Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Let's Take A Walk

Allen Jackson - Let's Take A Walk

Allen Jackson - Let's Take A Walk

The topic is "Courageous Faith". There are two words that we don't very often put together in the context of our faith life. American Christendom, I don't think we imagine has to be defined by faith. We think about faith in the context of our spiritual lives, we think about at some point in the future when we get closer to the end and things are gonna get tougher than they are now, but we don't like to even think about the possibility of courage linked to our faith.

Well, the awkward truth is Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world in this season, and that in many, many places in the world, they are hunting for people like you this morning, not to give them an invitation to serve in children's ministry, they're hunting to inflict pain and to shut you down. Courageous faith: I doubt, I really don't believe that you will attain heaven without courage. I think you could attain heaven without a perfect systematic theology, but I don't think you'll be there without courage. I think we have misunderstood. I'm not a big advocate of the presentation of Christianity that's centered in the recitation of a prayer and a dip in a pool, and then you can live your life on your terms.

The new birth is intended to give rise to a new life, and to do that, it's gonna require courage. I wanna start with a definition, we live in an age of deception, tremendous deception, and in order to continue to deceive increasing numbers of people, there's a lot of language manipulation going on, redefining of things. Redefinitions don't change reality, they just change the words on the page. The definition of courage is helpful, the ability to do something that frightens, the ability to do something that frightens. Do you have any space in your imagination of your faith that God would invite you to do something that's intimidating, threatening, or even frightening? Do you have an imagination in the context of your spiritual life that God would ask you purposely put you in a place to do hard things on his behalf?

See in American Christianity we think of courageous faith in terms of comfort and convenience. Well, somebody sat in my seat and I stayed at church anyway. Somebody parked in my space, the greeter was not friendly to me but I didn't leave, I'm a courageous believer. It wasn't my favorite worship leader, but I decided to stay anyway. Well, it wasn't the speaker I wanted to hear. Courageous faith, the ability to do something that frightens, threatens is awkward. Even goes on to say courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. A willingness to maintain your faith in the momentum, the expression of your faith in the face of pain, grief, difficulty. How could we do that? Why would we do that?

Well, I think in order to sustain that kind of a life, we're gonna have to have a different kind of an awareness. And I wanna start in 2 Corinthians 4, says, "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". That first sentence is a paradox. How can you fix your eyes on something that's invisible? How you look at something you can't see? Well, obviously, you're gonna have to look with something other than your physical eyes. Well, why would you even entertain that discussion? Why would you contemplate it? Well, the payoff is the next sentence. It says, "What you see is temporary, but there's something you can't see that is eternal".

So the walk of faith, the path of faith, the journey of faith is the pattern of life decisions that are determined of something that isn't visible. If the primary decision components of your life are determined by the physical world in which we live, if they're by the same decision points that the secular world is making decisions, be certain of this, you are not leading a faith life. I'm not talking about upgrading your car or the label in your clothing, I'm talking about a life that honors the Lord. Your body God gave you. When God created you, he made you a spirit. God made you a spirit, it's the part of you that's created most directly in God's image. In your mother's womb, your body was knit together. God says, "He watches over that process, but it's your spirit that truly makes you a living being".

Now, the Bible says, "It's your body is fearfully and wonderfully made". It's a tremendous gift that God gives to you. You are a spirit, you just live in a body for a season. I like to call it your earth suit. Oh, you live under the sun, you need one of these little uniforms. If you're out of space you need space suit so you can breathe and the temperature doesn't destroy you. Well, if you're on earth, if you're gonna have authority, authority in this world requires an earth suit, it's why Jesus had to come get one of these. The Bible says, "Your body is fearfully and wonderfully made".

