[SW143] 06/28/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Consecrated and Cleansed”
Always when I preach, it is as much a message to be worked in my own heart as it is one that is to be delivered to you. And that is so today!
I tell you, He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until Christ comes (Philippians 1:6)! So let the work begin, Lord, in me, in your church, in all believers!
“God’s work!” we say, as He consecrates us and we are baptized in water as a sign of it.
“God’s work!” we cry, as He cleanses our hearts and fills us with His holiness, bringing us into holy intimacy with Him!
In Nehemiah 12:27-30, the completed wall was dedicated, and the priests purified themselves.
It was God’s work.
It began with Nehemiah’s intercession, seeking the Lord’s heart and petitioning Him on behalf of His distressed people.
We have talked about the steps that follow. Now we are at the conclusion.
The dedication of the wall in today’s passage was an outward act done as a sign of an inward conviction, a recognition on Israel’s part that the wall they had worked on was God’s wall, and it was completed only by His provision.
It is like that when we are baptized under the new covenant (God’s promise fulfilled), the one Jesus instituted. We are God’s workmanship:
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We could not save ourselves. He saved us and bought us with a price (1Corinthians 6:20) — the blood of His Son.
We acknowledge we are God’s, and no longer our own. He wants us to be His. He wants us to be His children. He made us for that purpose. Step into that purpose!
Just as with the dedication of the wall, baptism yields worship — gladness, thanksgiving, and songs of praise!
Then came the purification of the priests, the people, the gates and the wall (Verse 30). It was outward, it was external — they performed a cleansing ritual established through Moses.
Under the new covenant, God Himself cleanses us inwardly, purifying our hearts so they are wholly His.
When Jesus walked the earth, He chose His disciples, setting them apart to Himself. And He does that with us today. But then He said (and still says today), “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48).
Peter repeated God’s call when he quoted Leviticus 11:44ff in 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As children of obedience, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
We are consecrated and set apart with water baptism.
But there is a greater work, one that makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, victors who are no longer slaves to sin:
Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
If we do not ask for the greater work to be done, we will be as Eliashib, inviting Tobiah (the ways of the world) in, and finding that he displaces everything that feeds worship in us (see Nehemiah 13).
We will be as those who went out and married the world (13:23ff).
We will violate the Sabbath (13:15ff), Christ’s sabbatismos (Hebrews 4:9), the true Sabbath rest of God, where we rest from our own works.
We will distance ourselves from our God by continuing to willfully disobey him (Isaiah 59:2).
But if both consecration AND cleansing are done, then we will hear the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2). These are the keys to effective service.
He will continue to mold and shape us as we go, but our hearts will be ever willing and not resistant.
The church as a whole and we individually must let Him to a complete work in us, consecrating ourselves to Him 100% and asking Him to purify our hearts.
Then the rebuilding of the church (and you and me) will be complete.
Our cry must be as David’s in Psalm 51:10-13.
Then we will hear and walking the way He continues to show us (Isaiah 30:21), obedient from our hearts.