Allen Jackson - Christ and Antichrist - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you again. We're going to complete our study on one of my favorite topics, "My Friend Jesus". You know, at the end of the day, our faith is not based on systematic theologies or translations of the Bible or styles of worship. It's based on a relationship with a person, and his name is Jesus. But the key to the entire narrative is learning to trust him, to put your faith in him. When you're born again, it's not just that your sins are forgiven. There's a spiritual resurrection. You are made alive in Christ. When Jesus comes back to the earth, there's going to be a physical resurrection; not one or two people, but over the whole earth. That's my friend. You see, he's not like us. His Word will cause a global resurrection. I don't know what problem you have today, but I promise you our friend is capable of helping you overcome whatever challenge you have. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, open your heart to our friend Jesus.
Jesus is ministering in a small setting, and they bring a young man who has some physical challenges. And he looks at the young man and said, "'Friends, your sins are forgiven.' And the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'" "Just who does he think he is? Who do you think you are to say to somebody they could have peace with God"? I'm nobody special, but have I told you about my friend? "Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he asked, 'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk?'"
Now, Jesus's point is lost on them, but it shouldn't be lost on us. He said it's a greater lift to say your sins are forgiven. He said, "The spiritual life that I spoke to him is a far greater challenge. That will ultimately cost me my physical life and a tremendous amount of suffering". Do you think it's harder to say "your sins are forgiven" than it is to say "get up and walk"? 'Cause they have no imagination you can say "get up and walk". And Jesus says, "You know, that's not really a heavy lift. Just so you know I can forgive the sins, get up and walk". And the young man got up and walked. The people were amazed. His adversaries were angry.
Folks, the power of our friend can change your spiritual destiny and your physical journey through time. You want to get to know him, particularly in the midst of a turbulent season of great realignment. Now, the challenge is to learn to believe in him, to trust your friend; and that trust is built. You don't give trust. If you give trust, you're foolish. Trust is built incrementally, bit by bit. So we talk about little faith, great faith, no faith, weak faith. We grow. In Numbers chapter 14, it's not just a New Testament principle, "The LORD said to Moses, 'How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me?'"
Miracles didn't cause them to believe. They walked through the Red Sea. They saw the plagues on the Egyptians. They ate manna, they were picking manna out of their teeth, going, "I don't believe in it". They're following a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud going, "I don't think he'll take care of me. I just don't think he'll take care of me". They got Red Sea mud on the sandals that they're wearing, saying, "Do you think we can trust him"? We're no better. He was asking them to do new things, to walk in new ways. We don't like that. We don't want to change; we want God to bless us in the way that we want to walk, or I do. I struggle with that. "How long will they refuse to believe in me"?
It's a theme in John's Gospel. In John chapter 6, "Jesus declared, 'I'm the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" "If you will believe in me, you'll never be thirsty". And he said, "But I've told you, you've seen me and you still won't believe". There's a struggle and Jesus is identifying it. This tension, it exists in all of us. We'll sit here for a minute go, "Oh, I believe, Lord, I believe". And then we'll get up tomorrow and go, "I don't know. Maybe I was emotional". John 7, Jesus stood in a loud voice and he said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him".
What I love about it is it's personal. You don't need the pastor, the priest, the bishop. If you will believe, streams of living water will come from you. What you believe about Jesus is ultimately the game changer, but belief is not a theory. It has to be expressed. Believe, believing, faith, faithful, unfaithful; it's not as clear in English, but in the Greek, the language of the New Testament, they're all, very clearly they come from the same root. They're all interchangeable. To be a person who believes is a faithful person. What's it mean to be a person of great faith? It means to be a person who's consistently faithful.
John chapter 11, Jesus said to her, this is Martha. Her brother's dead. She's upset. "If you'd have just been here, Lord; if you would have been here, I know you. If you had been here, but you weren't here and now the window of opportunity is closed". You have any windows of opportunity that are closed? Jesus said, "I'm the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this"? "Yeah, yeah. Whatever". It's kind of what she meant. She couldn't process what he was saying. I'm convinced that, so much of the time I struggle to process what God is inviting me to understand. "Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the son of God, who's come into the world". "Good enough. Let's go see Lazarus," woohoo.
We talked about fundamentals a minute ago. Folks, you don't have to understand why or how. I don't know how my cell phone works. I just want it to work. I can't rebuild the engine in my car, but if it'll come on when I turn the key, I'm golden. I don't even know how fire works. Forget cars and cell phones; fire is a mystery to me but I sure enjoy it, benefit from it in a lot of ways. Get to know your friend. Believe in him. John 12, "At the same time many among the leaders believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they wouldn't confess their faith. They were afraid they'd be put out of the synagogue. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God". Things haven't changed that much. "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he doesn't believe in me only, but in the one who sent to me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that the one who believes in me should stay in darkness.'"
Folks, the essence of our faith is believing in Jesus. Make him your friend. Develop that friendship. Learn to trust him. The more you walk with him, the more you invite him into circumstances, the more you listen to his voice, the more you pay attention to his counsel; those are all ways that that friendship is strengthened. Don't leave him as a casual acquaintance. Don't leave him as somebody you know in a worship service. If you don't invite him into your personal life, you won't believe he can make a difference in your personal life. You want to be in charge of it. If you don't invite him into your resource management, you can't trust him for stability in a very unstable time because you haven't made him your friend in that arena. Practice, cultivate, learn to believe in him. We learn to believe.
