Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We can't expect to always run a smooth race of life when confronted by persecution. Today, final thoughts from Christ's final night on handling hatred and misunderstanding when it comes your way. 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, the world hated Christ.
Should we, as his followers, expect to be treated any differently? Well Dave, I'm going to answer your question in a moment, but first of all, I want to give a word of encouragement to all who are listening. I don't need to tell you that we are going through a very difficult time, personally, through our families, through what is happening politically.
Health issues, well, we can make a long list. But in the midst of this, would you remember that Jesus Christ is with us? He never abandons his children. Now, in answer to your question, Dave, the answer, of course, is given to us by Jesus Christ. He said that if the world hates him, the world will hate us, and we can expect that. But at the same time, we need to see it as a blessing, and we as Americans need to think through how different it would be if we were to accept rejection for the sake of Christ as a badge of honor. I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future.
Now, this book deals with the upper room discourse where Jesus Christ was indeed preparing his disciples for difficulties ahead. It'll be a blessing to you. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. Or if you prefer, hope you get an opportunity to write this number down, call 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. Now, let us listen to God's word, the words of Jesus preparing his disciples. People are deceived.
You'll notice in chapter 16, the same thought continues. And he says in verse 2, they will put you out of the synagogue. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think that he is offering a service to God, and they will do such things because they have not known the Father nor me.
Wow. In other words, they're thinking they're doing God a service. And what you're going to have today under the banner of religious tolerance is restriction on religious freedom under the guise of doing what's best for America and what is best for God. And so you hear today that there are many paths to the divine. And in our age of spirituality, you can get to God in whatever way you want to get to him. Remember the words of Jesus, if you do not honor the Father, you do not honor the Son. If you honor the Son, you honor the Father. You can't get to God in any way you choose. If you're listening to this message today, either here or by radio or whatever, let me give you this test. If you believe that there is more than one way to God and everybody can get to God his own way, I can assure you that you are not honoring the Son and therefore you do not know the Father. What a message.
No wonder it breeds and elicits antagonism from the world. And Jesus said that yes, there are those who are going to think that they're doing God a service. You come to the fulfillment of that in the early church where you have all those persecutions until under Diocletian it became so bad that even the pagans said this has to stop. And then you leave the time of Diocletian and you get to the Reformation and you remember the rebaptizers who believed that one should be baptized upon profession of faith. They were put to death, whole villages of men, women, and children massacred because they believed that one should be baptized as an adult rather than an infant. In fact, as Pastor Worley will confirm, a church historian and theologian who wrote a book on the Reformation told us something that was startling, but I can only repeat what he said. More rebaptizers were put to death during the 16th century, right after the time of the Reformation, than died in the early persecutions of the Christian church in Rome.
Now you think about that. And these people that did that, they thought that they were doing God a service, the text says. They did it in the name of God. They did it in the name of Christ.
They did it in the name of the Bible and thought that they were doing God a favor. There are many places in the world that I've been, but still many that I desperately want to go to. And one of them is the palace of Versailles, Louis XIV. Someday I want to go to Versailles and see because its history is awesome, but Louis XIV persecuted the Christian church. In fact, he drove the Huguenots out of France and many of them came to Germany. 20,000 of them came to the Berlin area and that's why even in Berlin today when you listen to the German it has French accents and French words inserted.
And there are some churches you can visit in Berlin that were built by the Huguenots during those centuries. But before he died, he said, Louis XIV said that God owed him a favor because he had performed such a great service for God in expelling these Huguenots, these born-again Christians out of France. Jesus predicted it. He said the time is coming when they are going to do it in my name and think that they are doing God a favor.
But they do it because they don't know the Father because if they knew the Father they'd recognize his children. So let's keep in mind, would you, that Jesus knows all about the persecutions that are taking place today? How we ought to be praying for the churches in other lands. More people died in the 20th century.
More people were martyred in the 20th century for the cause of Jesus than were martyred in the first 1900 years of the Christian church. And today there are people in Indonesia, people in the Sudan, people in all kinds of different countries where you have the radical Muslim movement and not all Muslims would agree with what is happening but the simple fact is Christians are having their children taken and taken from them and they're auctioned off to the highest bidder in the town square. And we look at it and we say, God, where are you? And we should be following any leads or channels that can help us. We should be praying. We should be highlighting their plight because they are people, the latchet of whose shoes we are unworthy to unloose these dear people. And yet I also want to remind you that Jesus knew it was coming and Jesus has not forsaken his persecuted church. So let's not become so pessimistic and we say why all of this taking place? Jesus said the day is coming when this is going to happen.
We will be hated by the world first of all. In many instances that hatred will graduate to another level, will be persecuted by the world. And what does Jesus say? Blessed are you when men persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. You're at work there and you're living for Christ and you don't carouse around like the other people or you've been bypassed for a promotion because you won't play the games that are being played there in the office and you take your Bible to work and you have it on your desk and therefore you're looked at as if to say you're very, very strange.
