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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Christ and Antichrist - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Christ and Antichrist - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Christ and Antichrist - Part 1
TOPICS: Antichrist

I began a discussion in the previous session about, My Friend Jesus! I'd like to continue that in this particular session and focus on the Christ and the Antichrist, if you prefer, the true and the false, light and dark. We need to recognize that those forces stand in opposition to one another, and they are shaping much of what we see in our world. There's so much confusion today. We're living in a very turbulent time, a tumultuous time. And, you know, my conclusion, just the most simple way I know to state it is, the routine of life is just difficult. Aren't you glad you got dressed up and came to church for that nugget? But would your experience support that? You know, just the routine of life, just the things that life brings to you, it's difficult.

There's good things in it and there's happy places in it and there's wonderful victories in it, but it's frequently difficult. Disappointments are part of the journey. If disappointments come to you, you're not unique, you're not being picked on, you haven't been singled out. Everybody I know, and I know a pretty significant slice of people, faces disappointments. Despair will seek entry into your life. It will look for a window that it could enter through. Despair is disappointment that comes to stay. Despair clouds your view. It will rob you of your joy and your hope. It will rob you of the strength to face the day with the enthusiasm that you might have had.

Weariness, I have discovered, is a frequent caller. I don't mean just wearing is from exertion, weariness from a busy day, but a weariness with the process, a weariness with the journey, a weariness with the challenges, a weariness with the disappointments. Weariness would like to slip right in through that same open window where despair would like to come. Why does it have to be this way? That's the part of all of our journeys. In fact, often the challenges are just more challenging than we would prefer. Does that feel right? You know, I saw a little clip in the newspaper that said, "Lion tamer wants tamer lion". I feel that way some days. Well, I would submit to you that all of those things I have described thus far are just part of life. That's part of the journey.

If you're gonna spend days under the sun, that stuff's coming. It may not come every day, it may not describe every week or every month or every season, but those things will come to every life, no matter how successful, how wealthy, how affluent, no matter how well educated or not. I don't know a barrier that can keep you from the challenges and the difficulties of life. They come to people of faith and people who are agnostic. Being a person of faith does not remove you from the realm of disappointments in life, it does not. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble". Jesus said it. It's not a negative confession. Somebody's confession meter just went off, whoop, whoop. Jesus said it, but he said, "Be of good cheer. I've overcome the world". But beyond that set of things that I would attribute to normal, routine, a typical journey through time, I would submit we're experiencing a spiritual struggle of unique intensity.

In fact, the best way I would know to describe it is a desperate demonic effort to thwart the purposes of God in this unique generation. It isn't typical. I've had enough birthdays to see other things and what we're watching these days is not really normal. Their expressions of evil are celebrated. I mean, they're celebrated in the public square of things that when you look at them you go, "That's just evil. That should not elicit a celebration". And yet, it does. Compromise within the church, forget outside, within the church, compromise is far too common. Common sense these days is uncommon. Can we have a class? Shame has been replaced. Shame is no longer chic. We have replaced it with just a brazen rebellion against God. It seems almost unimaginable to think of a behavior or a statement or something you could engage in no matter how vile, no matter how repugnant that its response is one of shame.

And the temptation, I think, amongst God's people is just to look away. It's too much. "I'd rather not think about it. I'd rather not notice. Can I put my fingers in my ear and sing"? Or maybe we'll just yield to distraction? Can we find something else to do? Can I find? Go find a happy place, something that revitalizes me and renews me, and I won't have to pay any attention to what's happening? Or perhaps we just avoid our assignment and shrug it off and say, "Well, you know, I've been godly. Let somebody else be godly for a while". Or we sing more loudly so we don't hear the cry of the desperate. "Didn't hear a thing".

I've read more than one account of the Christians in Germany during World War II when the trains were going fast filled with the Jewish people and those on their way to the camps for their extinction. And the trains were close enough to some of the churches that they could hear the cries for help. And if they were worshipping on Sunday, they would simply worship with more enthusiasm. I think in our own ways, that's a temptation for us these days. Or maybe we just pretend that nothing's changed. "Well, we had kind of a rough patch, but we're back now". I want to spend the time we have today and ask you to focus with me on Jesus. I want to turn my attention and invite you to turn your attention to the one who can deliver us, to the one who is triumphant over all of his adversaries.

