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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Strong Foundation Required - Part 2
TOPICS: Foundation, Faith, Troubles, Hard times

Hey, it's an honor to be together again. We're going to talk today about the necessity of a strong foundation in our faith. You know, most of us understand we begin that journey with a profession of faith, with accepting Jesus, conversion, the new birth, salvation, whichever term you prefer. But there's a tendency to imagine that we stop our growth or development. We get the big rocks in place and we're kind of finished until we see Jesus.

The Bible invites us to a bit of a different imagination. That to be a faithful disciple means we have to continue to grow. The foundation of our faith is Jesus and then upon that there are some foundational doctrines we're invited to but ultimately we have to build on that foundation with our day to day choices, with our weekly choices, with our willingness to engage our culture with the faith that we believe. And that requires of us some humility, and some courage, and some boldness. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

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.

Now this is not an easy lesson. It wasn't easy for Peter and James and John, it wasn't easy for the people that were closest to Jesus. And I'm not naive, I'm thinking that if you've got to spend three years with Jesus you got a Grade A training session. And I can demonstrate that, just quickly. In Galatians chapter 2, Paul is writing, he's writing to the Galatian church because the Galatians Church has veered off course. The opening verses of Galatians, the letter to this church, it's in a region, he says, "Who has bewitched you"? You've come under a spirit of witchcraft, you're being controlled and manipulated by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit. He said you were running a really good race but you've lost all of your momentum.

What's happened to you? You know you can lose the momentum in your spiritual life? So he's writing to them and he's using an example from his own life experience, he's giving a portion of his testimony, and he's using a name that they will all know. He says, "When Peter came to Antioch". Yes, that's Peter the fisherman that Jesus recruited. When he came to the region where you are, "I opposed him to his face". Can you imagine taking Peter on? You'd have to be pretty confident in your little Bible study, wouldn't you? Dude walked on water; I mean, he was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus said to him, I'm gonna build my church with your help.

So I'm thinking to call Peter out into public session. There's a Hebrew word, chutzpah. Trust me, Paul had his share. "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face". What had he done? Well, "Because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James". James at this point is the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Church is most heavily influenced by Jewish customs, rabbinic traditions. So, when the Jewish believers came from Jerusalem, Peter, "used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles... he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group".

You see, according to rabbinic Judaism in the first century, a good observant Jewish person couldn't even sit at the table and share food with a non-Jew, it made you unclean. Now the thing about religious rules it's helpful to remember is your rules make sense and everybody else's rules are stupid. So I don't want to go into the customs to unpack that but that's the problem that's here, so when there's nobody from Jerusalem around Peter's eating with the non-Jews. He understands that the redemptive work of Jesus is the foundation of his faith but when the Jews come to town, and they're believers in Jesus, the pressure of tradition causes Peter to flinch. And Paul was having none of it, 'cause he's fighting for the lives of the non-Jews that are looking at all these people trying to help them sort it out.

You see, your advocacy for Jesus makes a difference, your silence is destructive. "Well I didn't want to bring division". Did you wanna bring ungodliness? Did you want to open the floodgates to immorality? Exactly what was the goal, a personal preservation? When I saw what he was doing, he said, "He was afraid of those who belonged". "The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy, even Barnabas was led astray". Other people followed him; then he goes on to give us the solution. He said, "I've 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 him and gave himself for me".

What gives us an open door with the creator of all things? That Jesus gave himself for me, and I've made him Lord of my life. It's not the building where I'm at on Sunday morning or the translation I read or my wardrobe choice for the day, it's my relationship to Jesus. Please don't allow other points of distinction to in any way separate you from the primary characteristic of your life. And understand that whatever you think is to your advantage, it is not an advantage compared to knowing Christ Jesus, Paul said, "For whom I have lost all things". But understand that that is a real struggle, it's been a struggle in the church from the beginning until today. Humble yourself.

There's a third component of the cross that is important to understand, it's foundational. If we don't keep the foundation pieces in right you can't stand under the stress of the wind and the waves and the things that will challenge you. The cross delivered us, the redemptive work of Jesus delivered us from a life of futility. Your life apart from Jesus is futile in the sense that it's temporary. Futile effort is effort that's expended that only achieves a modest outcome, it's just futile. And you don't want to spend your life in things that receive a modest or diminishing or temporary outcome. Agreed? Thank you for that enthusiastic response.

1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 26, "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called". So let's do that for a moment, who were you when you were called? How would you have defined yourself before Jesus? By the region of the country, by your race, by your sex, by your education, by your status? Who were you when you were called? It's a rhetorical question but you can process it for yourself, it might be worth a little thought afterwards, maybe a list; maybe the circumstances of your family, maybe in injustices you've suffered, maybe you're a survivor of divorce or maybe there was a death of a parent. Who were you when you were called? And then he gets into our business. "Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose".

