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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - America, Restored or Rebuked? - Part 1

Allen Jackson - America, Restored or Rebuked? - Part 1


Allen Jackson - America, Restored or Rebuked - Part 1
TOPICS: America, USA

It's an honor to be with you today. Our topic in this session is "America Will Be Restored or Rebuked". Is God in the process of writing a new future for us, or is he bringing his judgment upon us? It's a very important question, and it should be more than theoretical. I don't think the challenges that face us are really rooted in politics, I think, ultimately, they're spiritual, which means the church, God's people, are at the center of that equation. And it's wrong of us to look through the windows of our churches and think that the problems we face are because of the hearts of the pagans, the ungodly. I believe the real challenge lies in the hearts of the faithful. Will we be awakened to the purposes of God in a new way, or will we continue to behave as we have and just want a different outcome? It's a challenge, and it's a serious one, and it's worth grappling with, because the Spirit of God is moving amongst us. I'm seeing people respond to God in ways I never have before, and I want to be one of those people, and I believe you do, too. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most of all, let's open our hearts to God's purposes in this season as we never have before. Enjoy the lesson.

I want to start a new series tonight, really to walk us through this month, I hope, while we have the opportunity to be outdoors a bit. I want to talk about our nation. And I'm not sure I've got the title just where I want it, we'll start with this tonight, "America: Restored or Rebuked". And I understand it could be both, but I'm confident that God is dealing with our nation, which means he's dealing with his people in our nation. And I don't want to ignore that, I don't want to look away from that, I don't wanna whistle until I think it's over.

I want to pay attention. And I want to take a few weeks with you and see if we can understand it. We're gonna look at a little bit of history from time to time. We're gonna pay a bit of attention to current events from time to time. But most of all, we're going to look at the Word of God and see if we can understand what God's message to us and God's message for us might be in this most unique season. Because it's a unique season, and however we were behaving at the beginning of 2020, God is clearly asking us for a different response. The goal is not to go back to where we were and resume. We don't want to hit reset, we want to understand the lesson so that we walk through this season and come out with a new cadence, and a new rhythm, and a new set of responses, a new understanding of the Lord.

And so, I pray that these weeks, I trust the Lord will lead us through them. The idea I want to start with is this notion that the Christian faith is an integral part of this nation. It's impossible to understand our nation apart from the Christian faith. You have to cut out things, and ignore things, and push them away. It's not a declaration that we've done everything right, or we've always been perfect, but the Christian faith, and the Christian worldview, and a biblical worldview has been a part of this nation since before we were a nation. The people who came here, many of them came with a desire trying to find freedom to worship Jesus without the intervention of the state. I like to say that Christianity is as American as apple pie, and I like Apple pie, so that's a compliment. You know, it's just you can't understand us without that.

Now, it's important to note that God's not an American. I'm not confused. This isn't an attempt to prop up our nation with some sort of crude nationalism. When you get to heaven, they won't be playing the "Star Spangled Banner" in the elevators, I promise. In fact, you know, when you're standing at the Pearly Gates, you won't look behind him and see a flag pole with the red, white, and blue flapping in the breeze. So, I'm not confused about that, and yet I'm quite confident God has blessed us. We are a nation that is so uniquely blessed, and that's not some blinded egoism. You know, right now I understand, and it isn't really just right now, it's been true for several decades. It was true when I was still in the academic circles, and that's been a bit, but it's popular to diminish and discredit our nation. To malign those who preceded us. To find the worst parts of their character and celebrate them, push them forward. None of us could withstand that type of inspection, none of us.

There's a powerful spirit of division at work in our midst right now, more powerful than I've seen in my lifetime. It's seeking to divide us around any possible distinction that can be established, whether it's race, sex, the region in which we live, the income that we earn or we haven't earned, our responses to COVID, whether we're masked or unmasked, whether we're vaccinated or unvaccinated. I can tell you God is not the author of this division, that it emerges from a dark place with a very demonic intent, and we have to guard our hearts, not to be angry, not to be resentful, not to be embittered. We have to find ways to stand together and work together towards a better future.

You know, I've had the privilege of traveling some in my life, not a great deal, but some. I've been to Asia, and Africa, and South America, and Europe, the Middle East, and I can tell you there is no place like the USA. There's not a rough approximation someplace else, there just isn't. Our freedoms and liberty, our abundance and opportunities, they're unique in the world. And it's very misleading and manipulative for those that have authority in our nation, or platforms in our nation, or microphones in our nation, to tell us that we're just like everybody else. It's just not true. And I love to travel and go, I've got friends all over the earth, but there's no place quite like where we live. The truth is, together we have struggled forward, to borrow a phrase from the Constitution, "Working to form a more perfect union". And the biblical worldview has been the cohesive force that's held us together.

