Allen Jackson - Supernatural On Display - Part 1
It's a privilege to be with you today. Our topic is the "Supernatural on Display". I'm always a bit amused, I hear Christians having debates about whether God still does miracles, whether the supernatural is a part of his church. Folks, apart from the supernatural power of God, we have no way into the kingdom of God. We're not gonna earn our way into that. We're not going to achieve it through education or passing a test. It takes something supernatural for the new birth to occur in our lives, and we don't wanna stop with God's supernatural at that point. We wanna learn how to lead supernatural lives. Well, that's the point of the lesson today. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly open your heart.
We started a series of discussions on "The End of the Age". You know, we're living in a season of tremendous turmoil, and I know there's almost an enormous amount of energy being invested in trying to ignore what's happening. It's a little bit like being on the deck of the Titanic, being determined to argue about the hors d'oeuvres, and I would submit to you that's not the most helpful posture. Pretending like nothing is happening doesn't prepare us. And there's a lot of voices in Christendom, many of whom are friends of mine, that would suggest it's the end of the age, that we're coming to the conclusion of this point, that it will culminate, this age will culminate with the return of the King, and that will open the door to the next age, what's next. And I can very convincingly argue from scripture that that is true, there's certainly a number of those biblical markers that we see being fulfilled.
I don't think there's any question we're moving into that season. It isn't exactly clear to me whether it's... we're looking the end of the age or we're just possibly looking at the end of the American empire, because I can assure you that what we're watching is not sustainable on almost any perspective that you wanna pick up. The nation will not survive with open borders. The nation will not survive with complete fiscal irresponsibility. A nation will not survive blatant immorality and an attack on the nuclear family. No culture ever has, and ours will not.
Now, I don't say that in any way to be negative because I believe we have the opportunity to change those things. Every generation has to make the decisions for themselves. We talk about that generation that faced the tyranny of Germany and all the threats that came with that, and they took the beaches of France. We call them the greatest generation, and we have benefitted from their sacrifices. I wonder how our generation will be labeled. The answer's not clear yet because we're still telling our stories; we're still living them out. If we intend to see those things reversed though, I can tell you this for certain, that it's going to take a response different than the ones we have had in the past. Extending your vacation and buying a bigger RV will not change the narrative.
And I'm not opposed to either of those things. I can just tell you the temptation is to try to avoid it, and we still have the affluence and the freedom that we can afford distractions, but I don't believe distractions are the goal. And so, my purpose in this session is to hopefully add a little momentum and even to give you some tools whereby you can participate with the Spirit of God. You see, we need the supernatural help of God. If Bible studies were gonna fix this, folks, we'd be triumphant. If you're a church veteran, you have been through more Bible studies than you can imagine. Someone stopped me last night and said that they'd been in the church and it took them on a twenty-year study, book by book through the Bible.
It was an amazing story to hear. But we have to have the courage to say that Bible study alone has not stopped the explosive growth of immorality, and ungodliness, and lawlessness, the deterioration of truth, apostasy within the church. I've begun talking about the theater of the absurd, because what we're watching is just almost beyond description. It's being presented to us from credible places, places that expect us to accept what they're saying to us as if it were logical, when on face value we understand it is anything but logical. And there're still very few voices willing to say the emperor has no clothes. You know, in the theater of the absurd, it seems like week after week continues to present new material. And this week, it's the debt ceiling. Hallelujah, it's been raised again, 'cause apparently $32 trillion was not enough.
Folks, it will never be enough. It will never be enough, until there's nothing left and the debt is impossible, and it takes everything we have. You understand it's a debt the same way you have a credit card and you can have a debt on your credit card, or you have a home mortgage. Debts have to be paid. And if we imagine we can pay the debt by printing money or by opening the border, all that really suggests is they're taking the value away from what you've already earned and what you've already acquired to offset the increasing debt. It will never be enough. Fiscal responsibility is a necessity.
Some of you may know of Alexis de Tocqueville. He was a French diplomat and political scientist. He wrote a great deal about the American democracy in the early 19th century, much of which has proven to have been prophetic. One of his favorite quotes, he said, "The American republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money". He said that in the early 1800s, and we're watching that. We're in an election cycle again and they are busily enticing you with what they're going to give you. They'll promise you this or that... please don't be misled.
