Monday 17 January 2022


Nehemiah 8 ,v.1 to 4,  8 to 12

This morning I want to turn with you to the reading from the Book of Nehemiah, which is the Old Testament reading for the coming Sunday.

  Nehemiah was a Jew taken into exile by the Babylonians and after they had been defeated by the Persians, he became a cup bearer to the King, and later became civil governor of Jerusalem.  

 The people of Israel had been taken into captivity, and after 70 years were returning to Jerusalem, their spiritual homeland and capital then in ruins, to rebuild their lives and homes. 

 The walls of the city had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. been created.  Nehemiah realised that a nation needs more than material works and wealth, there was a need for a firm spiritual and moral foundation as well as wealth and material things.

 Ezra the priest was present, and preached the Scriptures to them.   In what is perhaps a new passage of Scripture for you, we have a glorious story of a people who gathered without coercion, devoting themselves to standing for something like five/six hours.

 This indicates the tremendous desire of these people for truth. No complaining there if the service went over the hour! Some times when I first visit a Church, I ask the Vicar/Minister for guidance as to how long I am  expected to preach, and often told,' well after ten minutes people will begin to shuffle their feet.'  (Not so bad in the Free Churches.)

Notice also that the place where they met was by the Water Gate, the seventh gate, a prominent number to the Jews, a number meaning perfection.  There were a series of gates, sheep, fish, east, etc. this gate was the symbol of the Word of God -- the water of the Word. There could have been no more appropriate place for them to assemble.

This teaching had such a profound effect upon the people that we are told they wept as they listened. They did so because they realised how their lives had gone astray, and they had wrong thoughts and ways.  When God’s people get away from loving,  reading and obeying the Word of God, they lose the blessing of God upon their lives. The cause of their problems lay in their own thoughts and attitudes. These people saw the holiness of God contrasted against the evil of man.

What a marvelously clear statement of how a church service ought to be conducted! The primary business of Christians is to understand the Word of God so as to think God's thoughts after him -- to learn to think like God. It is not only important to know what the Scripture says, it is even more important to know what it means!

We so desperately need to tell in simple terms how God loves us, wants us to be saved, and for that purpose he sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world, to show us by word and example, how that becomes possible when we obey all that he tells us in that holy book we call the Bible.

God’s purpose for the Church is to preach the gospel message contained in the Bible, which we acknowledge is the authoritative Word of God, to an unbelieving world, and to lead people to salvation. This is what makes us unique and special, if we fail to do so, there can be no purpose in there being a Church, and we just become an irrelevancy.

 In order to help us do this according to his wishes, God created spiritual boundaries and we should not wander beyond what the Bible sets out for us.

 It is because preachers have extended their remit beyond God’s boundaries and gone off message, that the Church is falling apart in the West; people now are confused as to what the Church believes.  God wants to preach his Word, not express our opinions or think we have a better idea

 The purpose of coming to Church should be to join with other Christians in singing praise to God, listening to His Word, having it fearless and boldly preached so there is spiritual nourishment for the week ahead, and to join in  prayer for the needs of the world and ourselves.

There are Church members who live knowingly and deliberately against God’s teaching, yet hypocritically carry on doing so. How God must weep when sees people singing hymns of praise in Church, listening to the Bible, (sometimes even preaching it) and then behaving totally in contradiction to what he has laid down.

When the Bible is faithfully preached as it is written, it points out the way are going astray, how far we have wandered from the pureness of Christ in thought word and deeds. How we all sin most often by mistake or carelessness, and God provided a way of forgiveness in letting Jesus die a cruel death on the Cross so that all who accept Jesus death was be forgiven.

The whole Bible is about God’s offer of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

In the Old Testament Jesus is predicted. 

    In the Gospel Jesus is revealed. 

        In Acts Jesus is preached.

            In the Epistles Jesus is explained.

                In Revelation Jesus is anticipated.  

 The great tragedy of our day is how few churches seem to understand this power of Scripture. Across the country there are churches in which there is little life. The services are dull and dreary because the Word of God is not central. Whenever there has been a revival in the Church, at the forefront were men like Charles and John Wesley,or Evan Roberts in the 1904 Welsh revival, men who were boldly preaching the Bible.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the greatest preachers of modern times once stated, ‘the primary task of the Church and Christian Ministers is the preaching of the Word of God.  The decadent times in the history of the Church have always been when such preaching has declined.’

The Church was founded on the teaching of the Apostles, and such was authoritative because it came from our Lord Himself, who claimed he was the only way to God. We should not be afraid to state this, for the Bible states ‘we do not have a spirit of timidity, we have the power of God’.

What should occupy our minds is to consider if the Church is still preaching the message of the Apostles, and is it fit for the purpose Christ and His Apostles built it?  That is a hard question to answer; in places yes, especially the Pentecostal Churches; but in the main denominational Churches, only to a limited extent.

The Bible states, ‘do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. All our minds have to become transformed and adjusted to receive, and obey, what God expects from us.

It is fair to say Britain is in moral decline. It is like a car parked on a hill when someone releases the brake and it careers downward.  There is so much evil in society, even listening to news broadcasts creates fear. Murder was for so long a rare and major crime, now it is a daily occurrence. hardly worthy of more than a passing paragraph in a newspaper. Fraud, theft, corruption stems from top of society to the bottom. 

