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December 13, 2020 1:00 am
There’s a gift you can receive this Christmas that is far more valuable than anything that would fit under your tree. You can have a life that transcends this present existence and opens the door to an eternity with God. Jesus brings this life to us.Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)
There is a gift you can receive this Christmas that's far more valuable than anything that would fit under your tree. You can have life, real life, a spiritual life that transcends this present existence and opens the door to an eternity with God. Stay with us from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Today we continue a series on gifts Jesus brought to us after the music of Christmas.
Stay with us for Dr. Luther's message on Jesus, the gift of life taken from the book of first John pastor looks or comes now to open today's service. Now let no matter what your week has been like and I know that it may have been as busy as some of ours. This is our opportunity to set all that aside to ask the Holy Spirit of God to come to leaders to tune our hearts to sing God's praises and to rejoice in the joy that God has brought to us and working to be singing this melody of Christmas carols, it actually begins with joy to the world. The Lord has come. When you join with me as we pray together and let us invite God to come and guide us father in our minds we re-create the wonderful story that is in your word about the angels singing about a joy and we thank you today that they even now rejoice in your salvation on our behalf. We asked Lord that despite our diversity in the matter where we've come from, regarding the week that is pastor. The week that is still to come.
May we now concentrate.
May we concentrate as we sing to your glory to our edification and we ask that you shall be magnified today here at The Moody Church in Jesus name, amen.
How are y'all doing with Christmas. I always remind you every year of the little boy who used to pray, forgive us our Christmases even as we forgive those who Christmas against us.
Christmas is a very busy time of year and it's a time also when people begin to think about their health and I think it's true to say that we live in a society that is somewhat obsessed with good health.
There is some goodness to that. There may also be some negatives. By the way, I heard of a husband who gave his wife.
Membership to a health club Xmas and he promised her that she would lose weight very bad, very bad Christmas present to give your wife a year later she said you promised that I would lose weight and I haven't lost a pound.
He said I forgot to tell you the membership itself isn't enough. You actually have to go there once in a while. Yes, people are obsessed with their physical health.
But you know in the end we lose that battle like a hand before a cobra. The time is going to come when there is nothing that we can do, no matter how we dance, no matter how we try to talk ourselves out of it. Suddenly there we will be, and death will come us now. The Bible teaches that every person who has ever lived upon the planet and it was alive today, has eternal existence, eternal existence, conscious, eternal existence, but there's also a category of people who will have eternal existence, but they will have what the Bible calls eternal life, eternal life, and what a difference that is you know CS Lewis who said some remarkable things and I'm going to read one of those remarkable things to you. He said every human being is in the process of becoming unknowable, being noble, beyond imagination, or else. Alas, a bio being beyond redemption. He exhorts us to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else that person might be a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if only in a nightmare. He says there are no ordinary people. It is immortals whom we joke with whom we work with whom we marry whom we snub, and exploit immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
Wow, that's what happens. One minute after you die and were all going there but eternal life. That's what CS Lewis is referring to regarding those categories. Who if you saw them. Now they would be so tempted for us to worship them because of their beauty.
Those kinds of beings they are the ones who had eternal life, and later on in this message. If you stay with me for the next few moments. I'm going to explain to you what that eternal life is how you can have it and why it's something that you ought to have.
I want your mouth, so to speak, spiritually speaking to be watering and say that's exactly what you what I want is the eternal life that the Bible lays out for us. That's where we are going well. Our text today is actually in first John first John and if you have your Bibles.
You know that first John is near the end of the New Testament you have first John and then you have Jude and then you're at the book of Revelation. First John was written by the same man the same apostle who wrote the gospel of John Matthew Mark Luke John, this is the same John and he wrote three small letters and this is known. Therefore, as first John, then we have second John and third John and that these are his writings and what I'd like us to do is to see if we can the aspects the aspects of eternal life that he lays out here for us, not eternal existence, but eternal life. Let's just open the text of first John chapter 1 and begin reading that which was from the beginning, which we have heard we have to stop what beginning why think it's the same beginning as in John 11 as the letter of John because he says there in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
In what beginning in the beginning for all of eternity. Because, forgot there was no beginning in the beginning was, no matter whether you take the beginning to be creation or any other point in time.
