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The Great Confession (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2023 4:00 am

The Great Confession (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 30, 2023 4:00 am

The way we view and deal with sin impacts our spiritual growth and worship. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg teaches us how to worship in a way that declares our faith, displays our unity with other believers, and reveals our dependence on God.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

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The way we see our sin and the way we deal with it has a huge impact on our spiritual growth and on our worship. Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn how to prepare for worship in a way that declares our faith, displays our unity with other believers, and reveals our dependence on God. Alistair Begg is teaching from the opening verses of Nehemiah chapter 9. The application of Nehemiah chapter 9, when we come to it, and it says that the people of God separated themselves from all foreigners, is simply this. If you are in Christ today, you are different.

Radically different. So how they dressed revealed their hearts. Where they stood made clear their allegiance.

And thirdly, what they said revealed their need. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. We are so consumed with the idea that all we're supposed to get is good news that if anybody apparently brings us bad news, we regard them as being a close cousin to Attila the Hun or having their license plate in Salem, Massachusetts. But when the law of God was read, sin was pinpointed and defined, sin came out of its hiding place, sin showed up and revealed the immensity of the problem. And, loved ones, I need to say to you this morning and God is bringing this forcibly home to my own heart and my own life, as long as sin in our minds remains simply a nuisance or an inconvenience or an embarrassment, then we will never ever deal with it and we will never make any progress.

This kind of encounter with God is directly related to understanding that sin is an offense against God. And the only way that we will come to that conclusion is if we have the privilege of sitting under the kind of proclamation that took place here in Nehemiah chapter nine. The law of God needs to be proclaimed. Without the proclaiming of the law of God, there will never be any forward movement.

Now let me try and think this through with you for a moment or two. Turn to 2 Chronicles and to chapter six. Here we're going to come to one of the most familiarly quoted verses as it relates to this process of discovering sin and dealing with it. It's the story of Solomon's prayer of dedication for the completion of the construction of the temple. It's a long prayer, not as long as the one that we will come to in Nehemiah nine, but nevertheless, it is long.

Solomon as the shepherd king of his people is crying out to God in front of the whole assembly of Israel, he stands, verse 12 tells us, and he spreads out his hands. The prayer is worthy of our consideration. When we get to the 40th verse of the prayer, we find him crying out to God, now my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

Here it is. Now arise, O Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. Make your priests, O Lord, clothed with salvation. May your saints rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.

Tremendous cry from his heart. Basically what he's saying is Lord, meet with us. We've built this temple, we're trying to do your will.

We want to know you, we want to experience you. We don't simply want to have services, we want to meet with God. God, meet us. Now look at verse one of chapter seven. When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. We can't fully comprehend just what that means except to say that when we have this sort of thing in the Old Testament, it is a theophany, it is a manifestation of God's divine glory. It is an inbreaking of eternity upon time.

It is, if you like, that which is not a common encounter and yet which is a necessary one. And as a result of this, the priests were unable to enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. They couldn't go about their business because the sense of God's presence was so awesome they could not continue. I long for this. Know my heart, I long for this. For an encounter with God that breaks through the molds of all of our conventionality, for an encounter with God that cannot be explained simply in terms of doing church a la Americana, for an encounter with God that breaks the hearts of his people, my heart first, all of our hearts together so that we cannot even have church the way we normally have church.

That's what it's saying. They couldn't do the routine because God shattered it in an instant. When revival comes to a church or to a nation, this will take place. The effect of it will be the things we're trying to create at the moment without the revival. We want the effect without the inrush of the Spirit of God.

See, you say, I can tell by some of your eyes, you're saying, Well, that's jolly well not gonna happen here. I'm not coming to one of those services. Well, that's why we started by saying that we need to gather expectantly. We don't gather for business as usual. We gather for God to be God and do what God wants to do, when he wants to do it, any day he wants, any time he wants, anything he wants. He's God.

We're men and women. You get a congregation that begins to gather in that way. You see things happen that you never saw happen in your life, and some of them you're afraid to see even happen. And so it was that the Israelites, when they saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they all ran out and tried to get on Christian TV and tell everybody what had happened.

No. They knelt down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped the Lord, and they gave thanks to the Lord, and they said, The Lord's good and his love endures forever. Where did we get this idea that if we really meet with God and really know God, it makes us strut?

Where did we get the idea that when we really meet with God, it makes us prominent? When Moses met with God, what did God tell him to do? Take your shoes off, buddy, because you're standing on holy ground. When Isaiah met with God, he put his hands over his mouth and he said, I'm a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. God said, That's right. When the disciples met with God, as Jesus oversaw their fishing expedition and gave them a catch such as they were unable to contain, and as they began to pull the nets, they realized they were going to capsize the boat, what was the response of Peter in that encounter?

