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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 1
TOPICS: Foundation, Faith, Troubles, Hard times

It's good to be with you again. Our topic is "Big Trouble Ahead," and we're gonna need a strong foundation to flourish in that season when those storms come. It's not a matter of if they're coming, folks; they're coming. In fact, I think the tremors have already begun. Not frightening, exciting. We're getting ready for the return of the King. You know, Christians process this in different ways. Some of us just don't want to acknowledge it. We want to look away and pretend it's not happening. Let's go on vacation. Others of us come up with escapist theological points where we just won't have to deal with it. We'll get airlifted outta here. I'm asked frequently, you know, what's my opinion on that and when's that gonna happen.

Let me make a suggestion. Be prepared for the first uplift that's available. I went out on the first load out, but I want to be prepared to stay if I'm on the last load out. If you do that, you're prepared for whichever scenario emerges. And we can have the debate all you want to, but most of all we want to be prepared. So let's open the Word of God and open our hearts. The other thing I can tell you is it's impossible to anticipate. Nobody knows the day or the time. And we can recognize the season, but seasons have a lot of latitude in them, so it's not a certain thing. And the other thing that's equally important is Jesus warned us, he said there's a broad road and many enter in, but a narrow gate and few enter in. It's a consistent theme through Jesus's teaching that there's gonna be a great deal of surprise about people who aren't prepared for their invitations to join the King.

So I wanna invite you away from smugness, and self-righteousness, and certainty. I don't want you to live in fear of your salvation, but I don't want you to live with a haughtiness based upon the recitation of a prayer at some point back and not be serving the Lord on a regular basis. The other piece you need to know is that we've been given the information we need to be prepared. We won't be caught off guard. We're gonna open our Bibles today, so grab your Bible. Get a notepad. Most of all, open your heart. Let's be prepared for what's in front of us. The Lord is with us.

The Romans elevated crucifixion to an art form. When the Roman legions would arrive in a new community and they wanted to assert the authority of Rome in that community, they had a habit. They would crucify the first ten men they met. No reason, no trial, no bother with accusation. They wanted everybody to understand there was a new authority in town. It was a brutal, cruel, horrific way to die. So when I talk about the cross, I'm not just talking about that tool of execution. I'm talking about what Jesus endured from his betrayal, to the false trial he walked through, the beatings he suffered, to his crucifixion, his burial, and his resurrection. The redemptive work of Jesus. And I will occasionally just use the cross as a synonym for that. It highlights some things.

The necessity of the cross is in place in Scripture, and I'm not gonna develop all of these this morning, because of the universal nature of sin. Every human being, every descendant of Adam, has a sin problem. If you grew up in the Methodist Church as I did, even the Methodists do. Most of us believe whatever group we grew up in, we were pretty much okay, but those other people. And you know, if you're a Southerner, you think the Southerners probably Jesus loves us more. You know, they need a bigger cross for Yankees. And whatever way you imagine yourself, we're going to deconstruct that in a moment anyway, but however you imagine yourself, you tend to think, "Well, you know, my crib's pretty much, it was not a heavy lift for us, but those other people".

Folks, the Scripture teaches us that sin is universal, a need of every person, thus the cross is a requirement. Secondly, there's an impossibility of redeeming ourselves. You can't save yourself. You can't be good enough, or kind enough, or generous enough, or moral enough, or sit through enough sermons. We needed a redeemer. And thirdly, it leads to the uniqueness of Jesus. When Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me," it wasn't rhetoric. The perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God was a necessity. The virgin birth was a necessity.

You see, on the cross, the Scripture teaches us that the divinely ordered exchange took place, where the perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God took upon himself all of the judgment that was due by divine justice, my rebellion and my godlessness, and yours, that in exchange for that, you and I might receive all of the blessings that were due his perfect obedience. He took the punishment that we might have the blessing. Therefore, he had to be sin free or he couldn't take my punishment. He'd had to suffer for his own. The uniqueness of Jesus cannot be easily explained away. It's why Jesus and his redemptive work is at the center of our faith. It's why when there's an attempt to reconcile world religions, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, the discussion inevitably comes back to Jesus and if Christians would just let up on that Jesus notion a little bit.

It's why the spirit of antichrist is the best way to understand the conflict that is raging in our world today. Antichrist carries two meanings. It's in place of. It wants the authority, the worship, the allegiance that is due the true Messiah. And "anti" in the sense that it's against it. It wants to diminish Jesus, take his name out of the public square. He's not welcome in our schools, or our courtrooms, or our classrooms. Find the weaknesses and the hypocrisy in the Christians and try to diminish Jesus. The uniqueness of Jesus. And the fourth component and necessity in the cross is the demonstration of God's power for his people.