Again, imperfectly as we have struggled our way forward. 2020 brought us to a crossroad, a point of decision as a nation, and especially for the church. We heard at first when they said close, close your doors, and we said, "Sir, yes, Sir". We entered a season of tremendous turbulence and upheaval. Now, it very well could be the beginning of a Great Awakening in our nation. We've had them before, we've had them repeatedly. I don't know just yet. It could just as easily be the rumbling of a cataclysmic collapse. I think that is equally possible, because the outcome is just not clear to me yet. I think the church is at the center of that. The future is not gonna be decided by politicians or ideologies, it's gonna be about something else. It's not gonna be about nation states or armies. It may be played out in those arenas, but the truth is spiritual forces are at work, and the outcomes are going to be evident in many ways, but the determining factors are going to be spiritual.

And the question on the table, above all others to me, is what will the church do? And I don't mean this congregation, but church with a capital C. What will the church do? Will we sound like that group in the Exodus generation that said we liked it better in Egypt? We don't like Moses. Will we respond like Joshua and Caleb and say we believe the Lord will complete what he has begun in us? What will the church do? What we're watching right now is almost, it strains at the limits of credulity. It's just almost unbelievable. Our southern border is wide open. We cannot maintain our autonomy as a nation with that practice. We will lose our identity as a nation, it's unsustainable. And it's no longer just about Central America, there are people coming from all over the globe to cross that border, and our leaders could care less on either side of the aisle. This is not a partisan comment. We're walking through a season of economic confusion. It's as if we are totally bewildered. We are bankrupt.

I don't have a degree in economics, but you don't need one. But we're continuing to spend like a bunch of drunken sailors, and that's an insult to sailors. There is no free. If you're getting something for free, somebody else is making a sacrifice for you to have it. In fact, if we extrapolate on that just a bit, there is no success without sacrifice. You will not sustain success without sacrifice. If you have some success and you didn't sacrifice for it, you're enjoying somebody else's sacrifice. We've gotta wake up. We just separated the notion of work and outcomes. We've come to imagine work as optional, something that should be fulfilling. No, that's called a hobby, recreation, vacation. Work is hard. It's where you do things you wouldn't do if somebody wasn't paying you with people that you wouldn't hang out with unless somebody was paying you, that's work, and the Bible advocates it. It says God works.

As a matter of fact, when we first meet him in Genesis, he's workin' a six-day week. We're watching the idea of family be intentionally dismantled fundamentally, from the nature of marriage and what marriage means. We've said, we've redefined it. I'm quite certain God hasn't. But then we began to attack the roles within marriage that the Bible hands us. We have attacked masculinity and said it's toxic, as if it's evil. We've lost our balance. I'm pretty confident that the metrosexuals in Birkenstocks wouldn't have taken the beaches of Normandy. And we're watching it happen, and we're staying silent, and mute, and distracted. Lawlessness is replacing our respect for authority. It's not brand new, it hasn't happened with just the current administration, it's been in place for quite a season now. But it's escalating, it's gained a momentum, it's breaking into an exponential growth curve from riots in our cities, violence, murder, to open discussions about defending the police and replacing them with social workers, that's nuts.

That's a Greek word, it means I disagree. We have open borders and we tell our border agents to stand down, it's unbelievable. And in the midst of that, there's a remarkable ambivalence in the church. Could we just get together and study our Bible? Could we sing our favorite choruses? We don't really have to talk about what's goin' on in the world, do we? It's gonna pass. Now, I don't know. I don't know what the outcome is just yet. I believe we as a nation deserve God's judgment, but I also know God delights in showing mercy, and so I have some hope that he could look upon us with mercy and grace. But I believe the response of the church is far more critical than elections. I believe the response of God's people is more important than what happens on Wall Street. I think all of those things will be affected, but I think the point of the challenge is our hearts. We're not powerless, we're not insignificant. It doesn't mean that lots of people care about our opinion, but the Creator of heaven and earth does. So I don't want you to feel hopeless, we're far from that.

There's two points of reference I want to invite you to consider with me. One is our role as citizens of a nation. I have a little blue passport, I use it when I travel. It says I'm a citizen of the United States of America. It gives me some certain status. Gives me the freedom to come and go, when that used to be a legal thing. You know, we have a system for legal immigration. It's a broad enough door to accommodate about a million people a year. Illegal is a problem. If you have a bank account, there's a pathway for you to make a legal withdrawal from the bank account. If you do that, no harm, no foul, it's your money. An illegal withdrawal has repercussions, we call that stealing. You might call it urgent, an imminent need, a great desire, but it's not yours. And welcoming those people across the border is issuing to them something that's not theirs, and it's not going to solve global poverty, we're confused. I don't know what the agenda is, I have some opinions, but it's just an opinion. But I can tell you that there is an agenda.

