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God's Word Our Story | Final Thoughts From Nehemiah

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The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference

From Saturday June 28

Highlights from John Piper "Responding to God According to His Word" (Nehemiah 9-10)

“God does not exist so that we would enjoy Bible stories. Bible stories exist so that we would enjoy God. Bible stories are no more ends in themselves than the universe is an end in itself; or history is an end in itself. There is a point to the universe, to history. The heavens declare the glory of God. That's what the universe is about. History is what it is in order to show that God is Who He is. God writes his story; acts His story; in order to make known Who he is."

Throughout scripture God's character is revealed to us. Every page speaks His name. God made Himself known thousands of years ago so we could know HIm, trust Him, enjoy HIm, have a realtionship with Him –today. If we only know Him superficially and somewhat, we are missing out on the soul deep assurances our Savior, King, Yahweh, I AM, provides –the resting in Him, the renewal of strength provided in His joy, the easing of distress...deserved or undeserved.

"None of you may escape the good news of this text. You have no right to tell God he cannot give you good news. He bought that day. He bought your sinlessness. He bought the hope –receive Christ, sealed with Holy Spirit; you can fight sin and know at the end of the fight, triumph! Never sin again. That problem is solved. He bought it with his new covenant blood shed.

Oftentimes we place ourselves in a position of deserved distress, like those in Nehemiah, we wall off repentance and instead wallow in a vat of self pity, blotting out the blood work at the cross. We don't have that right. We don't get to tell God we sinned ourselves into a position of distress and now He can't give us the Good News. The Gospel is far reaching –from everlasting to everlating. When the enemy taunts you with your sin and the guilt is relentless, remember Jesus the risen Christ, His cross bought mercy, and overflowing grace –the rebellion/mercy cycle has ended.

From Sunday June 29

Highlights from Kathleen Nielen, Jenny Salt, and Carrie Sandom "Celebrating! A Moment of Joy in Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 11-12)

“Joy is God-centered.”

We live in a time of joyful anticipation this side of Jesus' redemptive work at the cross. We have access to God, purchased by Christ's spilled blood, adopted daughters, included in the community. Worshipping together in a shared joy in the presence of our God. Remembering God's faithfulness. Focusing on thanksgiving. Understanding our place in the redemptive arc.

Highlights from Don Carson "Leaning Forward in the Dark - A Failed Reformation" (Nehemiah 13)

"I suppose if I had to give a title to all of Nehemiah, I wouldn't call it "hand me another brick" or "how to build a wall"; it would be something like the trial and failure of reformation and revival."

After allowing us a glimpse at Heaven in Nehemiah the chapter ends on a downer note. Nehemiah leaves Jerusalem and after a time returns to find a "new legalism" has taken hold and old rules have become more restricitve. "Triumph of nepotism" placed a higher importance on blood relations than the covenant and concessions were made for family. "Covenant faithfulness" was neglected and reconciliation and forgiveness comprimised. "Profit over piety" money was first before God. "Unevenly yoked" marriages between believers and non proliferated. "Spiritual declension" a moral deterioration, anything goes. There are those who point to sin in the beginning, middle, and end of Nehemiah and so the story points to the waiting for Jesus, but that's not all.

"Lord, your name is despised in our age, mocked even in our churches. Will you rekindle hearts to see Christ’s glory? We are part of this age of wickedness. We too belong to this evil age of self-gratification, pornography, carelessness about your word, endless lust for entertainment; will you not rekindle our hearts and make us to see something of Christ's beauty so that we fall before him in repentance and joy? Will you not have mercy upon us?"

We need to cherish holiness, pray for hearts and minds open to salvific grace. Remember the Lord's patience, forebearance, and grace where we are not given what our sins deserve, instead we are given Jesus.