Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Jesus, Unique and Essential - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Jesus, Unique and Essential - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Jesus, Unique and Essential - Part 2

It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna complete our discussion on Jesus and how essential he is and how unique he is in the world. Folks, we need his help. We can't save ourselves. We're not gonna outwork evil, we're not gonna outorganize evil. Sitting in church doesn't change us. I'm an advocate for church but we're more than church people or kind people or generous people: we're Jesus people. And the better we understand who he is and why he's so different, the better friend we'll be to him. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

Now, I grew up in a barn in Tennessee. I'm not that complicated. If there is one human being that has all the juice, here's my suggestion: become his friend. Aren't I deep? Aren't you glad you got dressed up and sat outside for church today? Become his friend. We get way heated up about this faith thing and professional Christians like me sometimes over-complicate it to some crazy degree. And we get into word studies and Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic and ancient cultures and whatever.

Folks, here's the goal: you become his friend. You decide what pleases him and give yourself to that. You find out what he doesn't like and you avoid that. You understand how to be a good friend. You know what you want from a friend, you know what's required of you to be a faithful friend. Become Jesus's friend. You're gonna see him one day and, when you see him, you want him to greet you like a friend, not like an adversary. You want to have used your words, your energy, your thoughts, your plans, whatever he's entrusted to you, you want there to be a lengthy record of behavior as his friend. You know how to do this. You really do. It's a legitimate way to begin and end every day.

How did I do today as Jesus's friend? Did I mention his name to anybody? Was I kind about him? Was I affirming? Did I embrace the things I know that he anticipates from me? This doesn't have to be complicated. In Hebrews chapter 2 we're given a bit of a caution at the beginning of this book. Said we have to pay more careful attention. You may have been paying careful attention but we have to pay more careful attention to what we've heard so that we do not drift away. Now, I don't wanna start a theological debate today, I don't have time for it. I don't have the energy for it. I don't wanna argue about what you can and you can't lose. I could tell you one thing from Scripture that you absolutely can lose: you can lose all of your reward, every last bit of it.

So the warning here, the caution at the beginning of this letter, is to not drift away. Drifting away isn't speeding away or running away or abandoning ship. Drifting means it's happening incrementally. It's unnoticeable. It's happening so marginally in such small degrees that before long you have lost your bearing, that you've lost your connection with your mooring. That you're adrift, that there's no purposeful direction, no intentionality. There is no compass point for true North. There's no right and wrong, good or evil. Sound familiar? If you had to characterize 21st century American Christianity, I would submit to you we are adrift. The authority of Scripture's inconvenient, the uniqueness of Jesus is a bit awkward.

Right and wrong, we really hate to have to step into the public square with that. We're adrift, and we're warned here. We should listen. Pay careful attention so that we don't drift away. If you've drifted away, you've got to make your way back. Hebrews 4 says: "We have a great high priest who's gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God". The imagery here is a little blind to us. We are so steeped in egalitarianism. It's a good idea, one person, one vote, we're all equal before the law. We used to believe that. But that idea has taken root in the hearts of people of faith. And so the idea that we would need an intermediary is a bit repulsive to us. But the Scripture says that you and I can't just approach God because we want to.

You see, we've recreated God in our image. "If I want to talk to him, I'll talk to him". Oh really? You think the Creator of heaven and earth should take your call whenever you decide to pick up a phone? Really? You believe the one who holds the whole universe together by his authority has to sit there waiting for your text and answer you in the moment? Do you understand the degree to which this has crept into our spirits and our souls and our thoughts, as if God is at our beck and call? The amazing news, the most remarkable news, is that Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to come to the earth, put on an earth suit, and accept the role as our intermediary. He said, "I'll take your request to the Creator. I'll be your high priest".

