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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Is The Gospel Enough? - Part 2
TOPICS: Gospel

It's an honor to be with you again. We're continuing our study on "There Is A God". You know, that idea changes everything. And in this particular session, we're going to ask a question, "Is The Gospel Enough"? I'm not just talking about being converted or born again or saved. I believe in that, in the necessity of that, but sometimes I think we oversell that and we diminish the idea of living our lives as Christ followers. We need to know that the Gospel is enough in order for us to lead a fulfilling, satisfying life, that will bring contentment to ourselves and our families. It's an important question, and the Bible will help us with it. Grab your Bible, your notepad, and most of all open your heart, let's hear what God has for us.

Do we really believe the Gospel is enough? See, it's not a question for the unbeliever, it's a question for the believing community. By definition, unbelievers do not believe the Gospel is enough, or they would be believers. Aren't I deep? But I think sometimes the message in the church is, "Well, you know, there's just so many people that don't believe". The problem in our world isn't the unbelievers, it's the ambivalence of the faithful, there's too much of the world in us. God, who created all things, the God of Genesis 1, 2 and 3, the God that said, "'Let there be light:' and there was light," he sent his son to redeem us from the bondage of sin.

That's the good news of the Gospel. We could elaborate, we can certainly build upon that premise, but the God who created all things, he could've sent us diamonds and gold. I mean, huge, enormous piles of them. He could've sent us the blueprint for artificial intelligence, we wouldn't have to wait for the geeks to figure it out. He could've sent us the mystery of time, he could've sent us a fountain of youth, he sent Jesus, our Redeemer. And we have not attached enough value to this, church, it's caused our light to be dim. The disciples wanted the political autonomy of Israel restored, that was their last question to Jesus. After three years of training and miracles and ministering and watching him minister, after watching him crucified and be raised to life again, after a 40-day seminar on the kingdom of God, their last question is, "Are you gonna restore the kingdom to Israel"?

James and John asked to sit on thrones beside Jesus; Bartimaeus, he wanted to see; John, in the book of Revelation, he wept because there was no one in heaven or earth to open the scroll of that seal in the book of Revelation. See, it's not a simple question, and I don't think it should be answered simply. We are creatures of time and eternity, and life is harder than we would like it to be. And we have some decisions to make; if we believe that God has told us the truth and Jesus gave us accurate direction, or if he didn't. What's our greatest need? Certainly that answer would be as diverse as the number of people that are gathered or those that are listening. What is our greatest need? Better politicians, a stronger, more stable economy, good health without the threat of a virus, food and water, peace, justice, more fun, greater pleasure, fewer responsibilities, less discipline? Is the Gospel really enough?

Folks, we gotta grapple with this a little bit. Is the good news about Jesus a very important option for life? kinda like a good part of life planning. You know, you want insurance, and you need to exercise a bit, and you probably ought to know something about Jesus. Do we put him in the category of significant but not essential, helpful but not really necessary? It would seem there was too much of that, 'cause when they said, "Close the churches," we went, "Well, you know, we'll work it out". If we observe the lives of church attenders, could we discern the answer to this question? If we had cameras follow us around like reality shows would the answer be obvious what we thought about the Gospel? Would it be clear from our behavior and our attitudes?

If we asked Google to let us listen to the conversations that they're listening to would the query be resolved? Would it be apparent we talk about the Gospel, we plan around the Gospel? Our world is being shaken, our stability and security is under a very real threat. If you haven't realized that, you're not watching and listening, and you're certainly not thinking. First things need to be sorted out and paid attention to. You know, we fasten our seatbelts before we drive or before we fly. In fact, if you fly, every time you're on the plane you get a personal reminder to fasten your seatbelt. I mean, I'm thinking after three flights they could skip that.

What is the most essential to our wellbeing? We need to have clarity on this, folks, at least as much clarity as a seatbelt. 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 that when we run out of time and our body quits that we've got a pretty safe landing spot and 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?

Jesus is the good news, he is, he is the center of the Gospel. Is not a theology or religious movement or a denomination or a worship service, it's about a person, and his name is Jesus. Galatians 4, in verse 3, "When we were children," not physical children, but emotionally and in our spiritual awareness we were children. "We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons". Unbelievable, it's God's provision for all of humanity.

John 3:16, may be the best known verse in the New Testament, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to condemn the world," the Gospel is not a condemning message, it's a rescue mission, "But to save the world through him". Luke 19, it's the last passage in that little section, look at that, it's Zacchaeus. Jesus in Jericho, Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world, it's an oasis right at the northern end of the Dead Sea. Lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. Right at the bottom of the Rift Valley, starts in Central Turkey, and goes to the heart of Africa, and right at the bottom of that gash in the surface of the earth is the Dead Sea.

