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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - False Gods and a Different Gospel - Part 2

Allen Jackson - False Gods and a Different Gospel - Part 2

Allen Jackson - False Gods and a Different Gospel - Part 2

It's an honor to be with you again. We're gonna complete our study today on "False Gods and a Different Gospel". Just a quick caution: We're gonna look at a story from the Old Testament where impatience and grumbling puts God's people in a very desperate place. Sometimes, I get a little impatient and I could even grumble a bit. It's more than just a weakness. It opens our lives to some very destructive things. So if you've been grumbling about what's going on in our world, let's change your attitude and start thanking God that he's put his light in our hearts and we have a message for this generation. Grab your Bible, get a notepad. But most importantly, open your heart.

So how do you gain eternal life? How do you find your way into the kingdom of God? Is it the frequency with which you receive Communion? Is it the invitation at the end of a service? Is it sitting in a particular building? How do we secure that? This isn't a mystery. We need clarity on this and we need to act as if we believe it's true. We need to act as if we believe it's more true than washing our hands would help us protect ourselves from things that might beset our immune system. We haven't treated this with that same significance. We haven't encouraged people in this same way. When they told us to shelter in place 3 years ago, we shut down as if there was something stalking our streets that put us at tremendous risk. We had very little information at the time, so we prudently accepted the counsel we were given.

Folks, there's something far greater than a virus from China stalking us. And most of you, myself included, believe we understand the resolution to that, but we're reluctant to share it because we understand some won't like it. Some might even make fun of us. We could be labeled. We'll be told we're narrow-minded or even bigoted. They'll start attaching those nasty labels to us, so we've been bullied into silence. And we're told not to talk about that in the schools where our children go. No, I won't accept that. The most important piece of information our children can know is that they can be at peace with God. That needs to be a part of our public education. Not a state church. We don't want a state church. But they wanna tell our children they can be gender confused and inform them about facts that belong in the parental discussion while they deny us the opportunity to share the reality of Jesus. I will not quietly walk that path. We've been compliant with wickedness for too long. God intervened. He sent Jesus. He said that he would be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. There is no hope for humanity apart from Jesus of Nazareth. There's no government, there's no politician, there's no economic plan.

Folks, Jesus is the solution for what has beset humanity. The church has to believe that or we're not the church. Now, Jesus in John 3 is referencing an event from that Exodus generation. Those people that began their lives as slaves in Egypt, they saw the plagues, they walked through the Red Sea, they're on their way to the Promised Land, and he's referencing an event that took place with them. I wanna go back to the book of Numbers and look at it. It's often overlooked. It's not an event, it's certainly not of the magnitude of the parting of the Red Sea or Moses on Mount Sinai. Says: "They," the Hebrew slaves, "traveled from some place along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient".

Imagine God's people getting impatient. I'm glad we're not that way. Folk, we can't get off campus peacefully. We can't arrive on campus peacefully. We'll park on an island 'cause we're too impatient to park over there at the back of the parking lot. Yes, we're taking your pictures, we're gonna put them on the screen. "And they spoke against God and against Moses, and they said, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There's no bread! There's no water! And we detest this miserable food!'" They've been delivered from 400 years of slavery and their complaint is about the menu. We're not that different. "And the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; and they bit the people and many Israelites died. And the people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you.'"

They've had a change of heart. Poisonous snakes in the camp have motivated them. "'Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.' So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; and anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'" Now, you read that and you think, "Well, that's a solution". But yes and no. It is a solution but how long does it take to make a bronze serpent that you can mount on a pole in the midst of the people? I think it takes probably longer than it does to microwave a baked potato. And if you've been bitten by a snake, I would think you had a little anxiousness around the delivery system and the supply chain has been interrupted. They're in the middle of the Negev. They're working from home these days. And Moses has to make a bronze snake. "So Moses made a bronze snake and he put it on a pole. And anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, lived".

Now, that's the story Jesus is referencing in John 3. In the same way that the snake was lifted up on a pole, so he would be lifted up on a Roman cross. There's an analogy between those two things. But this particular story, Jesus used it, I think it's helpful for us. It helps us understand a little bit about the fundamentals, the efficacy of the cross. You have to choose to look. You have to choose to turn your attention. You see, what I would have expected in that narrative from Numbers is not what is written. I would have expected when Moses prayed and God answered that the snakes would have left the camp. That isn't stated. If that was stated, you really wouldn't have needed the bronze serpent. The snakes would have just left. But apparently, the snakes made the journey with them. And if you were bitten, you needed to look at the bronze serpent, and you'd be okay.

Every generation has to make a decision about Jesus. Every generation has to look to the cross. And if I had to identify a place where we have struggled generationally, we have worked, it seems to me, desperately so that the generation who follows us would not have to be dependent upon Jesus. We've tried to give them enough: enough education, enough affluence, enough freedom, enough liberty, enough something that they could be independent. Independent of what? Our faith is based on a dependency, apart from the blood of Jesus, the acknowledgment that I'm a sinner and I need a Savior. I have no hope. And if we don't introduce our children and the generations who are following us to that truth, we set them up for destruction, because the snakes travel with us.

