Allen Jackson - Choosing To Believe In An Age To Unbelief - Part 2
It's a privilege to be with you today. We're gonna complete our study on "Belief in an Age of Unbelief". I'm inviting you to be a little different, to stand apart from the crowd. Jesus talked about a narrow road and a narrow gate and a wide road. Sometimes it's important to be willing to be just a little bit different. Not bizarre, not odd. I wanna encourage you to be a person who says, "I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God". I don't believe that diminishes your intellect. I don't believe it means you're emotionally somehow under-developed. I believe it means you have the courage and the boldness to acknowledge what God placed in your heart, that he exists, that he loves you, and that he has a purpose for your life. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, listen and open your heart.
I hope you're doing the daily Bible reading with us. It's a beginning. There's a man in the church, he's a friend of mine. And for the last several years, the last 3 or 4 years, because of, beginning with COVID, and then since then he saw such a profound difference, he spends hours a day, he's a businessman so it's a sacrifice for him. He spends several hours a day reading his Bible. It has changed him, to the point that I thought, you know, "What would it take for me to get my schedule adjusted to have a block of time that looked like that"? It has changed him. And we tend to, you know, "How much do I have to read? Ohh. Leviticus, aghh. Do I have to read the 'begats'? And the book of Numbers, there's so many numbers in it". Sometimes, our attitude, we don't seem very persuaded.
Number three, I'm persuaded that God Almighty made the heavens, the earth, and all that's in them. I believe God created the heavens and the earth. I really do. And I can tell you there have been times in my life, that was much more difficult for me. I knew about this theory and that theory and all of those things and I hear the debates about young earth and old earth and now, look, I'm living on the earth and God made the earth. I have some opinions, but my opinions are secondary to the fact that I believe God created the place. I am not the result of something that washed out of the primordial ooze. I'm not just the latest rung on the ever-increasing evolutionary ladder. I believe I'm made in the image of God and so are you. It's important.
Nehemiah chapter 9. Who was Nehemiah? What do you know about Nehemiah? Was he Jewish? Okay, when we meet Nehemiah, where does he live? We'll have a little Bible quiz here for a minute. Where does he live when you meet Nehemiah? Blab-a-lab-a-lab-a. Well, he's not in Jerusalem. Does anybody remember his day job? He's a cup bearer for the Persian king. And some travelers that had been in Jerusalem, come through the capital and he hears the stories about Jerusalem being defenseless, its walls are torn down and its gates have been burned. And he's so grieved that he responds to the invitation of God to go back and to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. So, we're several centuries before the birth of Jesus.
Listen to what Nehemiah said: "You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you". That's Nehemiah. That's not Genesis. I've been working on this for a good bit now. You can find in almost every book in the Bible a declaration that God is the creator of all. Some of you prefer the New Testament. Look in Colossians 1:16: "For by him," this is Jesus. "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together".
I am persuaded that God made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Are you doing your little self-evaluation on these topics, 1 to 10? How you doing on that? Are you persuaded enough if you were in an academic setting, say, "You know, I believe God created the heavens and the earth". I'm persuaded that I've been reconciled to God, accepted and approved by Him. "Yeah, but I met somebody that didn't like you". I know. Bless their pointed head. But did you know that I have been approved by God? That he's accepted me into his kingdom? That he loves me? Did you know that? You really should. I mean, he loves all of you, but I'm his favorite. Not really. But do you know God's accepted you? He knows the worst things about you. He knows the things about you that you pray never show up on a screen at church. And he loves you. Are you really persuaded of that?
You see, if you are, it'll change your responses to him. Because if you truly believe he loves you and he cares about you and he's accepted you, you understand he won't withhold something from you. In Romans chapter 8, it said if God didn't withhold his Son, what would he keep back from us? If he offered his Son for us what do you think he's gonna hold back from you? A parking place? We get kind of convoluted. It's really important to be persuaded that God approves of you. That's not an excuse for sloppy living. That's a motivation for holiness. You don't wanna disappoint him. I wanna give him my very best. I wanna make my best effort to walk uprightly, in purity and cleanliness, with integrity.
I don't wanna forfeit my integrity for a momentary opportunity, because the Lord is watching. I'm persuaded. I'm persuaded that I have been delivered from the domain of darkness and I belong to the eternal kingdom of God. I have been redeemed and forgiven. Wow, I'm persuaded of that. That once I was under the authority of darkness, that it owned me. I belonged there. But I have been delivered from that domain through the shed blood of Jesus and now I belong to the eternal kingdom of Almighty God. I have been redeemed. I have been purchased out of that place of bondage and I have been forgiven. Woo-hoo, I'm persuaded of that, folks. It's changed my life. I didn't deserve it, I didn't earn it, I'm not good enough. But God has done that.
