Allen Jackson - Kingdom Authority - Part 1
It's an honor to be with you today. We're still unpacking this idea that there is a God, and specifically that he's given us authority in his kingdom. That's amazing to me that the Creator of heaven and earth would invest in you and me the authority of his kingdom. He is more aware of our weakness and frailty than we are, and yet he has entrusted us with a very significant assignment with our journey through time, and it's grounded in the fact that we've been invited into his eternal kingdom. All the resources of that kingdom are available to us. That's more than being a church member, or participating in a denomination, or reading the right translation. We are children of the King and citizens of an eternal kingdom. Now, that's an exciting way to lead our lives. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.
We've been working through this little series under the title of, "There Is a God". It's a very important premise to establish in your heart. There is a God. Our world didn't happen by itself. You're not just an accident. You didn't emerge after some protoplasm washed up from the primordial ooze so many billion years ago and coincidentally become you. I don't believe that. It's illogical. It's irrational. It's much easier to believe you're computer-evolved than it is to believe that you evolved, and that seems absurd. There is a God. He is the Creator and the Sustainer of all things. And most importantly, you can know him. He isn't unknowable. He isn't beyond us. He's not capricious. He's not angry.
Some of you may have studied Greek or Roman mythology and the gods that they discuss were often petty, tyrannical, capricious, mean-spirited. And then the God that we meet in the scripture is not that. In fact, quite inexplicably, it says he loves us. And so we've been trying to understand what the implications of that are for our lives a little more fully. And in this particular session, I really wanna continue something that we began in the previous session if you were here. But we were talking about God's investment strategy. How many of you would like to be able to invest your time, energy, resources, and talents on the things that God said have the best dividend? I would. I'm up for that.
Now, I want to take that a little further. This session is really almost entirely about application. We're gonna talk about kingdom authority. But what I really want to invite you to do is to imagine, perhaps, in some new ways. I don't expect much of this is new information if you've been around the church for a while, but it doesn't mean that we have mastered it or that we have fully realized the benefits, the authority that is ours as a part of the kingdom of God and what the implications of that are for our lives. Matthew chapter 8 is an event in Jesus's ministry and it's fairly early in his ministry. It's a very bizarre encounter. I gave you the passage in your notes. I don't intend to read it. I can describe it to you. I think it'll be familiar to many of you. Jesus has moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. He's begun his public ministry and he's approached on behalf of a Roman centurion, a Roman soldier, an occupying soldier, a pagan.
Now, we know from the balance of the Gospels that Jesus has very little interest in ministering to the non-Jewish community. On more than one occasion, he said, "I'm not here to help you". And on this occasion, for a variety of reasons, there is an engagement, and Jesus said he will respond to the centurion to help him. He's there on behalf of someone who is sick. And when he encounters the centurion, it's in verse 8. The centurion said, "Lord, I don't deserve to have you come under my roof". That's true. He has no covenant. He has no claim on the Messiah. There's a tremendous humility in that. He is an occupying soldier. He could have had Jesus brought to him at the point of the spear. He could have had an audience with Jesus anytime he wanted it and had Jesus delivered to him in shackles. He has the power and the authority.
So there's something very unique about this man. We don't know his name. We know nothing of his background. We simply know he says to Jesus, "I'm not worthy to have you come under the roof of my home". How many people do you know you would say that to? I bet not very many. The pride, the arrogance, the lack of respect for the Lord. So this man, even though he's in a powerful position and you would expect him to be a strong arm, it's common that the Roman soldiers would exact what they wanted from the people they were occupying. "I don't deserve to have you come under my roof, but if you'll just say the word, my servant will be healed". I'm a man under authority, and when I give instructions, people do what I say, 'cause if they don't there are some serious consequences.
And I recognize that you have authority, and if you'll just say the word, my servant will get better. And it says that Jesus is astonished at this man's faith. I think he's equally astonished at his humility, 'cause he's saying this in a public place. Imagine what this would do to his prestige if he's perceived by the other people in Capernaum to be weak are not willing to stand up. His career is in jeopardy. How's he gonna lead these soldiers if they see him yielding to an itinerant rabbi? "I recognize in you an authority," he says, "and if you'll just say the word, my servant will be healed". Jesus says, "I haven't found anybody like this in all of Israel".
How do you think the audience, the Jewish audience in Capernaum, felt about that? Ticked them off. Made 'em mad at Jesus. They were not happy with him. Do you know who this is? He's a pagan. He's ungodly. He's immoral. He doesn't eat the right foods, or worship on the right day, or honor the right holidays. How dare you say something like that about him. We struggle with whether or not it's appropriate to talk about current events. Jesus stepped into the middle of them, I promise you. You see, Jesus came to give us a revelation of God. God's concern for us was not greater after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. God's love for us was just as great before Bethlehem as it was after Bethlehem. He cared just as much about humanity, but our understanding of God was limited. We had not had the revelation that came to us when we got to see Jesus.
