Allen Jackson - You Are Here - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna continue our study on "What Are We to Do"? You know, I'm asked that question more than any other, whether it's in the local congregation here or when I'm traveling around the country. Christ followers will come up to me and say, "Pastor, there's so much confusion," or "This is happening, or that, and what are we supposed to do"? Well, that's the point of this study to see if we can gain a bit of an orientation in the midst of the confusion to know where to stand and how to respond so that the purposes of God can come forth in our lives in this very unique season. In this session, we're gonna look at some things that are next. What is it that's in front of us? From a biblical perspective, maybe even from a prophetic perspective, the Bible has given us some insight into what we can anticipate in this season that we're walking through. We're not left alone, and we're not left without help. We've got the Spirit of God within us. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.
The church, there's entire courses designed. There are seminars and university levels and seminary levels to talk about the failures and the mistakes of the Jewish people. We don't talk so much about the failures of the church. In fact, if we start to talk about current events, people get really squirrelly. "Shouldn't do that. That's political". So we talk about other people's failures 'cause that's not political, that's historical. I earned a degree in history so let me dabble for just a moment. World War II, 55 million people died as a result of World War II.
Now, for most of you, you're too young to know. Well, I'm, fortunately, too young to have known World War II. But I've read and I've seen a lot. Fifty-five million people. There's many ways to understand those kind of conflicts, but I'll give you one way of understanding it: the failure of the church. Let's just take a moment. What if the church across Europe had stood for righteousness and godliness and said, "No"? What if the church had stood up? What if the church had gotten their faith to the forefront and not to the background? What if the people of God had said, "We will behave towards one another with righteousness and integrity and dignity"? "You're not rounding up anybody in this community based on their ethnicity. We won't have it".
I understand there's other factors. I've been in those classes, too. But I'm telling you, it's a legitimate observation that the church didn't do well, because to stand up there was a cost involved, and they were aware enough and intuitive enough to know it's really just better if we just go along. Now I understand it spun further out of control than they wanted it to. I don't think they understood the Dachau and Ravensbruck and the death camps were coming when they started, but they did get to the point that they knew they had to sing their hymns more loudly when they were in church 'cause the trains filled with the Jewish people crying for help were rolling past the church, and it was awkward to have to hear it. What happens when God's people rebel? It means death and destruction and devastation and suffering.
In the 20th century, as a result of Communism, this is agreed upon, it's not about Conservative, this is a pretty much generally agreed upon fact in academics. In the 20th century, 100 million people died as a result of Communism. You know the first act in the Communist countries as they gain power is to eliminate or completely silence the church. So the failure of the church to be light, distracted, lost their balance, 'cause there were historic churches in all of those places where Communism flourished. Long histories of Christianity, venerated histories. We lost our place. We failed to recognize there was a spiritual challenge.
What's gonna be said of our generation? We've lost 60 million American children to abortion, and we said, "Well, it was legal". Oh, that'll be your answer when you see those folks in eternity? "Well, I'd have done something but, you know, it was legal". When God's people rebel. We need a spiritual solution, and we're the people that understand what that means. So back to the question: "What's ahead"? Well, I wanna take a couple of minutes, I want to take a few minutes and look at three specific Scriptures that give us a picture of the end of the age.
Now, I'm not suggesting that we're looking at the culmination of the ages, because I don't believe that's accurate just yet. I believe we could be looking at the end of an empire, but I don't know that it's the end of the ages. I think we're seeing a foreshadowing of that. I think we're seeing expressions of authoritarianism, and control, and manipulation, and ungodliness, and immorality, and perversion. All those things are gonna continue to grow, but I think it's a little escapist to say simply because our world is being rocked it's the end of everything.
So I wanna look at three significant Scriptures that... and I do believe we are approaching the end of the age, and I'll give you the summary before we look at the details. Righteousness and wickedness are going to both increase. Did you get that? Righteousness and wickedness. You're gonna have to decide which you are. For the last several decades, you could live in that gray area. You could whistle "Dixie" or the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" with equal enthusiasm and get by. And I believe that day has passed. Secondly, I believe the light will shine. I think we'll see expressions of the light of God that will exceed anything we've ever known, and I believe we'll see expressions of the deepest darkness we've ever seen.
And I think, thirdly, we're going to have to adjust to the existence of that antithesis, these seemingly opposite things flourishing at the same time. I don't think we've been emotionally prepared for that. I think we've imagined this triumphant conclusion, and I think we're gonna see something else. Let's start with Isaiah 60 in verse 1. Says: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you, and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and the kings to the brightness of your dawn".
Again, you've got both of those things happening right there at the same time. "Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness over the peoples, but the glory rises upon you, and his glory appears". The glory is the presentation of the power or the majesty of God. It's on display in the midst of the darkness, hallelujah. Now, I would remind you, and it's important, because when we see expressions of darkness, we start to get a little anxious, but wherever light meets darkness, who wins? The light does. Now, the light can fail, but if the light is functional, light overcomes darkness. Don't forget it.
