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Saying No to Neglect (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 7, 2023 3:00 am

Saying No to Neglect (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 7, 2023 3:00 am

The Bible is clear that following God’s law isn’t something you should commit to lightly or on a whim. In fact, genuine submission to God will significantly affect every aspect of your life. Learn more when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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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 tfl.org 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 Bible makes it clear that following God's Law is not something we ought to commit to lightly or do on a whim. Today on Truth for Life we'll learn how genuine submission to God will significantly alter every aspect of our lives. Alistair Begg is teaching from Nehemiah chapters 9 and 10. Now in the first 29 verses we have a list of people.

In the first 27 verses they are mentioned by name, and every name here in this list is significant. Those of you who like to walk through graveyards will know that's true. Those of you who are scared to walk through graveyards won't know what I'm talking about. And as I walk through it, you look at these names, you haven't a clue who these people are. It'd be a strange thing if you went from gravestone to gravestone, bursting into tears at every grave. People say, How do you know everybody in here? You say, Well, I don't.

It's just something that happens to me. It would be bizarre. But they're all with significance to someone, and they all have an appointment with God. Every name will stand before their Maker. And every name listed here in chapter 10 is significant. Otherwise, the Holy Spirit would not have left us with the list.

That is not to say that we are able to unearth the significance of every name. It is simply to notice that lists and names are important. They are recorded here to their honor. They are recorded here for our recollection. And God records this list of names here for us, so that we might learn that lists are important. So that we might learn that history is important. So that we might learn that although people say, Why would we have to keep membership lists?—that those very lists are important—without those records being kept, there would be no lists for Nehemiah to write down in chapter 10. You see how much the spirit of the age has filled our minds?

We live for the moment, for the instantaneous. And so, in the who's who of scriptural history, a great deal is told. All of these people had wives. We assume they all had children. Many of them had grandchildren. And one day in heaven, we'll get a chance to talk to them. Hodiah and Bani and Beninu.

And in verse 15, the one I love, Bunny. These people were just normal, regular people. That's what I'm trying to get across to you.

They're just normal. Their name's on a list here, but they lived, they moved, they breathed, they put their socks on, they went to work every day. Ordinary people that God used for extraordinary purposes. Otherwise, what hope do most of us have?

If we're waiting to become extraordinary in order to be useful, we're gonna wait a long time. Now, that's who's involved. What's involved goes for the rest of the chapter, and I just want to break into it for a moment with you. In verses 28 and 29, we essentially have a commentary on the statement at 938. You will notice how comprehensive the list of people is that is making their appendages to this document.

They are adding their own signatories to it. And you will see that it comprises the priests and the Levites and the gatekeepers and singers and servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the law of the God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters and all who are able to understand. This again is a recurring emphasis in recent days—sons and daughters and all who are able to understand. Turn back for a moment to chapter 8 and to verse 2. You remember they had the reading of the law, and they all assembled in the square as one man. They called for Ezra to bring out the book. And verse 2 says that on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly.

Who was in the assembly? Well, it was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. You see, children cannot make discoveries in a vacuum. If the children were not present in chapter 8 for the preaching, they would not be present in chapter 10 for the signing. And if we think that somehow we can bring our children through some kind of spiritual vacuum and have them emerge at the age of understanding, whatever that might be, as solid stalwart members of the faith, I believe we're skating on thin ice. The laborious task that is involved in moving them from eight through ten is not the task of a Sunday school, it's not ultimately the task of a church, it's certainly not the task of a day school, it is the task of parental responsibility.

And it is a solemn, sobering challenge. Because, you see, the law of God was given to a people who were wise and understanding. It was given to people who from childhood not only knew the words of the law but also understood how they apply. You see, there's all the difference in the world between knowing mathematical equations and knowing how to use them. I can learn those things off by heart, but I haven't a clue what you do with them. We can learn the Bible, as it were, have input in our heads—facts, facts, facts—but without application, we are those who hear the Word and don't do it.

We are men looking in a mirror, seeing our faces, knowing there's a need of correction but never correcting anything. So the children are going to ask questions of us. Exodus 12, when your children ask you, What does this ceremony mean to you, Mom?

Then tell them. You see, the point is, if it doesn't mean anything to you, Mom, you've got nothing to answer. They don't want an explanation about the significance of the symbolic metaphors in the communion service. They want to know how it was that you started to do this. They want to know how it was that you discovered you were a sinner and in need of a Savior. They want to know how it is that Jesus keeps you along the path of life. They're asking you not what does communion mean but what does communion mean to you. They want to know the significance of baptism. What does baptism mean to you, Dad? Which is, of course, a tough question for a father to answer who remains unbaptized following a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

You see, we're only able to answer out of the wellspring of experience and out of that breadth of understanding. We're not mindless about our faith. Mindlessness is paganism. The thing that marked the pagans as opposed to the people of God was that they can't understand. That's what the prophet says to them again and again, Isaiah 44. These people cannot understand. But Christianity, biblical Christianity, is about a book that needs to be understood, having been read.