How many of you know God chose you? Before you chose God, God chose you. Don't get too puffed up, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise," and, "God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong". And, "He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one can boast before him". If you're boasting in your life, if your self-evaluation is propped up by something more than your affiliation with Jesus you're on a very shaky foundation.

See, the circumstances of our birth are made irrelevant by the cross. Whether they were wonderful or modest, whether they were celebrated or in suffering they're irrelevant, there's a new power, a new authority at work on our behalf. A lack of influence that came with your circumstances; it's not a problem, now we're connected to the King. If you have little strength, you're exactly whom God is looking for. In fact, if you have a legacy of foolishness, and some of us do, you're perfect for the position.

You see, Jesus transforms our place in the world, bringing significance and purpose to all who will accept him. This is foundational to our narrative, it's why we are advocates for him. We're not moralist or ethicist, we're trying to raise the value of every human being by connecting them to the creator of all things. Everyone is welcome at the cross, the price was paid for all who will receive it. Look at 1 Peter 1:18, "You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from an empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect".

Redeemed has kind of a technical meaning, to redeem something is to buy it back. I'm sure none of you ever have, but if you pawn something at a pawn shop, just theoretically, you'd get a ticket that if you showed up with the appropriate amount of money you could get back whatever you had pawned for cash, you could redeem it. So there's really a legal transaction. He says you were redeemed, you were bought out of a place that you couldn't deliver yourself from. But he said you weren't redeemed with silver or gold, so it's foolish to think that any resources we can accumulate could buy our way in, but we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus. And why is his blood more precious than mine? Because he was the sinless obedient one amongst us, and through him life came to all of us, it's why everybody is welcome at the cross.

Now I want to take the moments we've got left, and I've just got a few, but this is perhaps the most important piece of this. I've given you, at least in broad strokes, the theory, the substance behind the redemptive work of Jesus, but it's the applied truth that changes our lives. Folks, we've got to move beyond theoretical Bible studies. How many times do you have to do a Bible study before you're going to decide to do something with the truth that you know? We are educated way beyond our levels of obedience. And the season has changed. If we're gonna flourish through the trouble we're going to have to give application to the truth that we know.

There's a line that I learned, it's not original to me by any means, but, "Truth divorced from experience must always dwell in the realm of a doubt". It's experience with the truth that you know that makes it powerful, it's why your testimony, your God story is irrefutable. People can say, "I don't believe that," you don't have to believe it, it's my story. My mom was given six months to live 50-plus years ago, she's still here; I believe in healing. How many people say, "You know, I don't believe that". Okay, have you met my mom? I'm not interested in the argument, but you've got to build reality into the truth that you hold.

So when we talk about applied truth, I'm gonna invite into three specific areas, I'm Gonna tell you before I read the Scriptures 'cause I'm gonna move through these quickly. One has to do with personal rejection of sin; you need personal experience with this, saying, "That part of my life, I recognize it as being ungodly, dishonoring to God. From a biblical place of authority, it's not acceptable in my life and I'm not going to participate in it any longer". Secondly, no unnecessary baggage. "I will not willingly allow things in my life that diminish my effectiveness as a Christ follower. I may be entitled to them, I may be able to justify them, I may be able to defend them but I will not give them, I will not willingly diminish my effectiveness for personal selfish indulgence". And the third thing is to make the choices in your life that put you on a pathway for purity, for holiness, and for integrity before God; I mean as a personal aspiration.

Now let me give you the Scriptures. 1 Peter chapter 1, it says, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth". How do we bring purity to our lives? "By obeying the truth". Start with the truth that you know, be intolerant of willingly being disobedient to the truth that you know. And I'm not championing ignorance, but don't worry if you say, "Well I don't know about this Rapture stuff". Okay, start with what you do know, start with your current portfolio, what's the truth that you do know? and watch. If you will make a determination that you're gonna honor the Lord in the place that you stand, the Spirit of God will open the treasures of the kingdom of God to you. But if you deny the truth that you know, if you don't have the courage to stand for the truth that you know, if you're not obedient to the truth that you know, why do you imagine that the creator of heaven and earth would unveil further insight to you? You gain strength by being obedient to the truth that you know.

James chapter 4, in verse 4, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God"? And it's put in the form of the question, so the answer would be, "No, we really don't remember that. We thought we were on an evangelistic mission, we were covert Christians. We were flying kinda below the radar, we were gonna win some of them". What you're really doing is demonstrating a friendship with ungodliness. "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God". That's sobering to me. And then we're given the resolution. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he'll flee from you".

Most of us recognize that from time to time we've kind of entered a demonic attack, a devilish assault, and we're ready to resist the devil but you've got no foundation to resist the devil if you're a friend of the world. You're standing in the midst of his territory acting like one of those under his authority. In Titus chapter 2, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men". What a marvelous sentence. "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people". That is such good news, but that has an impact in our lives, it teaches us to say no to ungodliness and to worldly passions. You can have an encounter with the grace of God, you can have an encounter with the person of Jesus and still have a very real, in fact, you will have a very real struggle with worldly passions.

