Teaching #8: “The Call to Commitment!” (Part 1 of 2)
Part 1 is Nehemiah 8; Part 2 is Nehemiah 9 & 10
Teaching by Pastor Jerry Ingalls
November 6, 2016
Over the next 2 weeks, we are going to study the principles of covenant renewal found in Nehemiah 8, 9 & 10 with a 2-part sermon called, “The Call to Commitment.” A key goal is that the Holy Spirit will draw each of us into a place of humility and conviction so that we will renew our commitment to fulfill our part of the covenant with God. As a church, we spend a great majority of our time celebrating, proclaiming, and inviting people to know what Jesus has done to fulfill His part of the eternal covenant of God, but we spend too little time encouraging & exhorting one another to be and live out our part of God’s covenant.
OUR UNITY IS A LIVING ORGANISM!
As a pastor, I must remember that unity (what Jesus prayed for in John 17:21) is not an organizational goal, but a necessity for body health! There is a distinct difference between leading toward an organizational goal (producing) and shepherding the well-being of God’s people (caring and investing.)
Listen to Nehemiah 8:1, “And all the people gathered as one man…”
I want to emphasize to us that the language “one man” is uncommon language in our everyday lives as Americans. We are fiercely independent in our cultural values, so we have traditionally reserved this intensity of language for marriage (“the two shall become one”). I would argue though that in certain arenas we inherently get this. We get it in football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and other team sports! As much as we value individual competency in someone’s ability to shoot a good 3-pointer, no one likes a ball hog. Some of us understand this language in military operations knowing that every individual soldier’s battle skills are important, but no one soldier alone is going to win the war. We have been learning throughout The Nehemiah Project that this is the language for God’s covenant people.
Listen again to the purpose of all spiritual leaders according to the New Testament, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
In this passage, the original Koine Greek translated in the ESV, “mature manhood” literally means that end goal of unity and faith is for us to look like ‘one full grown man.’ In other words, this is the body language we have become so familiar with in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. This unity is alive and with this living organism comes the necessity of every member’s daily commitment to life and health of the body!
OUR INDIVIDUAL COMMITMENT IS TO FULFILL OUR PART OF GOD’S COVENANT!
Listen to the story unfold of what happened in Nehemiah 8:1-12 (read and comment).
The results upon the people of Nehemiah & Ezra’s coordinated effort is summarized in Nehemiah 8:12, “And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”
Though we are in a different place and time than Nehemiah & Ezra, we must strive for the same goal as they did when they led their people to accomplish God’s will—the people had to work together for one ambition…TO THE GLORY OF GOD! They had to understand the words that were declared to them. Remember this: God calls you into His covenant by grace (Ephesians 2:4-9). In other words, there is nothing you have done or will do that qualifies you for His choosing you and bestowing salvation upon you—only God does what only God can do! It is true that when Jesus declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), that Jesus’ victorious work was finished on the Cross, but that does not mean the work God has called you to do is finished too. Once you are in the covenant of God, which is eternally sealed by the sacrificial, all-sufficient blood of Jesus Christ, you are called to live by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for a commitment beyond your personal salvation! Did you catch the word “commitment”? It’s a big word… It’s a word that the Holy Spirit is pressing upon each and every one of us to embrace, as the living stones of God’s building project, IF we are to fulfill God’s design for our lives together as His Church. This is our invitation and call to response today!
Testimony from Daniel Kinnaird: His Individual commitment to put God first in all things.
OUR COVENANT CALLS US TO A COMMITMENT TO GOD’S WORD!
Listen to the very practical outflow of listening to the Book of the Law of Moses. As I read to you Nehemiah 8:13-18 hear how they immediately obeyed what was in the Word of God.
Nehemiah 8:18 shares the joy of their obedience, “And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.”
God-ordained and Spirit-led revival in a person and community is most clearly marked by a hunger and thirst for righteousness—a hunger to know Jesus Christ and obey His Word. A commitment to be in God’s Word as a community and as individuals. A commitment to be a part of God’s building project, which we are attempting to capture for you in The Nehemiah Project.
God has called us to Himself as living stones to be built up together and to build together. We must commit our lives, personally and corporately, to a complete trust in Jesus Christ and a complete obedience to His teachings. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this building project; His is the only Name God will proclaim in and through us; His is the only foundation on which God’s building project will stand.
Today, as we move toward the final weeks of The Nehemiah Project, we must ensure our covenant is a vertical covenant with Jesus Christ and the Word of God; not a horizontal covenant with FBC and our own opinions.
Our covenant must be vertical with horizontal implications, not the other way around! It is not a commitment to one another, but a commitment we make as “one man” to God that forever changes how we see one another and relate to one another.
Now let me present to you today what we discern as an active renewal of the covenant. We are not putting before you a creed, nor pressuring you to believe or do something you are not willing to do. But rather, we are following the example of Nehemiah and Ezra to lead you to what God expects of His covenant people. This is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point for all of us to begin together
To read more about the Nehemiah Project, click HERE.
On November 13th Pastor Jerry Ingalls will be preaching on Nehemiah 9 & 10 (The Call to Commitment – Part 2)!