Allen Jackson - There Is A God - Part 2
It's good to be with you again. We're gonna continue our study on, "There Is a God". This is the second part of this and we're gonna look at some of the characteristics of God. It's not just a theological exercise. It's not just Bible study. The more we understand about the nature and the character of God, the better we can cooperate with him. This isn't complicated. If you've ever grown tomatoes in the summertime, the more you understand about the soil, and the kind of tomato you planted, and how much water they need, all of that has an impact on the kind of tomatoes you're gonna receive later on. Well, God's nature and character is important if you and I are gonna be pleasing to him. And since we're going to see him one day, not in a church service, but in the midst of heaven, we want to understand who he is so he can be pleased with us. Grab your Bible and a notepad. Most of all, open your heart.
There's some essential components of the revelation of God that you need, and they're really not up for debate. Obedience is part of the plan. God expects obedience from humanity. That's the nature of the arrangement. If we're gonna participate with him and we're going to be a part of his eternal kingdom, one of his requirements is obedience. You say, "Well, I don't want to do that". You don't have to. He gave you a free will and me a free will. We can cooperate with God, we can not cooperate with God, but you won't hustle him. It's not hard to fool the preacher. The system's a little broken. We're only together a few minutes on a weekend or from time to time, and it's in a controlled environment, and we dress up and do pretty well. But God's not like that. Nothing's hidden from him. He even knows our thoughts.
And obedience is required. It's part of the plan. You're introduced in the first opening chapters, Adam and Eve. God puts them literally in a Garden of Eden, no problems. And because of their disobedience, they forfeited that. This is not some subtle theme. It's not some hidden part of the story. Cain and Abel, we follow right out of that. God shows them the sacrifices that he wants them to make. One makes the sacrifices he asks for. One refuses to do so. He offers a sacrifice. Cain brought his sacrifice to God. He just didn't bring the one he was directed to bring and God wouldn't accept it, and it made him angry. We are a race of rebels. We want God to worship us. I mean, maybe not quite literally. We just want him to be so impressed that we would respond to him in any way whatsoever that it should eliminate any sense of obedience.
I'm here! Noah, it's that big boat story. It was the original Bass Pro Shop right there, Noah. And the whole story was relevant and necessary because it says the whole world was wicked and God judged them. Obedience is a part of this. Blessings are a part of this revelation, that God will bless those who respond to him. We just read it in Joshua. Again, it's not some subtle theme. It's consistent throughout the narrative. God will bless you. Another part of the revelation is that discipline and judgment are included. God disciplines those he loves. A good parent will discipline their children. Now, we have a choice. We've been given instructions. It's not mandatory. It's not required of us. It's not authoritarian. We've been given a choice.
People say, "Well, I can't believe God would send anyone to hell". He isn't. You vote for that. You mean you can't believe God has standards? You mean you don't believe God has the right to define gravity? You should suspend it because you don't like the way it looks on you after 22? I don't mean you, I mean the general you. Looks beautiful on all of you. But the notion is we should pay attention. We should listen carefully. We should obey fully. We should not only be obedient, we should be willing. You ever been obedient and unwilling? Teeth gritted, fist clenched. What'd you say? Oh, nothing. I gave you some verses. Isaiah 28, "Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say".
Exodus 15, he said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands, if you keep all of his decrees, I'll not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians". The word, he said, "I'll be the Lord who heals you". The word is the modern Hebrew word for doctor, physician. God said, "I'll be your doctor," but it's not some random promise to be whipped out of the promise box when you don't feel good one day. It's conditional. "If" is in there. "If you listen carefully, if you do what is right in my eyes, if you pay attention to my commands, if you keep all my decrees". That's not a casual approach towards God.
Deuteronomy 15, "If you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands". Isaiah 1:19, "If you're willing and obedient, you'll eat the best from the land". It's a conditional promise. You don't get the best of the land with God's help unless you're willing and obedient. If you're eating the best of the land and you haven't been willing and obedient to God, you should stop and seriously consider what spirit is helping you. A little personal reflection would be appropriate. In Acts 13, it's one of the most remarkable commentaries to me in all of the Bible. It's a statement made about David.
