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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Authority In The Heavens - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Authority In The Heavens - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Authority In The Heavens - Part 2
TOPICS: Clarify Your Identity, Authority

It's such a privilege to be with you today. We're exploring our identity in Christ, specifically talking about the authority in the heavens that impact us. I hope you know that God has big plans for your life. That doesn't necessarily mean stadiums filled with people or grandiose things, but that the King of kings, the Creator of all things has imagined you as having great value, and he has a purpose for you. You're not alone, you're not forgotten, and you're certainly not insignificant. Enjoy the lesson.

We go all the way back to the book of Genesis when God recruits Abram. And he says, "Abram," it's Genesis 12 that the whole story of scripture changes. The tone of the narrative changes in Genesis 12. "Abram, if you leave your home and follow me, go to the land that I will show you, I'll make you into a mighty nation. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you". Wow! I brought you just a couple of the follow up passages. Genesis 18, "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him". Can you imagine? God said every nation on the earth will be blessed through Abraham. In the New Testament. Some of you prefer it, Galatians 3 says, "God redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles".

Gentile is the New Testament word for you're not Jewish. If you're not Jewish, you're Gentile. If you don't believe that, ask someone who's Jewish, they understand it. They will explain it to you. "The blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit". God pronounced a blessing upon Abraham that extends into eternity. He made a covenant with him. And the New Testament teaches us that by faith in Jesus, you and I become beneficiaries of that covenant. We're not separate from it. We're not apart from it. Although we don't have access to it by physical descent, by faith in Jesus we have been grafted in and that covenant informs our lives and our future.

Galatians 3, verse 8, "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham". That's a staggering statement. That way back in the beginning chapters of the book of Genesis, God gave to Abraham a vision of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Abraham had a vision of the good news about Jesus millennia before he was born. What are you meditating on? What are you dreaming about? What are you longing for? What are the aspirations of your life? What are the connections to the kingdom of God, and the purposes of God? Or have you been co-opted to a degree of our current culture that it's almost blinded us? The Bible talks about being blinded by the god of this age.

Look at John chapter 8, this is Jesus speaking. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, he said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and he was glad". They're offended. They said, "You're not 50 years old. How can you tell us you knew Abraham"? You said Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. He saw me. Abraham understood me. That's a stunning statement. We act as if God is such a mystery that he's unknowable, but I'm gonna go to heaven.

How much time do we spend with our Bibles open? Putting the Word of God in our hearts, saying, God, I'm interested. What are you doing in the earth? Not just presenting our shopping list and our wish list for where God would demonstrate his power to bring freedom or the things that we need, but actually leaning forward in our hearts, with our thoughts, and whatever God entrusts us. God, let your purposes come forth in this generation. We've almost lost this church. We've been so co-opted by this idea that I wanna go to heaven. We share our faith and that's the only objective it seems so often. I wanna be prepared for that transition between time and eternity. But I wanna spend my days under the sun serving a Most High God, don't you?

We all have assignments. We've got routines, and responsibilities, and things that have to be done, and things that we would like to do. I'm not trying to diminish that. But whether you're a butcher, or a baker, or a candlestick maker, you approach those things as an ambassador for the King. That's why we go to those places. He will prosper you. He'll bring good things to you. We've lost this for far too long. We've gotta bring it back. If they say you can't pray in schools, we say, well, you may not, we may not officially, you watch us pray in school all day, every day. They can't take prayer out of our schools until we take prayer out of our hearts and out of our lives. It's who we are. We're a people who pray. They don't like The Ten Commandments posted, post them in your heart. They leak out of you all the time.

You know it's true. If you're a UT fan, it leaks out of you all the time. We have to clean up behind you. If you're an Alabama fan, we're all happy. Satan quit, so we got a chance to win again. I'm kidding. Do not send me an email. What you care about, you talk about. And the reason those things have been removed is we didn't attach value to them 'cause we thought we were going to heaven. We didn't have to pay any attention to that because we were going on spring break or planning our summer trip or whatever else we were gonna do next. And we were far more excited about that than anything else. Our kids are clever. They soak that up. They recognize that, they understand that. It doesn't take very long, two or three generations, and your faith is so diminished. And some knucklehead says, "I don't believe in God," and they go, "Well, okay, whatever".

We have to change. We have to change. We have the privilege of changing. The biblical word for that is repentance. I don't believe that the cause of the problems we face as a culture right now are truly the responsibility because of the depravity of the wicked. I believe it's the indifference, the ambivalence, of the faithful. We need a transformation. To be completely candid with you, I think we have to prepare ourselves to walk through some of God's judgments. We understand there's a consequence if we stand up and say, "I don't agree with that," or "I don't think you should do that," or "I don't believe that behavior is right". There's professional consequences, there's consequences to our families, there could be consequences for our children. We understand that, so we've been silent, not just this week or this month, for quite a season now.

