Allen Jackson - Authority and Power - Part 1
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It's good to be with you today. Our topic is "You Are Not Alone". Now, one of the great pressures in life, I think, is that sense of isolation. We feel like everybody else got the handbook on how to do life, and nobody gave me a copy. Did you ever feel that way? I know I do. And being a pastor doesn't change that, even having years in the ministry doesn't change that. We need the spirit of God to give us the revelation, the breakthrough that Jesus walks with us, that he's never will leave us or forsake us, and that the spirit of the living God dwells within us. That's an amazing thought once it gains life and traction in our hearts. We're gonna ask God for just that today. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.
This session is really intended, I wanted to go back to some fundamentals. I read a book years ago, it's been a long time and I can't quote it any longer, but the title of the book was "Everything I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," and it was a delightful book. In fact, I enjoyed it enough, I read everything the author wrote, but the premise was pretty simple. It said that the lessons we learned in kindergarten were the fundamental lessons of life. Wash your hands before you eat, don't talk back, when you go out in public hold hands, look both ways before you cross the road. I mean, just rocket science, but you know, our world would be a different place if we could go back and capture some of those fundamentals.
And the same is true in our faith, and I'm a bit concerned sometimes that we become either too sophisticated or too anesthetized to the basics, we think they no longer matter to us. You know, our language is more coarse, our dress is more casual, our faith is more casual, and somewhere along the line in that we lose a bit of ourselves. And so in this session, I just wanna go back to some fundamentals about the person and the work of Jesus. And I wanna be certain that we all understand we're not alone. If you're not awake to the fact yet, that we're in the midst of a spiritual conflict that is taking place within an intensity of ferocity, even that is new. And I don't mean new this week or this month but is certainly new since 2020.
God and his mercy pulled back the curtain and has awakened us to what's happening, but it's imperative that we understand the assistance we have and what's been accomplished on our behalf. In the simplest of language, the gospel really is enough. It's about the transformation of a human being from the inside out, and no government, no policy, no document, no social theory can do what the gospel of Jesus Christ does. It changes a human being, it's not pretense, it's not something forced. If it's those things, if it starts on the outside, if it starts with a set of do this or don't do that, or it's about appearance or presentation or vocabulary, it isn't the gospel, it's something else because the gospel changes us from the inside out. And it's a profound power to do that.
The greatest power that will ever touch your life it's greater than nuclear energy or any renewable energy, and we have stepped so far away from it that we've almost lost, we lose hope. I do quite a few interviews with Christians and such across the country and the question that always comes up is: what can we do? And I'll give them some presentation to the gospel and they go, "Yeah, yeah, we know that but what can we really do"? That is what we really, really do. We give that gospel to people and we're transparent about our own journey.
Let's start in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul is writing to a church and he says, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". He says that differently than we describe our spiritual journey. We would've given our spiritual birthdate when we were saved, and we would tell it in the past tense as if it was something contillier. It happened at one point in time and it was complete. That's not what Paul said. He's using the continuing present tense, speaking of himself and the believers to whom he is writing. He says, "We are being saved by the power of God". You and I need to live with the awareness that in the world in which we are living, we are being saved.
Now, we have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ and delivered from the kingdom of darkness. I'm not questioning that, but to imagine there's nothing left to happen after you've experienced the new birth is to miss the teaching of the New Testament. We are being saved by the power of God, and we can never walk very far away from that. Jesus gave us some very specific authority. Now, authority is the permission to exercise a power. You can be given authority, but if you don't use the authority, it's no help. You see a police officer standing in the middle of an intersection, the traffic lights out but he's providing no direction. He has authority but he's not using it. That's the image I have for the most part of the 21st-century Church in our culture. We have all this authority from Almighty God, and we're standing in the middle of the intersection mesmerized by the collisions.
Gee, I wonder what's happening. Wish somebody would do something. There's horrible things happening, somebody should do something. You have the authority that we'd rather have a seminar or a debate or a discussion or go to a class because actually, living out the gospel is a messy thing. The transparency that comes with saying, "I'm in process". There's much I don't know, I can share what I do know. I can tell you of how I've experience to the Lord and invites you towards that, but by no means have I mastered the topic.
In John 16, Jesus says, "Now is your time of grief, but I'll see you again and you'll rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you'll no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my father will give you whatever you ask in my name". That's another one of those bizarre statements. "Until now you haven't asked for anything in my name. Ask and you'll receive, and your joy will be complete". Jesus gave us permission to exercise the authority of his name. And I hear Christians say some of the most remarkable things. "Well, I don't wanna bother God". Oh really? You think our ungodliness doesn't bother him? Our stubbornness doesn't bother him? Our rebellion doesn't bother him? Our disinterest doesn't bother him? I don't think that's really the honest discussion of that.
