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A Growing Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2022 1:00 am

A Growing Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 19, 2022 1:00 am

When resentment, envy, or anger entangle us, our souls are dragged away from God like the two sons of Abraham who parted ways. In this message, we discover three lessons about the desires of the flesh and true submission to God. We cannot live as a child of promise and a child of the flesh at the same time. God’s purpose for the line of promise stands.

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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. Genesis 21 tells of the parting of the ways between the two sons of Abraham.

Ishmael was cast out of the house along with his mother Hagar. God's clear intention was for Isaac to carry on the line of inheritance. 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.

We're in a series on strength for the journey. Pastor Lutzer, your teaching from Genesis chapter 21, where God leaves no doubt as to his choice for Abraham's heir. You're absolutely right, Dave. And as I pointed out in a previous broadcast, that's one of the reasons why there is conflict in the Middle East that cannot be resolved, because our Muslim friends believe that Ishmael is the one who inherits the land promises, not Isaac. But you go back to Scripture and clearly God says it is through Isaac that your seed will be called. Let me say something else about Islam. We must recognize that throughout the history of Islam, oftentimes the church has been subverted, Christians have been under persecution, and we must ask ourselves, what does all of this mean for us in America, even for our own future? That's why I've written the book entitled The Cross and the Shadow of the Crescent. Those are the kinds of questions that I attempt to answer. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And always remember, no matter what happens, God still rules. Why is it that Ishmael can't be in the same house as Isaac? First of all, because he can't be a threat to the promised seed.

But there's another reason. In chapter 22, Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, the only one God recognizes, Isaac on Mount Moriah. And what God is saying is, he's saying, Abraham, I have to wean at you of all possibility of thinking, yes, I can go ahead and I can kill my Isaac. And then God will use Ishmael to fulfill the promises.

God says, I don't even want that as a fallback position. You must be willing to sacrifice your son, your son Isaac, and believe even then that God will raise him from the dead because Ishmael will not inherit the promises. What's interesting is in the New Testament, this whole story is used as an allegory. That's what it says in Galatians chapter 4. An allegory because Ishmael is seen as a son.

He's seen as a son of the flesh, whereas Isaac is seen as a child of promise. And the difference is between law and grace, and there it is for us to look at. Now very quickly, I have to give you three transforming lessons that we can learn from this whole story as we try to pull the threads together and ask God to change us forever. I hope that whenever you come to church, you say, God, change me today forever. First lesson is this. God's promises are based on God's power.

God's promises are based on God's power. This past week, three of us had the opportunity of going to an observatory and speaking to an astronomer who teaches astronomy at the University of Chicago, and he was showing us various telescopes and what have you. And he showed us pictures of the galaxies, blotches of ink on this table. And yet when you shine light on it, suddenly you realize that every blotch is hundreds of thousands of stars. And he told us that the Hubble telescope, they decided to aim it in space where there was nothing.

They chose the point in space where there was least ability to find anything. And they found tons of galaxies and trillions of stars. I said to him, do you think it's right to say that there are as many sands on the seashore of the world as there are stars in the sky? And he said, yeah. He said, that could be right.

Think of that. And he referred to this scripture where God says, if you can number the stars which you can't, you'll be able to number your posterity which you can't. If you can number the dust of the earth, God said to Abraham, then you can number your own descendants. Well, you can't do that, nor can you do the other one.

Those are the two analogies that are used in scripture. And God is El Shaddai. He just decided to throw a party and say, I'm going to create a bunch of stars just to show what I can do. And he did it all in a couple of seconds, one afternoon.

I don't know whether it was afternoon or morning, but wow. El Shaddai. Abraham walked before me. Now, the text is open. You have your Bibles, don't you? Notice what it says. All throughout here, God says, I will. Oh, I love that. Notice it says, I will. This is now the beginning of verse six. I will make you exceedingly fruitful. I will make you into nations. Verse seven, I will establish my covenant. Verse eight, I will give you the land. I will be their God, it says in the last part of verse nine.

I will, I will, I will, I will, God says. This is an unconditional covenant, as we learned in Genesis chapter 15. This is something that God says he's going to do, whether people are faithful or not. He will create within them a desire to be faithful. His covenant will be fulfilled. God says, I'm going to do this. If Abraham were able to look into the future, I could imagine him having an argument with God at this point.

He could say, God, what if I tell another lie like I did in Egypt? What does that do to the covenant? And God says, I will be your God and I will establish my covenant with you forever and give your descendants the land. He says, God, what if I have a great grandson whose name is Jacob who turns out to be a crook?

What will that do? God says, I will establish my covenant with you and to your descendants I will give the land. But God, what if one of my descendants is going to be named David and he is going to commit adultery and then murder somebody to cover it up? God, what does that do to your covenant then? I will establish my covenant with you and I will give it to your posterity as an everlasting possession. But God, what if some of my descendants turn out to be idolaters? I will establish my covenant before you and I will give that covenant in the land to your seed and to your offspring forever. But God, what if some of my descendants end up crucifying the Son of God?