You see, the role of a priest is to represent the people to God. The role of the prophet is to represent God to the people. But the priest, take the people's request, they stand on behalf of the people. And the amazing announcement, the reiteration, the truth in the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is our high priest. And then, because of that, it says we can do two things: "We can hold firmly to the faith we profess". Why do we hold firmly to it? So that we don't drift away. "And we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we can find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need". We can approach the throne of God, not when we're doing great, not when our heart's right and our thoughts are right, but when we are in a place of need. No matter how broken you are, you may have been caught in the midst of adultery and we heard Jesus pass judgment.

"I won't condemn you, but go leave your life of sin". That is an amazing promise that we have an advocate, an adversary, an intercessor. We're gonna see it spelled out in a great deal of detail. That is the essence of the book of Hebrew. Some essential Jesus facts. I'm gonna move through these pretty quickly; buckle up. Or at least I hope to. I have to quit before the lights go out. Yeah, the four of you that applauded, I'll see you afterwards. Check's in the mail. Hebrews 7:24: "Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them".

Jesus the Son of God, our high priest, lives today. He's as alive today as when he was in the boat on the Sea of Galilee or walking the streets of Jerusalem. He's as alive as when he came out of that tomb on Easter morning. And he lives to intercede for us, to be our representative. Do you understand why it's unacceptable when we're willing to identify for him? When we're unwilling to be an ambassador for him and we deny him in the public square? Because he lives to be our advocate before the Creator of heaven and earth. Now if we want that benefit he asks us to have the courage to say, "I'm with Jesus. Wherever I go, I'm taking him".

I was asked to be on a television program in the last few days. They wanted a little piece about Easter. It was a secular program, but they cover all sorts of things. They said, "We need a 3- or 4-minute piece about Easter". I said, "Okay". They said, "Now, this is not a religious program". I said, "Yeah, I know". I said, "But you know that Easter is about Jesus of Nazareth, that he died on a Roman cross and God raised him to life again? That is the reason we have Easter". They said, "Well, we'll have to call you back. I'll have to talk to the program manager". There is such reluctance. You can talk about the most heinous, ungodly, immoral, but don't talk about Jesus. Folks, he is our intercessor. Look at Hebrews 9: "He didn't enter by means of blood of goats or calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once and for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption".

You need a little bit of back story. It's a reference to the temple in Jerusalem and the innermost part of the temple was the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, and only the high priest could go there and he could only go one day a year when he went in with the blood from the Passover lamb, with the sacrifice for the people. He would sprinkle it on the mercy seat, on the covering of the Ark of the Covenant. That's long before Indiana Jones was looking for it. And here, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus took his own blood and went into the Most Holy Place and offered his blood on our behalf that we might have eternal redemption. No one else could do that for us, nor has anyone ever done that for us. Jesus is unique.

So, no matter how dark our past or how gross our failures or how inappropriate our behaviors and our choices, if we will humble ourselves in genuine repentance and choose Jesus as Lord, you see, you can't practice sin and say you've chosen Jesus as Lord. You can wrestle with sin, you can wrestle with an ungodliness, you can be forgiven, but you can't choose a pathway of sin, because Jesus went into the Most Holy Place to obtain for you and me eternal redemption. Redemption's a fancy religious word. It means to be bought back. It means Jesus did something for us we can't do for ourselves. We can't save ourselves, we can't be good enough or generous enough or volunteer enough. We can't just be kind or compassionate or a good person. There'll be good, generous, compassionate people in hell, because they wouldn't yield to Jesus. He did something for us. He redeemed us from an empty way of life.

Look at Hebrews 9:28: "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him". Hebrews is gonna tell you a Jesus story. It'll tell you what he's done for you, but it's also gonna tell you what is ahead for you. And it says he's going to appear a second time, just as certainly as he was born in a stable in Bethlehem, he's coming back and he's gonna land on the Mount of Olives. C'mon, I was just there a few weeks ago. I never visit the Mount of Olives without a brief upcheck. It'd just be awful to be there and you're caught offguard.

