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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Paganization of America - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Paganization of America - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Paganization of America - Part 2
TOPICS: Paganism, America, USA, Religion

It's good to be with you, again. We're going to continue our study on the "Escaping the Descent into Paganism". I know it's awkward, but it's we're witnessing. Denying it, or looking away from it, or relabeling it won't give us a better outcome. If we recognize what's happening, we can respond with God's direction and be triumphant in this season. You don't have to be frightened. God's got a plan for us that we can be victorious. But our response will make a difference. And I believe it begins with understanding what it means to be a Christ follower. For far too long, we've defined that as church attendance or being moral, or kind, or polite, maybe just tame. Well, Jesus doesn't want polite, tame people. He wants people fully yielded to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. We're going to explore that together. Grab your Bible and a notepad. Open your heart.

We're going to look at the paganization of America. Let's start with the life of a Christ follower. And I think where we really begin to lose momentum is we lost sight of this. We got invested in eternal destinies. You know, and the way we buy insurance policies, we want a kind of a spiritual insurance policy. So, tell me what I need to say, and tell me the few things I need to do so I can get eternity wrapped up, and then I want to get back to business with my own life. And it's a mistaken idea, and we've added some whole theological structures around it to reinforce it that are not helpful. But in Galatians chapter 2 and verse 20, Paul is writing to a church. He's writing to believers. He said, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me".

It's a pretty simple verse. I doubt it's unknown to very many of us, but it's a dramatic departure from the Christianity that's being practiced, for the most part, around us. Paul said, "I've been crucified with Christ". And he wasn't physically crucified on a Roman cross. He suffered physically a great deal in his ministry, but that's not what he's referencing at this point. He's identifying with Jesus and his crucifixion. When you're put on that Roman cross, you are emptied of any self-determination. You're not going to Door Dash dinner. You're not worried about wardrobe. You don't care how your hair looks, if you've got your makeup right, what was on your to-do list for tomorrow. I don't think your summer vacation plans are preeminent amongst you. All of that has been forfeited. And he said, "I've been crucified with Christ".

I want to ask you just to think, you're not going to respond at the moment, but it's worth some reflection. Could you say that about yourself? That I've been crucified with Christ. Or is your imagination of your faith that there is a God, and he is all powerful, and he is all knowing, and his primary assignment is to make your life easier? And we're searching for the hidden keys with the ten lost reasons or the three motivators, whatever the special sauce is to get God to do our bidding. "I've been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live". There's another way I could say that. "I've been crucified with Christ and me first is no longer driving this train". 'Cause Paul was still very much alive. He's physically alive, but he said, "It's not my life any longer. It's not my plan, and my dream, and my agenda. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me".

That is such a fascinating passage. We could spend the whole time on it. I won't, I hope. "The life I live in the body", He seems to be suggesting there's a life you can live beyond the life you have in your body. Your body is your earth suit. It's on a countdown clock. The rascals wear it out. It's annoying, but it's true. And if you haven't had enough birthdays to figure that out, yet, bless your heart. Just humor some of the rest of us. I read something the other day which says, when you get to 50, the check engine light comes on far more frequently. Seems about right to me. "The life I live in the body". You have a life that will go beyond the endurance of your physical body.

Now, ultimately, you're going to get a new body, 2.0. It's a very much upgraded version. But for the moment, we need to consider the life we lead in the body because that's the one that determines our role in eternity. And he said, "I don't live for myself anymore. The life I live now, I live for the sake of Christ". And as I read that, I thought there's such freedom in that. I live for the glory of Jesus. Do what you need to do to me. I live for the glory of Jesus. "We're going to take your building". Do what you need to do. I live for the glory of Jesus. "You're not going to be invited to this party because you're so over the top". I live for the glory of Jesus. "I think you're a weirdo". I live for the glory of Jesus.

You been watching the NCAA tournament? People paint themselves colors. People take off their shirt on television that should never take off their shirt on television. It's okay with me. They're doing it to advocate for a sports team. It doesn't bother me, but they have a zeal and enthusiasm. If we did that, woo! Don't take off your shirt at church. I'm not coaching that. I'm not encouraging that. You can't unsee that. If you're at home, you work that out. But if you're here, mm-mm. The life of a Christ follower, we haven't thought about it much. We talked about the life of a person who's saved, the person who's born again, a church member, a church attender. We have all sorts of discipleship programs. We don't need another program. We're gonna have to make a personal decision that I've been crucified with Christ.

We've gotta look at my want lists, and how I feel, and what I think, and say, "Is that yielded to the authority of the Word of God? Have I given the Spirit of God permission to evaluate me? Is my character really in process, or do I just keep quoting the date in which I made a profession of faith"? I've been crucified with Christ. I don't know how many of those people we need to change the direction, the momentum of the world around us. But I'm telling you, that's what will bring the change, not a politician, not a party, not a different kind of an election, not a new Congress or a new whatever you're looking for, not a new economic theory, not a stronger dollar, not lesser inflation. They're all symptoms. If the church had been healthy, and vital, and in place, and doing what we could be doing, we wouldn't be talking about just the descent into paganism.

