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God At War Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2021 1:00 am

God At War Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 7, 2021 1:00 am

Whether you’re a Christian or not, what’s hindering you from doing what God wants you to do? You cannot stay neutral in the battle of two kingdoms. Satan tried to prevent Christ from reaching adulthood, thus preventing redemption. Yet Satan’s victories are always illusionary. In this message, you’ll hear 3 conclusions that prove God’s superiority in history.  Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Every indication pointed to Jesus dying a loser, jeered at, beaten, and made to hang on a shameful cross. But Satan could not prevent the redemption Christ was achieving for all who would believe. On that cross, the devil saw his own appointment with an eternal lake of fire. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, your series is called, What Is God Up To? And today, you're speaking on the central event in human history as you focus on dying a winner. Well, Dave, I want to commend you because I think that your introduction is so accurate that when Jesus died on the cross, Satan actually saw that eventually he would end up in the lake of fire. And you know, throughout the years, I've preached hundreds of sermons, maybe thousands. But I don't think that I've ever preached a sermon with the kind of enthusiasm and conviction with which I preach this sermon.

The Jesus there on the cross, hanging in weakness, died as a winner. Well, you know, Christmas is just around the corner, and perhaps you're looking for a gift to give to a friend. I'm holding in my hand a book entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. I have to tell you that this is a very attractive book. It's a book that has the references to passages of Scripture, one or two from every book of the Bible, with a brief exposition of two or three pages. It would make a great gift, whether the folks who live next to you are believers or unbelievers, or you might want one for yourself.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, I'm going to be giving you this contact info again at the end of this message. Right now, I want you to listen carefully as we talk about Jesus dying a winner. There was a Roman poet by the name of Horace who was giving some guidelines for playwriters in his day, and he criticized them for too readily bringing a god onto the stage to solve the complicated plot they had created. Said this Roman poet, Horace, quote, do not bring a god on the stage unless the problem deserves a god to solve it. Well, if you've been listening to these messages, you know that we have a problem that only God is able to solve. And I've been emphasizing that the earth actually is like a stage, and there's a drama that is being played out. And you have all of the different characters participating, and God created this stage, and then he created a wonderful canopy called the whole universe. And this drama is being played out on this little small planet. Issues of justice and injustice, righteousness, light versus darkness, it's all happening right here. And the angels are watching and God is watching and the demons are watching and we're watching as the play is enacted. But there is a problem on planet earth that only God can solve, and we must bring him onto the stage.

Let me take a moment to review with you who the players are. First of all, there's Satan, of course, that strong, powerful, beautiful, evil being who chose against God and decided that he would not let God rule over him. And along with him, there were tens of thousands of lesser spirits called demons who do his bidding, who are party to his absurdities, and they fell, too, in rebellion against God.

And then, of course, you have mankind. Remember what happened there in the garden when Adam and Eve decided to participate with Satan in their rebellion and anger toward God, and they ate of the fruit and they became participants in standing against the sovereignty of Almighty God. What could God do in this situation? What are his options? One of the options would be for God to take all of humanity and all the forces of Satan, confine them to hell and allow them to think throughout all of eternity about the blunder, the serious blunder of rebellion that they created for themselves.

That would be one option. Now, if God were to do that, I want to affirm the fact that he would be totally just and that throughout all of eternity, all the universe would stand in awe of the justice of Almighty God. But there'd be a problem if God would have done that, and that is that only one of his attributes would really clearly be seen.

Two, actually. In the creation of the universe, God showed us his mighty awesome power, and in creating beings who would choose against them and confining them to everlasting torment, he would be showing us his justice. But that is really all that the universe would see of God. So God decided that there would be another plan, one that would enable his mercy and his grace and his love and all the other attributes that combine to make God.

These attributes also would be given specific glorious expression. Now, I'm sure that when Satan asked Adam and Eve to sin and tempted them to do that, and then they did exactly what he wanted, he had no idea that God was going to redeem part of the human race back to himself and reverse the curse. Satan didn't know that. In his glee and in his excitement, he thought to himself that now that man has chosen to stand against God, that the curse would be universal, everyone who would be born would be tainted with sin from here on out, and therefore consigned to everlasting rebellion and anger against God.

That's what he thought. But God had a plan, a secret plan. And Satan began to see the outworking of that plan, as we noticed in the message last week. But now we see the plan come to its completion.

What are the rules by which this plan is going to be executed? First of all, the Lord knew that whatever would be done to redeem a part of humanity back to God, whatever was done would have to be done totally and wholly by God. Salvation would have to be of the Lord. Obviously, God could not look to man to participate, because first of all, men and women are tainted with sin, and God is inexpressibly holy, and therefore any righteousness that people might want to contribute toward this would of necessity be disqualified. The only righteousness that God accepts is his own.