He fell down on his face, and he shouted out to Jesus, Depart from me, because I am a sinful man, O God. We got the altar. We can't make the fire. We got the book. We can't make it live.

We got the songs. We can't stir our hearts. If the church in America makes it as a force to be reckoned with, it must cry to God for this kind of inrush of the Spirit of God. Now, it's within that context that he then speaks to the people in this famous verse, 14. God speaks to Solomon, and he says, Now listen Solomon, I want to tell you this.

It's very important. If my people who are called by my name… Just stop there for a moment and understand this. There is no modern nation, however much it may need to repent, which God will address as my people who are called by my name. This is not a verse for America.

I hope you understand that. This is a verse for the people of God. So that's where we go wrong, first of all, straight out of the box with this verse.

Because we seek to apply it wrongly. We seek to expand our energies, Christianizing the pagans. When the verse calls us to get to grips with ourselves. We think this verse is a mandate for asking those who have not known the grace of God to somehow live as if they did. When in point of fight, it is a call for the people of God to live as the people of God.

If my people, the people who have been redeemed by my blood, who are sustained by my spirit, who are committed to my law, if these people will do certain things, if they will stop making the priority, the confrontation of the enemy without and deal with the enemy within, namefully their own sinful lives, then we'll start to make progress. But what do we have to do? Number one, we have to humble ourselves. Humble ourselves. Why? Because it is pride that is at the heart of all of our obstinacy and all of our disobedience.

Back in Nehemiah chapter 9, God says of his people in the 16th verse, he says, the problem with you guys is that you are arrogant, you're stiff-necked, and you're disobedient. I don't like this. I don't like this. I don't like to see myself like this.

But I need to. See, we think it's beneath us to bow our heads to God's yoke, but until we do, we'll never really be God's servants. Remember, Jesus says, Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11, 28, 29, 30. Only when I come before God will I be humbled. Only when I see myself as I really am before God in his glory. My great need is to know him and then to know myself, not, as we're told every day we live our lives, that we should know ourselves and then go look for God.

We'll never know ourselves until we know him, and when we know him, we'll know that we've all got far too much to say for ourselves. I carry this thing in my Bible. Many of you have it as well. I found it in the Chapel of the Air years ago. Actually, I carry it in my little notebook for my preaching notes. It says, Lord, I renounce my desire for human praise, for the approval of my peers, the need for public recognition.

I deliberately put these aside today, content to hear you whisper, Well done, my faithful servant. Here's the deal. These are easy to have.

These are light to carry. This is tough to live. Because everything in me cries out for affirmation, cries out for recognition, cries out for approval, cries out for accolades. And God said that he will not share his glory with anybody else. So you're done before you start. And so is a church that is stuck on itself. Know yourselves. Pray. You see, the two things go together. You never pray while you're proud, because proud people never pray.

They're self-sufficient. They see no need to. Tozer says of prayer, page 47, More spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study. It is only when our vaunted wisdom has been met and defeated in a breathless encounter with omniscience that we are permitted really to know. When prostrate and wordless, the soul receives divine knowledge like a flash of light on a sensitized plate.

The exposure may be brief, but the results will be permanent. And so we say with the disciples, Lord, teach me how to pray. Humble ourselves. Pray.

Seek God's face. To seek God's face. To sing the chorus. Lord, I want to know you. Live my life. To show you all the love I owe you. I'm a seeker of your heart. To sing it and really mean it. There's no great mystery in this. It is majestic.

It's not mysterious. It means simply reading our Bibles and discovering what it means to encounter God and to do His will. We don't need to go and take a special course to find this out. It's written in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 5. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord. Okay, now I know I am supposed to treat the elders of the church. Hold them in the highest regard in love because you really like their personalities.

No, because of the work they do. Okay, I've got that. Now how about my relationships with my brothers and sisters? Live in peace with each other.

Okay. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, the people who are slackers. Warn them. Encourage the timid.

Help the weak. Be patient with people. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong. Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always. Pray continually.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Oh, I want to discover the will of God. Hey, start that. And when you finish this lifetime, then move to 2 Thessalonians. How about that? 1 Thessalonians 5, verse 12, do that. Then when you've done that, come back, talk to me again. I'll give you another section because I'm still working on this section.

How about be patient with everyone? Exhausted the juice in that, have I? Not even close. Ask my wife. Ask my kids.

Ask the people with babies. It's impossible. Respect those who are over you in the Lord.

When you're a disrespectful person, you can't exhaust that. God has given us His word and He's given us His table to meet Him. I want to live beneath His smile. I want to know Him. Young guy wrote to me this week a wonderful letter.