It is about an historical figure in history. It's not about simply sitting down on your porch and gazing into the blue yonder and having some kind of feeling. Paganism has got plenty of alternatives down that road. This demands thought.

It demands serious thought. And the people of God in the history of his dealings with them were destroyed at various points, and the reason on every occasion was because they either didn't know what they should know or, having come to know it, they had neglected it. Hence, Hosea 4.6, my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Not destroyed for lack of feelings. I'm not too concerned this morning how you feel, ultimately. I can tell many of you feel sleepy in the heat of this room. That is obvious to me as I look at you. So, if I focus on that too much, that's a major source of discouragement. But I am not particularly concerned about how you feel as much as what you know. Not because how you feel is irrelevant is very, very important. But your mind must control your feelings. Otherwise, your feelings will manipulate your mind. And you know how much you're able to justify on the basis of how you feel. Oh, I don't feel that three of the apple pies from McDonald's will do me any harm. Oh, you don't feel that way at all? No. No, I don't feel that at all.

I don't feel it'll be a problem. Well, you'll feel it once you eat it. Because unless you take what you know and apply it to how you feel, then you're in deep difficulty. Take it from me, the voice of experience. I know about these things. I know about those apple pies. There are fifteen grams of fat in one of those apple pies. Three of them is forty-five grams. Forty grams would be a good day.

So one decaffeinated coffee and three apple pies, and you can be flat on your back any afternoon you want. They were destroyed, not because of a lack of feeling right. They were destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. That's why I labor—we labor—to teach you the Bible. You know me well enough by now, after all these years, to know that I can stand up here and entertain you.

I've got more jokes than you've ever heard. I can preach off the back of an envelope three points, two funny illustrations, and a couple of ideas, and become a hero. But it would be to prostitute what God has called me to do.

He didn't call me to stand up here so you don't feel good about what happened. He told me that I'm going to stand before him on the day of judgment and give an answer for my faithfulness to the responsibility of teaching the Bible to you. That's serious. And so the people were serious. They were so serious about these things that they responded to this with a curse and with an oath. They said, Let it all fall on us if we don't do what we're saying. They were submissive in relationship to their responsibilities. Back in verse 29, they said that they were going to obey carefully all the commands and all the regulations and all the decrees of the Lord our God. And also we're told in verse 28 that they were separated, separating themselves from the neighboring people for the sake of the law of their God. You see, those who resolve to obey all the commands of God must learn to live within the demands that those commands then bring. So the Father goes home, and for some reason he has children within his care who, because of the influence of the world around them, are not walking with him.

They didn't come to the ceremony. They were amongst the sons and the daughters who were able to understand, but they said they were not coming and they were not signing because they were not into it. A familiar story. And he came home and at the evening meal, as he sat with the gathered family, he said to them, Today I signed my name by curse and oath to the fact that we as a family will obey all the commands and regulations of the law of God as of today, like never before.

And so the children began to ask, Well, what does this mean, Dad? And he said, Well, it's going to have an impact in three main areas, and we'll come to these in subsequent weeks. It'll have an impact on your love life. It'll have an impact on your time.

It'll have an impact on your money. Oh, said one of the daughters who was getting ready to go out on a date, What do you mean it'll have an impact on our love life? Well, he says, Let me tell you, this was my promise. I promise not to give my daughters in marriage to the peoples around us, or to take their daughters for our sons.

Dad, you can't be serious. You know you like this boy. Uh-huh. Are you telling me that I can't marry him? That's what I'm telling you.

Why? Many of you have been there. Some of you are there.

And some of us are about to be there. And some of us are about to go through the great fiddler-on-the-roof experience, which is so much in my mind, having just been to see it, where his daughters keep coming to him, and that dilemma is set up again and again. She says, And I have now found the man that I want to marry. And he first of all goes hysterical, you know, this is ridiculous.

And then he sings out that great juxtaposition. Oh God, you know that she shouldn't be doing this! But, oh God, I see her eyes. Oh Lord, I know that we are to be different in this world! But, oh, what shall I do with my girl? The sad thing is, in fiddler-on-the-roof, he capitulates on every single occasion.

He hasn't got the guts to allow his daughter to cry tonight, to prevent his daughter from crying all the other nights. You go home and read 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and listen there as Paul says, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. We read it earlier.

The picture is clear. Deuteronomy 22 says you're not to put an oxen and a donkey in the same yoke. Leviticus 19 says you're not to crossbreed the animals. This is not a racial statement. This is a religious statement.