Well, I would submit to you that if we hide from our assignment, we'll not be able to hide from God's response. And we have to choose. So, what I'm suggesting to you is we need to begin to prepare. Not a threat. I think it's a prudent move. I believe it's biblical. Jesus prepared his closest friends for the judgment of Jerusalem. Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry into the city. In the midst of the celebration and the children shouting Hosanna and the critics saying you should silence the kids, Jesus wept over the city. And he said, "If you had only known". It's not in your notes, but it really is in the Bible. It's in the gospel of Luke. You can check. Said, "If you'd only known, would have brought you peace, but you didn't recognize the time of God's coming. So now your enemies will build an embankment against you".

And if you visit Jerusalem today, you can stand on the Mount of Olives and see the remainder of the embankment that the Roman legions built. "They'll tear this city apart," he said. "They'll dash your children's heads against the stones of this city". Jesus warning his friends about the judgment of God coming to that city. And that's not some unique chapter of scripture. That's not just linked to Jesus and the Messiah and their attitude towards him. Jesus prepared his closest friends for the antagonism which awaited them as they went forward as advocates on his behalf. That's the book of Acts. We just completed reading it together. There's hardly a chapter in the book of Acts where there's not some pushback, some resistance, a prison cell, or a riot, or an accusation.

Are we willing to be that kind of Christ followers? We seem to have been champions of the covert. We wanted to make the ungodly feel so comfortable that the godly have forgot what holiness is. We've been so concerned, so focused on building bridges to those who don't know God, that those who have gathered to learn about him have really almost lost their balance on what things like purity and integrity and righteousness would even be. I'm a part of the church. I'm not throwing stones. I've spent my adult life in the church. Jesus's closest friends were most often delivered out of hatred and persecution, they weren't delivered out of them, I'm sorry, they were delivered through them. They weren't spared those challenges and yet they continued to be advocates.

Do we have the courage and the determination and the willingness to stand for what we know to be right if it is derived from a biblical world view? Or will we cower before the threat of something? Being on a God assignment doesn't remove you from the reach of evil. I would submit to you that we should not imagine that our future will be like our past. Change has come to our world, and it's accelerating in both its scope and its frequency, the magnitude. We see expressions of evil growing around us. I believe we'll see equal expressions of moving of the Spirit of God. But to participate, you'll have to be willing to be identified with it. I believe if you try to stay neutral and hide in the shadows because you're concerned about the pushback, you'll miss the opportunity of participating with the King.

I wanna take the minutes we have left. We have a few, not many, and pick up a thing we began in a previous session. It has to do with the authority that we have in belonging to Christ. There's some things that come with that you belong to Christ. There's certainly a responsibility that comes with it. It's no longer just my time or my decision or what I want. I serve the King. So I begin my days with, what would you like? What would that look like in the midst of this set of circumstances? But there are privileges that come with that. I belong to the King. Sometimes I watch people mistreat God's people and I think I wouldn't do that if I were you. The boss will pay attention, and you'll regret it. We are children of the King, folks. Our names are known in the halls of heaven.

The Bible says that God attends a funeral for the sparrows. I promise you. Jesus told us you're far more of our valuable than the birds or the flowers, and they are beautiful in their way they're presented. You know, I smile a little bit. We've had very limited imaginations of God. Some of us grew up in settings, and we were very uncomfortable if more than one person prayed at a time, because we thought, well, if more than one person prayed, it's just disrespectful. God will get confused. Right? I don't like that. Three or four people all praying at the same time. Well, I just, I have a question. I don't even think there's more than one person posing a Google search at any given time in the world. There might even be like 100 people googling something at any given moment. Right?

Let's just be crazy. There could be 200 people googling something at any given moment, and you know what? The servers seem to be able to manage it, and we made them. I think God could handle it if all of us just launched a prayer at the same time, don't you? We've had this crazy, tiny, microscopic imagination of God. We'll give all sorts of credibility to technology or science or a group or something, and we try to diminish God. It's disrespectful. We should begin to tell him, God, I'm really sorry. I was uncomfortable with it, and to do that, I devalued you, and I apologize. Thank you that you know about me, that you care about me. In the book of Ephesians, there's a handful of statements made about us and the heavenly realms. And I think it's worth taking note of.

The Bible talks about heaven in the plural, that Paul made the statement that he knew a man who was caught up into the third heaven. In the opening verses of the Bible, it says in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word is plural. It has a Hebrew plural ending on it like the English S. So this idea of multiple heavens is presented from the beginning of scripture through the book of Revelation. We're not given all the information we might like, but we're given enough, I think, to be able to engage and understand. It's a theme in the book of Ephesians. The first heaven it seems is it would be just the heavens above the earth. The heavens that we can see, with the stars, and the planets, and the sky. Then there's the heaven of God's dwelling.

We see that in the book of Revelation, multiple scenes of the throne room of God, things happening in heaven that impact what happens on earth. And there's this mid-heaven. The Bible talks about Jesus being the prince of the power of the air. And the suggestion seems to be that, that mid-heaven is kind of the center of Satan's authority. No, I don't think it's like a layer cake. I don't think they're, like, stacked, that God's heaven, God's throne is just way high up in the air, outside of our galaxy. I think of it dimensionally. So there's more than one heaven. And in the book of Ephesians, it's a little lost in English. The translation didn't help it, but I at least want to point out a couple of them, these statements about the heavenly realms, because they have a great deal to do with your authority and mine, with who we are as Christ followers.