We may feel intimidated, we may not be uncomfortable, we may not feel worthy, we may not know how, but I really don't think that we have the ability to bother God. He gets too bothered, he'll deal with it. I can take you to passage after passage after passage. You haven't asked for anything in my name, but now you can. John 14, this section of John's gospel, he's preparing the disciples for his exit. And there's a lot of tension in the discussion 'cause he's saying, "I'm going and where I'm going, you can't come". And they said, "We don't like that. It's not the bargain, we didn't agree to this. You said, 'Follow me,' and we'll follow you anywhere. We'll follow you even to death, but where you're going, we're going". And he said, "Not this time". And they're stressed. And so he said, "Listen, you can use my name". And it's not bringing them any peace. He's giving them the information, but they're not assimilating it.
It's an important note to me because I think we have a lot of information about God that we haven't learned how to act out. We have a lot of information and a lot of facts and an access to a lot of Scripture, but we really haven't learned how to walk in that. We thought other people did that, you know, the fanatics did that, or the crackpots or the goofballs or somebody other than us. In John 14, Jesus again, "I tell you the truth," he keeps saying that, listen, "I'm really telling you the truth here, anyone who has faith in me will do what I've been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I'm going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You can ask me for anything in my name, and I'll do it".
It's really gonna be okay. I'm going away, but I'm leaving you with authority. And they're going, "Whoa, we don't like this". And we've watched them. He gives them some specific direction about the help, he's good, he sins and the person of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1, he said, "While he was eating with them, he gave them this command". I've said to you many times, it's not a hint or a suggestion, it's a commandment. "Don't leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you've heard me speak about. John baptized with water, in a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit". I'm going away, you can use my name. You're gonna be baptized in the spirit. He's preparing them for something in the same way he's prepared us.
You see, we've accepted rather flimsy, counterfeit for the full gospel. We wanted to be saved so we could go to heaven, and then we thought there's really, you know, the difference between here and there is kind of iffy. We're not really sure what the benefits are and if it's presumptive to imagine that and we don't wanna overreach and we don't be overzealous in. In Acts chapter 2, we watch the disciples. Really, they're beginning their practicum. At the end of Acts chapter 1, Jesus goes back to heaven, and now they're gonna move outta the theoretical. They're no longer following along with Jesus and they can't run back to. At the end of the day and have him explain the parables and unpack the experiences. They're not on their own, they have help, but the support system has changed, and now they are forward of the story.
When Jesus was here, he was forward of the story. He walked on the water and said, "You can get out of the boat". After Jesus returned, after the ascension and the day of Pentecost, Jesus's followers are leading under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to us, "The things I say to you, or what the Father said to me, I don't do anything on my own". That's our message, we don't stand in our strength. We don't teach what we know, we teach what's been revealed to us, made known to us by the spirit of God. Doesn't mean we didn't study, we didn't apply ourselves, we didn't use our intellect, but at the end of the day, we want an insight and an understanding that exceeds or supersedes my ability to reason in process.
I want a discernment that's greater than what Allen has just from his own experience. And so in Acts chapter 2, we're watching them begin to experience this. "They devoted themselves to the apostles's teaching and to the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and prayer. And everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles". Now, they're beginning to do what Jesus said they would do. I suspect on some of those first gatherings, like at the end of the day of Pentecost, you know, the day the Holy Spirits poured out and the crowd gathers and Peter preaches. The other ten are looking at, "Where do you learn this? Isn't that the knucklehead that cut off the guy's ear a few days ago"? Peter tell him, "You almost drowned that night, you got out of the boat". "Tell him about that. I'll never deny you, Lord. Put that in your story, Pete".
They're watching him make this remarkable presentation of Jesus with this boldness in the streets of the city of Jerusalem, and then thousands of people present to be baptized. That's a lot of hard work baptize 3,000 people. So they're having after ministry meal together. Can you imagine that conversation? "What just happened? What did you see today, John? Do you think it'll happen again? Has there anybody left"? You know, when I leave here on Easter weekend, I think everybody in Middle Tennessee's been to church that we might as well move on. I can imagine that conversation they had with one another. "Do you suppose this is what he meant? When he commanded us not to leave, to wait? When he said that we would do the things he taught"?
Well, we better be a little more awake to the story. We still have the freedom of maintaining our routine. We can come to church when we want to. What a gift! We've seen that interrupted in recent history, so I don't think we should live presumptively as if that could never happen again. Peter says to this lame man, he's on his way into the temple. "'Silver and gold I don't have, but what I have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.' And he took him by the right hand and he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong". Peter made himself really vulnerable. I mean, he's exposed. You know that feeling when you say you'll pray for somebody or somebody says they have a need or... and what are you gonna say to them? "Well, I don't know if God heals or not, you know". Says, Peter extended his hand to him. He said, "In the name of Jesus, let me help you up now".
