Pastor, author and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. What we need is we know a voice of truth and wisdom and love and clarity that's outside of us to help us know who we are.
That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in our series called Story Wars as presented at Rinaldo Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource today. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So as you listen to today's teaching, go deeper as we send you today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. Not to be enslaved by the shame of others, whether it be literal or metaphorical. And so this helps explain partly how we can wind up in a culture that is saying, whatever you do, don't let somebody tell you who you are. If you want to understand spiritual battles, it's wise to know that the devil, the Bible says, masquerades as an angel of light. I mean, there are times in which evil just manifests itself very directly and just says, here I am. I'm evil. I'm black. I'm gross, terrible, dark, evil thing.
And so here I am. But that's not normally the way evil manifests. Normally it tries to look like it's the light, like it's something right or something that's good. So much of what happens then is something that is a good thing gets distorted by hell, and this is one of them. So if you take it and say, well, because there's been so much shame and limiting, confining, restrictive kind of voices in our lives, that you need to just look inside yourself, discover yourself, and don't let anybody tell you who you are, what does it leave you with?
It leaves you with confusion, and that's a form of enslavement in itself. The problem, the huge problem with the story of culture that says just look within yourself is summed up in a word, and that's sin. Jeremiah 17, 9 said, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick who can understand it.
What the Bible says is completely different from what culture says. The Bible says that there may be really wrong voices outside of you that say really wrong things about you, and that's true. You need to be aware of that.
But what you also need to be aware of is there's a voice inside of you that is really, really inaccurate. That the thing that might be more deceitful than anybody else's voice is your own heart, that left by ourselves, we have the kind of hearts in our sin that either will become prideful and think I'm better than other people, or will become self-condemning and think I'm worse than other people and have a hard time not becoming self-absorbed. This problem of sin is not limited to a few people.
It is, Paul said in Romans 3, that there's no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So where we are, John Calvin said, born in sin, and we wear what you could imagine like sin-tainted spectacles. So if it's true, if it's true, if the Bible story is true, that we're born in sin, meaning that we do not come into the world with the capacity to see the truth as well as we need to.
I'm not saying we can't see some truth, but we can't see it as well as we need to. So it's like you've got these sin-tainted spectacles and everything you look through is through that lens of sin. It means that there's a lot of deception and it's like in a sense of saying that we're stumbling around in the darkness. John 8 12, Jesus said, I'm the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, will have the light of life. So the idea of Jesus being the light means that we needed the light because we were in the dark. So that's the picture the Bible gives is that we're without some light that turns on.
We are in a foggy, dark environment where we can only partially see and we're going to bump into things and we're going to see things inaccurately. And so thus revelation is needed. Revelation means that that what you couldn't see because it was veiled now is unveiled and you can see it. And that's what needs to happen, according to the story of the Bible, which leads us to Peter's story.
So Peter, this fisherman who's been called to follow Jesus and he does follow Jesus is one of the most fascinating disciples, one of the most fascinating people in the Bible who eagerly follows Jesus and is so quick in many ways to promise how faithful he's going to be. But it's this moment at Caesarea Philippi where something extraordinary happens. I want you to know about Caesarea Philippi. It is up at the very northern part of Israel, up at the northern part of the Golan Heights, right up at the border of Lebanon and near the edge of Syria as well. It is really then the foothills of Mount Hermon, which is this beautiful mountain that you read about in the Bible. Oh, the dews of Mount Hermon, how they've come to Mount Zion in the wintertime, the snows would be there.
The waters would come down from Hermon. And really it is here at Caesarea Philippi that the headwaters of the Jordan River began. And it's a beautiful, beautiful place. It's a beautiful setting.
I've been there. And it's one of those biblical sites which is sort of awe-inspiring to be at because you know for sure it was in this spot, in this area where Jesus had this conversation with Peter. And at this spot there is, as you can see on the right, this sheer cliff wall. And that wall was called the Rock of the Gods. And all kinds of gods and shrines were in there, gods and goddesses. And then there was a grotto that back in the day, years ago, had springs that would flow up out of that grotto and come down and feed the Jordan River.
