Allen Jackson - The Triumph of Truth - Part 1
We've been working through a series under a general theme of "When God Breaks Out". I have this sense that God is moving in the earth in some very remarkable ways, and it's more than some innate sense. I think there's abundant evidence of it. It's all around us, but it's very easy to have our attention co-opted by the negative things that are happening, by the ungodliness that is breaking forth. It often seems to have larger platforms and more voices of ascent, and those messages seem to just cascade around us most days. It takes some intentionality and some purposefulness to keep our attention focused on what God is doing and the opportunities before us. And that was really the genesis for this little study.
In this session, I wanna talk to you about "The Triumph of Truth", because I assure you that truth will triumph over deception. It will. But we are warned, one... Jesus's most consistent warning when he talked about the end of the age was the challenge of deception. He warned about that more than he did about any other single peril or threat. He warned about that more than he warned about the antichrist or any of the evil that would be attached to him. I gave you a sample in your notes, Matthew 24:4, Jesus said... This is the first warning, the first instruction he offers in his most lengthy prophetic discourse. They've asked him about the end of the age and the destruction of Jerusalem. And his first statement is, "Watch out that no one deceives you".
Well, if you make presentations very often or you address audiences, you know that your introduction and your conclusion matter the most. Nobody listens to the middle, except you. And Jesus began by saying, "Watch out that no one deceives you". So we need to acknowledge, we need to be prepared. We need to catalog the reality that deception is going to flourish in the season that's before us. And deception is grounded not in a complete falsification of the truth, but simply introducing components that are false. When you're deceived, you believe something to be true, when in reality it isn't. And I think we could say deception is flourishing. There is tremendous effort and multiplied trillions of dollars being invested in fostering deception. We shouldn't be surprised, Jesus told us.
In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul speaks to this by the Spirit of God to a church, to a community of believers. He said, "Of this you can be sure". He's speaking with the certainty that there's a truth, an objective truth that can be known. He said, "This is the truth". And then he makes some statements that in today's public square would not be embraced. So you can measure the degree, you can be the evaluator of this. To what degree do you imagine these things would be upheld in just conventional wisdom today? Because Paul says, "This is a certain truth. No immoral, no impure, or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God". Now, that's truth. Anything that contradicts that, challenges that, diminishes that, would seek to set that aside, is deception.
Verse 6, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them". You know where I believe that message most needs to be heard? Not in the halls of Congress, not in the state legislatures. They need to be heard in the churches. The churches have stepped away from the truth of God's Word. It's inconvenient. So in this tension between truth and deception, please don't imagine that it's something that's going to happen. The water level of deception is rising so rapidly around every one of us that, if you're not paying attention, you won't even acknowledge we've completely abandoned the foundation of a biblical worldview.
Now again, I wanna reassert that truth will triumph over deception. Just as light triumphs over darkness, or life triumphs over death, or love triumphs over hate, or mercy triumphs over revenge. However, I think we also should note that victory is only for those who have chosen to align with the truth. That when truth triumphs over deception, if you've bet on deception, it's not a victory party. God is moving in the earth. His purposes are breaking forth. This present world order is rushing towards a conclusion. It's not eternal. God has planned something better for his people. I hope you're excited about that. I hope you're not so heavily invested in the present order that the diminishment of it or the unraveling of it causes you to lose your peace. There is something better ahead, but, this present order is unraveling quickly. You may have noticed what we are witnessing is unsustainable.
Now, the impact of that is beyond me. I don't pretend to know all of the outcomes, but I can tell you what we're witnessing in the world that we live in and the culture we have enjoyed, what we're witnessing is unsustainable. The values which have shaped our lives, our families, and our culture are being systematically dismantled. It's not random. It's not accidental. It's very purposeful. The strength of our nation is being drained out rapidly. Our children are being trained in hedonism and indulgence very purposefully. Our military is increasingly focused on gender equity and diversity more than defeating our enemies, it's insanity. Our universities are too often focused on indoctrination. They display blatant bias without any apology. They support things in the public square.
We've seen it recently. They support anti-Semitism to go along with the anti-Christian values they've been holding for a long time while we acted like we didn't notice. Yet we continue to send our children and our money to these revered institutions. We call them elite. I have other words. Even our Christian universities far too frequently train students in immorality and avoid a biblical worldview. I've talked to parent after parent after parent who said, "I sent my children to a Christian school and they came away with a diminished faith". We need to change the label. Our government is plunging towards moral bankruptcy. Many of our elected officials betray their responsibility as leaders for financial gain, and then, they cover their corruption with press releases espousing nonsense. Their desire to maintain power dwarfs their concern for the well-being of the citizens.