It's an amazing thing. God gave you five senses you can hear and see and taste and smell and touch, it's how you interact with the physical world in which we live. They're amazing, amazing gifts, but it's a mistake to imagine that those five senses define reality. They are simply the portals through which you can interact with the physical world in which we live, but they don't define all reality that you fundamentally get this. You understand that there are sound waves that your physical ears can't hear. There are light waves that your physical body, your eyes, and your neurological system can't process. Doesn't mean they don't exist, you just don't have the equipment for them, there are radio waves in this room and if we had a receiver and a speaker, you could hear them, but you need extra equipment to do that.

How many of you believe that? Most of you've got a smartphone, some of you have it on right now, you can communicate with anybody in the world, sitting there in your seat, you're shooting a text to somebody right now. "I forgive you". I'm old enough to remember when phones used to come with chords, you had to be connected linearly in line. We have been untethered, I remember when phones had like a rotary thing on the front, I don't even know how that works anymore. So it makes no sense to me to believe that about our physical world or our technological world and to reject that idea about your spiritual life. What I'm asking you can consider the Bible says, "God is the Spirit and those that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth".

And in Genesis 1, it says, "God created the heavens and the earth so that the spiritual gave rise to the physical". It's exactly what we just read in Corinthians that what we see is temporary, but what is unseen, that's permanent. So what we want to begin to do is to orient our lives with the decisions of our lives. The primary components of our lives are dictated by what we don't see. I know you're in church on a Sunday morning and I commend you for that, but that's not really the indicator. You give me your checkbook and your calendar, I'll tell you what's really important, you tell on yourself. To what extent do we make decisions based on spiritual things more than physical things? It determines more about the quality of your spiritual life than the books you read or where you sit on Sunday morning.

Look in 2 Corinthians 5, same book next chapter. "Therefore being always of good courage knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord". Paul's introducing an interesting concept. He says that we're at home in the body while we have our earth suit, we are removed in many respects from the kingdom of God. Now, the Spirit of God dwells in you and we can see evidence of the kingdom of God, but we don't see it in his fullness right now, we're at home in the body, but there's a time coming when your earth suit will wear out, you'll step out of it, you're not done, your existence isn't over. This is a very temporary season while you are at home in the body. And he says, "While we're at home in the body, if we're awake to the things of the Lord, if we've been born again, if we have been made alive to God, we walk by faith not by sight". We're invited to make a faith walk more than we make visual navigation.

Again, it's about our life choices and our decisions, we've got a different set of parameters. "We are of good courage, I say and prefer rather than to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord". I know it's in the Bible, but I'm not sure we really prefer to be absent from the body. I think we're pretty heavily invested. See the more aware we become of spiritual things, the more the kingdom of God becomes a reality to us, the more we will become invested emotionally and in every other way in what we can't see. "Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether we're at home in the body or absent from the body to be pleasing to Him". What's your life ambition? Don't answer.

Paul is reminding the church in Corinth that our ambition should be to please the Lord. Doesn't mean other things are evil, but the primary ambition is to be pleasing to the Lord, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. There's our motivation, why would we care about that stuff? I thought if I could say the prayer you dipped in the pool, then I could live my life on my own terms. Why should I be ambitious to please the Lord? Because we are all gonna stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every one of us alone, it's not gonna be a group hug, you won't be there with pastor or your small group or your spouse or your kids. It's not a judgment of heaven or hell, it's not a judgment of destiny, it's a judgment for what you've done in the body.

And Jesus is a just judge because he walked among us. He knows the frailties and the limits of the human body, he says he was tempted in every way just like we are yet without sin. So he's uniquely positioned to help us evaluate what we've done in the body, you won't be able to hustle him, your tears won't move him. Look at the next line. Why would we do that? Because he's gonna recompense, he's gonna reward us for what we've done in the body. So why would we build a life pattern based on what we don't see? Because we're gonna stand before the judge of all the universe and he's gonna evaluate what we've done. No, again, that's not about condemnation, he's gonna cheer for us when we got it right and he'll weep with us when we got it wrong. I wanna learn to walk by what I believe more than what I see.

