Allen Jackson - Debaucherous Church - Part 2
Hey, it's such a privilege to be with you again. We're continuing our study on escaping the descent into paganism. We're watching it happen, but I don't want you to be filled with fear or anxiety. Two things are happening simultaneously. The darkness is growing more intense, but the light of the kingdom of God is growing brighter. We have to decide where we will focus our attention and what we will give our attention to. Being angry and resentful and embittered or frightened isn't helpful. Being filled with the message and the joy of the kingdom of God can make all the difference and enable us to lay up great treasure in heaven. Turn your eyes and your attention and your attitude towards the Lord. He has an assignment for us in this season.
Been talking to you about the opportunity to believe, Joel 2:32 says everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The base of the cross is open to everybody. It's open to everybody. Romans chapter 1, verse 20, says "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse". Every human being is given a presentation of God. Now, we happen to have some tremendous advantages. We have churches and the freedom to broadcast Christian media, and we can own Bibles, and if you speak English, Christianity is more open to you than any other people group in the world. So we have many blessings, but the scripture's very clear that if you live in the most remote places on the planet and you're illiterate, God still provides a revelation of himself. God will reveal himself to every human being. We have no excuses.
See, those of us that have the most, we also have the most excuses, we do. Too much traffic, churches are too big, churches are too small. We have kind of a Goldilocks approach to faith. We're looking for that one that's just right. We're gonna have to understand the opportunity to believe is a tremendous gift. Those invitations that God puts before us are of inestimable value. They are such a privilege. Lord, thank you that you would put an invitation in front of me, that you would reveal an aspect of my character that needs attention. God, thank you that you would convict me of something. God, thank you that I know right and wrong. I may struggle with right and wrong but thank you that I know the difference. Forgive me for the brazenness of my heart. The opportunity to believe is such a gift.
I wanna take the minutes we've got left, I've got a few, and unpack this a bit more. I wanna invite you into this idea. I've mentioned it to you before these last few weeks about let's talk, and the same way we've learned to do let's pray, to take prayers outside the church. I believe it is imperative, particularly now. I don't mean today, but in this point in time, that we learn to have faith conversations beyond this place, that faith becomes a matter of your conversation in daily life. Thank you for that enthusiastic affirmation of that radical idea. It's not really a radical idea at all. It's grounded in scripture. Ezekiel 33, "The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but doesn't take the warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head.'"
I'll give you the shorthand. Tell the people to be watchmen, and if they see destruction coming or wickedness coming, if they sound the alarm and somebody chooses not to listen, then it's not on them, but if they don't sound the alarm and the consequence comes on the people that they didn't warn, God said, "Then I'll hold you accountable". See, we've kind of embraced the opposite of that. Don't talk about faith and politics. We all understand that, not just at church. Don't do it when your family gets together. Certainly don't do it at a holiday. Don't do anything to disrupt. It's awkward, it's uncomfortable 'cause not everybody there's godly, not everybody there wants to be godly.
So let's just not talk about it. How 'bout them Titans? The weather in Tennessee, you get all four seasons every week. We just ignore the counsel of scripture. Well, I'm gonna walk with your through a series of places where their willingness to say let's talk and to have a faith conversation, and I'm asking you, I'm imploring you, I'm pleading with you to begin to have faith conversations. It's the reason we give away mugs. It's not that we're trying to support the coffee industry. And they were imported from China, and there's a whole 'nother set of stuff with that, but we don't make them at home yet, so hey, I know. Let's start making some stuff. But it's easier to have a conversation with something in your hand than when not. This is a very biblical principle. It's not something I'm making up. We could start with Paul in Ephesus.
You know the book of Ephesians in the New Testament, it's written to the church in Ephesus, and we're given a couple of little windows into that church and how it got started and how Paul came to know them. There's a lot of emotion around that, a group of Ephesian believers. Well, in Acts 19, it says, "While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus, but he found some disciples and he asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said, 'No, we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.' So he said, 'Well, what baptism did you receive?' They said, 'Well, John's.'"
I read that and I think, Paul's different than us. We'd roll into town and you'd meet the disciples, you'd go, is there restaurants you'd recommend? What's the weather like here this time of year? There any sites of interest I should see? I've got a couple of days while I'm waiting on the rest of the crew to get here. Anything I shouldn't miss in Ephesus? That's not what Paul did. That's not the tone of what he had to say. He meets the...did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? We're reluctant to even say to somebody "What kind of church did you grow up in"? "Well, it's none of your business". What do you mean it's none of my business? You'll ask them if they played Little League. You'll ask them what part of the country they've moved from, 'cause there's nobody left here that started here. Everybody's come from someplace else. And we're glad you're here. I came from someplace else. I had to learn to talk like this.