Of all that is happening today, the most frightening thing is the lack of a sense of sin in society, a total lack of moral values -- but they do not feel they are doing anything wrong.. That is what the Word of God is given to correct. It awakens afresh an awareness of what is causing the wrong. 

All the time honoured beliefs of morality and ethics have been abandoned, so that nothing is considered immoral or improper by society. What is most alarming is that no one in authority seems to be concerned, or even considering it, even leading the way.

 We have allowed secularists, atheists and activists to influence society, and take over the country, in the process they are trying to silence us and forcing us not only to accept, but approve all they call for.

 The Church, which is meant to be the conscience of the nation, has in the mainline denominations, conversely accepted, adopted and embraced behaviour specifically condemned by Scripture. The Church is expected to preach the gospel and abandon sin.  Now there has been a call to abandon the gospel and preach sin.

Scripture reveals that as individuals, we have turned our backs on God's ways, and ignored his teaching. We have failed the young people who see an institution created by God for the purpose of providing spiritual and moral guidance, failing to point out what are clearly called sins in the Bible, and either incapable or unwilling to offer better. Children are now denied these foundations, and are growing up without knowing the country’s religious faith and heritage. 

It is so easy to say that is just being old fashioned and dismiss. Old fashioned we may be, but we didn’t have 1in 2 divorce rate—such anti-social behaviour and juvenile delinquency- the highest abortion rate in Europe-= the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Europe-and the lowest Church attendance, we knew what being a Christian meant.

A lot of people are now trying to discredit the Bible.  Can we then be sure the Bible is true?

The Bible comes to us from God, written over a period of thousands of years, consisting of 66 books, written by a wide variety of authors, each with different characters and occupations, living at different times over the years, most of them not knowing others yet what they wrote was never in contradiction, and was all as God wanted. The most sophisticated computer could not have composed such perfect harmony; the only explanation is the Holy Spirit was the guide and one dictating.

 Martin Luther stated ‘the true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.’  This is the message the Church should now be preaching, but instead too many are more concerned with following an equality agenda which is obsessing the country. Luther’s stance was that any issue which tended to overshadow the gospel must be ignored and abandoned.  He recalled the Church to follow he gospel.

 Most of the men who wrote the Bible were simple fishermen, shepherds and the like, without a degree amongst them, and were moved by the Spirit of God. If they went now before a selection committee for Church ministry, I doubt they would have been chosen.

That may seem hard or even cynical, but it is not meant to be, I say it seriously and being realistic. The teaching of the Apostles would be too fundamental for selectors to accept, for Christian orthodoxy has now been replaced by equality and diversity consideration.  I can say with confidence, preferment in the Church of England is dependent upon accepting not the Bible’s moral and ethical teaching, more on the calls of society’s activists.

 Men and women have given their lives to take the Bible to the utmost parts of the earth, and to live in primitive conditions.  Most could have earned an enormous amount more money with comfortable lives, but chose to serve the Lord. They were mostly well educated and learned people with brilliant minds, who God will richly reward.

 It would be interesting to know how many church members have bibles in their homes, yet never bother to read them.  I think the majority of Church people rarely read a bible in their own time and place.

It was once custom to have bible in pews so members could follow the readings for themselves as they were being read out, and follow as the sermon was preached. Most Churches had a Bible study class meeting , which has now a rare meeting.

 If the churches of this land were faithful to the Bible preaching what it was saying, without amendments, do you think the nation would be in the condition that it is today?  Never has the Bible been more needed than now

 Liberalism is tearing the Church apart by trying to supplant biblical authority for cultural expression and denying the infallibility of the Bible with trendy social issues replacing the Cross of Christ. The Church should be the moral conscience and voice of the nation, providing spiritual disinfectant on the evil of society.

    We have to accept that if you state you believe in the full authority of the Bible you will find many will oppose you, and even those close to you will challenge you, perhaps within your own family. You will be called narrow minded, bigoted or of having some kind of phobia.   How disheartening to hear from pulpits that we must not take the Bible too literally; or that there will be atheists in heaven.  The time may come when those of us who stand firmly on the Bible will be frozen out, and attempts will be made to silence us.

All Christians at this perilous time need to think of what we can offer to God.  To paraphrase a famous saying, ‘think not what God can do for me, but what can I do for God’.

 The greatest revival in the history of this country took place under the ministry of Charles and John Wesley.  The once great Methodist Church was built on a strong Biblical foundation.  If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith; by the manner in which they lived their lives, and the doctrine of heaven and hell. 

Their legacy has been passed down through the ages to the Church they founded.  This should not be betrayed. Charles was one who wrote as he thought and he saw the importance of conversion and a personal relationship to Jesus Christ.   He became vividly convinced of the message of salvation, and saw clearer than ever before how faith in Jesus Christ could change a person’s life.  This was the message he would take to as many people as he could, particularly to the poorer classes.  He preached that the value of a person’s life was to be measured by their faith. 

How shamed both men would be, that the great spiritual heritage they left has been cast aside, and their clear teaching has been overturned by the Church leaders who did not fully seek the Church's members, which would have been clearly against soing so. 

I close with the words of John Wesley, who with his brother Charles, led such a great revival in this country.

.I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God.


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