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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - All Things New

Allen Jackson - All Things New

Allen Jackson - All Things New

So let's get started. You've found your outlines. Let's start in Revelation 21. It's very near the end of your New Testament, one chapter from the final chapter. Says: "He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I'm making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.' And then He said to me, 'It is done. I'm the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I'll give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. And he who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.'"

It's just about the conclusion of the New Testament. It's certainly, the curtain is closing on this age, and there's a statement made that captured my attention. God said, "I'm making all things new". The Bible starts with an expression of God's creative power. Most of you know Genesis 1. Says: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," and it goes on to expand from there. But that's not the termination of God's creative expression on earth or towards humanity. That's not the only creative expression of God. We get to the conclusion of the New Testament and God said, "Behold, I'm making all things new".

God's not done. I think some of us have imagined when God got to the end of the Genesis creation narrative, he was out of ideas, that he had the ultimate writer's block, that he was done with any creative expression. And that's simply not the truth. I love this idea that there are creative expressions of God still to come. The most creative influence that will ever touch your life is Almighty God.

That's important for me to understand and to live with that idea, because there's a lot of pressures, a lot of ideas, coming to us that say if you choose to live a Christ-centered life, to choose a biblically informed worldview, that somehow you're a little rooted in antiquity, that you're behind the times, that you're a little, intellectually, you're a little diminished, and emotionally you're a little, somehow, underdeveloped, that you're incomplete and hopelessly out of date. I don't believe that. I believe the most creative force that will ever touch your life is Almighty God. And if you wanna find your potential as a human being, creatively or otherwise, that will come through cooperating with the Spirit of God more than any other single opportunity that is available to you.

The message that we hold is timeless. The truths of Almighty God don't change. It's what makes the Bible such a remarkable book. It's addressive literature. It was written hundreds and hundreds of years ago by dozens of different authors in a variety of historical and social context, and yet when you and I open it up, it is addressive, it speaks to us. The circumstances of my life and the challenges that I face are addressed in that book. The truth that we hold is timeless. The containers in which we serve it have to fit the season in which we live. And if we confuse the two, we'll steer ourselves into the ditch. The truths are timeless, but the containers with which we offer up the truth have to fit the seasons in which we live. We can use the digital world to communicate the gospel in a powerful way.

Jesus said before he comes back to the earth in Matthew 24 that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come. We have greater tools for the proclamation of the gospel today in a broader way, in a more rapid way, than at any time in human history. It's an exciting season. It's an expression of the creative power of God. I'm not willing to abandon technology and all of its opportunities simply for economic advantage or for expressions of selfishness. "Amen" is the word you're searching for, but I've already warmed up, okay? I appreciate you maintaining your enthusiasm so you don't disrupt the people around you. That's wonderful.

In Revelation, God said he's gonna make all things new, creative expressions still to come. If all things are gonna be made new, there's something implied in that: that the present world order is passing away, that it's temporary, it isn't permanent. And I wanna give you a verse. I didn't put it in your notes, but they'll put it on the screens. I worked on this after I made your outline. Galatians 1:4 says: "Jesus gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father".

Jesus' redemptive work on the cross was not limited to the forgiveness of our sins. It was a rescue mission to deliver us from the evil of this present age. This age is not our ultimate home. It's why the Bible says we're in the world, but we're not of it. In Hebrews it talks about us being aliens and strangers in the world, pilgrims. We're traveling through, but our hope is someplace else. We're anticipating something beyond this age and the promise of this age. That's at the heart of our faith. And the author of Revelation is reminding us of that. And then we're told who will receive these wonderful blessings. In verse 7, it says: "I'll give to the one who thirsts from the spring of water of life without cost".

It's interesting. The one who'll receive this is the one who thirsts for it. Now you and I are hardwired with some motivations, hunger, thirst. They're some of the most powerful forces innate within every one of us. Most of us have been coached on how to behave in polite society, how to get along with one another, and what those boundaries, appropriate boundaries, would be, and if you grew up in the south, we got a whole extra layer. We don't mean them, we just got the layer. But you get hungry enough and thirsty enough, all of those, all that façade of civility will melt pretty quickly. Hunger and thirst are powerful motivations; so when Jesus said, "The one who thirsts after this will receive it," he's suggesting more than a casual inquiry, more than an intermittent response. He's suggesting something that is a powerful choice on our part and a driving force within us.

