Allen Jackson - Buy The Truth - Part 1
It's an honor to be with you today. Our topic is "Buy the Truth". You know, tragically, we find ourselves in a place where the truth is not held in high esteem. Well, I want to suggest to you the truth is extremely important. If outcomes matter, the truth is essential. If you're going to the doctor and he doesn't really tell you what's wrong with you, he just want to suggest a surgical procedure, leave the doctor's office. The truth is essential if you're going to get to a better place. And we're not going to arrive at a better place as individuals, as families, as a culture, in our schools, in our universities, in our government until we come back to valuing the truth. Stop waiting for it to happen in the White House and decide it has to happen in your house. If we'll choose the truth at our kitchen table, I believe we'll see it celebrated in the public square again. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly let's allow the Spirit of God to give us an invitation in this year.
We've been working through a little series under this general theme that God is moving in the earth. In fact, to me is more dramatic than that. It's as if God is breaking out on the earth. The purposes of God are unfolding at a far more rapid pace than evil or wickedness or ungodliness. It's just that the ungodly and the wicked tend to have more access to the media outlets. That sounds more harsh than I mean it to, but good news doesn't sell. And I think we had... it takes a greater awareness, a greater focus, a greater intentionality to recognize what God is doing. We celebrated a baptism with somebody this weekend. A man in his 80s had driven from Atlanta to be baptized. God is moving in the earth. I've been here a long time, and those things are not normal and they're happening with a frequency that truly only God can initiate. We have hundreds of students on campus tonight excited to be at church in the middle of the week, in the middle of a holiday season.
Again, there are so many ways and many places I could spend the evening giving you stories about what God is doing, but in the midst of all of that there's a lot of darkness as well. And then we have to choose our focus. And so in this session, I want to talk to you specifically about the truth and your relationship to the truth. It isn't enough that truth exists. What is ultimately significant is your relationship in connection with the truth. Will you accept it? Will you yield to it? Will you honor it? Will you submit to it? It is been something of a surprise to me in recent years to arrive at the conclusion that truth and deception are both going to flourish. I had lived with the mistaken notion that God's truth or the truth, when it broke into the public square it would become so obvious, so glaring, so overwhelmingly right that the majority of people would rally to the truth.
And I have come to the realization that that isn't our experience. The truth and deception flourish at the same time, and that it's incumbent upon us to choose the truth. There are many reasons, many excuses you can choose to clothe yourself with deception and stand in the shadows. There's a litany of reasons. And then we see it happening, and we see it happening broadly within the church. So this session, I want to talk to you specifically about your relationship with the truth, and I'm going to start with a verse from the Book of Proverbs chapter 23. Says, "Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline, and understanding". It's a very direct statement. It isn't confusing at all. Buy the truth, and don't sell it. When you purchase something, you exchange something that you value for something that you value more.
And so the invitation here is that truth is more valuable than anything you have, and when it's ever available to you, buy it. Whatever you're holding, exchange it for the truth because if you know the truth it will bring good things to you. And I don't know of any time in my life that feels more important or more countercultural. We live in an age of rampant deception. We have a whole new set of vocabulary words, synonyms for lying. We spin things. We speak evangelistically. We speak politically. I mean, it's an almost endless list. But the truth is that we have not valued truth personally or beyond.
Now, I want to just assure you that ultimately truth triumphs over deception in the same way that light will triumph over darkness, or life will triumph over death, or love will triumph over hate, or that mercy will triumph over revenge, but the victory of truth only comes to those who've chosen to align themselves with it. If you align yourselves with the deception, when the victory of the truth comes, you're going to forfeit a great deal. Again, God is moving in the earth. I'll say it again and again and again. I'm not discouraged, I'm filled with hope and anticipation of what is coming to the earth because the creator of heaven and earth is moving uniquely in our generation. His purposes are breaking forth. This present world order, it will come to a conclusion. It's not permanent. God has planned something far better for his people.
What we are witnessing currently in our culture in this nation is unsustainable. We have many blessings and a great deal of unprecedented liberty and freedom, but the current set of behaviors are simply unsustainable. The values which have shaped our lives, our families, and our culture are being systematically dismantled. It could not be accidental. It's too systematic. The strength of our nation is being drained out. Our children are being trained in hedonism and indulgence. Our military is increasingly focused on gender equity and diversity more than defeating our enemies. That is a formula for failure. Our universities are too often focused on indoctrination, displaying blatant bias, supporting anti-Semitism and anti-Christian values in some very unsettling ways, you don't have to have great discernment to see that these days, yet we continue to send them our children and our money.
