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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Insight and Understanding - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Insight and Understanding - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Insight and Understanding - Part 2

It's a privilege to be with you today. The greatest of all the Hebrew prophets wasn't Isaiah or Jeremiah or Amos, it was Jesus of Nazareth. We're going to take a few minutes today and listen to some of the things Jesus had to say about the end of the age. He gave us the insight and awareness we need to be prepared to flourish at the end of the age. That's good news. As you listen, don't listen to it with fear or anxiety. It's preparation. It's kind of like put your seat belt on, the plane's getting ready to take off. Good stuff's coming and our Lord is leading. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

There are elements in our future that I promise you, no human is anticipating. You share with me on a weekly basis, dozens and dozens of perspectives about what's coming to our world. From time to time I will listen or read or give some attention to it and I have no doubt there's some validity to it. But I promise you that what's ahead of us, no human being has fully anticipated. We've witnessed that ourselves in the last three years. It's just almost beyond belief and I don't mean... if you took COVID out of it, if you just imagined COVID as the vehicle to drive the change, the difference in the world we live in today and the world we were in three years ago, it's almost unrecognizable.

I would also point out the intervention of God's angels to deliver and protect his people. None of those things that God did for Noah or Lot were luxuries. They shouldn't be understood as having been hyper-spiritual. It was necessary to survive. I'm inviting you away from this notion that you can be a quiet, good, inert Christian. There's no such thing. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice and they will follow me". If you're not living in a way to listen and follow, wake up. Wake up. If you don't read your Bible, it feels intrusive, it's cumbersome, "I don't understand it very well," it's because you're not familiar with it. Let's get familiar with it. You know, once you've jumped out of the plane, it's too late to Google, "How do you use a parachute"? There's not enough time. And we have entered a season where familiarity with the character of God and the purposes of God are a necessity for being the church.

We've had group think, we could belong to the right group, sit in the right church, know the right people, and we might be able to deviate a little bit or waffle a little bit, but we felt pretty secure because we were just kind of walking in the group and the group said to one another, "We're okay". Folks, that's not going to get us through what's ahead of us. I wanna go to Matthew 24. We're probably not gonna finish your outline. At my desk it seemed so possible. The greatest of all the Hebrew prophets is Jesus. And his most lengthy discussion, prophetic discussion had to do with the end of the age. It's in Matthew 24. It's also in Luke 21, but we'll focus predominantly on Matthew 24. I'll read the passage and then just offer a real brief summary.

"You'll hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you're not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you'll be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you'll be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. And because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come".

Again this is Jesus, this isn't some crazy preacher with his hair on fire. This is our Lord and King. And he begins to describe what's going to happen. He says there's going to be great international turmoil, wars, famine, earthquakes. In the parallel passage in Luke, I think I slipped it in your notes, it's the same. It's two people recording the same event. Don't think of it in terms of conflicting one another. Imagine if I ask you all to write a summary of the sermon this morning. How many of you think they would all be exactly the same? In fact, it wouldn't even be clear you'd listened to the same sermon. But in Luke 21, Jesus says, "When you hear of wars and revolutions, don't be frightened, these things must happen first, but the end will not come right away". And then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines, pestilences in various places, fearful events, great signs from heaven".

The phrase that I think is the timing phrase in that is in verse 8, these are the beginning of birth pains. So this is just the prelude, these are those first twinges that something is changing. And he's describing turmoil in the earth, ethnic conflict, if you get into the Greek language. It the word that's used for kingdom against kingdom is ethnos from which we get the word ethnic. I think we could all say with some degree of confidence that ethnic conflict in the earth is increasing. But he describes it as something being born. That is a very important image. The pressures are going to go more frequent, more intense, until something is birthed. What's being birthed? The kingdom of God in the earth.

So I'm not surprised that the present world order doesn't want to relinquish its place. The spiritual authorities that have driven this present world order do not want to be displaced, so the intensity of the conflict will grow as we move towards this birth and the only thing that will make it possible is a greater power than the power of this present age. That's why the church has to be a supernatural church. It's not just an intellectual exercise, it's not just the recitation of a prayer, it's a reorientation of your life. Verse 9 in the Matthew passage. Jesus said, "Then you'll be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. You'll be hated by all nations because of me". "There'll be worldwide persecution of Christians, we'll be handed over to secular authorities".