The other aspect of being thirsty is no matter how fully hydrated you are at this moment, no matter how refreshing the glass of water you just had may be, you require that process to be repeated. You won't be hydrated 72 hours from now if you haven't continued to address your thirst. And we've mistakenly had this idea, I think, it's thrived in the American church at least, that our spiritual life is initiated by a profession of faith, whatever you label that, salvation, conversion, the new birth. I believe in that. Believing initiated into the kingdom of God. But when he talks about thirst, he's talking about something that isn't satisfied with a one-time event. It's something that we recognize is a necessity for our well-being. It's true physically, it's true spiritually.

The promise is made to the one who thirsts and secondly to the one who overcomes. Says: "He who overcomes will inherit all of these things". Overcoming is a theme in the book of Revelation. Revelation opens with a message to seven churches. There's a diagnostic given to each one of them, a kind of an analysis of their current situation, and then the resolution is required in every one, seven out of seven churches, that they be overcomers. Then there's the story of the end of the age, the big trouble that comes, and the emergence of the Antichrist, the false prophet, and their ultimate defeat by the return of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But then the promise of the book of Revelation is restated: the one who overcomes is the one who will receive all of these things.

I confess, I don't really like that. If it was up to me, I'd get my Wite-Out out and I'd just white it out of my Bible. If that would change the truth, I'd be doing it. But the reality is, to receive the fullness of what God intends for you and me we have to be willing to overcome. Now, here's the challenge. That presupposes hurdles, obstacles, barriers, resistance, difficulties, disappointments. They come with the journey, folks. Nobody gets through life without those things.

Oftentimes, I think we look at other people and we imagine their life is easier. I have lived enough and interacted with enough people to know, nobody gets through without 'em. The people I think are getting through easily, I just don't know their stories. But here's the good news. Almighty God is your Creator, your designer, and he designed you with the strength you need to overcome any obstacle in your path, amen. God is your design engineer. There's no challenge you'll face that you're not adequate to overcome with the help of his Spirit if you'll put your faith in him.

Now, apart from God we don't have the strength. He designed us with a God capacity, and when we cooperate with him and welcome his Spirit into our lives, there's a power available within you and me to help us be overcomers with every obstacle in life. What a wonderful promise. God's making all things new. The most creative aspects of God are still ahead of us. I'll do my part, you do yours, we'll work this out. We'll catch on. Now, I wanna put that passage from Revelation 21 in contrast to a passage from 2 Peter. I didn't put this one in your notes, but they're gonna share it with you on the screens. You can check me later. It's really in the book. 2 Peter chapter 3 and beginning in verse 3. It says: "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They'll say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised?

Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. And by these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men". Now I wanna submit to you that that passage from 2 Peter and the passage from Revelation 21 stand in contrast to one another. Revelation's telling us about what's next, that God's gonna make all things new, and the promise to the ones who are thirsty and overcome and what'll be given to them. And Peter is encouraging us in this present age not to give up.

God said he'll give you a new name. I like this one. Revelation again, this time chapter 2 and verse 17, says: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I'll give some of the hidden manna. I'll also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it". God said he'd give you a new name. Now why does that matter? Well, there's a principle in Scripture that your character is represented by the name that is given to you. There are many instances when God interacts with a life, when God intercepts a life, and changes the trajectory, he gives a new name.

Now I've made a whole list of those folks. We may look at it in another session, but for this morning I wanna look at a couple with you, a couple of people to whom God assigned new names. The first one... I hope you know 'em both. I tried to choose some New Testament characters you're familiar with, but the first one is Saul. We know him as Saul of Tarsus. When we meet him he's a Pharisee. He's an observant Jewish man. He has been immersed in the study of Judaism, rabbinic Judaism, since his childhood. More than 600 rules in the laws of Moses and he knows 'em all. He's a zealot. He's emotional, he's assertive, he's aggressive. In fact, he wants to persecute anybody that threatens his presentation of reality as he understands it. He's a rising star in the religious Jewish community of the first century. He's an enthusiastic persecutor of people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, until Acts chapter 9 when Jesus of Nazareth has a little meeting with Saul of Tarsus.