See, what you give your attention to is very important. I'm not asking you to ignore evil. I'm not asking you to disengage, in fact, quite the opposite. I'm doing my best to prepare you to engage in a way for which I believe the Lord would reward you. But being focused on the corruption and the darkness and the wickedness and the evil will overwhelm you, even if you're focused on the challenges you're personally facing. Again, I'm not asking you to ignore them. I'm asking you to turn your attention to the Lord and become so full of who he is and what he can do, that our challenges become secondary. It's not easy. It's more difficult than any physical training I've ever done. And physical training takes some determination, some self-discipline, some willingness to ignore the messaging that says, "Stop this". And spiritual discipline, for me at least, takes far more determination than physical discipline does because there's not nearly as much encouragement for spiritual discipline.

You can go to the gym and find a whole group of people who are willing to submit to some sort of physical discipline, some far more than that that you've submitted to. And you look at them and go, "Wow, could I look like that"? Probably not. Genetics has a lot to do with it and some of us just got a different blessing. But spiritual discipline is of enormous importance, and I'm gonna ask you to think with me about Jesus, our friend. And I'm going to ask you to become more comfortable talking about true church and false church, about the Christ and the Antichrist, without wringing your hands in fear or anxiety or dread because I think all of those things are increasingly going to be a part of our lives.

I want to start in Revelation chapter 1, Jesus called us his friends. He said he didn't any longer call us his servants, but he called us friends. I like that image because it's so available to us. We know what a friend is. We know how to imagine friendship. And I put one caveat in that because I've spent a good bit of time around the church and God's people, and sometimes I think we make that notion of friendship too casual, too presumptive. And I don't want you to have a presumptive attitude towards the Lord. I'm privileged, I have some friends, and I value their voice in my life and their presence in my life. I don't have a great deal of time with a lot of them. Sometimes our time is limited and when I'm with them, I try not to be presumptive.

I have some friends who have professional... I have some who are doctors, physicians. And I don't walk into their offices and walk past the receptionist and go walking down the halls of the clinic going, "Hey, Doc, where are you"? It would be an abuse of the friendship. Doesn't mean that I don't have a relationship. It doesn't mean that there is a trust in place or confidence in place. It means that friendship comes with respect. And I would encourage you, as you think about Jesus, not to shrink from him in fear or dread or terror, but to address him with the appropriate respect. And sometimes when I hear Christians talk, I get a little uncomfortable with their language. I wouldn't be disrespectful towards my friends or I wouldn't maintain the friendships very long. I wouldn't try to speak of them one way when they were present and another way when they weren't. I wouldn't be silent if I heard them denigrated, diminished, criticized, I'd stand up.

So I like this image or this notion of friendship because I think it's so available to our imagination, and it's really the question of the day, and we're gonna explore it in some technical, biblical ways. But are you willing to be Jesus's friend? That's different than being religious or churched or joining a group or having a membership intact or imagining that there's some set of rules. Do you live in such a way that you're really Jesus's friend? What arenas in your life, what realms in your life do you deny that friendship? Do you hide it? Do you diminish it? Do you put it away? To what extent is it consistent across all the places that your life takes you? Do you really intend for Jesus to be a part of every aspect of your life?

Well, in Revelation chapter 1, we get a little window into a picture of friendship. John, the Apostle John, one that Jesus recruited from the shores of Galilee many years earlier when he was a young man, James and John and Peter and Andrew and the crew, you know them so well. Jesus recruits them and says, "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men". And they're brash young men. They have no idea what they're in store for. Well, the last book of the New Testament is a revelation that Jesus gave to John. It was a revelation he wanted to give to his people in the earth. And when the question was posed, "Who could we give this to that would deliver it"? Jesus said, "My servant John".

Of all the disciples, he was the closest to Jesus, we're told that in the gospels. But by the time we get to the Book of Revelation, he's an old man. His peer group was gone, at least by church tradition. They've all been martyred. John has been exiled. He's imprisoned on an island. It's an island where they mined copper. It's a safe assumption that he was being forced to do hard labor in the mines as an old man. And we're told that on the Lord's day, he was in the Spirit and he hears a voice behind him. It's verse 17, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. He placed his right hand on me and he said: 'Don't be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One: I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades".

