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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Time of Great Change - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Time of Great Change - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Time of Great Change - Part 1
TOPICS: Jesus; His Followers and Politics

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is "Jesus, His Followers, & Politics". The word "politics" has been redefined these days. Anytime we speak about our biblical worldview in the public square, someone will raise their hand and say, "You're being political". I don't believe that's accurate. We're simply taking what we believe and trying to engage our current culture. We're not advocating for candidates or parties. We're going to explore that from a biblical perspective. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

I wanna begin a new study that we'll spend a few sessions on, under the general theme of "Jesus, His Followers, & Politics". No chance I could get in trouble on this one. "Jesus, His Followers, & Politics". And for this session, we're gonna talk specifically about a time of great change because we are living in the midst of them. Not a singular change, but a series of changes, and they're coming with such frequency, and they're coming with such remarkable magnitude, that it's very disorienting. It didn't begin with COVID. It began before COVID. COVID, in many respects, I have come to understand is a gift from the Lord because it awakened us to the magnitude of change. There were things pressed into our lives in that season that were startling enough that it began to cause us to pay attention. They didn't begin mutilating children in Nashville's hospitals with COVID. They'd been doing that for years before. We just weren't awake.

A lot of things happening. The news media hadn't failed to report the truth beginning with COVID; that happened before COVID. We were just asleep. So God began to awaken us. But the changes that are coming to us, they're coming with such speed that you don't have time to recalibrate or to regain your balance or to regain your stability because there's another idea that's pressed upon you or cascades over you, and it's unsettling. I wanna start with a quote from Charles Dickens. I don't do that often, but from "A Tale of Two Cities". Some of you will remember that. It's a story about London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution and it opens this way: "It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. It was an age of wisdom, it was an age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, and it was the winter of despair".

A time of great confusion, of great extremes. The best of times and the worst of times. We're living in a season of extremes. We see presentations of demonic influence unprecedented in my lifetime. And we also see movings of the Spirit of God that are unique in my lifetime. And you don't have to travel to see that. We see that in our local congregation week upon week. Expressions of the goodness and the grace and the mercy of God that exceed anything we've seen in all the years we've been here. And we also hear stories of struggles in the lives of individuals and families that can only be understood in the context of the existence of evil. And all of that is happening in the same time. It's bewildering in many respects. The confusion of good and evil. And I don't believe it's going to get better in the near future.

In Isaiah chapter 5 and verse 9, says: "The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great houses will become desolate, and the fine mansions left without occupants. Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, and tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands. Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst".

It's not a particularly hopeful passage, but it's a very descriptive passage, and it isn't describing the pagans, the ungodly. It's not describing the people apart from a covenant with God. It's describing the covenant people of God. And the descriptive line that God gives of them from his perspective, is "they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the works of his hands". For far too long, those of us that have filled churches have imagined that we could secure our futures. We could do it with the accumulation of our resources or the diligence of our effort or the educations we secure or the power we accumulate or whatever we have trusted in. And we have turned our hearts away from the reality that God is the one who watches over our lives. He may use all of those things to bring his blessings to our lives, but only God can secure our futures. Only God can protect us, just as only God can redeem us and deliver us from the power of evil.

We cannot deliver ourselves. We can't earn our way into the kingdom of God. We can't be good enough or moral enough or our vocabulary polished enough. We are dependent upon the shed blood of Jesus. And I think it's important for this generation of Christ followers, for the people of God, to be willing to say to the Lord, "We have little regard for the deeds of the Lord, and we have had little respect for the work of your hands. But with your help, we are changing. With your help, we are changing".

In Isaiah chapter 5 and verse 20, there's a passage that's similar. It says: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter". We're walking through a season where people call evil good and if you stand up for a biblical worldview, there are people who will call you evil. You know this. You don't have to be discerning. You understand it intuitively. It's caused many of us to be timid. It's caused us to lower our voices and to be far more reserved in the expression of our faith. But I believe God is bringing forth a generation of people who will stand for the name of Jesus, who will willingly be ambassadors for him. We're watching that, that challenge, on a global scale again.

On October 7, Israel was attacked. It was a cowardly attack by Hamas, a terrorist organization. They purposely planned and executed an attack on civilians: women and children, infants. Treated them in the most horrible, brutal, inhumane way. And the world is confused in how to respond. A friend shared with me a video today. There was such a good summary of what's happening that I wanna take a moment and share it with you. My friends at TBN sent it to me. They recruited Dr. Phil to do the narration so I'll save you an email. Dr. Phil's not a personal friend. Be okay if he was, but what he has to say about what's happening in Israel is helpful and insightful and is particularly helpful in understanding what's happening in our own country. So we're gonna take just a couple of minutes and watch that video and then we'll move through the rest of this.