Now, I've got just a couple of minutes, but I wanna use them and give you an example from scripture. The cross is the center of our story, we have no story apart from the cross. Jesus redemptive work accomplished for us through his crucifixion, his burial, and his resurrection transforms everything for all of humanity. Well, I want to ask you to take just a minute with me, we're gonna look at the cross from the gospels and I want you to focus with me on the visible outcomes of the cross, what we can see. You don't need any spiritual insight, let's just look at the presentation of the cross from Jesus contemporaries. All right, it's Luke's Gospel, chapter 23. Jesus is on the cross and it says, "The people stood watching". Now, Luke's gonna describe three distinct people groups, "The rulers even sneered at Jesus. And they said, 'He saved others; let him save himself if he's the Messiah of God, the Chosen One.'"

Now, who are these rulers? They're not Roman rulers, these are the Jewish rulers. An authority, Jewish authority. In first century, Jerusalem was seated in the temple, the temple was the national bank, it was the center of national power. These are the temple leaders. So these are the leaders of religious services, the conveners of spiritual authority. These are the ones that are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jeremiah as their great-great-uncle. They're experts in the laws of Moses, they keep all the right holidays, they keep Passover and the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. They keep the kosher rules, they eat all the right foods. They tie the spices they buy in the marketplace, and yet they're standing at the foot of the cross sneering at Jesus. "If he'd been the Messiah, he could save himself".

There's another group says. "The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar, and they said, 'If you're the king of the Jews, save yourself.'" "There was a written notice above him which said: 'THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.'" Jesus is on that cross, be certain of this because he claimed to be a king. That was the quickest way to execution in the empire. And the signs over his head and the soldiers understand with clarity, this man you serve to authority, he didn't deserve, he made a claim, he couldn't back up, he didn't have armies to defend him and Caesar nailed him to a cross and they mock him. In verse 39, it says, "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him. 'Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us.'"

In Hebrews 12, it's not in your notes, but it says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross". Jesus went to the cross with the mocking and the insults and the sneers and the jeering and the enormous pain and the agony and the suffering because he could see something other than a cross. See, I'm asking you to order your life around a set of principles that are different from people who don't have any spiritual awareness. The essence of being a Christ follower had better be more than where you sit for a few minutes on the weekend. That's not the full story though, same chapter, just a few verses later, we're given a little bit more of the picture says, "It was now about the sixth hour," that's noon, "and darkness came over the whole land until" the ninth hour, that's 3.

So from noon until three, it got dark. "For the sun stop shining and the curtain of the temple was torn in two and Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' And when he said this, he breathed this last. The centurion, seeing what happened, praised God and said, 'Surely this was a righteous man.' When all the people who were gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and they went away". It's a Hebraic expression. To beat their breast was to humble themselves, it was to be repentant. There's one last group of people described there, says, "Those who knew him, including the women who'd followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things".

Now, we've got a pretty robust picture of people watching Jesus on a cross. He's been beaten almost beyond recognition. He was beaten so badly, he's lost so much blood that he couldn't even carry his cross, which was the normal punishment for the condemned individual. He show 40 lashes were said to kill a man they gave Jesus 39, then they blindfolded him and they hit him over the head again and again and again, and they said, "If you're the Messiah, tell us who hit you". No doubt, he suffered a concussion. Then they shoved a crown of thorns down on his head, and now he's suffocating on a Roman cross. And the scene has been described for us rather eloquently by Luke. There were those who were mocking and jeering and insulting him, and there are others who were repenting and praising God.

That Roman centurion, he put a lot at risk when he said, "This man was the Son of God". He's putting himself in line with the one who's been executed, standing in opposition to those with the authority of execution. He said, "I'll side with this man, he was the Son of God". Bold man, and then there's those people that have been following Jesus. It says, "They're standing there watching". I can't imagine the waves of grief that are crashing over them, the despair, the thoughts they must have been processing. Remember what they said on the road to Emmaus, they said, "We had believed he was the Messiah, he walked on the water, he opened blind eyes, he fed a multitude with the boy's lunch, he spoke to the wind and the waves and they obeyed him. He spoke to demons and they fled, and then the Romans killed him".