You may not have read it lately, but the Preamble of our Constitution charges the federal government with the responsibility to provide for the common defense. It's in print, that's their job. Yet we have open borders today. We are witnesses to an invasion. We've been told it was humanitarian. It was just people from some neighboring places that were seeking asylum, but today we have hundreds of thousands of persons each month pouring into our country from more than 160 nations. That's not a humanitarian effort, it's something else. And then, to compound the refusal to defend our nation from an invasion, we incentivize it by extending free healthcare and education and a whole menu of civil services. And the responses of our most powerful voices, they're gonna have another hearing. They're gonna create some sound bites for their constituents, and, they'll get some face time on the daily news cycle. That's a lot of help.
Now, the church is the most disturbing part of the landscape. Assigned by our Lord to be salt and light, too frequently we see the middle ground. That's our goal. That seems to be the objective currently. That imagined place of safety and security where we're neither hot nor cold, hoping to be beyond criticism, and thus, we can maintain some place of something. I'm not sure what. Well, it's a false gospel being presented by a false church in hopes of gaining influence in a world order that is coming under the judgment of God. It's not a place I would spend my time or my effort. It's biblical. Revelation chapter 3 in verse 14, it's a message delivered to a church at the beginning of the end of the age. "To the angel of the church at Laodicea". You have it in your notes. "These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and the true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other".
This is the Lord's message to the church. Your objective is to be lukewarm. "So because you're lukewarm, you're neither hot nor cold. I'm about to spit you out of my mouth". That's not an affirmation at any time. "You say, 'I'm rich; I have acquired wealth and I don't need a thing.' But you don't realize that you're wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". That's a pretty serious response to the church from the mouth of the Lord. You see, I don't think lukewarm, I don't think the broad middle should be the objective. I think we should seek the Lord, read his Word, listen to his Spirit until we understand what his truth is for the season in which we're living, and then have the courage and the boldness to stand with that. It's not easy. The concerning part of that passage is the degree to which that community of faith is deceived because he says, "Their self-evaluation is they have no needs, they're wealthy, they're affluent, they're influential, they have almost unlimited options".
That is their self-appraisal. And God says, "From my point of accounting, you're wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". Question, how messed up do you have to be to be naked and not know it? I mean, just imagine the person seated next to you in a completely natural state, and when you offered a comment, they go, "Ah, I didn't notice". You would understand something was awry. There's either a substance involved, there's some physical limit, there's a problem. And I think we have to pause for a moment to understand it's possible that God's people can be so deceived. The overwhelming majority of the people with whom I've interacted in these last months as I've traveled across the country have imagined that the storm would pass, much in the way thunderstorms passed through our region from time to time. If we can just distract ourselves with our own agendas or not attract any unnecessary attention to ourselves, we're going to survive this episode of turmoil.
Well, I don't believe that's the best course of action. I believe it's time to boldly, persistently, and broadly proclaim the truth and to stand for righteousness. To use your voice, to use your influence, your life experience, your context to become a light in this world. Stop hiding in the broad middle. Truth is breaking forth. It is not vanquishing deception. This is an understanding I have had to come to, but there is a clear choice. Have the courage to embrace the lordship of Jesus in your life. Not just a gospel of salvation where you think you've negotiated your eternity and therefore there's no more discussion to be had. Embrace the gospel of the kingdom. Submit all you are to the King. Enter into his service. Order your life to fulfill the purposes of his kingdom.
There will be challenges, but the rewards are magnificent beyond description. Truth and deception are gonna continue to coexist. Truth is not going to break into the light in such an overwhelming way that deception will be driven from the public square. Truth and deception are going to coexist. You're going to have to seek the Lord. You're going to have to know his Word, his Spirit, and his character enough to recognize the truth, and then it will require of you and me courage to embrace the truth until the Lord of righteousness returns. Until that day, I wanna invite you to determine for yourself to stand and, having done everything, to stand firmly.
Matthew 2 and verse 1, "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea". Judea is the region, Bethlehem is the city. "During the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and they asked, 'Where is the one who's been born the king of the Jews?'" You would have expected that recognition to have originated in Jerusalem, the city of the king, but the inhabitants of Jerusalem are clueless. The leadership in Jerusalem is unaware. The high priest isn't looking for the arrival of the King. "'Where is the one who was born the king of the Jews when we saw his star in the East and we've come to worship him?' Well, when King Herod heard this, he was disturbed. and all Jerusalem with him". They're not excited. They're disturbed. "When he called together all the people's chief priests and the teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born".
They understood the King being referenced was the much awaited Messiah. That's what Christ means. Where is the Messiah to be born? Well, "'In Bethlehem,' they replied, this is what the prophets written: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" So the leadership for the city of Jerusalem, for the religious community and the political community is coming from non-Jews, unthinkable. From a far away land, people who've invested far more energy and resources and time and effort in the search of the birth of a Jewish Messiah than the population of the city of Jerusalem. In fact, they're just troubled by it, truth and deception.
