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Mar 20

Session 1 Recap: Begg, “Assembled Under the Word”

2015 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 15

Editor’s Note: Mike McDonald is the Lead Pastor at Faith Church, Rio Rancho, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Alistair Begg’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 20, “Assembled Under the Word,” from Nehemiah 8.

•••••

Pastor Alistair Begg opened the session and the conference by posing the question, What is the real reason that people come to church? While many may respond with preference for a particular ministry or a certain program, the primary reason given in the Scriptures is that the people gather to hear and submit to the voice of God in his Word.

The Word of God does the work of God through the Spirit of God in the people of God.

The People Gathered Expectantly

In Nehemiah 8, the people came expectantly to hear the Word of God read and explained. They gathered as one man, knowing of their individual and collective need to hear from God. The expectation of the people was tied not to Ezra’s ability to teach, but to the book that he held in his hand. They gathered on this day to hear from God—a notion that every believer should remind themselves of on Sunday mornings.

The People Listened Attentively

The ears of the people were attentive to the Book of the Law, as they listened to what God Himself had spoken to them. Pastor Begg urged that listening has much to do hearing sounds but with ‘all the ears of our hearts.’ One’s ability to listen is connected with one’s willingness to know God.

The People Responded Properly

The people of Nehemiah 8 were not only attentive listeners but were also proactive in their response. They lifted their hands, bowed their heads and they worshipped the Lord. They wept because they were broken, and their postures spoke volumes to their response. When the Word of God is heard, the people of God will respond.

The People Departed Joyfully

As the people responded to the Word of God being spoken, they were encouraged as they left. The Levites specifically exhorted them not to be grieved, because the joy of the Lord is their strength. While they initially found themselves weeping, they eventually moved to a place of great rejoicing. Before we can fully embrace all that God’s grace offers, we must first understand how broken we are. The gospel is most glorious when grace is most amplified. This same principle is seen in the people of Nehemiah 8, who are first broken, but ultimately depart joyfully because of God’s great work.

Pastor Begg concluded by drawing the audience’s attention towards the ultimate gathering that unfolds in Revelation 7. As the people gathered in Nehemiah’s day and as churches gather under the Word of God today, they both point to a time when all followers of Jesus will gather as one. But until that day when Jesus speaks face to face, the church is to assemble together under God’s Word. The Word of God is the driving force that shapes local church life, and unless our first desire when we gather is to hear and submit to God’s Word, then we have missed the point of gathering entirely.