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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 1
TOPICS: Gospel

It's an honor to be with you again. I'm going to ask a question throughout this lesson and I want you to continue to think about it and not just answer too quickly. But do you imagine that the gospel is enough for the problems we face in our world, for the national and international problems, for the challenges in your life and in your home, for your dreams and aspirations for your children, the ambitions you have for yourself? Do you believe the Gospel is enough?

You know, I'm a pastor and I know the right answer is always Jesus, but really in the quiet places of your heart, have we really put the gospel at the center of who we are, and do we imagine the power of God is sufficient to write our future in a way that will be satisfied with it? I've spent my life around Christians and Christian leaders, and to be honest, when I listen, most of the time my takeaway is we don't think the gospel is enough. Well, it's important that we establish this question in our hearts. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, invite the Spirit of God in to help you address the reality of that question. Enjoy the lesson.

Life isn't that complicated to me. It's not easy, but it's not always that complicated. When the Lord sees me I want him to smile, I don't want him to make a fist, and I think about that a lot. There is a God and you want to get ready to meet him. Again, that's not a threat, it's a wonderful promise. He will bless your life in time, but far beyond that, for all eternity you can have the joy of standing with him and his purposes. In this particular session, I wanna pose a question, and I'm gonna come back to it repeatedly. Is the gospel enough? Is the gospel enough? But I'll start in Matthew 24 and verse 6, it's a prophetic passage, Jesus is speaking. Did you know Jesus is the greatest of all the Hebrew prophets?

Well, in Matthew 24 and verse 6, he said, "You'll hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you're not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come". Before we get to the end of the age, wars and rumors of wars, warfare, will escalate. Lord knows human history is filled with enough warfare. You can be the most casual student of history and know that. But Jesus said as we approach the end of the age, that will escalate. I've been asking you some questions for several months now, and I want to revisit them just very briefly. Are you watching? Are you really paying attention? Are you listening? Are you thinking?

There's a tremendous temptation, and I encounter it amongst many people, where there's a little fatigue. You know, what started with a virus that they thought might have come from Wuhan China but we weren't allowed to say that, it has stretched into something far greater than COVID infections, and there's a bit of fatigue. It's like we just want to stop watching and we don't want to think about it anymore. And do I have to listen anymore? I'm not talking about hours upon hours of the news, but I'm asking you if you're paying attention to our world and what's happening? It is changing, shifting, realigning rapidly. Our world is shifting dramatically. COVID was a vehicle but it's no longer the root cause of the turmoil. It truly isn't. I'm not diminishing it, it's real, it has been a challenge, but COVID rules have devolved into something which seldom resemble science anymore.

We know a lot more about it, it's not nearly as mysterious. We don't have to respond through the mist and the fog of uncertainty. We've had lots of infections, and lots of experience, and lots of patients, we know a great deal more. Wearing masks outdoors right now is about as logically sound as wearing sunscreen inside a building. And I don't want you to be reckless, but we've got to watch, and listen, and think. Fear, uncertainty, and the deafening silence of those who could help continues to fuel the divisions and the frustration. There's all sorts of threats, professional threats, career threats, individually, it's pervasive. You don't hear it a great deal because if the people acknowledge it they'll forfeit something, and we don't wanna forfeit those things, so there's a deafening silence. And you turn the page and it doesn't seem to get better.

Tonight we're facing a significant possibility of war in Europe. Seems to be all we've heard for days and days. We're being told it's inevitable. Our government has an unexplained fascination with the borders of the Ukraine. I have compassion for the Ukrainian people, we've broadcast our weekly services in the Ukrainian language since the last time the Russians entered that nation. We have tremendous compassion for the people there, and an even greater compassion for our young men and women who have been shipped halfway across the world on behalf of what's happening, but I wish that our government were as watchful with our southern border continues to be the source of chaos and destruction, and our leaders across the aisle, this isn't about a political party, this isn't political, it's the world we're living in. They don't seem to have an appetite for resolving the lawlessness.

In fact, if you just watch it and you don't listen to the words that are coming around, and you just watch the behaviors, they routinely encourage federal law to be ignored, our officials. If the last continue to be ignored, the violence and lawlessness will escalate until we can't control it. This is not a mystery. I'm sure you've heard the expression, if we don't learn the lessons from history, we are doomed to repeat them. But it seems to me from where we stand this day that our northern boarder may even be more distressing. A protest over COVID mandates has been seized upon as an excuse for implementing measures which by our legal, it looks a lot like martial law in Canada. Arrests, seizures of bank accounts and assets, peaceful protests being disbanded because the truckers had the boldness to say they thought the COVID mandates were an overreach.