And Jesus? Like everybody's looking. If you pull him up when he falls back on the floor. Awkward. In the name of Jesus walk and the man begins to leap, overjoyed, ecstatic, can't be quieted. And now that everybody on the whole temple platform is looking. "What are we gonna do"? Peter, you and your mouth. Next time you go to the temple don't take Peter. You know, he can't be quiet, he's always shooting off his mouth. And now the crowd gathers. Look, you got the crowd, you talked to 'em, worked pretty well in chapter 2, and now the whole city is stirred. The Holy Spirit is doing something. You see, they're forward in the story, but the outcomes are spirit directed, that's where we wanna live. We'll stand, we'll show up, we'll pray, we will acknowledge who we are and in whose name we are doing the ministry, but we're looking for outcomes that reflect the participation of the spirit of God.
What we have settled for is another seminar, another class. Can't we have another course? Peter explains to the crowd what happened in verse 16, "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man who you see and know was made strong. It's Jesus's name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see it in Jesus's name". He said, listen to their focus, listen to their emphasis. They get drag in before the same group that orchestrated Jesus execution in chapter 4. "You know this, you and all the people of Israel. It's by this name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed".
If you're paying any attention at all, those are not conciliatory words. Peter's not building a bridge, the spirit of tolerance has not settled upon him. Listen to it is by the name of Jesus Christ, Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth whom you crucified. Oh, Peter, that this man stands before you. Jesus stood before you. You could have embraced him, you could have supported him. You could have affirmed him, you crucified him. And that's the reason this man isn't better because of that man, the one you crucified. I'm telling you, that's more than awkward. We have lacked courage. We think putting in Jesus Lord magnet on the back of the card is a bold statement. Same chapter. When they're released, they're threatened and released.
They go back to the believers that are praying and they says, "Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and to perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus". There's a theme emerging. Can you hear it? Jesus says, "You're gonna do what I've done". They say, "No, no, we don't really wanna do that. We just wanna hang with you, Jesus". No. He said, "I'm going, but I'm gonna send you help and don't you start until the Holy Spirit's here". And the Holy Spirit's poured out and they're all blown away, brains are fried. There's no way they were prepared for the events of Acts chapter 2 or Acts chapter 3 or Acts chapter 4. And now they're praying, this is their prayer in private. "Stretch out your hand to heal and to perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus".
What if you started to pray that over your neighborhood or over the place where you work or the school where your children go, or over your holiday family gathering? God stretch out your hand to heal and to perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. May your adversaries be frustrated. May there be consternation because of the demonstrations of the power of God? Acts chapter 5, they're arrested again. "They called the apostles in and they had them beaten. And then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go". You gotta stop this, we'll open your backs. It was decades later before they had the first church council.
Sounds really fancy, they call the gathering of the faith leaders from the major cities around the Mediterranean, and when they gathered, the records show that most of them who arrived either had their Achilles tendon cut or they were blind in one eye because by that point, it was a common punishment of the Romans for Christians. I'm not suggesting that we should be thrilled about the physical suffering of our faith, I'm suggesting we need to imagine a different kind of courage attached to being a Christ follower. They were flogged and they said, "Don't you ever mention his name again". "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they've been counted worthy of suffering, disgrace for the name. And day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ". They just wouldn't stop. They didn't try to throw out the Roman governor. They didn't say, "We've got to put a new Sanhedrin in place".
They told anybody who would listen, who Jesus was and what he would do, and put an invitation in front of them. They were relentless. We only get a tiny portion of the account. I'm sure it didn't all turn out as well as that one man on the way to prayer, but he was happening with enough frequency and enough consistency that growing numbers of people until all the surrounding villages around Jerusalem are stirred. They're bringing sick people and putting 'em in the street so Peter's shadow can fall on them. We couldn't do that yet, we'd be offended. "Now he'll need to pray for me. Wait for his shadow". Who do you think you are? Acts 19. This is interesting to me. Ephesus, there's a little spiritual conflict, it's not new to the 21st century. "There were Jews who went around driving at evil spirits and they tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed". They've seen other believers doing it, they don't personally know Jesus. They've seen other people doing it, and they've seen enough of an outcome that they're gonna try it.
If nothing had happened, they wouldn't have tried it. "They would say, 'In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.' And there was a Jewish chief priest named Sceva, had seven sons and they were doing this, and one day the evil spirit answered them". The demon speaks to these seven young men. "'Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?' The man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all, and he gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding". I bet they didn't try that again, but the part that intrigues me is the emphasis on knowing Jesus. The demons know who knows Jesus. You see, and we've treated it I think a little casually, a little presumptively. "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I did that. What's important? What can I do now? I wanna know something deep". Look, I don't know anything more powerful than knowing Jesus better.
Before we go, I want to pray that you'll have a revelation of Jesus that changes your future.
Heavenly Father, we're not content to be churched or religious. We don't wanna just keep rules or be polite. I ask you to give us a revelation of Jesus of Nazareth as a living Christ and King in our lives. I thank you for that in Jesus's name, amen.