Hebrews 10 and verse 10: "By that, we will have been made holy," through listening to sermons and reading outlines and volunteering at church. "We've been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". He's unique. He only had to do it once and every human being can benefit from it if we will choose. We've been made holy. That's important. The Bible says without holiness none of us can see God. Now I don't know about you but I don't ever remember getting up in the morning and looking at the mirror to get ready for the day and thinking, "You're just too holy. Really, Allen, you should just stay home today. Your holiness is overwhelming". Never happened.

I need to be reminded that Jesus made a sacrifice, that I might participate in his holiness. He suffered for my rebellion and my godlessness and my mistakes that I might benefit from his holiness. He stood and took the punishment for my sin that I might receive the benefit for his perfect obedience and holiness. I am grateful. It's why I'm a Christ follower. No one has ever done anything for me to compare with what Jesus has done. Nor for you. Hebrews 12: "Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel".

Remember the two brothers, Cain and Abel? They've been mentioned a lot lately in the social media. Something about rocks. But Cain killed his brother, and when God came looking for Cain he said, "Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground," crying out for justice, for a response from Almighty God. And the blood of Jesus cried out for mercy. The blood of Jesus sprinkled on our behalf brought for us mercy, a new covenant, a new relationship. Hebrews 13:8 says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever".

That is so important. Jesus of Nazareth is unchanged and he's undiminished. He's not out of date. He's not out of fashion. His ideas are not antiquated. The principles he introduced haven't passed beyond us because we're more technically sophisticated. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and he'll be that way forever. Trust him. Begin to practice listening to him, walking with him, being his friend. Don't let anybody that knows you question the extent to which you are his friend. Whatever that looks like for you, get all in. Yes, there'll be some consequences. Not everybody will like you. Some people are gonna label you or something.

Okay, I have an announcement: they've already labeled you as something. Why not be labeled with Jesus? Why are we more willing to be labeled with some university athletic program than we're willing to be labeled with Jesus? We affiliate ourselves with all sorts of things that we know will limit us. You work for a company and you're an advocate for the company and you know there are other companies then that can put you in a more adversarial role with. You do it gladly because you like the benefits of the association. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm telling you we have abandoned Jesus. We've been intimidated or bullied or we've just been without courage. I grew up in a barn. We've been gutless. We haven't been willing to identify with Jesus because we said, "Well, you know, we didn't want to eliminate anybody". Baloney, it's that Greek word again. You make all sorts of alliances and allegiances that you know limit your sphere.

Now I wanna wrap this up. I wanna introduce to you an idea. It's not a new idea either to our church or to the people of God. It's an important component of Scripture. It's centered in this idea of proclamation and the power of God that is released in proclamations. A biblical principle is that your words have spiritual authority. In the opening chapters of the Bible, God created the heavens and the earth with the authority of his Word. And throughout Scripture, there is a spiritual authority in the words of human beings. To bless or to curse. You know it's true, you've all been wounded by words. Oftentimes, far more deeply than you have by some sort of physical attack.

You know, I'll never forget I was in an academic setting in university at a very, it was a theology school but it was a very secular school. And the professor teaching the particular class was not a faith-filled individual. But they were making this observation about the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible. They said, in the Old Testament, they said, "It's as if the people believed words had a tangible quality. It's as if words had substance and they had an impact upon lives and nations". I thought, "Wow, a secularist reading the Bible will acknowledge that, and the people that I worship with oftentimes are reluctant to do that". I don't mean you, but the broader body of Christ. We go, "Oh, that's just nonsense".

Now, it can be misused. So can food but it doesn't make food irrelevant. The power of proclamation. The word to proclaim comes from a Latin word, it means literally to shout forth, to say something, loudly or forcefully. It's a strong word. There's a New Testament word that is very similar. It's "confession". Confession should not be understood to mean only acknowledging or revealing something. Confession carries also the meaning of to say the same as. In fact, the word "confession" has a definition, in formal dictionaries now, that has to do with religious confessions. A religious confession isn't a revelation about poor behavior. A religious confession is us making a statement about what the Word of God says about us. The Apostles' Creed is a religious confession. The Nicene Creed.

