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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - End Time Pressures - Part 2

Allen Jackson - End Time Pressures - Part 2

Allen Jackson - End Time Pressures - Part 2
TOPICS: End times, Pressure

It's good to be with you again. We're gonna continue our study on "End Time's Pressures". Folks, the world is tense. I know you know that. Here's the good news: God is moving in the earth. He hasn't stepped away from us, he hasn't abandoned his purposes. I can tell you what I believe God is doing above all else: He's purifying his church. He's preparing a bride without spot or wrinkle, and in order for us to become that, to fulfill his purposes, we're going to have to learn to live through some seasons of pressure. It's not a threat. It's not even bad news. God is shaping us for something unique. I wanna encourage you to begin to say yes to the Lord with a greater determination than you ever have before. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but even more importantly, open your heart.

There are two primary sources of pressure, main ways in which the pressure comes against us and I believe they will grow. I don't think that's being negative. I think it's an awareness of what is before us. The first source, I would submit, is satanic forces. Now, we can describe those in different ways. Unseen spiritual forces, principalities and powers of darkness, if you prefer the King James. But in the same way, there's a kingdom of God that is ordered and effective and is at work in the earth. There is a kingdom of darkness, and it is bringing unprecedented pressure against the people of God and the purposes of God. The second source of pressure, and we see it growing almost on a daily basis, is the continuing and accelerating degeneration of human character. The process of that corruption is accelerating rapidly.

If I had the opportunity to watch the evening news with my grandfather, he would not understand. And he was not a simple-minded person. Look at 1 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 1. Says, "The Spirit clearly says that in latter times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron". There are tremendous spiritual pressures directed to turn God's people away from their faith. And Paul, in writing to Timothy, is acknowledging to him, that the force behind that is spiritual. Unclean, spiritual forces pressuring the people of God, to diminish their faith in the living God. And the objective isn't to diminish your faith or to cause you to be a bit more timid, the objective is to cause you to abandon your faith.

We don't have to be particularly astute observers of contemporary culture to see the degree to which that is happening, the degree to which churches are abandoning the orthodox perspective on the Word of God, the person and work of Jesus. The reluctance to say that Jesus is unique, to acknowledge him as the incarnate Son of God. It's commonplace in organized churches with well-trained clergy persons to deny the divinity of Jesus, to question the authenticity of the virgin birth, of Jesus's redemptive work, his physical death, his burial, and his resurrection. You see, if those things are true, then Jesus is unique and he is as he said he was: the door. "He's the way, the truth, and the life".

And so to embrace those things, means you have to be an advocate for the uniqueness of Jesus in the pantheon of options in our world. If you can negotiate those things away, then we get to that place that we see so prevalent today where there's really not that great a difference. Doesn't matter what you believe, you just need to believe in something. It doesn't matter how you understand God, as long as you believe in some sort of a benevolence, someone, somewhere, somehow. And tragically, we find those ideas have taken deep root in the hearts of many people who fill churches. Understand that the motivation behind that isn't just stubbornness on our part, there is a spiritual attack. And tragically, our involvement with the occult, our ruling is to seek direction from unclean spirits, unholy spirits has opened our hearts and our lives to spiritual forces that make it far more difficult to hear and understand the Spirit of God.

If you've been involved with the occult in any one of its many expressions, I would encourage you to begin with the prayer of repentance and renouncing that involvement. It will expand your capacity to believe and understand the Word of God. And don't use the excuses that you didn't mean anything by it, or "It was just the ignorance of my youth". That doesn't protect us. If it protected us, there'd be no tragedies for young people when they make uninformed decisions. We understand that a lack of awareness doesn't protect us. That's a part of the burden and the responsibility of parenting. And tragically the church has not really helped our people be prepared for that. 2 Timothy chapter 3 focuses a bit more on that second point of pressure. It says, "Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days". Why will times be terrible? The literal translation is "Times will be exceedingly fierce". Exceedingly fierce.

What's gonna make the times so fierce? Well, Paul goes on to list 18 aspects of human character, which will just crumble. Major moral defects. Let's read 'em. "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them". Before we look at the list, look at that last phrase. It says they're going to have a form of godliness. All of these things will take place in the midst of religious language, and religious architecture, and religious services. The church will not be standing against it. The church will be engulfed with it.