So, we're citizens of a nation, and with that come responsibilities. We're also citizens of the kingdom, and with that come responsibilities, and those two positions have to live in parallel. I want to talk a bit about that. John chapter 18 and verse 36, Jesus is speaking. He's being interviewed by a Roman governor, a man with tremendous power, because he's an official with the Roman government, and the power that he exercises comes from Caesar in Rome. It's backed up by the Roman legions that are occupying Jerusalem. And Jesus is standing before him, he's been delivered up to Pilate, and those that have delivered him to the Roman governor would prefer that Jesus be crucified. That's a Roman punishment, it's not a Jewish punishment. The Jews don't crucify people.

And so, Pilate's interviewing Jesus, and Jesus says to him in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews". But now, now's a timing word, right now, he said, "My kingdom is from another place". So Jesus is standing before a Roman governor as a citizen of the nation of Israel, and he said I'm a king, but my kingdom is from another realm. Now, you and I have citizenship in a nation, most of us I suspect, in this nation. But I pray most of us have citizenship in the kingdom of God. You have to be born into that kingdom. Jesus said that in John 3, that nobody enters the kingdom of God unless they're born again. It requires a birth of the spirit, not a physical birth. And the Bible tells us very simply that comes by believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, that you accept him as Lord of your life, and something supernatural happens to you. You're delivered from a kingdom of darkness and an eternal separation from God, and you're welcomed into the eternal kingdom of the living God.

It's the greatest miracle that will ever touch your life. Don't say you've never seen a miracle. If you're a Christ follower, you are one, that's true. In Matthew 26, we get a little more window into this discussion. Jesus said if my kingdom was in this world, he said my servants would be messing you up right now, Mister Governor. But my kingdom is not of this realm, so you're okay. Pilate gets frustrated. I didn't put it in your notes, but he says to Jesus, "Don't you understand I have the power to crucify you or to set you free"? Jesus said, "You don't have any authority over me unless Dad gave it to you". So, Jesus tells us something else, that his kingdom has authority over the kingdoms of this world. It's important to know, because when you're working out allegiances in your mind, he wants your allegiance to the kingdom of God to supersede your allegiance to any earthly kingdom, it's important. It could be at some point in our future.

There's a principle in historic Christianity about civil disobedience. The times when a state becomes so ungodly, so wicked in the laws that they pass, that they put Christ followers in a place of having to choose obedience to the kingdom of God over obedience to civil authority. I'm not suggesting we're there just yet, I'm not trying to incite rebellion, I'm telling you to understand you have citizenship in more than one place, but your citizenship in the kingdom of God supersedes your citizenship to the United States of America. So, when I say Christianity is as American as apple pie, I'm not advocating some sort of crude nationalism. Look in Colossians chapter 3 in verse 1. It says, "Since you've been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above". That's plain spoken. Since you've been raised with Christ, the Bible says that spiritually we were raised to life again, a newness of life, a new kind of life by our identification with Christ when he was raised from the dead.

So then the instruction is to set your hearts on things above. It's a good question, where's your heart tonight? If your heart is focused on the things of this world, you're anxious, 'cause everything around us is shaking. Our stability is in question. Our future is not certain. Dr. Fauci can't decide from one day to the next whether we should have Christmas, as if he were in charge. "Set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God". We're getting a picture of a kingdom that's above the earthly kingdoms that we see. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things," it's repeated. "Here on Earth," in these realms, "There's no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all". In the kingdom of God to which we are adherent as Christ followers, all those other things that bring separation to us are irrelevant.

I'm not an American Christian, or a British Christian, or a South African Christian, I'm a Christ follower. We're not white, or black, or red, or green, or blue, we are Christ followers. All those other divisions come behind the label that I am first and foremost a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. We stand united under the lordship and the headship of Jesus of Nazareth in his eternal kingdom. That doesn't mean we don't identify with all those other subsets, those are all accurate descriptions of who we may be, but they are secondary to serving Jesus. Well, I don't like hyphenated Christian labels. I'm not an independent, interdenominational Christ follower, I'm a Christ follower.

When you get to heaven, you're not gonna get a little laminated tagged with your congregations name on it, I'm pretty confident. Your national identity, and any other part of your identity, that is affixed to time is a part of this present world order. Don't imagine that it brings uniqueness to you, it brings an assignment to you. Our kingdom identity is from another realm, it's an eternal identification. Now, it's important to understand your decision about your kingdom identity has to be made while you're in time. While you're in your earth suit you get to make a decision about where you'll spend eternity, and you won't get to revisit it. We're not gonna do this over, grasshopper.

You and I carry dual citizenship. We belong to an eternal kingdom and then we belong to a nation state here on Planet Earth, and we've got responsibilities in both of those realms. It's a serious set of responsibilities, one that the Spirit of God is awakening us to as never before, let's pray:

Father, I thank you that you've called us not only out of sin and darkness, but that you called us into the kingdom of your Son, and I pray that you would awaken us to our assignment as ambassadors. To be storytellers for Jesus. To take the the assignment of what Jesus has done in us and share it with our world. Give us a new boldness, and a new insight, and a new discernment, in Jesus's name, amen.

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