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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Clarify Your Identity - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Clarify Your Identity - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Clarify Your Identity - Part 1
TOPICS: Identity, Clarify Your Identity

I wanna begin a new series under the theme of "Clarify Your Identity". Lots of words these days about how you identify. Things I didn't even know you got to choose. I mean, just almost a limitless series of discussions, and people get offended all over the spectrum around this and the church kind of seems addled and we don't know what to say and if we say something, we're not sure it's right, and what's the appropriate response. So I wanna take, I don't know, a bit and talk with you, three or four sessions anyway, a bit about how we can clarify our identity. Who you understand yourself to be, makes a tremendous difference. And if it's changing every day you're in trouble. It's foundational to who you are and your journey through time.

And for a long time... I've been in church most of my life. I haven't always been a Christian but I've been in and around church and, you know, and we would identify our faith by the groups that we adhered to. "Are you a Christian"? "Oh, yes, I go to this church," or "I belong to that group," or "I belong to that tradition or that denomination". You know, "What do you believe"? "I believe what they believe. I'm just all in with them". And you hear about something else, "Well, you know, I don't believe like that. That's not how my people believe". And so we kind of have a group-think identification and, as life goes, I think we've found that to be incomplete. So we're gonna spend a few sessions and see if we can get a biblical perspective on this. Romans chapter 11 and verse 8, I think is a pretty good single-verse description of what we see in our world today. Says, "It is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears so they could not hear, to this very day.'"

When I look at the world, when I listen to the news and listen to the responses of the people, and when I travel a bit and when I'm with Christian people and I'm listening to their responses, I have to say it seems like to me, to an alarming extent, we're in a bit of a stupor. We're either willfully ignorant or it's just uncomfortable to look through the windows at what's going on, or we've just kind of thrown our cards in and go, "Well, it doesn't matter". Except that we have this biblical assignment to be salt and light. And if the darkness in the world is growing more intense, it's because the light is being dimmed, and we've got to find a way to turn up the light. And as much as I would like to choose somebody else to do that, God's called our names.

And so I wanna spend a moment with this because I feel like the best description for what's happening in a messaging way over our lives is the word "propaganda". I don't know, I don't think the public messages for the most part any longer is really grounded in fact. In fact, now I've kind of got a little flinch. Anytime somebody says, "Follow the science," I wanna see their data, because I think they're trying to get me to turn my brain off and just numbly go along because how could science be wrong? You mean, like when we used to put leeches on people and say that would make you feel better? Science is a method and a process. I'm all for it. I'm an advocate for science. I truthfully am. But there is so much propaganda that washes over us. I played with some definitions.

The most innocuous, the most inane, of the definitions not to politicize it or to make it polemic, it says propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread, spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, or nation. Information, ideas, or rumors which are deliberately spread widely. Not necessarily a desire to communicate the truth or the facts, but a widespread dissemination of information towards a desired outcome by whomever it is that's generating the information. Folks, we are living in the midst of an unprecedented propaganda machine. I can illustrate that, I think. I just chose some buckets: messages that we receive that are repeated often, loudly, and with great enthusiasm.

See if you recognize any of this. And you'll know in your sphere of influence that there's gonna be a wide array of opinion around this set of topics. Some people have imbibed the Kool-Aid fully. One that's had some attention in the news this week: our border. It's a bit open. But our leaders and their voices in the legacy media tell us repeatedly, loudly, persistently, with a very diverse array of faces that the border is secure and that they have done everything possible to secure our border and if there is any problem, it's not their fault. Now, that message is predominant and yet we see with our eyes something else. It's disconcerting. It's disorienting. It's confusing. It's addling. Yet millions of people are entering our country illegally. Millions of them. We don't even have a reasonable number. We can't even imagine the number anymore. It's being encouraged by our federal government, without any question.

So while without shame, they'll look at the camera lens and go, "The border is secure," they're doing everything in their power to say to the global community, "Come one and come all". Sex trafficking, slavery, child abuse; dangerous, illegal drugs are flowing into our country with almost no resistance whatsoever. Drug cartels have gained great strength. Violence is increasing. We see this around us. You don't have to be particularly observant. Homelessness. You can't bring 10, 12, 15, 20 million people into the country who have no plan for where to stay, without imagining that's going to bring a dramatic rise in homelessness. The people who are already here and on the margins have lost their foothold on the margin. It's overwhelming our health care system, our educational systems, our social services. But the propaganda says there's no problem.

And the church has been very little help. We just say, "Well, we're being compassionate". To whom? There's another propaganda bucket, and that's the confusion around human sexuality. We're told on a very regular basis that whether you're male or female is very confusing, that marriage should be defined by those who are participating. No archaic notions about what comprises marriage. Immorality and its understanding is an entirely personal choice. We're told it's inappropriate. It's too confining. It's out of date. We have moved beyond that. That anybody or anything, or certainly any God, would have the temerity to suggest boundaries around sexual activity. Abortion, we're told frequently, with far louder voices than those who stand in opposition to it: That abortion, the taking of the life of an unborn child, is a right. No one should interfere. We're told that performing life-altering mutilation on children is appropriate health care.