The fact is, God existed before that he existed from all of eternity and it is this word that became flesh is John is going to explain it to us. The first aspect is simply this, that the word is manifested. That's the translation that we had here it says that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on and touched with our hands concerning the life, the life was made manifest.
Now that's an old word is that we don't use that in regular English that we talk about something being made manifest. It really means revealed what John is saying here is that in Jesus in the word God showed up there.
Some of you who would say that you are seeking for God and if you are I'm so glad that you are listening and the fact that you are a seeker is great because that means something good about you and maybe something wonderful is about to happen in the Bible, you really come to the end of your search for God because in Jesus, God is revealed. He is manifested, and John wants to talk about Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances, that is, after Jesus was raised from the dead. You'll notice it says that which we have seen that which we have heard.
He begins by hearing.
He says we actually heard Jesus speak now creation speaks about God, but it does it with a great deal of ambiguity in creation, you would never know that God loved the world, given all of the various kinds of natural disasters in the world. It speaks about God.
It speaks about his love and his judgment but couldn't figure him out. But Jesus actually spoke to us so he says we were alive. We knew him. We heard him, and then it says we have seen him with our eyes and just imagine Jesus making this statement, as he does in John chapter 14 he who has seen me has seen the father. Oh that's so important if you want to see God you read the New Testament you read about Jesus and then he says goes on and he says whom we have touched no why would he say whom we have touched. Why is that important. Well, you know, during these days, there was Platonic philosophy to member the days of the da Vinci code and the Gnostic Jesus. Gnosticism was basically an attempt to unify Christianity with Greek philosophy, particularly Plato's philosophy and that's why the Gnostic Gospels, and I have been my possession a Gnostic Bible because I wrote a book about the da Vinci code. When you read it it makes no pretense to be a historical document. It makes no reference to cities, towns, rivers, and so for that is not like the New Testament is the musings of Platonic scholars trying to unify the Bible with Platonism and because Plato says that all matter is evil. It was unthinkable in the minds of people that God could become a man, it would be like saying God is becoming evil and so they believe that when Jesus showed up.
He wasn't really a man, and so they tried to take away the humanity of Jesus and say that he was some kind of an appearance. He was some kind of an apparition and that's why in the Gnostic Gospels, they put into the mouth of Jesus. Anything that they want because he's not a Jesus who died on the cross and was raise so John is saying we actually saw him and we touched him. He was real. The most explosive book in the verse in the Bible is not John 316 oh that's the most known in the most beautiful and most gospel centered, but the one that you shattered the philosophical world of the day is actually John 114 and the Word became flesh, God became man unthinkable to the Greeks, but thankfully known to us as God of very God by life. Soon after we're married. Rebecca worked at Allstate actually is a secretary and she had a boss who once said to her you know if I when I die, I I show up and God is there. I'm going to ask him what were the BN will word you been. Certainly, he should've seen God in creation and that should've created within this man's a desire to seek for God.
That's number one.
But God will say to him someday. I did show up. I did show up, Jesus came to reveal the father and whoever saw him, saw the father because in Jesus, God showed up.
And this man born in the United States of America would have no excuse because he could go into a bookstore. You could buy a Bible he could go to churches that preach the gospel. If you are really seeking God. God was there for the finding buddies that I want to say to God were of you been all tell your worries been he's been here on earth he was in Bethlehem and he died on the cross.
That's worries been a member of Phil Donahue.
Those talk shows that he used to have one day he said you know if God loved the world why did he send his son to die.
Why didn't he do it himself.
Fill in Jesus. He did it himself. God was in flesh, reconciling the world unto so John says the life was manifested and then he says thirdly and the third aspect of life was proclaimed.