We got to see Jesus walk through time in an earth suit and we began to learn things were possible that we didn't know were possible. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish community, the observant Jewish community, keeping their religious rules, reading their scriptures, eating the right foods, and keeping the right holidays, had no imagination that Jesus had authority over sickness and disease. So when we read our Gospels, as we have been doing together, and thank you for the notes about your 40 days and your Bible reading. They have been an encouragement. But as we see Jesus's life, we are given a revelation into what God is willing and can do through the life of a human being.
So that when we read our Bible, it's not to gather facts. It's not to be able to pass a quiz or to be able to play biblical Trivial Pursuit and triumph over the other people in our small group. It's, how do we take that revelation and let it be given expression in our lives? And I'm not sure we've approached it very often. We wanted to get our God business squared away so we might go to heaven, but we were a little reluctant to really invite him in. He might take something from us, or diminish our pleasure, or reduce our joy, or make us less happy. What a lie. Sort it out. Decide what you believe and get in or get out, but get off the fence. There is a God, and he created us, and he wants good things for you. I'm all in.
Now, I have to continue to revisit that because what it meant for me five years ago is different than what it means for me now. I'm still growing, and learning, and understanding. But the Jesus revelation is that we might recognize the authority that's been given to us and live differently than the people apart from God, but it's a messy business. "Well, Pastor, I have problems," or "I prayed for somebody and they didn't get well," and I understand. We ask, it seems to me, so often the wrong questions. Well, how much of my Bible do I have to read? Do I have to speak in tongues? No, you don't have to, but you could. Why wouldn't you?
See, I've taken too many meetings, I've been in too many hospital corridors, I've stood in funeral homes too frequently or in parking lots with broken people. And they recognize they need to know the Lord in a way they don't know him, but at the moment with the tremendous pressure that is upon them and the needs that are presenting, it's impossible to orient yourself to understand God in that moment so we typically respond by being angry at God. Well, why don't you do something? And God in his mercy doesn't shout at us, "Well, why have you been so disinterested"? It's not easy. There is a Creator. He's beyond us. He's not like me or you. The centurion, there was much he didn't understood, but he says, "I recognize an authority in you".
We don't know how he recognized it. We don't know if he'd seen Jesus minister and he'd watched him pray for the sick. We don't know. We just don't know. There's no explanation provided. Jesus is astonished. Think of what we know about Jesus. When the woman in the crowd touches him in his heel, Jesus said, "Somebody in this crowd had faith. Who was that"? Or when he saw Nathaniel, he said, "I saw you when you were under the fig tree". Or when the disciples are having an argument amongst themselves about who's the greatest, Jesus knows what they're arguing about. We're not given any of those kind of insights into this man. It simply says that Jesus is astonished at his faith.
How about making a decision to be a person who astonishes Jesus? Not just because he does what I want him to do. Anybody would follow the Lord if every time you snapped your fingers, you got the miracle of the moment that you wanted. Anybody would do that. You'd destroy yourself. But following God when you don't understand, when you are discouraged, when it's not the diagnosis you wanted, when it wasn't the response you were hoping for, are we willing to say, "Lord, I will follow you"?
See, I believe God has given to us a remarkable authority. He invested in humanity. That's what the Jesus story's about. It's what the incarnation is about. It says in Hebrews that in the past God has spoken to us, spoken to our forefathers in many times and many ways, through the prophets, and through his Word, and through miracles. But in these last days, he's spoken to us through his Son. And there's a revelation that his Son can give that no one else could give. It's a revelation of the Father. And a revelation isn't something you learn by study, it's something that's made known to you by the Spirit of God. God has given us remarkable authority, and that authority brings with it a power. God's given us authority over sin.
The New Testament clearly tells us that sin is no longer our master. Yes, we struggle with sin. Jesus was tempted, and you and I will be tempted. And we will not always address those temptations perfectly, but there is an authority that we have as Christ followers so that sin is not our master. That is such a good news. It's part of the good news we have for all the world. We don't have to redefine the family because sin has challenged the way we understand it. We can say, "You can be free". I understand it makes people angry. We've been given authority over sickness and disease. In Matthew 10:1, "He called his disciples to him and he gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness". Jesus didn't heal every sick person in Israel. He didn't, but he showed us that there's an authority that we've been given over sickness and disease.
I don't know why we're so reluctant. Maybe it's we don't, you know, we go to doctors and they can't always help us be better. We're still grateful for the healthcare that's available. We pay the bills. There's so much to be learned, but there's an authority that we're told. And to say there's nothing to it because you prayed once and you didn't get better misses the point. We've been given authority over the satanic kingdom. In Luke 10:19, Jesus said, "I've given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you". He's given us the authority to overcome all the power of the enemy.
