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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - I Belong to Jesus - Part 1

Allen Jackson - I Belong to Jesus - Part 1

Allen Jackson - I Belong to Jesus - Part 1
TOPICS: Clarify Your Identity

It's a privilege to be with you today. Our topic is "Clarify Your Identity". Specifically in this session, we're gonna explore this idea of "I Belong to Jesus". You know, there is so much discussion these days about how we choose to identify. Some of it, I believe, is legitimate, some of it is legitimate confusion. To be candid, I think a bunch of it is nonsense. And there's fuel poured on it by the media and a whole host of people with agendas who don't have our best interest in mind. Well, the church, I believe, has ultimately the solution. The best way to lead your life under the sun is to understand who you are in Christ Jesus. That is my primary identity. Everything else is secondary to that. And I think because we have strayed, we've been confused, we've brought confusion to the world. So while there is a problem, we can see through the windows, we have a solution. His name is Jesus. Spoiler alert: We belong to him. Enjoy the lesson.

We began in a previous session a study on how we can clarify our identity. There's a lot of conversation these days about how we identify, and we treat it as if it's something that's very fluid, as if our choices are what really dictate: dictate the biology of our lives or dictate the outcome. And I'm grateful that we have a choice, but there's a bit of arrogance in that. There is a God and it's not us. But for the church to understand our identity and who we are and the assignment given to us, changes everything. In this session, I wanna talk to you about the simple fact that I believe I belong to Jesus. And if you're a Christ follower, so do you. I'll start with Ephesians 5. I didn't put it in your notes, just to annoy you, but you can check me later.

It's Ephesians 5 and verse 15. It says, "Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil". I think it's important to know: Well, this is not the first generation that looks through the windows of our homes or our churches and recognizes evil in the world. Evil is not new. Evil goes all the way back to the Garden. It took the inheritance God intended for humanity and crushed it in the opening chapters of the Bible and evil is still doing that. The opposition of evil to the purposes of God is introduced to us in the opening chapters of our Bible and it isn't addressed fully until the concluding chapters, which means every generation has a decision to make about what we will do. Will we ignore it? Will we deny it? Will we co-operate with it? Will we become part of it? What will our response to evil be?

We're given very clear instructions: not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Now, we're living in a very unique season. There's a push towards globalization. There's a push towards the deconstruction of any sense of nation states and the individuality that would come with that. We're told that things like nationalism are evil. I mean, I'm amazed they're trying to deconstruct our history. It's wonderful to have the refreshing reminder of someone like Tim Barton and WallBuilders that we have a history that should be revered and not denigrated. But in this age, propaganda is the order of the moment, and propaganda is not just the widespread of information. It's not just the ability to communicate. Understand the difference. Words have meanings. Propaganda is the push, the communication, of a very particular perspective intended to manipulate. It isn't necessarily connected to the truth. It is driven towards an outcome. You know, and if we use a bit more jaded word, it would be advertising.

Now, I know we used to believe in truth in advertising, but now after the attorneys are done, you need a legal degree and you have to parse every word, because we understand they're not telling us the truth, they're trying to manipulate us towards a predetermined objective and, tragically, that's happening from the most powerful platforms in our nation. It isn't just politics, it's happening on the most powerful communications platforms. They openly admit it. They acknowledge it, without question, without embarrassment, without shame, that they participate in tamping down what they label "misinformation" and they are the gods of which information is true or not. And we accept it.

I brought you some examples. There are so many messages which are repeated often, loudly, and with great enthusiasm, and if you pause for just a heartbeat, you know they are patently false. But we find ourselves manipulated by them. We think we're powerless. We're not powerless. Choose the truth. The truth doesn't require a majority. The truth has an authority all in and of itself. I'll give you one this week that led the headlines all week long: Our border is secure. We've heard it repeatedly from the most powerful people in our nation, different offices, different platforms, different realms of authority, without any shame or embarrassment. They don't even wink. They look directly into a lens and go, "Our borders are secure". And all of these platforms, that are supposedly purveyors of the truth and guardians of misinformation, say nothing. They don't communicate the truth. They're part of the grand deception. They're part of the propaganda. Never mind that millions of people have come across our border illegally. Illegally being the operative word.

Now they're manipulating language. We wanna call them newcomers. No, they're illegal. That means they're thieves. Let's go to another topic. Propaganda is rife around us. We're told frequently there's tremendous confusion around human sexuality. Not really. Male and female, we're told, is confusing. Hm. Marriage, we're told, should be defined by those who are participating. No outside voices. Certainly no higher authorities. Immorality and its understanding is an entirely personal choice. Abortion, the taking the life of an unborn child, we are told frequently, loudly, is a right. Performing life-altering mutilation on children, we are told frequently is appropriate health care. Oh, and by the way, it's highly profitable, but that's not our motive.