Now, there's good news. It's not the first time this has happened in human history. Let's not be overwhelmed with self-importance. I happen to believe there are some biblical markers. That suggests we're approaching the end of the age. But the kind of decline that we're watching does not suggest it's just, that alone would not suggest it's the end of the age. We've seen the deterioration of human character before. We've watched civilizations crumble before. And if you don't understand it yet, our nation is crumbling. Now, I'm an optimist. I don't think it's irreversible. But I think a better future will come because God's people change their hearts. We've got to stop being angry with others and pointing accusing fingers of others, and get on our faces and say, "God, what is it in me that needs to be adjusted that would bring your attention"?

I've got a couple of minutes left, and I want to talk about the opportunity to believe. I think those are the things that are causing the descent, at least in some big categorical ways. But we're not powerless. We're not without options. We're not without a resource. In Romans chapter 10 and verse 13, it says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved". Everyone. Who's included in everyone? Who's left out? No one. So, if anyone in genuineness of heart calls on the name of the Lord, they can be saved. Do you understand what good news that is? What if I said to you, "Everybody that takes this pill could be healed"?

Name your price. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord can be saved. But we get a little more information. "How then can they call on the one they've not believed in? And how can they believe in one of whom they haven't heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they're sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.'" This is really the first of a series of talks. My objective is to walk with you as we consider several invitations that I believe God has put before us. I'd invite you to consider each one of them, and your response to God. Not mine, not ours collectively, your response to God on that particular point. If it's a step which you've already taken, allow a few moments to reflect upon the outcome that that brought to you. "Oh, yeah, yeah, that's in my experience portfolio". Then sit down, systematically think about what that meant to you.

What happened as a result of that? Was it positive? Was it an upgrade? Was it an improvement? Was it a matter of freedom? What have you learned? What have you experienced from saying yes to God? It's important to think about it, to catalog it, because there's some more decisions in front of you, where he's going to ask you to say yes or no. And you want to be conscious of what came to you as a result of the yeses you said in the past. It'll give you momentum for the future. In Acts 26, Paul's on trial before his life. He's on trial for his life. Do you understand the context? He's been unjustly charged. He's been imprisoned. He's escaped assassination plots. He's used every maneuver he has to secure his future.

Now he's on trial in front of a visiting dignitary, and he uses the opportunity not to defend himself, but to try to win the person who he's presenting to, to the Lord. And Agrippa looks at Paul. It's in Acts 26:28. And he said, "You almost persuade me to be a Christian. You just almost got me, son". I read that, and I wonder about Agrippa. Think how different his life would've been if he'd have said, "I want what that man has. I want it". Think of the difference. He thought he was powerful, and influential, and wealthy, and had a track to some influential things. He's standing before somebody opening the eternal kingdom of God to him. What are we holding on to? "You almost persuaded me, son". All of us reach decision points, every one of us, not just one, not just around conversion or salvation. Your life is filled with decision points. Our choices are what determine our destiny.

I promise you that what happens to us is a small thing compared to what happens within us. How do we move from reluctance to faith? What's the root of the hesitation in our lives? What part of the invitation is it that's so unclear that we can't come to a decision? What outcome is beyond belief or maybe even just unwanted? What current belief is put at risk if you take the next step with the Lord? Think of that. What is it that I'm holding on to? What is it I think is gonna be made vulnerable if I say yes to the Lord in that next step? What are the costs, the risks of cooperation? Or maybe even better, what do you forfeit or gain by maintaining the status quo? If you just maintain what you're doing, what exactly is it you think you're protecting?

In Acts 19, in verse 26, this is the commentary on Paul. "As you see in here, that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all". I pray that's said about you. But not just in Murfreesboro, or middle Tennessee, or the southeast, but everywhere that person goes, significant numbers of people turn away from a godless culture and choose to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as Lord, Christ, and King. We're going to take one step of faith together. We're going to take one in each of these sessions, God willing. And I think we ought to start with the point that we're given as a beginning. It's conversion. We can use several words here. They're all interchangeable. We can call it conversion, the new birth, salvation.

It's your initiation point into the kingdom of God. We need absolute clarity on this. It's not about a congregation. It's not about a particular denomination. It's not about affiliating with a religious group. I'm not saying those things are evil, or wicked, of even unimportant, but they have no bearing on your status in the kingdom of God. You can sit in church and be at the front of the line for hell, or sit in this church. I'm not casting dispersions on anyone else. I just don't want you to have not heard. That's initiated by a decision around a person, and his name is Jesus. Jesus said it this way in John 3. He said, "I tell you the truth". And you know the Scripture well enough by now when you see that phrase, right? Buckle up. I mean, take a good, firm hold because what's coming next is gonna rock your world. He's talking to a religious leader, a man who's an expert in the law. He's spent his whole life fulfilling the rules of Moses, over 600 rules he spent his life keeping them.