Now, Acts 13 is the New Testament so we're hundreds of years after David has completed his journey in time. It says, "After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'" He'll just do everything I want him to do. He'll do everything I want him to do. Can you think of anything better for God to say about you? He'll just do whatever I want him to do. You know, he'll just do whatever I want him to do. This isn't that complicated, just our intent has been a little, we have a choice to make, folks.
Now we need to acknowledge, in fairness, we share a universal problem. This is not simple. It's not easy. The battle within us is real, and it isn't just you. It's not because your family tree was uniquely torqued. It isn't because you were subjected to so much injustice that you're permanently broken. It's not because the demonic activity that was given access to you when you didn't have the maturity or the experience to defend yourself has permanently derailed your momentum. Those things are not true, but we do share a universal problem. Romans 3, and verse 23 says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".
What's the ultimate sin we're all guilty of? It's not stealing, or lying, or cheating. I mean, that's universal enough, but the universal sin we're all guilty of is we've fallen short of the glory for which God created us. He created us to bring glory to him and we've all missed that a bit. We live in a fallen world. We're fallen creatures. We have all, it's universal. Nobody escapes that. So there's a problem. It has to be addressed. You can't fix this with duct tape. A fresh coat of paint won't fix this. Soft focus won't help. You can't photoshop this away. Romans 6, and verse 22, "Now that you've been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".
We could spend several sessions just with those verses, but it says we've been set free from sin and we've become slaves to God. There's a transition. We were slaves to sin, but now we're under the authority and the direction of God. Now, you're in one of those two camps. And you can sit in church and be a slave to sin. You can sing all the words. You can serve on, and do ministry, and share, and all. That is not the deciding factor. It's a challenge. Let's consider just a moment what God had to say about that. It's not news to you. I'm not gonna belabor it. I wanna read it to you to remind you, because the things that I'm about to read to you are not reinforced in our culture. There is an avalanche, like a waterfall of ungodliness that just cascades over us, day, after day, after day, defining morality, defining affluence, just trying to push us. And the Word of God has a very, very, very different perspective, and we gotta decide what we're gonna believe.
Did you think when you stand before the Lord you're gonna be able to go say, "Well, you know". That doesn't sound like what Joshua was saying to us a few minutes ago, does it? Listen to the passages. 1 Corinthians 6, "Do you not know"? And you know your Bible well enough now that when you find a verse that begins with, "Do you not know," it's a rhetorical question. The author is saying, "You know, I know you really don't remember". Do you not know? This is written to the Corinthian church. They're one of the most carnal churches in the New Testament. They're sexually immoral. They're drunkards. They're gluttons. The churched people, they get together and get drunk. Their immorality was understood amongst them. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived".
And then he gives us a little partial list, "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that's what some of you were". That's the group God recruits from. Having our names penciled in next to those set of behaviors is how we made the list. Church is not a hall of fame. It's a triage unit. "That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God".
That's the good news we have for the world, that no matter what path you may have chosen, or been directed to, or found yourself embroiled in, there is a way out of it. To be sanctified is to be set apart for the purposes of God. To be justified is to be cleansed, made righteous, just as if you'd never sinned. You can be sanctified and justified, welcomed into the kingdom of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. That's good news. Why aren't we telling our friends about that? Why do we wink at their sin and say, "Oh, they're good people," and you leave 'em on a path towards destruction because you don't care enough to say, "I don't really think that's a good idea".
Well, they might be mad at me, or I might lose a friend, or I might lose a business deal, or they might think I'm judging. I'm not judging them. I'm saying the bridge is out. Don't drive that way. What has happened to us? We don't live as if we believe there's a God. That's not some unique verse. Galatians chapter 5, another New Testament church, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious". Well, maybe. "Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery". Debauchery is excess, never enough. Just think of how many, many storage units we have. "Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God".
Well, that's an important little tidbit of information. It's like saying if you hold your iPhone underwater, it won't work well. If you drop your laptop from a second story window, it won't bounce. That's important facts to have. It changes how you treat them, the respect that you express to them. We need to know God's character. "Well, Pastor, I'm just not sure I believe". Well, you need to read it until you decide what you believe. Not my opinion. I'm not the judge. But you need to spend enough time with the Word of God that you start to get to know his character, 'cause you have an appointment with him. And we have so much access to the Word of God. You know people have died translating the Bible so that their friends could read it? Wars have been fought.
