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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 2

Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 2

Allen Jackson - I Am Sending You - Part 2
TOPICS: Faith, Boldness, Let's Do Difficult

So I'm going to take the balance of our time and I have a moment or two to walk with you around this idea of beginning to realign our thoughts as Christ followers. Kinda beyond church attenders, or joining a denomination, or believing what that group believes to take a biblical perspective and see if we could begin to order our thoughts in a way that would enable God to bring us greater liberty and freedom. See, I would submit to you that we have made God in our image. We've kinda imagined God's like us. Maybe he's just a little bit of an upgrade. You know, he's like us, he's just a little stronger. Or he's like us, but he's got a little higher metabolism or something. But God's not like us. God created the world and everything that's in it. And he upholds the earth and the universe by his authority and by his power.

He says, he knows when a bird falls to the ground. I believe him. I believe he has an awareness at that level that is beyond me and you. Well, I wanna start this conversation with asking you to make a bit of an adjustment. My experience in evangelicalism suggests that we have kind of a transactional approach to faith. It's not evil, it's not wicked. We've really been coached into it and there's even some theology around it. I'm just gonna suggest it's incomplete. Rather than think of it as a transaction, I'm going to ask you to think of our faith as something that's intended to be transformational. To be transformed is to change in potential. The transaction is a little different.

You know, we've kind of wanted a salvation transaction: in the event that hell exists, how can I avoid participating? Yeah, I mean, it's a legitimate question. If there is a just on the outside chance, maybe there's something to this whole God thing, and if there's really a hell, I would prefer not to be there. Can you tell me what is required to avoid that? What's the minimal daily requirement? So it's kind of a transactional approach. We all get that. What's the cost? What do I need to do? What is my obligation to complete this transaction? I want to secure the agreement so that I can resume my preferred interests. So where do I need to stand, where do I need to sit? Is there a cost involved? How much time is required?

I want to fulfill my part of the transaction because I don't want to be a part of that. We understand that notion. It governs a great deal of our lives. We can do the cost benefit analysis. We've got all sorts of fancy language. Now, we can even use AI to help us sort it out. Well, I believe the Bible gives us a different presentation. Now, we've got this down pretty well. And you know, do I need to say the sinner's prayer? Do I have to be baptized? I mean, I was sprinkled as a baby. Am I good? Is there a verse? Do I have to volunteer some time? Do I have to give some money? What is the transaction required? I really wanna know. Can somebody tell me, I'm on a schedule here?

See, the transactional model suggests that it's something that can be completed and then left unattended. It's an agreement which has been reached and the one I've reached it with is unchanging. He's eternal. He'll keep his word. I may fluctuate a little bit, but we made a deal. And I've heard something about grace, so I'm feeling pretty good about the deal. Transformational faith is a little different. It extends a different opportunity to the participants. Transformational faith understands that there's a demonstration of power involved in this transformation. It's not just a transaction. I'm not just doing the cost benefit analysis. I have submitted myself to an authority beyond myself.

That's the reason I believe that it's described in the scripture. Jesus himself said there's a broad way with a wide gate and many people travel that way. But the way into the kingdom of God is a more limited way, with a much smaller gate, because this transactional invitation give us a bit more pause. I'm gonna submit myself to the authority of someone else. It's an entrance into a kingdom, a realm of existence with different guiding principles and different authority. It's not a transaction I drive, it's not an analysis that I make alone. I submit myself.

It gives God the right to show up at a burning bush and say, I want you to go tell Pharaoh, let those people go. No, really, I'm good God. You did a nice trick with my parents. That whole revelation of yourself thing they saw I was special and they put me in a basket. You got me through that kind of wobbly time when they were killing the babies. Appreciate that. You've blessed me. I escaped that murderous lynch mob. You've caused my flocks to multiply. Now I'm working on my, the inheritance for my kids and my grandkids. Really, I'm good. No, Moses, I need you to go back to Egypt.

