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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Is Nothing Sacred?

Allen Jackson - Is Nothing Sacred?

Allen Jackson - Is Nothing Sacred?

And the title is really a question. It's a rhetorical question. "Is Nothing Sacred?" And the answer is twofold. I think in our culture we would have to say truly there's almost nothing that's sacred anymore. On the other hand I would say in the eternal kingdom of God, absolutely. God has not redefined sacred or holy. And so we are caught between the juxtaposition of those two ideas. In the public arena and in the private arena, in the culture in which we live there's hardly anything that is sacred any longer and yet in the heart and the mind of God and his expectations of us sacred very much exists, and that creates a tension in our lives between which authority we will line up under. And it's not simple, and tragically the church has been overwhelmingly co-opted in this confusion.

I'm going to, I would for this session at least avoid the word studies. They're meaningful and they're helpful, I think, in Hebrew. Sacred and holy are two sides of the same coin, often can be translated interchangeably. And so when we talk about something being sacred, it's a reflection of something that is holy or the holiness of God. Something that is sanctified is something that is set apart as sacred to God, and there are behaviors and choices and institutions that God has said are sacred to him. And we're going to walk through that, but I had answers to kind of that rhetorical question. I took some things that I would say to you that in our culture and amongst the people of God have oftentimes been considered sacred.

One would be marriage. It's a covenant made between a man and a woman before God. It's one of the sacraments recognized in the church, and sacraments are practices that are considered sacred. And there's not agreement on what those practices are across all the different flavors of church, but marriage is one of those sacraments that is recognized by the Christian church. The fact that it's recognized that a Christian marriage is recognized by our government is just one more of those arguments that our nation was founded upon a biblical worldview, and God hasn't redefined what marriage is.

You know, I understand our Supreme Court has weighed in on that, then recently our Congress did and our president affixed his signature to that. And there was an enormous cultural conversation around that; but marriage between a man and a woman in God's sight is a sacred thing, and he didn't invite another opinion. So it's not an easy place. Churches are capitulating on this point at such a rate that it's bringing tremendous division. But it's not something that's happened recently, it's been unfolding for several decades now. It's just broken into the open to such a degree it's impossible to ignore, but we don't treat marriage as if it's something that's sacred. We seldom get married in a church any longer. And I'm not really here to try to annoy you and I certainly don't want to shame you, but I think the church has drunk so deeply from the cultural well that we've lost some of our biblical moorings.

A Christian wedding is not Princess For a Day. It's not intended to be the opportunity to get everything you've dreamt about since you were a child, and parents and grandparents that facilitate that are adding a very secular momentum to something that is intended to be very sacred. I'm not opposed to a party nor a good time, but the point of a wedding biblically is a covenant made between a man and a woman in the sight of God and it brings with it some authority structures and some choices. It's unusual today in weddings for couples to want to use traditional vows. We want to write our own 'cause the traditional vows seem so restrictive. God can be that way because he has defined what is sacred and holy and he didn't ask for a vote from Congress or the Supreme Court or a denomination nor you or me. The definition of the sovereignty of God is that he can do what he wants when he wants, and he doesn't need anyone's approval.

So when God established marriage, understand that to be a Christ follower he didn't present it to you with multiple options. Marriage really is something that is sacred, not easy, not simple. You know, many of our definitions of what is sexually moral and immoral emerge from how we treat the covenant and the sanctity of marriage. It's that important and, again, in the church we've just set that almost completely aside. If we haven't done it openly, we have done it in practice. And until we humble ourselves and repent, you see, if you're sponsoring that, you're as guilty as if you're participating in it. Freedom of speech, we used to consider that as something that was sacred to the point that we would defend the most heinous, evil, hateful things because even though we disagreed with them we believed they had the right to a freedom of speech.

I could give you many examples of that. And now we find ourselves in a place where some arbitrary person in a closet someplace decides that what you've said is hateful and therefore you can be silenced. But this isn't some subtle thing with some tech nerd tucked away in Silicon Valley, this is, we have, without question we know now it is state directed and enforced censorship. So that notion of free speech, not only is it not sacred it seems laughable. You understand there is no freedom without free speech. It's impossible. We've become subjects of propaganda. The protection of children used to be something we considered sacred. Doesn't have to be my child. You mistreat a child and there's a problem. We lived with that.