Folks, they're bribing you with your money. They're acting as if they're being benevolent, when in truth they are mishandling their responsibility as stewards of our freedom and our liberty, and they are selling the future of our children. And if they're promising you something in the moment, if you imagine there's a benefit to you in the moment, they will take it away from you. They simply wanna maintain their positions of authority. Trillion dollars is a lot of money. We're more than thirty trillion dollars in debt today. I can't really get my brain around what a trillion is... there's too many zeroes and their numbers, so I look for a way... question: Do you imagine that you can spend a trillion dollars? Some of you are pretty good at spendin' money.
Suppose the assignment's here's a trillion dollars, you get to spend it. Let me tell you what that would require. It would take you more than 2,700 years to spend a trillion dollars if you spent a million dollars every day. Wow! That's just one trillion. If you had that much and you spent $1 per second, it would take you more than 32,000 years to spend it all. It's a lot. A trillion dollars in $1 bills. If you had it physically with you, it would weigh 2.2 billion pounds. $30 trillion and they're desperate for more debt. It's unsustainable. I tell you that because if we don't have the courage to stand up and say "no more, we will not support you".
I don't care the label you wear, I don't care how enticing the offer you bring, it is unsustainable. There is tremendous economic confusion before us. I don't believe it's avoidable. We're addicted, and we have to break the habit. And to do that, it will create some turmoil. That's just one slice of the theater of the absurd. The other one that's just unrelenting are the continuous demands for greater and greater expressions of immorality. And what seems to me to be stunning, it's beyond logical. It has very little to do with logic. Corporate America taking hands in these games, trying to drive positions on human sexuality through the culture.
We've been told for my entire lifetime that our biblical worldview was not welcome in the corporate setting; that if we were in a corporate setting and I made a statement about Jesus and one person was offended, they could raise their hand and then I had to withdraw whatever I had said. And we very timidly accepted those ground rules because we imagined wrongly that at the point in time where something was said, if we raised our hands and we said we're offended, that they would force that opinion to be silenced. Well, after we abandoned the arena, we took Jesus and left him someplace else, we find now another worldview in place in all those same corporate settings. And they don't care if you raise your hand. Bud Light tried a little experiment in marketing, and even though they have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, they're neither repentant nor apologetic. They're inconsiderate of the worldviews that are offended.
They lecture us on how we're hate-filled and we should shut up. We won't. We cannot. But it doesn't stop with Budweiser. Target picks it up. The US Military picks it up. The last time I checked, the objective of the military was not the proffer social experiment, it's to win the wars for our nation. There is something amongst us, and there is little sense of remorse or repentance no matter what lie is exposed, no matter what malfeasance is brought to light, no matter how powerful the organization, how much we depend upon them for truthfulness and integrity, when their lack thereof is exposed, they just double down and say, "Hush". Or there's the FBI or the Justice Department or the CDC or our media. They give Pulitzers for whole story profiles that are built on false narratives. And when the truth is exposed, no one apologizes, they just plan for their next award.
If it weren't for God, there would be no hope. The Lord gave me a verse this week. I wanna share it with you. I think I put it in your notes. I hope I did. It's Proverbs 3. Did I give you that one? Good for me. I was reading this, I knew the Lord was giving it to me. It's Proverbs 3:25. It said, "Have no fear of sudden disaster or the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared". See, I think we get so anxious, the reason we don't wanna look at the truth is we understand intuitively the implications that what's happening can't be sustained and we have to make some changes, and we need somebody with some courage and a little bit of boldness, and we're gonna have to be willing to take the beach again and say no, that territory was yielded, but we yielded wrongly.
And we're gonna bring our biblical worldview back into our schools and our college campuses and our corporate boardrooms and our courtrooms. We will see that. So stop ignoring it and hear what God has said: "Have no fear of sudden disaster". Don't spend your time preparing, planning for the sudden disaster. Do what you can do, but understand you don't have to fear the ruin that overtakes the wicked. "The Lord will be your confidence". That's worth committing to memory. And with that in mind, my goal was to look at the Book of Ephesians with you. It's a guidebook for spiritual things, and we need a spiritual awareness beyond what we currently embrace. But before we got to the Book of Ephesians, I wanted to look at the backstory. I wanted to show you how the church at Ephesus came to be.