What then? I have spoken. I will establish my covenant before you and I will give you the land and to your posterity as an everlasting possession. Why can God talk like that? It's because God is not a man.

He is God El Shaddai. And when you and I enter into a covenant with God, when we claim the promise, he who believes in me has everlasting life and we have savingly believed in Jesus, we enter into a new covenant and it too is an unconditional covenant. You say, well God, what if I sin? He who believes in me has everlasting life. They shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand. But God, but God, what if the time comes for me to die and I'm full of doubts and I begin to think about going into the vast unknown and in my heart I am now feeling and wondering whether Jesus is able to meet me on the other side. What then God?

They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Because God is God. And the Apostle Paul says in the book of Timothy, he says even if we believe not and become faithless, he says God will not change and God remains faithful because he cannot deny himself. And it is upon that that we stand today. The promises of God are backed by the power of God, God El Shaddai.

Don't you love it? God El Shaddai, God Almighty. Second lesson is that God's promises are a test of our own submission.

Let's take it slowly. God's promises are a test of our own submission. How do you think Ishmael liked being told that he was not the child of promise?

Well, I assume he didn't like it very well. He was mocking Isaac. Later on his own history shows that he was always angry with his cousins, the descendants of Isaac, and you have the whole history of the Middle East all filled with conflict and envy. We can understand that I guess because to us we say, you know, it's unfair. That what we all would say it's unfair. Ishmael gets blessing, but he doesn't get the same blessing as Isaac.

It's unfair. Resentful, anger, complaining to God. Ishmael would have been better off if he would have said, you know, I'm going to let God be God. And if God wants to give the promise to Isaac, I am willing to accept whatever blessing God gives me. And God does give him blessing. And if he had capitalized on the blessing that God was about to give him, he may have indeed received more blessing from God. But when you and I are resentful because God doesn't treat us all alike, as we've learned, he doesn't treat Hammurabi like he treats Abraham and he doesn't treat Ishmael like he treats Isaac.

When you and I become angry with God because somebody has been blessed more than we have, we are then in a position where the blessings that he does give us cannot be enjoyed and cannot be multiplied because we've not allowed God to be God. Jesus tells that awesome parable in the 20th chapter of Matthew where he says, at the end of the day, those who came early in the morning, they agreed for a denarius a day in the vineyard. And then later on, there were those who showed up as late as five o'clock in the evening. They worked one hour and the time came to get paid. And wouldn't you know it, they got paid a denarius too.

And the ones who came early were angry. Yeah, we agreed for a denarius, but it's not fair that you should take somebody who works one hour and give him the same to us and we have borne the heat of the day. It's not fair. Remember what Jesus said is he said, cannot I do what I will with those who are my own?

Are you envious because I'm generous? If I want to give to Isaac something that I haven't given to Ishmael, don't I have that right? Can't God do as he wishes with you and me? Are you resentful today because you've not received the same blessing that somebody sitting next to you has?

It will not help you in your walk with God, it will diminish you and the blessing of God will be diminished and not increased until you and I say, I'm going to let God be God. Dr. Ryrie who wrote the notes for the Ryrie Study Bible tells an interesting story of when he was on American Airlines and some people were asked to go first class because they ran out of room in the coach department, but he was not among them. So you know, you see these other people who are sitting next to you and they get to go first class, but he's not. So he began to say, you know, to himself, you know, this isn't fair.

And his mind went to that parable in Matthew chapter 20 and then he read it this way. Did you not agree with American Airlines for a coach seat? Yeah, aren't you getting a coach seat? Are you envious because American Airlines is generous? If they want to take somebody who's in coach and give them first class treatment, cannot American Airlines do as it wills with those who are its own?

Are you resentful because God is generous? It's amazing how we change things when the shoe is on the other foot. One day my daughter and I were flying somewhere and we were taken from coach and we were put into first class in United Airlines.

I didn't write a letter to United and say, what kind of a schlocky outfit do you guys run anyway? I pay for a coach seat and get first class treatment. No, no, no, no, no. I thought to myself, it's about time.

That's what I thought. When we're the recipients of blessing, we think it's about time. But when somebody else gets to go first class and we're in coach, we say it ain't fair. Listen, the second lesson is this, that God's promises are a test of our own submission. Willing to rejoice in the success of someone else and the blessings of someone else?

Or are you going to become resentful, angry, and leave the people of God and leave church because it ain't fair? There's a third lesson and that is this, that the true nature of Ishmael, the true nature of Ishmael is revealed when Isaac is born. The true nature of Ishmael is revealed when Isaac is born. Here's Ishmael growing up and he's a wonderful boy, I'm sure.

