth; the Word becoming flesh, taking on human form. The two together can empower people to embrace intelligent, meaningful lives, contributing to the needs of the saints and healing the heartaches and pain of the world. We dare not merely distribute Bibles as if they will magically empower people to live God-honoring lives: we cannot subjectively will someone to experience the presence of Christ without some explanation as to what is going on inside them. We need both. But whereas faith without works is dead (doesn’t work) neither do explanations of Truth empower a person without the power and presence of the Person of Christ in their life. In the end, Truth is primarily embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ. But without the Bible shedding light on this reality the Truth cannot be known.
But there is yet one more ingredient to consider in our mix of Truth with life— Passion! Read on.
[i] Hebrews 4:12, NIV Bible