Hebrews 4:12

Where Exactly is the “Wiggle Room”?

The Scriptures are powerfully effective when we understand them.

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NASB

My time with the LORD when I sit for Bible study can be incredibly challenging. Admittedly, I know I’ve come to the table with preconceived ideas, my own preference of interpretation, and imaginary “wiggle room” when I study. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I know it’s not always with malice in my heart. It’s a fine line, though. There is a definite difference between looking at the words on the page with immaturity (a Calculus problem with a Pre-Algebra skillset) and looking for the loophole (studying for a warped version of the “biblical bar exam”). Where it is immaturity, I believe a gift of growth and understanding waits for me while the Spirit whispers to my heart. Where I hope for “wiggle room” for my own selfish motives, I’m pretty sure it’s a whole different scenario.

Hebrews 4:12 paints a picture of the Bible’s specific function in our lives. Honestly, whether we are committed to following Christ or have yet to do so, I think this could be true. The Scriptures are intended to penetrate to our “soul,” our “spirit,” and they do so by God’s sweet grace for our benefit—because he loves us that much. We have all been given the gift of the expressed will of God (the very thing we want to know and follow as disciples of Jesus). Once we’ve read it, we’re responsible for what we know.

And that is the first obstacle to our imagined wiggle room in what we read.

Knowing the Scriptures is expected for those who follow Christ. A disciple knows the heart, mind, and will of the one who instructs, then he does what is taught. There’s only one way for that to happen. As disciples, we absolutely must know what is contained in the pages of the Bible! He was clear in his instruction to those who should know better in Mark 12:4 when “Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?'” (CSB). In this case, the religious leaders’ confusion was rooted in their lack of knowledge and understanding. I’m not positive whether it was the letter of the law or the heart of God that tripped them up, but I guess it would be the latter.

I’m tempted to let my study in this area spew all over this entry page, but I think I will restrain myself. Believe it or not, I can do that sometimes. I’m only slightly concerned with abandoning the topic too soon because of the usual trend toward legalistic interpretation. Still, I’m hoping for the best, gracious heart-knowledge….

Where can I smell the sweet fragrance of grace? It’s in the fact that, while we could be deceived, we have been given a gift to address that: the Bible, the Word, the expressed will of God. He leaves nothing to us, our selfish nature, or to chance. We’ve been given clarity in most things…because he loves us that much!

And I circle back to a favorite verse to wrap up.

[Growth in the Faith] For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 CSB

This is the hope I cling to when the wiggle room evaporates! I’ve been given everything I need. I know (or can find out) what God’s will is, and I have been given the power (the Holy Spirit) to follow through in my thoughts, words, and actions.

I’m so thankful for this grace!

~Jennifer

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Thought Questions:

Have you ever found yourself studying the Bible with a “loophole” mentality?
Is it easy to admit the “wiggle room” you wished for isn’t really there on the page?
When you realize it isn’t there, how does that feel?
What will you do with the reality of absolute truth (AKA: there just isn’t any wiggle room)?

Pondering Grace: My Retreat—The Truth About Redemption

Four of my dear friends have been given the heart, inspiration, and opportunity to form a unique women’s ministry, and I’ve been so blessed to support them from behind the scenes. They partner with churches who have a women’s ministry in place, or want to start one, and offer one of the best teaching conferences I’ve experienced. The ministry is called Woven Truth. (FYI, the Woven gals’ site includes more information about them, plus a lovely little blog you might enjoy.)

One of the sweetest blessings I ever receive is to witness them joyfully doing what they do best: presenting beautiful, solid truth in a gentle, loving way. I really can’t say it any other way, and I know I’m still not doing the description justice. These ladies display radiant grace while telling stories—their personal stories beautifully woven into the bigger story: God’s story. I mentioned that I get to support the team from behind the scenes, so that means I’ve seen much of the material before it is presented. And yet, twice I have been pleasantly surprised by all that takes place in real life when I’ve had the chance to attend. There’s a gentle nudge or a “fresh wind,” that gentle breeze that floats by. I shouldn’t be surprised.

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 CSB

Christianity is rooted firmly in one thing: life! What was dead has been made alive, as in resurrection. Jesus is alive, but was most assuredly dead on the cross. Catch that Hebrews boasts the Word of God is alive. Isn’t that interesting? The 66 canonical books of the Bible we know today written over a remarkable span of time thousands of years ago is considered to be living, effective, penetrating, and able to judge. These aren’t weak descriptive words in the least; each one is active and specific. Thankfully, the grace I find in this is that it is alive! It would be quite a chore to come to things over and over in a lifetime with nothing new to discover.

Thank you, Lord, that you and the Bible contain explorable depths we never quite reach the bottom of!

I don’t think it’s a leap to say good teaching based on the Word and in keeping with it should be reflective of those same active, specific descriptors. Don’t you think? It seems to me there might not be room for “Been there done that, but thanks.” Maybe we can’t even say, “I know what I need to know about __________” (fill in the blank). Maybe, just maybe, we should approach sound, reliable Bible teaching with a fresh, open mind. What do you think?

I’ll be working through some of the things that were turning over in my mind at the retreat this weekend, for sure. I just thought I’d begin with this little gem. I love learning, generally, and I hope I will always keep a teachable attitude the best I can.

Happy Monday to you! And thanks for reading along.

~Jennifer