Abraham's nephew Lot had a habit of making bad choices. Living in Sodom was one of them.
But when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God, Lot was shown extraordinary mercy and his life was spared. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor Erwin Lutzer. Today, Dr. Lutzer continues his series on Strength for the Journey, Taking Your Next Steps with God, a study in the life of Abraham.
Later in our broadcast, we'll turn our attention to Lot, a man who had, at best, a worldly faith. Pastor Lutzer comes now to open our service. We're so pleased that you have come to worship with us and we want to open our hearts to the Lord to invite his presence and his instruction. Would you take your hymnals, please, and turn to 767, 767 for all the saints, for all the saints. Our scripture reading today is by Pastor Mark Peary, who is our pastor of family and Christian education, and we're thankful for him and he will be reading God's word to us.
Also be prepared to sing 170 Give Thanks and 173 I Am Forever Grateful. And as you know, once we have stood to sing, we'll continue to stand until we have sung that last chorus. Theologians speak of the church triumphant and the church militant, the church triumphant in heaven, the church militant on earth, still fighting, still doing what it needs to do to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. You've often driven through the countryside and you notice those churches that are built with a cemetery around the church. That's very biblical because it shows the unity of the saints.
In fact, what you have to do is you walk past the alumni association to get to the undergraduates in a church like that. Paul spoke about the family in heaven and on earth. In a moment, we're going to sing together 767. Notice it stresses the unity of the saints. It talks about those who have gone on before us and stands as one and two. And then by the time we get to stanza three, it is asking the Lord to help us to look at their example and to be as faithful as they were.
So we'll be standing in a moment to sing 767. Would you join me now as we pray? And Father, we do come before you.
The father from whom all the saints derive their name in heaven and on earth. We thank you today, Lord, for those who have gone before us, for those who were faithful to people to whom we can look and say, if they did it, we can do it as well. Invigorate our hearts. So, God, we pray today, make this time of worship transforming in our lives. But most of all, we ask that it shall bless you. We pray in Jesus' name.
Amen. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus.
My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus. My name is Jesus.
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What is it really? What is it that you desire to say to me today? Our Father, you know how we constantly rush from one thing to another. We get up Sunday morning and we rush to go to church and then we rush to park our car and then we rush through the service. Oh Father, we pray in Jesus' name, help us to be quiet in your presence. Help us to understand that your will ultimately is what counts and not ours. We pray today for a sense of yieldedness, a sense of dedication. We pray for those, Father, who worship with us but don't feel a part of what we're doing. Help them to understand how desperately we need one another in these troubled and difficult times. And we pray, Father, for the great challenge that lies before us.
We know that we can do what we're called to do if we are willing to step to the plate by your grace and strength and do it. We pray, Father God, for all and ask in Jesus' name that you might make us a transforming community where anyone can connect with God and others. Our Father, we thank you today that your presence makes the bed of sickness a little softer. Your presence takes the furnace of affliction and makes it cooler. We thank you that your presence drives away our fears. So we invite your presence today.
Help us to be honest before you. We pray for our country. We pray, Father, for our troops. We pray, Father, for an end of the hostilities.
We pray for those who've experienced devastation in this very, very hurtful planet. We ask that your grace shall accompany us and help us to remember today that as we make our commitments and as we think about our own lives, help us, Father, to understand that to which you've called us. For those who are here today who've never trusted Christ as Savior, help them to understand that salvation is a free gift that comes not through giving, but by getting the goodness of God, which we don't deserve. Lead us to that, we pray, and enable us to enjoy you this week because you've taken away our fear of you and you've enabled us to love you with our whole hearts. Receive now the gifts that we have brought with us, we ask.
They are given in faith in the name of Jesus. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Amen. Praise God from the blue, blessings from the blue. Praise him, all creatures will be born. Praise him, all ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen. This is a series of messages on the life of Abraham, but today we turn to Lot. I do that because, after all, Lot was Abraham's nephew, and the Bible gives him an entire chapter, his experience, in addition to other references to him. It would be wrong for us to look at this story as if Lot were some kind of a strange man, divorced from the rest of humanity. No, Lot represents you and me. Lot is the quintessential businessman who believes that profit is more important than principle. Lot's heart is our heart if we don't take advantage of the undeserved mercy of God.
