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When God Speaks Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2023 1:00 am

When God Speaks Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 10, 2023 1:00 am

Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. If God never revealed Himself, we wouldn’t know what happens after death, the difference between right and wrong, or where we came from. In this message from 2 Peter 1, we analyze the consistency of the Bible. The Bible shines light on areas we could never discover without God.

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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.

The Bible gives direction to those running life's race, not just for this life, but for the life to come. Beginning today, we're bringing an eight-part series that tells you why you can trust this book with your life. Get set for the journey, and stay with us. 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, today you begin teaching about seven reasons why you can trust the Bible. Give us a look ahead at what's coming up.

Well Dave, that's quite an assignment. But let me simply give you the sermon topic, since you asked me for a look ahead. A logical reason, historical reason, prophetic reason, Christological reason, scientific reason, providential reason, personal reason. I've written a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. I wrote this for the average Christian, trying to understand much better why it is we believe what we believe and why the Bible is reliable. 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. There's no question that is as important as whether or not the Bible is a trustworthy book. Let's listen carefully. Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. Now that stands in opposition to many other religions that are really naturalistic. There are prophets and gurus who have tried to peer into reality, who've had certain experiences and they've written up their experiences, and many people have followed them.

In ancient Rome and Greece, Egypt, Babylon, whether you're talking about Buddhism, Hinduism, they all have to do with human beings having insight into reality or perceived insight and therefore they wrote oftentimes large volumes about what they have learned. Now there are some other religions that claim to be revealed. Joseph Smith claims that he had a revelation from an angel.

And of course, Muhammad claims to have had a revelation. But when you talk about revelations, what you need to do is to test them. You need to test them for consistency. Do they make sense?

Does it hang together? You also have to test them for their truth value. Do they really explain reality? Is there is there something about the revelation that commends it to say, yes, this is a word from God. Now I want you to know that Christianity is totally unique and different because it not only says that there was one prophet who spoke for God, but many.

There are at least 40 different authors of the book that we call the Bible, and they were all talking about the same issues, God, man, sin, redemption, and lo and behold, the Bible is unified on that subject. That alone would indicate that the Bible is a very special book. But it's also special because in the Bible, in Christianity, it is not just ideas that are communicated.

Events become very important. You see, it isn't just that Jesus Christ taught us how to live. It is that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Therefore Bethlehem and Jerusalem and all of those events become absolutely necessary for Christianity, and without them, everything that we believe would collapse. Now, if God has not spoken, let's just suppose that there is no word from God outside the universe. We have to live with some of the consequences. For example, we don't know what it is that awaits us after we die.

That curtain is totally closed. We have no idea whether meaning can be found in this world. Bertrand Russell, you remember the atheist, he counseled us to be brave despite the fact that we would fail and die and be eternally obliterated.

He still asked us to be courageous at least. So that's the position that has to be taken if God has not spoken because there's no way that we can penetrate the barrier to the great spirit world. We cannot find God simply by looking at a star, even though we may see that surely the stars were created by some creator, but the stars do not tell us what kind of a creator did the work. It may be powerful, but not necessarily omnipotent.

He may be loving, but then again, maybe he isn't loving. Just look at all of the earthquakes and the famines and the hurricanes in the world. So all of these mysteries become and remain as mysteries with no hope that we can penetrate the barriers. Morality becomes a matter of personal preference.

There can be no objective standard, no way by which we can judge whether men and women do right or wrong. But if God has spoken, if God has revealed himself with the precision of language in sentences and verbs and nouns and pronouns, then suddenly we have the privilege of being able to go behind the barrier and some of the mysteries can become clear to us and finally we can find out what God is like and we can understand our relationship to him and we can see whether there is meaning in the world because it will all somehow now make sense. Well, as you know, this is the first message in a series of messages on seven reasons why I believe the Bible is God's word.

Now we're not going to get to the reasons yet. That begins in the next message. This is an introductory message to simply whet our appetite and to traverse the terrain for us to see where we are going to be going to help us to understand what some of us mean when we say the Bible is the word of God. What do you mean by that?

What do we mean by words such as inerrant? And is it necessary to really believe that the Bible is without mistakes? Can't it have at least some little teensy weeny small mistakes? Why is it so important to believe that actually the words were superintended by God? That's what this message hopes to accomplish to answer some of those questions before we actually get into the reasons why we believe the Bible is the word of God. So take your Bibles and turn to 2 Peter, 2 Peter chapter 1. You'll notice that Peter is writing at a time when already the truths of Christianity were being criticized by at least some people.