Now some of you remember Jesus went back to heaven in Acts chapter 1, but in Acts chapter 9, he shows up on the road to Damascus. Somewhere in the northern part of Israel, Saul of Tarsus is traveling and Jesus grabs him by the back of the neck, in the Living Bible. And he says, "What do you think you're doing, son? It's me you're persecuting". And Saul's a clever man and he said, "Well, who are you, Lord"? And Saul of Tarsus becomes the apostle Paul. There's an irony in that. The most Jewish of all the disciples Jesus recruited, Paul says of himself, "I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees," and the assignment he's given by our Lord is to be the apostle to the non-Jewish world. Jesus chose the most Jewish of the crew to be the messenger for the non-Jewish world.

Now here's the interesting part: more than 2000 years after Paul is done, he's worn out his earth suit, and he's moved on, his God stories are still impacting our world. Here's why that matters to me. When you become a new creature in Christ and when you receive the new name that God has for you, a significance to your life exceeds time. God will allow your life, your strength, your energy, and your efforts to have an impact beyond the limits of your earth suit. See, you and I would settle for having an amazing life and God said, "Absolutely not. I've created you. There's a part of you that's eternal and I'll use your life for my purposes across the span of time".

Look at what Paul says of himself in 1 Timothy chapter 12. I'm sorry, chapter 1, verse 12. He said, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who's given us strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man". Paul's own self-description is that prior to his encounter with Jesus, he was "a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man". And he got a new name. Let me give you another example from the New Testament, a man you know. His name is Thomas. He's on the next page. There's an adjective. It's almost always in front of Thomas's name. Do you know what it is? Doubting, you've heard the story, too. We know him 2000 years later as old Doubting Thomas.

Well, Thomas is one of the 12 that Jesus recruited. And Thomas was not reluctant. Thomas went all in. He made the whole journey with Jesus for 3 years. He was in the boat when Jesus walked on the water. He was in the cemetery when Lazarus walked out. Thomas was on the Mount of Olives when they made that triumphal entry into the city on that Palm Sunday path. Thomas was in Gethsemane when Jesus was praying and the crew was dozing. He was there when they came to arrest Jesus. Thomas watched him die on a cross. He was all in with Jesus. But Thomas wasn't present on the evening of Resurrection Day when Jesus showed up to talk to the other 12. He wasn't there that day. We don't know why. The Scripture doesn't tell us.

It just says Thomas wasn't present. And Jesus showed up and, to the other disciples, he said, "I'm back," and he showed 'em the nail prints and the physical signs of his passion. And when they told Thomas, Thomas said, "No". Thomas said, "Not this time". He said, "I followed that once. I watched every scene, I participated in every part. You know I did". But he said, "The hurt is too deep. The disappointment is overwhelming. The despair is too dark. Do not ask me to believe again". He said, "If I believe again, it'll be because I can put my finger in the nail print, and my hand in his side". And we've called Thomas a doubter.

Thomas didn't ask for anything more than the other disciples had already received. None of them believed Jesus was alive until they had that personal encounter with him. When the women came back from the tomb and said the tomb was empty, Peter and John went to look, but they didn't come back from the empty tomb and say to the others, "He's alive". Thomas asked for the same evidence the others had received. But what you can hear in his heart is the depth of the despair that they had all wrestled with. I want you to imagine something: that you can be a Jesus-called, faithful follower, fully integrated with the miraculous involvement of God in your life, and still bump into circumstances that leave you wrestling with despair and discouragement and disappointment.

Peter wasn't a failure, John wasn't a failure, Thomas is not a failure. Look at the passage in your notes. It's John chapter 20. Says: "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. And though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them". I love that line. This is resurrected Jesus. Now, he's got body 2.0, and he didn't need a retinal scan to get through the locked door. He didn't need a thumbprint. He didn't need the code or the password. He was just on the outside, then he was on the inside. God's making all things new, folks. I'm looking forward to Allen 2.0. I don't wanna miss it. "Jesus stood among them and he said, 'Peace be with you!' And then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here.'"

See, if I'd have written this, Jesus would have turned to Thomas and said, "You under-committed, lily-livered, backslidden no-count. Get out of my sight". But Jesus said, "'Thomas, put your finger here; and see my hands. And reach out your hand and put it into my side. And stop doubting and believe.' And Thomas said, 'My Lord and my God!'" Please note, Jesus didn't offer any criticism to Thomas, no condemnation, no threats. He said, "Thomas, come here".

There's no suggestion in Scripture that Thomas profaned the Lord by exploring the evidence of his passion. So I don't think Thomas was doubting. I think Thomas was wrestling with the reality that he found himself in. I would point out one more thing about that passage. If you look back at the very first sentence. It says: "A week later his disciples were in the house again". It took a week. Peter and James and John and the crew saw Jesus and told Thomas, and Thomas said, "I can't. I just can't". And they lived for a week with that tension. They lived for a week with the one crew excited and enthusiastic and anticipatory, because they'd seen Jesus, and Thomas wrestling with his despair.