Look at Matthew 8. The disciples went and woke Jesus. They're in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Did you know Jesus was woke? It's biblical. It's right there. Disciples were woke and they went and woke Jesus. It's bad grammar and it's bad theology, but it's funny. The disciples went and woke Jesus, said, "Lord, we're going to drown". Heaven forbid he not be awake when he was drowning. I think this story has far less to do with Jesus and far more to do with the disciples. Look at Jesus's answer to them. He said, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid"? I'll tell you my takeaway. When fear is real in me and tangible in me, my faith is small. And to the degree you're afraid, you're afraid of the future, you're afraid of uncertainty, you're afraid of whatever, it's a place where we can learn to believe more fully.
We could trust more fully because belief and faith, again, they all come very clearly from the same root. They're momentum in the same direction. When I'm afraid, my faith is small. Jesus said, "I'm with you in the boat. Do you really think", Right? "You really think we're all gonna drown out here? What are you..." "Well, we were afraid". "Yeah, I see that". I mean, they're fishermen. He's a carpenter. You wake up a carpenter to help the fishermen in the middle of a storm? Fear is not rational. Fear is not logical. Fear is not about common sense. Fear overrides all those circuits. It makes you respond in goofy ways. We need some faith, folks. We got to get to know our friend better. We got to get to know our friend better. You learn to believe. You grow up in belief. You say, "We haven't been coached on this. We've been told to be saved and maybe be baptized, then be a student. Study, study, study".
So we study and then we talk about whether or not we believe those things still happen. Well, why are you studying if they don't still happen? That's called history, and even good students of history imagine that history repeats itself and can inform your future. We should at least have the courage of biblical historians and believe that God can repeat himself. There's another spirit at work when you open your Bible and say this isn't relevant for you, and it's not the Holy Spirit. Remember, true and false, it's important.
Matthew 14, Peter got down out of the boat. Jesus is walking on the lake. They'd never seen that before. Peter got out of the boat. God bless him. He walked on the water and he came towards Jesus. I've been on that lake hundreds of times. I keep trying. I've been wet a lot. "But when Peter saw the wind and he was afraid and he began to sink, and he said, 'Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus reached out his hand and said, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?'" So there's another opponent adversary of belief in your life, and that's doubt. Again, not quite as clear in the English language. More clear in the language of the New Testament. But unbelief and belief right there together. You have to choose to believe. Unbelief will come to you more frequently. There are more voices that reinforce it. "You really believe that? What makes you believe that? Why do you think that? Don't know if I believe that".
You see, the things that you really know, you don't care if anybody else believes them or not. "I know where I can go and catch these fish". "Well, I don't believe it". "Stay home". "I know the outcome if I'll do this procedure in this way". "I don't know if I believe it or not". "I'm not really asking you to believe it, I'm telling you I know". How well do you know your friend? Are you growing in belief? If you had to plot that on a chart, is your belief in the Lord growing? Is it static? Is it diminishing? What are you doing with that? How are you feeding it? How are you exercising it? 'Cause you have to exercise it. How much education about your friend do you need before you'll start to treat him like a friend?
Then in Matthew 16, Matthew is a primer in learning to believe, "When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread". Panic, 'cause Jesus had demonstrated shortages of food were a problem. "'Be careful,' Jesus said to them. 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.' They discussed this amongst themselves and said, 'It's because we didn't bring any bread.'" I'm telling you, Jesus made disciples out of the Three Stooges. He just had 12, and one of them was no count at all. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, be careful of the character of the Sadducees and the Pharisees because they will infect you, and a little exposure to them will diminish your ability to believe," is what Jesus said.
Who do you respect? Whom do you listen to? What are the voices of authority that you will accept regarding your future, and your contentment, and your happiness? Are they godly? I don't mean godly in veneer, godly in façade. I mean, the evidence of their life, the fruit of their life, does it suggest a passion for a friendship with Jesus? If not, Jesus's warning is legitimate for all of us. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees". They had great education and lots of religious behaviors, but their trajectory of faith in their life was not moving towards Jesus. They were his antagonists. It's true and false again.
You see, belief will lead you towards the identification of the true. As much as you're willing to follow the science, follow faith. Follow those who believe. Jesus looked at them, said, "You of little faith, why are you talking about no bread"? Then he goes on to say, you know, "We had five loaves. How many did we feed"? "Five thousand". "And then you had seven loaves. How many did you feed"? "Well, I guess 3.000". "And there's a dozen of us and you got a couple of loaves. We're good for what, 7, 8 years"?
You see, their lack of faith came out of a lack of spiritual awareness. We've got to cultivate an awareness for spiritual things, your willingness to believe in them. How many times have I talked to people about things that opened their lives to destructive spiritual things and go, "I don't believe in that," as if that protects you. We just walked through a season where we all changed our lives almost in total around a virus that we knew very little about. We didn't know how it was transmitted. We didn't know what the symptomology would be. We didn't know what the treatment was and we changed everything about our lives because somebody we didn't know told us it was a threat.