See, that's a transformational proposition. He couldn't talk his way out of it. God finally got mad at him. He gave him all his reasons and he had a pretty intentional case. The transformational faith recognizes a different authority presiding over our lives. The most intriguing part to me, the reason I'm willing to participate is it's an entirely new potential for our existence. It's not limited to our strength, or our IQ, or the circumstances of our birth, or the education that was afforded us, or the economic authority that provides over our lives, or the governmental system that we find ourselves trapped in. It transcends all of those things. It is truly transformational. It's the greatest invitation that can be presented to any human being.

And we desperately need the church of Jesus Christ to understand that the greatest thing we can share with another human being is an invitation to be transformed by the Power of almighty God. That's different than sitting in a church. It's not easily grasped, religious people in every generation try to dance around it. It's not unique to us. In Luke chapter 18, Jesus himself has an interaction with the man that leaves his closest friends and followers completely discouraged and befuddled, "A certain young ruler came and said, 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'" Again, he's operating off that premise there could be a hell, and he would prefer not to participate, "And Jesus said, 'Well, why do you call me good? No one is good, except God alone.'" And then Jesus says, "You know the commandments".

He's Jewish. He's been steeped in the Torah. He knows the ground rules. If we use the current equivalent, he's somebody that went to church a lot. He knows the right times to sit and stand. He knows the words to the choruses. He knows the whole drill. You could take him with you to any church setting and you wouldn't be embarrassed, "'You know the commandments: "Don't commit adultery, don't murder, don't steal, don't give false testimony, honor your father and mother".' And the man said, 'All these I have kept since I was a boy.'" Can you imagine saying that to Jesus? Now, Jesus is gracious. He doesn't laugh or smirk or roll his eyes, or at least it isn't recorded by Luke, "And when Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'Well, there's just one thing you lack. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you'll have treasure in heaven. And then come, follow me.'"

Jesus has invited several people to come and follow him. This is the first time there's been a liquidation clause in that invitation. Now he's told a couple of them that they couldn't hesitate, they couldn't deal with business first and then follow him. He said, no, now's the invitation and it will expire after the moment. But in the case of this particular young man, he said, you'll need to sell what you have. The man wanted to establish that he had sufficiently paid the price for eternal life. What do I need to do? I've kept these rules. Have I got the transaction complete? His self-awareness was very limited, very limited. No one kept the law perfectly. That is the stuff of Judaism. That's why they had sacrifices. That's why they had daily sacrifices. That's why they have a day of atonement.

The recognition that the law simply points out that you can't keep it. But he has such a little awareness and such confidence in himself, and his position, and his power, and his own self rightness, that he could say to the Messiah, I've done it all. And so Jesus counters with an invitation. I don't believe Jesus is demanding of him a financial sacrifice. He's asking for a complete re-evaluation of his existence: Who you are and what gives you status. And are we willing to let the primary status of our lives be defined by a relationship with almighty God? Or do we keep inserting things in front of that, and think that those things will secure our future. Folks, there are disruptions in front of us. And I believe the only thing that brings us through them triumphantly, and victoriously as individuals, families, or a community of faith is the power of God.

And if we're inserting things between ourselves and that relationship, if it's more transactional than transformational, if we're not being transformed by the power of God from the inside out, and we're just checking boxes, I think we are very, very vulnerable. This man would no longer be defined by his assets, or his resources, or his possessions. His future was going to be aligned with a person named Jesus of Nazareth. Come follow me. Be one of my disciples, not just a part of a party, not just affiliated with a power group. Come follow me. Jesus was inviting him towards transformation, not just some exorbitant transaction. The next verse it says, "When he heard this, he became very sad". And Luke tells us, "because he was a man of great wealth". I don't think it's a condemnation of wealth. God's not against wealth, "Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.'"