Look at Matthew 13. Jesus is teaching, it's a parable. He said, "The Son of Man will send forth His angels". You can meditate on that one phrase for days. "Jesus is sending his angels into the earth". Read your Bible and just circle the statements about angels. Mighty angels, powerful angels, angels that hold back the wind, angels that hold back the sea, angels that change the course of nations, angels that defend the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Amazing, these angels. They're ministering spirits, the Bible says, sent forth on our behalf. Jesus sends forth his angels. Say, "Well, I work in a place where there's not many Christians".
I know, it's just you and the angels. "Well, my neighbors," and the angels. "Well, my wife," And the angels. Don't go there. "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and they'll throw them into the furnace of fire; and in that place there'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of the Father. He who has ears, let him hear". It's worth noting that the same field where the wheat grows, the weeds are gonna grow. And the assignment, the message was "Don't pull up the weeds. Let 'em all come to maturity".
The same climactic conditions that lets the wheat ripen, lets the weeds ripen. Jesus said the harvest is the end of the age and the angels are the harvesters. That makes me smile. The angels are the harvesters. Right up to the close of the age, both are going to grow side by side. And if you'll allow me, I would submit to you that this is not a discussion of the pagan world. I believe Jesus is describing God's people. And the difference between the wheat and the tares, they're in the same field, the same soil, the same climate, same opportunities, the difference is the fruit produced. It's the fruit produced.
I don't believe the church is going to be fully purified until the end of the age. We're in process. We need to humble ourselves a little bit. God is moving in the earth. I wanna cooperate with him. I wanna be more fully yielded to him next week than I was last week. I want my life to bear more fruit in the season ahead than in any season that's gone before. I don't wanna point at my résumé or point at this or that. I wanna say, "Lord, I wanna know you better". When I see spiritual forces breaking into the open and more blatant in bold ways, I wanna be certain I'm invested in what the Spirit of God is doing in the earth. It's not a time to maintain the status quo.
Look at Revelation 22. This is the passage I would not have expected in my Bible. Says: "He told me, 'Don't seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; and let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does what is right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I'm coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.'" Jesus is not a socialist. We're not all gonna get the same reward. He said, "I'm gonna respond to you in the way you've responded to me".
Do you meditate on that? Do you think about that? Because you're gonna live with those rewards for all eternity. All eternity. What are you chasing these days? You're chasing things that you can't keep. And when your days under the sun are concluded, you will leave them behind unless you've made intentional investments in the eternal kingdom of God, and I'm not talking about your money, principally. You wanna live with an eye on eternity. Jesus said, "I'm the Alpha and the Omega," the A and the Z, "the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End".
I believe it's not a complicated message. It's pretty simple. God is saying to commit fully, either be filthy or be righteous, but be one or the other. Stop dancing between the two. Church, this is for us. We've tolerated too much. We've ignored it or excused it or justified it or thought we could kind of flippantly go, "Oh, I'm kind of sorry". Immediately before the return of the Lord, the wicked will be even more wicked and the righteous will become more righteous. You better decide. You better decide 'cause your choices matter, remember? This isn't bad news. This is really good news. You can participate in the righteousness of God in ways you've never imagined before. The Spirit of God is moving with the most unique opportunities.
You see, in the Christian life, we move forward, we don't stand still. We don't achieve completion and then just wait. We've been given the wrong message. We didn't get all of our big rock done, all the big business accomplished, and then just hang on to hear the trumpet. We need to live by new light each day, growing in the Lord. Yeah, we read our Bibles, like, every day. And we ask the Lord to help us understand. You'll be amazed at what happens if you'll begin to do that. Jesus gives us some words of comfort in Luke 21. He's talking about the end of the age and he says, "There'll be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, and on the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea".
Gee, there might be confusion in the earth, over the climate. "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what's coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they'll see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when you see these things begin to take place," panic and run for a cave. "When these things begin to take place, stand up, lift up your heads, your redemption draws nigh". Look at verse 28: "When these things begin to take place," when you see the beginning of this, the foreshadowing of this, the tremors suggesting this could happen, what do you do? How are we going to react? Are we gonna be depressed and discouraged? "Well, everything's changing". He says to "praise the Lord, our redemption is drawing near".
I'll tell you how you know where your heart is invested: by your reaction. Our reaction reveals where we're invested. The Bible, Jesus described it as birth pains. I'll tell you the question my father was a veterinarian when we were all living at home, and I've watched lots of things be born: cows, and calves, and foals, and puppies, and kittens, and the occasional gerbil and, if you knew the animals well enough to recognize the anguish, I can tell you birth pains are uncomfortable and awkward, but if you were the watcher, and we often got that assignment, because this was before technology, we didn't have cameras and monitors. We had kids.