And Jesus said, "You will not see the kingdom of God unless you're born again". And we know that term. It helps us. Nicodemus didn't know it. He's perplexed. He says, "I'm an old man. I don't understand how that works". And Jesus doesn't take his foot off the accelerator. He said, "How is it that a leader of my people doesn't understand this"? Those weren't the typical words we would think that would facilitate somebody making the next step. I mean, in essence, he said, "Are you really that dull"? And the answer is, "Yeah, when it comes to the things of God, I feel like I'm a slow learner". Well, in Acts chapter 2, on the day of Pentecost, after God poured out his Spirit and Peter has made a presentation to the crowd, he tells them they're guilty of having killed the Messiah.

Again, those are not words that we would think would drive inclusivity. And it says, "The people were cut to the heart and said, 'What do we have to do? What can we do at this point?'" And Peter gives them an answer that's appropriate for us. He said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, and for all whom the Lord our God will call. There was many other words he warned them. And he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation". I'm not sure you have to begin your faith conversations with that line: "Save yourself from this corrupt generation". But I think you need clarity that that's your motivation for having the faith discussion.

If you don't understand that is your motivation, you'll be tempted to flinch, if you're in an environment that feels a little hostile or where you think approval might be withdrawn, or an invitation might dry up, or a deal or an opportunity might be diminished. He says, "With many words", he pleaded with them. He warned them and pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation". We're not the first generation to see the kind of descent that we're watching. We could be the first generation to see it happen on a global scale. But that's still being determined. Whether it happens on a global scale or not, it's happening around us. And if you've never made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, I'm not talking about sitting in church, or being good, or kind, or moral. I would go back to that verse where we started with the Apostle Paul, who said, "I've been crucified with Christ. And I no longer live, but Christ lives in me".

If you're not living your life in that way, you need to come back to the beginning point. You need to come back to the beginning point. One of the hardest things about being an adult learner, you know, kids are such good learners. They really are. I'm amazed at how fast they can absorb material and how fearless they are. You know, you show them something, they'll say, "Me do it. I want to do it. What's that? I've never seen that before. Let me have it. I can fix it". If you can't fix something, a kid will walk over and push you over. "Let me have it". We're far more invested in saving face, and adult learners have a very difficult time saying we don't know. We've been embarrassed, or humiliated, or rejected, or any number of sorts of things because we didn't have the perspective we needed at some point. We've become reluctant learners. We have a hard time saying I don't know, so we just fake it.

We stay silent, or we have a whole vocabulary of phrases that, you know, that's just not how I believe. That's not how my people respond. Well, that works perfectly if your people are in charge of heaven; but if your people aren't the gate keepers... well, I don't know if I believe that or not. Well, what you really need to establish is whether it's biblical or not, and then you want to believe it. So, I want to give you permission in this particular session, whether you're in the building with us, or you're joining us online. Everybody just become as a beginner, tonight. And say, "I want to take Paul's words to heart. I want to give the Spirit of God license to put those on my heart as never before. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but I want Christ to live in me".

I think I'll let you all stand with me, and I'm going to invite you to say a little prayer with me. I gave you a copy in your notes. It's an introduction to the kingdom of God. If it's not something you have committed to memory, at least commit it to your phone. Just take a picture of it. And when you meet somebody that says, "You know, I think I don't know a lot about the Lord, but I'd like to know him," say, "I wonder if you'd say a little prayer with me". You don't have to understand everything to get the benefit from it. And if I take an antibiotic, I don't have to understand how it's going to disrupt the growth of the bacteria in my body. I'm just happy it's going to help me feel better. Sometimes we act in the church as if we're going to outthink evil. You're no match for the devil nor am I.

So, I'm just going to ask you to repeat this little prayer, just close your eyes, forget the people around you. We've got a little business to do with God. You may have been in church all your life. You may have served on 50 committees and tithed since you were two. But you can't really say with a genuine confidence, "I've been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live," 'cause me first has been living large, and there's too many of us. We've been a me first culture for so long. We have a whole leadership class that understands if they will give us, if they will promise us what me wants, we'll give them the keys to the kingdom. Just repeat this prayer with me:

Almighty God, I am a sinner, and I need a Savior. I believe Jesus of Nazareth is your Son and that he died on a cross for my sins, and that he was raised to life for my justification. Forgive me of my sins, and I forgive all those who've sinned against me. Jesus, be Lord of my life. I want to live for your glory, and I thank you now that I belong to the family of God. It's the best family in the universe, and I want Jesus to live in me. I choose to give him first place, priority of my time, priority of my talent, priority of all you've entrusted to me. Jesus is my Lord, and through my life may his name be glorified. Amen.

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