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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Challenges to Our Faith - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Challenges to Our Faith - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Challenges to Our Faith - Part 2
TOPICS: Challenge

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're gonna continue our discussion on challenges to our faith. We're gonna look at our Bible. You know, it's not an easy book. I know we know we're supposed to read it, but it doesn't mean it's simple. It's actually a collection of books, 66 books written over a long period of time, dozens of authors, different types of literature, it's not arranged chronologically. It can be confusing. Well, in this session, I'm gonna introduce you to a timeline, it's 12 simple points that can become the infrastructure, the framework for us to understand our Bible. You see, I think it's important to understand the story of the Bible, and not just Bible stories. It'll help us all grow up and stand more firmly in this unique season. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to the Holy Spirit today.

A part of the discipline of following Jesus is saying no to ourselves. You know that with the fruit of the Spirit that are listed in Galatians nine aspects, nine characteristics that will be evident in your life or mine if we cooperate with the person of the Holy Spirit. One of those nine is self control. I will not indulge that carnal nature. So many voices these days, it's overwhelmed us. We've become more concerned about our self image than our self control. It's so important to us, and we've got to submit to the authority of scripture. We see this being lived out in the culture around us with these collective challenges to the authority of scripture. It wasn't too many years ago in our culture where there was a biblical worldview that under held things, and things like keeping your word and telling the truth were values that were understood to be widely shared, and if you didn't keep your word or if you were known to be a person who lied, you would forfeit your place of trust or honor in a community.

Folks, those days are gone. We make heroes out of people who are inveterate liars. We choose them to lead us. We put them in powerful seats and the corporate were all, wherever. We've got a whole new vocabulary list that are all synonyms for "I'm a liar". There's a collective challenge to choosing the Word of God. We're watching the corruption, the collapse, honestly, of the Christian West, but I'm not suggesting it's going to collapse, I'm suggesting that what we're looking at is really a vapor of what was once in place. The values that held us in place we have set aside. It hasn't happened this week or this month or with the current administration, this is not about some party. All aspects of the political spectrum that we know in this nation have contributed to this. That's an awkward statement to make. Which means most of us, if you've participated in the process, you have supported people who have cooperated with the dismantling of a biblical Christian worldview.

We need to humble ourselves and repent, and say to the Lord, "I'm sorry, we haven't been that vigilant". We thought we could continue to make ungodly choices and have the blessings of God. I don't believe we can continue to do that. There's a tipping point, there's a tipping point in your physical health. If you continue to abuse your health, there's a point at which you'll not be able to overcome it. Your body's adaptive processes will not circumvent your destructive behaviors. And the same is true spiritually, we cannot consistently ignore the counsel of the Word of God and imagine that the grace and mercy of God will compensate for our determined bent towards ungodliness. So the question I believe that is uppermost before us these days is will the people of God choose to honor him with their whole heart, mind, soul, and body?

And one of the most encouraging things I've seen is the wave of people stepping forward and raising their hands and said, "I would like to do that". We make greater efforts to be together. We value the opportunity more. We're more willing to read our Bibles. Hundreds and hundreds of people downloaded the apps to read their Bibles after just this last weekend. That's not typical, that hasn't always happened. God is moving in some remarkable ways. But you don't have to have great discernment, if you just a casual glance at the news in the last few days, what Jeffrey Epstein, that whole sordid scandal, it's so depraved, it's so wicked, we can't discuss it in this setting, it would be inappropriate.

What's startling is how widespread the participation has been. In every segment of our culture and society, it's impossible that it escaped the attention of the people in the media, and yet they've buried the stories for decades. But you can look in completely different directions. We have an open border, and church after church after church will describe that as an expression of compassion, that is deceptive. It's a genesis for trafficking in children. It's the genesis of sexual exploitation and perversion. Which part of illegal do we not understand? If you go to the bank and you make an illegal withdrawal, that's not good. We have all this language that we're using to cover something that is a gross abuse of freedom and liberty, and we are forfeiting the future of our children and our grandchildren, and we have lacked the will to say anything about it.