Salvation would have to be of the Lord. There's a second rule, and that is that none of the attributes of God could ever be compromised. None of the attributes of God could be compromised. There could be no such thing as God looking at sin and then compromising his holiness and his integrity in salvation. That we know to be the case.

No possibility of God bending just because we're sinners. Now, how did God do it? You know how we would have done it? We'd have ordered a media campaign. We'd have got a newsman, an advance press corps. We would have invited the hosts of the universe. We would have invited angels and demons and all of humanity, and God would have said, guess what I'm going to do? And I want everybody to watch, and we're going to have live, huge screens by which the world will be able to watch because God is coming to town.

That's the way we'd have done it. But God, who loves to do things differently than we, whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways, does it entirely different. Here's a little sleepy town that some of us visited this June, six miles south of Jerusalem, called Bethlehem. And here is this peasant couple that comes to Bethlehem, and a redeemer is born in Bethlehem, who is the son of God, who is both God and man, because a third rule was that God would accept no sacrifice on behalf of humanity unless it was given by a part of humanity, namely a man. And here's this baby that is born, a helpless baby, if you please, a baby who participated in creation, who was used to throughout all of eternity having the hosts of heaven saying, holy, holy, holy. He is a helpless baby who needs his diapers changed, born there in Bethlehem. And then he grows up and becomes a man, and he does some miracles, and he preaches some fantastic sermons, and people want to shove him over the cliff. Other people want to destroy him in other ways. They're taking up stones to stone him, but God prevents him from dying before the time when he is scheduled to die. And then finally, all the wrath of humanity descends upon him, and they get their wish, and they take this man who was an irritation to them, primarily because he was making the religious leaders look bad.

They take him, and they nail him to a cross, and everybody who is party to that scheme shouts, good riddance, he's gone. Just take your Bible for a moment and turn to Luke 23. We could read any one of the Gospels and read the account of Christ's death, but I've chosen Luke chapter 23 just to refresh your memory of how it went. Luke 23, 32, and two others also who were criminals were being led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place called the skull, there they crucified him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.

But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They cast lots, dividing up his garments among themselves, and the people stood by looking on, and even the rulers were sneering at him, saying, he saved others, let him save himself if this is the Christ of God, the chosen one. The soldiers mocked him, coming up to him, offering him sour wine, and saying, if you are the king of the Jews, save yourself. And there was an inscription above him, this is the king of the Jews. And one of the criminals who was hanged there was hurling abuse at him, saying, are you not the Christ?

Save yourself and us. The other answered, rebuking him, do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong, just that far for a moment. You know, people say, oh, I wish I was there in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.

I tell you, I'm not sure if I wish that, because I don't know. I might be among those who are hurling insults at him. You know, apart from God's grace, I'm just bad enough to do that. I may have been on the wrong side of Christ when he was here on earth. A lot of, quote, good people were, a lot of good religious people were on the wrong side. Now I want us to look today, first of all, at the cross through the eyes of mankind.

Let's suppose that you had a video recorder, and you were going to tape this, and you were going to use segments of it in the evening news, and you wanted to follow the last few days of Jesus Christ when he was here on earth. What is it that you would see as you'd see him mocked and crucified? First of all, you'd see a tremendous amount of injustice without any vindication. No vindication.

He takes it all. We don't have time to do it this morning, but when you read the accounts, you can see that he had a very unfair trial. Unfair. And he had no attorney to appeal to.

Nobody to go to for help. He was falsely accused. The charges were made up, and there was no investigation as to whether or not the charges were true. They were only too quickly believed, and he endured it. He was the proverbial doormat. As a sheep before his shears is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment, and he endured it all, and he did not say anything. He just took it. What a loser. What a loser. Not only injustice, but shame.

Shame. You know, just remember, folks, this is the Jesus who was used to in heaven hearing all the hosts of angels shout, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. That expression has as its object Jesus Christ as well as God the Father. And he's heard it all.

Comes to the earth. He's despised and rejected. His clothes are torn off. He's kicked. Move it, Jew boy. Get with it.

What's your problem? Carry your cross. Shouted at. Mocked.

And then when he is crucified, he is crucified naked and people are able to walk by and to hurl abuse at him and insults and nothing happens to stop it. It goes on and on and on. Shame. Powerlessness. That's what we'd see. We'd see injustice, shame. We'd also see death without any dignity at all. In fact, when he's there on the cross and they offer him some wine, hoping that possibly some of the sting of death and those nails would be alleviated, he rejects it because he wants to die with the full capacity of all of his powers intact.

And he says, no. And there is no death with dignity. What an awful, gory sight. One of our problems as Christians is that we magnify the cross because we don't want to see it in all of its horror. So we have nice, neat, beautiful crosses made for churches. Crosses that are built with right angles and then they are sawed and they are sanded and then they are varnished and they look so smooth and so nice. Rid your mind of such nonsense. We're talking about a cross that was a tree trunk and then the cross beam was a branch, rough, unsanded. It was awful.