You'll notice he says it is this word uses the word we we've heard we've seen. We've handled we've touched him and we now testify and proclaim to you this eternal life.
I think it's verse two we proclaim it to and why wouldn't you proclaim a message like this and spread abroad now.
The first time this particular message was proclaimed it was by angels on the outskirts of Bethlehem and then later on the shepherds themselves proclaim the good news and then beyond that, even we have about of course the wise men, but they didn't understand everything that John understood because they didn't understand the death and the burial in the resurrection of Jesus with the clarity with which John did because he was there for all of the events and choices. We proclaim this message to you. First of all by words by words. Because you need to know the gospel, you need to know that Jesus died for sinners and that 10 his death as a substitute for those who believe on him.
So, you proclaim it, but you also have a sense of authenticity, you proclaim it with your life. You know, in chapter 2. You'll notice at the bottom of the page in my Bible at least you'll notice that John says verse six whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Why wouldn't a Christian does come to saving faith in Christ to understands the glories of the gospel. Why wouldn't he share it with his colleagues at work. To me it is unthinkable that you would to give them a book to read and Oreo small booklet and say look read this booklet and then we'll talk about it in two weeks. Let's go out for lunch. Let's talk about event and to share the good news member in second Kings chapter 7 Old Testament. There are four leopards and they are dying they are starving and they say were going to go to the camp of the Syrians and if they kill us. That's fine were dying anyway but they might take care of us, and they go into the camp and they discover that there is no Syrian there because what happened is they had had a false report and they all ran and they left all of their food, and all of their belongings and all of their money and so these four guys are just having unbelievable party you just read about it. I read it this morning. I mean they are hauling off stuff for themselves and then they think you know were not doing this right, we ought to actually tell other people what we found a great idea. How can you know Christ and not proclaim he him. That is to say, share him with your colleagues and those that work.
Of course you've been changed. You understand the gospel. You understand the need, you understand the predicament that people are in you know that Jesus is the answer to their predicament and you and I perhaps not sharing with others the good news of the gospel. So first of all, he says some God was revealed. He was manifest a secondly he says that we proclaim the message and we shared it and then 30 says we enjoyed this eternal life we enjoy this eternal life this past week. Someone said to me, and I do not remember who, whether it was a staff member or someone else. They said something like this. I'm surprised at the number of people at Moody Church, to whom I talk, who do not understand the gospel and who probably therefore are not saved. Wow, I thought to myself that's disappointing because I thought I preach the gospel almost every Sunday virtually every Sunday if you're listening for it.
I think you know that it's here so I'm going to do is to take just a moment so that you better understand eternal life, and then the purpose of eternal life, and I want you to leave here absolutely excited about eternal life and to let you know what Christmas is all about what this eternal life begins by being born again six times in this little letter of three or four chapters, John mentions the phrase born again, he says if a person is born again he was born of God does not do this. He that is born of God lives this way. Who in the world is this person who is born of God. Many years ago Rebecca and I were in Germany and we rented a car and we drove to having hooked now that's where the Moravians lived and I wanted to go to the cemetery there. They lived there in the 1700s and the reason choir listen carefully what I wanted to go to the cemetery is because the Moravians were so into music. Sometimes they sang music up to six hours at a time and they were buried in accordance with the choirs of, for example, you belong to that choir. This is your plot to be buried.
Could you imagine the cemetery here in Chicago. This is Moody Church choir from the year 1970s to 1990s, and then you have the other folks buried over here because I suppose in the day of resurrection. They just all get up and be ready to sing and everybody beyond tune in, they be ready to go Tim, you've got a job to do, get them ready, not just for tonight's concert but a little bit beyond. So anyway were looking for the cemetery and through a stroke of Providence that I will not take time to tell you about it was just of God. We met a man who was on his way to the cemetery and who had a key to take us into a tower in the cemetery that he spoke only German side no alternative but to try my German on him and as were walking along, I knew that I had this guy only for five or 10 minutes so obviously I wanted to share the gospel with them so I began asking him and German. Whether or not he was feed that are good for him to hear that whether or not he was born again and he said to me, born again is that I was born.