I hope I have it here. And in it, he said to me that he wanted to know God. And it was such a cry from his heart that I just was so stirred with it in my own spirit. This is what he said, Pastor Begg, please pray that I would know something of the genuine experience of Christ in my life, an awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I do want to know Christ and not just know of Him or about His word. I know that my faith does not rest on feeling, yet I want a passion for the mind of Christ. I want conviction of the truth of His word. I want a deep sense of His abiding with me.

If you've got some counsel about this, I would really appreciate it. Yeah, I've got counsel. I want the same thing. I want to know you, Lord.

I want to see your face. And then, to turn from our wicked ways. See, the process is very demanding and very clear. Oh, we have God's power to enable us. We have God's word to direct us. But it demands from us that we turn from all that we know to be wrong. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways. This simply means repentance. It means to go against the grain.

It means to go against what most of the time I want to do in and of myself. When they launch those big rockets from Cape Kennedy or Cape Canaveral, whatever it is, they go down, and you always hear it on the TV, that guy's voice from Mission Control, Houston. It's a great voice.

I wish I had a voice like that. And then he goes, ten seconds and counting. I like that. I just like that, ten seconds and counting. It gives me a buzz every time.

I mean, just saying that, I'm getting excited. Ten seconds and counting. Because that's close! You've got this awesome, big, monstrous thing, and they've been preparing for all of their lives to make this trip, and it's ten seconds and counting. And then it seems like an eternity.

What it must be like in there is unbelievable. Ten, nine. And then, with monotonous frequency, it would seem they are forced to abort the take-off.

And then the thing comes on the screen, launch aborted four seconds to go, although it doesn't say four seconds to go. I want to tell you something, and I want you to listen really carefully. Some of you are nowhere as useful in your Christian life as you may be. You do not know the blessing of God on your life as you might. You do not know the joy of his abiding presence as you can, and I'll tell you why it is. You've got to humble yourself, you've got to seek your face, you've got to pray, but you will not do the last piece. You will not turn from your wicked ways. Now, you say, how can you say that about us? Well, just because I preached this sermon already to myself a lot this week, and I found myself at the same pivotal point.

Ten seconds to go, and aborting the take-off. Psalm 106, a tragic statement, is a very similar piece of work to what we have in Nehemiah chapter 9, as we shall see. Psalm 106 verse 43. This is what it is said of God in relationship to those who were his followers. Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion, and they wasted away in their sin. They knew that you should humble yourself, and they knew they were sinners. They knew that you should pray. They knew that you should seek God's face, and they knew that you should turn from your wicked ways.

But the wicked ways seemed so much fun and so much more attractive than the narrow road that bent upon rebellion. Their spiritual muscles atrophied, and they wasted away in their sin. There can be no more tragic description in all of Scripture than of the person who knows what is right to do and chooses not to do it. May God save us from such an end. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with a message he's titled, The Great Confession.

Alistair will be back shortly to close today's program. As we learned today, consistent prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God and our preparation for worship. But honestly, many of us struggle with knowing what to say when we pray. If you can relate to that, Alistair has written a book that will help you pray with greater confidence. The book is titled, Pray Big. In it, Alistair examines the Apostle Paul's prayers in his letter to the Ephesians. And today, you can download Pray Big as an audiobook for free.

As you listen, you'll learn a pattern for how to pray like Paul, whose bold, expectant prayers revealed great faith and conviction. Now, tomorrow is the last day to download the audiobook without cost, so be sure to request yours right away. Go to slash Pray Big. And to help you learn the lessons from Pray Big, there's a corresponding study guide with questions that will help you think through each of the book's eight chapters.

The study guide is included with the free audio download as a PDF, or you can purchase the print booklet at our cost of just $2. Again, visit slash store. There's another book we want to recommend to you today. It's called The Beauty of Divine Grace. This book will guide you through an in-depth exploration of five essential truths about our salvation, five truths that will transform the way you worship, the way you work, and the way you witness in the world.

These truths are the very core of the gospel, namely that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and Christ alone, all for God's glory alone. Tomorrow is the last day we'll be talking about the book The Beauty of Divine Grace, so ask for your copy today when you donate to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life. You can give through the mobile app or online at slash donate, or call us.

Our number is 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair to close today with prayer. Let me use as a prayer a little song that I used to sing when I was 11 and 12 years old in a Bible class.

I sing it every week, frequently. Cleanse me from my sin, Lord. Put your power within, Lord. Take me as I am, Lord, and make me all your own. Keep me day by day, Lord, underneath your sway, Lord. Make my heart your palace and your royal throne. May it be true of our church, Lord Jesus, for your glory. And may grace, mercy, and peace from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one of us today and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.

So glad you've joined us today. Do you work with or live with a grumbler? Is it possible you are a grumbler? Tomorrow we'll discover what often lies at the root of chronic complaining and learn how we can change our perspective. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-30 07:47:36 / 2023-10-30 07:56:39 / 9

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