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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Fundamentals - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Fundamentals - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Fundamentals - Part 1

It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is 'The Power To Be Different.' You know, as Christians we don't wanna just pretend we don't have problems or pretend that we have hope, there really is a power available to us to transform our lives from the inside out, and that makes a difference in everything that comes before us. Grab your Bible, get an notepad, but most of all, open your heart.

Christianity is not primarily about an ideological debate, it's about a demonstration of power. Evangelism in the New Testament, it was about a demonstration of the power of God. And it wasn't power for the sake of power, it wasn't like parlor tricks or a magic show, it was power to deliver us from places of bondage that we were powerless from which we deliver ourselves. And to be the church that is so needed at this unique point in time and history, we'll have to understand the power of God. And so I want to particularly in this session, go back to some of the fundamentals.

In any endeavor you pick up, if it's business or academics or athletics or cooking, whatever it may be, your ability to achieve significance or accomplishment is never far from your focus and determination to stay attentive to the fundamentals. And we don't wanna ever move beyond the fundamentals of who we are as Christ followers, the power to change a life, the conviction, the belief, the absolute certainty that the gospel of Jesus Christ transforms the destinies of human beings. It's not negotiable. The components of that narrative are not interchangeable with current culture or conventional wisdom or ideological trends. And unfortunately, the church sometimes gets caught up in those breezes.

So I wanna come back to some of those fundamentals in this session, please don't go to sleep yet. If you do, we'll turn the camera around. After all, you're here and you're not on some overly crowded place for spring break, so we should all be rejoicing, right? Okay, but I wanna start with an idea that's fundamental. The human race is lost. We are in a desperate place apart from God. We have no hope. The one who created us, designed us, imagined a relationship with us, we rebelled against him. And we live out that rebellion every day of our lives until we come to a meaningful faith with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I'll start with a familiar narrative, it's in Luke 19. We're gonna look in each session at some of these transformation stories where lost people find hope. It's still happening, it's not just something that happened in antiquity.

"Jesus entered Jericho and he was passing through". It's a good place to pass through. Jericho was one of the oldest inhabited places in the world. It's an ancient oasis, it's in the middle of a desert, that means it's a popular place over a long period of time. It's on the northern end of the Dead Sea. Some of you will remember the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth below sea level. It is unbelievably hot, I've been in that area when the temperature was north of 115 degrees. We were trying to tape video segments. I was melting. My spiritual gift is perspiration, and in 115, my spiritual gift was in full operation. We had an Israeli with us that was helping us and he leaned over and he said, "Pastor, the Israeli military has called off exercises, it's too hot". And I said, "It doesn't matter, we're leaving tomorrow, we gotta get done". And everybody groaned.

Well, Jesus is passing through Jericho. "A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus". Many of you know this story. He was the chief tax collector. He was wealthy. "He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he was a short guy and he couldn't, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and he climbed a fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay your house today.' So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter". Mutter, mutter. It's kind of an old English word. It means they're not happy. They're grumbling and complaining and they're upset. Jesus is not eating with the right people again, it's a problem for Jesus. He keeps hanging out with the wrong people. He goes where there's a hot air balloon.

"'He's gone to be the guest of a "sinner".' But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything.'" If you could see the crowd in your imagination, when Zacchaeus said, "If I have cheated anybody," you can see everybody's eyes rolling. He's the tax collector. The Romans were clever, they collect taxes from the lands they occupy, but they discovered brute force wasn't enough, they needed inside knowledge. So they would recruit a local citizen and then give them the authority of the Roman soldiers. They wanted somebody local to tell 'em who had the resources they wanted to collect taxes from, and then they would give them the bullying strength of the soldiers. So the tax collectors would not only collect the money that was due Rome, they would collect some more.

So they were often the most affluent people in the community, and you could imagine how well respected they were. They were hated, that's why they were muttering. Jesus has gone to have a meal with the most wicked person in town. "We thought he was a prophet, how could he eat with him"? And Zacchaeus stands up and said, "Listen, if I have cheated anybody". Hands went up all over the crowd, I'll repay multiples of what I've taken. "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is the son of Abraham.'" That God came for the wicked people too. That's a really good thing 'cause that's the pool we were all in. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost".

So if you ask me for one of the things that is very close to Jesus's heart, is he is searching for and extending an invitation of salvation, and I'm not talking about some religious experience, to those who are lost. Now the word lost has multiple meanings. In this context, is not something that's been misplaced like you lost your car keys, it's something that has been forfeited, either intentionally or unintentionally, it's something that is beyond your grasp any longer. You may say you've lost your youth, you misspent it. But Jesus is searching for those who are lost. Now, I would submit to you that if we're Christ's followers, if we're men and women of God, if we care about the kingdom, then we have a life assignment. You don't need a revelation, a talking donkey, an angelic visit, handwriting on the wall, a word from the Lord, an inner witness, those are all more about excuses.

