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Living a Life of Bold Faith (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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February 7, 2023 5:00 am

Living a Life of Bold Faith (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 7, 2023 5:00 am

Dr. Erwin Lutzer implores Christians to stand for their faith and refuse to hide. Dr. Lutzer helps Christians to defend biblical truth with confidence and compassion. The discussion also helps equip us for suffering that may come as we stand for our faith in a culture that desperately needs God. (Part 2 of 2)

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Want more encouragement for your marriage? Look no further than Loving Well, a podcast dedicated to helping you and your spouse build a healthy marriage the way that God intended.

Listen at slash Loving Well, or wherever you get your podcasts. We've thought wrongly about persecution. We need to accept it, not in anger, but as a privilege. And then we have to ask ourselves, are we training our children with those kinds of values?

Or are we going to give the culture whatever the culture wants? That's Dr. Erwin Lutzer talking about the challenging times we're living in and our responsibilities and opportunities as believers to represent Christ in our culture. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daley. I'm John Fuller. John, we're going to continue a great conversation, I felt, that we had yesterday, and we're going to continue to talk about the culture, about the Christian's requirement to live in this culture and how to express ourselves. And I thought it was good.

If you missed it last time, get the download, download the app, Focus on the Family app, and you can listen that way. But what a tremendous conversation, wide-ranging topics of LGBTQ and schools and universities and businesses and the things that kind of the woke culture is trying to put on us right now and how to how to defend those things that we believe in in a way that uplifts God's character at the same time. There's a scripture, I think, it's fitting for our discussion. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, when we are cursed, we bless.

That doesn't go down well with the flesh, does it? But when we're cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When we are slandered, we answer kindly. And it goes on to say that the world considers us like garbage.

I mean, that's what the word says. And that's what the early church was dealing with. And we generally in the Western hemisphere, we've had a pretty good run where Christianity has been deeply respected. It's been the foundation for expansion and great human flourishing, which is what the Lord provides when we pursue him.

But now it's under siege, and people don't like it, and it divides, supposedly. And we're going to talk today with one of our great guests, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who's written a wonderful book called No Reason to Hide. I love it. It's like, what?

Don't hide? Yeah. And it's going to be a great discussion. I agree, Jim. And yesterday had such fantastic insights from Dr. Lutzer. And I should note, we have the book here, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. Call us today for your copy. It's 800, the letter A in the word family.

Details are in the show notes. Dr. Lutzer, welcome back. So great to be with you again, Jim. You know, it's interesting. I just, you know, we talk marriage parenting. Those are core, core things that we do here at Focus on the Family.

But cultural things, I mean, there's an electricity to it that we, it's survival. You know, how are we going to do this? How are we going to do it well? What is the Lord going to take us through? There's a lot in this area of culture that we don't often get an opportunity to talk about. And especially with somebody who is well versed in it like you are, the theological underpinnings of how we should see the world as believers.

So thank you for all those years of learning and putting it down passionately in this book and other books that you've written about. Let me, let me begin here with an illustration that you shared from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a World War II figure. He was killed, I think it was just three days before the end of the war. But he was Hitler's number one target. Of course, he participated in a plan to try to assassinate Hitler.

And Hitler had him killed right at the end of the war, which was so tragic. A great theologian. But in some ways, it describes today's culture, as he shared about being passengers on a train.

And you captured that. Describe what Dietrich Bonhoeffer was getting at and how does that apply to us today? What he was saying is, if you're on the wrong train, it doesn't really matter whether or not you walk through the cars and come to the front or, as far as that's concerned, go to the back of the train, because eventually that train is going to arrive at the station. What he was trying to say is that under Nazism, Germany was on the wrong train and we, in effect, have to get off that train.

And what he said was this, that we should put spokes in the wheel and we should stop what is happening. And of course, originally he was a pacifist, but then he changed his mind, believed that things in Germany were so terrible that Hitler had to be assassinated. So he joined the community that was trying to put an end to Hitler's reign. The interesting thing, and I can't help but mention this, is when he was hung in Flossenburg, the doctor that was there to make sure that he was hung and to be there to verify what happened, said that he had never seen anyone die with such tranquility. Before he went to the gallows, he knelt down and said, oh God, this is the end, but for me it is the beginning.

