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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Best News Ever - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Best News Ever - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Best News Ever - Part 1

Hey, it's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is the "Best News Ever". We're gonna look at the Gospels, those first four books of the New Testament. Folks, we're walking through a season where good news is hard to find. The deception, the manipulation, the bad news, whether it's inflation or increasing lawlessness or open borders, you don't have to look far to find bad news. But as Christ followers we hold the best news ever for all humanity, we have a good story to tell and we need to deliver it with a smile and with hope and with determination, without any reluctance. Grab your Bible and a notepad, and most of all, open your heart, there's a pathway through this season that is both personally triumphant but there is an opportunity to make a difference for all eternity and we don't want to miss it. Enjoy the lesson.

So we've been looking at some behaviors and some things. We just started, we've taken a few sessions to talk about not forgetting our deliverances, to maintain an awareness of all of those places in our lives where God has intervened on our behalf, because he's intervened for all of us. So that when we face the challenge of the day, and there seems to be a new challenge with most days, that we will meet that challenge within our heart there is a litany of all the places God has delivered us. It's a David, like when he hears Goliath, he said, "I got this because of the lion and the bear, and he's not as ugly as they were". You want that kind of a litany in your heart.

So I've made some suggestions, I suggested a good news list, it begins with a personal list that you literally make a list. I like legal pads but you can do it on your computer or however you maintain your awareness but make a list of the things that God has done in your life. You can start with the most current and go back or you can start in the back and come forward but you want to identify them, places where without God's involvement the outcomes would not have been so good. This notion that we are self-reliant is an arrogant myth. Folks, the government isn't gonna protect us. Have you not figured that out yet? We've sat in our churches and imagined we didn't really have to believe in God because we were pretty self-sufficient. That season's gone and we need to get to know the Lord.

Build yourself a good news list, but then build a broader list that includes those truth breakthroughs beyond your home and family. In the midst of a time I think when we can say there's almost unprecedented chaos and deception, at least it's rampant, many find it inconvenient to acknowledge God, don't you be one of those. So it's important to be aware and to acknowledge what God is doing, there's examples every week. Now, the timing of them I grumble about because I want God to have the truth shouted from the housetops when the first deceptive statement is made. But how many of you are thankful that God is merciful and gracious and doesn't always strike you down the moment you make a mistake? We would have an empty building tonight, and he showed us mercy and he shows mercy to others so don't be angered by his timing, he is faithful.

It's important to be aware, to acknowledge what God is doing, it enables us to pray with far greater confidence, it will awaken us to our essential role as leaders in our world. Again, not because great stadiums filled with people are hanging on your every word but because of the influence God has entrusted you. Our prayers initiate activity in the kingdom of our Lord that impacts the kingdoms of this world. And we've had these lame answers like, "Well, you know, Pastor, I just don't pray". Let's change that line, "I'm faithless and perverse and disinterested in the kingdom of God. Well, maybe I could learn to pray," maybe we could. If we're not aware and we're not involved, opportunities are forfeited. I do not intend to be a part of a generation of people who forfeit the God opportunities of this generation, I do not.

There are some prayers we need to begin to pray. We need to pray for the healing of the division and the hatred in our nation. It is not good, it's being fueled and fostered very intentionally, it's being crafted through great deception and manipulation. We have to pray for the unborn, there are still thousands of children a day being sacrificed for no higher purpose than convenience. And we're so accustomed to it, we become so tolerant of it that when the topic comes up we just kinda look away and go, "Oh, bother". Almost 3.000 children a day, and yet we support politicians and parties who brazenly advocate such heinous behaviors. How can that be? Pray, pray for leaders who fear God and will protect our country. Our borders have to be secured, we become, you and me, your neighbors, the people you care about become more vulnerable with each day the borders remain open. That's not theory, that's fact.

And now there is open discussion, brazen discussion in major American cities suggesting that non-citizens be allowed to vote. Not based on some law that's being pushed through or advocated for, by some fiat. Imagine millions of illegal people being welcomed into the nation, encouraged to come, rewarded for coming, and then extending to those persons the right to vote. It will end the rule of law in our nation, it's insanity. Why wouldn't we send ballots to China, to South America, to Africa? Why, why would we limit it to just to those that made it here if citizenship is not a requirement? We have lost our balance. There is a consistent need for good news, you need it to reinforce what God is doing. Spiritual disciplines for spiritual leaders.

