A Failed Reformation

2014 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference


In this 62-minute session from The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, Don Carson unpacks Nehemiah 13 to call believers to repent and pray for reformation and revival. 

Don is a New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is also the co-founder and president of The Gospel Coalition and author of numerous books including The God Who is There and The Intolerance of Tolerance. 



Upon returning to Jerusalem, Nehemiah discovered:

  1. New legalism: People tried to become more holy than God (vv. 1–3)
  2. Nepotism: Blood relations became more important than God (vv. 4–9)
  3. Neglect of covenant faithfulness, especially with respect to the temple: Relationships with others became more important than a relationship with God (vv. 10–13)
  4. Profit over piety: Money became more important than God (vv. 15–16)
  5. Mixed marriages: Foreigners led the people away from God (vv. 23–29)

Don noted that we are prone to the same sins today. Which of these have been a struggle for you? How do you keep God of most importance? How do you practice repentance when you fail?
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Don said, “It is so easy to turn a good instinct, even a biblical mandate, into something that is more rule-oriented.” What rules do you create for your spiritual life? How might they be affecting your relationship with God? How has legalism affected your relationship with others?
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Don highlighted the arrogance of Nehemiah in this chapter. When does arrogance tend to manifest in your life? Is it easy for you to discern yourself, or do you need the help of family and friends? How do you renew your mind with the gospel to avoid pride?
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Hebrews 2:1-4 (ESV)

Warning Against Neglecting Salvation

1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


How do you pay close attention to the Word? How does your salvation and the hope of consummation help you persevere in this present age? Do you long for reformation and revival?
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Lord, may we never lose the wonder of your glory and grace. Rekindle our hearts, draw us irresistibly closer to Christ that we might fall before Him in repentance and call upon Him for revival.


To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here.