Once why would I want to be born twice.
I just smiled.
That's exactly what Nicodemus said to Jesus. Jesus said you must be born again. He says will can I enter into my mother's womb and be born a second time is publicly not.
So I had to explain to him he had to be born of the Holy Spirit through personal faith in Christ and I said to him in broken German that it doesn't happen through baptism. It doesn't happen through confirmation. It doesn't happen to you by going to church and other used to be an evangelist by the name of Billy Sunday maybe have not heard of him that in the 1920s great evangelist. He was actually buried here and when I came to Moody Church.
A woman wrote me a letter who remembered Billy Sunday. I suppose by now she is in heaven, but she said he used to hop from this platform that I'm standing on to the lower one without using the stairs and and vice versa because he was into baseball and he'd say you hit a homerun for Jesus slide into home late. It must've been a very interesting guy to listen to, but I remember a quote from Billy Sunday because he was right on when he said this going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than driving a wheelbarrow into a garage and it becoming a car Billy Sunday was right.
You're not born again by going to church though to go to churches goodbye listening to sermons by admiring Jesus your born again by faith. When you recognize that you need a Savior and you transfer all of your trust what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. Now and when that happened, something else happens is not just that God creates within us a new nature so that we begin loving God, etc., though.
All that happens and we become partakers of the divine nature and God gives us brand-new loves and we begin to love Jesus and we begin to love God all that happened but something else happens. This is why it's so critical for you to listen to this message and that is that the whole sin issue between us and God is actually resolved and taken out of the way and that of course is only something that Jesus can do because because, listen to me carefully for us to meet God.
We have to meet him on his terms not ours. Now the text is open and you'll notice what John says we have fellowship. We proclaim to you. Verse three so that you too may have fellowship with us and don't we ever commit believers all over the world and there's a sense of instant connection fellowship, sharing a common life indeed our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ and were writing these things to you, so that our joy may be complete so that really our fellowship is with the father and with the son, Jesus Christ, may I read one more phrase in this is in verse five. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all allows time for us to catch her breath here, God is like no darkness. You know that scientists and you can find this on the Internet.
They've argued for years about whether or not light is particles or whether it is waves and actually I think it's both. But I checked it yesterday and the scientists say that life is very complicated and if they think it's complicated.
I happen to agree with them all right. But here's the thing, you realize that God is uncreated light uncreated all of the light that you and I see is created, you know. And God said, let there be light and there was light created is very difficult to understand but that's what happened, but God someday we will see him and will walk with him in the is light, totally uncreated light in God. There is light. He is light. In fact and in him, not even a particle of darkness, not the slightest bit of sin.
It is impossible for you and I to visualize how pure God really is, and now we as sinners are supposed to meet him on his terms and not ours.
How are we going to do that. The only person who can prepare us for that is Jesus Christ to not only crates that new nature within us, but takes our sin and puts it to the side and takes it away so that now we can walk in the light as God is in the light and when we do, we have fellowship with his son and with him and we have a connection because the sin issue has been put away. Now John is going to go on to say that if we say oh yeah I'm walking in the light and yet we have darkness in our lives we tolerate sin and we have darkness, then John is going to say we lie and do not the truth.
He goes on, but now your Bibles are open. I want to show you something I want to show you something that ought to just bless you so much that you ought to start hollering, but maybe I'll give you the signal first. All right. Look at this verse six if we say that we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie for the Christians who lie Christians who like oh yeah I'm walking with God really look at the sin in your life that you haven't confessed and dealt with.