I'm not saying we were wrong. I'm saying if you'll do that about something physical, why are we so stubborn about spiritual things? Why would you take that chance? Why would you play with the occult? Why would you dabble with spiritual forces? Why would you refuse to forgive? Why would you harbor anger? Why would you choose immorality? Why would we not repent? Why do we ignore the spiritual counsel? 'Cause we have small faith because our friendship with Jesus is so distant, so formal, so stilted. We don't trust him. We're a church, you know, where people hang out. We can recognize a church building. We know what a Bible looks like. We can grow in belief. We can grow in that. The friendship will grow. Your confidence in him will grow. Your trust in him will grow. Your instincts around him, you'll know his character.
You'll understand, "That's the Lord. That feels like the Lord to me. That sounds like the Lord". It'll be a warning sign when somebody will be using religious language in a religious building in a religious setting, you know. That does not feel like the character of my friend. There are some things you could tell me about my good friends and I can tell you whether it was true or not based on the character I know in them. I want to know Jesus that way. I want to know Jesus that way. I want you to know Jesus that way. My time. Well, the next step of this, whenever we do it, is to help us recognize the true and the false. Because if you know what your friend has brought to your life, you'll recognize something when it can't bring that same set of things. And I'll drop this one idea. The spirit of Antichrist is prevalent in our world today.
Antichrist carries with it two meanings. One is in place of and the other is against; and I think you see expressions of both of those ideas, things that prefer to be worshiped, things that pretend to be acknowledged as the solution to everything, and then expressions that oppose any assertion that Jesus truly is the solution. That spirit is so prevalent in the world. The reason that should have your attention is at some point ahead of us there will be an individual step on to the stage of human history that the nations of the world will invite into a role of leadership: the Antichrist. What will make that possible is the prevalence of the spirit of Antichrist.
So what I would ask you is just from your point of evaluation if you had to chart it, if you had to plot it on a graph, would you say the expressions against Jesus as Lord or the expressions of saying this is more important than Jesus is Lord, both expressions of the spirit of Antichrist, are they increasing in our world or decreasing? And you don't have to answer that, you need to reflect on it 'cause it's... I'll give you my opinion. I think they are increasing exponentially. There's a turning away in a culture that has been founded upon a Judeo-Christian worldview. Our legal system, our finest educational system, we used to train our children in schools with government funding from the Bible. Not teaching them to be Methodist or Presbyterian or Roman Catholic or Southern Baptist, but giving them a biblical worldview. It was commonplace in the medical community, the legal community, the academic community for the Christian faith to be welcomed.
Now not only is that not true, there are powerful voices trying to say it's never been true to rewrite the history so that our children can't even be told it's their heritage. Do you know what would happen if you tried to destroy the history of the Native American culture? It shouldn't be, I'm not saying it should, but there would be an outcry. But they're destroying the history of the Judeo-Christian impact on this culture and we haven't cared enough about our friend to say, "Whoa, wait a minute".
So what I want you to think about is what's the trend line on that and it'll help you understand the degree to which we're coming closer to that individual being welcomed. What we're watching is not logical. We're having a debate on how to secure our futures these days. It's appropriate. Violence is escalating dramatically, but one of the ideas is you should, 18 years old is not old enough to be able to buy a weapon. I'm not entering into that, I'm not, I don't have the information to argue that, but I'm telling you it's logically inconsistent to say at 18 you couldn't buy a gun, but at 5 years old, we want to talk to you about changing your gender. That makes no sense to me. And we have that conversation because we're not alive spiritually. We have no spiritual awareness whatsoever.
So talk about whatever, just whatever makes you happy or whatever makes you chic or whatever somebody said. Folks, we need God's people to understand who our friend is. He will change the world. Our problem is not politicians or political parties or ideologies. The problem we face is we're a long way away from our friend. I'll close with this. It's not in your notes, but trust me, it's in the book.
Revelation 5, John said, "I looked and I heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand". I really, I mean, it's a legitimate number that you can calculate. It's not one you can understand. A thousand times a thousand is a million. So is it safe to say there was a whole lot of angels, almost further than you could see? An innumerable company of angels. "They encircled the throne and the living creatures, and in a loud voice they sang, 'Worthy is the lamb who was slain.'"
That's our friend. An innumerable company of angels saying, "Our friend is worthy. Don't be embarrassed of him". "To receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. Then I heard every creature in heaven on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them singing, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever.'" That's our friend. When he comes in his glory and it's revealed, you'll be amazed at him.
I want us to close with that proclamation. I took it from Revelation 5. I wanted you to know where it came from. Why don't you stand? It's in your notes. It's printed in microfiche size. They will put it on the screens. It might help. Yes. God bless them. Let's say it together. It's not ours. We're joining an innumerable company of angels and every creature in heaven on earth will say this together. We will say it together at some point in our future. This just dress rehearsal. What an honor to serve the King, to be Jesus's people. What a privilege. Let's say it together:
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever, amen.