This is not about races. This is about religious purity. You cannot, he says, do this without absorbing and thereby diluting the very people of God. That was true of the nation of Israel, and it is true today of the church. And 2 Corinthians 6 is a classic reminder to us that the ultimate division between people is not a division of resources or a division of color or a division of any other notion as much as it is a division between a believer and an unbeliever. There is nothing more incongruous than heaven and hell sleeping in the same bed.

And that's exactly what happens when somebody marries an unbeliever. It sounds kind of blunt, doesn't it? It sounds a little devastating. A little directive.

A little difficult to shimmy out of. It's supposed to be. Why? To deprive us?

To delight us. The only ultimate yoke fellows in marriage are those who have individually been yoked to Jesus Christ and then are yoked with one another. You don't have to be an old person to make these kind of commitments today. You can be a girl of eleven or twelve years old sitting to me listening. You take your Bible out, if you wish, or a little piece of paper, or some way you have that secret box in your house and you write in your diary, and you go home today and you write in your diary, with God's help, I promise today that I will only marry a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has trusted in him for his salvation. You go and write that in your diary.

You do that. You're a boy? Go ahead and do it. I challenge you. Oh, my goodness, have you seen some of these girls?

Yes, I've seen them all. Write it in your diary. God is no man's debtor. He is no man's debtor.

There is no good thing that the Lord will withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Do it. I challenge you. And the other two things about time and about money, you're never too young to say, And I commit my Sundays to the Lord Jesus. You're never too young to make that commitment. You can make a commitment today that will set you free, one day in seven, from ever doing any study at college and university. You can do it right now today. I'll tell you how. Just write it down and make a commitment.

I will never study for my exams on the Lord's day, because I want to honor him with the firstfruits of all that I am on his day. Do it today, and I'll introduce you to one of the greatest journeys of your life. And when it comes to your money, you're never too young to say, And of the money that God gives me from my babysitting or whatever else it is, I will give to the Lord Jesus a portion of that which he has given to me.

You're never too young to make those kind of commitments. One final illustration. I'm done. In Scotland, before you take your driver's test, and they teach you, one of the things they teach you is MSM, which stands for Mirror Signal Maneuver. In other words, you look first in the mirror, then you make the signal, and then you make the maneuver. Now, you know just how unusual that is by driving on 271, right? It's always easy to see it in others. As they make the maneuver, they hear the sound of the horn, and then they look in the mirror.

Oh, oh, and here I thought I was driving on 271 all by myself. Where did that guy come from? Jerk. No. Mirror Signal Maneuver. I want to challenge you as I close this morning. Take a look in the mirror of your life.

Where are you? Do you need to make a signal? Signal to the Lord, I'm signing my name to you today, signing my life, my family, my relationships, my all to you. It's one thing to feel that, think it, another to do it. So we look in the mirror, we give the signal, we make the maneuver. It doesn't matter if anybody sees, just that God knows our hearts.

Our wives and our kids, our moms and our dads, our friends, will find out when they see us on the highway. May God grant us grace to respond to his Word. Let's pray. Father, I pray that you will take your Word and write it in our hearts as individuals and families, as a church. We bless and praise you for your goodness and faithfulness to us in the past. May we learn from looking back, to live now, and to look forward expectantly.

Help us not to walk out from here if we have matters to settle. And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, world without end.

Amen. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg challenging each one of us to follow Jesus and to live our lives accordingly. Now if you regularly attend a local church, you're familiar with a liturgy.

That's the term for the sequence of your corporate worship service. Today we are excited to make available to you a book of 40 daily liturgies designed specifically for personal use during the Advent season. The book is titled O Come O Come Emmanuel and for each day during Advent, which begins just a few weeks from now, the book presents a rich collection of prayers, hymns, and scripture, all focusing on the arrival of Christ. The sequence each day begins with a call to worship. It's followed by prayers of adoration, confession, pardon, and praise.

Each liturgy takes about 20 minutes to go through. It offers you a tremendously rich time of meditation as you anticipate and celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus. You will enjoy a warm meaningful Advent season and Christmas season when you get a copy of O Come O Come Emmanuel. You can receive your copy when you give a donation to Truth for Life using our mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884.

And let me make a suggestion. If your church has a Thanksgiving box project or your Bible study group does something special for Thanksgiving, how about adding some spiritual food along with the meal donations you give out by including a copy of the Truth for Life daily devotional book in each package. This is a thoughtful gift that will continue to bless each recipient far beyond Thanksgiving day. Both volumes one and two of Truth for Life 365 daily devotions can be purchased through our online store at our cost of just $8 each. Visit truthforlife.org slash store.

I'm Bob Lapine. Most of us have read well-written books that we've enjoyed or benefited from. Tomorrow we'll learn why the Bible is superior to all of those books combined. I hope you'll join us. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-07 05:16:03 / 2023-11-07 05:24:39 / 9

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