Dr. Phil: The unconscionable attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas gunmen on October 7 was marked by murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping. On the bloodiest day in the country's 75-year history, an estimated 1300 were killed, over 3300 wounded, and approximately 150 Israelis were taken hostage. Karys Rhea, a fellow with the Jewish Leadership Project, stated: "This is the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust". The Hamas invaders were not soldiers. They were assassins. The Hamas Charter calls for the ultimate annihilation of all Israeli Jews, followed by the annihilation of Jews around the world. Sound familiar? Sadly, some people, including some right here in America, actually celebrated the slaughter and blamed those being murdered, raped, and kidnapped.

Many of America's most respected elite universities are not only indulging but actually endorsing sanctioned student organizations holding celebrations for the murders. Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, UCLA, and Stanford, are high-profile examples that should raise concern, if not outrage. These student organizations' reactions to the Hamas attack revealed a disturbing degree of Ivy-covered intellectual rot. Americans nationwide have been appalled and shocked. The leadership of these supposedly highly sophisticated schools are so busy virtue signaling and coddling students who think that words are violence, but violence, horrific, inhumane violence, is social justice, that they have forgotten it is their job to teach their students to think and to test reality.

Instead of training tomorrow's leaders, they are profoundly demagnetizing our culture's moral compass among the college population. Senator Cory Booker commented recently that "there was a time we took pride in calling out bad behavior and bad actors, calling evil, evil, and hatred, hatred". Martin Luther King, Junior, said we suffer not just from the vitriol and violence of our enemies but from "the appalling silence and inaction of the good people"! I'm no expert in geopolitics. But I don't need to be to immediately denounce the actions of Hamas as utterly sick, twisted, disgusting, and inexcusable. Staying fully in my lane of analyzing human behavior, I will amplify some things I know for sure: I know for sure the atrocities and ensuing celebrations committed by Hamas are inexcusable and unjustifiable.

These are not the acts of honorable soldiers, freedom fighters, or militants. From a psychological standpoint, I can't help but wonder what these assassins say to themselves, alone, in the middle of the night after murdering a terrified and defenseless little baby boy or girl. Have they bothered to think about how many of their own children they have destined to be sacrificed in the retaliation that is certain to follow, retaliation Hamas have brought down on the Gazans/Palestinians? I know for sure that allowing the university-sanctioned organizations to celebrate the sadistic acts of terror without consequence confirms these "enlightened/woke" universities are failing miserably in shaping, educating, maturing the minds of those students. It is the educator's job to teach critical thinking that will lead to rational response, a skill set in short supply in today's world

Perhaps such training on how to think would have led these students and their organizations to realize they are not actually supporting Palestinians and Gazans when they are supporting Hamas. Hamas are not even Palestinians. You cannot negotiate with people whose only acceptable outcome is to murder you and your entire race. Seriously, have some of these people gotten together and collectively lost their minds? We know right from wrong, and we must stand up for what we believe and know is right. We must call out these institutions.

How is any of this acceptable to anyone? How is it not recognized as incredibly racist? How do elite educators not recognize this is a huge teachable moment in these students' journey? The heads of these schools need to simply say, "On this campus, we don't celebrate racism, antisemitism, baby-killing, and murdering". What they are doing instead is 'distancing' themselves in hopes it blows over. Israel is our friend and ally. They don't need us to just be their friend in good times. They need us to be their friend in bad times, to be their friend when it is easier not to be. Good friends are the ones coming in the door when everyone else is going out. This is a really great time to show Israel and the world who we are.

Amen, wish I'd said that. You know, we've talked a good bit about Israel and not just in the last few days; for many years, and I think most of you who have been a part of the ministry are aware of much of that and many of those ideas. But it is another stark example of a time when we're seeing evil called good, and good called evil. And it's confusing, and it's an important dialog to have with your children as families. And to have with your extended families and to have with your friends and your coworkers because the messaging that's cascading over us is confusing and disorienting and we have to use our voice.

And I would suggest to you we need to use our voice for things, I'm happy to use my voice to discuss Bible verses and exegesis of those passages, but I think it's equally important to use my voice in talking about what God is doing in the world and to stand for truth, and for godliness and his people. I think what Isaiah said is very descriptive of the world we're living in right now. Those that call evil good, and good evil, and there's a warning to them in Romans 11. It's not just an Old Testament idea. God says: "God gave them over to a stupor, eyes so that they couldn't see and ears so they couldn't hear".

And we see a bit of that, and they need your voice. They need an advocate for truth to intersect their lives. There are great benefits to honoring God. Even when God's people lose sight of that, it's true and it's equally true that there are consequences to ignoring in the language of Isaiah 5, "to ignoring the deeds of the Lord".

We shouldn't imagine that we can maintain our freedom, our liberty, and our affluence apart from a desire to please God. It's a wrong imagination that you can achieve and become and secure and then you will honor the Lord. You begin honoring the Lord and then the Lord brings those things into your life. Godliness is optional. That's true. But the blessings of God are not sustainable apart from a heart for God. That is not optional. The contemporary church, and I've spent my life in that place, so I can speak to it, at least with experience. The contemporary church is struggling to find a voice, a message, and a mission. The division which plagues our society is equally on display in our religious institutions and, tragically, in our universities and seminaries.

