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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Nehemiah 8:8

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Intro. Several years ago we started Maranatha Music. The first album was made in a garage that was converted into a studio. The cost for the production of the first album was $3,500. Because of the many other constraints upon our time we had to turn over the management to others, and after a few years it was reported to us that they were losing money. As I became involved again, I discovered that they were now paying as much as $60,000, in production costs for single artist albums. What had happened was that the producers were trying to create the perfect album. They were making albums for the music critics not the general public. They were spending so much time in the studio that it was an impossibility to ever recover the costs of production. I pointed out that only a possible 1/10th of 1% could ever appreciate the fine nuances they were trying to create, and that 1/10th of 1% would probably never listen to the album anyhow. They needed to create the albums for the common listener who would not even know that the one string on the guitar was slightly out of tune. The music was so perfect that it was sterile, it lacked life. We went back to limiting the budgets on the production costs and making the albums for the general public and came into profitability again. I think that there is a danger in trying to create the perfect sermon that only 1/10 of 1% of the people could ever understand. It is not our desire to be known as a great preacher or great scholar, and then the general public who cannot appreciate it are ignored.
A. "So they read the book of the law of God distinctly."
1. It is first the reading of the passage.
a. If necessary reading it in context.
b. Usually we need to go to the context to understand the meaning.
2. Just the reading of the word alone has value.
a. How many times after a Sunday morning service will people come up to me and tell me how blessed they were by the scripture reading that morning.
b. I know that it is a little disappointing when you are expecting them to tell you how much your sermon blessed them.
c. Paul wrote to Timothy, "Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine."
d. Paul's epistles to the various churches were intended to just be read to the congregations.
B. Next, "They gave the sense."
1. They explained to the people the scriptures.
2. John Wycliffe's golden rule of interpreting the scripture comes in handy here. "It shall greatly help thee to understand Scripture if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, and to what intent, under what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth."
3. In the early years of my ministry, when my own knowledge of the word was so limited, I found Halley's Bible Pocket Handbook to be a great assistance in understanding the prophetic books of the Old Testament, for he would give color and the historic background to the prophecies.
4. I have a love-hate relationship to Barclay's Commentaries on the New Testament. I love the historic, and linguistic color that he gives to the text; I hate his rationalization of all of the miraculous.
C. "They caused them to understand the meaning."
1. What God was saying to the people.
2. Why God was saying it to the people.
3. What God is saying to us today in this passage.
4. Some important rules to follow.
a. The plain understanding of the text is the correct meaning of the text.
1. The Bible is not God's attempt to hide the truth but reveal the truth.
2. "No prophecy of the scripture is of private interpretation."
3. When in Ezekiel 37 where God speaks of the rebirth of the nation of Israel that it would be a united kingdom instead of the divided kingdom. Ezekiel was commanded to take two sticks, and on one write for Judah, and on the other for Joseph. God is not making a private reference to Joseph Smith. In fact, God said, "When the people ask you what this means?" Tell them that I will take the stick of Joseph which represents the tribes of Israel and join them with Judah, and they shall be one in My hand.
EZE 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
EZE 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
4. This is the clear and true meaning of the passage, but for the Mormons to twist it and say that God is here prophesying establishment of the church of the Latter Day Saints through their prophet Joseph Smith is a classic example of the twisting of scripture and reading into the text rather than taking out of the text.
5. Don't try to put the meaning into the text, but take the meaning out of the text.
b. If your interpretation of the text makes the text seem foolish and impractical, then your interpretation is wrong, for God did not say anything that was foolish and impractical.
c. If your interpretation of the text makes it contradict other passages of scripture, then your interpretation is wrong, for God does not contradict Himself.
A. My recommendation to those who come up to me and declare that they feel that God is possibly calling them into the ministry.
1. I tell them to go volunteer to teach the third-graders' Sunday school class.
2. If they can make the word of God interesting and understandable to the third graders, they will be a success in ministering the word of God to everyone.
B. Isaiah was criticized for his teaching methods, for they said,
ISA 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? [them that are] weaned from the milk, [and] drawn from the breasts.
ISA 28:10 For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little:
C. We would probably be highly insulted if this is what was being said of our teaching, but when it is said of me, my response is "Praise the Lord."
1. I want to keep the teaching simple so that all can understand.
2. These friends in England said that when they are driving in the car, their little two-year old daughter begins to say, "Chuck Smith, Chuck Smith" until they put in one of my teaching tapes.
3. I take that as a great compliment.
4. In a nursing home in Ashland, there was a patient who was autistic. He lies all day just staring at the ceiling, never communicating with anyone. Someone placed a radio in his room, and a Christian nurse in the hospital tuned the dial to our CSN affiliate station in Ashland. One day an alarm went off in the hospital alerting them of a disturbance in his room. When she came into the room the orderlies were trying to subdue the man who was threshing in his bed. He was saying, "Chuck Smith, Word for Today, Chuck Smith, Word for Today." She noticed that someone had changed the station to rock music, so she quickly turned it back to the CSN station and the patient immediately went back to his quiet staring at the ceiling.
D. It was said of Jesus that the common men heard Him gladly.
1. Jesus simply taught the truths of God to the common people.
E. Follow the example of Jesus and give color and meaning by stories.
1. One thing that I have always appreciated about Spurgeon is the way that he uses the Bible stories to apply and illustrate the Bible truths.
2. This is the method used by the New Testament writers.
3. Note how Jude exhorts to keep yourself in the love of God. He gives a series of groups who failed to keep themselves in the love of God. The nation of Israel; the angels that kept not their first estate; Sodom and Gomorrah. He gives a list of people who did not keep themselves in the love of God. Cain, Baalam, Korah.
F. If a certain precept is taught in a passage seeking to illustrate how that precept is practically applied in other passages or stories in the Bible.
G. Some like to use alliteration to help people to remember the points of the sermon.
1. The prodigal son went to the dogs, he fed the hogs and homeward he jogs.
2. Here's an amazing revelation, with a bit of stipulation, I'd be a great sensation, You are my inspirtion.
H. Sometimes the points all begin with the same letter.
1. A beautiful bouquet of sweet peas.
a. The peace of God.
b. The power of God.
c. The patience of God.
2. If this comes natural for you, go for it. I don't personally think in those terms, so I do not seek to employ that method, however I appreciate it when others do.
3. There are other times when I feel that it is a little forced.
Sermon Notes for Nehemiah 8:6-10 ← Prior Section
Sermon Notes for Nehemiah 8:9,10 Next Section →
Sermon Notes for Ezra 1:1,2 ← Prior Book
Sermon Notes for Esther 2:17 Next Book →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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