Except the Lord Build the House

What was the object of Nehemiah and Ezra? To restore and build the house of the Lord. Is our work the same? It’s no different. They built a literal city and we are to build a spiritual city but it is a building nevertheless.

Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh [but] in vain.

The only way to have this successful accomplishment of building is except the Lord build it, they labour in vain. If the Lord built it, would the labourers have anything to do? Then they are not even labouring. Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that built it. What is this text trying to teach us? It doesn’t bring an idle state as the labourers build a house. As we consider missionary work, the Lord has used many examples of and here are two – building a house and keeping a city. There are many others. There is sewing a seed, can we think of more? Parallels that God has drawn of missionary work? Fishing and healing. The physician is coming to those that are sick. Any others? Visiting those in prison. What about an army for war? Song of Solomon says Gods people are a dove. What is the description of this people? Terrible as an army with banners. But here is an army that is dead. It is not even an army, it is just a valley of dry bones.

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones,

37:2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, [there were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they were] very dry.

37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

37:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

37:6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.

37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

37:8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but [there was] no breath in them.

37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Who prophesied? Why didn’t God prophesy? Didn’t he create man in the beginning in the same way? He spoke and breathed in the dust and the man became a living soul and now these living beings had died again. There was many of them in a valley from warfare and being conquered. Because they were conquered they were all dead in this valley and this time Ezekiel prophesied. What was the result and what was the product of this prophesying by Ezekiel? They lived and it was a great army. Prophesying didn’t just bring people to live but it brought them altogether. What was this prophesying? Preaching. If we are engaging in our missionary work and we want to do Gods work and build the house or the army, church or whatever we are building for God, what do we need to do? We need to preach. That is what the new testament, Paul declares in Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

This preaching of Ezekiel was the power of what? Power of God. But what makes the power of God of none effect? From what we just read in verse 17.

The Wisdom of Words

Debating kills. The valley of dry bones came alive and it was the power of God which is preaching but here it says there is a type of preaching that is in vain, preaching with the wisdom of words. What is that? Eloquence nice speech and the power of God. Isn’t what we are preaching just words? Isn’t it literally words that you could type? The wisdom of men preaches the word of God as well. They can quote the word. They can provide bible texts. What is the difference to build and what the Lord is building? If we are preaching to the valley of dry bones, they may not live. There are people that are building but they are lacking something. When you are building a house, there is a method to do it. If the Lord is building a house and we say we should do it, there is something which is impossible to duplicate when it comes to missionary work. It is Impossible to bring about a result without certain means, this wisdom of words. We can’t be full ourselves. We sometimes think that something is wise and wisdom is something you acknowledge as something good. There can be bible study quotes or biblical material that you are dealing with that still doesn’t achieve the purpose of it. It achieves something different and you think that is wisdom.

Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him].

Did the Pharisees use the scriptures? Yes. Why were the people dying? It was still the word of God but there something was hidden from them. If they picked up the Old Testament I don’t think there would be one passage they didn’t know but something was hidden from them. This should cause us as missionaries to say am I missing something? I may know the bible through and through but is there something I’m missing?

The word revealed is the key to our study. If something is not revealed to you, can you know it? Can you find it out? It’s hidden and has to be revealed. When it comes to someone revealing something there comes this dependence. If something needs to be revealed but just looked for in a general sense, then you are not dependent upon anyone to find it. When something must be revealed, then you become dependent. I believe this is the position that God wants us to be in when we study the bible. When we come to the bible we come to an understanding of dependence. Nothing can be understood unless it is revealed to us. Our minds can’t come up with the substance of what God is trying to accomplish within us.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

2:10 But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

When the words of God come to us but no spirit, can we really comprehend the deep things of God? You haven’t seen it and you haven’t heard it and it hasn’t even entered into your heart. What chance do you have? How would you find it? Have you ever tried to find something but you don’t know what it looks like? It’s an impossibility without the spirit of God. But God hath revealed them to us by his spirit. Again this word of dependence, revelation that God must reveal it to me by his spirit otherwise it is impossible. Apostle Paul was a Pharisee but he missed the point. The only way that he could come to understand what the whole Hebrew system was about, if it was revealed to him.

Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

He wrote about the mystery of Godliness. The apostle Paul that was Saul was a Hebrew who studied the scriptures at the time and could have killed Christ himself had he been in Jerusalem. That hub that scripture centred around he could wipe it off as he didn’t understand. This grace given of me, he was dependant. When you are given something, you are dependant to get it. By revelation he made known unto me. Here is the word revelation that was given to the apostle Paul.

Through divine revelation, the plan of salvation, as wrought out by Christ, was laid open to Paul. {UL 309.2}

Have you ever read the bible and seen everything interlocking? Not words, but a picture? Words can’t describe a picture but the words you are reading through the Holy Ghost can put it to your mind and you say, oh this is what it is all about. Once you know this, the result of coming to something by revelation gives strength.

Called of God, he was to teach men that from a state of hopelessness, dead in trespasses and sins, there was deliverance through the gospel of Jesus Christ. There was life and power to reach forth unto holiness. Because of these revelations, Paul was blessed with a marvellous insight. Though he could not present to others all that he himself had seen, yet he was firmly rooted and grounded in the truth. {UL 309.2}

What he saw what was revealed he couldn’t even tell anyone. Jesus said to the disciples, there is so much but I can’t reveal it. The brain can’t handle it. Paul received this revelation from Jesus Christ. He saw what he had to teach people and what did it do it him? You wonder how we are going to get through these last days, everything will be shaken. The only thing that won’t be shaken will be those who have the word of God by revelation. This was the product of Apostle Paul’s experience.

