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The Revival We Need - Part 3

"A Revival In The Bible"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2009 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'So we're looking at the need for 'A Revival In The Bible', and I want you to turn with me to Nehemiah, the book of Nehemiah chapter 8 please. Each night, of course, as has been announced, I'll be bringing the Gospel in as well as a message for believers.

Do you gather with God's people, as one man, around God's word? I know you're here tonight, and it's tremendous, but do you do it regularly?

Nehemiah chapter 8, and we'll read the whole chapter. Verse 1 - Nehemiah, Esther, Job, and then the Psalms; so if you find the big book of Psalms and go back a couple of books you'll get there - Nehemiah 8 verse 1: "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner".

This has been characteristic through every revival in Bible times and throughout church history: the powerful preaching of God's word that has ignited the church by God's truth again...

Let us pray: Father, we thank You for the book of God, we thank You for Your holy Word, we thank you that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Father, we thank You that our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted and enshrined within the pages of this holy book. Lord, we just pray that beyond the sacred page now, we would seek and find Thee, Lord. Our spirits pant for Thee, the Living Word - O, Living Word, come into our midst by the Spirit that inspired these pages, come into our meeting tonight, Lord, and come into our hearts we pray - and help us now for Christ's sake, Amen.

The book of Nehemiah is divided into two sections. The first is found in the first six chapters, and that deals with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after, of course, they had been destroyed by God's enemies - the reconstruction of the walls of the city of God. Then the last section, the second, comprises of the seven remaining chapters. If the first six chapters deal with the reconstruction of the city of God, the last seven chapters deal with the re-instruction of the people of God. Now in every genuine revival of God's people - and by that I mean, if you don't know what that is, when God's people again get a grip with God's truth, and that it makes such an impact on their lives that the fire of God is aflame again in their hearts; and it affects not only their lives and their homes, their churches, but the whole community around.

In every true revival of God's people there are two major features, at least. First: the preaching of God's word. We saw last night the need for Christ-centred gospel preaching: people need Christ. My friend, if you're here and you're not saved, you need Christ. But the other aspect is the response to that preaching of God's word, an active reaction, responsiveness to God's word in obedience that brings great joy to the hearts of God's believing people.

This has been characteristic through every revival in Bible times and throughout church history: the powerful preaching of God's word that has ignited the church by God's truth again. It's how the Reformation took place in Europe when the word of God was translated out of Latin that no one could understand, and was put into the language of the people that the ordinary ploughmen could read and find words whereby he might be saved. During one of the greatest revivals in the 18th century, one of the revivalists used during that time was George Whitefield, and he records his own relationship to the scriptures, and how a fresh sight of God's Word ignited his own heart. He says: 'I began to read the holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over - if possible - every line and every word. This proved meat indeed, and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh light and power from above. I got more true knowledge from reading the book of God in one month than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men'.

Jonathan Goforth was greatly used in China and elsewhere in revival from 1908 onwards, and looking back on those years he says: 'We wish to affirm, too, that we can entertain no hope of a mighty globe-encircling Holy Spirit revival without there being first a back to the Bible movement'. Now Goforth practised what he preached: for 19 years he read the Chinese New Testament 55 times. Add to his name John Wesley, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Brownlow North, Jonathan Edwards, John Wycliffe - all men who knew the importance of God's word, and indeed it was a revival and reaffirmation of the necessity of a revival in God's word that started in their hearts and spread a flame right across many a nation, and indeed the world.

What is happening more and more often these days is that from within the ranks of Christendom, doubt is being cast upon God's holy word...

Now God's Word has always been under attack, always. In Genesis 3, right at the very beginning of time, Satan came into the Garden and cast doubt upon God's word. He said to Adam and Eve: 'Yea, has God said, in the day that you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die? You shall not surely die, but you shall be as gods'. Now we are used, in the church of Jesus Christ, to doubt being cast upon God's holy word from without the church, but what is happening more and more often these days is that from within the ranks, at least of Christendom, doubt is being cast upon God's holy word. You don't have to go too far from this building either for it.