People who don't know God have to matter to us, if they matter to Jesus. After all, he laid aside the privilege of heaven, the authority and the majesty and all that went with that, and he humbled himself to become one of us, the frailty of a human being, the vulnerability of a human being, to submit to being tempted by Satan, whom he saw fall from heaven like lightning, he said, in order that he might search for and extend an invitation of salvation to those who are lost. Please don't lose sight of the fact that we live in a lost world. How can we understand what's happening around us? We're lost. Something has been forfeited. We're broken. The violence, the hatred, the disrespect, the immorality, the ungodliness, it's not gonna be fixed by a government program or an election or any of those... folks, we are broken, we're lost. We need to be fundamentally changed from the inside out, we can't save ourselves.

Sometimes the church loses sight of that, and we think we need a partnership with some civil group or a social group or an ideological group. It's the power of God that changes a human life. And if you don't believe that, you're not born again yet. I don't care where you sit or how long you've been sitting there or what exercises you've been through or what classes you've taught or what courses you've been through, if you don't believe in the power of God to transform a human life, let me introduce you to Jesus of Nazareth. It's important, church.

So this notion of fundamentals matter. If we're gonna begin with a fundamental, let's establish this, we need help. We need help, we're not gonna work this out. We're not gonna sing, I'd like to teach the world to sing one more time and be more harmonious. No matter how many videos they show us of people on mountaintops drinking Coca-Cola, we're gonna need more than a marketing scheme. I'm not opposed to those things, but folks, we are going to have to understand we need help. The condition of humanity is too painful to describe. If you start trying to describe the brokenness of the human condition, it is overwhelming. I spent some time today assimilating statistics. I had to stop.

Jesus told the truth in Luke 19:10 when he said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. We're a lost world. Two millennia later, we are in tremendous need of a Savior. Now, there's a pretender coming, an antichrist, not just in opposition to, in place of. He will present himself as the savior of the world. A very winsome character, will seemingly have great wisdom and lots of supernatural activity. You see, if you don't know the true Savior, you will be easily deceived by the false. If you've never seen a $20 bill, it's very easy to convince you a piece of counterfeit is real. You want to get to know the true Lord in a personal way, he came to search for us.

Let me give you a quick overview, just kind of current world stuff. Last hundred years, I know for some of you, that's ancient history; for some of you, it's not so much. In the last a hundred years, you know, a lot of talk these days about different ideologies, which is about socialism, communism, and there's some people amongst us with straight faces that tell us communism's a good thing. They celebrate what's happened in Cuba since Castro took over. Folks, to celebrate that, you have to bury the devastation and the destruction and the death. Conservative places, places like the United Nations, I mean, organizations which we don't go to for overwhelming certainty of facts, tell us that in the last 100 years, they're more than a 100 million dead from communism, a 100 million. And they estimate that about half of that are from starvation and disease. Not a great system. Authoritarianism is not a great idea.

So when you see authoritarianism rearing its head amongst us, understand it will not bring good things to you, no matter what they're promising, no matter what the carrot on the end of the stick, no matter what the bait and switch, no matter they're promising you you're the favored group, and you're gonna get an opportunity right now while they steal from someone else. Understand, at the end of the day, it will crush you. There's a great deal of history to support that. China, we're told these days they're a great nation.

I have tremendous compassion for the Chinese people, they have suffered enormously. They have born up under enormous pressures for a long period of time, but from 1980 until 2016, not ancient history, many of your lives would overlap with that period of time, directly or indirectly. 1980 until 2016, China had a one child only policy. They resulted in some way, there's no way to have an exact number, but the estimates by the more conservative places, not conservative ideologically, estimate there were more than 300 million abortions. It wasn't until January of 2016 they changed their official state policy to a two child policy. Imagine a government that dictates how many children you have. And then we have people to tell us we should celebrate that kind of authority. It should be respected and revered.

Folks, that is oppression at the most fundamental level. In 2021, big breakthrough, three child policy. But we don't have to pick on China, we can look further around the globe. We don't limit it to a nation or a people group. The WHO, not a group I have quoted for statistics much in recent months, their estimation that there's 75 million induced abortions every year on planet Earth, 75 million. That means in about a four year window, we would annihilate the population of the United States. That's about 200,000 a day, if you're counting. It's even more discouraging. There's 3.1 million children per year who die from causes related to poor nutrition and hunger. About 25,000 a day on our planet die from hunger.