You see, through the cross, Jesus won a total, complete, irreversible victory over Satan and his entire kingdom. He did. When Jesus appears to John, the Apostle John, in Revelation chapter 1, John is near the end of his life. He's in exile. It says, "On the Lord's Day, he was in the Spirit". And he hears a voice behind him and he turns, and it's the Lord. Can you imagine? John said, "I fell at his feet like I was dead". But Jesus said to him, "I'm the living one. I was alive, and I was dead, and I'm alive forevermore. And I have the keys of death and hell".

Now, all of that comes to us through the cross. We have to understand it. It's the foundation of our relationship with the Lord. It's how we have access to Almighty God. And the more completely you understand it, the more fully it becomes foundational to your perspective on your faith and how you worship the Lord. It's more essential than the label of the church where we sit, or the translation of the Bible we read, or your preference in worship styles, or the location where you sit in the sanctuary, the things we get torqued about. I'll bet almost everybody in here has missed an opportunity in a worship service at one point or another because you didn't get to sit where you wanted to sit... or somebody in the parking lot cut you off. They didn't look at me the right way. Bless your heart.

Folks, our faith is founded on something more significant than the carnality of other Christians. It's centered in the cross. 1 Corinthians chapter 1, and verse 18, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it's the power of God. For it's written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'" The cross is foolishness to those who won't accept it. That idea is flourishing in contemporary American life. "Where's the wise man? Where's the scholar? Where's the philosopher of this age"? They're all rhetorical questions. "Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom didn't know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe".

What you choose to believe is a difference maker. "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preached Christ crucified". We know Christ is the second half of Jesus's name. Many of us think Christ was the family name. There was the Christ House down on the end of the block. I'm not being disrespectful, I think that's not what it means at all. "Christ" is the English equivalent of the Greek word "christos," which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word "Mashiach," "Messiah". So when we say "Jesus Christ," we're saying "Jesus the Messiah".

So when Paul's writing to the church at Corinth and he said, "We preach a Messiah crucified," please understand that we preach the incarnate Son of God was tortured to death by Romans. He says that's a stumbling block to the Jews. The Jews can barely accept that the Messiah would be tortured to death by their enemies. They're looking for a Messiah who's a political leader, a military deliverer. King David, he's from the house and the line of David. And if David didn't yield to Goliath, certainly the Messiah wouldn't yield to a Roman centurion. So for the Jewish people, a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block. And to the Gentiles, "Gentile" is a fancy word for everybody that's not Jewish in the New Testament. To the non-Jewish world, it was just foolishness.

The Son of God crucified by a Roman? No, it makes no sense. "But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Messiah is the power of God and the wisdom of God". The cross of Jesus Christ, the redemptive work of Jesus, is the demonstration of God's power for you and me. It's the game changer. It's what provides provision for forgiveness of our sins. It's what can establish us as holy and righteous, justified in the sight of God. It's a gift. We don't earn it or qualify for it, but we spend our lives in response to it. If you receive a gift and make no changes in your behavior, you're disrespectful and ungrateful. It was Jesus's essential mission.

In John chapter 12, I gave you a more lengthy passage, but look at verse 27. This is Jesus speaking. He said, "My heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'"? He knows what's in front of him and he's struggling with it. Do you understand that Jesus was not excited about the path God put in front of him? This is not a subtle thing. Jesus in more than one place goes, "You know, I'm not really, no. Rather not. It's gonna be awkward. It's not gonna be good. I'd rather be celebrated than rejected. I'd rather have a party than a beating. But nevertheless," he said, "whatever you want me to do".

Do you understand his closest friends didn't miss that lesson? When you read the book of Acts, you understand they embraced that notion. We will be advocates for him. We'll be ambassadors for him. We'll be representatives for him, even if there's not a parade in every town where we go. Even if there's a riot and it's because of the message we brought, we're gonna deliver the message anyway. If you put us in prison, we'll tell the jailer. I tell you that because the 21st century version of the church that speaks English does not live with that mindset.

"Well, Pastor, I thought maybe God had asked me to do that, but I tried it and I just didn't enjoy it". Oh, we signed up for the enjoyable discipleship plan. I'm sorry, we signed up for the ease of use discipleship plan. It just isn't biblical. We have to serve the Lord even when it's uncomfortable. You have to be an advocate for Jesus even when everybody doesn't say, "Hooray". You don't have to be intentionally obnoxious. We're obnoxious enough without trying. Because if you believe there is truth and truth can be known, it makes you intractable in some ways, and that's a problem in the world that opposes the lordship of Jesus. "My heart is troubled," Jesus said, "what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name"!

You hear Jesus's internal struggle. And you're going to have similar struggles. So do I. It's not easier for someone else to stand up. At one point, I don't remember if it was Friday night, one of the sessions last weekend, people responded to something General Boykin said about courage and standing up. And in the midst of watching the applause, I think I said it. I said, you know, it's inappropriate to cheer for his courage if you're not going to go away from here and stand yourself. We don't need to find someone else to be courageous. We have to decide we're going to be. It's not easy.

