Applied Biblical Theory

When I was in college, you had the opportunity to take classes like “Applied Mathematics” and “Applied Life Sciences”, and there was even one that was “Applied Ethics” that was custom tailored to your degree track.  The point of these classes was to take the skills you had learned over the course of your education and put them to us in the every day life.

Today, I had a lesson in “Applied Biblical Theory”.  This, is Mabel:

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Easter weekend, our old fridge completely died.  This was by far our most expensive Easter ever, as we shopped to find the replacement.  When the fridge arrived, my youngest daughter promptly named it Mabel.  And, it was so.

Unfortunately for all of us, Mabel included, after a couple of weeks the ice maker would not longer dispense ice.  For those who don’t know us well, my husband’s work schedule can vary from week to week, and we rarely know his days off too far in advance.  On my side of the scheduling, having three kids in three schools can make it really hard for me to be home during the “service window”.  Additionally, my husband and I both thrive, expect, and deliver efficiency in whatever we do.

Knowing all of this, we put the effort forth in diagnosing the problem ourselves.  After working together on examining the functions of the freezer, and then doing some internet research in tandem… we hit gold.  The auger motor was broken, that is what needed to be replaced or repaired at minimum.  He took a day off from work, we scheduled the service, and we very clearly stated that the issue was the auger motor and it could possibly need replacement.  Having the diagnosis and the prescription for the fix, from our view point, ensured that the repairman would arrive with all the parts in hand.  Our freezer would be fixed that day, and everyone could go on their merry way.  Our repair window was 9am to 12pm.

At 8am, our doorbell rings… which is right in the midst of our morning school routine. The repairman was here a total of thirty minutes.  No freezer repaired, no ice dispensing.   He came in, poked around the freezer and affirmed the part we suspected was broken.  However he didn’t have one on the truck, would have to order the part, and would be back on Saturday.  Saturday, when I already have plans.  Which put my husband in the position to either ask me to cancel our mother’s day plans – or – to take another day off of work so that he could be home for it.

I’m not going to lie to anyone, I was pretty angry.  From both of our perspectives, there was no reason for the repairman to arrive without the part needed.  Fortunately for him, he was dealing with my husband and not me at that point.  In fact, if there are customer service issues to deal with … usually hubby sicks me on the company.  I wouldn’t have been as kind… and it probably would have resulted in this guy finding the part somewhere and returning today.  But, I digress.

As I was mulling this over in my mind, after the repairman left and my temper began to cool, a thought struck me…

Is this not exactly what our relationship with God is like?

God hands us a book, full of His Word.  The book diagnoses our problems, and then prescribes the correct part to fix it.  You can use the index at the back of most bible to look up words like “anger”, “jealousy”, “adultery”, “gossip”, etc… and read the specific details of that sin when it is the broken part in us.  His Word is faithful to not leave us in our guilt and shame, but to make a way for us out of that brokenness.  God sent his Son, telling us: THIS IS THE PART YOU NEED TO BE WHOLE!

How many times do we show up to life without the one part that can repair, restore, and reconcile us… to each other, to Him?

We may try to fix the sin in our lives with our own means, lacking the tools He has given us.  We may choose to fix this in our lives on another day, because we are not prepared to do it on this day.  Or, we just don’t want to.  We may not trust that God knows how to handle this problem and seek the counsel of others until someone else gives us the answer we want to hear.

And so we show up on Sunday, to God’s house… but we are lacking the right parts.  We forget to bring:

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TGC Women’s Conference Notes, Part 6 – Nehemiah Sessions #7 (Chapter 13)

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These are my notes on the book of Nehemiah from The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference.  There were 7 total sessions, covering all 13 chapters.

Session 7 Notes:   Chapter 13 – Don Carson   (VIDEO: Nehemiah 13: DA Carson http://vimeo.com/100122593)

Chapter 13 –  The final chapter of Nehemiah exposes the triumph and the failure of reformation and revival.    For about 12 years Nehemiah was with the people in Jerusalem, repairing the wall, rebuilding the city and re-establishing the people.  Nehemiah returned to his duties with King Artaxerces.  While he was gone, we find once again rebellion amongst the Israelites.  They had been told, when reading the book of Moses, that they were to exclude those who were of foreign descent from the assembly.  But, while Nehemiah was gone Eliashab had allowed Tobiah (who was trying to stop the rebuild project) to live in the storerooms of the temple.   When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he found out about this, threw Tobiah and his household out, purified the rooms and returned the proper equipment to them.  The Levites were no longer being given their due portions, and had returned to their fields.  They were working on the Sabbath.  They were marrying foreign women & their children were not learning their language or customs but that of the foreigners.  Nehemiah rebuked them for breaking the law.