Jordan River runs into it and never leaves, so the mineral spells are heavy in the air, it's a miserably hot, oppressive place. The best thing about Jericho is, if you take a right turn, you're only 18 miles from Jerusalem, and it's tucked up in the hills, it's cool. And Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and he's coming through Jericho, and he has a lunch date at the women's bazaar, at the local church. In fact, I think it must have been like an interchurch collection, they all worked on this one. They've been making tuna fish and getting the tomatoes ready and stuffing them, and lunch is ready, the jello is melting in the heat. And Jesus is stopped because the most wicked man in town has engaged him in a conversation. He climbed up a tree to get a view over the crowd, and Jesus stopped and saw him and engaged him in a conversation. And now, the good women of the lunch bazaar are angry; jello's melting, the ice in the glass is is melting, and he's talking to that wicked-wicked man.

Does God ever ignore your plans? Can I have an amen? y'all sat there rather calm. I'm telling you, when I get to heaven, there's gonna be row after row, there's gonna be shelves filled with plans I wrote that God went, "Nope, not that one". "Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord... 'Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I've cheated anybody out of anything, I'll pay back four times the amount.'" In that town, everybody understands he's cheated everybody out of something, and many of them out of most things. And he's standing now, this day, and he's saying, "If I've cheated anybody out of anything," you could see the eye rolls all over the crowd. And Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost".

See, the Gospel story is that Jesus came for the worst amongst us. And if you're trying to figure out whose picture to put in that slot, use yours. When I'm trying to figure it out, I'll put mine in there, because apart from the grace and the mercy of God, I had no hope. That's my story, that's how I landed in this place in my life. I heard myself saying that God was the most important thing in my life, but I was building a life plan to secure my future apart from him, I didn't want to be dependent upon him. I was making a career path because I could do the research, I knew the suggested incomes, and I knew the outcomes, and the educational requirements, and I knew if I'd work hard enough to punch the educational buttons I could get in the professional career path.

And I knew at least what minimal expectations should be, and maybe I could leverage that into something better. But I didn't want to give up my faith, I wanted to be a Christ follower but it I didn't want to depend on the Lord. I mean, I was willing to be generous, I'd write tithe checks, I'll pay other people to depend on the Lord. And I began to have this uncomfortable feeling that God was inviting me to serve him, and I thought, "I don't even know what that looks like". It was miserable. I don't think he's calling us all to be full-time, professional Christians, but he's calling all of us to be full-time advocates for him. But what was driving that in me was the realization that he'd been good to me. If I tell you, how much time? I got a little bit of time.

I was in a pretty competitive career path and the professors that were shepherding us through, their assignment was to create a high attrition rate. And I watched my friends and the people that I'd started the journey with, they'd show up in my dorm room, you know, and they'd tell me I'm too stupid to do this. And I'd said, "You go tell them," and I wouldn't give them a prayer. And I was watching that happen and I got to the point that I hated the people that were shepherding that process. And I mean that, it was personal to me, I didn't think they were fair, I didn't think they were always forthright, I thought they were frequently manipulative, and I was determined they wouldn't win. And it just didn't matter to me, if they weren't going to keep the rules, I wasn't worried about them either, but they weren't going to win.

And God, in his providence, put somebody in my path that, because they made a road trip with me in my car, I couldn't get away from them, and they began to ask me some questions. And they heard that stuff coming out of me and they said, "Allen, you have to forgive," and I said, "No, I don't. I need that anger, it gives me an edge. When I'm tired, I'll keep going 'cause I won't let them win". It took several years, it wasn't an easy thing for me to forgive and to repent of my own anger and my own bitterness and my own hatred. You'll never convince God to agree with you in your wickedness. But you know, something completely unexpected to me, when I could forgive and when I was willing to repent, and I mean truly turn loose of it, a freedom came to me. I still had no idea what God intended for me, but I could at least entertain the conversation.

Folks, we have not believed the Gospel, we've been immoral, we've watched our children be immoral and we've said, "Well, they're just being kids". We have facilitated it, we've covered. We have, we've excused it, we've compared it to other people. We understood God's perspective, we just didn't care. We have not lived as if the Gospel were enough, we have lived as if we could work it out, and that we were counting on God when we got to the end of the thing that he would somehow grade on the curve and it'd be okay. And God, in his great mercy, is allowing us to watch everything around us be shaken, because the church is not stable. This is not about greedy politicians or wicked parties or the immoral or the Marxist or whomever you don't like. I believe the spirit of God is giving us an evaluation, and I believe our future will be determined by how we respond to that. And it isn't about the numbers, it's just about you and me, and what we will say to the Lord. I know I gotta close this.