Do you think that should be easy? Do you just think they're gonna fall before you? Jesus was rejected, beaten, accused, mocked, made fun of. He grieved, he grew weary and hungry, all the things that we experience. It says he was tempted in every way, just like we are. And then when you find the disciples after Jesus goes back to heaven, we watch their struggle. They're arrested, they're beaten, they're in prison, they're threatened, they're murdered, they have amazing miracles, they raise the dead. And it's all in that mix together. You see, we would like it to be neater and cleaner. If you have the authority, why do you have any trouble? Well, Jesus said, "In this world, you'll have trouble". We don't like that verse so we white it out. "But be of good cheer, I've overcome the world".
Well, what good's the authority if you're still gonna have trouble? There is a God and our assignment is to know him. And we have to guard our hearts against the desire to be God. Well, if I were God, I wouldn't do it that way. Well, when you become God, okay, but for right now, you're a creature. It's in our best interest to get to know God with the same humility of that Roman centurion. Father, there's so much I don't know. There's so much I don't understand. There are things that make me unhappy, or tired, or weary, or frustrated, or outcomes I don't like. And I don't understand the path, but I would like to know you. More than I want my way, or more than I want my answer, or more that I want to do, or be, or whatever it is, I would like to know you. Maybe you take one of those verses that Jesus gave us and you live with it day after day for a while.
"I've given you authority over all the power the enemy". Lord, what would that look like? What would it look like if I began to take time every day to intercede? What would that look like? Would you help me do that? We have dismissed it. We've set it aside. We've treated it as an intrusion. We say, "I'm born again. I've gotten my fire insurance. I don't even know about that anymore. You know, my people, we just don't think about that". Get new people. That's not how we believe. If how we believe is in opposition to the scripture, change. Well, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Okay. I have a feeling when we see the Lord, we're going to feel a little uncomfortable. We've been given authority over our carnal nature, that part of us that we're born with it is hardwired in opposition to the kingdom of God.
I don't have to be taught how to lie, cheat, or steal. It comes naturally to me. Before you smile, it comes the same way to you. And when you become born again, that doesn't just go away. You have to decide that it will be diminished, that you will not feed it, you will not yield to it, you will not encourage it. Romans 6, and verse 12, "Don't let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires". If we're told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, it's possible for sin not to reign over us. It would be irrational for an all-knowing God to tell us to do something that couldn't be done. Now, is it easy? No. And I'm not sure it holds entirely true, but I suspect it's true, so many things as you gain maturity become more challenging. Maintaining your physical health is more of a challenge at 40 than it is at 14. That metabolism thing, that is awkward.
And I believe I would say to you that spiritually, to maintain your wellbeing as you gain maturity requires more attention to the finer points, because that's what maturity brings. And we've had the exact opposite. We're more like an entitled people. It's like tenure in some club you join. Since you've been a member for 30 years, you should be allowed more freedom and liberties than the people who are newer. And that's not the way I understand the kingdom of God. So for us to maintain our spiritual health and vitality as a mature believer requires more attention. Not more fear of your eternity, but more attention to what God has asked you to be. And you say, "Well, I don't want to do it. I don't want to grow up in the Lord".
Then there are descriptions of that in the New Testament. At the time that you should be ready for solid food, you still need milk. So as someone who is chronologically mature and spiritually immature, we'll present before the Lord with a paci and Pampers. And you don't want to do that. I don't want to do that. So we have to give more attention. And we haven't been overly anxious to do that, but I believe God is stirring us. Authority over our carnal nature, authority to make disciples of all nations.
Matthew 28, "Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth's been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.'" "I came so that you could go do this. God invested. I put on an earth suit. I have suffered humiliation. I have suffered. I was tortured to death so that you could go and make disciples of all nations". Can't we hire somebody to go for us? I don't think you'll say that when you see him. We have been given this tremendous authority from our Lord, and to the great extent, I would submit to you, and I mean it respectfully, but to a great extent, I believe the church of Jesus Christ has existed if not in ignorance, in indifference about that authority.
Because in the part of the world where we have lived, we thought security, and contentment, and opportunity could come to us apart from the authority of our King. We had the luxury of having a debate on whether we believed in praying for the sick or doctors because we had health care available to us. We've had the privilege of quibbling about whether or not tithing was biblical or not 'cause we had so much affluence we didn't have to imagine that God was our source. And now God's beginning to get our attention a little more.
I want to pray with you before we go, but I just want to remind you we don't have to outthink evil or outwork evil. We don't have to be louder than evil. We need to understand the authority that is ours in Jesus's name and the power of his shed blood. It changes everything. I want to pray with you.
Father, I thank you that through the name of Jesus we have been delivered out of the hand of the devil, that he has no power over us, no authority over us in Jesus's name. And I pray that that truth would take root in our hearts and enable us to live with great boldness. In Jesus's name, amen.