Now, we read that and we get a little uncomfortable. Folks, this isn't new, this has been happening in our world for decades, in the lifetimes of many of you that are listening to this. The communist nations have already been doing this as a matter of fact for over 50 years. It was true in the Soviet Union, it's been true in Cuba, it's been true in these nations. We have leaders today that revere those systems, that celebrate them, that hold them up as something to be venerated, acknowledged, embraced as robust. They have been violent, aggressive persecutors of Christ followers. That's not ancient history, that's modern history, and it's increasing. The most persecuted religious group in the world today is Christians. I put that line in a book and turned it into a Christian publisher and the editor came back to me, and challenged it. They said, "Well, I know that line is true but it's only true because Christians is the largest religious group in the world".

A Christian publisher didn't want us to say that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. We're losing our balance. Jesus told us the truth. In verse 10 he said, "At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other". That because of the pressure that some will renounce their faith and others will betray fellow believers by handing them over to secular authorities. You know, for the most part our nation has lived apart from this but we see it beginning. We're experiencing censorship. A person that...I don't know him well, but I'm a casual acquaintance, does ministry in our nations, his bank accounts were seized in the last couple of weeks because he was a threat of leading an insurrection. He didn't have a militia, he had a Bible.

Again, this is somewhat new to our culture but it's not new to the body of Christ in the world. Have you ever heard of the Boxer Rebellion, or the Boxer Uprising, in China, turn of the 19th century? There was a movement in China that was focused on... the heart of it was Christians. They were hunted down, arrested, tremendous pressure exerted against them, many were executed. One of the things I read says they would round up the Christians in a village and draw a circle on the ground and put a cross in the middle of the circle, put all the Christians in the circle and say, "If you want to live, step outside the circle".

It hasn't happened in America historically but it is legitimate, in the public square the denunciation of Christians is now tolerated. I told you a few... it was last weekend that a school board in Arizona had voted to cancel the contract that allowed student teachers in their school system from a Christian university, because exposing the children to Christians was dangerous. And that wasn't pushed back upon, the person that brought the motion to the school board wasn't fired. The school board wasn't overruled. Christians were excluded as dangerous. If you can separate the Christians, if you can make them less human, their values suspect, it becomes very easy to begin to increase the pressures against them. Jesus said we would betray one another.

Folks, we see this already, this has existed throughout my lifetime. Many Christians bring accusations against fellow Christians. You know this if you have a history in the church. "We won't worship with them, we're different from them, we're better than they are". And it's not generally driven by some great moral flaw, there's a desire to gain an advantage. Or we resist other Christians because we perceive of them as be gaining an advantage over our position. There's too many of them, they're too well funded, they must be up to something. They must have negotiated away the truth. They must have gone soft on sin. We're more pure, we're more righteous, we're more holy because of the way we worship or the architecture in which we worship, or the time or the day in which we worship or the clothes, something. We foster hatred amongst ourselves and encourage it.

So we diminish and criticize and resist. There are influences at work in our nation whose objective is to eliminate Christianity, I promise you. You don't have to have any discernment to see that. you just have to be willing to look. If you pray in a public place, you'll lose your job. You can advocate for almost any moral position you want to and you'll be celebrated, venerated, rewarded, honored but if you bring a Christian worldview into the public square or the corporate boardroom, we need clarity. The goal is genocide, the complete eradication of the Christian faith. That force is unleashed amongst us. Are you watching? Jesus told us it would happen. All the factions are already at work.

In verse 11 he goes on. He said there will be many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. False prophet, that is a false truth teller, someone you expect to tell you the truth and they don't. It can certainly be a pastor or a religious figure, but it doesn't have to be limited to that. Prophets were people that you expected to give you the God perspective and oracle of what was true. We have had almost a complete collapse of truth telling in our culture. Now It's certainly prominent in religious circles. I don't want to diminish that. What we're watching with the organized church is it's more than unsettling.

Folks, I don't care what day of the week you meet and what kind of music you sing and what kind of language you use, if you deny the uniqueness of Jesus, if you deny the circumstances of the virgin birth. if you deny that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, if you deny the authenticity of his redemptive work, his crucifixion, his suffering, his crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection, it's not Christianity. Now, there's a tremendous amount of diversity around that. We can worship in different ways, we can take communion at different times. You can use purple grape juice or you can use tap water but you can't negotiate the essence of our faith. If you don't know the apostles' creed, tuck it in your heart it will protect you, it's a good summary. But religious deception is going to increase and Jesus said many people would be deceived. If you believe you can't be deceived, you already are. You have to pay attention.

In verse 12 he said the increase of wickedness would take place. He said it more clearly, he said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold". That's a very stark verse. The word for love there, there's multiple Greek words for love, In English we just have one word. You can love your kids and love your dog. That's called the language fail. Well, I wasn't talking about you personally. Your kids misbehave, you discipline 'em, your dog misbehaves, you lock them outside. Don't do that with your kids. Same word but in Greek there's multiple words for love. The one that's used here is the agape. It's the it's the word for God's love, the love amongst God's people. So he said: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold".