We're gonna take a few sessions to consider the idea of people of faith being involved in culture, not as politicians, but as citizens, neighbors, classmates, fellow worshipers, and family members. There's a paradox, a concurrent paradox, that we all face. I can describe it in terms of my position and the place in which I stand. I'm sure it's apparent to you. If I advocate for unborn children, if I publicly embrace a pro-life position, I'm called political. If I advocate for a biblical view of marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, I'm called political. If I advocate for a biblical view of human sexuality and I have the boldness to say that God created us male and female, and I reject the narrative seeking to normalize the LGBTQ2I community, I'm called political.

If I believe that parental authority is more important than the opinion of the teachers' union, I'm called political. If I object to pornographic books in the libraries of our schools, and I call for their removal, I'm told I'm political. If I advocate for the Jewish people in the nation of Israel, and I repudiate terrorism and antisemitism, I'm called political. When I say that illegal immigration is a bad thing, I'm called political. When I say the government shouldn't censor our speech, close our buildings, or limit our opportunity to declare Jesus is Lord of all creation, I'm called political. But in contrast to that, if someone declares that they are pro choice and they support unlimited access to abortion, they're called advocates for freedom.

If someone believes that marriage may include any combination of persons, animals, or things, they're celebrated as progressive thinkers. If someone believes a biblical worldview of human sexuality is wrong, that it's too narrow, it's out of date, it's bigoted, or just plain unacceptable, they're welcomed as modernist, in our churches, folks. If someone believes that the teachers' unions and governmental authority is the preferred voice in selecting content for our children's classrooms, they're considered enlightened. When someone places pornographic books in the libraries of our schoolchildren, they're labeled as champions of diversity. When someone demonstrates in support of Hamas, demanding that Israel and the Jewish people be restrained, they become social justice advocates.

When the label, "Misinformation" is evoked, and speeches censored, or vaccines are mandated for employment, or churches are closed as casinos are left open, the perpetrators are deemed warriors of the public interest. It's a paradox. If we speak to our culture from the perspective of our faith and from a biblical worldview or a Judeo-Christian worldview, we're told to be quiet, that somehow we're trying to deconstruct a barrier between faith and society. But when people advocate for a worldview that opposes a biblical worldview, they are welcomed into the religious discussion. They're considered experts or people of heightened compassion or greater awareness or heightened sensitivities. We're living in a time of great change, and we're gonna have to decide where we wanna be identified.

You can't remain silent when our Lord and Savior is being denigrated, mocked, ridiculed, and his values are being separated from the preparation and training of our children, and imagine that you're a faithful follower of Jesus of Nazareth. It's an impossible separation to maintain. It's a time of great change, and whenever there's change, there are responses required of God's people. We can't just resist the changes. We have to change, we have to grow, and we have to learn. You see, you can change and not grow. But it's impossible to grow without changing, and we need the church to grow. We need the church to grow in our ability to communicate a message.

We need the church to grow in our ability to impact our culture. We need the church to grow in the influence of the training and education of our children. On our watch, faith has been diminished in our classrooms and our college campuses. That's an unacceptable outcome. It's an unacceptable legacy, and we cannot quietly walk that pathway any further. Learning is a catalyst for growth. I can give you an example. I just picked a couple of verses from Hebrews 11. It's the hall of fame of our faith, and it describes for us the changes that God's people were required to embrace in order to pursue the purposes of God for their lives. And you and I are gonna have to embrace some changes if we will say yes to the purposes of God for our lives.

We're not just trying to hold on to the faith of the previous generation. God called us to this beginning of the 21st century when technology is exploding and the world has been reduced to what we can watch on our portable devices over breakfast. In Hebrews 11:7, it says: "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family". Is it safe to say that Noah had to assimilate a little bit of change? I mean, he went to Small Group, and he got some insight in the midst of Group that said, "Son, you need to build a boat".

So he told everybody in the Group and they laughed at him. So he went to the only Group that really couldn't say no, it was his family, and said, "We're gonna build a boat". And they said, "We're in, but what's a boat"? And they spent years doing that. And preaching. It said he was a preacher of righteousness. Nobody listened. They loaded a boat. God shut them in, the Bible says.

And the next time they were let out of the boat, their entire existence was different. The Bible says to us that in the days of the Son of Man, when he returns to the earth, it will be like the days of Noah and Lot. Are you ready to change? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to find a new response? "I didn't want a new response". I'm pretty certain Noah didn't wanna take a cruise. And if he went on a cruise, he didn't wanna take all the animals. But God didn't ask for a vote. He gave him a plan that would bring deliverance to himself and his family. Some of us are still so engaged in trying to get God to do what we want, that we're ignoring his invitation to a plan that would bring deliverance to ourselves and our families.

The Bible gives us permission to pray for boldness. That's my prayer for you and for myself today. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, you called us to this unique season. You have given us an assignment to be light and salt, and I ask now that by your Spirit you would give us the boldness to speak your truth into our world. May we not turn back or be intimidated. I thank you for what you will do, in Jesus's name, amen.

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