So I want to take the balance of this session, and you're gonna have to listen fast and talk about the Gospels a little bit since we're spending some time with them. The first four books of your New Testament we generally bundle into the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The word gospel has something of a technical meaning, it's helpful to understand it a bit. Literature is presented in different styles, you understand this, there's poetry and prose, there's fiction and nonfiction, there are things that are written autobiographically. There are many types of literature and understanding the style helps you to understand the message, in the same way that sports are played with different rules. They play football with a different set of rules than golf and if you understand the rules it helps you interpret what you're watching.

Golfers want quiet, football players, not so much. So the style of literature matters, it's more than some incidental thing, don't just push past that and say, "Well, I don't care, I just want to get to it". No, the Gospels are not autobiographies, Jesus didn't write any books, that intrigues me, he trusted the Holy Spirit and his friends. Huh. If it was necessary for Jesus to have done it in person he would have. It gives me great confidence in my Bible. I know it's popular to question it, to denigrate it, to mock it, to find its inconsistencies, but if Jesus was comfortable without writing down a manuscript, I trust him. It's not a typical biography, it certainly has biographical information, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus's life up through his death and resurrection, but it's not typical. One-third of each of those Gospels is devoted, a full-third of each of the Gospels is devoted to the events around Jesus's death, a matter of a few days.

You live to be 33 and the books we have the tell about his life focus uniquely on the last 10 days or so, it's amazing, it's not the typical way to tell a story. From a biblical perspective, the Gospels are a very short period of time, the Gospels will fit into a 40-year window. Well, the book of Judges from the Old Testament is a 400-year period of time, the book of Genesis is much longer than that. So the Gospels, from a biblical perspective, is a very short period of time. In fact, the whole New Testament will fit into about 100-year window. So it's not a great lengthy time. If you're a teenager, 100 years sounds like it's interminable. If you're similar to my age and you're into your 30s now, it doesn't feel so long anymore. And just for the record, I am very well into my 30s, so. Gospel literally means good news.

Maybe it's most helpful to think of it as a news bulletin, that's really more the implication in its context, it's a bulletin of some life-altering event, maybe the death of an emperor or some significant military victory and there is a gospel, good news bulletin put out that some significant life event has happened, and its original intent was to be read aloud. The printing presses were not frequent then and social media was spotty, cell phone coverage was very inconsistent over the ancient world. But as the Jesus story began to spread and there were more disciples, there were increasing interest in writing down reliable accounts of what transpired and the best information available to those who were trying to collect the stories were the eyewitnesses. And so most of those Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, will give you some perspective on why they qualify, either whom they spoke with or what they experienced.

So let's get started. I think probably a good point to kinda pick up is with this idea that there's a God and he has a message for us. There is a God. If you're still grappling with that, I want to suggest that before the snow comes, sort it out. There is a God and he's not abstract or withdrawn or isolated or disinterested, he has a message for you and he's gone to extraordinary lengths to make that message known. In Hebrews chapter 1, I know we're studying the Gospels and I'm starting in Hebrews, which is not a Gospel, but I wrote the outline. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he's spoken to us by his Son".

So there's something different about Jesus. Yes, Jesus was a prophet, but he wasn't just another prophet. Yes, he came as a messenger from God, but he wasn't just another messenger from God. Yes, he was a teacher and a miracle worker and a healer, but he wasn't just the next edition of those things, there is something unique in the Jesus presentation that no one before him and no one since him could duplicate. He came to let us know the Father, God as Father, and no one can give us that revelation in the same way that the Son can.

"In these last days he's spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. And after he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs". When you read the Gospel story and we begin to get to know Jesus, what we are in reality getting to know is the character of God. What does God think about us? What does God do in the lives of a human being? How should we understand our relationship with him?

You see, we don't define that relationship, he's the creator, we are the creature, we are submitted to his authority. We're to lead our lives in reverent fear, the scripture says, with a holy respect, a deference to the creator. We don't dictate to him, we try to understand his character so that we can live within the expressions of grace that that character makes available to us. It is futile to rage against God. Now, you can complain about his poor job performance, he can take it, but at some point you have to make peace with him. Jesus is the message, he is the answer, he's more than a messenger or a prophet, Jesus is a revelation of God. So when we're reading the Gospels, we're not just trying to find some message for the moment, we're trying to understand the nature of Almighty God.

And I think we have to balance the tension between the message and our preference. This is a bit of a rabbit trail but I think it's important, and as you're reading the Gospels it's so prevalent. It was a stumbling block that kept much of Jesus's contemporary audience on the outside. I hope that sobers you as much as it does me. The covenant people of God, keeping all the right holidays, keeping most of the right religious rules, with a temple in the middle of their nation, they are the chosen people of Almighty God and the overwhelming majority of the population in Jesus's day missed him. If that doesn't sober you, you're not listening. They're keeping kosher, they're keeping Sabbath rules, they're observing Passover and the Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. They're doing the things and they did not see what God was doing.

