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Where the Cutting Edge of Justice…

“After he [God] drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 17)

“The preservation of our joy in God takes work. It is a fight. Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, and he has an insatiable appetite to destroy one thing: the joy of faith. But the Holy Spirit has given us a sword called the Word of God for the defense of our joy.”
—John Piper

'Roman gladius

During the 3rd century before the birth of Christ, the Romans discovered a way to produce a sharp, double-edged sword. The sword was called the “gladius”. It was made of tempered steel, was usually two to three feet long….and its finely honed, razor-sharp edges tapered to a deadly, penetrating point. At the time, the gladius revolutionized the art of warfare, and with it, the Roman Legion was virtually unstoppable as it swept through the Mediterranean world in conquest for the Caesars.

In the new Testament Book of Hebrews, the author ( quite possibly the Apostle Paul), describes a different kind of “double-edged sword”, the Spirit-breathed Word…the gladius, you might say, of God:

“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. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4: 12-13)

The Caesars and the Roman Legion battled for physical territory and power in the temporal realm….(as all the world’s “Caesars” still do today.) But, according to Scripture, there is a much more serious battle being waged around us. For the most part, the conflict goes undetected, unacknowledged and unrecognized. It is not a battle of flesh and blood, nor is it a battle waged for political power, ideological influence or imperial gain. No, the Bible speaks of a spiritual battle, indeed… a spiritual war. The Bible tells us about a conflict that has been raging since before the creation of the world, one that has subsequently spilled over into this, the temporal realm of human affairs and human history. The Bible teaches that this war is not just a temporal conflict. It is more than that. It is eternal in nature, and it is altogether deadly.

The “gladius” of God informs us that the battle lines are drawn between the spiritual forces of Good and those of Evil. The lines are drawn between the spiritual forces of Darkness and the spiritual forces of Light, between life-giving Truth and that of deadly spiritual deception. God’s Word reveals that the battle is not being waged for square miles of territory, strategic oil fields or other prime strategic real estate. The battlefield in no way resembles the rolling countryside of Gettysburg, the beaches of Normandy or the plains of Carcemish. Far from it…

Lying in a prison cell in a Siberian gulag, Aleksandr Solzyhenitsyn, recognized and explained the nature and the “place” of the true combat zone:

“The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”

Indeed, this unseen battle is for the eternal soul of man, and each and every individual is engaged whether he or she likes it, or realizes it, or not.

Skeptics, liberal scholars, ”progressive” intellectuals , heretic and apostate theologians would have us believe today that the Bible is little more than man’s dull and stammering attempt to describe an impersonal, obscure and silent Deity. The scholars would like us to believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, were written by men who were simply doing their best to record their thoughts about God and what they… subjectively… believed God to be like.

The actual Scriptures, of course, teach something quite different. The Bible claims to be God’s Word about man, not man’s word about God. The Bible boldly and audaciously claims to be Divinely initiated…,prophetic, God-breathed verbal communication to sinful man, graciously, specifically and intentionally delivered to stir man’s heart and mind first to an awareness of his unholy, sinful condition, and then to 'quicken' him to salvation through repentance and faith (in God’s Word).

In other words, the “gladius of God” claims to be Divinely communicated revelation intelligently designed and empowered to stab the conscience of man to life and then to prod him toward The Way…. the narrow Way…, to the glorious Promise of eternal life. God’s double-edged Sword threatens to cut into and then mortally wound the ‘old man’, that prideful, Self-centered, autonomous rebel within us. It does so with the active, Spirit-thrust of the keenly honed edge of Truth, Holiness and Justice… the gospel message spoken and the good news heard.

And then, the equally sharp and active blade-edge of Grace and Mercy , penetrates and invites us to Calvary,…. to the very foot of the Cross, the New Testament’s glorious answer to the Old Testament’s forfeited “Tree of Life” (Genesis 3:24) . The Cross of Calvary, where we may be finally and gloriously pierced, where we may,… as Jesus told a puzzled and skeptical Nicodemus…, be born again (see John 3:5-8) and made clean and pure and Holy in the Presence of the God of all Righteousness and Glory….forever.

“Where the Cutting Edge of Justice…”
(Meets the Edge of Grace and Love)

Father, help us get the picture,
By the Light from Heav’n above….
Where the cutting edge of Justice
Meets the edge of Grace and Love.

With your Sword, dear Lord, come show us,
What’s inside and what is true.
Come divide the soul and spirit…
With your Word, Lord, run us through!

May each edge of Revelation
Cut through all our alibis.
Sword of Truth, come pierce the darkness,
Bring true Light to blinded eyes.

May the Holy Law convict us,
Judging attitude and thought.
Father, cut us to the marrow,
By the Word your Spirit brought.

May the Law and Truth cut deeply!
Holy Justice, lay us bare.
Lord, reveal our Sinful nature…
At the Cross, then, show You care.

There the edge of Holy Justice
Meets the edge of Mercy’s Love,
Christ, the tapered tip of Glory…
Lamb of God sent from above.

Calvary!....The Cross of Jesus!
That’s the Point!....In Christ revealed!
Penetrate each heart of darkness…
Then through Faith, Sweet Spirit, seal.

“These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword…Repent therefore! Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2: 12, 16-17)

Last Judgment:, Rubens, 1617

“…the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)