Even our Christian universities train students in immorality and seem to avoid a biblical worldview. 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 language. Their desire to maintain power dwarfs their concern for the well-being of the citizens that they have sworn to serve and protect. The preamble of our constitution, for those of you who can remember it from back in the day, charges the federal government with the responsibility, and I quote, "to provide for the common defense," yet we have an open border. We have multiple open borders. We are witnesses to an invasion. Hundreds of thousands of persons each month are pouring into our country. It's not some humanitarian relief effort from some besieged nation in Central America. They've come from more than 160 nations. And we extend free health care, education, a menu of civil services. It's a menu.
So the invasion continues. And the response from our most powerful voices in the nation, they hold another hearing, they provide sound bites for their constituents, and they look for face-time in the daily news cycle, and nothing changes. But the awkward reality, the greater truth is the church is the most disturbing part of the landscape. Assigned by our Lord to be salt and light, too frequently we seek and champion the middle ground, that imagined place of safety and security where we're neither hot or cold. We hope to be beyond criticism, and thus maintain our place of importance and significance. Well, to be completely candid, I believe 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 new thing. And I would caution you of imagining it's an end-time scenario and it's something that's never been faced before. It is once again an expression of the human condition that we have seen repeatedly, cyclically throughout the history of the church and throughout the history of God's interaction with us.
In Revelation chapter 3 it's described for us. It's one of the seven churches at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, the Church at Laodicea. The language couldn't be plainer. "These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold.'" If we put that in contemporary church language, we're just going to preach the gospel. I'm an advocate for the gospel of the kingdom. But to understand the gospel of the kingdom you have to understand the weakness and the fallacies of the kingdoms of this present age, and that requires an awareness of what's happening in our culture.
I've spent my life helping people find their way into the kingdom of God. But in order to do that, you have to acknowledge the failures and the weakness and the destruction of the kingdoms of this present age. And Jesus's message to this church is startling. He said, "I wish you were either one or the other, but because you're lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I'm about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I'm rich; I've acquired wealth and I don't need a thing.' But you don't realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". I've made the observation before, but I think it bears repeating. The message to this church is you will no self-awareness. You have no self-awareness whatsoever. You think you have no need, that you're wealthy and sophisticating, and he said in reality you're blind, you're pitiful, you're naked.
How messed up do you have to be to have lost your sight and to be naked and not be aware of that? That's a pretty significant deception. And I think when we look at the landscape today, with just a little bit of awareness we recognize that we are struggling. The people of God are struggling with deception, and the solution for that is truth, to bring our hearts back to the Word of God and the authority of Scripture. The vast majority of our population has imagined that the storms we see today will just pass. If we can just distract ourselves with our own agendas and not attract any unnecessary attention to ourselves, we'll survive this current episode of turmoil. Well, I don't believe that is the best course of action. I believe it's time to boldly, persistently, and broadly proclaim the truth and to stand for the righteousness of the kingdom of God.
Use your voice, use your influence, use your life experience, your context to become a light in this world. The reality is truth is breaking forth. It isn't vanquishing deception. Deception isn't being driven from the public square, but there is a clear choice. Have the courage to embrace the lordship of Jesus in your life. Not just a gospel of salvation focused on an eternity and in the meantime you can live however you would choose, but a 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. Admittedly, there will be challenges, but the rewards are magnificent beyond description. Serve the Lord. Truth and deception will continue to coexist until the Lord of righteousness returns. And until that point in time, and that point in time will arrive, but until then our assignment is to stand and having done everything we know to do to stand.
Proverbs chapter 2 invites us into the nature of this challenge. We have mistakenly thought it should be easy. That you'll know the truth, and it'll just be a simple place to camp. Then I'll embrace the truth and kind of hang out there. It'll be a friendly, little, happy thing. We'll link arms and sing "Kumbaya". Maybe we can have s'mores. Well, the Bible invites us to a different imagination. Proverbs chapter 2 and verse 1, "My son, if", if. "If you accept my words and store up my commands within you and you turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you'll understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God".
We've mistakenly have thought, you know, God should just reveal his secrets, his character, his plans, and his purposes to us on the time we make available during the commercial break while we're watching our favorite program, and he needs to hurry now 'cause we DVR and we're going to fast-forward to the commercial. So he really only got a few seconds. That's not the presentation of Scripture. In fact, the language in that passage is very assertive. "If you're willing to accept my words and store up my commands and turn your ear and apply your heart, if you'll call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, if you'll search for it like silver". To mine silver you have to move an enormous amount of dirt to get a very small amount of silver.