Now it's just sort of a watery grotto that can go back in there. The primary god that was worshiped in this area was Pan, which we know that word to mean all because Pan was thought of being all in nature but was associated with fertility. And this is that god that creepy kind of half goat, half human with horns. It was really more gruesome than I'm going to be willing to describe in a sermon what they would do in their festivals to Pan here at Caesarea Philippi. But let me at least just say this, they would offer sacrifices, animal and some sources say human sacrifices, throw into the grotto. And then watch the downstream to see whether blood came and if no blood came, it meant that Pan and these deities in Hades were satiated. And then there would be this horrible fertility cultic worship that would take place and people would work themselves into a frenzy right here at this opening to this grotto in this area. And they called that, they believed that all these gods in Hades lived back under this grotto. And so they called this the gate to Hades right here. Pan, it is said, woke up from a nap and cried out and everybody was scared. That's where you get the word panic.
And they would have these big frenzied cultic festivals here, pandemonium. And it was in the context of that right there. All this, all this worship of gods and all that. Jesus turned to his disciples, Matthew 16, 15, and he said, Who do you say I am? All these people are saying all these different things about who I am, but he got real personal. He said, Who do you say that I am? And a sense of what he's saying is that. How you see me is going to determine how much you can see yourself.
That's what I think he's saying. As much as you can see me as the authoritative voice in your life, then I will be able to tell you who you are. And one of those disciples, Peter, Simon Peter, replied, verse 16, You are the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, the son of the living God. And when he made this statement, Jesus was, I think, overjoyed. It was the progression of faith and the disciples that he was seeing here. And verse 17, Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona?
So this is about the avenue to blessing. And this is about names, because here I think is the only place he uses this name. He uses his given name and his surname, Barjona, son of Jonah Simon.
Blessed are you, Simon Barjona? That's what you've been called. That's your surname.
That's your given name. And then he says this at the second part of that verse for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you. So he's saying this is about names, identity, and this is about revelation and about how you get it.
That's the key here. And here's who you are, he says. Therefore, since you now know who I am, I can tell you who you are because I believe you'll listen to me. And he says to him, I tell you, verse 18, you're Peter. Which is a name, Petra, that sounds the same as the word for rock in Greek, Petrus. And he says, I'll build on this rock.
So he's saying, this is you. I'll build my church and the gates of hell. You stand in there at this place that was known as the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
This backdrop of all these gods and all these goddesses and all this frenzy and all this gruesome kind of distorted, deceptive worship they have and all the sacrifices that they make to try to appease the gods and to make the land fertile. And all of that, all of that, all of that deception, all of that, all of that will never, ever, ever be able to stand against what's just happened right here and come out of your mouth. Peter, the confession of me as the living son of God. That's Alan Wright, and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. With so much worry about yesterday's failures and so much hurry getting ready for tomorrow's tasks, sometimes it's hard to focus on the moment that matters most right now in a hurried, worried season. God invites you into the present modern day life.
Coaches call it mindfulness, but it isn't a new psychological program and it isn't rooted in Eastern religion. Mindfulness living in the present is God's idea. And the Bible unveils the way Pastor Alan Wright invites you to savor life each day. When you make your gift today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's eight messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Make your gift today and learn how to savor the textures and flavors of God's grace each moment in the moment every day of your life. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues. Here once again is Alan Wright. And I want you to notice Jesus doesn't tell Peter here what he ought to be. He tells Peter who he is. And I like the fact that Jesus chose this moment where Peter was making a confession of faith.
Pure childlike faith. You are the Messiah. You're the son of the living God.
That's who you are. And this is the moment. You know, the many other times Peter had moments that Jesus didn't say, this is what I'm gonna call you, Peter, and this is what I'm gonna build my church on. I mean, when he called him away from his fishing boats, he didn't say, Peter, I'm so proud of you for making such a sacrifice. On this kind of self-sacrifice, I'm gonna build my church. This kind of committed discipleship.
He didn't say it then. When Peter was walking on water, Jesus didn't say this, this kind of miracle that happens amongst the people. This is what I'm gonna build my church on. And when Peter said, I'll never deny you, Lord, I'll lay my life down for you, Jesus didn't say on that kind of determination is how I'm gonna build my church. None of those moments is in this moment where he said, Jesus, you're the Messiah. That's when Jesus said, I'm gonna build my church on this. I'm gonna build it all on a revelation of who Christ is because when you have a revelation of who Christ is as the Messiah, you have come into truth and truth sets you free. In the context of Peter seeing and looking to Christ and seeing him, not through natural eyes, but by spirit anointed revelation and saying, you're Christ. You're the son of the living God.
It was in that context, in that scene of great idolatry behind them, that Peter could find out who he really was. So the Bible's story says that we're born in sin, and if we just look inside ourselves, our own hearts are deceitful. We'll never discover ourselves. Instead, what we need is we know a voice of truth and wisdom and love and clarity that's outside of us to help us know who we are.