Archbishop Alan Harper, during the recent homosexual debate that is raging among Anglicans, during his remarks pointed out that it's important, when looking at the Bible, to distinguish the parts of the Bible that were considered the direct word of God, and other elements that were human interpretations of God's teaching in the context of time. So he's now dividing God's word into two: the actual spoken word of God, direct; and men's comments upon what God has said. Now that is liberal revisionist rhetoric, that's just liberal theology - whereby Scripture is being interpreted by the conditions of the day - that's what we're seeing now. People are putting on 'society spectacles' and reading the Bible according to what we think today in our very civilised age - that's not the way the word of God was ever meant to be understood. It's God's word - it's just a great shame (I say it sarcastically) that the apostle Paul wasn't alive in the day of Alan Harper, for he said: 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable'. Our Lord Jesus instructed the religious people of His own day to 'search the scriptures, for they testify of me' - all the scriptures.

The Archbishop went on to accuse, I think, even some in his own church of 'bibliolatry' - that is, worshipping the Bible over God. He said: 'It is the mother of all dogmatic fundamentalism'. Now listen, if you were here last night you'll know I'm not in the business of bashing other denominations or churches, but I'll tell you this: one of the reasons why people around in pulpits of our land and churches are falling for everything, is because they'll stand for nothing. They won't stand on God's holy word. This is a point of historical fact - now listen carefully, believers: revival never ever began in the liberal wing of the church! It only started when men and women understood and reverenced God's holy word.

In Nehemiah's day, although the walls of the city were finished and rebuilt, there was still a great spiritual vacuum in the life of the people. Now according to chapter 7 the people were now well ordered, well defended, well governed - and yet in this community of nice homes, good jobs, and great security, something was missing! Boy, there's a lesson: it's not enough to have well constructed superstructures and church buildings if there's little life on the inside. Don Francisco, an American singer, once sang a song that went like this:

'I don't care how many buses you own, or the size of your sanctuary
It doesn't matter how steep your steeple is, if it's sitting on a cemetery.
I don't care if you pave your parking lot, or put pads upon your pews,
What good is a picture perfect stage, if you're missing all the cues?'.

We can have beautiful architectural structures, we can have well-oiled programmes, but it all means nothing if God's presence and God's power is absent!

We could be missing the cues, God's cues. We can have beautiful architectural structures, we can have well-oiled programmes, but it all means nothing if God's presence and God's power is absent! It will be absent if God's word is not central to everything that we do, and everything that we are. This is what we see in Nehemiah's day: in verses 1 to 7 they read the Bible - what a simple message there is for you tonight, friends! They read the Bible. It says in verse 1 they were as one man, united around the Bible. Psalm 133 says that that is where God commands the blessing, when brethren dwell together in unity. Now this wasn't a Bible Conference - you know there's a difference between a Conference and Convention? A Conference is a place for discussion, a Convention is a place for decision. They were met around, as one man, God's word. They were there for a decision, a united people waiting on God.

Where were they? It says in verse 1 they were at the water gate. You know water in the Bible is often a picture of the word of God. It speaks of its cleansing influence on our minds and our hearts, how it refreshes us, how it can revive us - the power of God's word. This is the place where they are met together as one man. They're here in an open place before the water gate. What a message: if God's people unite together around the word of God to seek Him, that's a starting place for any revival.

May I ask you, just for a moment: believer, do you gather at the water gate? Do you gather with God's people, as one man, around God's word? I know you're here tonight, and it's tremendous, but do you do it regularly? How do you gather? There's a lot of people, and they come to hear what the preacher will say wrong next. They don't put the cards up in the air, but they do it in their heart: marks out of 10, and they carve the preacher up at the kitchen table with the roast. They don't come asking: 'What will God say to me today?' - that's the way they were here. What a cry went out from the people, this is wonderful, this is when you know God is doing something - verse 1: 'They spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book'. Bring out the book!

You know, it's sad for me to have to say tonight that fewer believers are bringing the book even to church. Sometimes we're preaching, and ask people to turn to this passage, and you can't hear the leaves turning over because they haven't brought their Bible with them. Do you bring the book to church? More than that, fathers, do you bring the book out when there are decisions in the home that have to be made? Businessmen, does this book have any reflection on what you do in your business affairs, in your tax dealings? Leaders in the church, are we looking to this book or some other 'purpose driven' book, or human man-management book, for God's pattern, and God's leading, and God's guidance? Notice in verse 1, they didn't seek Ezra's opinion about the book, they said to Ezra: 'Bring out the book'. They didn't want Nehemiah's opinion, they didn't want Zerubbabel's opinion!

