Summary: If you desire your Church to become more effective, then let’s follow Nehemiah’s example and raise the gates of ministry in each of our local assemblies.
The Ministry of the Church – Pt. 2
SHM – 1/6/02 - Nehemiah Series
We must allow the Lord to raise up the builders in the local assembly for the ministry of Compassion, Cleansing, and Refreshing. By doing so, we will start seeing His blueprint for the church unfold before our eyes. Let’s do our part, not to hinder, but to encourage the work of the Lord.
I. The Valley Gate: The Ministry of Compassion – 3:13
A. Its Builder: Hanun => “to bend or stoop in kindness”
1. This is the ministry of compassion
2. Lacking in so many of today’s churches
a. Hanun (Hebrew - Chanuwn > chanun = “grace, pity” arose out of the men in his day to rebuild this gate
b. The ministry of compassion, grace, and mercy should arise out of the local church
1. The Good Samaritan – was considered an enemy of the Jew; yet, reached out with compassion/mercy
2. Jesus – sympathizes with us today
a. Heb. 4:15 - he is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (sumpascho – to suffer with)
b. Heb. 10:33-34 – “…ye were made a gazingstock (theatrizo = theatre; public spectacle) both by reproaches (accusations) and afflictions (pressure/tribulation); and partly, whilst ye became companions (koinonos = a partner, comrade) of them that were so used. For ye had ‘compassion’ of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
3. Today, parachurch organizations are coming up to stand where the church should be standing
B. Valley Gate also called the “Potsherd Gate”
1. Broken pottery from the potters’ shops was thrown away on the trash heap; deemed as unworthy
2. It was brought through this gate
a. Jeremiah 18:1-6 A picture of the broken, worthless vessel on the Potter’s wheel…while others may throw these worthless vessels away, HE sees something of value in this vessel and HE makes it over again!!! (Praise God!)
II. The Dung Gate: The Ministry of Cleaning & Purging – 3:14
A. Description: Located in the Valley of Hinnom
1. Near the trash heap where the city dumped its refuse and dead bodies
a. Here, a fire was kept burning at all times
2. Idolatrous Jews burned their children as sacrifices here in the Vale of Tophet
a. Tophet => “drum” – the drums drowned out the cries of the children as they were thrown into the fire
b. Are we too quick to criticize this practice while the anesthesia deadens our pain and our philosophies of today drown out the cries of millions of aborted children in our own country?
3. Jew associated two ideas with this valley
a. The suffering of the victims that were sacrificed
b. The filth / corruption of the city became a symbol of the wicked hereafter
1. Jesus – Matt. 23:33 “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
B. The Gateway of Cleansing and Purging
1. “People aren’t to be thrown away, but their actions & attitudes may need to be pitched out.” Ron Cottle
a. The prodigal was still a prodigal when he came home (wasteful, spendthrift, etc…)
b. This young Jewish man still smelled like the pig pin; may have had waste on his clothes / feet.
c. He must have been a disgraceful sight; he surely didn’t fit in with the culture and Jewish law.
d. “You can’t clean the fish in the ocean, you must wait until you get them in the boat/land.” R. Cottle
3. Here is where the local church can have a counseling ministry; a ministry of helps…..
a. Purging => Katharos = “catharsis” i.e. The corn of wheat is winnowed (separated from the chaff ), by tossing it up in the afternoon breeze.
b. As we lift the new converts up to the Father, the Holy Spirit (Breeze) busies Himself by purging them from their old habits, desires, ways of life.
C. Three Ways of Cleansing
1. By Compassion
a. Eph. 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…”
b. At times, we must allow the dirty pots (new converts) to “soak” awhile before they can be cleaned (Mama’s Rice pot)
c. Allow the compassion of the Holy Spirit to flow through you into other individuals.
d. Then, when the time is right, and the Word is given, a reception of the Word will take place
2. By the Blood – 1 Jn. 1:7 “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
3. By Confession – 1 Jn. 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.