No suffering or reproach could ever lead him to deny the great truths that had been revealed to him. No presentation of false theories could lead him away from the influence of the grand views he had received of heavenly things. . . . The gospel as presented by Paul in his writings is just as powerful today as when it was written. To men in all ages is made known the rich treasures of the grace of Christ, the abundant love of God as revealed through His Son. Can we, while in a cold, lifeless condition, appreciate these truths? {UL 309.2}

Nothing can be moved, this is what the pioneers experienced. This platform was not to be moved. Our pioneers were grounded and firmed in this truth that you couldn’t shake them out of it. Now over the time, this dry bone experience has become what we now see. They have lost this revelation aspect and what was handed down. We who read the pioneer writings see their hard work.

Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith,–the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work, by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation{GW 307.1}

If it’s not according to the law and testimony, is there any light to that revelation? What gives light? Revelation. The prophecy that Ezekiel had to prophesy was the living truth. It was God who built the army but Ezekiel was the one that was preaching. Doesn’t that put us in humble position as missionaries? Can we do any work without revelation? If God doesn’t reveal it, we are wasting our time. Unless the Lord reveals to us the words to give to people we are going around missionary activity in vain, it doesn’t bring about anything. Jesus was the same. He woke morning by morning that he might speak a word in season. He wanted that word. One of these words is going to comfort someone but do we know which one? How did Jesus know to speak that one thing?

It was by revelation that Jesus was taught. We are the same. If we want to touch someone’s life, seek God and ask him. Lord, I want to help, give me a revelation for them. Go to God for revelation on his word in order to share a word in season. God knows the seasons and times and we are dependant. This revelation is subject to the word of God, to the law and to the testimony. Let none seek to tear away the revelation of our faith. If we get a revelation that is different to something in the past, what does that reveal? Does the bible say he changes? He is the same today yesterday and forever.

Upon these foundations we have been building for more than fifty years. Men may suppose that they have found a new way, that they can lay a stronger foundation than that which has been laid; but this is a great deception. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.” [1 Corinthians 3:11.] In the past, many have undertaken to build a new faith, to establish new principles; but how long did their building stand? It soon fell; for it was not founded upon the Rock. {GW 307.1}

Revelation has guidelines. If something pops in our head, we must test it. Prove all things. We are to test it by what has God revealed the past by the law and the testimony and the rest of the written world. If that revelation that comes to you has its foundation in this written word, then it’s from God. To look at mere study, examining and criticising the word, if you go to university and do a course called higher criticism, you are taught to criticise and ask lots of questions to be able to understand it.

Even Bible study, as too often conducted in the schools, is robbing the world of the priceless treasure of the word of God. The work of “higher criticism,” in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation; it is robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives. {Ed 227.4}

What is it if you preach the word, just the written word, what is it that won’t bring these bones to life? It is when we study with conjecture and put our own words on the bible, it has no foundation. Dissecting where we get a passage and chop it all up going back to the Greek and Hebrew words and all these technical things. Where is the prudent, the scribe? They are in vain says the bible. To get into this sort of bible study of reconstructing and conjecture robs the word of its power. It’s gone. Primitive Godliness is where we take the word as it reads and compare it here and there and compare it to the spirit of revelation. We can study in vain. We are to come to the word 100% dependant. What do you call a dependant? A child. If you come to the word as a child God will bestow upon you his gift. If the child asks the father for bread, will the father give him a stone? If we come to God in the same way asking God for the spirit of revelation, will God give it to us? If we come as an intellect saying I can put these words together, there is no asking or receiving.

Upon the mind of every student should be impressed the thought that education is a failure unless the understanding has learned to grasp the truths of divine revelation, {FE 536.1}

The purpose of education is to restore the image of God in man. Some people use this quote and say we need to get into education and they bring in the opposite of divine revelation. We cannot learn anything of our own mind unless it is revealed to us of the spirit as it then hasn’t entered into our minds or ears.

…unless the heart accepts the teachings of the gospel of Christ. The student who, in the place of the broad principles of the word of God, will accept common ideas, and will allow the time and attention to be absorbed in commonplace, trivial matters, will find his mind becoming dwarfed and enfeebled. He has lost the power of growth. The mind must be trained to comprehend the important truths that concern eternal life. {FE 536.1}

To bring in perspective our missionary work we have much missionary work to do. We have preparation to do and one of the biggest missionary events that will take place is when we are in front of kings and governors answering for our faith. What does the bible teach about these situations? Matthew 10 is the missionary chapter. The whole chapter of Matthew Jesus was instructing the twelve. He was anointing the twelve apostles and his instruction was given to them as labourers. Matthew 10 is very good to take heed of in methods of missionary work.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Isn’t that missionary work when God speaks through you? A voice from heaven? The three angel’s messages, the fourth angel and then a voice from heaven. Who is that? Who is that speaking? The spirit says what and who says come? The bride. Who is the bride? The church. The spirit is saying what the bride is saying. Isn’t this fulfilment of chapter 10? The bride will speak it. This is the voice from heaven. That speech doesn’t come by practise of words. You can’t practise I will say this and that and I will argue that point. No apologetics or homiletics. Unless the spirit reveals, it doesn’t work. Matthew 10 is a beautiful chapter to come to God as his dependants. When it’s tax time and we have to declare our dependants, I hope that when God comes to our name I hope that God writes my name as a dependant. Unless God gives me food and clothes I am hungry, of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Amen.


Posted on September 11, 2010, in Missionary Studies, Sermons For Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I thank God for you having presented this sermon.I’m really impressed with the Spirit of the Lord that i should seek revelation from God and preach the word not man’s theories.It is the Word of God,which is life,that is going to revive the church of God from deep sleep and be zealous for God’s cause.Lets keep praying.

    Maranatha!

  2. Samuel Koranteng-Pipim did a sermon on this, and it was awesome! Thanks for sharing!!

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