People say, well, you know, his light is on but nobody's at home because he's got, you know, the Bible. Rejoice. Let's not complain. Let's not have a persecution complex.
Let's not look at this and say, oh, look at what's taking place. My dear friend, God has promised that he will not forsake those who walk through the fire and he walks with you in your vocation all the way. Thirdly, we are misunderstood by the world, the misunderstanding of the world in two senses. The first one I've already commented on, namely that the world does not know God. They don't know God. That's in verse 21.
And let's look at a second reason, however, we are misunderstood and that is because of the irrationality of the world, if I can put it that way. This is in verse 25. I'll pick it up in verse 24. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. Now they've seen these miracles and yet they have hated both me and my father.
Verse 25, but this is to fulfill what is written in their law. They hated me without reason. It's irrational. It's not a rational decision to hate Christ or to reject him or to say that there isn't enough evidence for him. There's such a thing as legitimate doubt, but there's a lot more illegitimate doubt where people simply do not want that man to reign over them, and that's their motivation. And they hated me without a cause.
Could I throw in a parenthesis? The same word is used in Romans chapter 3 where it says that God justified us without a reason, without a cause. And so it's interesting that the same word occurs here, but they hated him without a cause.
There wasn't really a reason. Some time ago in Time magazine, a Jewish scholar wrote an article as to why he would not have accepted Christ as Messiah if he had lived in the first century, and I read that and I hope that there is someone who has both the background and the education and the knowledge and so forth to respond to what he has to say. But it's very interesting that in the New Testament when you read it, Jesus was rejected for theological reasons, okay? The leadership, the religious leadership complained that he was the son of God and he made himself the son of God and this was blasphemy, etc. But I can't help but think that Pilate had a better sense of human nature. Pilate said that it was for envy that they delivered him. In other words, Jesus made the religious leaders look bad and that was the motivation to put them to the cross. And it was irrational, but Jesus was rejected without a cause, without reason. Now, I want us to look at what all this means.
Should we wring our hands and say, well, you know, the situation in the world is so bad that let's just go live in a cave somewhere? No, it says in verse 25, this is to fulfill what was written in their law. They hated me without reason. Jesus said this is a fulfillment of scripture. In fact, it's going to be their hatred that is going to fulfill the will of God. It's because of their hatred that Jesus is going to be nailed to the cross and the purposes of God are going to be accomplished. I know it's so difficult when you're going through a trial to see this, but just believe me based on the word when I tell you this, that hidden behind the circumstances that so discourage us is always the providential government of God. Their hatred was a fulfillment of scripture. It was not as if this was somehow happening out there and God kind of lost control for a while.
No, this was a fulfillment of scripture. And our struggles are a fulfillment of God's eternal purpose for us. So let's not wring our hands and pretend that we're on the losing side and therefore all that we can do is to look at the world with antagonism and our own hatred towards people.
We should hate the system, but not the people. Let's not do that. God is greater. God is bigger than all that.
It all happened in the circle of God's providence. But do you understand now why it's so difficult for the world to understand us folks? You know, Charles Colson said many years ago that for a secular newsman to do a story on evangelicals, he says, is like expecting a plumber to do open heart surgery. In other words, they just don't, they just don't understand it.
Now let's help them understand it. But let's not expect all kinds of wonderful statements and comments from the people of the world. It's okay.
It's okay. Let me give you some conclusions here very quickly. Number one, we cannot love the world. And I'm talking about the world system because the world hates Christ and we have to hate the world.
I'm talking about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And all that you need to do is to look at your television set and you see all of the world in front of you. And I often wonder why do we invite the world into our home and into our lives? Because all of that is of the world. It's all of the world. And you know why some of us can't be free from the world with all of its lures is because we have never in our lives made a fundamental decision to pursue holiness across the board without any pockets of resistance that have not been given over to the sovereignty of Christ.
We sang a few moments ago, rain in me. If we meant that, and if that meant every area of our lives, every closed closet, you would soon discover that the Christian church would be invigorated by the blessed Holy Spirit. And we cannot love the world because it is antagonistic to all the values, ideals, and teachings of Jesus. Second, we can't ignore the world. And now I'm talking about the world of people.
Let's not just button the hatch now and say, well, you know, the world out there is so antagonistic, you know, and they don't want to believe anyway. And therefore there's no way that we can fight against them. And we're losing. Just look at what's happening politically. Look at what's happening religiously. The culture war, by the way, is over.
Trash has won. Therefore, let's just go home and lick our wounds, have some soup, and get a good night's rest. Now listen to this. Verse 26. When the counselor comes whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out of the Father, he will testify about me.