We've gotta learn to say no to them. Doesn't mean your salvation is illegitimate, it doesn't mean that the blood of Jesus didn't, you didn't get a full dose, you need a second shot. The Bible teaches us that we have to take that old carnal, selfish part of us and execute it, say, "You will not be the authority in my life any longer, you've reigned supreme for however long but Jesus is Lord now in my heart, in my life, in my emotions, in my planning. I'm saying no to you". "It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age," now, "While we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior".

And we've got a lot of information of what's gonna happen before he appears, we've alluded to that already. But between here and there, what is our assignment? To say no to ungodliness; before you say it to somebody else, you've got to say it to yourself. One of the reasons the church has so little moral authority in our culture is we have accommodated so much sin within ourselves, smile, all of us. I wanna give you a couple examples and I'm done. This is much closer to us than we've imagined and it's much more subtle than we've imagined. I pulled a couple of biblical passages, I think there are probably familiar to you, one in Acts 5. The church is just getting it sea legs, Jesus hasn't been gone long, they're trying to sort out authority and how to feed the people that need fed and how to process all of that.

And it says that some of the people were selling property and bringing the money and giving it to the apostles because there was resource needs. It's not just the 21st century thing, preachers didn't dream that up, the tithe was not a preacher's idea or it would have never stuck at 10%. If we'd put that in place, we'd have jacked that rascal up by now. 2.000 years? We'd be at at least 85. But there's a problem in Jerusalem, so a couple has sold some property and they bring the proceeds to Peter, and they say, we have sold this property and we want to give you all the proceeds. It's Ananias and Sapphira, many of you know the story.

Listen to what Peter says, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you've lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land"? What're you doing Ananias? Peter has a word of wisdom, he understands that what Ananias is presenting is not the full purchase price. Why are you doing this? Then he asks the obvious, "Didn't belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal"? You could have done anything you wanted, you could've bought a new house, you could have upgraded your car, you could have gone on the Mediterranean cruise. What are you thinking? "'What made you think of doing such a thing? You haven't lied to men but to God.' And when Ananias heard this, he fell down, dead".

Now I don't believe the lesson of the story is that everybody that lies at church dies, or we would have church at our outdoor sanctuary every service 'cause nobody becoming in the building. I don't believe that's the lesson at all. In fact, without really unpacking the judgment side, what I would call your attention to is the temptation we face and how real it is, how close to us that is. It was your property, you could have sold it or built condos on it, I don't care. You could have sold it and given a dollar and kept 99 and nine-tenths percent for yourself, that was okay too. But what you wanted was the affirmation that came with a sacrifice you didn't want to make. You came with a motive that was so wrapped in selfish ambition that it's destructive.

Now he's got my attention, 'cause that's real in all of us. How am I perceived? What will people think about me? I want to give you an invitation. If your conscience is, as we walk through this this morning, that you have tolerated some things either as a sin or as a baggage, and there can be a difference, and you're willing to say today, "Lord, I want to lay it down," I'm just gonna ask you to slip out of where you are and come forward. Whichever sanctuary you're in, if you're outdoors, you come forward out there; if you're joining us online, you can stand up where you are and just type in, "I'm all in on this".

Do you understand the invitation? You've tolerated something that you don't wanna tolerate any longer, it's a flaw in the foundation, and through the blood of Jesus, we're gonna pray in just a moment, I'm not gonna take long. If that's you, you wanna come quickly. Church is a safe place to say, "I need help". Let's all pray together, okay?

Lord, I thank you for your church, I thank you for your people, Lord, they're precious to you. And there's nothing hidden from you, Lord, there's no circumstance in our life you're unaware of, or no choice that you're not conscious of. We come this morning to acknowledge our need for mercy and grace. Forgive us of our sins, forgive us for when we've made choices that are in opposition to you, that have taken us away from you. Lord, we weren't caught up in a moment or swept away with emotion, we made a purposeful, intentional choice away from you. We come this morning to say we're sorry, to choose a new path, to walk a new direction, and I thank you for it.

Lord, I pray, where there are places that we have tolerated attitudes and encumbrances, and we've made room for things, Lord, we've provided excuses for ourselves and they have limited us; we've been quiet and we could have had a voice, we have been friends with the world when we could have been better friends with you, we've wanted to be perceived as unencumbered by religious rules. Whatever it may be, Lord, we want to lay it down today. If we've held unforgiveness or resentment or bitterness or hatred or judgment, if we've imagined ourselves better because of an education or an address or a resource, forgive us, Lord, we don't want to carry that baggage any further.

And I thank you that, through the blood of Jesus, we have been delivered, and I thank you today for a new beginning. Holy Spirit, we ask you to help us; if there's anything that limits or hinders or in any way reserves what you've called us to, may we be set free today, may the power of God be demonstrated in our behalf to bring new liberty and new life and new outcomes. We praise you for it, that we will leave this place differently than we came, in Jesus's name, amen.

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