The things that threaten us and diminish us travel with us. It's a very fine line and every generation has to give attention to our hearts. We haven't done this well, church. There are fewer people participating in church in Middle Tennessee than at any point in the history of Middle Tennessee, and this is the buckle of the Bible belt. We've experienced a population growth. We build houses in neighborhoods, and apartments and apartments and apartments. Have I mentioned we've been building apartments? And we've built places to shop and places to eat. We haven't kept up with opportunities to worship, not even close. Not even remotely. So, just on a physical space alone, you don't have to be discerning, we're not helping the generation.

Misplaced affection, misplaced imagination, what will bring you freedom is not new to us. I'm not throwing stones at us. I'm trying to help us get to an accurate diagnosis so we can be different. We can make a change. That is the essence of the people of God. Making course adjustments. Look in 2 Kings 18. We're gonna scroll forward a few hundred years from Moses. They've settled the Promised Land, they lived with judges, without kings, for hundreds of years. And then they asked for kings to be like all the other nations. So we're moving forward far more in a far greater period of time than our own national history, so there's time for some generational drift. And we arrive at a place where that bronze snake that Moses made in the wilderness is still present. It's made it through all the transitions and all the movement and all the relocation and all the changes in power.

The king is Hezekiah and it says: "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, he smashed the sacred stones, he cut down the Asherah poles". They're Canaanite fertility gods. He tore down the altars, and "he broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made". Why would he do that? "For up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it". They'd been worshiping the snake. You see, it's not that broad of a line. We lose our way. We get misdirected. We imagine we're independent, that there's something we can do that will give us the power to change our future apart from the power of God and compliance to him. So in direct opposition to the first two commandments, they begin to worship creation.

Again, they have a dissenting voice that says, "Don't do that". But they have some personal narratives and some family history that says, "You know, that bronze snake was helpful to us, great-great-great-great-great- somebody. And so we think maybe that's a better way to go with this. And that's what my people are gonna do". And they have found themselves with a false god. They've worshiped something created rather than the Creator. Gee, I wonder if we could do that. Romans chapter 1, describing the deterioration of human character. It says: "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another". Something is lost. Something is being forfeited. We're apart from God. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie".

Truth was not celebrated. Truth was not held in high esteem. They were more comfortable with a lie. You see, if you choose to walk in the darkness, you will accept deception on every other level as well. Don't imagine you can choose darkness in just one aspect of your life and walk in the light in the other aspects. When you choose the darkness, it begins to bring a shade over all the other choices in your life. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and lo and behold, they worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator, who's forever praised". We're killing our children at an alarming rate. We're submitting them to the most grievous abuse and a confusion around things that's causing them to embrace self-mutilation, and they're directing our attention at created things.

Oh, the fancy words for it are materialism or idolatry, but the practical aspects is they're trying to convince us that creation is our salvation. That if we'll worship creation, that's the highest value you could embrace. If you'll care more about the world that we're living on, than the people living in the world, you're a person of superior moral quality. Don't look at the people who are hungry and don't look at the people who are starving and don't look at the governments that dramatically oppress their people and subject them to most horrendous behaviors. Don't look at that. Let's worship the trees.

Now, I like to be outdoors. I'm an advocate. We're given a stewardship assignment over this planet, but we're told not to worship it. You know, the fancy word for that these days is climate science. When we really wanna get our attention, we call something science. While the world is plunging towards destruction and human character is deteriorating and violence is exploding and we have hundreds of global conflicts, and millions of children lives being terminated, and all sorts of atrocities and horrors and genocides are being perpetrated, they want us to change our light bulbs. Or to stop using a gas stove. Or to tell us that fossil fuels are the greatest expression of evil amongst us.

Folks, it's very elaborate, very well orchestrated, and highly motivated bait and switch. I'm an advocate for taking care of the world in which we live. But first, we have to take care of the relationship we have with the living God. And they're not truthful. They're no more truthful than they were when they told you you could wear a bandanna over your mouth and it would protect you from a virus. It's about as effective as a screen door on a submarine. And when they tell you fossil fuels are the ultimate evil in our world, they don't tell you that almost everything you eat or you wear or you watch is dependent upon fossil fuels, either for delivery or its manufacture. While they're trying to change our lifestyle and the standards with which we live and the ways in which we transport ourselves or defend ourselves, or heat our homes, they don't tell you that China's building more coal energy plants than the rest of the world combined, about two new plants per week. They're not being truthful.

So, I would encourage you, from the fundamentals of our faith, not to accept a false god or a different gospel. Don't worship the snake. Remember what the point of freedom in our lives is. It's Jesus lifted up. It's through the blood of the Messiah. It's not the WHO or any other alphabet organization. It's not our Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. It's the character of the people. And that's the assignment of the church. Look at Jeremiah 13 and verse 25: "'This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,' declares the Lord, 'you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods.'" This is to the covenant people of God. Not to the pagans, not to the nations apart. These are the people with the temple and daily sacrifices.