And so he died. His body was never found, but of course his writings continue on and they remind us of the fact that it is so important to stand against the culture. While I'm on the topic, Jim, because this relates to what is happening in our woke culture, during the Nazi period, there were many churches that put up a swastika in their church and perhaps on their church door. What they were saying is, when you come for the Christians, don't come for us because we are on your side. Today, there are people who will put up various signs and so forth to make sure that people understand we're on board with a woke culture and don't come for us because we are exempt. And what Christians need to do is to have the courage to stand against the culture and to make sure that their commitment to Jesus Christ remains strong. I pulled this from a book that, ironically, Jean was reading this morning as I was reading the prep and reading your book early this morning, and she came to this quote and read it to me.

It's Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1937. Let me just read this and get your reaction. He said, the messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the divisions which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining the family and for leading the nation astray.

They will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord, but the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. That's Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1937, in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.

That could be written today. You know, I read The Cost of Discipleship many years ago, but I didn't remember that quote. What a prophecy as to where we are today, that the disciples of Jesus Christ would be blamed for all of the problems. The reason that we admire Bonhoeffer is that he understood that it is not possible to give allegiance to the Nazi regime, the nationalism that was rife in Germany, and at the same time say that you are following Jesus Christ. What he was doing is forcing the church to face this. Are we going to bow at the altar of Nazism and nationalism, or are we going to bow at the altar of Jesus Christ?

We cannot do both. And in the end, of course, he showed his own courage and his own understanding. But you know, Jim, when you began this program, you mentioned that the church oftentimes has had to stand against the culture.

I want to underline that. The church has always been an island of righteousness in a sea of paganism. When you read the New Testament, you read the New Testament, you read exactly what Bonhoeffer said, namely that the church was always up against a culture that was hostile to it. And to all who are listening today, I would say this, that when you look at the culture, thank God for the opportunity to live today and to simply ask yourself, how can I represent Christ best through the stands that I take, through my convictions and my witness? So true.

So true. And again, I think I'm wanting to cover this topic because people need some direction. There's a lot of uncertainty within the church. And what do we do? And how do we respond? And can we raise our heads up?

And can we speak what we believe? And that's becoming more and more difficult because of the current. I think it was Chesterton who said, you know, that the culture is like a current of a river and dead things float downstream, but living things go upstream.

Wow. That's a profound statement, especially in the spiritual domain that we are born again in Christ. We are living in Christ. And that's why we're fighting upstream. We're moving upstream.

Why dead things are moving downstream. What an awesome quote. Yeah. That's exactly where we are at.

Yeah. You know, to your point about tolerance today, we hear so much about tolerance. You know that today in the culture, tolerance actually means dominance. And in our universities today, there is such an emphasis on conformity.

Let me give you an illustration that actually occurs in my book when I talk about the idea of propaganda. There are universities today that have banned words. One of them has, you know, you can't use the word policeman. You can't use the word freshman. You can't use the word victim even. And then it says this. If there's a barbershop in your area, don't say that he doesn't take in walk-ins because you might offend those that can't walk who are in wheelchairs. Now let's back off and ask ourselves a question.

What's going on there? The intention is not to elevate the conversation. The intention is to silence the conversation. You have no idea what is proper to say. You have no idea of what is proper. You don't know whether or not you can go into a restaurant and ask for a menu, you know, or can a woman get a manicure.

You're not supposed to use the word master. Well, is it okay to say that someone mastered the subject? That's why surveys indicate that most conservative students in our universities self-censor themselves. This is to your point about being silent in the midst of these cultural streams.

Yeah. We're seeing the woke culture creep into churches, of course, and we're troubled by that because we need to stand gently for truth. In your book, you shared quotes from an, I think an article that was in the Washington Post that really does illustrate the problem. Some pastors in Indiana. What took place and what was the issue? The issue was this. This has to do with deconstruction.

You know, Jim, nobody backslides today. People just deconstruct their faith. Right.

It's a term that I didn't hear except perhaps in the last 10 years. So here's this group meeting in Indiana and what they want to do is to form a new woke kind of church that accepts the LGBTQ lifestyle and that is more inclusive. And what you have in those contexts, of course, is a very false view of love. Perhaps I've said this before, but I want to say it with clarity. Love can be evil. When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, they didn't stop loving. They just started to love the wrong things. Lovers of pleasure, lovers of money, lovers of self. So this idea, well, love is love is so wrong because it can be interpreted in wrong ways. So here you have a church that wants to be woke. It wants to be in line with the culture and basically give the culture everything that the culture wants. What's lost, of course, is the gospel because the gospel offends people.