And so, I went to the book of Acts and that just kept growing. It's told primarily in Acts 17 and 18, and we looked at the first portion of that in the previous session. Now, I wanna pick it back up. In Acts 18, it says that the church in Ephesus was really birthed when a man named Apollos came, and in Luke's language, he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately. Makes perfect sense that this Jesus initiative at Ephesus would begin by someone talking about him. Now, Luke tells us that Apollos was a Jewish man from Alexandria. Apollos is an unusual name for a religious Jewish man. It's a Greek name, Apollo being a Greek God. And so, he has the name of a Greek God. He comes from Alexandria. Alexandria had the largest library in the ancient world. It was a center of learning, and Apollos came from there and, however, we don't know how he got to Ephesus. We don't know how he got to know Jesus.
But Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, tells us about Apollos, that he spoke with great fervor and he taught about Jesus accurately. That's the foundation, Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the Bible tells us. Understand, the cornerstone of your faith is at the tradition in which you grew up, the denomination. It's not your family's personal belief system. It's not the translation of the Bible you prefer. Jesus is the cornerstone. And Apollos taught them about him well. If there's one thing I think would be a strength to the American church, the American evangelical community, is if we had the humility to say we need to know Jesus better.
We have this knee-jerk, almost reflexive response that, well I'm born again, or I've made a profession of faith, and we start to recite dates and times and circumstances, and maybe we have baptism pictures or certificates, and I'm an advocate for all of those things. I participate in them. I believe in them, but folks, that's the introduction to Jesus. It'd be like going to the nursery at the hospital this morning looking through the window and imagining those little people looking back at us know everything they need to know about life. All they really know right now is that they're hot or cold, if they're hungry, if they're uncomfortable. Their ability to communicate is limited to a couple of primary devices, most of 'em around just noise.
And it takes a mother's discernment to recognize whether that noise is one of distress or joy or panic. They're not exactly sophisticated in engaging with our world, and when we are birthed into the kingdom of God, we're not sophisticated with the kingdom of God. We may have gained the legal right to all the privileges that come with the kingdom, but in the same way those infants have all the legal privileges and rights that come with a human being that's alive, they certainly don't understand the fullness of any of it. And tragically for many, many of us, we have stopped there. Tenure, the turning of the calendar does not mean that we have grown spiritually. We can be fifty-year-old infants with a rattle and a paci. It will be awkward to stand before St. Peter at the Pearly Gate, if there's a Pearly Gate and St. Peter's there.
I believe in heaven. It'd be awkward to stand there with Pampers and a paci. Come on. And everybody in line behind you's got on their full spiritual armor and you're standin' there goin'... Yeah, we've been listenin' to that for sixty years. Come right in. The church at Ephesus started with Apollos and his teaching, but soon after that, Paul arrived. And he said, "Tell me what you know about the Lord". And they told him. And he said, "Well tell me what you know the Holy Spirit," and they said "We don't even know if there is a Holy Spirit". Sounds a lot like contemporary American Christianity. We make it a point of division. "Well, we don't believe in that". That's what they said in Ephesus. Some of them listened to Paul and some received what he had to say. Some said, "No, we're not gonna do that".
So, after a couple of months, Paul took the disciples, those who were willing to grow and learn, and he moved out and every day, it says, he taught them for two years. It's the beginning of the church at Ephesus. God's Word was taught. It says that some became obstinate; others refused to believe and were publicly critical. Don't spend your life in that camp. I meet people who've spent most of their adult life being critical of the church. It's their spiritual gift. But it's not the Holy Spirit. Amen, pastor. It does not take great wisdom to find weakness. It does not. Doesn't take great wisdom to find weakness in people. Doesn't take great wisdom to find weaknesses in God's people. Become a part of the solution. It's not a new thing. It's been going on since the church was being formed at Ephesus. And then we get to verse 11, and it says that "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and evil spirits left them".