Some of you prefer the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 11: "If someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached," this is not a new problem. Paul's aftershave was still present amongst the Corinthians when somebody came behind him and said, "Now, I wanna tell you about a different Jesus". "Or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough". It was true in the 1st century in Corinth, and it's true in the 21st century. False gods and a different gospel. The biblical word for it is idolatry. The practical expression is we worship the snake instead of the one who healed us. There's some very common language you hear that leads you towards a false god. "Follow the science".

My academic career began in the basic sciences. I'm very comfortable amongst the science, but what you should know is science is a method, it's not an outcome. Science would be the same in Tennessee as it is in Washington state or it's not science. The science of being good stewards of our environment should be the same, no matter which nation you live in. And to subject somebody in Middle Tennessee to a set of rules that we don't intend to extend to the rest of the globe is nonsense. It's not science. "Follow the money," we're told. Oh really? Should we orient our lives compass North towards greed and covetousness and envy? How much is enough? Will that secure us from the future? "Follow pleasure". There's an old word for that, we call it hedonism. "If it feels good, go for it. You can't tell me, if it feels this good it's wrong". No, God, can actually tell you that. "Follow your feelings. It's individualism, do what's right in your own eyes". That's not a new problem either. "Follow convenience and comfort. Those are the things you really wanna worship".

Folks, we're gonna have to have the courage to do the difficult things again. Life isn't just about comfort and convenience, no matter what age you're in. Who told us the lie that there's some season where you stop doing difficult things? What a destructive notion. "Follow justice," we're told. Please understand, justice emerges from God. Justice does not come from governments. To the degree that a government is submitted to the authority of God, it has some hope of reflecting justice. If they don't embrace God, there's no hope that they will be just. Don't be deceived. It's a false god. "Follow the crowd," we're told. "Conventional wisdom". No, thank you.

What are you led by? It's an important question. Are you following God? Do you follow his Word? Do you actually read it and think about it, consistently, systematically? Do you give it a place? Do you follow his voice? Would you recognize it? Are we following his Spirit, not just in word, in reality? Are you motivated by compassion that's false? It's not really directed or informed by the Word of God. Do you understand that is a malicious form of compassion? It's honestly an expression of hatred. You leave people in a place of destruction lost. It's not compassion. Are we really willing to follow his Spirit? I'm out of time. Imagine that. Look at the last point in your outline.

Folks, God is worthy of our attention. In Revelation 4, it says: "You're worthy, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and they have their being". I'll follow that science. I believe God created the heavens and the earth and everything that's in them. I like Psalm 100 a lot: "It's He who made us, and not we ourselves".

Folks, we're not self-made. God made us. He is worthy of glory and praise and honor and blessing. Worship the Creator, he's the author, the designer, the originator. He's the sustainer of all things. He is totally unlike us. You have to meditate on that a little bit. You have to steep in it a little bit. You have to purposefully direct your thoughts, that everything we see, he gave rise to. The trees and the birds and the beautiful things in our world, he created them. They're not random, they're not an accident. They're not the result of statistical probability and the primordial ooze. He is worthy of our attention, our worship, our focus.

It's the assignment of the church. And we're gonna celebrate Easter because Jesus was lifted up. We have been delivered from a lost condition and that is good news, worthy of sharing with the world and if a hot air balloon helps, I'm in. Amen? But this morning, we're gonna pray together. Take somebody's hand. You don't have to make a circle. I just don't want anybody by themselves. And don't just join hands with the people that came in your car. That does not really count as community, okay? If you don't know the person whose hands you have, and they won't tell you their name, have you introduced yourselves, please? Okay, if they won't talk to you, turn loose of them, okay? They're rebellious, it isn't gonna help anyway if they pray, so. All right, let's pray:

Father, I thank you for your people. Lord, I thank you for the great hope we have that our Lord and Savior is alive and well and involved and engaged. You have blessed our lives in so many ways and we thank you for it. But I pray for every person, every family, that has made a commitment to take these steps forward for the sacrifices that it represents, Lord, for the prayer that they've invested, for the listening that it expresses. Lord, I pray you would respond far beyond dollars and cents, that you would respond in things that will have eternal value and eternal significance in lives that are changed and children that are strengthened.

Lord, in people who have been lost and stumbling and struggling, finding their way into the light and into your kingdom, that they'll find a living hope and the transformation that comes with that, that their eyes will be opened, that they'll look upon a Jesus as he was lifted up, and they will find wholeness for themselves, Lord. We praise you for it. That we will see responses beyond anything we could imagine today, that the name of Jesus will be shared across the earth, that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole earth, Lord.

We thank you for your church and your people and what you're doing, and for the great honor and privilege that we have of being a part of such a thing. We praise you for it. I ask your blessing upon these people, Lord, for their willingness to respond to you and to take a step forward in a time when so many are retreating. Open the windows of heaven, be attentive to their prayer. Send your angels to stand guard around them. I thank you for the reports that will come of your grace and your mercy and your goodness. Give us your wisdom as we move forward, in Jesus's name, amen, hallelujah.

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