Now, we didn't do it perfectly, but the value was in place that the children had to be protected. That's not sacred anymore. We've set that so far aside that the president of some of the most powerful teachers unions can look at parents and say, "You are not in charge of what they learn". Or some of our most powerful medical institutions will practice the mutilation of children, castrating our children and we work in the medical community and benefit from the medical community and contribute to the medical community and we let it continue. Stop talking to me about how sacred the children are. We lost that moral authority 60 million children ago. "Well, it's my body and nobody can tell me what to do with it". Until they tell you to put a mask on and get vaccinated and then you'll shut up and get in line.

The authority of Scripture. I know it seems quaint today, but there was a time in the churches at least that was sacred. We might quibble about translations or argue about original text or textual problems, but we imagined an authority to Scripture. That principle is mocked widely today not in the secular press, in theology schools. It's mocked in Christian schools. It's not uncommon in a Christian school, a Christian university, a Christian elementary school to have some professor or faculty member say to the students, "I'm going to deconstruct what you've learned in church or deconstruct what you've been taught by your parents". Don't tolerate that. How dare they? Things that at one time were held as something that was sacred either as an institution, as a principle, as a practice, as an idea that I think today for the most part we would say they're just not treated that way. And I don't imagine that the transition came because ungodliness gained strength, I think that we arrived at this place because the church was distracted.

Now, the good news in that is that awakened church or a group of people committed once again to those values and principles will find that they have the help, the momentum, the strength of Almighty God. But we'll have to have the courage to stand in the face of the culture; and what I want to do is just walk with you through some Scriptures to let you see the significance, the extent to which the notion of the sacred or the holy is a part of what it means to be the people of God and that what we have set aside or what we've allowed to be set aside is something that is so fundamental to the nature of Scripture that it's impossible to imagine ourselves as Christ followers unless we live with an awareness of the holy and the sacred.

Exodus 3 and verse 5, this is God, it's Moses' recruitment. You know the story. Backside of the desert he's happy. He's got a new thing going. That savior role didn't work out so well, and God says to Moses, "Don't come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground". Did Moses stumble in to some uniquely holy space? No. Moses is in the presence of God, and to be in God's presence means that you are in the presence of someone holy. The Scripture tells us in the New Testament, it's not in your notes, but trust, it's there, that without holiness no one will see the Lord. So this isn't an Old Testament concept. As long as God is, if we're going to be in his presence we're going to have to reconcile what it means to understand both the sacred and the holy and they cannot be negotiated away. They're not fashion trends. They're not like current food trends, or decorating choices, or the hot colors for this year.

Joshua 5, different context, it's Joshua preparing for the battle of Jericho, and he is out reconnoitering. He's doing a little surveillance of the city and he meets someone he doesn't recognize. "The commander of the LORD's army replied", I think it's the Lord, if you want my opinion. Said, "'Take off your sandals, for the place where you're standing is holy.' And Joshua did so". Again, it's not that the ground surrounding Jericho was uniquely sacred, but to be in the presence of the Lord is. So we can begin to form an idea that if you want to be in the presence of the Lord, if you want the presence of the Lord to be close to you we're going to have to grapple with, attach value to what holiness is.

One of the ways that's communicated is recognizing that God calls us to remember times and dates with a unique reference to him. And it's not that the day of the week or the time of day is particularly sacred; but that God asks us to pause in the spending of our days and the busyness of our lives to recognize that we hit the pause button and turn our attention to him because he is holy and deserves our attention, and the reason that is a requirement, I would submit, is because we have a tendency that we continue to fill our lives with what we want and what we're pursuing and what we think will make us happy and we push God increasingly to the periphery. And so God has given us some very clear directions to practice a routine where we re-center, where we bring God back into the center of our focus.

I brought you just a couple of passages. I could have brought a myriad of passages. Exodus chapter 12, part of God's instruction. Remember the Book of Exodus he's taking a group of people who, it's a mixed multitude, the Bible says. They've never been a people. They don't share a unique ethnicity. They don't have a common heritage. They've spent hundreds of years as slaves in Egypt. They've never occupied their own nation. They've never had a central government. They've never had a priesthood. They've never had a king, it's a mixed multitude of people, and the challenge that Moses has that God is helping him with is to fashion this mixed multitude of people into a nation. How do you do that? That's what the Book of Exodus, and Leviticus, and Numbers, and Deuteronomy are about.

In Exodus 12 God said, "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD, a lasting ordinance". "I want you on an annual basis to gather together and retell the story of your deliverance. It's a lasting ordinance". "For seven days you're to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh day must be cut off from Israel". Wow. "On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat. That is all you may do".