Now, Jesus's disciples overhear all of this. They had to be a bit excited. Here's a power broker. Somebody that's a part of the establishment, somebody with access to halls of power, and he's presenting himself to Jesus, and Jesus has invited him to join us. I mean, we got fishermen and tax collectors. We're kind of a ragtag group. You've watched "The Chosen," you know. And now Jesus is recruiting somebody with some real clout, some assets even. And he muffed the whole invitation. When they heard this, he became sad and he went away, "Those who heard this said, 'Well, who then can be saved?' Then Jesus replied, 'What's impossible with men is possible with God.' And Peter..." God bless Peter. Peter, he may have gotten some filters later in life. Pentecost may have helped his filters. But prior to Pentecost, if it crossed his mind, it just came roaring out, "Well, we've left everything to follow you".

And there is a good deal of truth to that. It will ultimately cost them their lives. You should understand the disciples put their name on the list to do difficult, "And Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth.'" And by now, you know it pretty well. When you see that phrase, you need to buckle your seat belt because Jesus is just about to take you into the unimagined, "I tell you the truth. No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of," turning the page, "for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life". You know what Jesus just said, the Kingdom of God is not equitable. That your choices will determine your role, your place, God's response to you. He invited that young man to something, Peter said, this is really difficult.

We've reoriented a lot. We didn't have that burning bush thing that Moe had, but you walked by the boat one day and said, follow me and we walked away from the business. We've left all we had to follow you. The difficulty is not in the cost, fortunes are made or lost. Most of us know that on some level. The difficulty is in the transformed thought, the new way to evaluate success or failure, security or insecurity. I don't believe this little passage is a condemnation of wealth, nor a universal call to liquidate all of your assets and disperse them. I do believe it's an announcement of the need to yield all that we have to God. Perhaps a more current word would be compartmentalization. We have this kind of deluded notion that we can segment our lives and have one set of values here and another set of values here, and a different set of values here. And God's not all that clever. He'll never figure it out. Okay, that is delusion. And if you put it in the context of church, it's a false Gospel.

So we should close with the biblical prescription for transformation. How do we initiate that in our lives? If it's a particular group, we should join them. If it's a translation of the Bible, it should be the only one we read. If it's a dress code, we all need to adhere to it. If it's dietary, then let's get the menu. Well, the Bible gives us a great deal of clarity on this in Romans chapter 10, in verse 9. It says, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you'll be saved. Saved has got of a technical meaning in the New Testament. It has to do with your eternity, where you'll be. I have sat in theological institutions, celebrated institutions, top 10 institutions, and when that verse was read, they would mockingly say, saved from what.

Please understand, one of the reasons that our churches are in trouble, that we've been training leaders in the church to not believe the Word of God is authoritative. To not submit to it as scripture, this is not new, this has not arrived in the last three or four years. We've been building this for a while and we've been so distracted and so invested in other things, and things have been working well enough that we didn't have to look. The question is germane, what is necessary for you to be saved? What is required for you to participate in the eternal kingdom of God, "It's with your heart that you believe and you're justified, and it's with your mouth that you confess and are saved". It's a two part formula to this transformation. It requires confession and belief. Part one has to do with the spiritual authority of your words. It's with your mouth. You have to say something.

I believe Jesus is Lord. I will yield to his lordship, his authority. That is all about priority. Who sets the priorities in our lives? Who establishes that? That has to be answered in every context of your life. You have to answer that and on any team in which you participate, in any group of people where we work together, the priorities have to be established. Well, the ultimate authority of your life biblically, to participate in the kingdom of God, is Jesus. He's the head of the church. God, who the Bible says is judge of all, entrusted judgment to his Son, because what his Son was willing to do. So it starts, part one, is with the spiritual authority of your words. That's a biblical principle we meet in the first chapter of Genesis.

The authority of God's Word brought order to this world in which we live, and God breathed his spirit into you, whether you've ever contemplated or not, there's a spiritual authority to your words. You've been planting something, you've been planting spiritual crops with your words, your whole life. Now you can take that to some goofy, destructive places if you choose, but the principle is still there. The second part of the transformation is the directional component of your heart. Says that we have to believe in our heart. Our heart biblically is our mind, our will and our emotions. We're asked to yield our mind and our will and our emotions to God. So that what I think, and what I feel, and what I want can no longer be the primary determiners of my life choices.