Countless numbers of people have given their lives so others could have access to the Bible. And this isn't just in history. I have been places in the world, personally myself, I have been places, if you were the person that had access to a whole Bible, you were the pastor. Didn't matter what translation. I've been places where adults, adults my age and older, would stand in line indefinitely for a two or three page outline with scriptures on it because they didn't have access to such things. I don't want you to feel guilty or ashamed. I want you to understand how uniquely blessed we are, how good God has been to us.
Ephesians 5, and verse 3, "Among you", he's writing to another church, "Among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or have any kind of impurity, or of greed. These are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure". Now, that's like a little warning caution light. "Of this you can be sure". I'm leaning in on this one. "Of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person, such a man is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's Wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore don't be partners with them".
Now, we could continue but I think you get the idea. We need to give some consideration to the categories we're being introduced to and the consequences of them, and look at the world around us. Watch and listen, think. "Well, they're so kind". Okay? I'm up for kindness. We could use more kindness, but we could also use more holiness. "Well, none of us are perfect". Granted, but there's a difference in the struggle with sin and the practice of sin, and we've got to be a bit more sophisticated. If you're labeling your practice of sin a struggle, you're using the wrong words. It's not misinformation. It's like if you put on your resume you graduated from a university you didn't go to, you didn't misremember, you lied. And if you're practicing sin, you're not struggling with it. You've capitulated. And we have given in to often, too frequently, too broadly.
It's very important to understand God's resolution because as we explored spiritual authority, and we're going to over these next few sessions, as we look at spiritual activity, it becomes a legal question. Why do we have authority over an unclean spirit? Because we can do more pushups? Because we have more dollars in our accounts? Because we speak English as a first language? No, because of the authority we have in Christ, and we need to understand the victory he won and why it matters. We've gotta stop pretending like it wasn't that big a deal. You know, yeah, yeah, I know that story. Well, I don't need to go to church on Easter. I've been there before. I know what they're going to talk about. It's a cross, and a tomb, and the stone gets rolled away, and we're happy. Because the moment you take that out of the center of who you are, you lose everything. You lose everything. We've been so ungrateful. We think we've made ourselves prosperous. We think we've made ourselves free.
Folks, freedom doesn't come from governments, it comes from God. And the only way a government provides freedom and liberty is the extent to which that government embraces God. And if we drive a biblical worldview out of the government, I assure you it will become increasingly authoritarian. I don't care what the knucklehead says that's talking, and the party's irrelevant to me. So what's the objective, and I'm done, kind of. Psalm 15. This is a wonderful psalm. Psalm 15, the first five verses. It begins with a question. It's a very significant question. It's a question every one of us should spend a little bit of time with. "Who may dwell in your sanctuary"?
I don't know about you, but I want to know the answer to that and I don't want to be wrong. You ever thought you had a ticket, and you got there and you didn't, or you thought you had a reservation, and you arrived and you didn't? That's not a blessing. "Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD". We've lost that. We have. We don't even want to say there's right and wrong, nah. "Who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and doesn't accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken".
In a world that is being shaken, I would submit to you it might be helpful to know the things that would help you to survive shaking, and there's a very simple list. You can think about them. You can talk to one another about them. You can reflect on them. There is a God, and he can be known, and he wants to help us. I'm thinking that's a worthwhile endeavor. I brought you a prayer, and it's really an acknowledgment that we're rebels, because we are. We're a race of rebels. And even after we come to faith and we experience the new birth, we still have a struggle with that old nature. Nobody's gonna tell me what to do. Tell me what I can't do and watch me do it. There is a God and he's not impressed with how bull stubborn I can be. Why don't you stand with me? Have you found the prayer? They'll put it on the screens for those of you that didn't like your outline:
Heavenly Father, you said that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and insubordination is as idolatry. I know that in action and attitude I have sinned against you with a rebellious heart. I ask your forgiveness for my rebellion and I pray that by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, all ground gained by evil spirits because of my rebelliousness would be canceled. I pray that you will shed light on all my ways. I choose to adopt a submissive spirit and a servant's heart. In the name of Jesus, my Lord, amen.