Watch what happens next, verse 28: "'Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again.' The crowd was there and heard it, and some said it thundered; and others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, 'The voice was for your benefit.'" I talk to my Dad a lot, but he just gave you a boost. "I have glorified my name and I'll glorify it again". Folks, God has glorified his name in the earth but he's gonna glorify it again. Will you give yourself to that?

In Galatians chapter 3, in verse 26, it says, "You're all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus," through Jesus the Messiah, again, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek". In the New Testament, there's two people groups and there's really only two. There's the Jewish people, the people who have a covenant that's extended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and everybody else. And it's a very harsh divide in the New Testament. He says now in Christ, "there's neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you're all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you're Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".

Through the redemptive work of the cross, through that divine exchange, the covenant that was established with Abraham came to all people. So all of those dividing lines that we erect to separate ourselves are eliminated at the cross. It isn't about our accent, or our nationality, or our gender, or the color of our skin, or the length of our nose, or how long our feet are, our IQ, or our social status, or the schools we graduated from. It's our affiliation with Jesus of Nazareth and choosing him as Lord of our lives.

Now, that's the message that the church has and it's a message of healing. It's not a subtle theme. Romans chapter 3, and verse 22, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe". A very important sentence. You know what righteousness is? It's a big religious word. Righteousness is the ability to stand in the presence of God. And understand this, everybody will. The Bible says we all have two appointments: death, and after that, judgment. You will stand before Almighty God to give an account for your life. Righteousness is the ability to stand before God without guilt, without shame, and without fear.

If you've got the appointment, I would submit to you it's in your best interest to know how to stand there guilt-free. How do you do that? Well, tell me which church to sit at. How often do I have to go? How much money do I have to give? I'll cut a check. I mean, tell me. You can't earn it. It's free. "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus the Messiah to all who believe". Look at the next phrase, "There is no difference". It doesn't matter if you're tall or short, skinny or fat, if you sound like a hillbilly or you came from Boston. "There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". There's that universal problem I talked about a moment ago.

Folks, we're all sinners. You say, "Well, I'm not as bad a sinner as that one". The standard isn't on a sliding scale. It's either absolute perfection or you're out. Serious. So it comes through faith in Jesus. "We are justified freely by his grace". Grace, by definition, has no attachment to merit. If it's grace, it can't be earned. "It comes by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus". 1 Corinthians 12, in verse 12, "The body is a unit, and though it's made up of many parts and though all the parts are many, they form one body". The parts of your body look different. My thumb looks different than my little finger and they function differently. My ear and my eye occupy different roles in my person, but they're both essential, but they look different. I would look weird with my ears stuck in the front of my face.

And if I had to turn sideways to see you, it would be awkward. But it doesn't diminish the parts. And they're using the analogy of our physical body with the body of Christ; there's an important lesson. "The body is a unit, it's made up of many parts, and though all of its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body". And here's the way we would define ourselves. We're Jews or we're Greeks, we're slaves or we're free, but it says, no, we're all given one Spirit to drink. And he goes on to say, "The eye can't say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head can't say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'" We're one body. And where we're different, we're not less significant, or stronger, or less important. In fact, it says that the weakest part of the body is the part that gets the most special attention.

Folks, there is a spirit that is dividing us that does not come from the Spirit of God. And the church has a message that's important. We're not better than one another. We are united through the redemptive work of Jesus. The cross of Jesus Christ that gives us access to God's kingdom is the greatest single defining characteristic of your person. There is no other aspect of your person or your personality that's more significant than your relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. And anyone or anything that tries to elevate some other part of your person, your wealth, your education, anything to elevate you above other people that is centered in something other than your relationship to Jesus is destructive. It won't bring peace. It will not bring unity. Colossians chapter 3, "A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman. Christ is all, and in all". The church needs to remember this foundational principle. The message is important in our world.

Folks, it's not an accident, I believe, that our cities are embroiled in violence; that we've lost our moral balance. Thousands of churches have been shuttered. Voices that we've been accustomed to hearing have been silent. And before we were silenced, far too many of us were asleep. There's a tremendous need in this moment for the voice of the church of Jesus Christ. I don't mean more preachers. I mean you and me taking our biblical worldview into the places where God has given us influence. We've got to have the strength and the courage to stand up.

On the cross, a divinely ordered exchange took place. The sinless, perfect, obedient Son of God took upon himself all the judgment that was due by divine justice, my ungodliness and rebellion, and yours, so that we in turn might receive all the blessings that were due his perfect obedience. In the plainest of language, that means he took the punishment for my sin. It says in the New Testament that by his stripes, I'm healed. The redemptive work of the cross isn't just about the forgiveness of sin, it's the totality of our lives. It's through the shed blood of Jesus that we're justified, made righteous, sanctified, set apart to God. I want to pray with you. Whatever you've held onto that you think you have to work out, we're gonna acknowledge through the cross we've been delivered.

Lord, thank you that by the blood of Jesus our sins have been forgiven. We've been delivered out of the hand of the enemy. We're justified, sanctified, made holy in Jesus's name, amen.

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