We lie and do not practice the truth. But verse seven. If we walk in the light as he that is God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin. What is the antecedent when it says, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another seal that means that I fellowship with you. You have fellowship with me and the blood of Jesus Christ God stuff that's not the antecedent that is true, we have fellowship with one another to member the word antecedent little boy was making a grammatical error in the neighbor said to him, little boy. Where is your grandmother. He said well she's upstairs there with grandpa and so the word antecedent. Here's the deal. The real antecedent to this is God. If we walk in the light as he is in the light that we lose the we got and I we have fellowship with one with another, God has fellowship with us and we have fellowship with God and its reciprocal it's a reference to God fellowship one with another. Oh yes, we have fellowship with one another here as human beings, but imagine living in fellowship with God and were doing it on his terms, namely walking in the light as he is in the light thanks to Jesus who came to take away our sins so that the way to God becomes clear and state couple it is old because of Christ. Imagine no wonder John can say I'm writing these things to you so that we might be joyful, and that your own joy may become immune. Imagine walking with God and there is no there's no sin in between and when sin comes in between you deal with that you confess that you deal with it you put it behind you and you and God have fellowship together. The whole Christmas story that's Christmas God says I want to be your friend and I want to be your friend eternally. The whole thing is about and Jesus is the only one, as we shall see who can bring it about. And so what you really have is fellowship with God.
Remember the words of the Creed words of the Creed were the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
And I think that John Piper is right when he says that what it really means is the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. You know you so I want God to be glorified in my life will limit tell you how when fellowship with God and your passion for God is greater than your passion to sin.
And when that happens.
You see, God is glorified because our joy is in God and that's the purpose of it all Rebecca and I've been to Europe a number of times and when we drive from my Germany to Switzerland. We always go through a little town called Liechtenstein a people go to the post office there.
There is a post office in Liechtenstein.
I don't think that there's a streetlamp there is a post office because they want to say about a stamp in Liechtenstein and one of the things about it is that high on a cliff really high on a mountain, there's the palace of the king of Liechtenstein. This we little postage stamp area and they tell us that when the flag is up. That means that the king is there will the day that we were there the flag was up. The king was in residence. Joy is joy is the flag that we put up when the king is in residence when Jesus Christ is the one who is the Lord of our life and came and God and the purpose of it all is that I might have fellowship with God and God have fellowship with me. Can it get any better than that. Now as we nail this down.
Couple of things and that by the way, is what eternal life. It's easy Jesus that I came to give them life and that life more abundantly. And what is the eternal life is life with friendship God ever now a couple of things. First of all, as we nail this down if you're wrong about Jesus you're wrong about God.
If you're wrong about Jesus you're wrong about God. In fact I John says later here at near the end of the epistle. He says he who has the son has life. He who does not have the son does not have life. That simple and yet that profound. He who has the son have life because Jesus is the only one who can do for you profits rose they can say live better do this. This is the way you handle reality check out whatever but only Jesus is actually able through the power of the Spirit to create within us the new birth, sometimes called being saved or and also not war, but also to give us eternal life, and to take away our sin and all these other religions I'm acquainted with some of them know they're all talking about meeting God get to God this way none of them have a clue about the huge gap between themselves and God.
They all avoid the sin issue, but you can't. You have to get to Jesus on God's terms and only person who's able to enable you to do that is Jesus to meet God's terms, and he himself becomes our holiness and becomes our righteousness, so that we can stand in God's presence and then there's another line and that is that so first of all, if you're wrong about Jesus you're wrong about God.
Jesus made that very clear. He says if you don't receive me you don't receive the father. You don't get the father you don't bypass Jesus and get to God. Sorry. Thanks for the attempt, but it can't be done now something else and that is that Jesus not only wants to be trusted Jesus not only wants to be trusted.
Jesus wants to be enjoyed. That's why the Bible talks about the fullness of joy. It talks about the fact that we should enjoy our relationship with God and as I mentioned having a passion for God that is greater than our passion to sin brings glory to God and reminds us of the fact that we do indeed belong to God forever, you know, one of the great problems of the world is this where deceived by the world because people confuse pleasure and joy. Huge confusion.