And you also must testify for you have been with me from the beginning. And I'm already excited about next week's message because it picks up this theme about the fact that God becomes the evangelist. And the Spirit of God convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and judgment. And the Spirit of God works through the proclamation of the gospel.
And men and women are transformed. And it's happening today as thousands of people here in America each day become members of God's kingdom being translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his blessed Son. So let us not think that we must ignore the world and not lovingly share with the world the goodness and the wonders of the Jesus that they may dislike. But many of them will come to like him.
They'll come to like him. My final word to you is that it's not necessary for us to win in this world to win in the next, you know. We may say that in evangelicalism numbers seem to be dwindling. We have the incursion of moral laxness.
We have the incursion of bad doctrine, weak doctrine in our churches. We look at the world. They seem to have the money. They seem to have the personalities.
They seem to have all the beauty. I was talking to the Sunday School class today that I taught about the fact that most of us look very, very strikingly ordinary, strikingly ordinary. That's no means for discouragement. Jesus said, you must testify for me and you go ahead and you testify and you pay the consequences, but think of the reward. There's this life with all of its blessings, but there's a life to come. There's an eternity that awaits us. That's why we're not discouraged.
That's why we don't pick up and leave. During the early time of the 20th century, there was in China what was called the Boxer Rebellion. It was called that because these were actual boxers who did calisthenics.
But the boxers were trying to uproot Western influence and Christianity in China. So they came to a mission school that had somewhere in the neighborhood of about 90 kids, as I understand it, and they said to the kids, we're putting a cross out front of the door, lying it flat on the ground. If you trample on that cross, if you trample on that cross, that is a sign that you're despising it and so you will live. If you respectfully walk around it, you'll be put to death. The first seven students trampled on the cross. They walked on it and they lived. The next student, a girl, prayed before she took her step and then respectfully walked around the cross and was shot.
And according to the story I read, all the other students through that example followed her and they were all put to death, all the rest of the students. You know, you look at it and you say, it's crazy. You know, you throw your life away. All that you'd have needed to do is to just walk on the cross and you could even say, Lord Jesus, in my heart, I'm not really doing this. You know, I'm just doing it physically. I'm not doing it mentally.
I mean, there's a dozen ways that you could have rationalized it. So are they winners or losers? Well, it depends. Looked at from the standpoint of this world, of course it appears as if they are losers. But my dear friend, you don't have to win in this world to be a winner in the next.
Look at Jesus who was nailed to the tree at the age of 33. What a loser. Yeah. What a winner.
What a winner. So we don't superficially judge things. The world may hate us. At times they may persecute us.
They misunderstand us. But the words of Jesus spring out to me today and stick in my heart, you must testify for you have been with me from the beginning. And that's what we are called to do. And for those of you who may be here today who have never trusted Christ as Savior, I would not want the opportunity to go by. But you must believe in the Savior. You must honor him because if you don't honor him, you don't know the Father. I don't care what religion you're connected with.
I don't know. I don't care what guru you're learning from. He that honors the Son honors the Father. There is no other way to get to God. Give it up and come to Jesus Christ.
Acknowledge your helplessness and transfer your trust to him alone. Let's bow in prayer. Our Father, today we confess that to be hated by the world is uncomfortable but it is infinitely more damning to be ignored and overlooked and dismissed.
And sometimes we know that the world looks at us as a set of children playing their futile childish games doing no good but neither any harm. Would you Father invigorate us today? Help us to go into the world with confidence because of the gift of your Spirit that there are men and women out there who are seeking and who need to know the message. Oh Father, deliver us from a persecution complex. May we rejoice in every opportunity to be reviled for the name of Christ. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We know how it will all turn out. Now if you've never trusted Christ as Savior, you may do that even where you are seated. Simply reach out to him and say, Jesus I'm a sinner and I want to receive you as mine.
Would you tell him that? Father, complete the work that you've begun. In Jesus' name, amen. Well my friend this is Pastor Lutzer and I want to clarify something. You know when Jesus said that the world is going to hate us, it is so important that we as Christians understand that that does not mean that we in turn should hate. We are to love our enemies. So we need to understand that no matter what kind of persecution or accusations we are under, we must always recognize that we show the love of Jesus even to those whom we think don't deserve it. So if you're going through a difficult time today, be sure to connect with someone. If there's someone who's giving you a hard time because they're rejecting you, show them love. I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future.
This book is based on the words of Jesus to the disciples in the upper room. I think it'll be a great blessing. Now for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com and then if you wish you can call us, in fact you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. Now let me give you that contact info again.
You can go to RTWOffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 and thanks in advance for helping us. We appreciate it and together we're making a difference. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Just as a runner needs power to win a race, we need power to be effective witnesses for Christ. Next time, from the words of Jesus Himself, we'll learn how to witness with absolute confidence as we hear about the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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