Then there's a whole another bucket. I'm fascinated by the things they label as existential threats. That seems to be a favorite thing. We have many existential threats to our freedom and our way of life: toxic masculinity. Strong men are a problem, neutered males are preferred. There's many existential threats. Evangelical Christians who comment on current events or imagine a voice in the public square, be very careful. Parents who assert they should determine the curriculum for their children, a very troublesome lot. CO2, carbon dioxide, is an existential threat. Oh, this is science. Never mind you and I are major emitters. Cows are dangerous. I read it this week. Who knew they were lurking in the pastures? Fossil fuels, especially when pumped from American soil, are very dangerous.

Now, they were much less so if it comes from Venezuela or the Middle East. Coal is bad unless it's burned to provide electricity for our EV. Free speech, dangerous stuff. We must be protected from misinformation and disinformation unless, of course, it comes from legacy media sources or social platforms. Capitalism, phew, it's an egregious economic system of oppression. We should choose more enlightened means of social societal organization, plans with proven track records like socialism and communism. And in the face of all of that propaganda, to an overwhelming stunning extent, the church is silent. We understand the threat, we're standing up against it. I know we understand it because people whisper to me frequently, "I pray for you. I pray for your safety".

You wouldn't be concerned about my safety if you didn't feel like telling the truth was a threat to yours. And yet we tolerate it. I would submit to you that people need the truth of God's Word, that although we've gone to church and we've been religious and we have a religious heritage, that we lack a solid foundation of biblical principles. Not in theory; in practice. We attend conventions and conferences and churches and schools and colleges. We have a lot of bytes of information about our faith, but we really don't know how to assemble them. And we have mistakenly, rather lazily, honestly, imagined that our group affiliations provide some comfort, and I think a false sense of security. After all, if there are so many of us, we can't all be ill-informed.

Well, it's redefined courage and I don't believe in a healthy way because we've kind of gotten rolled into groupthink. The tendency is to imagine we're being courageous if we explore beyond the bounds of our chosen group. For instance, we read a book from somebody else's publishing house, or we engage in worship and they use instruments, or we take Communion in a way that wasn't as familiar to us. And we think we've become bold, cutting-edge followers of Jesus. I would submit to you, we need more mature definitions of courage and faithfulness. So that's the point of this little study is to see if we can get some clarity on our identity and the significance of it and what its implications are for how we lead our lives. And I'll start with your notes. In Romans chapter 1:6, it says "You also were among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ".

Now, Jesus Christ, Christ is not the family name and I don't mean that to be funny. It's a title. Christ is the English of the Greek "Christos," which is the equivalent of the Hebrew "Mashiah". It means Messiah. And it says simply that you and I belong to Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Savior, what we learn from scripture: the incarnate Son of God. We belong to him. Please understand that the primary identification of our lives, if you choose to be a Christ follower, is that we belong to Jesus. You didn't choose him, he chose you. You and I didn't have the credentials to become a part of his kingdom. And we were incapable of gathering the credentials. We couldn't earn them, we couldn't purchase them. We certainly didn't deserve them.

So he made the sacrifice. That's what the redemptive work of Jesus is all about, that whole Easter narrative. It begins with the Incarnation in the stable in Bethlehem. He required a supernatural birth or he would have been stained with all the same disqualifications that the rest of us were. But the incarnate Son of God, living a sinless perfect life, was qualified to pay the price that you and I might belong to his kingdom. We are his. It's not some subtle theme of scripture. In Galatians 5 and verse 24: "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires".

Now, there's something Jesus has done for us. He gave himself as a sacrifice that we might have the right of participating in his kingdom. And if you will accept that, if you will yield to his Lordship, our assignment is identified there. We have to crucify, you and I have to make this decision, to put to death our tendencies towards ungodly things because we all have them. Me too. I'm glad you were seated. I know that's a shock. Not so much. 1 Corinthians 6 says, "Do you not know"? And when you read that, what's the answer? No, we probably didn't. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body".

Folks, we belong to Jesus. Now it's a voluntary association. We have submitted ourselves to him. We have asked him to be Lord of our lives. But in order to garner the privileges of that relationship, to benefit from them, to fully experience them, we have to choose to yield, we have to choose to live that yielded life. It's not your time. It ain't your money; it's his. I belong to him. And when I yield to him, I have not done something extraordinary. I've just provided my reasonable service. We've lost this. We debate it, we read our Bibles, and we talk about it as if we're God on High and we decide which portions of the presentation we will accept. We treat it like a smorgasbord.

"Well, you know, I just don't know if I believe that," as if that changes anything. We have become idolaters. Those of us that fill churches. We've set aside the authority of scripture. We've set aside the Lordship of Jesus. We've redefined "moral" and "immoral". We behave in immoral ways. We go, "Well, you know, God's a God of grace". He's also a God of justice. He will light you up. Have you read the Bible? I belong to Jesus and his kingdom.

Now, there's a responsibility that comes with that, but the benefits way outweigh any of the responsibilities. It's not a huge sacrifice to say, "I belong to Jesus"; it's a privilege. You think it's better to say, "I belong to Allen"? He's a clown on his best days. "I belong to Jesus". But you can't claim the privileges and the rights and the opportunities unless you yield. And you can't yield sometimes. Now we all make mistakes, we stumble, and we'll do our best to bring alignment. That's what we talk about, repentance and renouncing and all of those things. But you can't practice ungodliness and live with the imagination that you belong to the Lord. It's a lie. It's deception. Don't bring me your baptism certificate. Bring me your calendar from the week. I'm not suggesting you earn your way. I'm suggesting that spiritual health and vitality has a great deal more to do with the last 72 hours than something you did years ago. We belong to Jesus. We belong to him.

