The Preeminence of the Word of God

The Preeminence of the Word of God

The Preeminence of the Word of God

Nehemiah 8:1-18

The first day of the 7th month – This is happening about a week after The walls had been finished, and they had finally gotten their city secure.  So what do they do? They gather together for church.  You see, as soon as they understood how significant and important corporate worship is, they made it their first, and highest priority.  

The Book of The Law

    • They opened the book in the sight of all the people.
        • This isn’t coming from Ezra.  It is not his opinion.  Can you imagine the people calling out for the book Demanding it, and Ezra gets up there and gives his own word instead of God’s?  Imagine him talking about politics at this moment, or telling stories, or trying his hand at being a comedian for 30 minutes… Or Even worse, imagine that Ezra uses this as an opportunity to build his own reputation.  How do you think God would view Ezra in that moment?
          • So it is with every pastor who selfishly and shallowly separates the people of God from the Word of God.   No Ezra opened the book.  And spoke from the book.  The people would stand for nothing less.
      • They read from the book, and they gave sense to the people so they could understand what was written.
        • The people were attentive, they were eager to hear it,  they were silencing their cell phones, they were taking notes, they were minimizing distractions.  So they would better be able to receive God’s word.
        • And It was a long sermon.  
          • What do you think would be a long sermon?  What would be a long sermon to you?
            • Brandon, It’s already a long sermon, “you’re new here”
          • Ezra had a 6 hour sermon. And the people were standing, outside, in the middle of summer.
          • They gave sense to the people.  That is what we are doing now.  
            • But we have something they don’t have… The power of the holy spirit to illuminate the scriptures
            • Do you realize that when you open the Bible, it is the only time you will ever be able to sit with the author and understand its meaning?
    • They obeyed the book.  
      • Feast of Booths – Tents
        • They read the Bible, and they realized, “I have not been doing that” so they go ahead and make some changes.  
          • Finances, Schedules, Abilities (more on this next week)
      • Repentance
        • Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
  • They want the Book.  
    • This is my deepest prayer for our church! That we would want the Book.  We would desire it, hunger for it, constantly be discontent until we have been fed by it.  Not just on Sunday mornings either, but in each of our day to day lives!  
      • We have the word of God constantly at our fingertips.  Do you realize that this level of access is beyond anything these old testament believers could have imagined?  Just think about your phone, how you can pick it up, and just start scrolling through this app, that site, pictures, maps, text, videos,  a million different resources to dive deeper into the word of God.
      • But do we want that more than the latest news?  Do we want that more than the latest twitter posts, or Facebook selfies?  
        • Do you want God’s word more than anything else? Do you want the word?  Or would you rather see an endless supply of photos documenting the life of your neighbor’s cat, or your friend’s dinner choices, or someone’s spring break photos?
        • Psalm 19:7-11 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;  the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right,     rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;  9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true,    and righteous altogether.  10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
  • Apply
    • We must be a church focused around the book.  That means that for us at Celebration Church, the Book, eclipses the building, the book eclipses the Budget, the Book eclipses the number of Bodies on Sunday morning. It all comes down to the book.  Why?  Because…
  • The Word brings life
    • My wife is trying to plant a garden this year, and that’s awesome, but she has already started, and idk if you have looked outside or not but in this weather it is not going to go well.  So right now, we have our plants in pots, and we are moving them around to give them an environment they can thrive in.  One day, when all is not frozen over, we will plant these things in our garden.  Our garden is great, we have good soil, it is in a good location for sun exposure, it has a drip line, all this to make sure the plants get the nutrients they need to thrive.
      • But imagine with me, we planted these plants away from all that.  Imagine we planted them in the middle of a dirt road.  It’s not going to go well.  
      • God’s word is the drip line, The good soil is the community of God.
        • If you really want your life to thrive, you have to plant it near God’s word.  You have to plant it in good soil.  You must be in a godly church.  People ask all the time “I planted my dating relationship far away from the drip line, why is it withering? Well, my marriage, we don’t pray and worship God, why is it not flourishing?  We don’t take our kids to church, we didn’t include them in Christian community, why are they not blooming?” 
          • God is not going to bless that!  Plant it near the drip line, see if it gets better.
        • This is the problem with our culture as well…  the reason our culture is withering right now, from marriages and families, to government, to business, to television/movies, to music, to internet, to school systems.  All of it has been planted far away from the drip line.
      • Don’t settle for a withered life. 
  • When God’s Word is preached it demands a response.
    • Sin, conviction, mourning, weeping, I have not met the standard… BUT GOD  ——– GOSPEL ——- So we do not weep, We worship, for there is now no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
    • When God’s Word is preached it demands a response