The word wickedness is not the best translation, the most literal translation is lawlessness. How many of you think there's an increase in lawlessness? From open borders to the refusal to enforce the laws that we have. Our major cities are becoming increasingly unsafe. It's not just our major cities any longer, it's coming to communities like our own. Lawlessness is exploding, the law is being applied in inconsistent ways. There's an unprecedented rise in lawlessness. We don't even value lawlessness anymore. We've renamed the words for lawlessness. It's not shoplifting, it's just appropriating things. No, it's stealing. Robin Hood was not a hero, he was a thief. Who you steal from does not make your stealing okay, and if somebody tells that to you they are a deceiver and they'll turn it on you when it suits them.

Lawlessness breeds lovelessness. It's a very important idea. The secular imagination of love is one of freedom. It's something that's beautiful, it's uninhibited. No boundaries, no discipline, no control; fulfillment. Nothing should be able to stand between you and what you feel in the context of love. That message is pumped at us so frequently so from so many directions, it is an infection that exceeds anything that came from a lab in Wuhan. But that's not the biblical idea of God's love. God's love, agape, God's love for us, our love for one another is very different, it's disciplined. Think of Jesus in Gethsemane. "Father, I'd rather not do this. I don't want to do this. What you've asked me to do is extraordinarily difficult, painful, but because I love you".

That's very different than the cultural notion. Discipline, self-control, purpose. If we tolerate lawlessness, if we continue to stay silent and watch it escalate, understand Jesus told us the outcome. We can walk in the light on this one. If we tolerate increasing lawlessness, we will become increasingly loveless, more self-absorbed. Many of the biblical characteristics that Jesus gave us with the close of the age are happening all around us. And I have to say many of those forces are aggressively at work in America today.

Now, I'll remind you of a point that I elaborated on far greater in the previous session, but that God permits the pressure. He used the image of a potter and the clay and the clay is shaped by pressure, not by kind words. The pressures that we see in our lives and the world around us affirm for us that the Bible is a trustworthy book. Let's use them to walk in the light. Where's my time? My time is gone. Well, on Wednesday we'll talk about our response. Don't moan, like you want to stay for church longer, but I would take you back to conclude this to the two positive aspects of the days of Noah and Lot. If Jesus said before he returns those characteristics will be predominant, then I believe we can anticipate God's involvement in a very similar way. And there's really no question that for both Noah and Lot, God provided a warning for his servant.

So we can trust him to help us, amen? Now he also provided a plan for deliverance, but it required them to participate. It required them to change their routines and their patterns to be distinctive. Lot had to leave the city. All of his family wouldn't go. And some of the family that was willing to leave wasn't willing to follow the instructions. Some of us are going to have to decide if we're going to serve the Lord or walk in darkness with our families. One of the great challenges we have is we have been welcoming wickedness at the kitchen table. And we haven't had the courage to say to one another that's wrong. We've just looked the other way. It was uncomfortable, it was awkward.

Folks, God is moving in the earth and we're coming to a tremendous, glorious, I'm optimistic about what is in front of us. I'm investing in it with time and energy and resources, not backing up. But if your goal is to maintain the continuity of the self-centered world we lived in before, that's gone. Let's walk in the light. Let's walk in the light. God will lead us through. I brought you a prayer and I want to close with this. It's at the end of your notes, way down there at the end of your notes. Why don't you stand with me? We are learning to pray. I hope you're learning to pray. I hope you pray beyond church. If you only pray in church, wake up. You say, "I don't know how to pray". Yes, you do, "God, help. God, thanks. God, it's a new day, lead me through it".

Before you can walk into the place where you work, "God, help these people I work with". Before you walk into the house at the end of the day, "God, help these people I live with". You can pray and if you'll begin to pray, the Spirit of God will teach you to pray. There are people on campus seven days a week who pray. You can come and sit with people that spend hours praying. You can learn to pray from people who pray. Say, "Well, I'm busy". No kidding. Let's tell the truth. "I don't care that much about it. It's not that important to me". In fact, our line is prayer is our last resort. Folks, prayer better become our first resort. I brought you a prayer. Let's read it together:

Heavenly Father, you've called us out of darkness into the kingdom of your Son. You are our strength and protection. Give us understanding hearts to know your will and purpose for our generation. Grant us boldness to stand and the courage to complete our assignment. Holy Spirit, lead us in paths of righteousness and establish us fully in your will. May the name of Jesus be exalted, amen.

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