I would submit to you John saw his friend, not his buddy. He didn't want to hang with Jesus, but they had a relationship. There was a trust between them, a confidence between them, an understanding between them. I want to be Jesus's friend. In fact, more than I have aspirations for anything that I can think of, I want to be Jesus's friend. I like life. I like the world. I mean, I like the beautiful places and I do. I enjoy those things, but they're secondary to me to being Jesus's friend. It's an idea. I just want to plant the seeds in your heart. You could ask him about that. "What would it be like for me to be a better friend? How would that change who I am and how I behave if I chose to be a better friend of Jesus"?

I don't want you to be more religious. I don't want you to be more churched. I don't want more pretense. I'm not looking to add on more rules. But when you see him one day, I promise you, you want him to look at you with the awareness of friendship, and it's the way I want to know him. I'd be happy to put my face on the ground when I see my friend. And in the midst of the troubles and the strains and the pressures, there's nothing quite like a trusted voice or a trusted face. Some years ago, Kathy and I were traveling to East Africa for a pastors' conference, and we had some flight trouble. And there are a lot of delays and what was gonna be relatively compact trip ended up being an extended travel time. And we landed at the airport, this was some years ago, and the airport in Nairobi was overcrowded. Lots of people and lots of pushing. It was an airport where we hadn't been before. Look across this sea of humanity and on the other side of passport control, we saw our host.

And Kathy leaned over and said, "Don't take this personal, but that's the best-looking man I have ever seen right there". 'Cause in a strange place, in an uncomfortable place, she saw a friend, and she trusted him in that setting more than she did me. So no harm, no foul, I understood. I was glad to see him too. He's in heaven today. Jesus changes everything. I want to start with that and this first bit may be a bit technical. We'll move beyond that, but the technical is important. You know, if your fundamentals are sloppy, your foundation is inadequate for stress. And if you don't understand fundamentally why Jesus changes everything, this isn't just some sloppy relationship. It's not something casual. It's not because he's cute or he's chic, because oftentimes, he isn't chic. Oftentimes, conventional wisdom won't support your friendship with him. Oftentimes, to be a friend with Jesus, particularly I believe in what's before us, in fact, it will put you at odds with what is chic and supported by much of conventional wisdom, but the fundamentals matter.

I'll start in Ephesians chapter 1. It says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ". I'm just gonna tag them as we go through this. We have every spiritual blessing in Christ. Now, if spiritual things don't mean much to you, you won't care. But if you believe that spiritual things are real, it's important in noting that every spiritual blessing is available to you and to me, not because of my stature or my education or my affluence or the church in which I worship or the translation of the Bible I read or the verses I can quote, but because I'm affiliated with Jesus. He is the doorway. He said, "I'm the door. No one comes to the Father except by me. Anybody that comes in any other way is an intruder".

All paths don't lead to the same place. All faiths are not equal. I know that's not popular, but it is true. Verse 4, "For he chose us in him in Jesus before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight". He chose us. "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons". How? "Through Jesus Christ". Folks, if it weren't for Jesus, you have no opportunity in the eternal kingdom of God. You are forever trapped in the kingdom of darkness. That's just fact. You can't change it. You can't be kind enough, good enough, generous enough. You can't serve enough. You can't worship with enough enthusiasm. Apart from Jesus, there is no escape from the kingdom of darkness. "To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him, in Christ, in Jesus, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding".

How do we find forgiveness? How do we get redeemed out of that place? There's only one way, through the blood of Jesus. That's my friend. When I talk to people about Jesus, I'm not trying to make them religious. I'm not trying to change their habits. I'm trying to introduce them to my friend. He can make your life better. You ever had somebody introduce you to a friend that helped you? They had an expertise in an area? It makes a lot of difference, doesn't it? You need a friend who has expertise in redemption. And why wouldn't you introduce somebody to him? "Well, they might not like him". Well, they may not today, but if they ever recognize they need redemption, they'll be glad to have his card. What is wrong with us? It's because we don't care that much about our friend, we treat him incidentally, he's insignificant. "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ".