He's 14 years old. He has a little brother. It's not just your average little brother, it's the little brother that God chose to be the inheritor of the promises. And so what happens when the boy is being weaned, Ishmael mocks.

Because after all, it ain't fair. But the true nature of Ishmael is revealed in the presence of Isaac. You and I find that our lives are going along quite well. I've heard testimonies to that effect and then suddenly you accept Jesus Christ as your savior and now suddenly you have an allegiance to Jesus and the devil and the flesh begin to mock and they become angry and they say that your allegiance was to me and now that you've received Christ your allegiance is over there and you begin a whole sense of conflict. Accepting Christ as savior doesn't always bring immediate peace. The peace is there but sometimes it's preceded by huge conflict because now you realize what the flesh is really like.

Flesh is only happy when it's served, when it's encouraged, when it's honored. That's what the flesh is but it will not accept the authority of Jesus easily. That's the point of the apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of Genesis. What he was saying is that Isaac is the child of the promise. Ishmael is the child of the flesh. The child of the flesh represents the law and as soon as we accept the promise and we accept what God has done we find within us the resentment and all of those things that the flesh brings about and what Paul says is allegorically speaking cast out the slave woman and her son because you can't have two different ways to live. You can't live under law and grace simultaneously. You can't live as a child of promise and the child of the flesh at the same time.

Get rid of that which stands between you and entering into God's awesome promises. I love to tell that story that you probably heard me tell before happened in the lobby of the church many years ago when a woman came to me and said you know I was living with this man. We were unmarried. Now I've accepted Christ as savior so I've asked him to leave and he won't and I said well I said you know it's very clear you have to move out because committed Christians who are interested in walking with Jesus don't live together without being married and so I said you have to leave. She's well it's more difficult than that I own the apartment. Oh all right a little bit of truth there changes it and she said I've told him to leave and he won't. Now here is the question how does a 120 pound woman get a 200 pound man out of her apartment?

It's a good question. Well I told her I said you know if nothing else you have to go to the police and get an order of protection and have them remove him. Well she did that and eventually she got rid of him. I'll tell you to get rid of the things of the flesh and the things that are wrong are really really difficult and you have to do it with authority. She didn't have the strength to do it herself she needed the authority of the law and we need the authority of Jesus to say to the flesh leave because I'm living by promise. I'm living by the spirit. I'm living in the freedom of Christ and I will not be bogged down by the things of the flesh that keep dragging my soul away from God. So that's our agenda but the true nature of the flesh is not revealed until the spirit comes.

That's why the flesh lusts against the spirit the spirit against the flesh because they're vying for control they're vying for interest and you and I need to cast out the flesh and walk in the spirit. If you've come that far in your Christian life and if you love God today would you bow your head with me in prayer? Our Father we thank you today for your love and grace that brings us to this hour to this moment. We thank you that our faith is in God El Shaddai. We thank you that your promises are absolutely absolutely secure despite our tendency to disbelieve them and we pray in Jesus name that you will help all of us to respond to whatever truth God has shown us today. For those who feel a sense of insecurity may they be granted the ability to cleave to your promises. For those who are angry because they've been bypassed when the blessings were handed out give them a spirit of submission to capitalize on the blessings that you've given them so that you can give them more. And we ask for those of us who struggle with the flesh and the spirit. Whatever God's talked to you about would you talk to him right now silently where you are? You've never accepted Christ as Savior.

You can do that even where you are seated. You can say Jesus I thank you that you died for me. I receive you as mine.

I believe you. I embrace you in my heart and say Jesus I accept you as the one who died for me. As my substitute.

If you have a burden that you've not transferred to the shoulders of Jesus do it. Come to us Father because we are very very needy. Very needy. Very prone to deception.

Very prone to self-protection. Come by your spirit and make us real people living in light of eternity. In Jesus name. Amen.

Amen. This is Pastor Lutzer and if I might have a word with you I would say this. If you don't love God almost certainly you have never been born again because when the Holy Spirit of God does his work within us he implants within us a love for the Father.

I hope that you love the Father but let me ask you this. Are you willing to be persecuted for the cause of Jesus Christ? Throughout history many Christians have experienced persecution in different lands particularly in Muslim countries. I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent and one of the chapters is on persecution.

How can we distinguish between those who buckled when the pressure was on them versus those who stood tall and lived with the consequences or I might say died because of the consequences. I think that this book will be very instructive and for a gift of any amount it can be yours. Here's what you do go to and if I might say thank you so much in advance for helping us. Because of you the gospel of Jesus Christ is going to thousands upon thousands of people through this ministry. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent and once again the info or go to the phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. One day Abraham came out of his tent and saw three men standing there men who were not ordinary men. He knew he was in the presence of the Lord.

As Hebrews 13 says some have entertained angels without knowing it. Next time on Running to Win Abraham learns of God's coming judgment on Sodom. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-16 15:03:35 / 2023-04-16 15:12:06 / 9

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