Sometimes we quote men, we're all guilty of it. We adhere to them as if they had the authority of God's word - Calvin said this, and Darby said that, Pink said the other. When we are debating something, someone says: 'So-and-so taught that', and then people begin to be content because they think that they hold what Mr So-and-so held and believed. Jesus said: 'Do not teach for doctrine the commandments of men'. We ought to respect all of God's servants, particularly those He's used down through the years rightfully, but all of them - if they were worth their salt - were only ministers of God's word, they were only messenger boys. That's what we are, bringing the message - we're not meant to be students of science, or philosophy, or even theology, we're meant to know this book, and we're meant to preach this book.

We're not meant to be students of science, or philosophy, or even theology, we're meant to know this book, and we're meant to preach this book...

Now, who was there? Look at the gathering, the congregation, in verse 2. They brought out the law before this congregation, both men and women, and all who could understand. Everybody gathered there. Look how it was done: there was a public reading, verse 4 shows us this, from an erected wooden pulpit - and it went on from daybreak until noon, 12 o'clock. What was the reaction? Did the people say: 'Oh boy, you went over your time tonight!'? Sometimes you hear that God is moving in certain lands, particularly in the Third World, and we're asking God to do it there - and we're thinking: they sit there for hours and hours listening to God's word, and they're crying out 'Preach more, preach more!', and they're praying more and more - and do you know what I hear people in Ulster saying? 'Sure those people, they don't know any better! They've nothing else to do!', that's what people are saying in Ulster, 'They've nothing else to do. Sure they've no TVs, they've no gyms'. Do you think that's all the reason why they're sitting listening to God's word? Not a bit of it! God is moving, and they are having the reaction that these people had: they reverence God's word - and it wasn't 'bibliolatry', they weren't worshipping the book, but they were acknowledging the Author of the book! It was God's word, and they were acknowledging God's will that is expressed through His word.

Look what it says in verse 6: they lifted up their hands and cried 'Amen, Amen', and bowed their faces to the ground. What a cry! 'Bring out the book!' - that's the cry that we need to hear these days. It was the cry, 'Bring out the book!', that freed them and delivered them. You know, it freed us from the Dark Ages, when the Roman Church - the only church there was - the establishment chained the Bible so that ordinary people couldn't get at it. Now it's not chained, but we can't even bring it to the place of worship, we can't even cast the dust off it, take it down from the shelf, from under the bed. It comes out once in the week! My friend, this is tragic, because this is what we need: we need to bring out the book, and it will free us again. We are a nation that has had the book, the Bible is in our history and yet it's not valued any more. There's men and women and teenagers who bled and died and were burned at the stake, that we might have it - but now we don't want it!

Now, I want to talk to unbelievers here just for a moment: have you ever considered this book? This is a mighty book. This book claims over 3000 times to be the inspired word of God, and I hear people say: 'Ach, well that's self-authenticating. It wouldn't matter what you said you were, I wouldn't believe you until you could prove it'. Well, that's why the Bible can be self-authenticating, because it proves itself to be what it claims. If you count each book in this volume, you'll find that there are 66 books written by 40 or more authors over a period of over 2000 years - 66 books, over 40 authors, many of them never met or knew one another, and yet it's clearly one book with a perfect unity, with a consistency throughout it. The writers, when they were writing these books, had no idea that their message eventually would be incorporated into a book - yet there is, now you listen carefully, not one contradiction in the whole volume. I know there are folks who say: 'Oh, the Bible is full of them!', but I have challenged man after man, time after time, and nobody has been able to show me one. Maybe you're the man or woman tonight who can show me the contradictions in the Bible - if it's full of them, it must be easy to get one, at least. Nobody has ever shown me one. It's in complete harmony.

Rather than archaeology contradicting this book, this book has actually led archaeologists to great finds!