There were always those who said, you know, you're making it up. So I take 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 16. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to him by the majestic glory.

This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. And Peter says, we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all that no prophecy of the scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Now if you're in the habit of underlining your Bibles, I want you to underline three words that we have just read. First of all, go there to verse 19 and underline the word sure. You'll notice it says, so we have the prophetic word made more sure. What do we mean when we say the Bible is the word of God? First of all, we say it is a sure word.

It is dependable. This is a word from God. And Peter says in verse 16, we didn't follow cleverly devised tales that some people might think we've done because we were there when it happened. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. We were there on the Mount of Transfiguration. We heard the words that God said thundering from heaven. Now I want you to notice that Peter says that what we have believed is true. Now all throughout history there are those who say, well, you know, these are very fancy fables. Later on in the series of messages, I hope to comment at least briefly on the so-called Jesus seminar where scholars sit around and they say, well, I don't think Jesus said this. Well, you think so? Well, then you put a bead in this dish. You don't think that he said this? Then you put a bead in this dish.

And if it's a maybe, then you put a different colored bead in another dish. That's known as the Jesus seminar. Now you have to understand what they are doing. We'll explain in a moment what they're doing. What they're trying to do is to say that Jesus was only a man. The miracles have to be stripped away. All of the sensational statements about his deity have to be put into the dish that says, no, he didn't say this.

And all of that is really based on their subjective hunches as to whether or not Jesus said it. Now notice what the text says. We didn't follow tales.

By the way, notice this. Peter talks about the transfiguration. He says we were with him there on the holy mountain.

I read that a moment ago. And you know that Peter, James, and John were invited to do that. Now listen folks. Here was a historical event. They went to the top of that very, very high mountain. That was a physical event. But notice also it was tied to some theological truth. The text says that when they were up there, they heard the voice of God saying, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. That was a theological statement. What point am I trying to make?

Simply this. There are many people who say, well, you know, the Bible's theology is inspired. We can trust all of those great truths that the Bible teaches, but it is not accurate in matters of history and science. It's got mistakes in it in those areas.

My dear friend, are you following this? Because if that is true, that it has mistakes in science and history, why should we not also think that it has mistakes when it comes to theology? You can't take the Bible and you cannot separate its history from its theology because most of the time its theology is history. And as we shall show in some future messages, you must either believe the whole thing or you must doubt the whole thing, but you can't pick and choose.

You can't pick and choose. Now the Bible says in Psalm 19, thy testimonies are sure, they're dependable. In a world in which many opinions are being expressed, in a world in which many people are living with their own privatized religion, trying to find out reality, trying to probe behind the barriers, isn't it wonderful to know that we have a sure word of prophecy? It is a sure word. I don't agree with everything that Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, most assuredly, but he did say this, truth is tough. It will not break like a bubble at a touch.

Nay, you may kick at it all day long like a football and it will still be round and full in the evening. Let me tell you something. If the Bible is a sure word, if it is dependable, we should be able to analyze its history. We should be able to even analyze wherever it touches science, like on the creation issue, about which there shall be a message, God willing, in this series. We should be able to analyze it from the standpoint of its prophecies. We should be able to look at it as many different ways as you want to check out a document, and it should always turn out to be reliable because it is a sure word.

It's a sure word. What do we mean when we say the Bible is God's word? We mean that it is dependable, that when the men sat down and they wrote it, they wrote under divine supervision and inspiration, and God guarded them from error.

Secondly, underline the word shining, shining. You'll notice that the text tells us here that the word of God, verse 19, we have the prophetic word made more sure. Peter says, you know the fact that we're up in the mountain, it confirmed the prophecies of the Old Testament.

That's what he meant. And just like God predicted what Jesus Christ would look like in his coming glory, Peter says, we were there and we saw it. But now notice it says, we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining, there's a second word, in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

It's a shining word. Peter uses a very vivid expression in the original Greek. He says it is like a light that shines in a very murky place. It is in a murky place, Peter says. And events in life are murky. The situations that people get themselves into are murky. The human heart is murky.

The human heart is murky. And the scriptures are like a light shining in a dark place. They finally illuminate all of the darkness and the dissipation and the evil and the questions of this world.