Sounds uncomfortably familiar to me. I think you can understand the passage best with... there's three phrases there that use the word love. It says, "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure". I think that's a pretty conspicuous description of the primary features of contemporary American life. We are lovers of ourselves, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure. You know, statistically, they tell us that there's more than 50 million born again evangelical Christians in our nation. I talk quite a bit these days with leaders across the country, and I've been in more than one setting where they say to me, "The difference maker is the sleeping giant of the church, that as soon as the church is awakened it's game over".

Well, I pray they're right, but having spent much of my life in the church, I don't know that the sleeping giant exists. We have people that fill buildings and wear labels, but to be a Christ follower, Jesus has to be Lord of your life. You can join a church and not be a Christ follower. I have done that. You can know religious language and religious symbols. You can be comfortable being identified as a Christ follower. You see, to be a Christ follower, you have to make a decision about a person. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. There's really very little to do with denominational affiliation or the time of the day we worship or the musical style we prefer. You have to acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate Son of God, and recognize that we have a need for a Savior.

And then in humility come to him and say, "Forgive me of my sins". He'll ask you to forgive those who've sinned against you. And then if you'll take that next step and you're willing to say, "Jesus, I will accept you as Lord of my life," which means, "I will take a subservient role to you. I will yield to your will, to your authority, to your values, to your direction". If you will do that, the Bible describes something that is completely supernatural. You'll be reborn, a total new beginning, a new authority in your life, a new future written for you, a new power at work within you to help you overcome the weaknesses that come with our Earth suit and we all have them. That's the essence of being a Christ follower.

The overriding characteristic of the days of Noah was satanic intervention and pressures from the supernatural realm. Genesis chapter 6 describes a bit of it for us and I'm not gonna get, I'm not gonna delve deeply into this, but I think an overview is helpful. "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, 'My spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God went to the daughters of man and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown".

Now, obviously it's a passage where you can have differences of opinion. Note that the Bible did not come to us with footnotes or commentaries, so we have to understand it in the context of the remaining portions of scripture that we have. I'll give you my opinion, and it's not outlandished or beyond the realm of what would be supported in scholarship, the sons of God are fallen angels that left their appointed realm and had intercourse with women. And again, we shouldn't be shocked. If you've read anything in the classics, Greek or Latin, it's a very common theme in the literature. It's filled with such stories where the gods interacted with human beings and the children they would have were the heroes of old. The Hollywood movie industry is making a fortune off the premise of heroes these days: human beings with supernatural powers.

So I wouldn't recoil from the scripture as if it's something beyond imagination. Hollywood can imagine it with a great deal of clarity. The "Nephilim" is an important word in Hebrew, modern Hebrew, it's directly related to the word for "fall," so the Nephilim were the fallen angels. It describes the outcome. You see, the satanic pressure upon humanity was the primary cause of all the other features of the days of Noah. Let's press on in the chapter. Look at verse 5. "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time". How did he get to that place? This tremendous satanic pressure. And the place at which humanity arrived was a total corruption of thought life. Minds completely given over to darkness, immorality, wickedness.

Again, you don't have to be creative to imagine a reality like this. You have to search diligently to find programming on television or the internet that doesn't invite you into some expression of immorality or a promotion of wickedness or ungodliness. It is so prevalent and so commonplace, we have become anesthetized to it. Imagine if those media outlets were as consistent and as determined in promoting godliness and righteousness and holiness and purity. Same chapter, verse 11, "Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence, and God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, 'I'm going to put an end to all the people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.'"

Couple of phrases I would draw your attention to in verse 12, God said, "All the people had corrupted their ways". All flesh, literally, had corrupted their ways. You see, it's our carnal nature where the corruption comes in. Even as Christ followers, when we are born again, we are left with our old, Adamic, earthly nature. That part of us that rebels against the invitations of the Spirit of God. This is not some subtle theme of scripture on the New Testament. Paul said, "The things I wanna do I don't do and the things I don't wanna do, I do those," remember? And the biblical prescription for dealing with your old carnal nature is you have to put it to death. You have to execute it. You have to purposely say no to it. It responds to us. It feeds us with ideas: I think, I want, then I feel. And if anything has gotten a transcendent role in our current culture, what you think, and what you feel, and what you want drives the day.