Our own State Department has been eerily silent. Silence is a powerful voice of ascent to what is happening to the people of Canada. I've been asking for months or suggesting that we watch and we listen. You say, "It hasn't affected me," well, you'd have to talk to people who've lost their jobs, who have businesses that have been disrupted. You have to talk to the people that work with educating our children. Actually, there are voices all around us, you don't have to go to Canada. But I think we'd be beyond naive to see that kind of suspension of civil liberties and rights over an excuse as flimsy is the one that has been offered without raising our awareness. A group of Canadian religious leaders this past week wrote a letter to their government asking for a change of course.

I was grateful for the courage and the boldness of the leaders in some of those places, 'cause without shame or embarrassment they're telling you if you support that initiative, they will target you. They'll identify you. They'll find you, and there will be consequences, they say. It takes courage to stand up. They need our prayers in more than a casual way. Gather your friends, collect your neighbors, get your kids together, pray for them. Freedom and liberties are not free, and they don't come from governments, they come from Almighty God. And if the church loses its voice, we will lose our freedoms and liberties.

So again, this question, is the gospel enough it's important. Our salvation is not gonna come from a political leader, or a political party, or a change of ideology, or the Supreme Court, the church has a vital role to play, and tragically we had been seduced into attending our churches and sitting in our Bible studies at our preferred times in our preferred location with our preferred snack and imagined that what happened in the larger world wasn't our business if we could just retreat to a sanctuary, and isolate ourselves for a few minutes, and talk about theoretical theology. God in his grace and his mercy is awakening us. Salt is no good in the box, and light is intended to challenge the darkness. If you're standing in the full sunlight, a flashlight is not a particularly significant friend. If you're in a dark place, it's a powerful ally. And the church is beginning to awaken.

In Matthew 24, the chapter where we began in verse 14, Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations". Now, that's Jesus's declaration, you can book it. He said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come". In that chapter, there's a lengthy list of signs that we'll attend the conclusion of this age, and there's so much anxiety around them, and there's so much Christian theology invested in them. When are we leaving? You know, we have kind of an escapist position on it.

"Well, it just won't be my problem," but somebody's gonna be here proclaiming the gospel to the end of the age, because that's the penultimate sign for the end of the age. So again, I want to pose the question to you, is the gospel enough? In Matthew chapter 4 verse 23 Jesus, it said he went throughout Galilee, "Teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness amongst the people". Gospel means good news, but it's more than that, it's something that a herald would announce. It's something to be proclaimed.

When Jesus, the incarnate Son of God came to the earth, when he began his public life, when he stepped out of the shadows of anonymity and began to minister in the public arena, his message was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. He wasn't a political organizer. He spoke often of public figures and leaders, but he didn't seek an office. He didn't use his knowledge and his awareness, and he had some significant knowledge and awareness, can we agree? He didn't use that platform to amass enormous amounts of resources to fund the initiative that he had come to launch. He went through the villages and the towns of Israel preaching the good news of the kingdom of God.

What is the most essential to our wellbeing? We need to have clarity on this, folks. Is the gospel enough? If it is, what are the implications of that? Is it a vehicle to secure our destiny after death? Is that the real goal of the gospel, so when we run out of time and our body quits that we've got a pretty safe landing spot, we feel better about that than the other options we knew about? So, yeah, I guess we're in for the gospel. What are the implications of the gospel in our everyday lives? How does it make you different from the people that don't believe it? They're important questions and I can't answer all of those for you. We can certainly walk down a bit of path. I wanna look at some Scripture. We have some counsel provided. Jesus helped us.

In Matthew 6, it's part of the Sermon on the Mount, this amazing presentation Jesus made. He said, "Don't store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal". We ignore that. We just kinda set that aside. I don't believe Jesus is against a savings account. I don't believe he's against planning. I believe in its context and the larger message he said don't imagine that you can secure your future, and he gives us a reason. There are all sorts of things can diminish what we think secures our future. Thieves, there'll be natural processes that will diminish it, so Jesus just says simply don't do that. Do not adopt that mindset.

How we think about things, and resources, and what secures us should be different than people who don't know Jesus. "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust don't destroy, and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". We have all kinds of excuses for this. We've got a whole vocabulary list. You mean you don't want me to be reckless? No, no, I don't want you to be reckless, but I want you to live with an imagination that you're storing up treasure in heaven. "Well, Pastor, I said the sinner's prayer, I came and walked down the aisle, I got baptized, what do you want me to do? I volunteered at three ho downs. I brought my neighbor's kids ice skating".

Wow, those are all wonderful things to do, they're a part of the journey, but Jesus didn't stop there. "I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you'll eat or drink, or about your body, what you'll wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes"? He's giving us a completely different orientation for our journey through time. He said don't allow yourself to be so focused on yourself and your presentation. He didn't say it wasn't important, he didn't say it didn't matter, he said don't make it your primary objective. You'll be able to tell the people that don't believe the gospel is enough, it'll be a primary objective.