Jesus gave us a pattern and some instruction; this is the, "What can we do" portion. And I don't want to make it too simplistic because it isn't simple. Life is challenging. I gave you a little selection of Scriptures, I'm gonna read them really quickly, and I'm gonna try to do it without comment. Philippians, there's three things I'm going to suggest: that we learn to listen better, that we make a commitment to obedience beyond what we've had, and that we say, "We're willing to persevere". I'm assuming you understand the new birth conversion, being born again, please don't send me emails about what happens when I make assumptions.

Well listen to this, Philippians chapter 2, in verse 8. "Being found in appearance as a man, Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross"! When Jesus realized the fullness of his humanity, his response was obedience. Jesus's response was obedience. Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered". God's son had to learn to be obedient in a human body. You and I will have to learn obedience. Think of the effort, parents, you invest in teaching your children, think of how many times you have to redirect, how many times you have to speak to. Think of the effort you invest, the persistence, day in, day out, week after week, month upon month, in watching the formation of their character.

And then think about our willingness to submit to God in the shaping of our character before him. John 14, "These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me". Jesus said, "I'm not just making this up, I'm telling you what I have heard". John 10, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me". Hebrews 12:3, "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". If I had to summarize that verse in one word it would be perseverance; think about what Jesus endured, "So that you won't grow weary and lose heart". What can we do? How do we give evidence, how do we chart a new path, how do we initiate a new course to bring some new momentum to our lives and new vitality to the church and a new outcome?

Folks, we need a new kind of a harvest, the one we're reaping is not all wonderful. I believe it's really centered in those three things, our willingness to listen to God. There is no more defining characteristic in all of Scripture for the people of God rather than those who listen to his voice. I'm not talking about hearing voices, you listen through his Word, you listen with your spirit, you learn to recognize his character. And it's not just hearing the words, listening has to be linked to obedience. We've been ignoring him, "Yeah, I heard what you said, but". We teach our children first-time obedience.

How many of us practice that with the Lord? Be obedient to the truth that you know. Stop. "Nobody knows," it doesn't matter. "I'm justified," no. And then perseverance, this one's difficult, life is hard, we live in a broken world, a sin-filled world, unfair things happen, unjust things happen. God sometimes asks us to walk through shadowed valleys, and we don't like it; sometimes he gives us hard assignments. In fact, I can tell you he's given us some amazingly easy assignments. For most of us, without any choice or decision on our own part, God put us in a place in the world where there's a lot; there's a lot of food and a lot of clothing and a lot of schools and a lot of options.

Folks, most of the people on the planet don't have a lot. We've been blessed; doesn't mean life's easy, I understand, but do not withdraw from God, don't withdraw your obedience, don't be a sullen follower because you don't like the circumstances. I will weep with you, but I won't excuse the sullenness, we've got to overcome. The world needs the church. The world needs the church, we have a message, it's been entrusted to us, it has changed us for time and eternity, and God has called us to this season. Let's go, let's go.

The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before he lifted out of this place was, "You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria," to the farthest corners of this place, "When the Holy Spirit comes on you". And he left. And you know what? They lived they took that up. I stood in India, on the shores, in the place where, at least by church tradition, they say Thomas was martyred. Thomas, a fishermen from Galilee, made it all the way to India, and there weren't a lot of flights when he was doing that. Paul made it to Rome, and you can go down the list. This is our watch, we've got good news. Your world is the people who you influence, that's the world you've been called to. Let them know you believe in Jesus, let them know how much he matters to you, what he's done for you.

Say, "I'm embarrassed, they've also seen me shout at the dog". Okay, "I'm a dog-shouting, in-process, Christ follower, and he'll help you too. My dog is tough enough, if you need to shout at him, we'll shout at him, and then we're gonna pray". I'm not encouraging you to abuse the pets. It isn't about our perfection, it's about our intent. Is the Gospel really enough? It is, but we have to believe it and we have to choose it and we have to give our hearts to it. We've been living too far in the world. I brought you a prayer, will push this little farther tomorrow God willing. Why don't you stand with me? Let's read it together:

Heavenly Father, you've called me from darkness into the Kingdom of Your Son, thank You. Open my heart to understand the Gospel of Your Kingdom. I repent of my casual attitude regarding Your great provision. Grant me a boldness to share the good news with 'my world.' Protect Your church, empower Your people, awaken those who have been asleep and empower us by Your Spirit to complete our assignment. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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