Let me say it as plainly as I can. To bring people into this world and give them the message that is completely up to you to figure out who you are. Look within yourself. There's nobody that's going to help you know who you are, and you've got to figure out who you are. You've got to figure out what you're supposed to be. You've got to figure out what your sexuality is. You've got to figure out what your gender is. You've got to figure out what your vocation is. You've got to figure out how you're supposed to live in this world. You've got to figure out what the purpose of life is.
You've got to figure out, by the time you have all of that on you, you are paralyzed with anxiety, and it is cruel. And we have, in the story of the gospel, the most beautiful, glorious story imaginable is God who so loved the world that he came to a people who were deceived in their sin and could not find their own way and would never know who they are and would either be lost in the kind of pride that makes them self-absorbed or the kind of self-condemnation that makes them self-absorbed. And God came in the person of Jesus Christ so that he could be light in a dark world and reveal truth and show people who they really are. Because you would never, ever be able to know how loved you are until God tells you. Nobody in this world will love you perfectly.
Nobody can love you perfectly. So God himself came in the person of Jesus Christ to say, I want to show you what it is to live loved. I want to show you what it is to have a voice on your life that sees a vision over your life and has faith for your life and can see beyond your current circumstances and all of the trauma and problems and abuse in your life. There's a voice that can see beyond that, that can see better than anyone else and who's going to speak truth for your life. And that voice is the voice of Christ himself who can come to a man like Peter who was going to deny Jesus three times, who'd walk on water for a few steps and then sink, who would swear he would never, ever let Jesus down, and then would find himself full of shame when the rooster crowed. He's going to say to that man who seems so unstable, you are Peter, you're a rock. I'm going to build my church on this. And indeed, Peter would preach the Pentecost sermon when the Holy Spirit began moving and thousands of people came to know Christ on that day.
And he would lead amongst the apostles to change the world. And what I'm saying is, had there not been the voice of Jesus, he would have lived his life as a fisherman in Galilee and never known it. Yes, there are restrictive voices in our lives and we have to recognize when it's wrong. And some of you, some of you, you've been told wrong things about your life. And the culture will tell you all kinds of limiting and cursing things about your life.
And it's painful and it is enslaving. But the answer to it is not the unbearable burden of having to look inside yourself to figure it all out. The answer is the gift of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. God knows who you are. He made you. He knows what you're destined to be. He sees your future. And He loves you perfectly. Look within to discover yourself or look to Christ, the author and finisher of your faith.
I would take his voice over my own any time. And that's the gospel. Alan Wright and today's good news message, looking within versus looking to Christ.
It's in our series called Story Wars. And Pastor Alan is back in a moment with a parting good news thought for today. Stick with us. Visit Pastor Alan dot org with so much worry about yesterday's failures and so much hurry getting ready for tomorrow's tasks. Sometimes it's hard to focus on the moment that matters most right now in a hurried, worried season. God invites you into the present.
Modern day life coaches call it mindfulness, but it isn't a new psychological program. The Bible unveils the way Pastor Alan Wright invites you to savor life each day. When you make your gift today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's eight messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Make your gift today and learn how to savor the textures and flavors of God's grace each moment in the moment every day of your life. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, Pastor Alan dot org. Pastor Alan here in the studio with a parting good news thought for the day, and on my good days, I think I know, sure, look to Christ. Why wouldn't I want to look to my Creator? But boy, if you get caught up listening to the spirit of the age and the voices around us, they say, look, look within, find your own path. Well, as I said in this message, for all listeners back to this image, imagine for a moment you've been in an accident, a brain injury has happened, and you've forgotten who you are.
How do you feel? You're utterly anxious. If you could imagine having no idea who you are in this world, what that produces is anxiety.
And when you wonder why the young generation today is experiencing what many sociologists call an epidemic of anxiety, I think this goes far to explain it. We are bought into a story that says no one can tell you who you are. You got to figure it out for yourself and confused and spiritually blind people are wandering aimlessly with no idea who they are. And so we have a job to do with love to tell people who God made them to be.
Our identity comes only from Christ. Thanks for listening today. Visit us online at Pastor Alan dot org or call 877-544-4860. That's 877-544-4860. If you only caught part of today's teaching, not only can you listen again online, but also get a daily email devotional that matches today's teaching delivered right to your email inbox free. Find out more about these and other resources at Pastor Alan dot org. That's Pastor Alan dot o r g. Today's good news message is a listener supported production of Alan Wright Ministries.
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