Now, that's not because there's a great shortage of food or an absence of resources, it's predominantly true that often the food is available, but it's not delivered to people who need it, for political reasons, for ideological reasons, for reasons of selfish ambition. That's the world we live in. While somebody's shouting at us to turn off our gas stove. We can pick up a different portfolio. Currently, according to the Geneva Academy, again, not some right wing, goofy Christian group, they say there's 110 armed conflicts currently in our world, 45 in North Africa, in the Middle East, places some of them you know аbout: Syria, Turkey, Egypt. There's 35 non-international conflicts right now in Africa alone. Twenty-one armed conflicts in Asia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Myanmar, China.

We can come closer to home, it's more awkward. We witness on a weekly basis the intentional dismantling of family, the fundamental building block of culture and our society and the things that have caused us to be strong and free and independent. Marriage has been redefined to include configurations which cannot create families. And nobody wants to say that's absurd. 'Cause you don't wanna be labeled or shouted at or canceled. Parental authority is being questioned and diminished. Parental authority is being questioned and diminished. Don't be quiet for that. It's not the business of the teacher's union or the government. Children are being victimized. Our economy, if that's your particular interest, it's on life support. Don't listen to the words. Printing dollars is not really a feasible treatment for what ails us. We've tried that for so long, we're about to find out the rest of that story.

Lawlessness, we are witnesses to consistent, on a weekly basis, denigration of law enforcement, men and women who put themselves in harm's way to make our lives safer. They're not perfect, there is no professional group that is, but they are being held up to a spotlight that is unreasonable, and our lives are less for that. The military is no longer pushed with the primary focus of winning wars. So if there's a global debate on equity, we are being well trained. And the church, that's where I've spent most of my adult life, for the most part, we're afraid, we're distracted. Tragically, in far too many arenas, we're apostate. It's kind of a fancy word, it just means we have rejected the orthodox tenets of our faith. It's inconvenient.

We're thinking we're gonna work ourselves into a better world. The necessity of the cross is not essential, so why would you celebrate Easter? Why would we push that into the public square? So when we're contacted by local media outlets for a comment on Easter, and they say, "Now it's not a religious program, so please don't talk about Jesus". And the idea is so prevalent, the people that are contacting us don't understand the inconsistency of that. It'd be like contacting a titans player on Super Bowl weekend and say, "We'd like your opinion, but please don't talk about football". And the people asking the questions don't even understand the dissonance. That's our current environment.

Fundamentals matter, church. I told you that we need help, can we add a second fundamental? We need a Savior, we need a Savior. And he's not a politician or a political party or a really good pastor or the right church. That Savior job has been open, it's been filled. We're not looking for one, he exists. In Philippians chapter 3 and verse 8, I'm back to your notes, there's hope. Paul is writing. Paul has a very robust education in Pharisaical Judaism. He's an expert on biblical rules and practices. Amongst those who were zealous, he was the most zealous of the zealots. He said, "I was an angry, murderous person in pursuit of a religious objective". And then he is writing to a group of people in Philippi, and he said, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things".

Church, we're gonna have to come back to this kind of a fundamental understanding of our faith. There is nothing that describes us or defines us or that we have acquired or accumulated or attained that in any way compares with the surpassing greatness of the understanding that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. Which means when you're having conversations with your friends or your family, or wherever you may be, if Jesus is absent the conversation, there's a legitimate reason to question the authenticity of that conviction. I don't mean you have to be annoying or a nuisance or condemning, but you can't segment your faith to a few minutes in a particular building. "I consider them rubbish," all of my achievements, "that I may gain Christ and be found in him".

Now, he is fully born again at this point, but hear his language, "I wanna gain Christ, I wanna be found in him". "Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith". We need a Savior. People don't just need a program, we don't just need immigration policy, we don't need to just clear up gender confusion, we don't just need to be more civil, we need a Savior. It requires an acknowledgement that I'm a sinner. If you're not a sinner, you don't need a Savior. If you're mostly good, if you can work it out on your own, if all roads lead to the same place, you don't need a Savior, you just need to keep traveling, all the roads go to the same place. But if there really is a Savior, and we need one, then it begins with the acknowledgement that I am fundamentally a sinner and I can't save myself or I wouldn't need a Savior.

We're gonna pray before we go, but I wanna take just a moment to shape that prayer. We have lived with such stability for so many years with so much affluence, we have been able to imagine that, for the most part, we could solve our problems. And now we face a deteriorating culture in a world that seems to be unraveling, we need to be reminded of something, the gospel is enough. The transforming power of God to change a human being from the inside out is the hope of humanity. Let's pray:

Father, forgive us for imagining we could save ourselves or we could solve our problems, and we come in humility to turn our faces to you today to invite Jesus into the midst of our lives in authority and power and truth. I thank you that you're a God who delivers, in Jesus's name, amen.

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