I'm going to tell you the story today, and then what we're going to do is to look at some very important applications and transforming lessons that I've been praying will change us forever. You remember how Lot chose the best pasture land, that which was very best. Now, he was given the opportunity to do that, and so he availed himself of it, but clearly he was covetous and selfish. He pitches his tent toward Sodom, he lives in Sodom, and by the time the 19th chapter of Genesis opens, which is the passage I want you to turn to, by the time Genesis 19 opens, why indeed, Lot is a judge in Sodom. He's been honored, he achieved all of his goals, and there he is, and later on, he is referred to as a judge sitting at the gate. Two angels come to him. These were the angels that Abraham had encountered earlier, you remember, and Abraham prayed to the Lord, and Jesus is not among those two angels. Jesus, the Lord God Jehovah, passes off the scene at this point, at least from the standpoint of the Theophany, and now the two angels come, and they come to the gate, and Lot invites them in. And then you have that terrible story of how the men of Sodom come and pound against the door because they want Lot's visitors.
Lot wants to show hospitality to the visitors, maybe he understands that they are unique. And so he says to the men, you can even have my daughters, my virgin daughters, but don't touch these men. But the men of Sodom, in a rage of sexual desire, said, bring them out that we might know them.
And clearly, it is sexual that they are having their mind. That's why the NIV correctly translates it, come, bring them out that we might have sex with them. You say, well, how can Lot offer them his daughters? I don't know, but how can it be that there are countries in the world today where young girls 10, 12 years old are sold into prostitution, and the law enforcement agencies turn the other way?
How can they do that? How can wickedness exist and callousness in the human heart? Remember that Lot is a picture of us all. Martin Luther read this story, and he said that it caused revulsion in his spirit as well it might. He says, it goes through my whole heart. What a pitiful story. The angels say to Lot, hurry out, but he lingers. He doesn't want to go. He invested heavily in Sodom.
He and Mrs. Lot had a house, they had their wealth there, their friends were there now. Sodom was good to Lot, and he didn't want to let go of it. Now mind you, the angels continue to put pressure on him, and finally he says to his sons-in-law, hurry up, and let's get out of here. Up, get out of this place. I'm in verse 14.
Notice it there in the text. For the Lord is about to destroy the city, but he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. They said, you can't be serious. We've never heard any God talk from you before. What a tragedy at the most serious moment of Lot's life, when he finally wants to have some moral authority in his family.
It comes across as a joke. Lot tries to bargain with these angels. First of all, he lingers, and then he says to them, he says, I don't want to go too far to the hills. He says, I want to go to this little town of Zor, and the angels say, okay, okay, already.
You can go to the little town of Zor. And they were told, the four people who left, Lot, his two daughters, and his wife, they were told, run from the city, and don't look back, but Lot's wife looked back, because after all, after all, this was her heart. Her heart was in the city. And the Bible says that she turned into a pillar of salt, verse 26. She became a part of the judgment.
I was thinking this week, I'd love to preach on the words of Jesus, just three words that he gives to us in the Gospel of Luke. When he's talking about those who begin in the Christian life, and then fall away, he said, remember Lot's wife. What a biography, shortest biography I know of in the Bible. Remember Lot's wife.
What a wealth of knowledge and instruction in those three words. She can't let go of Sodom. And she becomes a part of the judgment. How does Lot end? Well, he has two daughters. He goes into a cave, and they get him drunk, and he ends in disgrace. He has relations with them, and they each bear a child.
A child of incest. The Moabites, one was called Moab. And the other, the Ammonites. And all that you have to do is to remember your Bible to know that these two groups, these two tribes, terrorized and became a stumbling block to the descendants of Abraham ever after. That's the story of Lot.
It's not a story. I want to answer a question. How much did covetousness cost Lot? How costly is sin anyway?
How much do you have to pay for it? Very interesting. First of all, it cost Lot his testimony. See, when you've compromised with Sodom, you don't talk to them about Jehovah, because they don't want to hear anything about Jehovah. They don't want to hear anything about righteousness. And Lot made enough concessions, and Sodom promoted him enough that he had nothing to say to them about the Lord God Jehovah. That's why when he speaks to his sons-in-law, they think that he's joking. He lost his testimony.
He's the person who does not witness at work, people to whom I'm speaking now, do not share Christ with co-workers because there have been enough compromises in their lives and enough silence in their lives that they have nothing to say to the people with whom they work. A little word of advice. If you're in that position, change that position. Go to a co-worker and say, you know, I'm really sorry. I've never told you about the most important thing that I've ever discovered. Would it be okay if I were to share with you something that somebody once shared with me that changed my life?