We tend to think that our authority comes from the congregation we belong to or the denomination we join or the size of our organization or the budget that's available to us. And in reality, the authority that's invested us is derived because of our relationship with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. In Ephesians chapter 1, you have it in your notes. Verse 3, it says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He's blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ".

So what do I care about heavenly blessings? Well, I would remind you that in scripture, it was the spiritual realm that gave rise to the physical world in which we live. That the most important security you can have is security that is rooted for you in heaven. So spiritual blessings in heaven do matter. And then in Ephesians chapter 1 and 2, it talks a bit about the authority that's been given to us through Jesus. In verse 19, it says, "His incomparably great power for us to believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms". Jesus wasn't just raised from a tomb outside the city walls of Jerusalem. He was seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. Far above every principality and power, every expression of opposition to him. He was given the ascendant place. Our Lord is the Lord of all.

That's a very important note when you're gonna yield to him as Lord and choose him as Lord of your life. You do that because there is no one greater to whom you could submit yourself. But in chapter 2, it gets very personal. Verse 6, it says, "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus". He seated us with Christ. So we've been given access to an authority that's above every other authority. Now, why does this matter? Because we still live in a world where we're buffeted by spiritual conflict. We'll look at that in just a moment. We still face challenges, difficulties, opposition, ungodliness, and this isn't theoretical.

It's not abstract, it's very personal. We face things like fear and resentment and anger and jealousy and lust, all sorts of things, habits, and we need to understand if we understand that we are seated with Christ, far above all principalities and powers, we have an authority to say, fear, in Jesus's name, you're not welcome here. You'll not dominate my emotions. You'll not dictate my future. I have a hope beyond you. There's an authority at work on my behalf greater than anything you represent. I'm not doubting that you're legitimate. I'm saying you can't stay here. Go, in Jesus's name. Go to Ephesians 3. Now, Paul is gonna remind the church in Ephesus that they have opposition. "God, who created all things". It's an interesting statement. God created all things, and I'll get off track, another time.

"His intent was that now through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms". God made them too. "That his authority should be made known to them, according to his eternal purpose for which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence".

Folks, in case you don't understand, you can't approach God on your own. God is righteous and just and holy and pure, and we're not. He's a totally different kind of a being than we are. And I know we've been fully indoctrinated on an egalitarian place where every person is equal, and no one can diminish you, or look down on you, and all sorts of permutations of that. But the reality is God's not like us. In the Hebrew Bible, you couldn't approach God without a priest as an intermediary. You couldn't just fire up your barbecue in the backyard and offer a sacrifice. You had to take it to the priest. I don't like that. Duly noted, it's still the rule. In the New Testament, we have a high priest. His name is Jesus. And because of your relationship with Jesus, because you belong to him, you can approach the Creator of heaven and earth with confidence.

It's unimaginable. But it acknowledges the conflict that there are rulers and authorities in these heavenly realms. That there are arenas where there are spiritual forces other than the power of God at work in the earth. You don't have to be clever to observe that. In Ephesians 6, it says, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes". Most of us think that's why we hire a pastor. Isn't there a committee at church that stands against the devil's schemes? For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers and authorities against the powers of this dark world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Paul is saying you have to stand against these spiritual forces. He's writing this to a church.

Now he's already told them. We read it together a moment ago that you've been seated with the Christ far above every principality and power, every spiritual force. But we're on assignment to stand against them. So we're in the midst of the conflict, and sometimes the expression of our assignment, the fullest expression is just to stand. No, we won't go that way. We're not moving, we're not yielding, we will not accommodate it. We have a higher power to which we give account. We belong to a King. It isn't just my opinion. I represent his, he defined marriage, so I'm not going to redefine it. He defined what's moral and immoral, I'm not free to redefine it. My allegiance is to him. Absolutely, I have been broken, and my life has been broken. But through his grace and his mercy, he is restoring me, and he will restore anyone who will come to him.

It's not unique to any person or any nationality or any language group. It's an amazing promise. We have an authority in the heavens that is extended to us because of our relationship to Jesus. We belong to him. So you don't want to compartmentalize your life. You don't want any segment that isn't yielded to him. You don't want to go to any place where you don't readily and willingly identify with Jesus. If Jesus isn't willing, I don't wanna go. If he's not welcomed, I'm out. We are children of the King. What a privilege.

The world is changing. We will see God move in ways we've never seen him move before. We'll see expressions of darkness we've never seen before. Don't be discouraged. Don't be afraid. Begin to put the Word of God in your heart. It will help you. I brought you a prayer. It's not my prayer. I haven't told you in your notes. I took it right out of Ephesians. I didn't even change pronouns. Why don't you stand with me, we'll read it together. I like to say what the scripture says about me. Together:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, amen.

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