Folks, those messages wash over you and the people in your family hundreds of times a week and our responses are awfully quiet. We drop our eyes or bow our heads or shuffle our feet. "Well, it's uncomfortable to talk about that at home. We don't have a uniform opinion around the table. I certainly don't wanna talk about it in extended family. Makes people uncomfortable". Then we're told by the same engine generating this messaging that there are many existential threats to our freedom and way of life. I particularly like this one. I had no idea there were so many existential threats until they really cranked up this propaganda machine. I made you a brief list. It's by no means inclusive but toxic masculinity. Gotta watch this one. Strong men are a problem. Neutered males are preferred.

Evangelical Christians who comment on current events or imagine a voice in the public square: existential threat. Parents who assert that they should determine the curriculum for their children. You gotta watch out for them. They will disrupt things. The teachers' unions, they should be the authority. They tell us a little less personal, but only if you don't understand: CO2. This one's tough, folks. Carbon dioxide, it has to be diminished. Never mind, you produce it. Cows are dangerous. Fossil fuels, especially when they're pumped from the American soil, are dangerous. It seems to be less so if it comes from Venezuela or the Middle East, but that North American crude, it's a problem. Coal is bad unless it's burned to provide electricity for our EV. Free speech is dangerous.

We have to be protected from misinformation and disinformation unless it comes from legacy media sources or social platforms. We need a government Department of Truth to tell us what information is safe. Otherwise, you might just break out and express your opinion and you would be very dangerous. Capitalism is an egregious economic system of oppression. We should choose more enlightened means of societal organization, plans with a proven track record: things like socialism and communism. Folks, that list, you may have smiled but that messaging washes over you and the people you care about hundreds of times a week. It's like we're in a stupor, and we keep getting back in line thinking, "Well, surely somebody somewhere will say something," while we watch liberty and freedom be restricted and the things that have caused our families and communities to be strong and safe and places that provided opportunities for many amongst us are being diminished.

And in the midst of that is the church, a church that to a great extent seems confused. I'm an advocate for the church. I'm an unrelenting advocate for the church. Jesus is the head of the church. The Holy Spirit is Lord in the midst of the church. I have not given up on the church. I'm telling you we have an assignment to fulfill. But it seems to me that we were a bit unprepared for where we find ourselves. We've had so much: so much liberty and freedom and opportunity that we were able to focus on secondary and tertiary issues and we didn't really have to get our house in order. Bear with me for a bit of an analogy, just a moment. Suppose you were given the assignment to build a house and you were given all the resources you need to accumulate the materials.

So you took your truck and you went to town and you got a great deal today on all the appliances for the kitchen, refrigerators and stoves and dishwashers and warmers and all the stuff you need, microwaves. So you load them in the truck and you bring them in, except the house isn't built yet. You just unload your truck and set all the boxes in the middle of the field. And tomorrow, you go to town, you got a great deal on concrete blocks. Well, you think you're probably gonna need some of those because you've seen foundations and they had concrete blocks. So you get some concrete blocks and you get all those unloaded. Tomorrow, you go to town and bathroom fixtures were on sale. You got toilets and sinks and all sorts of faucets, but there's no plumbing in the house.

So now you've got a field that's completely filled with kitchen appliances and concrete blocks and bathroom fixtures, but there's no footings and there's no foundation and there's no floor built and there's no roof up yet, but you got lots of stuff. Well, it seems to me that's a pretty accurate presentation of how we've been prepared. We desperately need a framework into which we can fit all the specific bits of knowledge that we have acquired. It's isolated. It's information without awareness of the larger whole and I would submit to you that's really dangerous. We've been told you need to be born again. And that's true, it's important, it's valuable. It's essential, it's necessary and probably it would be good if you followed it up with baptism.

And I agree that's important. We're putting the pools back up in a couple of weeks. But people need the truth of God's Word. We lack a solid foundation of biblical principles. We've attended conventions and conferences and churches and schools and colleges and we've got a lot of information, a lot of bytes of information, but we don't really know how to put the whole thing together. We kind of shrug our shoulders. "Well, it's kind of confusing. I mean, you know, it's a big book, 66 books. Goes all the way from Generations to Revolutions and then there's maps". So, kind of our default position was, "Well, we've got some group affiliations, and that's gonna provide some comfort for us". And I would submit a false sense of security, because we tend to go "Well, if there's so many of us that believe this way, we couldn't all be ill-informed".

So we're gonna have to redefine courage. We've imagined ourselves courageous if we explore beyond the boundaries of the publishing house of our chosen group. I mean, we were really taking a walk on the wild side. Or if we consider the words of scripture beyond the proof texts which predominate our familiar places. Like, if we put instrumentation in music, we're being bold for Jesus, or if we sang worship that was more contemporary or less contemporary. Or we read a new translation of the Bible. We just imagine we were taking a walk on the wild side.