The structure authenticates it to be what it says it is. Prophecies fulfilled - I haven't got time to look at this, but Jesus Christ alone fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, and that was only concerning His first coming - and there are eight times more prophecies concerning His second coming in the Old Testament alone. The prophecies of His birth, fulfilled; His death, fulfilled; His life; His resurrection. What about the historical accuracy of this book? Dr Nelson Glueck, probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archaeology, has said, listen: 'No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. By the same token' - now this is profound - 'by the same token proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries'. So rather than archaeology contradicting this book, this book has actually led archaeologists to great finds!

What about its scientific accuracy? Irrespective of what Richard Dawkins and the like of him say, the fact of the matter is: though the church in the Middle Ages might have burned people at the stake because they said the earth was spherical, and they taught that it was flat, the Bible never taught that the earth was flat - that was their own foolishness. Isaiah said: 'God is the one who sits on the circle of the earth', and this book taught the roundness of the earth before the church even, in the Middle Ages, knew anything about it. There are many other things, the hydrological cycle of water is in the word of God - 'all the rivers flow into the sea', the Bible says, 'yet the sea is not full' - why? Because it evaporates and precipitates as rain, and there is a water cycle - the Bible knows all about it before we did. There are many other things I could tell you about, like gravitational fields - the Bible says, 'God hangeth the earth upon nothing'. Before Newton, God declared it! This book, it's not a book of science, now - but it's scientifically accurate.

What about the survival of the Bible? It's still here. You suppose for a moment that there was a man who had lived on earth for 1900 years, that he had been thrown into the sea and couldn't be drowned; that he had frequently been cast before wild beasts, but they were unable to devour him; and many times he had to drink deadly poison, which never did him any harm; that he had often been bound by iron chains, and locked in prison dungeons, yet he had always been able to throw off the chains and escape from his captivity; that he repeatedly had been hanged until his enemies thought him dead, and yet when his body was cut down he sprang to his feet and walked away as though nothing had happened; that hundreds of times he had been burned at the stake, until there seems to be nothing left of him, yet as soon as the fires were out he leapt up from the ashes as well as he ever was. We don't need to expand the illustration, because we would stand back and exclaim: 'Such a person was superhuman!' - but you know, that's the story of the Bible, a miracle of miracles, all because God has declared in this very book that heaven and earth would pass away, but My word shall never pass away.

No other book can affect humanity like this book! The very power of God is infused in it because it testifies of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of men...

What about its unique effects, because the written word of God only testifies to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ who was with God before the world was, and was manifest in flesh, and lived the life He lived of perfection and holiness because He was the Son of God walking around in humanity. He went to the cross, and He bled and died for your sins, and He suffered your shame, and bore your hell; and He rose again the third day - and it's that message that changes lives! No other book can affect humanity like this book! The very power of God is infused in it because it testifies of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of men.

Now believers, there's a lot of believers struggling in these days. When I was involved in more pastoral care than I am now, you know many a person came to me and said: 'Look, I'm struggling, I'm really not making anything of this Christian life at all. I'm having problems' - you know, time after time I learned to ask a question: 'Are you reading your Bible?'. Are you reading your Bible? More often than not the answer was 'No', or 'Not as often as I should do'. We need to eat daily, and we need to read God's Word daily more. Watchman Nee said that if he didn't read the word of God he wouldn't have his breakfast. Do you believe that? 'Man shall not live by bread alone'. George Mueller believed it, he read this book over 200 times. William Evans, who pastored a church in Wheaton, Illinois, he memorised the entire Bible in the King James Version, and the New Testament in the American Standard Version - imagine that! Billy Graham's father-in-law was a missionary, a medical missionary, Nelson Bell. He rose every morning at 4:00 or 4:30 to spend two to three hours Bible reading. He didn't read commentaries, he didn't read magazines, he didn't do correspondence or any other work, he wasn't preparing sermons - but he was just reading the scriptures every morning. It's testified of him that he was a walking biblical encyclopaedia, and people used to wonder at his holiness and the greatness of his life! It was Spurgeon who said: 'A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone whose life isn't'.