We're a nation of immigrants, I'm an advocate for immigration. We have all sorts of ways to make immigration legal, but you can't do it illegally and then say, "Nah, we're gonna wave a magic wand and you're legal". That's perverse. That's as perverse as living together and then showing up at the justice of the peace and getting married and say, "No harm, no foul". We mock God. Do you understand the degree to which in so many ways in our lives, we have engaged in behaviors that are mocking of God? We think God can be manipulated with his language, "Well, you're a God of grace. Therefore, the fact that I've been ungodly and immoral and wicked and practiced illegal things for a long season of time, now I'm going to genuflect in your presence and you will just absolve me".

Open our Bibles, begin to submit ourselves to the authority of God. He will change us. We have received the blessings of God in an unprecedented way, but we have moved further and further away from obedience to him. But I see indications that that is changing. That's so exciting to me. That is so exciting to me, that there's a group of people that are gonna link arms and say, "We're gonna honor the Lord. We're gonna lift up the name of Jesus. We're gonna take him to school again. We're gonna take him to work with us again". I'm telling you it is happening all around. Be an early adopter, say, "Lord, I wanna honor you. I wanna honor you in my home," and my family, folks, all of us come from broken families.

There is no perfect family system, that's why we need a Redeemer. We just look at that...we think everybody else has it together. You just don't know enough about him. And I don't want to, I got enough stuff to carry with the ones that I know about, right? But we're not victims. We've been delivered and redeemed and set free. I read something, it has troubled me, the University of Michigan is expanding their DEI initiatives, they have over 500 people on staff with more than a $30 million a year annual budget training our students that we should get equal outcomes. It's from the pit! We've got some real work to do, some heavy lifting to do. It's going to take some courage. We're going to have to think and apply our brains and think about more than ourselves, but God will help us. God will help us.

I want to take a minute with this timeline, I tried through the weekend and it didn't get very far. It's a very helpful little tool, I've used it for a long time. What I find is that very few of us have much imagination of the story of the Bible, we know Bible stories, but we get pretty confused. It's not an easy book, there's 66 books between the covers. They're written over a broad period of time by different authors, it's different styles of literature. We get hung up on Old Covenant, New Covenant, Old Testament, New Testament, folks, it's the Bible. There's no portion, we just read that all scripture is God-breathed and useful, so you can't set any part of it aside.

If you're setting some part of it aside, you're forfeiting some part that's essential. So I gave you a little timeline, it's got 12 points on it, and my goal is really just to help you begin to imagine kind of a chronological unfolding of the story, so if you're reading about Isaiah, you know where he fit in connection to Noah. Because it tends to get confused in our heads. So if you'll imagine a little timeline with me, and it doesn't take too big of imagination, 'cause they put one on the screen behind me. The Bible starts with creation, it says "In the beginning God," and we spend a good deal of time looking at why the acceptance of creation is so essential, if you reject God as creator, the rest of the Bible is nonsense. Genesis doesn't tell us where everything came from. When we step into time in the opening chapters of Genesis that the earth is here, it's chaotic, it's void, it's without shape. There's a story we're not read into.

"Well, I don't like that". Duly noted, but it's still true. What we have is the story, what we've been given is everything we need to know to have a relationship with the creator God. There is a God, he can be known, and he's given us the information that is needed so that we could live in a relationship with him and our journey through time, so that he might invite us to spend eternity in his kingdom. That's the point of the book. Genesis chapter 12, there's a significant shift, we're introduced to Abram. He becomes Abraham and it's the notion that we'll consume the rest of the whole book, that God is creating a people for himself. He's still doing that in the 21st century. We get concerned about labels, whether we're Catholic or Protestant, Baptist or Church of Christ, Episcopalian or Pentecostal.

The distinguishing characteristic of your life has to do with the relationship you have with Jesus of Nazareth. You can believe he existed, you can imagine he's some historical character, a miracle worker, a religious figure, a teacher... is he Lord of your life? Abram starts that journey towards the people of God. The book of Genesis ends with Abram's extended family in Egypt. That's not the promised land, so we know we got to get out of Egypt, that gets us to the Exodus. It's the second book of the Bible, but it's the greatest story of deliverance in all of scripture until we get to the redemptive work of Jesus. It's a type and a pattern for so much. If we came out of the land of Egypt and the Exodus, we're going to have to enter into the promised land, so there's a conquest.

