Everyone who continues in his or her Christian walk without having a deep personal Bible study will remain “unacquainted with the word of righteousness.” (Heb. 5:13) The Greek term behind “unacquainted” is apeiros, which in this context has the sense of one who is inexperienced, unskillful, or unacquainted with the Word of God. This Christian lacks practical experience or training in how to study the Bible properly on a deeper level. If we are going to attain maturity, we have to develop a love for the Word and become well acquainted with “the word of righteousness.” The Bible is, in fact, a direct revelation from the Creator, and the idea of absorbing God’s thinking can be mentally overwhelming. However, if we are to train our perceptive powers, a deep personal Bible study is necessary. If we read the Bible for a few minutes each day, never missing, we will complete the Bible in about two years. This will make us the one ‘who partakes of milk and is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for will be an infant in the truth.’ (Hebrews 5:13)
However, if we were to add three elements to that study, we then are consuming “solid food [that] belongs to the mature, to those who through practice have their discernment trained to distinguish between good and evil.” (Heb. 5:14) What are those three elements? The first element that we will want to add is commentary volumes, like the ones that have been used in this book thus far. We should start the first time through the Bible with the Holman Old and New Testament commentary volumes. The second element would be two books on Bible difficulties, namely, the Big Book of Bible difficulties by Geisler and How, as well as the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer. The third element that we will want to add is Bible background books like The IVP Bible Background Commentary volume for the Old Testament and the New Testament. As we read along in our Bible reading, we incorporate the Holman Commentary, the Bible difficulties, and the Bible background. This will take us at least five years to complete the bible. We may want to even pause and investigate certain words, as we have done in this chapter. Lastly, if want to retain what we have studied, we need to share these pieces of deeper knowledge. When we go to church, just pull one or two people aside each meeting and say, check out what I learned in my study this week. It will help us retain it and encourage others to study. We should post a few of those nuggets on social media each week as well.
Hebrews 4:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
4:12. This vivid expression of the power of God’s message provides the explanation for the strong warning of verse 11. Because God’s message is alive, active, sharp, and discerning, those who listen to God’s message can enter his rest. Two questions are important in this verse. First, what is the word of God? Second, what does this passage say about it?
Although the Bible sometimes refers to Christ as God’s Word (John 1:14), the reference here is not speaking of Jesus Christ. Here we have a general reference to God’s message to human beings. In the past God had spoken to human beings through dreams, angelic appearances, and miracles. He still can use those methods today, but our primary contact with God is through his written Word, the Bible. God’s Word will include any method God uses to communicate with human beings.
This verse contains four statements about God’s Word. First, it is living. God is a living God (Heb. 3:12). His message is dynamic and productive. It causes things to happen. It drives home warnings to the disobedient and promises to the believer. Second, God’s Word is active, an emphasis virtually identical in meaning with the term living. God’s Word is not something you passively hear and then ignore. It actively works in our lives, changes us, and sends us into action for God.
Third, God’s Word penetrates the soul and spirit. To the Hebrew people, the body was a unity. We should not think of dividing the soul from the spirit. God’s message is capable of penetrating the impenetrable. It can divide what is indivisible. Fourth, God’s message is discerning. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It passes judgment on our feelings and our thoughts. What we regard as secret and hidden, God brought out for inspection by the discerning power of his Word.
In 1995, Johnny Oates was managing the Texas Rangers baseball team when God spoke to him through the illness of his wife Gloria. Oates had become a Christian in 1983; but until the crisis in 1995, he had always lived as if baseball were his god. His wife was traveling to the spring training camp for the Rangers when she became ill in Savannah, Georgia. His daughter summoned him to Georgia with a phone call. Oates arrived to find his wife in a motel, despairing and defeated.
Oates said, “God got my attention and said, ‘Johnny, it’s not going to work this way.’ ” In the grief of the moment, Oates told God that he was ready to listen to anything he wanted to say. The next day Oates checked his wife out of the motel and headed for their home in Virginia. There he and his wife both participated in a Christian counseling program and learned how to communicate with one another. He learned that what he had worshiped was not God or his family, but the game of baseball. Both Oates and his wife moved closer, and Oates said, “As we get closer to God, … we get closer to each other.”
God got his attention. Fortunately, Oates listened. God’s message to this baseball manager was life changing. It was also marriage saving.
Being Obedient to the Word
At times, it can be a challenge to apply what we learn because we live in very difficult times, and we are prone toward sin. If we are to grow into becoming a mature Christian, we must do our utmost, even in the time of difficulty, to obey God. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience from the things that he suffered. (Heb. 5:8-9) What about us, are we willing to be obedient even in the face of difficulties, or even persecution? (1 Peter 1:6-7)God’s Word is quite clear concerning morals, honesty, how we speak to others, personal reading and study of the Scriptures, attendance at Christian meetings, and proclaiming, teaching and making disciples. (Josh. 1:8; Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8; Eph. 4:25, 28-29; 5:3-5; Heb. 10:24-25) Are we carrying out these obligations even in the difficult times of these last days? The level of our obedience is an indication of whether we have progressed toward spiritual maturity.
CPH BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Translation and Textual Criticism
 Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 71–72.