Allen Jackson - False Prophets, False Apostles And The False Church - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you today. We're gonna conclude our study on false prophets, false apostles, and the false church. Sounds a little negative, but not really. The devil's an imitator. He's not an originator, and in order for there to be anything false, there has to be the original. So the good news is there's prophets, apostles, and a very much, an alive church in the world. We just need to know the difference because the sign out in front of the building isn't enough to tell us the truth. Grab your Bible, get a note pad, but most importantly, open your heart to what God's doing in the earth.
We get to the Corinthian church, a very Spirit-filled church, a church filled with gifts of the Spirit and expressions of the Spirit, and also a very immoral church, a gluttonous church, a drunken church. Have you got room for church in all those adjectives? All those same things that plague us are still a part of the journey after we come to faith, but then there's a new authority in our lives to break the power of those things over us. It's more than an expression of our will, but we have to have the courage to say God has given us a blueprint for living, and those things are not things to be aspirational. We're not trying to become those things. We're not trying to excuse those things. We're not trying to justify those things. We're trying to separate ourselves from those things, to overcome those things, to give them less place in us, so that the Spirit of God can have a greater place in us.
And the church tragically has lost a lot of courage on this. Paul said to Timothy, just don't have anything to do with them, and in the Corinthians he said, "I have written to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people". That's very plain language. But he clarifies it, 'cause they had goofy people in the church back then, so he has to clarify it. He said, "Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy or the swindlers or the idolaters". He said, listen, I'm not talkin' about the ungodly, he said. The world is full with immoral, greedy, swindlers, and idolaters. He said, "In that case you'd have to leave this world. But now I'm writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, or an idolater or a slanderer, or a drunkard or a swindler. With such a person do not even eat".
Wow! That seems to me to be a great deviation from the current practice of the people of God. He said, "Listen, don't encourage ungodliness amongst yourselves. Don't cheer for it, don't excuse it, don't justify it," which is a very popular path. It weakens us, it diminishes us. 2 Thessalonians 3 gives us another component. Said, "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter," it's yet another church if anybody's counting, "take special note of him. Don't associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet don't regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother". Again, it's not a rejection of the individual, it's a warning. "I'm concerned. What are you thinkin'? What are you doin'? Why are you walkin' that way? We've been taught better than that. We understand better than that".
Now, it seems to me, we have kinda devolved into arguing about insignificant things. We'll bicker about worship styles or dress codes or times of day we meet or the day of the week on which we meet. But we've kind of abandoned the idea that the distinctiveness of God's people is our pursuit of holiness and righteousness and purity, to walk uprightly before the Lord. That those things would be diminished amongst us, that we encourage one another, that we help one another, that we challenge one another, that we invite people towards better behaviors. It seems to me we've become far more comfortable with just capitulation. Rather than overcome sin, we overlook it. I don't want you to be filled with anger and condemnation.
I want you to help one another. Remember, leading with your faith starts at the kitchen table with the courage to say we're gonna do our best to honor the Lord in this place, and you're willing to have those conversations, and then it extends to those holiday tables when the family system is expanded a bit. There's more challenges at those tables 'cause it's a bigger group of people. And then you take it into your peer network with your friends, when you're at the ballfields watchin' your children or your grandchildren, or when you're hangin' out with your friends or your co-workers. You bring your faith perspective to bear there. We have such confusion. We're addled, we're frightened.
The government didn't take prayer out of schools. We took prayer out of our homes and sent our kids to the schools. The government didn't take the ten commandments out of the schools, we took the ten commandments out of our hearts and sent our kids to the schools. When we begin to pray at home again, prayer will go back to the schools, 'cause the kids'll go pray. I promise, they will. We've been confused. We've been addled. I was asked to do an interview a few weeks ago. We have somebody running for president of our nation who self-professes as Hindu, and the Christians were lining up goin', we think he's a brilliant person. I'm not debating the IQ. I mean, honestly, I don't agree with all the ideas, but he brings a completely different worldview to the table. He doesn't worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Why would we willingly put ourselves under an authority like that? That's far less to me about a candidate than the confusion of the church. How can we be that addled? Because we've spent decades being coached and encouraged to overlook sin, not to pay any attention. False prophets, false Christs, false gospels, a false church are proliferating amongst us. It's centered in the person of Jesus. He's the head of the church, his word is the authority over our lives. And those things cannot be negotiated. There's plenty of room, we can disagree about when the rapture's gonna take place. I have a rule of thumb, if we can disagree about it and we can both still go to heaven, I will extend to you a hand of fellowship.