I'm thinking of the wrong kinds of pleasures, you know, if you really get pleasure. You know you do all this that I enjoy doing this in pleasure and they forget the fact that there's a great difference between the pleasures and joy. You know it was Robert Burns, who wrote the pleasures are like Poppy spread you sees the flower of the bloom is shed or like the snowdrops snowflakes on the river a moment white then melt forever. What we're talking about is eternal life.
Eternal life begins. Now when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. It begins now that it extends throughout all of eternity. The enjoyment of God begins in this life and continues in the life to come, and that enjoyment is what eternal life is to be in the presence of God beholding his face. Enjoy without sin ever coming between us. I mean, it is unthinkable to me that is to say, I can't get my mind around what it would be like when we're in a position with our new bodies to see God as God. Finally, because nobody can see God as God today. No man can see me and live, but to be able to look upon God. Uncreated light and to do so without sin ever messing up.
Don't you look forward to that day to me when the be wonderful if you'd behold God without sin ever messing it up.
You see, if you have never been born again, that won't be your experience. What you must do is to personally receive Christ if you don't know the day that you were saved, you probably aren't is not to say that everybody knows the day, but almost everyone who comes to saving faith in Christ knows that it happened in a period of time for me when I was 14 years old. Maybe for you when you're six, maybe 20 or talk.
I was talking to somebody last Sunday they were saved as adults they came to saving faith in Christ but everybody knows because it's not something that just happens to you because you happen to like church you happen to like Christmas music and you happen to think that Jesus was really wonderful.
Now the transfer of trust that brings about the new birth.
These things I write on you. John says that you may know that you have eternal life, and you know it because of who you are, depending on who it is and where you are going, there is a story that comes to us from the days of Michelangelo. Apparently one of his students made a sculpture of an angel worked on it for an awful long time and hope to this, his mentor would really like it and actually put it out there and then head so that he would hear what Michelangelo had to say about it. Unvarnished and Michelangelo came along and looked at it for a long time and said it's beautiful but it's missing one thing was student could hardly sleep.
What could it be that's missing. And then he learned later as he talked to the great master. He said what I meant was, it was missing life is not something that a student can give to an angel or to any sculpture and that's not something you can give to yourself. And it's not something you do your children. Life is something that can only be given by God that only he can give you John says here we're proclaiming to you the word of life. That's what Jesus came to bring us is the word of life and those of you who kind of know that you like Christianity and you like Moody Church and you like the music but you've never received Christ as Savior, God is talking to you right this moment he's prepared you for this moment that you might come to saving faith because the life has been manifested. We proclaim it to you in its to be enjoyed. It brings us to the father.
Now and forever. Let's bow together in prayer alright now I'm speaking to you as a congregation and all those were listening by whatever means by radio or whatever. Here is the bottom line. Do you know that you have eternal life. Have you nailed this down through faith in Jesus. If not, even where you are. You can crab to God in your heart and say, this moment I received Christ as Savior. I received the life that he came to give me and to bring me that I might have fellowship with the father. Now and forever nail that down in your mind and heart.
Father, because those who have never believed in you but think they have, to finally do so with intentionality, with the full knowledge that they need a Savior. May they know that when they come to Christ. He is trustworthy to receive them to forgive them to take away their sins so that they too can have fellowship with the father on his terms. Whatever work you begun as a result of this message. We pray that you'll finish it even if it isn't in this moment, in the moments to come and we thank you for our Savior, whom we do door in his name on on today's Moody Church.
Our Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on Jesus, the gift of life 2nd to 4 messages on gifts Jesus brought to us next week will learn about Jesus the gift of love will find out how to reconcile a loving God with the human suffering that surrounds us. Be sure to tune in this month we have a special gift for all who share their gifts with The Moody Church.
Our Richard and Tina Clois have written a daily devotional book called a closer look at the evidence perspectives on creation and why the Bible and science are in harmony. This book will be sent when you call 1-800-215-5001 with your gift. Call us at 1-800-215-5001 or write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 mentioned a closer look at the evidence. When you write or call online, go to moodyoffer.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next week. At the same time for another Moody Church over with Dr. Erwin Luzerne and the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago