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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Secure In An Insecure World - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Secure In An Insecure World - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Secure In An Insecure World - Part 1
TOPICS: Clarify Your Identity, Security

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're talking about how to be secure in an insecure world. You know, week after week, a big part of my job, as I understand it, is to seek the Lord and understand how to help God's people find our way in the midst of this rather chaotic world we're living in. And the things we watch week over week are absurd. The attempts to sexualize our young children. It's inexcusable. There's no justification for it and there's this very little voice crying against it. We have open borders. You know the litany of things. Well, in the midst of all of that, one of the most significant ideas I know to share with you is understanding who you are in Christ. It's more important than the church you attend or the Bible you read: who you belong to. Well, that, we're gonna explore together today. Enjoy the lesson.

And, you know, far too often if you talk to Christians, it seems like the kind of the prevailing attitude is that when Jesus returns we'll go, "Oh, it's good to see you". But the presentation of scripture is that he's stepping back into time because if he didn't, his people wouldn't survive. And it will be the most glorious triumphant reunion that you will ever know. It will. And so, I think understanding who we are in Christ, first and foremost in us, clarifying our identity. There is so much confusion these days around our identities. In fact, we're told, we're coached, we're given permission to be confused about it. You know, who you are in Christ is the most single important characteristic of your existence. Understanding what that means, what the implications are, what the benefits are, what the responsibilities are, is so, so important.

And I regret the fact that in church world for too long, we have coached you towards other things. And at the center of who you are is who you are in Jesus. In this session, I wanna talk to you specifically about being secure in an insecure world. Things are changing dramatically and rapidly, cataclysmically. And as desperately as some are trying to pretend as if that's not so, it is our reality. Now, I'm an optimist. I believe it will take us to some better opportunities for the kingdom. What it will mean for the routines of our lives is not clear to me. But I can tell you our futures are not secured by the routines of our lives. Our futures are secured by Almighty God and by our relationship with Jesus. And we will look at it in more detail, but I'm gonna submit to you repeatedly that you don't have to be afraid. You don't have to be discouraged. But neither do I want you to be asleep.

I think it's extraordinarily important that we be aware. The theater of the absurd that we have spoken about, I'm amazed at their ability to release new productions. It's exhausting to me. As someone who participates in the preparation of public services on a regular basis, we cannot keep up with the absurdity. It's simply bizarre. And you don't need me, really, to identify the propaganda that washes over us. The messaging that's intended to confuse or addle or misdirect is unrelenting. You can pick a topic. This week, they made a whole 'nother bold step towards electric vehicles and I'm not really opposed to them. I think they probably meet a niche in the market. But the idea that electric vehicles and our utilization of them en masse is going to resolve climate change is not only absurd, it's just patently bad science.

But the billions of dollars and the manipulation that are invested in pushing you in that way is just seemingly, it is shameless. The censorship is perhaps most disconcerting, particularly for the younger people among us: the limiting of free speech. You know, whether it's done through algorithms, through labels of misinformation or disinformation or malinformation, the words keep morphing a bit, it has become the norm. There's no question about it. It's not hidden. No one apologizes for it any longer. We used to imagine that the First Amendment was one of our most celebrated and protected rights. And in a very short order, we have seen that dismantled. It's all right, God's still on the throne. You don't have to be afraid, but we are afraid. We're afraid to use our voices. We're afraid to say anything.

And that's not only tragic, it's unfortunate, and we will have to find the courage to change it. I would submit to you that good citizens should not be afraid of the government and the power they exercise. That is fundamentally wrong. And we are. And we understand that; therefore, we're silent in many cases. We're afraid of the repercussions professionally, with the professional organizations that we're a part of, for our jobs, for the implications it will have for our children. And at the forefront of all of that is the church and our role in this: What should we do? What should we say? Well, I have said to you repeatedly and will continue to: I believe the church is the conscience of the culture.

Now, a brief review of history will tell you without great discernment that the church has not always been in the places we should have. We were late to the table with discussions about many things: civil rights, the rights of women, the rights of children. I mean, we led those discussions. It was the moral authority that came from scripture, but there was a great deal of suffering that came before God's people found their voices and the courage to use them. We have been strangely silent on the issue of abortion while 60 million children have been lost. And now we face a time when it's political calculus, that it's the pathway to power to promise people the right to kill their children. That is patently absurd. It's evil. It's not a political decision. And the church has an assignment. You know, just a brief glance at the current responses of the church would suggest to us, in some rather uncomfortable ways, that our consciences have been seared.

Now, I believe the pathway back from that, beyond repentance, is understanding who we are in Christ and the authority in which we stand. The primary allegiance of our lives is to Jesus of Nazareth. We believe he's the Messiah. That's why we call him the Christ, the Anointed One, the incarnate Son of God. We have yielded to him as Lord of our lives. That is positional. It means he has first place. He establishes the priorities. He is our identity, first and foremost. And then we serve him as King. But having established that, we're gonna have to learn to live in that authority. That has not really been necessary for us. We've had enough freedoms and liberties and opportunities and abundance that we could kind of have a murky understanding of that and still find a way forward for many of us.