So can we get over ourselves just a little bit, right? We get way heated up about when we take communion. Well, look, and then we step over things that are debilitating us. I want to come back for a few minutes to this notion of an inheritance versus the faithful. You can inherit something. We've been given the gift of salvation, but the question is what do we do with the gift that we've been given? What becomes of us after we receive the gift? In some settings, it's very popular to spend a great deal of energy saying once you've received the gift, you're good to go. Can't be lost, and I'm not really, I don't wanna open that debate. Whether or not you can lose your salvation, I can assure you, you can lose all of your rewards.
The first three kings of Israel, Saul, David, and Solomon, the way they came to the throne is very different. There're some commonalities amongst them. Their life stories are very different. They each received a tremendous gift, but the outcomes of their lives are very different, and I think with just a casual glance, we can benefit from that. Saul, the first king of Israel, Israel's asked for a king. They're tired of the judges. They don't want Samuel's leadership anymore. Can you imagine rejecting the leadership of Samuel? He's one of the heroes of the Hebrew Bible, far more so in the Jewish community than in the Christian community. And then the leader, the tribal leaders come to Samuel and they say, "You're getting a little old and you're a lousy parent, and we don't want you to lead us anymore. We want a king, we wanna be like all the other nations".
And so, Samuel goes to God, and God says to Samuel, "It's not you they're rejecting". You know why God had to say that. Because it was Samuel they were rejecting. At least on the physical level. It was his leadership. "We don't want you being the authority over us anymore". And God in his mercy said to Samuel, "You tell 'em they can have what they want, and I will choose somebody for them". They rejected God's system, and God loved the people enough, he said, "I'll select a leader for you," and he sent Samuel to anoint Saul. Saul was chosen by God to lead his people. Can you imagine? I mean, imagine that. God chose him. He hadn't been in school. He hadn't been trained. He hadn't been a civil servant.
When we first meet Saul, he can't even find the lost donkeys, true story. Well, he was, like, wanderin' around lookin' for the livestock. And God said, "Now, that man is impressive". Makes you think, wonder what he thinks of the rest of us. He said, "I could do something with that guy. I could fashion him into a leader for this people". And the same man that he chose, he rejected. I wanna just plant that seed in your heart, he chose him for his purposes and he rejected him because of the man's choices. Let's not talk about his standing in the covenant. God can choose you for his purposes, but if you don't give attention to your character, you can forfeit the opportunity to pursue it.
1 Samuel 15, "Samuel said, 'Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.'" He said you were small in your own estimation, and he said you didn't have a lotta strength, and you became a leader of the tribes of Israel. Said, "You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel"! Now, he didn't lose his place immediately. He didn't lose the attention of the people. He didn't lose all the authority that God had established in him, but he lost his place as an effective leader in the midst of the people of God. He lost the anointing of God. I won't take it back to those verses we read a few moments ago, but would it be safe to say he had a form of godliness? But he didn't any longer have the anointing that was so necessary to fulfill the role.
So, Saul is selected to be king, and because of his life choices, because of his character, he is rejected as king. And God sent Samuel to anoint another king, very unlikely character. He's the youngest son in his father's household in an age when the eldest was the inheritor, and he has multiple brothers above him, so the chances of him becoming anything of significance is most improbable. In fact, in we're introduced to him, he's a sheep herder. He's not even invited into the house when a special guest is coming. He just stayed with the sheep. Seven more likely candidates were invited in ahead of him. You think that might have something to do with your self-confidence? Not so much with David. And Samuel anoints him to be king.
And the big picture in that assessment of David is that he was faithful to his assignment. In the book of Acts when he's being discussed, it says of David, God said he would do anything I asked him to do. He was faithful to his assignment in spite of overwhelming opposition. Even Samuel said, "I don't wanna go anoint a king. Saul's the king, and if he hears that I'm anointing kings, he'll kill me". So he and God work out a plan. It's deceptive. You can read it. The plan was go to Bethlehem and say you're there to make an offering. He's there to anoint a king! And you know it's David. And David spends decades as a fugitive, running for his life. He has to feign insanity. I mean, it's a very difficult path. It leads to a civil war. God anointed him and it led to a civil war.
Do you have the kind of courage to stand for the truth of God in the face of that kind of opposition? It's a different presentation, church. It's a different idea. I'm not encouraging violence, but I'm telling you your willingness to stand for the truth is important. How long will we capitulate? How long will we waver between two opinions? How long will we want the approval of the world or the applause of the ungodly or be accepted in the circles of people who don't care about honoring the Lord? How long will we put a business opportunity ahead of honoring the Lord? How long? And as David's approaching the end of his life, God sends the prophet to him with the most remarkable message. We just read it in Chronicles.