If there are things that you have done at work that make you unable to do that, make them right. Be a witness where God has planted you. Lot lost his witness. He lost his family. What a tragedy. I don't even expect to see his wife in heaven. He probably got her in Sodom, and she turns back, and she becomes a part of God's judgment. Two daughters, look at how they turned out. Well, look at how dad turned out. He lost also his character. Standing there that day, and I assume that the sun was shining, when Abraham said to him, Lot, you can choose whatever you like of the land, and I'll take the opposite.
And he saw the deep, lush, pasture land of the valley and chose it. He had no idea how much his covetous heart would cost him. You've heard me say it before, but Lot is the excellent example that sin always takes us further than we intended to go, keeps us longer than we intended to stay, and costs us more than we ever intended to pay.
Imagine. Three life-changing messages. Well, not messages. They are messages, but lessons that I hope that you will have burned in your mind and your consciousness for the rest of your life. First, when we go against conscience, the consequences are out of our hands.
When we go against conscience, the consequences are out of our hands. There's a very interesting commentary on Lot in the New Testament. In a sense, it's a shocking commentary. It can be an encouraging commentary. Three times, Peter, in 2 Peter chapter 2, refers to Lot as a righteous man. Amazing.
Lot will be in heaven because, thanks to his uncle Abraham, he believed in Jehovah. But this is what it says. And the author is in a series of ifs. If, if, if, if.
So I'm going to jump right in the middle of it. 2 Peter chapter 2, verse 6. If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, God condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly, and if he rescued righteous Lot greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked, for as that righteous man lived among them, day after day he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard. His soul was tormented in Sodom. Why didn't he leave? Well, it's just that Sodom was providing so much for him. It was his opportunity. It was his investment.
It was easier to live there than to earn a living on the plain. So he lived with a tormented conscience. When you and I begin to violate our conscience, we are on a trajectory whose end is out of our hands. To go against conscience, says Luther, is neither right nor safe. Have you ever been in a situation where your soul has been vexed?
Vexed by the television program you are watching that you know is sensual, and it vexes your righteous soul and sullies your relationship with God, but you've watched it anyway because there is so much appealing and appeasing, and so we violate our conscience. You think of the mercy of God toward Lot. Angels come to him to rescue him.
You'd think he'd say, angels, I'm so glad you're here, I'm out of here. No, Sodom had such a great place in Lot's heart that even after he left Sodom, he did not get the Sodom out of his heart. Sometimes people say, well, you know, the city is full of sin. Yeah, the city is full of sin, so Lot goes to the suburbs and he takes his sin with him. It's because the sin is in the human heart. And Lot was rescued by Abraham, graciously rescued, and he would not leave Sodom.
He would not become a pilgrim even when the brimstone was falling on Sodom and Gomorrah, violating his conscience. Second, God is faithful to his erring people. God is faithful to his erring people.
Sometimes it's pronounced erring, sometimes it's pronounced erring, I guess, depending on where you put the emphasis. But it's his erring people. God is faithful. You know, God could have destroyed Lot. After all, there weren't 10 righteous in the city. He could have just said, you know, I've got this deal with Abraham, but there aren't 10 righteous.
Boom, you get the judgment too. No, no, God sends angels to rescue him. And the point of 2 Peter is this, that if God is willing to do that for Lot, why then indeed God is willing to do that for us too. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, the Bible says. And God is faithful even to those who are violating his commands and sinning.
Because as we learned in a previous message, he cannot deny himself. When God wants to send his judgment, Lot has to be taken out. It says in verse 23 that the angels say, we're destroying this place, but we can't do anything until you're out of here. When God displays his wrath, as opposed to just the vicissitudes of life, God's people are rescued. You say, so Lot is going to be in heaven.
I take that to be based on 2 Peter. Now, when he gets there, he's going to be like the people described in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, where the Apostle Paul says that there's some people who are going to be saved, but so as by fire. The imagery is they're running out of a house that's burning and it collapses behind them and they leave without anything, except themselves. I think that that's the way there are some people who are going to be in heaven. Saved, but singed. They'll make it, but have nothing to show for their lives.