So my brothers, and I got recruited to be watchers, and the animals were determined to give birth when you're not watching. So it's like a game, and so when you're the watcher, there was a lot of anxiousness and excitement and anticipation. And they go together, birth pains and the baby. And when we saw an animal that we cared about beginning that trauma of the birth pains, we got excited because we knew there was a new foal coming, or a new calf coming, or something was coming. So my question, church, we're wringing our hands, we're anxious, we're kind of, "Well, you know, there's a lot of bad stuff going..." Do you want the baby? We don't act like it. "Well, truthfully, Pastor, I was trying to find a location with less pain".
You see, if you want the baby, you'll put up with the changes of pregnancy. You'll endure the transformation and all the things that come with it. We talk about it being fun, but there's a lot of change that comes with that. It's a very vulnerable time in the life of a mother. In fact, the mother puts themselves at risk in order to participate in that process of birth and gestation. You put up with the changes of pregnancy and the birth pains, because you want the baby. If there's no changes, there's no baby. And you can answer this as well as I can. If we took a vote in the church, if we could just go back, no changes. Let's just turn the calendar back to some place we preferred.
I think we all know the way the vote would go. We don't want the changes, we don't want the birth pains 'cause we've had it pretty good. Lord, help us. We don't wanna be rebellious. I would submit the church has a job to complete. Matthew 24 again, Jesus said, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There'll be famines and earthquakes in various places. These are the beginning of the birth pains". It's a timing passage. It's filled with timing words. Verse 9: "Then you'll be handed over". Verse 10: "At that time..." Here's I'll give you the big picture: endurance is demanded for salvation. How do you maintain your salvation?
You say, "I didn't know I had to maintain it. I thought I got it, it was mine forever". That's another lesson. I don't want you to live in fear of it. I just don't want you to live presumptively. How do you maintain your salvation? Biblically, you endure. You're an overcomer. If you're in the midst of enduring, you're in training for what's in front of us. God needs a church prepared, a church prepared for the harvest at the end of the age. See, we've got this mistaken notion, "Well, when times get easier, when the economy settles down, when the leadership in the nation gets a little better, when we get back in political power," or whatever, "then we're really gonna lean into this thing, and we're gonna preach the gospel".
Ha, ha, it's gonna get harder. It's gonna take courageous believers to see this age through. I promise you, Jesus nor his church will be deterred by opposition or difficulty. Have you read the book of Acts? It didn't stop them, it didn't thwart the purposes of God. And it's not going to do it now. Let's go back to the beginning. Our choices make a difference. Your intuition is right: the world is changing, our world is changing, and the outcome isn't clear yet, because God's people haven't fully responded. I pray we do in an ever-growing way. I hope that it's a challenge for us. We have to figure out how to accommodate all the people choosing the Lord, choosing to honor the Lord. We see little snapshots, glimpses of that. It's encouraging.
We share some of them with you. You choose the Lord. I'll talk about, I promise, we're gonna talk about what we can do. I'm gonna give you some simple things to do. It's a time when there are frightening things happening, but you don't have to be filled with fright and fear. You can be filled with anticipation, 'cause Jesus is sending his angels, and he's moving in the earth, and we can decide whether we're gonna be the Israelite soldiers hiding in their tents or we're gonna be out there with David, going, "You got this. You've got this. We ate bear meat. I believe in you, dude, go".
We're the church of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the name that's above every name. He defeated Satan and his kingdom for all eternity. He took from him the keys of death and hell. And he is our high priest, interceding for us at the right hand of Almighty God the Father tonight. But he said we can come boldly before his throne of grace and find mercy to help in our time of need. He also said, "If you wanna be wicked, get on with it. Stop pretending. It's time to stop hiding in the wheat field, it won't help you, because the angels are gonna sort you out".
What's the fruit of your life? Do you promote ungodliness? Do you tolerate it? Because if you're tolerating it, you're promoting it. You're not neutral. Neutral's done. We've broken out of that season. I wanna close with a proclamation. It's not mine. I took it from Ephesians, but I've put the reference at the end 'cause I didn't want you to just think I was reading you a verse of Scripture.
I want you to stand with me, if you will. I'd like to make this proclamation over you. I'd like to make it as a declaration for your life. And then I wanna give it to you to make over your own self, over your family, your home, your neighborhood, your friends, your Small Groups. Let's begin to use our words to say what the Word of God says about us. Folks, your understanding, your sense that something is changing, and there's a conflict in the earth is not wrong. It's the Spirit of God within you. It's discernment, but when it's something new, understanding how takes a new response. And so, if you will, just receive this. Again, it's not mine. It's from Ephesians 3:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.