Verse 7, "Herod called the Magi secretly". They bypassed the logs. "And they found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.' After they'd heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed". There's a very sharp contrast between the attitudes of these three nameless travelers and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They're troubled by it, they're disturbed by it, they're launching subterfuge, they're eventually gonna launch a murder plot, and these nameless figures are worshiping, they're overjoyed, they're excited, they're ecstatic.
One of the ways of sorting out what your heart's invested in is by having some honest reflection on what truly brings excitement and joy to you. Not your church answer, we all would say Jesus. But in the quiet places of your life. And if the answer isn't immediately apparent, maybe a way to get to that is what causes you great frustration if you think it's going to be delayed or withheld. That will help you get to the root of what you're truly overjoyed by. "On continuing to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and incense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route".
They didn't cooperate with Herod. They infuriated the establishment. Imagine that, the people of God bringing frustration to the establishment. Suppose they had wanted a palace banquet. All they had to do was betray a baby. They could have been welcomed into the halls of power. Maybe they could have been ambassadors to the East. Maybe there would have been treasure to replenish the treasure they had to get displayed. They made another choice. "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under in accordance with the time he'd learned from the Magi". If you ask me for the spirit that would cause a nation to murder its youth, I can't think of a better description biblically than the spirit of Antichrist.
You see, the Bible tells us that God loves people. It never offers an explanation for that. It's simply put forth as a statement of fact. It's like a given in a geometric problem. God loves people. And so Jesus gave us a clue into this great conflict of the ages. He said, "I'm come that you might have life and have it to the fullest". It's in John 10:10. "But the thief comes to steal, to kill, and destroy". The spirit that hates Jesus hates people. And we've lost 60 million children to that. Then, when the law of our land was changed, there has been deafening silence, for the most part, from the people of God. We're told that the most toxic thing you can do in the public arena, if you want to secure public opinion, is to be pro-life. That it almost ensures defeat. Don't tell me there's a sleeping church and let that statement stand in the public square. The babies in Bethlehem, two years and under, were murdered.
And then Matthew, as his habit, links it to the prophets. He said, "This is what was said through the prophet Jeremiah: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping in great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.'" Now, in those passages from Matthew, just big picture for a moment, because it's gonna help... it'll be helpful to us. We're living out the current expression of the purposes of God on the earth. What does it look like to cooperate with him? What can we anticipate? What about if we know for certain God has led us and directed us and we're on a path that he's initiated? Well, in this story, God's purposes are unfolding, but not everyone was aware or interested.
See, I have wrongly thought for a long time that when God's purposes finally became so visible, so grand, so remarkable that there would be a majority of the people go, "Absolutely, let's go"! Well, I thought that, but it isn't really grounded in Scripture. It may have been encouraged by some poor preaching, but it isn't grounded in Scripture. The wise men are very much in a minority. The people attending the birth of the king of the Jews, the long awaited arrival of the Messiah, they know the prophets, they know he's to be born in Bethlehem. Excuse me. But the attendance, God has to recruit himself. He brings wise men from the East. He rounds up the shepherds, the lowest rung on the social ladder. Not the powerful, not the religious, not the influential, not even the leaders of Bethlehem, they can't even get a room. God is moving in the most dramatic of ways in all of human history, but the majority aren't interested or aware.
f you allow the people around you to determine what you look at, what you're excited about, what you care about, there's a high degree of probability you live with enough deception that you will miss what God is doing in the earth. Who you choose to spend discretionary time with is important. I like to hang around people that are excited about God. Well, aren't you afraid you're in a bubble? No, because I spend enough time in the world. I promise you, I walk out of the bubble. But I need the affirmation of those people or I'll begin to think I've lost my balance. I'll lose my compass. I'll lose my equilibrium and I'll begin to say, "Well, I'm doing pretty well, and lukewarm's easier than extreme temperatures".
I don't want to be lukewarm. Evil is on display. It was on display in Bethlehem. It's on display in our world. We're not content any longer just to murder our children before they're born. Now, we're trying to get federal support to mutilate them, and we would prefer to do it, apparently, without even parental permission. You understand how evil that is. And then anybody that would advocate for that, support that, protect that, excuse that, should not be providing leadership at any level.
The wise men followed a star. Imagine they were being led by God and they found themselves in a stable. I suspect there were some difficult emotions to process in all of that. I doubt it was what they expected. They started in the palace in Jerusalem looking for a King and they found themselves in a barn in Bethlehem. Well, I've been following the Lord for a while, and there's some times I imagine I'm headed for the palace and I keep stumbling into the barn, but I have come to trust the Lord. His plan, his leading, and his guidance makes all the difference. I want to pray for you that you'll continue to say yes to the Lord:
Father, I thank you that you lead us, that you provide direction. May we trust you no matter the circumstance. I thank you for it. In Jesus's name, amen.