Study 4 WHY IS THE HOUSE OF GOD NEGLECTED?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Nehemiah 13:11)
This pertinent question was asked by Nehemiah of the rulers of God’s people. In those days God’s house and His holy things were neglected. Even God was forgotten, His day was disregarded and His Word and commands were disobeyed. It is easy, therefore, to see how very practical this question was when it was first asked, and how relevant it is to our day when the majority of people do not attend places of worship. Many who do attend church are formal, half-hearted and irregular in their attendance. In Nehemiah’s day a nucleus attended God’s house and were zealous, dedicated followers of the Lord. This has always been so, and only a minority has ever been willing to go on with the Lord. Jesus addressed His words to a small company of people (Luke 12:32); and all through the centuries it has been that minority who have maintained the Lord’s testimony. While we thank God for local revivals, generally speaking God’s house, His truth, His Word, the Spirit of God and the gospel are all neglected by the majority. Why are so many people outside His kingdom?
1. God’s house is neglected because of the spiritual condition of unregenerate human nature.
We must begin here, for the fundamental reason why people do not seek God and desire His Word is because of the state of their unregenerate hearts. What is the spiritual state of someone who is not a Christian?
- 1. He is spiritually DEAD (Ephesians 2:1; 1 John 5:11).
- 2. He is spiritually BLIND (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
- 3. He is spiritually ENSLAVED (John 8:34; Ephesians 2:2-3).
- 4. He is an ENEMY of God (Romans 5:10; Philippians 3:18).
This is God’s picture of the natural man and is summed up in Romans 3:11 - look it up! This is the fundamental reason why unsaved men and women do not want God or the things of God; this is why people do not attend church.
2. God’s house is neglected because very often there is no vital, soul-saving and heart-satisfying ministry and testimony in our churches.
We say this to our shame. In many cases there is no message of authority being proclaimed from our pulpits; perhaps good advice is given, but little good news. It is a sad fact that there are many students in our theological colleges, and who minister from our pulpits, who no longer believe the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16); no longer preach the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:18); no longer invite sinners to be saved (Romans 10:1) - consequently our churches have been emptied or turned into little more than social centres; they have neglected God’s house.
3. God’s house is neglected because very often the lives of Christians have not commended the Church and the gospel.
Every true Christian who longs for revival will agree that the unconverted can be repelled by the inconsistencies of Christians. How frequently our walk does not correspond with our profession - we squabble, we are mean or we are slick in business! Are we surprised that God’s house is neglected (2 Timothy 3:5)?
4. God’s house is neglected because many Christians are far less zealous in serving the Lord than those who follow false ideologies and serve the Devil.
Have you thought of the tremendous zeal, energy and sacrifice made today by these adherents who are seeking to engulf the world in their false doctrines? Worldly people are keen in the pursuit of their pleasures, but how true it is that Christians can be lazy, careless and lukewarm (Isaiah 66:8; Amos 6:1).
5. God’s house is neglected because of a sinful lack of concern to draw outsiders inside.
Our commission is clearly stated in Matthew 28:19, but are we obeying it? How wonderfully the early Christians obeyed (Acts 8:4)! We so often wait for people to come to church; we long for this, but we are quite wrong in expecting them to come because our commission is not to build a church and then wait for them, or even to pray for them to come; our commission is to go after the people. When we have a concern to do this, they will have a desire to attend.
6. God’s house is neglected because we are living “in the last days”.
These days are clearly foretold in the New Testament as the days of alarming and increasing apostasy (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:1-5). Everywhere there is a falling away, and because of this there is a sense in which we may expect God’s house to be neglected. However it is wrong to excuse our prayerlessness, our indolence, our inconsistency and to blame the unconverted for their lack of interest in the things of God when we ourselves are really to blame.
7. God’s house is neglected because the Holy Spirit is hindered.
How is it that we long for revival and pray for it, but it does not come? One reason is that the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched and He is not putting forth His power; He does not have that pure channel of separated, dedicated men and women through whom He can do His gracious work. He does not bless liberal preaching, prayerless churches, undisciplined Christians, and God’s house is neglected because God is angry with His people and cannot bless and use them as He would (Psalm 85:5).
Let us give ourselves afresh and unreservedly to the Lord (Romans 12:1), seek first those things that will glorify Him (Matthew 6:33); be men and women of prayer and soul-winning (Acts 6:4); let us search our hearts and adjust our lives (Lamentations 3:40), and of course, honour the Holy Spirit.