Now, there's some real power in that. We'll learn some prayers that say, "Satan, take your hands off God's property. I don't belong to you. You don't have authority in my life. You have no claims against me. You have no argument. You have to go". But you can't willingly walk out under the authority of the kingdom of God and live in the kingdom of darkness and then make those statements. The devil will laugh at you. He's a legal expert. And you certainly aren't gonna show him your laminated participation card from some church and think he's gonna run because of that. We belong to Jesus. You need to meditate on that.

How you do business belongs to him. You're an ambassador for him, you conduct business in his name. Do you do it with integrity or do you think he was really impressed that because you kind of cheated a little bit on the edge, you made a bigger profit? Or that you hid your belief in him, you didn't say anything in the face of ungodliness or immorality, so you could close the loop on an opportunity? Do you think that's really impressive to him? We belong to him. "Well, I just got caught up in my emotions". Do you think he's really gonna follow you on that line of reasoning? He knows you.

See, our objective is with the help of God's Word is to see as clearly as possible ourselves, so we can continue to bring greater alignment to our lives between who Jesus, the sacrifice Jesus made for us to be included in his family. We don't want great deviations. We want the alignment to be as close as possible. Good enough is not good enough. The standard is holiness.

Look in James chapter 1 and verse 22. It says, "Don't merely listen to the Word and deceive yourselves. Do what it says". James is the in-your-face book of the Bible. If you're having kind of a down day, maybe don't read James, because James will call you out. He said, "Don't just listen to talk about God. Do what you know". "Anyone who listens to the Word but doesn't do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like".

We all have that disease. We check mirrors repeatedly, hopefully. "But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he's heard, but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does". God's Word is the only place where you can find true insight into your inner nature. We're not defined primarily by our sense of fashion or color or style. I'm not opposed to those things, but the most descriptive part of your person is who you are on the inside and we need God's Word to get that clarity because we will write ourselves an excuse for almost anything. Come on, we can justify almost anything.

"Yes, I wanna lose weight but those Oreos would feel rejected if I didn't, you know? And I don't want the people at Nabisco... There are hard-working people at Nabisco. People are trying to put clothes on their children and pay for education and that one extra package of double-stuffed Oreos would put somebody over their monthly bonus. So I'm being a good citizen and it's an expression of compassion. I think I'll take two packages. And if I eat them, I'm gonna need another treadmill because the one I have isn't built for heavy-duty people. So I'm starting my own little economic engine. I think I'll have a third package. And if I chase it with a half a gallon of ice cream, think of all the people at the dairy I could help".

We can provide cover for any expression of destructive behavior we can imagine. We've got to decide to yield to the authority of the Word of God. It will help us understand ourselves. And unless you have a remarkable group of people around you, you'll find people who will join you in your deception and your lies and your wickedness. Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 12 says, "The Word of God is living and active. It's sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account".

God's Word, the scripture, exceeds any imaging equipment that's available to human beings. One of the big changes in health care systems in the last few decades is the quality of the imaging equipment that's available to us. We can see things that not very long ago were completely blind to us. It's amazing what we can do. But none of them even remotely compare to the Word of God. It can help us determine the differences between the thoughts and the attitudes of our hearts. It can discern between our soul and our spirit.

Your soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions, how you feel, what you think. Your spirit is the part of you that's created in God's image. It's not always easy to determine whether it's something I want or something God wants. You need God's Word to help you with those determinations. The spirit and the soul are very distinct and you better understand the distinctions. The propaganda washing over you day after day, moment after moment, event after event is targeting your soul. Wants to affect how you feel and how you think. Hebrews is suggesting there's no other resource for this discernment. You can't get it any other way.

People say to me, "Well, do I have to read my Bible again? I read it last year". Yes. But no, you don't have to; you get to. You have access to it. It's available to you. Why would you not? Are you so confident you can discern everything that's presented to you that you know God's will in every moment of every day and every interaction that you no longer need to be encumbered by anything so pedantic as reading the Bible? Please, we all leak. If we don't care enough about the Lord to spend time on a daily basis, sitting before his Word, saying, "Help me to understand the world I'm in and the choices that are before me and the the options. How do I protect my children? What do I say to them? What counsel should I give them"? We're 40... what are we, $34 trillion in debt? God, what should we do to secure our future? Yes, there is a crash in our future. That doesn't make us prophets. It means you can read the balance sheet.

Your consistent time in the Word of God is so important. It isn't that every day you hear the voice of God in your head or your heart, but your willingness to present before the Lord, give the time to his Word, presents a canvas through which the Holy Spirit will work in your life. Let's pray:

Father, give us understanding hearts, ears to hear what you're saying to us. And may we have the self-discipline to spend with you every day, in Jesus's name, amen.

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