People ask me, “Can you live without a pancreas?” The answer is ‘yes’—I'm alive, and I do not have a fully functioning pancreas. The pancreas, which lies behind the stomach, plays a vital role in digestion, releasing enzymes that break down proteins, carbos, and fats, “mixing” with your food to make it nutritionally useful.
When I had surgery in February to remove a tumor from
my pancreas, the doctors also removed a large slice of my pancreas—rendering it dysfunctional, which now requires me to take enzyme pills to do this ‘mixing.’ And if I forget to
take my pills, no matter how much nutritious food I eat, it is not useful (and I could die from malnutrition).
The writer of Hebrews uses this idea of ‘mixing’ to give us a vivid ‘word picture’: “The word which they heard did not profit them (was not
useful) because it was not mixed with faith” (4:2), suggesting that the development of faith is like the body's process of “mixing” enzymes with food. In short, when the Word we
‘hear’ [eat] is not mixed with “dynamic” faith [action/obedience], it is not useful. Doesn't this open up James' words: “Be doers of the Word, not hearers
only…Can't you see that faith without good works is useless?...for just as
the body is dead without [a pancreas], so also faith is dead without good works”
(James 1:22; 2:20, 26).