From Don Carson

What we learn through the final chapters of Nehemiah, is that in the end… the happy progress the Israelites were making was over.  Despite the renewed covenant, despite bringing the people together to repair the wall and city, despite restoring the tribes to their homelands, despite their promises to return to the statues of the Lord… THEY WERE INCAPABLE OF DOING SO.

What this means to us today… is that we have to learn from what went wrong.

1) There was a new legalism.  And as history has repeated itself, these people were incapable of sticking to their promises.  But since they made this covenant, their inability to keep this new covenant led them to compromise, which is sin.   On the flip side, with legalism you will have those who begin to elevate the law & their own power to abide by it.  This is arrogant and implies that you can do it on your own & don’t need God.

2) The people were valuing their relationships with people over their relationship with God.    Blood relations became more important than the blood covenant.

3) The people were not faithful to God.  They took on wives they were told not to.  They were more concerned about how they appeared to other people than to God.  They were more concerned with making money than honoring the Sabbath.  They were not taking care of their own priests like they were instructed.  They were not preserving their language and customs with their children.

In the end all Nehemiah is left with is the plea to God to remember him, his faithfulness… despite the failure of the people.

The problem today with legalism is that you have people doing godly things with the wrong motivation vs. doing for God.  People will elevate the work of the church for a time, and then later destroy it with their own hands.  Because we are incapable of following the rules, we can’t do it on our own.  We need God.

The entire point of Nehemiah is that there was sin in the beginning, sin in the middle and sin in the end.  The only way we can be saved is the arrival of Jesus in the NT.  The only way we will be delivered to the New Jerusalem is when Christ returns.

The more we increase the focus on legalism, the more disobedient we become because legalism is an impossibility.  For God’s own chosen people, those with whom He had direct relationship with… those whom He made the covenant with … COULD NOT DO IT.  It isn’t within our own strength or power.

The more we increase the focus on legalism, the more we are looking for the experience itself (the feeling of doing it) than the actual real relationship with God.

Christ is the only recipe…  God is GOOD & RIGHT … We are wicked…. Which is why we need Him, to turn our face toward Him.

We follow the same patterns as the Israelites.     We struggle.  We examine ourselves.  We confess our sins.  We ask for mercy.  God brings judgement and revival.  Until Christ returns, we will struggle.  So, we PRESS ON… BEING CONSTANTLY AWARE OF OUR NEED FOR GOD, CONFIDENCE IN HIM DESPITE OUR UNCERTAINTY.

The overall point of Nehemiah is to point us toward the need of Jesus.  The Israelites were incapable of following God’s statutes.  They rebelled with Moses.  They rebelled with Nehemiah.  Despite our best intentions, we are people who are incapable of following the law.  Because God is righteous, and allowed His people to be spared from his wrath over and over again, Jesus had to come.  It was the only way to atone for the sin, to save God’s people.  The book of Nehemiah is not about the people, or what they are capable of doing on their own or even as a community, but a reminder of what we are incapable of doing & our need for a Savior…. which ultimately reveals the righteousness of God.

Previous Related Posts:

Pre-Conference Part 1 – Male and Female, He Created Them – Speaker Panels

Pre-Conference Part 2 – Male and Female, He Created Them – Don Carson

Conference Part 3 – Nehemiah:  Sessions 1 &  2 (Chapters 1-4)

Conference Part 4 – Nehemiah: Sessions 3 & 4 (Chapters 5-8)

 

 

The Gospel Coalition, Women’s Conference:  NEHEMIAH VIDEOS

Nehemiah 1-2 Kathy Keller: http://vimeo.com/99765572

Nehemiah 3-4 Timothy Keller: http://vimeo.com/99790975

Nehemiah 5-6 Paige Brown: http://vimeo.com/99776947

Nehemiah 7-8 Nancy Guthrie: http://vimeo.com/99775551

Nehemiah 9-10: John Piper http://vimeo.com/99775552

Nehemiah 11-12 Sandom/Salt/Neilsen http://vimeo.com/100122592

Nehemiah 13: DA Carson http://vimeo.com/100122593