Unrecognized self-absorption. Unrecognized self-absorption stood between them and doing something significant for the glory and the honor of God. But God is faithful to even his children who err. Finally, we should be willing to rescue those who have sold out to Sodom. That was an act of grace, the fact that God sent these angels. I mean, that was amazing grace. This is what the Bible says in the book of Jude, and have mercy on those who doubt save others by snatching them out of the fire to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garments stained by the flesh. Did you know that it is an act of mercy when one of our elders or members of the pastoral staff or a fellow Christian comes to you and says, you know, there's something in your life that I believe is a stumbling block that's hindering you, something that you're doing wrong.
Don't be offended. That's mercy. The angels came and they snatched Lot. He didn't want to go.
They had to force him to go. They almost dragged him out of the city, but that was mercy. You say, well, is there a sin that is greater than the sin of Sodom? Sodom and Gomorrah don't exist today, you know, probably on the southern end of the Dead Sea.
God just wiped them right off the map. You say, well, is there a sin greater than the sin of Sodom? Yes, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10 verse 15 as he's giving instructions to his disciples to go house to house.
He says, if somebody doesn't receive you, he says, take your shoes, let the dust fall from them, shake the dust off your shoes, and then he says those startling words that should sober us all week. For it is going to be more bearable, he says, for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for that city in the day of judgment. What Jesus is saying is that responsibility and judgment is based on knowledge. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, they didn't know too much. They knew that what they were doing was contrary to natural law and decency. They knew that intuitively because they were created by God. So they should have known better. But how much more judgment to those who have light, to those who have the full revelation of Jesus, to those who can buy a Bible in virtually any bookstore in America and who can read it for themselves and for those who are listening to this message here in this sanctuary or by the internet or radio or other means.
I mean, wow. Jesus said it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for people who don't respond to what they know in this age of light. Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe. Jesus bore the penalty for those who believe the eternal penalty. We still have consequences of sin in our own lives but he paid it all when it comes to the penalty and he paid so much because sin is so expensive.
It costs so much. So he took an eternal suffering for those who believe and compressed it into three hours actually. But he paid a tremendous price.
If you do not take advantage of what he did, you pay it on your own and it takes forever and it's not pretty. Sin is very, very expensive today. If the voice of the Spirit is speaking to you, listen to that voice.
Listen to the voice even of conscience and say that I'm not going to be a Lot. I'm going to be an Abraham because Abraham fellowshiped with God despite his own sins. He fellowshiped with God and what a tremendous difference, a tremendous history. Lot dies in an unknown grave. He's gone.
The effects are there. Abraham lives on as a friend of God. That's it for today, folks. From my lips to yours, from my lips to your heart, let us bow in prayer. Our Father, we ask in Jesus' name, as we see Lot, we see ourselves, prone to sin, prone to self-absorption, prone to be attached to the things of this world until we're told that we have terminal cancer and then we begin to think, you know, there's a world coming out there.
Teach us while we are healthy to live for the other world. Now, what does God talk to you about? Whatever it is, would you talk to God just a few moments? You've never received Christ as your Savior.
You can do that today. Something in your life that is wrong, you're going the direction of Lot, would you lay it at the feet of Jesus? Receive our prayers today, O Lord, we ask. For those who come with doubts, help them yet to come.
For those who come with unanswered questions, may they come anyway. For those, Father, who come with fear, may they come. May all come to Christ, who is the author and the finisher of our faith. We thank you in his name. Amen.
Amen. Let's sing together hymn number 305, Jesus paid it all. What a marvelous, marvelous hymn. Sin is expensive, but Jesus paid it all. And we'll sing the first, the third and the fourth stanzas.
We'll omit the second, first, third and fourth. But let's stand to sing this marvelous hymn. On today's Moody Church Hour, Pastor Lutzer spoke about a worldly faith, the ninth in a ten-part series on strength for the journey, a study in the life of Abraham, and for today, his nephew, Lot.
Next week, we relive one of the most dramatic moments in all the Bible, as Abraham is prepared to obey God by sacrificing his son, Isaac. Don't miss A Tested Faith. It's because of the investment of many people that The Moody Church Hour is heard around the country. We'd like to ask you to consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us on a regular basis with your prayers and gifts. For full information, go to our website at moodyoffer.com and click on the endurance partner button. That's moodyoffer.com. Or call us at 1-800-215-5001.
That's 1-800-215-5001. Or you can write to us at Moody Church Media, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Join us next time for another Moody Church Hour with Pastor Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church. All to Thee, my Lord. Amen.
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