That's right, God's people displaced the people that were in the land, that will mess up a lot of contemporary history teaching. That's another sermon, I'll save that. Who led the conquest? Do you remember? It's not a trick question. Joshua. Moses didn't get to enter the promised land, did he? And after they took the promised land, for 400 years there was no central government, Jerusalem was not the capital. There were 12 tribes loosely configured in the promised land. Each tribe was responsible for occupying their territory. There was some cooperation amongst them when they began the conquest, but ultimately each tribe had to be responsible for maintaining their space.

When there was a need for a larger corporate response, God would raise up a leader, a judge. Not somebody in black robes that presided in a courtroom setting, but a leader for the people of God; it was a theocracy, God was the head of the people. The book of Judges in your Old Testament reads it is a book of superheroes. Gideon, Samson, Deborah, Jephthah, remarkable, remarkable stories. The last of the Judges was Samuel, and the tribal leaders came to Samuel, and they said, "We don't like you. You're old and you're a lousy parent". That's true, that's Living Bible, but it's what they said, they said, "You're old and your kids haven't followed in your ways. We're not following your leadership". They rejected Samuel, his family, and what he'd spent his life pouring into them.

And God said to Samuel, "It's not you they've rejected," you know why God said that to Samuel? Because he felt like he'd been rejected. I've said to pastors across this nation for the last 18 months, "It's not you that's been rejected. Big chunks of your congregations have stayed home, they won't come to church anymore. They say they don't have to gather, they were told it was non-essential and they said, 'Thank God, we didn't think so.'" And I've said the same thing to all of them, "It's not you they've rejected. You weren't mishandling funds. You weren't behaving inappropriately. They haven't attached enough value to the things of God". "Samuel, it's not you they've rejected, give them a king". And the whole story of scripture changes, it's another one of those pivot points. It's dramatic pivot point. Israel gets a monarchy.

Who's the first king of Israel? Saul. Amazes me that Samuel went and anointed Saul. They rejected Samuel, but they needed his authority to establish the king that they said they wanted. And Samuel had the humility. He was so determined to serve the Lord that even when he had been rejected, when he'd been removed from his place when they said, "We don't want your leadership, but we do want you to lead us to find the new king". And Samuel did. And Saul became so inflated with pride that God said, "I've rejected you".

Folks, we live rather presumptive lives. I don't think you should hold your salvation as something that's fragile, that if you have a bad daughter, you say a bad word, that it's going to evaporate. But I don't think you should live arrogantly, imagining that it's completely unassailable. Saul was rejected, and God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to Jesse's house to anoint another king. Who was the second king of Israel? David. The greatest of the Israelite kings, and David was succeeded to the throne by one of his sons, Solomon. There were only three kings in Israel where the nation was united, because after Solomon's death, there's a civil war. A civil war amongst the people of God. Have you got the bandwidth for that? The covenant people of God engaged in a civil war over leadership. The nation is divided. The Northern Nation, same geographical footprint, but it's going to be cut in half.

Imagine US history if the civil war had a different outcome. The northern nation is called Israel and the capital of Israel is Samaria. The Southern Kingdom is Judah and the capital of Judah is? Jerusalem, it's not a trick question. And that's where many of the prophets come in, because Israel's losing their way. The temples in Jerusalem, everybody's been instructed to go to the temple three times a year to worship, but if you're the king of the Northern Kingdom, the last thing you want to happen is for your people going to Jerusalem to another nation three times a year. So guess what they did in the Northern Kingdom? They put up altars where the people could worship against God's instruction. So the Northern Kingdom of Israel never had a godly king, not one. And the prophets are speaking to them saying, "What are you doing? Why are you behaving like this? If you keep behaving this way, judgment will come to you".