Is your life falling apart tonight, or feels that way? Bring out the book. When was the last time you brought out the book? If you want revival in your life, you need a revival in Bible reading - it's as simple as that: they read the Bible. It doesn't get more simple than that. You read the paper today, didn't you? I timed my reading last night - not for this meeting, just out of interest - to see how long it took me reading my portion, and it was just over 10 minutes - that's the reading now, that's just the reading, three chapters. By that time, every day, I'll get through the Bible in a year - and that's all it has taken, just over 10 minutes. We haven't got 10 minutes for God, and we want revival? Well, if we want revival, we need to bring out the book!

But there's more: they recognized the meaning. Verse 8, and this is characteristic of authentic Bible exposition - verses 1 to 3, they read the word, that's where it begins. We start with the Bible, we're not interested in man's opinion, we establish that all truth comes from God, so we read the word. Then came respect for God's word: the people listened, all of them, verses 5 and 6, attentively. Then what happened thirdly was, the truth was explained for everybody to understand - in verse 8, those who were gifted to give the meaning, that is, Ezra and Nehemiah, gave the sense. Now you might think that they were just doing what I'm doing here tonight, but it was more than that: the word means 'translated', the Hebrew literally has the sense, 'to make something distinct'. Now here's the big question: who did the Bible belong to in these days? It belonged to the Jews, the Hebrews! Who were these people? They were the Jews, the Hebrews - so why did they need the word of God translated? Well, you've got to remember that these were born Jews, but by tongue they had lost the Hebrew language, their culture, they had been saturated in godless pagan Babylon. This was their book, but because of the mentality and the lifestyle that they imbibed in captivity, they were reading their own book but they were hearing it through Babylonish ears. They had a different language now.

Dear Christian friend, have you been in the world so long that the very holy words of God are grating on your ears? Do you find it difficult to accept because you have imbibed the mentality and the culture of this world?

Dear Christian friend, have you been in the world so long that the very holy words of God are grating on your ears? Do you find it difficult to accept because you have imbibed the mentality and the culture of this world? But here what was happening was: they were being spoken to in a language they could understand, and the word of God was being unlocked to their understanding. Maybe Ezra's Bible was the only Bible they had in their own language, but praise God: they heard it, and they began to understand it because it was explained to them. Most importantly of all: they obeyed it.

You know something believers, now listen carefully tonight: we spend a lot of our time - and this is what's going on in churches today - grappling in our minds with unanswerable questions that we will never know the conclusion and solution to, we deal with irreconcilable matters rather than dealing with what is clear and plain in the word of God. Mark Twain was far from a Christian, but he got it right when he said: 'It's not what I don't understand about the Bible that bothers me, it's what I do understand'.

We often worry: what's God's will for my life? Can I tell you this: 90% of it, at least 90% of it, is revealed here in these pages - and you don't have to pray and fast to get it. Are we obeying God's word? You know how to apply that to your own heart. Well, they responded in obedience, verse 9. The truth was applied, and they're crying - why are they crying? Because they're guilty before God's word, they have seen themselves in the mirror of God's truth. They had lived for years without any spiritual input in carnality, and it was gripping them, it was piercing them - when was the last time any of us wept with an open Bible?

Something else you need to see is: they recovered lost truths. We read in verse 13 that on the second day - now they have been one day at this business - on the second day the chiefs of the people came together and the reading continued. One day wasn't enough! Then a notable discovery was made in verse 14: they found written in the law that Moses told the children of Israel to dwell in booths in the feast of seven months, the feast of the tabernacles. Now that was significant - you might think, 'Well, it doesn't look significant, does it?' - but here was a challenge for them to obey, here was something that, now mark the import of this, for a thousand years had not been practised, and yet it was still in the book!

Look at verse 17: 'All the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of' - that word is 'Joshua' - 'Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day', this very day, Nehemiah's day, 'the children of Israel had not done so'. Now you think about this just for a moment: during the days of David, the glory days, the days of Solomon, no attention had been paid to this one precept. Oh yes, they practised the feast of tabernacles, but they hadn't kept God's word in form by building these booths. Now people say today: 'Ach, as long as you keep the spirit of God's word, it doesn't matter about form' - isn't that right? If the form is given in the word of God, we are obliged to follow the form! People say: 'Ach, it's so awkward these days to implement all these things, they don't fit in with today's culture, they don't make sense' - they could have said that! 'This hasn't been implemented for a thousand years, it didn't happen in the day of Samuel, David, Solomon - they didn't need it, and God blessed them, so it's not essential', but it says here that they found it written in the book, and they did it. That is a picture of unquestioning obedience - and my friend tonight, whatever God is saying to you, you do it whatever the consequences! If you know it's God, you do it!