Do you think it's possible to sit in church, to know the words to the choruses, to have a shelf filled with Bibles, to label yourself Christian, and be very much clueless about what God is doing? The message would seem so. Well, I brought you a passage in Luke chapter 1, it's a statement from Zechariah, he's the father of John the Baptist. And some of you will remember the circumstances around John's birth are rather supernatural. They included angelic visits, Gabriel nonetheless, a season of being quiet because Zechariah talked back, a birth amongst a couple who were not supposed to have children. It's a rather supernatural story. And when John is born, Zechariah makes a declaration of praise, but I want you to hear what he says. He says, "His father," the father of John the Baptist, "Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesied".

Remember, prophecy is a God perspective. "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he's come and he has redeemed his people. He's raised up a horn of salvation for us". A horn of salvation is an expression for strength, he has given us strength, "In the house of his servant David, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham; to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days". Since we're walking through a time of really unprecedented deception and propaganda, at least for us, I think there is a note here that is important.

At the time that we read the Gospels, Israel is an occupied territory, occupied by Rome. They're on the border with Persia, so they're not just occupied, it's important that there be a strong Roman presence. They want Roman architecture so if any Persian ventures into the periphery of Rome, they'll see the strength of Rome, even on the edge of their borders, so the legions are stationed there and the soldiers are stationed there. It's why there's a Roman centurion in Capernaum, a little fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, because it's located beside a major Roman road and they want a contingent of Roman soldiers. It's a point of humiliation, it's a point of shame, it's a point of embarrassment. They abuse the people, they exact taxes, they mistreat their women, their children. They have to explain to them why they show deference to the hated Romans and they're looking for a Messiah, a political deliverer, a military deliverer.

And Zechariah is deep enough into this story with enough supernatural events surrounding him that he understands that the time for Messiah has come. And listen to his expectations, verse 71, "Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham; to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness". Do you know the stumbling block to Jesus being the Messiah? He didn't throw out the Romans, he said, "That's not really your problem, your heart condition is a bigger problem than the Romans". In fact, he wept over Jerusalem later in Luke's Gospel. He's coming down the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem opens before you, you can see the whole city from there, and Jesus began to weep and he said, "If you had only understood what would've bring you peace".

It's one of my favorite places to visit in the city, it's a beautiful little chapel. But imagine Jesus standing on that hill weeping, "If you had only known what would've brought you peace, but you didn't recognize it, and now they will build an embankment against you," he said. An embankment is a part of a military strategy. If you besiege the city, if you don't allow anybody into the city or out of the city and it's a walled city, you have to breach the walls. And one of the methods of doing so was to build an earthen embankment against it so you could push a battering ram or some means of of breaking through the wall up next to the wall.

When you stand on that Mount of Olives today, more than half of the wall of the Temple Mount is hidden by what is left of a Roman siege ramp. And Jesus is weeping, "They will dash the heads of your children against the stones of this city because you didn't recognize the day of God's coming to you". "There's a power available to you," he's saying, "That's greater than the Roman legions and that's more powerful than the Roman economy, that has greater authority than Caesar, but you're so invested in those structures, you can't see it".

I wonder to what extent contemporary American Christiandom imagines that our deliverance should come from a politician or a political party or an economic solution or a scientific breakthrough and we diminish our efforts and our attention towards the things of God. We won't stand for his truth or his righteousness or a biblical perspective on human sexuality or morality or the sanctity of human life, we think they're secondary things. I wonder to what extent Jesus weeps over us because there is unnecessary suffering before us because we cannot imagine the authority of our King. Please don't just read the Gospels glibly to check the box.

Zechariah is in the midst of a series of the most supernatural events but he has been anticipating his entire life, and his father before him and his father before him, that the Messiah would be a social, political, military deliverer. I do not know how God will preserve our freedoms if he does, but he will do it as an expression of his sovereign power and authority through his people so that he is glorified. And if we lose what is left of our freedoms and the blessings of God upon our life it will be because of our indifference, not because of the intensity of wickedness. It's an exciting time, church, God's trying to awaken us.

Jesus was a living revelation of Almighty God. That's my prayer for us today, that we would have more than a religious experience or some experience of reciting a prayer, we need a revelation of Jesus, it'll change our lives. Let's pray.

Father, I thank you that you love us so much that you sent your Son, that you sent him in a package that we could relate to, that we can understand, and that he could understand us. I ask you now, by your Spirit, to give us a living revelation of Jesus of Nazareth, not a historical figure or a religious leader but the living person of Jesus. I thank you for it. It's in his name we ask, amen.

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