The covenant people of God. The people through whom the Messiah is promised, through whom the Word of God will be delivered, through whom the covenants of God are revealed to the whole world. "If you keep behaving in this way, judgment will come". We should not imagine that God does not bring judgment and discipline to his covenant people. It is a fundamental premise of scripture. Again, we have lived presumptively. 721 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Their pattern was to disperse conquered people throughout their empire. So you've heard of the 10 lost tribes of Israel? It was the 10 tribes in that Northern Nation that were scattered. One hundred and fifty years later, 587 BC, the Babylonians came and they besieged Jerusalem, and Jerusalem fell, and the temple was destroyed. Significant point because the center of worship, the epicenter of worship for the people was the temple.

The daily sacrifices, the annual pilgrimage feasts, they knew how to worship based on a location in which they worshiped, and now the temple is gone. It changed the practice of Judaism until today. They're in exile. They're not living in the land anymore. The covenant people of God not living in the land they promised. They forfeited their inheritance because of their disobedience. Do not imagine disobedience to God as insignificant. Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther, you meet all those characters during the... Jeremiah is the last prophet in Jerusalem before the Babylonians. Then you meet Daniel and Esther and those folks that were exiles in other places. And Daniel said, "I understood by reading the book of Jeremiah, we got to go home and it's time for us to go home".

And they go back and they build the second temple. Who built the second temple, does anybody remember? It's hard to pronounce. It's Zerubba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bel. It's kinda like banana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana. Zerubbabel did. It was a very modest place. Solomon's temple was elaborate, overlaid with gold, extraordinary. Zerubbabel's Temple was very simple. The people who were old enough to remember Solomon's temple wept out loud when Zerubbabel built his. But they were back.

Until today, Jewish history is told in terms of the first temple period and the second temple period. There've only been two temples in Jerusalem, Herod the Great. The second temple period really is the open door into the New Testament. You think of it beginning when you finish Malachi. The Italian prophet Malachi. And you think that begins the New Testament, but truthfully, the era of the New Testament begins with the building of the second temple. Because when you read the Gospels, there's a temple in Jerusalem, it's that second temple, it's been expanded. They did a remarkable remodeling job, Herod the Great.

So it's more elaborate, and much of that was built at the beginning in the first century. But that's where the New Testament opens, and we have the Gospels with the Jesus story, and then we have the church. And the church is a story of riots and revivals. It truly is, there is no advance of the gospel without resistance and persecution. And then we're told "Jesus is coming back. The King is coming back to rule and reign on planet Earth". That's the part of the prophets that you read where it says, "The lion will lay down with the lamb, and a child will play at the den of the cobra, and we'll beat our swords into plowshares, and we'll make war no more". Because the Prince of Peace will be here, we're not gonna go hang out in the sky someplace. Jesus is gonna rule and reign on planet Earth.

Why don't you stand? We're gonna pray, we're going to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. And we'll do that lesson about Paul, I promise. He got in trouble in Jerusalem, God's people almost killed him. The ones that accepted Jesus almost killed him. We're gonna have to be tougher. I assure you that "Thou shalt be kind," is not the 11th commandment. Doesn't mean you have to be obnoxious. But the church has been almost totally co-opted with fear. And folks, we have a message to deliver that will not be celebrated everywhere. But it's important, we don't have to be angry or belligerent. Certainly don't have to be violent. We have to have the courage to tell the truth. May God help us. Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for its truth and authority and power in our lives. Lord, we present ourselves as living sacrifices. I ask you to lead us through these next few weeks and months. Holy Spirit, give us understanding hearts beyond anything we've ever had. Give us discernment and wisdom as we take time to open your Word. Give us insight and understanding, that we have the courage to choose obedience. May we have the humility to repent when we have indulged ourselves and lived indulgent lives. Indulgent with our emotions and indulgent with our wants and indulgent with our thoughts. May we submit ourselves to the authority of God in our emotions and our thoughts and our will. We choose you, have your way in us. Holy Spirit, search our hearts, and if there's anything that's displeasing to you, or that would disrupt your very best for us, bring it to our attention and may we have the courage and the humility to repent. I thank you for what you're doing, that you're preparing a people for the greatest harvest in the history of the earth. And Father, we want to participate. We want to take our place. May you be pleased with us. In Jesus's name, amen.

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