We have abandoned our children to how they identify in the moment and we're reluctant to say much about that. It's an expression of that old, earthly, carnal, fleshly nature. Now, it's being driven by demonic motives in an unprecedented way. It's why week, after week, after week, we talk about the theater of the absurd when you see things happening that have no grounding in logic or rationality, or scientific process. They're pushing so quickly, so fast. It's an expression of that ungodly part of us, even those of us who imagine ourselves to be Christians. It leaves us addled, bewildered, confused. If we're not aware, if we're not walking in the light, we're unprepared. If you ask me, "How did we lose a third of the people who were attending church three years ago"?

I don't mean in this congregation, but in general across our nation. How could a third of the people who are willing to acknowledge the significance of public worship, step away from it? We really weren't walking in the light, so when the confusion came and the disruptions came, it was really easy for us to wander off in another direction. It's really important to put the Word of God in your heart and to recognize what is in front of us is not what we have seen previously. It's not just rinse and repeat. It's not, "Oh, no, I've read the book once". Something else is happening around us. I wanna skip to the end of your outline. I'll get the rest of it, I promise. But in letter C, I wanna close with something upbeat. There's two positive aspects of the days of Noah.

Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 7 says, "By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith". There's two things we're told in that verse in Hebrews, that God provided a warning for his servant, and then God provided a plan for his deliverance. Did you hear it? That should apply to our days as well. If we are approaching the culmination of the ages, we can trust God to give us the warnings we need, and to provide for the deliverance that will be necessary. In God's warning to Noah, there was certainly a supernatural element.

I would submit to you that our plans for next must include supernatural warnings. We're gonna have to grow up, folks. We've done our little polite Bible studies and tried to learn the names of the 12 tribes and maybe learned a few Hebrew letters, but we've really had no imagination that we needed to hear from the Spirit of God, or make room for the Spirit of God within us in order to navigate what was before us. Noah had more than a polite Bible study. He had a revelation from God that prepared him to deliver his family. We must be in a position with God to hear and understand his warnings. I assure you there are elements in our future that none of us can anticipate. One of my primary learnings from the most recent pandemic was we cannot, I cannot anticipate what's coming.

Only with the help of the Spirit of God can we understand. I would've told you what we witnessed was impossible, and yet I watched it. It's not theoretical. I would add to that we haven't looked at lot yet, but the intervention of God's angels to deliver and protect his people, and may, if you'll allow me, none of the things that God did for Noah or Lot should be understood as luxuries. It didn't make them hyper spiritual. They weren't like on the lunatic fringe of the godly people where their hero was everybody else. The only possibility for them to survive and to flourish was to be dependent upon God's supernatural intervention. I have no interest in being hyper-spiritual. I like common sense, I like to learn, I like both sides of the equation to balance. You will not impress me with hyper-spiritual language. On the other hand, I have a total commitment to listening to God, and acting on what I understand those directions to be.

Folks, we're in a different place. An election isn't going to fix us. A politician isn't gonna write the ship, it will take a spiritual renewal. Will we see God do that and extend the timeline? That's beyond me, but I can tell you the characteristics of what we are watching are described in scripture as the culmination of the ages. The specifics around that are not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to be busy with the purposes of the kingdom. To be awakened to a response to the Lord that is different than the way we've walked before, because it is clearly accelerating around us. Jesus described it in Matthew 24 as the beginning of birth pains.

Now, I have not given birth. Are you shocked? Although I guess in today's marketplace, but I had the privilege of growing up in a household, veterinarian's household, and so there were lots of things born: kittens and puppies and horses and cows and the occasional gerbil, and so I have been an assistant or on watch, when many things were born and there's some commonalities across all of those things. Once that process begins, the birth pains continue to gain in both frequency and intensity.

Does that sound right for all of you who have? Until there's a birth, the pressures in the earth are going to continue to intensify in both their frequency, and the depth, the intensity of them, until the kingdom of God is birthed in this world. It's not bad news. It is really good news, but for us to navigate it, we're gonna have to purposefully walk in the light in a way that we haven't had to previously. I brought you a prayer. Why don't you stand with me? We'll pray this together. What a wonderful time of the year to celebrate Easter. It's time to turn up the light. Turn up the light.

Almighty God, you are the author of all life; You have made us and not we ourselves. You sustain us each day by Your great power. Open our hearts and minds to understand Your purposes for us. Give us your perspective upon our world. Holy Spirit, grant us boldness to pursue your agenda and to be delivered from this present evil age. Protect us, guide us, and deliver us from evil, in Jesus's name, amen.

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