Now, that's just one example. Again, there's a multitude of them. God said, "You need to do this on an annual basis". How far have we come away from that, the notion of assembling together have any sense of sacred to it whatsoever? Now, there's plenty of blame to go around. We can point fingers in all kinds of directions, but that isn't helpful. Let's just begin to ask ourselves, "To what extent do I imagine ever gathering with God's people brings with it a component of the sacred"? In Exodus 20 it's the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. And I brought you, it's not the entire list, but it's a portion. I wanted you to see it in a bit of context. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name".

We're pretty casual with that one. And I'm not talking about you personally, but we're pretty comfortable being in the presence of people who misuse the name of the Lord. It's not that sacred to us anymore. Verse 8, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy". And then there's a little commentary for this one. Not much commentary on these others, but on this one there's a bit of commentary. "Six days you'll labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or your daughter, nor your manservant or your maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that's in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy". God said, "One day out of the week is holy to me, not holy for recreation".

Now, we quibble about how and when. It's beyond the scope of this particular session. I don't think the day when you recognize the Sabbath is that significant, and I can give you some Scriptural support for that. I think the fact that you recognize the Sabbath is. Is it good for you to rest? Certainly. I think it's more important to honor what God said to us. It's in the list of ten. Look at the rest of the list. "Honor your father and mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal".

So here's a thought. Maintaining that notion of the Sabbath as something that is holy is as significant in God's sight as not stealing or murdering or being an adulterer. Now, it's been a challenge for the people of God all through the run, so I'm not surprised it's a challenge for us. In Galatians Paul's writing to a church, and they started with the redemptive story of Jesus and they submitted themselves, again, to rules and regulations and Paul says they've come under the spirit of witchcraft. He says, "Who's bewitched you? I'm surprised," he said, "you've so quickly abandoned the truth that I told you. You were running a good race. What has happened to you"? And in Galatians 4 he said, "You are observing special days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that somehow I've wasted my efforts on you".

So what I say to you, don't get caught up in arguing about when the Sabbath starts and when it ends. Just maintain Sabbath. You with me? We get so heated up, swelled up, "We're more righteous than you 'cause we read this translation and we worship with our hands this way and you worship with your hands this way, and", Colossians 2, "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore don't let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come. The reality is found in Christ".

So we live with this tension that our holiness isn't determined by the day of the week on which we worship. We can worship on Wednesday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or Tuesday. It's not whether we're following a lunar calendar or a solar calendar, it's that we understand the one we worship. But it's also imperative that we don't lose sight of the character of God that, "I am the Lord and I change not". And without holiness no one will see the Lord. So we don't have the privilege of redefining moral and immoral, and we have been pretty casual with the sacred. And I believe if we will just quietly begin to come back to the Lord and say, "I would like to walk uprightly before you".

And anytime we start with it, outside in we get in trouble. "I won't say these words," or, "I won't do that". And we get a little puffed up. Self-righteousness is the unique illness of religious people. We understand it's only through the grace of God, only through the shed blood of Jesus, but because of that I will live as a servant of Almighty God. In fact, Paul said, "I'm a little chameleon-like". He said, "When I'm with some groups," he said, "I'll have to blend in with that group. And when I come to another group," he said, "I'll fit in". Not compromising, not practicing immorality, but it's not our self-righteousness.

Go back to that list of the sacred: marriage, the truth, faithfulness. Start to take those matter, aspects of character, your character and the character of God, and treat them as if they are valuable and watch what will happen in your life. Church, we have an assignment to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world and occasionally to use words. It'll be more powerful if we do it with our lives. Amen? God is awakening his people. I'm so excited. You should be. I'm done. Why don't you stand with me? How many of you would be willing to invite the Holy Spirit to give us a revelation of the sacred? Would you be willing to say, "Lord, I'd like that"? He's our teacher. And if we could acknowledge that it's away from us, I believe he would help us understand how to walk towards it.

Father, thank you for your Word. I thank you for these men and women and the hunger in their hearts and the diligence with which they pursue you. And, Lord, we recognize that our hearts are deceptive and we are experts, Lord, at justifying our own selves; and we come tonight in humility to submit ourselves to you, to your instruction, to your authority. Father, we would like to honor you with our lives and our words and our thoughts, with our talents and our treasures. And, Holy Spirit, we ask for your help. Grant us a revelation, each of us, into the purposes of God and the plans of God and the ideas of God that you might be pleased with us. I thank you for it. I thank you for an awakening church, for an empowered church, for a church filled with boldness. We thank you, Father, that we might have the privilege of serving in such a way. In Jesus's name, amen. Hallelujah. God bless you.

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