And we're talking about huge, ugly nails. That's what we're talking about. You look at Jesus Christ with your video recorder because you want to do an analysis of his last week on earth and there's only one or two words that can possibly describe it and they are words like failure, words like defeat.

It's all over. And even the disciples ran away and said, I guess we were deceived. We followed him. We hoped that it would be he who would deliver Israel, but he was not the deliverer because just look at him now.

Look at him now. Awful, gory death. That's it. That's the cross from man's standpoint. From God's standpoint, something quite different was taking place at that moment.

Quite different. You know, the Bible says in verse 44, and now it was about the sixth hour and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour and the sun being obscured and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Why darkness?

Why darkness? It's because the worst criminal who had ever walked planet earth was dying. It was a terrible death.

What is the worst sin that you can think of? You think murder is bad? You think Stalin and his death camps was bad?

Wanton cruelty is bad? This man who was being crucified between two common thieves was guilty of that in all of its war. Oh, I know there are some women here today who say, oh, that's not the worst thing that you could possibly do. Death is one thing. Rape is worse when a woman is violated and humiliated. And now suddenly the man who was dying there on the middle cross, he is a rapist of all things.

Somebody said, well, that's still not bad. Child abusers, child molesters. What about them? Got a letter from one of them on Friday. I told you that our radio ministry touches into prisons and I'm just astounded at the number of letters we receive. He says, I listened to your sermon over the radio station WMBW yesterday. You spoke on abused children.

I found it helpful, but I need to ask you, how does the one who has offended the little ones receive peace? You see, I'm in prison. I've received a life sentence plus 185 years. I was charged with rape, but what really happened was that I had sex with four little boys ages 7 to 12. I've been locked up for 10 years. And he goes on to say, I want to go to heaven forever and be with Christ.

That's what he says, but he says, I still feel guilty and even though I've confessed my sin, sometimes I don't feel forgiven. But I say to myself, what kind of a person can molest little children? Makes you so mad you'd like to spit.

Who can do that? And then if that isn't enough, you think about child abuse, like that little girl who is locked in the closet. She cries for help.

She's five years old and she is beaten and she is neglected and she is whipped until she dies and we say, God, how can you take it? And the man who's dying there on the cross is guilty of it if you can believe it. No wonder it became dark.

Well might the sun in darkness hide and shut its glories in. When Christ the great redeemer died for man the creatures sin. So happens that he himself never committed a single sin. He was without sin.

He was spotless. But the Bible says, all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all and he became guilty of all of it and all of its horror and terribleness.

And that's how he died. What I'd like to do is to show you now how the cross of Jesus Christ is God's greatest moment, his greatest moment. You say, oh, I thought that the creation of the world was, listen, if all that we had was creation, we'd know about his power. We'd never know about his grace. If he had consigned mankind to hell we'd have known his justice but we'd have never seen his grace and compassion. It is there on the cross in what mankind may well describe as the darkest hour that God's attributes like a kaleidoscope were lit up in all of their glory and beauty and wonder so that even the angels of heaven were looking over and seeing what was happening and saying, we can't believe it. This is God at his finest hour.

What are the attributes? First of all, Paul says in Romans 3.25, he says, God set Christ forth to declare his righteousness. That's the first purpose of the cross. You say, I always thought that the cross was designed to save me. Listen, the first purpose of the cross is for God to declare to the world his righteousness. It says that Christ was set forth publicly to declare the righteousness of God. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. I hope that you picked up on the passion that I have when it comes to preaching the cross of Jesus Christ. And of course, as we think about Christmas, which is just around the corner, we are reminded of the fact that Jesus actually was born crucified. That is to say, he came to Bethlehem so that he might eventually die on the outskirts of Jerusalem for our sins, winning a tremendous victory. Let me ask you this question. When you think of the books of the Bible, do you see them as individual books?

Well, of course they are, but do you see that they are united with a common theme? What does 1 Samuel have to do with the book of Matthew, for example? I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. This is a very attractive book. It's one that you can give to a friend. And if you contact us today, we believe that we'll even be able to get it to you before Christmas. It's entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible for a gift of any amount. It can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, because remember, if you order it today, we believe that you'll be able to have it for Christmas.

I need to ask you this question. Have you ever wondered what Jesus talked to the disciples about on the way to Emmaus? When beginning with Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, he expounded to them about himself. The scripture is a unified whole.

That's why I think it's so important for you to have a copy of The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. Contact us today. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Jesus did not die accidentally. Next time, more about how every detail of his sacrifice was predetermined before time began. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 21:57:45 / 2023-07-12 22:06:26 / 9

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