What you find is that they grew in their faith, as they matured in their faith, that the supernatural became a part of their experience; that there really was no spiritual formation apart from the supernatural. Paul taught them on a daily basis. Imagine church every day. He taught them every day. So there was a knowledge transfer. There was a learning component, but the learning was borne out, was given evidence by the supernatural involvement of God in their lives. We haven't even known that was an issue. We've preferred the argument that says, "Well, most of the supernatural stuff stopped in the first century".
There's no biblical evidence for that. It just kinda takes us outta the messy edges of our faith. We'd rather believe in doctors and universities than in the supernatural power of God, and I'm an advocate for medicine and for learning. But I'm also an advocate for the power of God. And then Luke gives us a very specific experience. It's around these young Jewish men, the sons of the high priest, so they're well-trained. They're not from the lunatic fringe. They're not from the wrong side of the track. I believe the reason that their relationship to the high priest as pointed out to us is tryin' to establish a bit of credibility for them. Says, "They were Jews who went around driving out evil spirits and they tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. And they would say, 'In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.'"
So, deliverance from unclean spirits, the acknowledgment that unclean spirits impacted the lives of people that were seeking God was understood to be a part of the narrative for the believers in Ephesus. You're gonna need to remember that when we get to the Book of Ephesians. And then Luke tells us that there were "Seven sons of Sceva, the Jewish high priest, and they were doing this". And one day when they were doing this, the spirit answered them. "Paul I know. And Jesus, I know him too. But I don't recognize you". And it says one man overpowered seven, overpowered them physically, stripped them naked and they fled from his presence naked and bleeding. That's an embarrassing small group. But it captured the attention of the city.
In verse 17 it says: "When this became known to the Jews and the Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor". You see, the outcome of the supernatural involvement of God is the name of Jesus will be lifted up. It's not about you and me, folks. On our best day, we can't heal a gnat's wing. Get over ourselves. Stop acting as like we've learned enough or we were smart enough or we were spiritual enough. Stop with all the shabby spiritual language.
You see, until we're willing to address our own hearts and let acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and allow the Spirit of God to help us begin to clean up our lives, we are not trustworthy vessels. If the manifestations of the Spirit of God are the power of God, the fruit of the Spirit is the insulation around the conduit. And if you release the power and it's not properly insulated, it's destructive. So God needs us to be willing to do our part. It's what happened. Luke is telling us a story. "Jesus's name was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. And a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls", it was over, it was millions of dollars worth if you put it into contemporary values.
They destroyed millions of dollars' worth of things that they had used in pursuit of the occult. Imagine if we destroyed everything we used in the pursuit of pornography. We're pretty casual about sin. We're pretty casual about the occult. And we wonder why we find ourselves in this place. Look at the next sentence, verse 20. It's one of the most hopeful in this chapter. It says, "In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power". In what way? Well, in demonstrations of the power of God and demonstrations of evil. And the people began to publicly say, "I have to be different. I don't want that destructive thing to have greater influence in our culture, so I will change. I'll pay a price to change. I will publicly acknowledge my need to change. I'll go in the way", the biblical word for that is repentance.
Millions of dollars, in today's dollars it would be an extraordinary amount. And in this way, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. You see, we're so idolatrous, we think the next election's gonna fix us. 'Cause in the next one, they won't cheat. Now, who's avoiding the truth? How many elections do we have to have when we continue gaining momentum towards destruction before we can acknowledge that the elections aren't the problem, it's the hearts of those of us that are participating that is the problem. We have to have a heart change.
I don't believe Bible study alone will change our world. I'm an advocate for learning and I'm certainly an advocate for learning about our Bible. But I don't believe another seminar is what's going to transform our culture again. I believe we're going to need the power of God to change human lives, to change our congregations, our communities, even our nation. The good news is: God is willing. If we can open our hearts and cooperate with his Spirit, I believe we'll see him move in the most remarkable ways. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you for your power, that it's available to us, that we're not left to our strength or our intellect or just our resources, but we can trust you and your power to bring change in our generation. We ask for your mercy, in Jesus's name. Amen.