And I don't believe that will be true in the season that's before us. I believe we'll have to know who we are in Christ and what he's done for us and what the implications are for us regarding that. And I don't just mean your eternity. You know, I believe that to be a Christ follower means you'll spend eternity with God in his kingdom. But the purpose of Jesus's redemptive work on the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection, was not simply to give you a ticket to heaven. That is a diminished gospel. It's to enable us to be light and salt in this world. That has never been easy and it will not be easy in the season ahead. The question is, will we have the courage and the determination to do that? So being secure in an insecure world starts by understanding the authority over your life and it doesn't begin with governments or political parties or documents or the United Nations or passports.

And I'm grateful for all of those things, but they're not the ultimate authority over our lives. We belong to Jesus. I've said that to you repeatedly. I brought you a few more verses than we've looked at. This is not some subtle theme of scripture. In 1 Corinthians 3, it says, "You belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God". You belong to Jesus. Now, that carries with it an implication. We have some responsibilities because we belong to him. We're not our own, the Bible says. It's not my time and my calendar and my money and my preferences. I belong to him. It's an appropriate question. What would you like for me to do? It's your time and your calendar. You've given me these days. How might I invest them on your behalf? It's equally true when there are threats and oppression and opposition, it's fair warning to anyone who would oppose you: I belong to the Creator of heaven and Earth. Proceed with caution. It's the story of scripture.

1 Corinthians 15: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him". Again, you'll find this theme woven throughout scripture, Old and New Testament. We belong to God. Jesus is coming back to the Earth, not on a search and rescue mission for all humanity. He came that way one time, that whoever would believe in him could be saved. When he returns to the Earth, he's coming back for those who belong to him. You wanna have absolute clarity on that in your life and not based upon the recitation of a prayer or the trip to an altar or even visiting the baptismal pool, but because you have yielded your life to the Lordship of Jesus. You don't earn your way to heaven. Nonsense, it's impossible. The only way to do that is to keep the rules perfectly and none of us can do.

We can't keep the rules, driving to church, perfectly. But having received the free gift of salvation, the value we attach to that gift is how we choose to lead our lives. Jesus is returning for those who belong to him. That's a very important idea to tuck into your heart. 2 Corinthians chapter 10, there's bickering in the church in Corinth. Can you imagine that, a church where there was actually bickering? I know it's hard for you to believe, but it must have been a first century issue. Said, "You're looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he". Again, it's the grounding idea that Paul is handing the church in Corinth to help diminish their quarreling. He said, "You belong to Jesus".

It'll change everything if we can get that settled into our heart. No matter where we work, we walk into those places of employment as someone who belongs to Jesus. No matter where we go to school, we belong to Jesus. No matter which community we live in, no matter where we go with our discretionary time, we belong to Jesus. The Bible says we're Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. So we've got this very destructive idea that has taken deep root amongst us. And it's that, you know, you attend church on the weekend at the service of your choice, but then you live your life and you kind of get your God business done and you get it all bundled up and neatly aligned and maybe even you learn a little theology around it, but your life is yours to live. That is not a biblical notion. We belong to him.

Now, that doesn't seem to matter when things are stable and going in the direction you like. But if the stability were to unravel and the pressures are to mount, you will want to know to whom you belong. I have been with too many persons and too many families in the midst of too many crises to tell you anything else. If you get a diagnosis that you never wanted to receive, the argument is not about which translation to read. If you get information that is overwhelming, you don't wanna argue about which style of music you prefer. And we've had the luxury of introducing some ideas, while they're not unimportant, they're not of primary significance. Galatians chapter 3 and verse 29 says: "If you belong to Christ, then your Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". That's a marvelous verse of scripture. If you belong to Christ, it's your choice. You are welcome in his kingdom. If you choose to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of your life, you can belong to Christ. It's different than sitting in church or being kind or polite or tame or cleaned up. If you truly belong to Christ.

I have invited you to some things over these past 2 or 3 years. I've asked you to be more aware of the circumstances in the world, to watch, to listen, to think, and to act. I have encouraged you to read your Bible with a determination beyond any commitments you've ever had before, because I don't believe that you can maintain your spiritual stability without a regular engagement with the Word of God. I wanna add something, because I believe the season has changed again. I wanna ask you to begin to memorize the scripture, to put it in your heart. I'll bring you a memory verse from time to time, not every service, but I will bring you a memory verse from... you can choose your own if you prefer. But there is strength, I have found, in some of the things that we do collectively.

There are many ways you can read your Bible. I'm not suggesting that our pattern of doing that is better than anyone else's. I'm simply telling you that there's a strength, sometimes, if we're reading the same things in the same rhythm. It gives you a conversation point when you're together with your groups or your family or with your children. Well, memorizing the Word of God, putting it in your heart so that it's available to you, to your soul, to your emotions and to your mind, 24/7 without having access to digital technology to give it to you or to a printed book. Put the Word of God in your heart. And I wanna offer you this verse as a beginning point for that: Galatians 3:29. It's not in terribly long. You're not too old to memorize things. You're not too young, you're not too busy. It has little to do with your reading ability. It has very little to do with your weight or the accent with which you speak or your preferred fashion choices. It has everything to do with your desire to put the Word of God within you. It is worth the discipline.