The creator of heaven and earth is willing to let us know what his purpose is for this planet and the people on it because of our affiliation with Jesus. "To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment". Do you know that time will be fulfilled? Time is not without end. I know there's a debate amongst the scientists about young earth, old earth. I'm gonna try not to step into that right now. But I'll tell you, this time will come to an end. God created time. God is beyond time. Your spirit is not subject to time, it's eternal. No, your body, your earth suit, it's got a countdown clock, mine too. If you don't know that, just hang on. It's coming for you too. "To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ".

Jesus will be supreme over everything in heaven and earth. You might want to be his friend. Why would you choose him as an adversary? I'll tell you the reason, so you can be in charge 'cause the nature of the relationship is Jesus is Lord. And if you're not willing for Jesus to be Lord, it's because you probably prefer to be, and you can make that choice. He loves you enough, he'll give you that freedom. But the counsel of Scripture is to make peace with him because ultimately, he will be supreme over everything, and it's better to be friends with the one who's in charge. I mean, you can pick the fight if you want to. Most of us have tried. Verse 11, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will". God will work it all out.

In Romans 8 it says, "In all things, God works for our good". There's some things I'm thinking, God, I don't see any way there's any good in this. And the answer to that is that's why I'm the creature and he's the creator. Hush and keep moving. "Well, I'm walking through a pretty difficult valley". Keep walking. Don't stop and carve your name in the wall. "Well, I didn't expect this outcome. I don't like this season". Duly noted. You know, with children, we call that maturing. And they scream heartily, right? "I don't want to eat my vegetables. I don't want to wash my hands. I don't want to say thank you". You watch that little thing in them just rise up. I mean, they're out, they're out... what's the right metaphor? Outgunned doesn't seem appropriate these days. They're outclassed in about every way. Their adversary's taller, stronger, better educated, more nimble, and they'll stand there.

I mean, they can barely stand. They're kind of wobbling going, "No". And we'll look in the face of the Creator of all things and go, "No, me do it". And say, "Just rock on, with your bad self. Works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal".

See, we have to respond to him. The fact that Jesus exists is not enough. We have to choose him. God gave us a free will. It's a tremendous gift. We're not driven just by instinct. We're not just driven by our DNA. God created you with the free will, something that escapes the laboratory experiments on our persons, and we have to choose the Lord. We have to choose to believe that we were marked with him. "The promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession, to the praise of his glory".

You see, our redemption hasn't been completed in time. The fullness of our redemption won't be understood until we see eternity. The fullness of our redemption won't be understood until this present age comes to a close. That takes a bit of faith, a bit of belief. We read a passage in the previous session that says we will marvel at who Jesus is when we see him. We will stand slack jawed. "I had no idea. I had no imagination. I had no understanding. It never occurred to me. I didn't know that was possible. I've never known anyone like that. Do you know he's my friend? Wow". At the moment, we're limited. There are things we can't see. There are things we don't know. I don't know why that's such a hindrance to our faith.

Most of you've been listening for a couple of years, lots of voices chirping in us to follow the science. And I'm good with that, I'm happy with that. But one of the things anybody that is fully committed to science will tell you is, "There's more that we don't know than we do. We're very much on the front end of that learning curve, and there's so much we don't know". Good scientists say, "We don't know" all the time. That's the premise of science. We don't know, let's see what we can learn. Why is it we're offended when we come to our faith and we say we don't know? Just keep learning. "Well, I don't like that. I want to know". Okay.

Hey, I want to pray with you before we go, but I want to be certain we understand the one we're trusting. See, our future isn't secured by the government or by our church or by our faithfulness. Our future is secured by the faithfulness of the one we call our friend. His name is Jesus, and Jesus changes everything. He changes everything about our lives. The power of sin is broken over us because of Jesus's redemptive work. Satan's authority over our lives is destroyed because of Jesus's work. Whatever challenge you face today, Jesus is sufficient. Let's invite him into our lives.

Lord Jesus, we want to welcome you today. We need your help. Bring strength to our bodies and peace to our minds and hope to our souls. We trust you. We want to honor you as never before. In Jesus's name, amen.

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