7 Rules For Biblical Worship

    • 1. Worship is focused on the Lord
      • It is not about us, it is not about trying to get an emotional high, worship is not about achieving a mountain top moment.  And sometimes we need to check our heart on this one because we use worship as a sort of personal therapy for ourselves. “I really need this!”  And if we are not careful, our needs being met becomes the focus of worship.  But, worship is for God.  He is the center, the focus, the key.  He is to get glory through worship.
        • Psalm 115:1 – Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
    • 2. Worship is focused on the Word
      • This is why we strive to saturate every aspect of our services with the word of God. We sing songs that are rich in theology, rich in scripture, rich in truth.  We want you to be able to get saved singing these songs!   From the songs that we sing, to the Preaching, to the celebration groups, to the events we promote as a church all of it is to hammer down the centrality of the word of God.
        • Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
    • 3. Worship is focused on depth
      • Notice that the children are not there. The men are there, the women are there, but those who do not yet have the capacity to understand are not there.  
        • Why?  Because they are talking about some serious stuff!  Ezra is not giving a milk toast sermon!  This is not a shallow book. It contains some deadly serious topics
          • This is why we have childcare up to about the age of 10.  Then we expect them to come into service, because at that point they are old enough to start digesting the message. 
    • 4. Worship is not entertainment
      • worship is not a spectator sport. We’re not coming into an event here to look at people on the stage and watch them entertain us. You are not the audience here. God is the audience; we’re participants—all of us. We’re the gathered people of God.
    • 5. Worship is not stoicism
      • Some of you might be wondering just how Baptist are we?
      • There should be a reverence in our services, an awe of God that prevents us from introducing pure chaos into our services. 
        • 1st Corinthians 14:40 – But all things should be done decently and in order.
        •  But I think that we can fall too far in both directions.
      • Bored, napping, frozen, grumpy.
        • I don’t usually bring up the Greek, but the main Greek word used in the Bible for worship is the word proskuneo. The literal translation is “to fall down,” or “to bow low” or “to fall at someone’s feet.
      • We are this level of Baptist.  What we see in the Bible, we want to be about, what we don’t see in the Bible, we don’t really want to be about.   If you want to dig into this in more detail, (what should or should not happen in worship), I would encourage you to look into the regulative principle of worship)  As in everything, we do what the Bible says.
        • Raise your hands! Kneel, bow down, weep, rejoice.  (all things found within our passage)  In other passages there is talk of Dancing, of drums and loud clanging symbols.  A Lyre (early guitar) is mentioned more than any other instrument!  Worship is a celebration! 
          • Heaven is going to be a celebration, we celebrate here to practice!
        • For those who are uncomfortable, remember 2 things.  1. It’s not about you.  And 2. We should never discourage people from practicing biblical principles. 
    • 6. Worship is Audible
      • The people cried out Amen, Amen! 
        • I don’t know if you realize this, but preaching is not a passive event. You see, a little bit of participation encourages the preacher!  “Are we allowed to say things?”  YES! When someone says amen, they are teaching the rest of us how to properly respond to, and participate in the preaching of the word of God.
    • 7. Worship is Positional
      • What do I do with my hands? (Baptist, Presbyterian, Charismatic)
      • Bible on a pedestal, people standing as it is read. Hands lifted high, Bowing low, face to the ground. 
        • All of these are signs of submission and surrender.


Next week we are going to see how the opening of the book, the preaching of the book, and the obedience to the book brought about a great awakening in that day, but as we close this morning I want to read the response of the people to 

  • Vs 9-12  (Read it)

Don’t cry, Rejoice.  Don’t throw a funeral, throw a party. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is your strength.  Today, as we think about the book, we think about worship. Might we once again rejoice together?  


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