There is such a thing as the offense of the cross and if we lose the gospel and we lose a biblical framework of Christian living, we really are no longer a church even though the word church may be on our door. Let me ask you this because I think the difficulty, I have pastoral friends who would fit that description. I have friendships in the LGBT community. I care about them. I pray for them.

Jean and I both pray for them. We want to see them drawing toward Christ, toward a commitment for Christ and that's the right thing. We have to be involved in the world.

I think it was Paul who said you can't take yourself out of the world. We're going to be around people. We're going to people that need to know the Lord. So how do we maintain that balance? We want churches to be accepting. We want churches to embrace people to come and hear the gospel, especially those that need to hear it and affirm it and embrace Christ as their savior. That's a good thing.

I want to be able to pull out of you that difference. We're not talking about being mean toward anybody. The Lord wasn't mean toward sinners. He was mean toward religious people, I think. He was trying to prove a point.

He was aggressive. But in that context, make that delineation so people are hearing you quite clearly what it means to stand for truth. It doesn't mean you're a fist in the face of the center. Let me put it to you in a single sentence. We have to be welcoming without being affirming. And something else that's incredibly important, first of all, listening.

Nobody will hear us until we have heard them. Very important point. Also, humility. You know, when I preached on same-sex marriage at Moody Church, I gave two sermons on it. Even those who struggled with same-sex relationships came to me later and said, we disagree with you, but we appreciate the attitude with which you preached it.

If we come across as judgmental, if we come across as simply finger pointing, we will drive them away. And what we need to do is to understand the words of Jesus that are so critical. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear. And to every pastor out there, I would say this. If you will not win people's hearts, you probably are not going to win their minds. By winning the heart, I don't mean that they're going to agree with you about everything, but there has to be that sense of compassion where you connect with them emotionally and they sense your heart. Then, they will have an ear to hear. But if all that you do is on the intellectual level preach truth, however important that is, and it's very important, and you leave out the compassion, they probably will not hear what you have to say.

You know, we both have traveled internationally. I've been so enriched by stories that I've heard from persecuted Christians in China, in the Soviet Union, former Soviet Union, other places. Incredible stories of courage, things that we need to know and learn from as we go into our cultural battles. But you had a story in the book about, I think, a family who endured incredible suffering in China.

What happened and what was their outcome? Yes, it's the story really of Daniel Wong, who became a teacher at Masters University as well as elsewhere. His father worked in China for next to nothing.

He'd have gotten a promotion if he had denied his faith in Christ, but he didn't. One day when Daniel was seven, his father took him aside and said to him, you know, I'm going to be taken to prison, but you remain strong in the faith. And then later on, his mother was taken to prison. And the authorities came looking for a Bible in their home.

They couldn't find it, so they smashed the home. And later on, his dad had one request. He wanted to see his wife for the last time. They allowed him to go to the prison where she was, but he was not allowed to go into the prison.

So he walked around the prison singing hymns, hoping that she would be able to hear him. Now through the providence of God, eventually they were free. They came to America.

They helped establish Chinese churches. But here's the point that is so critical. They were faithful to Christ and God gave them the grace that they needed at the very time when they needed it. And you know, God gives grace. He sometimes doesn't give grace ahead of time, but when we really need it, you know, the Bible talks about grace in the time of need.

Yeah, it's beautiful. You know, as Christians, we need to respond to trials and temptations differently from the world. We're not working with the tools that the world would use. I had somebody once tell me if we use the tools of the dark side, we don't use them very effectively.

So why use them? We're not good at it as Christians, which is humorous. But on the other hand, we do know the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, goodness, mercy, kindness, to which many think, man, those aren't very good weapons. But it's exactly what the Lord used.

How do we live in the world but not of it while thinking of the next world to come? Let's put it that way. Well, let me use an illustration. Actually, the church is to be in the world as a ship is in the ocean. But when the ocean gets into the ship, the ship is in deep trouble.

So you're absolutely right. We have to be in the world, but not of the world. And doing that throughout church history has been very difficult.

But here's again where I want to emphasize the long range view of life. I was in East Germany a number of years ago, and a pastor told me under communism, only 15% of the Christians refused to bow to the communist agenda. They were told, that is the people were told, if you don't go to church, if you renounce your faith, you'll get a better job and your children will be able to go to school. 15% says we will not bow.