My word is a lamp unto my feet, a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. When I was a boy on the farm, I used to follow my father at night and he would have a lantern. Now the lantern didn't give a lot of light. It didn't illuminate the whole farmyard, but it gave us enough light to find out where the path is. It gave us enough light to make sure that the next step that we took would be a solid one.

We were not going to fall off from a rock. And so that's the way the word of God is. It doesn't tell us all of the answers that we would like to know. It doesn't reveal to us all of the mysteries that God has in his person.

We wouldn't even be able to accept that. That's something that we're going to study for all of eternity. But what the Bible does do, and it's important that it does, is that it guides us in the darkness of this world. And it keeps pointing us to Christ who said, I am the light of this world.

He that fall with me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Over in Jerusalem, under the city is a place where tourists seldom get to. There are what is known as the quarries of King Solomon.

Not a very accurate historical designation because those were probably not his quarries, but that's the name that is given. There are huge caves, caves as large as your house. And some of us were in those caves, and we were with a man who said, I'm not lost. I'm not lost.

He said, I've been in here 40 times, 40 times. But he was lost. But he was lost. And we're thankful that some of us remembered where it is that we had come in and where the tunnels were that would eventually get us out because you wouldn't want to be lost there for too long. But the thing that helps us, of course, is the flashlight. How do you get out of a cave without a flashlight? And some of you in your darkness and in the dismal experiences and the sheer emptiness of life, you say, where is the light? Where is the light? Word of God is like a lamp shining, shining in a dark place to which you do well to pay attention.

Notice that, folks, finger on the text. You do well to pay attention to what the word of God says as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. And when he thinks of the dawning of the day, he thinks of the return of Jesus Christ. And before Jesus Christ comes within our hearts, there is the morning star.

We usually think of it as Jupiter or Mars or Saturn, the morning star that heralds the coming of the sun. And in the very same way, within our hearts, there is this desire when you see all these things coming to pass, the scripture says, know that your redemption draws nigh. And so we look forward. We look to the future. We look to the future, the return of Jesus Christ. And once the sun comes up, we don't need the lantern anymore.

You don't need the lantern. And when Jesus Christ comes, though the word of God is forever settled in heaven, the fact is that we will not need those promises of forgiveness. We will not need those promises of guidance. God's word is settled forever in the sense that his promises are eternal and sure, but we will not be looking at the book because then we will know even as we are known and God is going to show us Christ, show us Christ. And we'll not have the need that we do today, the same need for the scriptures. And so that's the word that we have today. We mean when we say the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is a sure word, completely dependable.

We also mean that it is a shining word. It sheds light in areas that we could never possibly discover. For example, could you, by being a scientist, discover that God actually exists as a Trinity?

Absolutely not. Even if you believed as a scientist that God existed, you could never deduce the Trinity. And as I already mentioned, you would not know whether God was loving or whether he was hateful because there's enough in nature to make us think both. We couldn't figure it out.

Couldn't figure it out. All right, my friend, here's a question for you. Is it contradictory to say that the Bible is the word of God because it claims to be the word of God? Well, of course, we'd all agree that a sentence like that, left by itself, is indeed circular reasoning. But you know, it is important for us to understand what the Bible has to say about itself.

For example, in a courtroom, you will bring in a defendant and he is willing, if he is willing, he is given the privilege of defending himself. And after he gives his defense, you look around and see whether or not there's evidence to believe and to trust what he has just said. In the very same way, we have to look at the Scriptures to see what they say about themselves. Did you know that about 1,500 times, either directly or indirectly, the Bible claims to be the word of God?

Now if it isn't, it's filled with 1,500 lies. We have in our hands a remarkable book when we hold the Bible. For a gift of any amount, you can receive the book I have written entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible.

This is a very critical book. Many of you have students in school and you need to be able to give them information so that their faith in the Bible and in Christ is strengthened. For a gift of any amount, we're making this resource available to you.

Simply go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because if you're like me, you frequently don't have a pencil in your hand to write these things down. But I want to also express to you our deep gratitude for the many of you who support this ministry. When I think of running to win, it's not the ministry of a man, of an organization or a church, it's your ministry.

And thanks in advance for helping us. Ask for the book Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Go to or simply call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time, why we must either embrace what the Bible says altogether or reject it outright. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-10 23:42:38 / 2023-01-10 23:51:01 / 8

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