Look in Colossians 1: He has rescued Allen. You know, you can put your name in there. Where there's a pronoun, you can put your name in there. It says he's rescued us. I mean, you can say he's rescued you all. "He's rescued us from the dominion of darkness and he transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins". God's done that for us. That is the statement of Scripture. Now what do you believe? "Well, it's hard to know". Well, sometimes it is hard to know and we'll have to determine what we believe.
See, I would encourage you to spend more time thinking about these statements than you do thinking about the latest news report. These will bring confidence to you, these will bring courage to you. These will bring boldness to you. These will bring a steadfastness to you that will enable you to stand in the midst of the storms and the turmoil and the insanity. If you watch the news, it will shake your foundations, because it will expose that we've been trusting something other than what God has said about us. We've imagined that our future was secured by a Constitution, by a Bill of Rights. I'm grateful for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but they're not strong enough to secure our future.
I'm persuaded that Jesus is returning to the earth, triumphant. And that he will reward those who have honored him and bring judgment against those who have rejected him. There's, like, two options and that's it. You will either have honored the Lord and be busy serving him when he returns or you will have been standing in opposition to him. You want to be in the camp of the former. You want there to be abundant evidence that you are leaning in. When's he coming back? Says nobody knows exactly. So lean in. Says he will come at a time when you don't expect him to come.
One of the things that bugs me a little bit about this season is there's some evidence that we are moving towards the culmination of all things and it causes us to have this growing conviction that we're approaching the end of the age, so we get out our charts and our timelines, and I'm okay with that, but my Bible says that he will come when we least expect him, says as it was in the days of Noah or as it was in the days of Lot, and the overwhelming majority of the people weren't prepared. "They were buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage". They were doing all the normal activities. The fact that there's an enormous boat out in the middle of the field and there's a bunch of animals lined up next to it, yeah, yeah, we saw that, but I got a real bargain going. Or I've got a coupon. And it's really easy these days to take our eyes off what God is doing in the earth and think, "Well, you know, I don't wanna miss out".
I am persuaded Jesus is returning to the earth and he will reward us if we honor him. Look at Revelation 1: "Look, he's coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and even those who pierced him; and all the peoples on the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen". I'm persuaded that Jesus is building his church and I intend to assist in every possible way. I mean, I'm all in for strengthening the church. I am. For strengthening this congregation, but any congregation the Lord gives me an opportunity to add some strength and momentum to. I wanna see the church strengthened. Jesus is the head of the church. We work for him, we serve at his pleasure. We're not entitled. We serve at his pleasure. He gave us strength today. He gave us breath today. He gave us food today. He's given us health today. He is building his church.
Matthew 16, you know the verse: "I'll build my church, and the gates of Hades won't overcome it. I'll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven". When you watch what's happening in the earth, it makes me think we haven't been paying much attention, we haven't been binding some things that needed our attention. I was responsible at one season in my life to take care of the horses in the barn. And from time to time, a horse would get out. It did not go well with you if you let a horse out.
My father was a veterinarian and sometimes they would bring some very expensive horses to put in his care. Somebody visiting us one time and they were feeding the horses and they didn't pay close enough attention and they stepped over in the corner of the stall and the horse put his nose in the crack that they left in the door, flung the door open, and off they went. If that's a show horse, they've been locked in the barn most of their life. You set them free, watch that bad boy run. And anybody that was named Jackson, I promise you, was running up and down the road trying to catch that horse before he found the traffic. And when I read that passage and I think of that, that Jesus says, "What you bind will be bound in heaven," there are some things that had been unleashed.
And when I think of God's people, it feels like to me, we've been in too much bondage. We haven't been loosed. Those are our assignments, folks. I'm persuaded Jesus is anxious to build his church. I'm persuaded to honor God with all my heart, mind, soul, and body. I'll invest my time and my treasure and my talent as an expression of honor to my Lord and King. I'm persuaded that's worthwhile. That there isn't anything better to do with my strength or my energy or my thoughts or my resources or my effort. Willing to do anything I know to do to honor the Lord. I'll take risks to do that. I'm willing to be vulnerable to do that. I'm not trying to find, like, the narrow, middle, or I think I've got all the right answers lined up and it's impossible to be criticized and just sit on that little space and go, "I'll just wait 'til he comes for me".
I intend to wade into the harvest fields and do everything I can to participate in the harvest and mobilize anybody to help that has the slightest interest, because I'm persuaded that's the best way to be. How about you? Are you doing your little self-evaluation on all of these? Again, it's not your thought, it's not your opinion, it's not your wish. The fruit of your life. 1 Corinthians 9, this is an interesting passage, it says "Do you not know..." When the Bible says, "Do you not know?" you know for one thing for certain. That the author is assuming that the reader doesn't know. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize".
Church, are you running to get the prize? "Well, I said the prayer. I have a baptism certificate. I was baptized in the Jordan River. Here's a picture. The fish were biting my ankles". He said, "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever". Run in such a way as to get the prize. We're pretty sloppy with our faith. We've had more freedom and more liberty and more churches and more access to Bibles and Christian literature and Christian media than any people in the history of civilization. And we've watched our faith be pushed out of our schools, off of the college campuses, out of the corporate settings, unwelcome in the halls of government, never mind that the government buildings have Scripture verses carved in stone.
Some knucklehead stands up and says, "You shouldn't say those things here". We went, "Oh, okay". It didn't look like we were very persuaded. Didn't seem to me we were running to get the prize. We were running after some other prizes. We were distracted. Does that feel right? We've got some course adjustments to make. Look in 1 Corinthians 6. Here's that phrase again: "Do you not know"? "Well..." "Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who's in you, whom you've received from God? You're not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body". That's not just about wardrobe. It's what you do with your physical strength, what you do with your intellect, what you do with the fruit of your life, the education that you're privileged to get, the gifts and the skills that God gives to you. Are you honoring God with them? Are you persuaded to do that? What's the fruit of that? Not my opinion; yours. But think about it.
I'm persuaded that I will endure, persevere, complete my course AND receive the reward which the Lord, the righteous judge will present. I intend to be present for that. I'm persuaded. I'm in. Sometimes, it's harder than I wish it were. Sometimes, life is more challenging. Sometimes, circumstances don't seem fair. Sometimes, you bump into just evil. But I'm persuaded that there's a reward that the Lord will award, and I intend to be present for that. 2 Timothy 2, same young man: "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus". When was the last time someone said to you in the context of your faith, "Endure hardship"? "Well, you know, I do. I got here Sunday, and we had a guest speaker. Somebody was sitting in my seat. And I stayed. Suffered for Jesus. Wasn't my seat. Just didn't feel comfortable. And to be completely honest, I really didn't even like the worship team. They weren't my favorites. So, yeah, I've suffered".
Folks, we've had so much. We really haven't even hardly processed this in much depth. And finally, I'm persuaded that God has made complete provision for my life in time and eternity. In Christ I have been given everything I need to overcome, to be victorious and to demonstrate the faithfulness of my God. I believe that. And it doesn't mean that every day I'm standing on top. It means some days there is a great deal of pressure or heaviness or discouragement or challenges or desperation. 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 3: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own goodness and glory". His divine power has given us everything we need.
Now it doesn't mean that every moment I have everything I will ever need. I had a flat tire a few days ago. I needed more air. It's hard to believe I didn't have enough hot air, isn't it? But I am persuaded that God will keep his Word. You wanna bring people around you that are persuaded of similar things. Guard your heart, pay attention to what you listen to. Don't be casual with your discretionary time. Do your best to spend it with people that will encourage you in your faith that are living boldly for the Lord. Sacrifice to be with them.
Do whatever you have to do to be with those kind of people. When you find one, they are a priceless treasure who are investing themselves, putting their lives, their reputations, their resources, their intellect, they're putting themselves on the line for the kingdom of God. You wanna hang out with those kind of people. They are tremendous gifts in your life. You probably won't collect them by the hundred, but you'll find one or two or three and you'll get to walk with them for a season and God will very likely reallocate them, and then he'll ask you to be that person in the lives of somebody else. "I don't wanna do that. I just liked it better when I got to stand in the shadow of somebody else that was believing well".
Time to grow up. I want us to close. I want us to take those statements of "I'm persuaded" and say them together. Can we do that, for our closing proclamation? Okay, you'll need your outline. We can stand for this. We're gonna go back to "I'm persuaded that Jesus of Nazareth is the way, the truth, and the life". Have you found it? Let this be our declaration over our lives, the statement of intent. You ready?
- I am persuaded; Jesus of Nazareth is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
- I am persuaded; Scripture is inspired by God, a necessary and profitable part of God's provision for my life.
- I am persuaded; God Almighty made the heavens, the earth and all that is in them.
- I am persuaded; I have been reconciled to God, accepted and approved by Him.
- I am persuaded; I have been delivered from the domain of darkness. I belong to the eternal Kingdom of God. I have been redeemed and forgiven.
- I am persuaded; Jesus is returning to the earth, triumphant. He will reward those who have honored Him and bring judgment against those who have rejected Him.
- I am persuaded; Jesus is building His Church and I intend to assist in every possible way.
- I am persuaded; To honor God with my life, with all my heart, mind, soul, and body. I will invest my time, my treasure and my talent as an expression of honor to my Lord and King.
- I am persuaded; I will endure, persevere, complete my course AND receive the reward which the Lord, the righteous judge will present.
- I am persuaded; God has made complete provision for my life in time and eternity. In Christ I have been given everything I need to overcome, be victorious and demonstrate the faithfulness of my God, amen, hallelujah.