Those people that have known Jesus the best are standing they're completely unprepared for what's happening. They've got no emotional reservoir for this, no expectation, no imagination. Can you believe God would put your feet on a path that is just almost overwhelming? Courageous faith, courageous faith. That's Jesus on the cross from a... if only thing you have is your five senses, it's a tremendous defeat. The one who did the most remarkable miracles has been crushed by Rome. You need another set of eyes to know the rest of the story. The cross represents the greatest victory that has ever been established on behalf of humanity, it's total, complete, and irreversible.

The spiritual forces that stood opposed to us arrayed against us, that are described in scripture as our master, we were enslaved to them, their authority was broken over our lives through the cross, but you've gotta be able to see with something other than the evaluation of your five senses to recognize that. Oh, it's biblical, look with me, Colossians chapter 2. "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code of its regulations that was against us and stood opposed to us, he took it away, how? Nailing it to the cross and having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross". He didn't make a public spectacle of Rome.

If you're a casual observer, Rome won, if you're just kind of a disinterested hanger on the temple authorities won, they shut him down. But my Bible says that on the cross, Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities, what powers and authorities? Those spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. There's a power far more powerful than the temple authorities or a Roman centurion, they've existed across centuries in different empires and Jesus disarmed them and made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by his cross. They have no legal right against you any longer, they have no legal claim in opposition to you because through the cross of Jesus Christ, you have been acquitted, you have been delivered from their arena of influence, they have no power over you.

Look at 1 Corinthians 2, "We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden that God destined for our glory from the time before time began". You know, not all of God's wisdom is available to us. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that, but don't let that bother you folks, we have more truth than we have time to give application to. But look at the next sentence. "None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they wouldn't have crucified the Lord of glory". He's not talking about the temple authorities or the Romans, but those principalities and the powers. If they had understood what was happening on the cross, they would've never orchestrated Jesus execution because it was through the cross. They were defeated irreversibly for all eternity, their power over us is broken.

Now, what are the implications for you and me? What's that mean? What's next? I'll tell you next week because I'm out of time today, but I did bring you a prayer. I brought you more than a prayer, I brought you a declaration of what the scripture says was accomplished for you on the cross. It's one of those few prayers I would suggest you commit to memory. It didn't originate with me, it's really is gleaned directly from the scripture as a collection of statements about what happened for you through Jesus redemptive work, and it needs to become a living thing within you. Once you stand with me, we're gonna make this proclamation together. It's on the back of your outline.

If you were ignoring the outline studiously, it was worth the price of admission just for this prayer. That first line says, "I testify to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for me". I make this as a regular prayer over my own life, and when I say it, I said, "I Allen Jackson testified to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for me". And as tempted as I was to put Allen Jackson in all of your notes, so all hundreds of you could pray for me today, I really thought it was more effective if you could say it for yourself, but if I were saying it privately, I'd put my name in it, I don't want there to be any uncertainty about what I'm speaking to.

See, when you use your words to agree with what scripture says about you, you bring authority to it in this realm in time, you bring it into the realm of what your five senses can do. We take something that's spiritual and unseen and we bring it into the realm of the scene when we use the authority that we've been given with our earth suit to align ourselves with God's purposes, it's why the church is described as salt and light in the world. We withstand evil, we bring light into the darkness. God has invested you with authority, you have a role to play in your office, in your classrooms, in your neighborhoods, on the sports teams and all the places God takes you. I gotta hush, we got a prayer to pray. Let's say it together.

I testify as to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for me. Through the blood of Jesus I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the blood of Jesus all my sins are forgiven. The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, continually cleanses me from all sin. Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, made righteous, just as if I'd never sin. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, Satan has no place in me, no power over me through the blood of Jesus.

Are you Human?:*