I would submit to you we need more mature definitions of courage and faithfulness. And that it's not fruitful to be angry at the ungodly or the immoral or the political, whomevers, that you don't like. But the church is in a very important time. And I believe God is putting before us the opportunities to grow up and mature and assimilate some things that we kind of have in orbit, in our understanding, but we've never really put in place, or we've imagined that we could stand apart from scripture and we could read it as if we didn't really need to obey it. Not just point to moral and immoral, but, you know, we would look at expressions of what Jesus came to do and said that we could do as well. We go, "Well, you know, I'm not sure I believe that".

Folks, we're in a season, you better believe it. We're gonna have to get off the theoretical discussion of our faith and decide that we're gonna become practitioners. So in this session, let's see if we can dissipate some of the clouds of confusion. I don't believe it needs to be as confusing as we're told it is. I will not accept the intentional cultivation of confusion as being godly. What's being done to a younger generation of people is immoral and wicked, but it will require a church that is aware and awake and understands and has the courage to use our voice. So I wanna start in 1 Corinthians 6 and verse 9. There's a rhetorical question with which Paul begins. This is a message written to a church, a group of believers.

And I would point out at least in passing, it's a supernatural group. It's a miraculous group. They're in on all those gifts of the Spirit stuff, so if that's the part of the spectrum you inhabit, you're right at home with the Corinthians. They're also the most immoral of the New Testament churches. That's in no way a repudiation of the moving of the Holy Spirit. It's to tell you that God's desire to help his people is so great, he will move through broken vessels. Please don't ever confuse the supernatural with maturity. God's desire to help his people is so great, he will talk through donkeys. Gives me hope every week. It's not an excuse for sloppiness, but we have a very significant tendency if we see God honor someone that we, through some supernatural expression, that you think, "Oh, they must know God in a special way". Not necessarily, not necessarily.

1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 9: "Do you not know"? And whenever that question is posed, it's a very safe assumption that no, we do not know. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God"? Now, it's a statement of fact. It needs to be asserted in our generation. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. You cannot practice wickedness and imagine you will inherit the kingdom of God. I don't care if you read your Bible daily or how generous you are or what people say of you. If you are practicing ungodliness, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. Don't bring me your baptism certificate. It's not my opinion. "Do you not know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived".

Now, if he's writing this to the church, what's the assumption? It's a safe one. They have been deceived. They think they can practice wickedness and ungodliness and because they're still gathering and celebrating communion and the manifestations of the Spirit are present amongst them that they're all golden. And Paul is saying, "Don't you know? Do not be deceived". And then he gives us a little sampling. It's not an inclusive list, but he's gonna identify some expressions of wickedness. "Neither the sexually immoral". And I don't think it requires definition but, biblically, sexual activity belongs in the context of marriage: before, after, or extracurricular is sexually immoral. Not my opinion; it's a biblical definition.

Please don't imagine you have a biblical worldview and you can practice sexual immorality without consequence. "Well, we identify as..." Stop. What you identify as is ungodly. "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God". Will not. But verse 11 is the amazing part. And that is what some of you were. That's the list God recruits from. So before you look down your long self-righteous nose, you go, "Oh, there may be some of that on my storyboard". But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God, amen.

So here's the target. We've come from a broken pile, from an ungodly, immoral, greedy group of swindlers that went to church. But prayerfully, at some point, we came to the realization we were apart from God and we came in humility to acknowledge our sinful condition and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, and yielded to him as Lord. That's what ignites all those things in verse 11. You were washed. We were washed through the blood of Jesus. He took our punishment. We were sanctified. To be sanctified is to be made holy. You have to intend to be holy. If you don't care about being holy, you shouldn't think you're in the kingdom of God.

Now, we can't make ourselves holy, but we have to co-operate with the Spirit of God. He won't make you holy above your will. You were sanctified, you were made holy. Sanctified carries really kind of two components: made holy, set apart to God. They sanctified the priest before they could serve in the tabernacle or the temple. And we in the new covenant are a kingdom of priests. So you've been sanctified to serve the Lord. "Well, I don't wanna serve the Lord".

Okay, duly noted. But then why would you imagine you're a part of his kingdom? Again, we've had a lot of sloppiness in the church. You know, we really didn't like to go. We didn't really like the Christians that much. We look a whole lot more forward to being with our ungodly friends. They're more fun. Without really even understanding that it was an indicative of what was in our own hearts. You were justified. How did that happen? To be justified is to be acquitted, declared not guilty, made righteous in front of the Creator of heaven and earth. You were justified just like you'd never sinned. How did that happen? In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't wanna drag that name. You don't wanna put on your lanyard that says "I've been justified in Jesus's name" and then go present yourself in all forms of ungodliness and wickedness and immorality. It's unthinkable. It's unthinkable. "Don't you know"? And the answer has to be "Oh, unfortunately, maybe not".

The plain warnings of scripture. They're not a threat but neither do I imagine they should be treated lightly. I believe God has told us the consequences, the outcomes, of what is in front of us. The opportunity we have is to make adjustments to co-operate with God. Let's pray:

Father, thank you for your Word. It helps us understand the ending where we stand today. We humble ourselves. We choose to co-operate with you, to lay down anything that would separate us from your best, and to walk in humble obedience, in Jesus's name, amen.

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