In fact, I have varying shades of accent depending on whom I'm addressing. It can get worse. I learned something as a kid. We moved here when I was a little boy. Don't go to farmer's co-op in clean clothes. They'll leave you standing at the counter forever. If you're new, just a little clue. Go in there with a little dirt on you, better yet, if you got access to a barnyard, get some smelly dirt, put that...you'll get right to the front of the line. "Can I help you, sir"? You go in there all clean and starched, you'll stand there till Jesus comes back. We'll talk about everything except our faith. Some of you don't even want to tell people you come to church here, 'cause you don't want to hear what they'll say. Six Flags over Jesus. That one's so old. I wanna get some more flags. We need eight or nine or ten flags. Let's go. What are we doing, what is it that's so important that you won't talk about the Lord?
Some of you will go to your personality drawer and go, "Well, you know, I'm just kind of an introvert". Bless your heart. Me too. I am for real, but I'll climb over that to talk about Jesus. Let me give you a different example. Totally different setting, but it's Luke 24. This isn't Paul and the believers, this is some, from broken hearted, dejected, disappointed, they're devastated. They believed in someone, they believed in a group of people, they were all in, and all of their hopes and dreams have been totally shredded. They've left Jerusalem. They're broken. They're walking along. They're just traveling. Says, "That same day, two men were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them".
Have you got the picture? This is post-crucifixion. And nobody knows, you know, the Resurrection narrative was not published in the headlines in Jerusalem. As far as the adversaries of Jesus knew, his story ended on the cross. They knew the tomb was empty, but they didn't understand anything beyond that. God made no attempt to correct that misconception. The only people that had any inside information beyond that were his closest friends. I'm telling you, you wanna be included amongst those people who choose obedience to the Lord. In seasons of tremendous disruption and uncertainty and fear, there's a confidence that comes from knowing that Almighty God is watching over you. There'll be more confidence in that than your investments and whatever else you think will secure you.
So they're walking along the road. They're discouraged, and Jesus joins them, but they're talking about everything that's been happening, the arrests, the betrayal, the trial, Judas, they're telling the story. "They were kept from recognizing Jesus, so he asked them, 'What are you discussing together as you walk along?'" They stood still and said, "Well, there's a lot of things we'd like to talk about, but we don't talk about faith or politics". "Said, 'Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem? Don't you know the things that have happened here in these days?' 'What things?' 'Well, about Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people, and the chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.'"
Did you hear that? For all they know, Jesus could have been a part of one of those political parties. He could have been a Pharisee or a Sadducee, he could have been associated in some way with the temple. They didn't know. They just let it fly. The leaders in Jerusalem arrested him and they orchestrated his crucifixion. I'm telling you, those were offensive words in a highly volatile environment. But Jesus is walking with them. If they wouldn't have had the conversation, I don't think they would have had the company.
Do you only want God's attention when you're holding him up your to-do list? We pray for him to bless the places where we work, but we don't use our words there. We pray for him to bless our families, but we don't talk to them about biblical perspectives and biblical truth and what it means to honor the Lord. We pray for him to bless our businesses, but we don't want to talk about him when we're doing business. Do you understand we have a problem? Let's talk. Say, "Well, I don't know everything". You don't need to know everything. "Well, everybody won't want to hear it". No, but some will.
I went to the Old Testament. In 2 Kings chapter 7, it's a story of...oh bother. There's a famine. There's a siege around the city. The people are starving to death. Food shortages are not a new thing. God knows how to help. Choose godliness, folks. Don't be manipulated with threats. Don't let the ungodly control you behavior with threats. You do the right thing, say the right thing, choose obedience to the Lord. Stand up for the truth. Use your words. There's these four men. They're lepers. They're not even allowed inside the city. They have an incurable, deadly skin disease, so they're castaways, they're outside, they're starving to death, and it's so desperate that they finally decide they would rather be killed by the enemy than spend one more day starving.
So they get up to walk to the camp. Some of you'll know this story, and God caused the footsteps of these four gaunt, diseased men to sound like an invading army, and tens of thousands of the enemy fled. They fled in such hurry that they left all the food, just coincidentally. These four gaunt, diseased men get to the camp and they began to eat and to eat, and they make a couple of the trips burying some stuff so that they can eat tomorrow. Then listen, verse 9, "Then they said to each other, 'We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we're keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and tell what we know.'"