If you'll search for it like its hidden treasure, if you'll work hard to decipher the clues, to understand the components, to understand your position in relationship to the objective, if you'll do all of those things, then you can know the truth. "Well, pastor, you know, I just feel like I should be able to pull a promise from the promise box and have Almighty God reveal his purposes in the earth to me. Now, what do you want me to do? Go to church, like, more"? Well, sitting in church doesn't make you more godly. I wish it were that easy. We would sell seats. We would at least rent them. But we do need to fellowship with God's people, to spend our discretionary time with people that are also pursuing a biblical worldview, a Judeo-Christian worldview, that are trying to order their lives based on biblical principles.
It gives us a point of evaluation, a point of learning something in juxtaposition to what we hear from our elite universities, from our sports figures and our celebrities, and far often from too many of our pulpits. We need the strength that comes from community. In John 15 and verse 26, Jesus is speaking and he said, "When the Counselor comes..." He's speaking of the Holy Spirit who'll be sent. When Jesus returns to heaven, he's making a promise to his closest friends. He said, "It's better for you if I go 'cause if I go the Father will send you a counselor, a comforter, or a helper". And listen how he describes the Holy Spirit. "Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me". Jesus again in John 16, "When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth".
There's such freedom in that. We have divine assistance. We live in a confusing time. It's complex. The world is changing at an unprecedented pace. The amount of change that we're being asked to process and the systems that are changing around us and the information that's available to us has no parallel in human history. It's a confusing time. No matter what your age or the generation that you represent, it's happening to all of us. Values that have shaped our lives generationally are being cast aside in the briefest of moments. It's a relatively new thing. For hundreds and hundreds of years, the skill set of a grandfather was sufficient to help their grandchildren succeed in the world. You could simply learn a skill, a trade. You could learn how to navigate life, how to buy and sell in the marketplace, how to imagine the world in which we live.
And we've passed those things along generationally. The change is happening so quickly now. They're creating tremendous divisions within our own family systems. Not generational from grandparent to grandchildren, they're creating division between parents and children. We need help. And here's the good news. We have the promise in Jesus's own words that the Spirit of the living God will guide us into the truth. If you'll allow me to suggest, folks, we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. For far too long in the church we've made this some point of doctrinal debate what we believe about the Holy Spirit and how we will or we won't cooperate with him. Any way that he has said he will engage in your life, get in the line. You don't any longer have the luxury of saying, "Well, you know, the way I believe".
If the way you believe doesn't align with Scripture, repent and change. The stakes are too high, the pressure is too great, and the future doesn't suggest that the pressure is going to diminish. We need to accept the help that has been provided. Romans chapter 1; similar statement, different perspective. It says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and the wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness". It's an interesting definition of wickedness. To be wicked is to suppress the truth. If you use that as a definition, you would have to say wickedness has broken out. The suppression of the truth around us is unprecedented.
We used to be champions of this novel concept called freedom of speech, you know, back when we imagined that those things were really protected by the Bill of Rights. Our current reality has, in a very glaring way, told us that the Bill of Rights is no longer considered sacred, nor the law of the land. And if that's to return, it will only be because there's a group of people here who have enough confidence and are willing to submit themselves to the authority of God that those Bill of Rights came from a biblical worldview, they didn't come from some legal scholar. And if they're to be reasserted for the protection of our children and our grandchildren, it will be because we submit ourselves to the authority of God again, and that way we could lead others into yielding to those type of things so freedom and liberty can be extended.
The authoritarian, domineering spirit that we see gaining momentum with each click of the tick of the clock comes from rejecting the authority of God in our lives. He's the creator, and we're his creation. Align yourself with the truth. Stop worrying about the White House, and start practicing obedience to God in your house. We're way too heated up about the election. We're in the midst of another election cycle. But it isn't a change of politicians we need nearly as much as we need a change of heart. How many times do we have to go to the polls and see there's really no evidence that our hearts have changed before we get desperate about changing our hearts?
Practice obedience to the truth that you know. Become acquainted with the Holy Spirit and begin learning to listen to his voice. Recognize what it would be for the Spirit of God to prompt you. That is a learned response. There are many ways to do that. It's as diverse as our personalities. And whatever you do, do not give your strength, your talent, your intellect, your time to suppressing the truth. Don't suppress the truth to make the ungodly feel more comfortable. You don't have to be angry, or vindictive, or mean, or belligerent. You certainly don't need to be violent. But we cannot continue to suppress the truth and act like the Lord will bless us. We have been confused, addled.
Hey, before we go, I'd like to give an invitation to the Spirit of God to guide us into God's truth. In a season of tremendous deception and manipulation, we need the balance that only God can bring to us. Let's pray:
Father, nothing is hidden from you, nothing in darkness is unknown to you. And I ask you now to give us the insight and the understanding we need to walk up rightly before you in an age of deception. I thank you for it. In Jesus's name, amen.