Well, you can sit in church and be totally occupied with those things, I understand. "So do not worry," he said, "Saying, 'What will we eat, or what will we drink, or what will we wear?' The pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them". He's introduced a new category, pagan people who don't have an imagination of God. They're living their lives for themselves and he said you can identify the pagans. They chase food, and shelter, and stuff, it occupies them. It consumes their hearts, and their minds, and their thoughts, and their dreams, and their ambitions. It defines their value. It establishes their status in the social circles.

Folks, if the only place you can be accepted is based on the assets you can accumulate, find new friends. Now, there's no glory in poverty, you know, having nothing doesn't deliver you from greed, and envy, and covetousness. You can have absolutely nothing and be totally consumed with greed, amen Pastor. Verse 33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well". God knows you need them. He said it's not that they're not important, it isn't that they don't matter, they have a place, and they're significant, and yes, you want them for your children in the same way God wants them for his children, but he's helping us with the priorities. He said seek first my kingdom. Work on your priorities. Is this gospel really gonna be enough? "Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own".

One of the awkward realities of COVID and all that it's brought with us, if that virus had been as deadly as they told us it might be, I believe the Christian community would've had to have mobilized to care for the sick people. That's our assignment. That's how we got the Red Cross. We approach this, again, not to be reckless, not to be unconcerned, not to be the source of a super spreader, I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting the orientation of our lives has to be different. Look at 2 Timothy chapter 1. Paul's writing to a young man that he's mentoring, "Don't be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me, his prisoner". Paul's writing to the person he's mentoring from a prison cell. That's a hard platform from which to express your leadership. "Don't be ashamed to testify about our Lord, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God".

You see, the gospel is good news, but the gospel doesn't always bring easy outcomes. Again, we have kind of allowed our faith to be morphed into some things that are not really discernible in Scripture. If you believe the gospel is sufficient for the transformation of a human life, it will cause you to lose some invitations, because not everybody chooses to believe that. And if you're an unrelenting advocate for the gospel, there will be some doors that will not remain as open to you. "Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God who saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, just as it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus".

Christ is just the English equivalent of the Greek word, "christos," which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word, "mashiach," messiah, Jesus the Messiah, "Who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel". What will the gospel do in the life of a person who believes it? It will destroy the power of death and bring life and immortality to life. That's better than Botox, it is. It is something. It's a message that we are told we have the privilege of distributing to the whole world, not as some loathsome burden, it's good news. We've been apologetic, reluctant. "Well, what if they don't receive it"? Then we will weep for them. We may be rejected a few times, but in the midst of that someone will accept it. What a wonderful thing to see. Not everybody accepted Jesus. Not every village he went into cheered and had a parade welcoming him. Ultimately, they tortured him to death.

Look at Romans 1:16, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel," similar language. This time not to Timothy but to the church in Rome. "I'm not ashamed of the gospel, it's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. First for the Jew and then for the Gentiles. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed". Clearly some are ashamed of the gospel, some within the church in Rome undercover. We can understand a bit. There'd been some serious persecution, and the persecution would grow. One Roman emperor was so depraved, so wicked, so evil, he dipped Christians in tar, and tied them to polls, and set them on fire. He illuminated his garden parties with them, so you can imagine some would be a bit reluctant. And Paul said, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel, it's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes".

What's gonna make a change in our schools? What's gonna make a difference in our children's futures? New politicians, a new round of PhD theses percolating through the educational system that will change educational theory one more time? I'm not opposed to those things, but it's the transformation of the human heart that will change the future of our children, and that message has been entrusted to the church. We cannot afford to be ashamed. First Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 17, "Christ didn't send me to baptize," this is Paul, "But to preach the gospel. Not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power".

The gospel and the power of God are inseparable. We need the power of the Creator to overcome evil in this world. We're not gonna out-organize it, we're not going to outthink it, we're not gonna outwork it, we need the power of God. That is the gospel. We'll have to believe it before we'll get to the outcome. "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing". You don't need to learn that. Turn on the television, listen to the late-night talk host, they'll mock you if you believe it. It's foolishness to them. Don't be angry, they told us. "But to us who are being saved, it's the power of God". We have been sent with a message regarding God's power for humanity, and if we need God's power in a greater way, we need a greater revelation of the gospel.

I want to pray with you before we go that God will give us a revelation of himself beyond church, beyond just information, a revelation, something beyond study, to help us understand who God is and his love for us. Let's pray:

Father, I pray that you would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might know you better. Far beyond sermons, or church, or Bible studies, or small groups, by the Spirit of God, give us an understanding of your majesty and your power, in Jesus's name, amen.

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