Twenty four years ago this very day I was saved because of the book, and because of the Man of the book - the Man of Calvary, the Man of the empty tomb...

Through this, verse 10, we see they rediscovered strengthening joy. They were told to stop weeping, for this was a holy day, 'neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength'. They had lost touch with God, and they had got fearful of Him. Maybe you're here tonight, and that's something you're worried about - you think God's angry with you. Well, God can chastise us like a father chastises a child, but if you are saved, my friend, God loves you with all His heart - you've no idea how much God loves you. God wants you to realise that He has strength for you, if you will come to Him. Now sometimes we can be so conscious of our sin, and the accuser of the brethren can say: 'You're no use, you forget about it! You're a hopeless sinner, give in and give up!', but the answer is here in verse 10: the joy of the Lord is your strength. Now listen carefully: that's a very misunderstood verse. It doesn't mean their joy was their strength, it doesn't even mean their joy in the Lord was their strength, the phrase should be understood as: the Lord's own joy - it's the joy not 'in the Lord', but the joy 'of the Lord' - this is the joy of God Himself that can be ours, and it's the secret of our strength. The Lord always delights in obedience, and when we obey He has joy - 'I have no greater joy than that my children walk in the truth' - and He gives that same joy to us when we're in obedience to Him.

My friend, do you see this book that I hold before you? I got it in 1979, and I can't even remember getting it at Christmas from Sunday School - it's nearly 30 years of age. Timothy was told by Paul that through the words of holy Scripture he was made wise unto salvation. He had a godly mother and a godly grandmother, and I thank God I had as well. Twenty four years ago this very day I was saved because of the book, and because of the Man of the book - the Man of Calvary, the Man of the empty tomb.

There was a young man like me, but he had a different end - he left home to attend college and study medicine. His mother worried about him, so she gave him a Bible on his way, and printed a verse of Scripture on the flyleaf. The young man soon discovered that college life was an endless series of parties. He spent all his money on one occasion on his pleasures, and one night he needed money for another whisky, and he pawned his Bible and bought the whisky. Well, he got through medical school and eventually became a doctor in a large hospital. One day - his name was Dr Mackay - he treated a dying patient. He knew that the man was dying, and the man knew himself, and he cried out for his book. The doctor didn't know what he was talking about, and then the man pointed to his Bible. He gave him his Bible, and after the man eventually passed away, Dr Mackay lifted the old man's book among his effects - and he couldn't believe his eyes, for when he opened the flyleaf he saw his mother's writing. It was his old pawned Bible. He gave his life to Christ, and in later years he became a preacher of the book, and a writer of the old hymn - and do you know what the old hymn was? 'Revive us again, revive us again'.

We need to get back to the book. What will you do tonight, believer? I pray to God that if you haven't the book with you tonight, or whether you do, you'll get home and get into it. Unbeliever, it's in this book that you have eternal life - not in the book itself, but the One that the book sets forth. Will you come to Him tonight? He is your only hope.

Let us pray: Father, we thank You that they read the book, they recognized the meaning of the book, they responded in obedience and in tears to the book, they recovered lost truths in this book, and they rediscovered strengthening joy. Lord, there are folk here tonight, known more to You than to me - and boy, do they need to get back to this book! They need to eat it, they need to digest it - 'Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart'. Oh Lord, this book is no good to any of us unless we read it. Even reading it is not enough, we must obey it. There might be folk here tonight, and they have never obeyed the command to repent and believe the gospel. Lord, may they do it tonight, may they see that in this book there is the Christ that bled for them, this book is covered in crimson bloodstains! They need to be washed in that blood, and may that happen tonight for them. But Lord, oh for Your children, there is a great need: may they fall in love again with the holy book of God, for Christ's sake we pray, Amen.

Don't miss part 4 of The Revival We Need: "A Revival In Prayer" Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
November 2009
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Mission in Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his 'The Revival We Need' series, entitled "A Revival In The Bible" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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