That can be difficult, so that the entrance into the kingdom of God is no longer just an empty recitation of a phrase. It's the submission of your will to God's will. And that transformation is a lifelong thing. It's a continual yielding throughout your lifetime. I made those decisions earlier in my life, but they're required of me today and they'll be required of me tomorrow. I think it's extraordinarily presumptive to cast off the authority of God and to live in an ungodly way, and to imagine that some statement you made in the past is sufficient to prepare you to see the creator of all things. We are imperfect creatures. We make mistakes, we fail, we choose ungodliness. We're given a prescription for that. We can humble ourselves, we can acknowledge the mistake. We can say I no longer choose to do that, and I choose to go a new way.

The fancy word for that is repentance. Absent, repentance, you'll face the consequence. It's a wonderful invitation. You're not limited by the circumstances of your birth, by your IQ, or the lack thereof, by your physical gifts, or the absence of them. God has chosen to make it possible for every human being to participate in his eternal kingdom. And he's made possible the power and the authority for us to be transformed, to be changed in potential as human beings in time, when necessary to stand before Pharaohs and say, let my people go. But we have to submit to his authority. Look at Romans 6, and verse 11, "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God".

Count yourselves, this isn't something God does to us, "Therefore don't let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Don't offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master". Paul is writing to a church, arguably the most literate of all the churches. It's the church in Rome, the epicenter of the world in which he lived. And he's saying to the believers do not offer yourselves to ungodly things. Church, we can't do that. We can't make idols out of the government. We can't expect them to train our children in godliness. We read a verse from Corinthians about training when we began. I'll give you the verse that immediately follows it.

It's 1 Corinthians 9:26, "I don't run like a man running aimlessly; I don't fight like a man beating the air. I beat my body and I make it my slave so that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize". I have submitted myself to the discipline of transformation. That's my invitation to you. Let's stop looking through the windows of the church and bemoaning the wickedness. Let's stop pointing our fingers at other people. Let's stop crossing our fingers and saying this time the elections will fix it. How many services do we have to have after the election to know that they don't fix it. But if we will change, if we can say to the Lord God, I haven't really been all that committed to you, but I would truly like Jesus to be Lord of my life. I'm willing to do the difficult. I've asked you to bless everything so I can live in easy.

What might you have for me? And let's see what God will do. He's changed the course of nations and empires. He's routed armies, he's defeated enemies. He has brought minority opinion, overwhelming victories against insurmountable odds. Our God is able if we will submit to him. I'll finish that outline another time, probably tomorrow morning. But I brought you a prayer and it is really an acknowledgement of an entry into that transformation.

And I want to ask no matter what your tenure in the kingdom of God is. You may be a veteran Christian. You may have been in this church since we started. You know, you can sit in church all your life and not be a Christ follower. It's like going to the gym doesn't make me an athlete. It's been known for me to go to the donut shop on my way to the gym. You have one when you go in, you got one when you come out. It's just kind of a good balance. You don't want a sugar high, you just want a good sugar buzz, steady through the whole day. Yeah, and we've been a little guilty of thinking, oh, if you suffer through enough church services, God will take mercy on you and let you in, but that's not the nature of what's presented.

So I brought you a prayer. I want you to stand with me if you will. If you're joining us someplace else, you can stand with us as well. It's a prayer we can read together, but it's one I would give to you to consider, to contemplate, to say again, to use as a point of kind of personal evaluation. Where am I standing in relationship to this? Where in my life am I willing to allow God to speak and where am I not willing for him to speak? What parts are mine? Because increasingly, I want to yield to the lordship of Jesus. And as much as I can say, I want to do that, I find I have to continue to give attention to that. I don't want new assignments. I don't wanna do difficult. I don't wanna take the risk, but I want to be obedient. Let's pray it together.

I choose Jesus as Lord of my life. I yield to the Lordship of Jesus of Nazareth, offering myself as a living sacrifice. Almighty God forgive me of all my sins, for placing my will before your will. Holy Spirit, help me to learn to say "yes" to you, grant me an understanding heart and the courage to follow you. Lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

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