The Lord's Prayer could be understood as a religious confession. "Our Father who art in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is heaven". Well, for the most part, this idea has slipped between our fingers. It's come and gone. Well, Hebrews chapter 3 and verse 1 says: "Holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession". He's the high priest of our confession. He watches over the words of our mouth. If we're willing to use our words to say what God has said about us, Jesus will watch over those declarations. That's an amazing statement. So a proclamation is an assertive confession: I will declare what the Word of God says about my life.

I'm amazed at our reluctance to be a people who pray. There's a whole lot of reasons around that. I understand, we don't feel adequate, we feel incomplete, we're far more aware of our failures than we are anything in us that would commend us to God. But the truth is, if we don't pray, we've forfeited an enormous amount. I wanna ask you to stop telling me all the ways you don't pray. Stop telling the Lord. "I mean, I don't really pray there or I don't pray this way or I don't pray with my family. I don't pray at work or I don't pray with my friends or, you know, I feel guilty about praying about small things".

Folks, if God cares when a sparrow falls to the ground. I mean, of all the things that are gonna happen in your life today, I bet the population of sparrows, you're not maintaining an account. God does. So what exactly is it in our lives that we think is so insignificant God doesn't care? Parents, you worry about how much sugar your kids ingest, what they watch, what they listen to, who their friends are, what they wear, how they talk, do they wash their hands, do they clean behind their ears. You monitor their social media and they're 50 years old. God cares.

So I brought you a proclamation of God's faithfulness. I built it out of the Psalms. I gave you the references. I just took sections of the Psalms and took the verses and put them into a bit more contemporary English. You can go back and check it against the passages. I gave them to you. If you don't like my words, use your own. But I wanna ask you to make a proclamation over our lives today. Would you be willing to do that? We're not gonna read that whole proclamation I gave you, but I wanted you to have the whole thing. I built it, really, as intended to be one proclamation. We will say it together in its entirety, just not this morning. But if you'll stand with me, I'm gonna invite you to read with me a portion of it.

If you're at home and you're watching by yourself, you can say this with us. I promise in the Spirit there's no distance. We wanna say what God has said about us. If I were walking through a difficult season, if my heart were broken, or I was under stress, or I had physical needs, I would make this proclamation morning, noon, and night like I was taking medicine. In fact, I'm gonna give you a bit of an assignment if you'll accept it in just a moment. I'm gonna try to be done a little early so you've got a moment. I'm gonna miss that if I don't hurry. Don't mock. Let's take that first stanza and read it together. Can we do this, as a proclamation over our lives, our congregation, our community, our nation, the body of Christ? It comes from Psalm chapter 16. Let's read it together:

I will praise the Lord with all that is within me, I will praise the Lord in my thoughts, and with my words and with my actions. His benefits are magnificent, may I never forget a single one! He pardons all my iniquities, He heals all my diseases, He redeems my life from the pit, He crowns me with loving kindness and compassion, He satisfies my years with good, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle. My God is Faithful, amen.

What a wonderful declaration over your life. Let's read that next stanza together. It's too good to quit just yet. Some of you are really timid. You're outdoors. Use your outdoor voice. Let's read together:

Lord, You have chosen my time and location; You and You alone secure my life. Circumstances have fallen for me in pleasant places; God has reserved for me a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord. He counsels me even as I walk through dark places. I have set my attention on the Lord, God's abiding presence ensures I will not be shaken. My God is Faithful.

You better read the next, we've got a little momentum:

The Lord contends with those who contend with me. He fights against those who fight against me. The Lord defends my life with weapons which exceed my strength. I will declare to all, the Lord is my salvation. May those who seek my demise be without favor and their schemes exposed. Those who plan for my failure will be turned back in disappointment. May the angel of the Lord disperse them, may their path be uncertain and difficult, the angel of the Lord pursuing them. My God is Faithful, amen, hallelujah.

Are you Human?:*