The other submitted. Now, you know your children not going to school, having a very bad job rather than a promotion, that's very serious. But let's step back and ask ourselves in a hundred years, which family made the best choice? Despite all those hardships, there are marvelous stories of how God took care of them, gave them grace to go through it, because we indeed do live for another world. And as we're winding in, I mean, we've got to cover some of those practical steps that we should take as adults, as parents, as sons and daughters of the older generation, perhaps. What are some of the practical things that we can do right now as believers in Christ to live in this culture? Well, first of all, what we have to do is to make sure that our own faith in Jesus Christ is solid, that we have come to know him as Savior and Lord. We must be in the word of God.

You know, Jesus gave that illustration about the house that was blown away and the house that stood, and he did that to help people to understand that the foundation is absolutely critical. But more than that, we need to change our mindset. We need to think about the fact that we've thought wrongly about persecution. We need to accept it, not in anger, but as a privilege. And then we have to ask ourselves, are we training our children with those kinds of values? Or are we going to give the culture whatever the culture wants?

And of course, critical to this, and I'm sure you've dealt with this on Focus many, many times, has to do with the realm of social media, which is so powerful in its cultural streams that we need to help our children to stand against this. Of course, there can be rules in the home and so forth, but then also family should attend church. And I don't want to get into too much controversy here, but sitting Sunday morning in your pajamas with a cup of coffee, watching a church service is not really attending church.

I know that we did that during the pandemic, and we can understand all that. But there has to be the power of the body. There's something about Christian commitment. When one of your children goes to university, he will probably not be talked out of his faith. He'll probably be tempted to be mocked out of his faith. And the most important decision he can make is this.

When I wake up on Sunday, am I going to go to a church that preaches the gospel, find Christian fellowship, or will I not? You know, let's land with a story. It actually occurred here in Colorado Springs at Garden of the Gods, and it's a family that was hiking there. How did that illustration strike you? You know, David Bryant sent this story to me, and I include it in the epilogue of my book here at the Garden of the Gods.

Now, we are here in Colorado, and you folks understand exactly what I'm trying to describe, this beautiful area with high mountains and trails and places that you can climb to. There was a father who made it to the top. His daughter was behind him, and at some point she froze. She was so afraid. And now the question is, what to do? She was on a very narrow trail, and he gave her three instructions.

The first is this. Don't look around. Look only at me and keep walking. In this world, we should look around in the sense that we know what is going on. But what does the Bible say in the book of Hebrews? Looking to Christ, who is running the race, we look to Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus did that for the glory of God and for our salvation. So to the person out there who is struggling, remember this. Look to me. Look to Jesus. Don't look around. Don't take your theology from the world and keep walking one step at a time. And the good news is his daughter made it safely to the top.

And I trust that all who are listening right now will make it safely all the way home. Time is but a sliver in terms of all of eternity, and we need to emphasize that we live with eternity in mind. Yeah, that's so good. In fact, that language really caught my attention to glance at the culture but gaze on Jesus.

And it was a little bit convicting for me because I think at times I can gaze on the culture and glance at Jesus, and I need to keep that in mind to keep those right. Thank you so much for being with us. Thank you so much for the privilege. This has been so good.

I hope you're catching it. And the goal here at Focus is really to equip you, to do the job you want to do, to do the job you need to do as a believer, and then also as a spouse, as a parent, and to help train up your kids in the way they should go. And this is one of those great resources, Dr. Lutzer's book, No Reason to Hide. It will empower you as a parent particularly to help talk to your children about what's important in this life, what will be the most important thing 100 years from now, the fact that you're in heaven together.

And we need to keep that thing the main thing. Get a hold of us. We're here to help you in any way we can, certainly by putting Dr. Lutzer's book into your hands. If you can support the ministry monthly, that's great.

A one-time gift is good too. And we'll send you the book as our way of saying thank you for doing ministry with us. If you can't afford it, we are a Christian ministry. We want to get this resource into your hands.

And just let us know that right now you can't afford it, and we'll trust that others will take care of the cost. Yeah, we're grateful to the donor community for sustaining this ministry and making it possible for us to offer help. Donate today and get Dr. Lutzer's terrific book, No Reason to Hide, when you call 800 the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459, or stop by the show notes where we'll have the link. And this note that we have a lot of additional content to share on the download and the CD that you can get through the links from this interview. Next time you'll hear from Kirsten Watson encouraging moms to just take a breath and trust in God. I think when we get our identity, even from our kids, like that, that is scary because, I mean, I can in one day give myself a gold star for how I've been momming, and then the other day feel like I have totally ruined their entire life. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-07 05:25:17 / 2023-02-07 05:35:35 / 10

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