David inquired about building a house for the Lord, and God said no, and David wasn't offended. He didn't sulk. He didn't quit worshipping. God said, you can't do it. I won't allow you to do it. You know what David did with the rest of his life? He drew the plans, he accumulated the resources, he gathered the gold and the silver, he gave his personal treasury, he negotiated treaties with the surrounding leaders who had the skilled labor necessary. He put everything in place so that next up could build the temple. Are you kidding me? He's that committed to the purposes of God.
Okay, so I can't. I'm gonna put everything in place so it can. I'll do everything I can to ensure it will happen except to do it. Church, we've been distracted. So God sends the prophet to see him. This is amazing to me. He said, "I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you. And when your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up for your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom". God said to David, "I'm gonna establish your heritage". God said he would do it. "I'll see that you have an heir on the throne because of the circumstances of your heart. It's the opposite, the polar opposite of King Saul", Saul, "I chose you. You had every opportunity under the sun. Not because of external factors, not because of your enemies, not because Samuel wasn't there to help you", He was, "Because of your choices, I'm gonna reject you".
And then he says to David, "Because of your choices, I'll establish an heir for you on this throne". And I love that next line, it's the one that caught my attention when I heard it. Said, "The king went in and sat before the Lord". If you wanna have a little fun, you just read it, but go back and read David's prayer. It says he went in and sat before the Lord, and his prayer is recorded. It's the most remarkable prayer. He just went in and sat before the Lord. And he said, Lord, who am I? Who am I that you should do such a thing for me? I'll tell you who he was. He's an ancient near-eastern monarch. If he didn't like you, he could take your property.
Think about Ahab. I'll tell you who he is, he's an unquestioned authority. If he got mad at you, he could kill you. But his attitude is, Lord, who am I that you would do this for me? I brought you one last passage and I'm outta time. I didn't get to Solomon, did I? Let's do Solomon, I'll leave that for another session. Solomon's David's son. Dramatically different character. David's a sheep herder. He's in com—he's comfortable with a sling. David's back out button was broken as a little boy. He had older brothers. He'd been fightin' for supper. When Solomon comes along, Solomon's born to the purple. He grew up in a palace. He grew up with a father who was a king. His mother was Bathsheba and she had favored status. She intervened for Solomon so he could be king. My mommy said I can be king! It's in the book.
Solomon had every advantage. He has tremendous authority at a very early age. A very different character than David. A much better inheritance. David had to fight for everything. He had powerful enemies. He had brothers that were discouraging to him. Solomon on the other hand had about every imagined opportunity you could, he'd seen the life of his father, good and bad. He'd been taught in the things of God. And he made a wreck of his life. At the end of his life, there's a civil war and the kingdom's torn apart. For all the wealth he had, he was miserable. He says it himself. He spent his life pursuing pleasure. He says it himself. He said I denied myself nothing. If I saw it and I wanted it, I took it. If there was a pleasure that I could imagine, I tried it. And he said, it's meaningless to me. It's left me empty.
There's a commentary on Solomon. 1 Kings 11 says, "He had seven hundred wives of royal birth". I know he's the wisest of Israel's kings, but you have to pause right there. I was just thinking of his credit card bills. I don't know what you were laughing at. I don't. He had 700 wives that had papers that said I'm a princess. "And his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been".
He lost it all. He lost it all. Never mind the wealth or the power or the opulent houses. His name's attached to the temple. It's one of the most celebrated buildings in human history, and he lost it all. It's not his wives's fault. His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord. God is moving in the earth. He is purifying his church. He's awakened us from a slumber. If you will build into your life the discipline of serving and honoring the Lord, God will take you through. You won't be deceived, but you have to know the truth. It's an exciting time to serve the Lord. I believe we'll see the greatest expressions of the people of God that have ever been known, in the midst of some of the greatest challenges.
And it's time to decide who you're going to be. The middle is what's disappearing. I thank God for you. Rather than invite you to pray, I wanna make a proclamation over you. Will you receive it? I didn't give it to you 'cause the last time I gave it to you, you read it with me. We're well-trained, I understand. But I really would be happy if you would receive it. If you'll stand with me, it's not something I've made up. It comes from the book of Ephesians. But my prayer for you would be very similar to the prayer that Paul prayed for that church in Ephesus. The church that was in the city where there was tremendous transformation taking place. The gospel was being held in high esteem. Many, many people were coming forth and publicly declaring their allegiance to the cause of Christ. And it was also a city where there was great pushback, and it's in the midst of that that Paul made this prayer:
I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in our 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 Lord's people 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 forever and ever. Amen.