See, if I'd been writing the narrative, I'd have had Jesus appear to Thomas a little later on Day 1, or at least they'd have had coffee the next morning. And Jesus waited a week. I don't always understand God's timing. I can tell you this. I've been to India, I've stood on the coast of India. There was a marker there where tradition says Thomas was martyred for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, killed with a spear, they said. Thomas, a young man, recruited from the northern part of Israel, the rural part of Israel in Galilee, had such a dramatic encounter with Jesus of Nazareth that he spent his life as an advocate for the message and spilled his blood in distant India. I'm not calling Thomas a doubter. I think Thomas got a new name and a new mission.

Did he face some disappointments? I promise you he did. I told you all of that to ask you a question. What name have you had? Have you had the name of an angry person, a failure, an immoral person, someone unwilling to believe, a self-righteous person? What kind of name have you had? Just as certainly as you can be a new creation in Christ, you can have a new name today. The power of God is present to help us. If we will humble ourselves, if it worked for Saul, if it worked for Thomas, it'll work for you and me. May I pray for you? Won't you just bow with me?

Father, I thank you for this morning, for these moments together. Lord, we come in humility. Lord, in ourselves we have created disruption. Lord, we could say with Saul we have been blasphemers, and we have been persecutors, and we have been many things, but we come this morning to ask for your mercy in our lives. Lord, you promised a new name, and we come to receive that which you have for us. I thank you that we will go from this place with a new future and a new hope, a new power at work within us. We praise you for it, we receive it now, by faith, in Jesus' name, amen, hallelujah.

There's one more new thing I wanna show you God has for you. In Ezekiel 36, says: "I'll give you a new heart and I'll put a new spirit in you; and I'll remove from you your heart of stone and I'll give you a heart of flesh". God has a new heart for you. If you will receive it, you can have a heart transplant. Woo-hoo, and he won't crack your ribs to give it to you. Yay, God. God wants to give us a new heart. He said, "We've had a heart of stone," and he'll give us a heart of flesh.

You know, if your physical heart is inefficient, if it isn't working as it was intended to do, it limits every part of your life. It limits your strength, it limits your mobility. It limits every aspect. It affects every part of you 'cause your heart, by definition, is at the center of your being. Well, if your spiritual heart is not healthy, if you're not healthy at the center of your being, spiritually, it diminishes every aspect of your life. And God has a remedy for it. He said, "I wanna give you a new heart, a heart that's not hardened by sin".

Remember what it says about Pharaoh over and over in the book of Exodus? "He hardened his heart. He said no to God". How do you get a hard heart? You've said no to the Lord, you didn't cooperate with him, you were stubborn, you were rebellious. Oh, you've excused it and you've justified it and you've pointed to reasons why, but at the end of the day you and I have made those choices. And the result is every time we've done it, it hardens our heart a little bit more, bit by bit. Every time we tolerate ungodliness, every time we look away or we excuse it or we justify it, it leaves us a bit more diminished, and God said he wants to give us a new heart.

What a wonderful, wonderful promise. It's as true as the promise of the new birth. It's as true as a new name. You can have a new heart this morning. You say, "Pastor, it's been a lot of years and a lot of choices". God's not intimidated. The creative power of Almighty Do you think God looked at virtual reality, said, "Agh, I wish I'd have thought of that. If I had just thought of a cell phone"? I don't think so. And there's no part of your life or mine that has surprised God. Can you stand one more prayer? Okay, I wanna pray for some new hearts today. If that's you, open your heart, come in humility and say, "God, that's me. Oh, I've been stubborn. God, I want a new heart". Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for its promise, for its truth, and its hope that it extends to us, and we come today in humility to acknowledge, Lord. Forgive us for our stubbornness, for our selfishness, for putting ourselves first and you in some distant place, for stopping our ears and covering our eyes and refusing to cooperate. But we come this morning to say we're sorry. We wanna honor you, and I thank you for a new birth and I thank you for a new name. And I thank you now for new hearts. Lord, for many of us today, let there be a soft heart, a heart receptive to you, a heart open to belief, a heart willing to cooperate as never before. We receive it by faith again, in Jesus' name, amen, hallelujah.

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