Galatians 3:29: "If you belong to Christ, then your Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". I turned it into a proclamation. It's a little statement you can make over your life. When you get the verse tucked in your heart, take this proclamation with you. "I belong to Christ. I'm Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise". I belong to Christ, I am Abraham's seed and I'm an heir according to that covenant that God made with Abraham. If you don't know what that means, on your time, go read Deuteronomy 28, the first 12 verses. It's remarkable. How many of you would be willing to consider memorizing some scripture? That's a good start. Don't warn the people who are coming on Sunday. Let me catch them off guard, okay?

In all candor, I think we have to be prepared to walk through God's judgment. I don't believe we can continue to live as we're living and imagine that God will smile at us. I don't mean that as a threat. It appears to me that we're more afraid of the consequences of embracing the truth than we are the consequences of ignoring God's truth. We understand intuitively there are some consequences if we step into the culture and tell the truth about a biblical worldview and we're more afraid of those consequences than we are God. If we hide from our assignment, we'll not be able to hide from God's response. So I believe we have to be prepared. Again, it's not a threat. It's a very prudent move. It's a part of preparation. Jesus prepared his friends for the judgment of Jerusalem. Jesus himself, on the ground with his closest friends, said, "The Romans are coming and you need to be prepared".

We need to understand where our security is. And if we imagine it's coming to our future, and to our children's future from any place other than the person of Jesus Christ, I think we're incredibly vulnerable. Jesus prepared his friends for the hatred and antagonism which awaited them as they went forward as advocates for him. He told them, he said, "You will be hated by all people because of me". Before he left, he said, "You need a sword". Everybody's not going to give you a group hug. I'm not encouraging violence, folks. I can get in enough trouble without you misconstruing my words. But I think it's improbable that the kind of stability that we have known defines our future. And we've got to be prepared, spiritually and emotionally. Jesus's best friends, they were not delivered out of hatred and persecution.

Read the book of Acts. We've just completed it together. They faced challenges from the beginning to the conclusion. They were delivered through them. God will deliver us. He will take us through whatever, we don't have to be afraid. We don't have to be frightened. We don't have to be anxious. We can recognize that God is moving. At the end of the day, the name of Jesus will be lifted up. He's preparing a people for himself. We wanna be a part of that. We should not imagine that our future will be like our past.

Look in 1 Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know..." And whenever the Bible says that, our answer is, "No, probably not". "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who's in you, whom you've received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. So honor God with your body". It's not complicated stuff. Honor God with your body. Think of the messaging that cascades over us about how we look, how we appear, how we present ourselves, how we identify. The biblical direction is really clear. You're not your own. You've got an Earth suit, but it's been bought and paid for. Honor God with it. Honor God with where you take it. Honor God with how you decorate it. Honor God with your body. You're not your own, you were bought at a price.

Look at Romans 14: "None of us lives to himself alone. None of us dies to himself alone". That's a challenge to the doctrine of personal salvation. Again, I believe in that, but we have a collective responsibility, a responsibility to be a part of the body of Christ, to love one another, to care for one another, to honor one another, to stand with one another. What unifies us is we stand under the Lordship of Jesus, not our nationality, not our hair color, not all of the things that, we stand unified in him. And there are powerful voices, powerful forces, seeking to bring great division and animosity and hatred amongst the people of God. It is not the Holy Spirit.

"None of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord". We belong to him. "So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord". We belong to the Lord. Our security is anchored to the foundation of the one who saved us. We build our lives upon this security when we practice the truth that we know. Remember the parable Jesus told, it's not in your notes, sorry. But it is in the book. You can check me later. Jesus told this parable about men who build houses, two men, and they built two homes. They chose different locations. One chose beachside property. The view was amazing but the foundation was on sand, and when the storms came, the house couldn't withstand the storms. Remember that?

He said the other person built it in Middle Tennessee. In all fairness, what it really says is he built it on rock. Sounds like Middle Tennessee to me. We've been building some roads around here. I'm telling you, we're long on rock. But what Jesus said by explanation was the rock was the person who heard the Word of God and put it into practice. And the same storm that assaulted the beachfront property, assaulted the home that was built on the rock, it's identical in description. But where the beachfront property collapsed, the house that was built on the rock withstood the storms.

"The one who hears my Word," Jesus said, "and does it is like a person who builds his house on the rock". We've had lots of studies and lots of discussions and lots of sermons and I'm not opposed to any of those things, but your application of the truth you know is what will secure you in what is before us. It's not theoretical any longer. It is our reality. I wanna encourage you. If you don't hear anything else, we don't have to be afraid and we don't have to be discouraged. We do not. You can live in frightening times and discouraging circumstances and be unafraid and not discouraged.
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