The word of God is alive and sharper than any two edged sword! Everything we do as believers should be based on the truth of God's word. In fact, the apostle John tells us in his Gospel account that Jesus, Himself, is the WORD made flesh. We should never neglect the transforming power of the word of God. No great revival has ever started without the direct teachings of scripture. So powerful is God's word, all the world regards the time when the word of God was kept from the common man as the Dark Ages. It was not until the word of God was made available to people in their own language that the world transformed and innovation and invention increased exponentially.
Interestingly, recently, Bill Nye, (the science guy) claimed that America would be negatively impacted by faith in God and the Bible in the arena of innovation and ideas. History proves the opposite to be true. Unfortunately, many churches and so called spiritual movements have traded the foundational teaching of God's word for a gospel of positive thinking and worldly values. The Emerging Church, the Purpose Driven model and the Power of Speech nonsense of Joel Osteen have robbed the church of truth and created a scenario in which it is hard, if not impossible, to distinguish between the believer and the unbeliever in American society. Holiness has fled the American church because Pastors are afraid to apply Biblical standards to their congregations.
Nehemiah chapters 8 and 9 give, what I believe to be, the perfect model for how we should do church. Most of the American church is doing only half of what God modeled for us in His word. In Nehemiah, we find the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi back in the land after having spent 70 years in captivity in the land of Babylon. In the 8th and 9th chapters we find that the Temple has been rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra the priest and Zerubabel the governor, and the wals have been rebuilt under the guidance of Nehemiah the Governor. After the building has been complete, the people assembled before Ezra the priest and called out for the teaching of God's law. A platform was erected and Ezra spent half the day reading the Word of God to the people. After the Word was read, the people bowed in worship. After a period of worship, Ezra and other of the Levites began to teach people based on the word that was read to them. For the most part, this model is how we do modern church, we read the word, we worship and we have a time of teaching.
According to Nehemiah, this is only half the formula for a healthy spiritual community. On the first day, everyone assembled and worshiped together but on the second day, the men who were leaders gathered together to STUDY the Word together. This is the element that is missing from the modern church. Those who serve and minister need a time to grow and be instructed on a deeper level than the rest of the congregation.
Study of the word is not the ultimate goal, but the transformation that comes from the study of the Word. As the people assembled to hear the teaching of the law, an amazing thing happened, the people became convicted of sin and began to mourn and cry over their rebellion against God. The people confessed their sin and national revival broke out. The following day, as the leaders studied the Word together, they realized that the community had not been obedient to God for hundreds of years, regarding a certain matter. The leaders immediately began correcting the wrong. Until believers learn and apply God's word to daily life, we will never experience true victorious Christian living. Until church leaders begin to take the Word seriously and use it to confront sin in the church, the church will have no moral authority in the community.
Israel was transformed by the study and application of God's word and so can America be if we who claim to live by the word actually did.