Even these men that have been rejected, that have suffered, that they're outcasts, nobody wanted them. Even they understood that good news needs to be shared. You understand the degree to which we have pushed down and been pushed down into a very destructive place. Let's talk. Let's talk. Jesus has been good to me. He's helped me. I don't know what I'd've done without him. Do you know him? I don't wanna talk about that. I know you don't. I just want you to know how good he's been to me. Lord, help my friend wanna talk about you, amen. What are we afraid of exactly? I'll close with Hebrews 10. We're not gonna get to the steps of faith. We'll talk about spirit baptism tomorrow, God willing. Hebrews 10, this is New Testament now.
The author of Hebrews is writing, he said, "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering". You received the light. You heard the truth and you stood your ground even though there was a tremendous contest. There was suffering, he said. You stood your ground. You didn't go underground. You didn't abandon the field. You didn't pretend like you didn't understand. You didn't go mute. You stood your ground. "Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult, sometimes persecution. At other times, you stood side by side with those who were so treated".
You'd go stand next to other, you weren't being picked on or made fun of but you'd go stand next to somebody who was, "I'm with them". We're not so great at that. You know I've wondered about them too. "You sympathized with those in prison and you joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So don't throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need so persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised".
Folks, I'm concerned for us. If we're not doing the will of God, what do you think the response will be when we see the Lord? Well, I'm born again. I got saved. I can tell you the day, and I'm grateful for that. I believe in that. I'm not trying to belittle or demean. The world has changed, and I believe our responses have to change. There was a time when a Christian worldview was the predominant influence in our culture, in our society. We just took it for granted. It didn't need our attention. It had so much other attention. It was written into our legal systems. It defined our educational systems, our oldest and most venerated universities were founded as places to train Christian ministers. That's the truth. So it didn't require the same attention.
Right now we're in this vortex swirling into unbridled paganism, and we need to use our words. God will respond. He will. I believe, it's an exciting time. I have tremendous hope. I not defeated, I don't wanna talk about the knuckleheads. I wanna talk about the King. I want you to talk about the King. "Well, I don't use words so great", it's okay. You just say, "I love Jesus. I go to church". I wish we'd go to church on Sunday and quit playing ball all day. We've reversed so many things. No, it's not fair to pick on the kids playing ball. We'd go to the lake, we'd go to whatever our hobby, we'll go do that too. We come to church goldilocks, and I know you're in church. I'm preaching to the choir. We kind of have this goldilocks. If it's too pretty, we don't want to go to church. It's a beautiful day. If it's too bad, you don't wanna go to church. It's bad out.
So the sweet spot for church is a day when it's not really good enough to play golf, but it's not bad enough that you've got an excuse. There's a little narrow window. We hit that three or four times a year. That's a good church day right there. Can't do anything else, let's go. So have I offended everybody yet? I wanna be sure I'm inclusive. Let's honor the Lord. Let's talk, let's talk. Start with one another. Talk to one another about your faith, and when you see one another struggling, have the courage to say, it looks like to me you're struggling a little bit. You're making some really ungodly decisions. I've known you a long time. Talk to me about what's going on. That's not an easy, no kidding, no kidding, no kidding.
Let's talk, let's talk. I'm discouraged. Well, let's talk about that. There's reasons to be encouraged. God's waking us up. He called us to this season, and if he called us to this season, he's given us everything we need to flourish. He hasn't left, you better stand with me, I gotta hush. I brought you a prayer. It's a good prayer, but I'm not gonna read it. You can read it. You know how to read. I'm pretty sure. You read that. I'd like to pray for you. May I do that? I wanna pray a short prayer asking God for boldness and an anointing, and the discernment to recognize those people he's put around us that would be receptive, all right? And if somebody says, "No, don't be discouraged", you've said no to people inviting you to the Lord. Think of how many people you discouraged. It's true.
Father, thank you for your Word and it's truth and authority and power, that you're awakening us to a new response to you, to a new harvest and a new impact. We praise you for it. Lord, I pray that you'd give us boldness to be willing to use our words, to acknowledge you in the marketplace, in our neighborhoods, with our families wherever we gather. Give us discernment to recognize those around us that are hurting, that would be receptive, protect us from those who will respond, Lord, that are unwilling yet. May you be pleased with us. May the words of our mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, in Jesus's name, amen.