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The Light Shines On A King

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller
The Truth Network Radio
November 20, 2022 12:00 am

The Light Shines On A King

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller

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November 20, 2022 12:00 am

How can God turn life’s obstacles for good? Though Paul encountered injustices in prison, that didn’t stop him from seizing the moment to communicate the Gospel. In this message, we’re encouraged by two lessons from Paul’s conversion story. Even amid disappointments and difficulties, God is still working to shine His light.

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Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

In the first century, the Gospel penetrated the Apostle Paul's world in ever-widening circles. Under escort to face trial in Rome, Paul found himself explaining the Word of God to various levels of Roman officials. And today, we'll see him before a Roman king, as a two-year imprisonment in Caesarea nears its end. We'll watch as a member of royalty is brought face-to-face with his own sin and need of a Savior. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor Erwin Lutzer. Today, we continue an eight-part series on Light Shining in Darkness, How the Gospel Impacts Culture.

Later in our broadcast, Erwin Lutzer takes us again to ancient Caesarea, where we'll meet a king named Agrippa. Our service begins with the reading of Scripture. Our Scripture reading this morning is from Romans chapter 5, verses 1 through 11.

Please join me on the bold print. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that the suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. For while we were still weak at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one were there even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more now that we are reconciled should we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Amen. Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice, you became nothing, poured out to death. Many times I've wandered at your gift of life, I'm in that place once again.

I'm in that place once again. Once again I look upon the cross where you died, I'm humbled by your mercy and I'm broken inside. Once again I thank you, once again I pour out my life. Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice, you became nothing, poured out to death. Many times I've wandered at your gift of life, I'm in that place once again.

I'm in that place once again. Once again I look upon the cross where you died, I'm humbled by your mercy and I'm broken inside. Once again I thank you, once again I pour out my life.

Now you are exalted to the highest place, King of the heavens, where one day I'll bow. But for now I'm humbled at this saving grace, I'm full of praise once again. I'm full of praise once again. Once again I look upon the cross where you died, I'm humbled by your mercy and I'm broken inside. Once again I thank you, once again I pour out my life. Once again I look upon the cross where you died, I'm humbled by your mercy and I'm broken inside.

Once again I thank you, once again I pour out my life. Take my life and let it be, concentrated more to me. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in season's praise.

Let them flow in season's praise. Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of my God. Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for me, swift and beautiful for me. Take my love, my Lord, my Lord, at thy feet its treasure stored. Take thyself and I will be, ever only God for me, ever only God for me. Take my will and make it mine, it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is my own, it shall be my royal throne, it shall be my own throne. Now we're going to pray together. Following the prayer, it is your opportunity to continue to worship.

We just sang, take my life and let it be, take my all. Well, here's, of course, proof of our own commitment to Jesus Christ and his love. We recognize that we are in the presence of a holy God. We bow humbly in his presence, seeking his blessing, his forgiveness, and his divine help.

Would you join me as we pray? Father, I want to thank you today for your faithfulness in the lives of your children and the fact that we are here together to pray together, to worship together, to give ourselves to you as an offering together to form this Christian community. We praise you, O God, and we give you thanks from the bottom of our hearts. We want to begin today by remembering our country in prayer. We pray, Father, today that you will give wisdom to our leaders. We pray, O Lord God, that in the midst of all of this, that your will would be made known and that wise decisions would be made by our president, by his cabinet, by others, the Congress, all those who are in responsibility of leading us. Lord, we need your help.

And thank you for making it so clear that we do. And we pray today that you might give us strength as a country. We pray that you might help us to turn to you. Lord, as I think of that lawsuit that we mentioned last time about people going to jail for saying grace before a meal in a school. Father, may your people be loving but strong, courageous but understanding, wise as serpents, as harmless as doves.

Make us all that and more. Thank you for the fact that we can still preach the gospel. We ask that you will help us today to do that. For those who have come with heavy burdens, I'm thinking of those who are sick, perhaps those who are going through a time of financial stress, work-related stress. Lord, you see all of our anxieties.

And when they are all added together, they are nothing in comparison to your strong shoulders. Help us to make the transfer, we pray. We ask, O Lord God, that you might make us strong in your word. We pray for every church in Chicago that shares the good news of the gospel.

In all of these things, we give you thanks. Now, Lord, thank you for reminding us of our own sinfulness that we might depend more firmly upon you. Help us with a deep sense of gratitude and praise received from your hand, the forgiveness of our sins, the joy that we belong to you forever, the fullness of the blessed Holy Spirit. And for those who are here today who have never received you as Savior, we ask today that you will draw them to Jesus, show them his beauty, show them that he is a sacrifice for sinners. And we pray that many will come to know you as Savior and Lord. Now, before I close this prayer, do you today hear? Do you have a need that you need to give to the Lord?

I'm going to pause for just a moment as you commit that to him. It may be the need for forgiveness. Take anxieties from your shoulders.

Lay them on his. We love you very much. Use the gifts that we have brought with us now as an own expression of our worship and also to further your kingdom. In Jesus' name, amen. Praise God the Lord. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above, here and below.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen. If you've ever had anything to do with a court system, you know that it can be very unjust. Court systems, even though supposedly justice is to be blind and therefore not dependent upon the person, court systems notoriously are involved in lies, deception, payoffs, and political considerations. And today in this message, what I want us to do is to see two things. First of all, the fact that God uses injustice in court systems for his own purposes and his own glory. And secondly, we're going to be talking about that which makes God the most obvious to the world. We could say it's God at his best. Now, technically, of course, God is always at his best. We know that, but there are times when we look at a situation and we say, surely God did that.

And we're going to see one of those today. The passage of scripture I want you to turn to is the 25th chapter of the book of Acts. Acts chapter 25, and actually to put this in context, I need to remind you that the Apostle Paul was in Jerusalem and caused a riot. People falsely accused him. They said that he was guilty of bringing a Gentile into an area of the temple where Gentiles were not supposed to go.

That was false, but it didn't matter. Forty people wanted to kill him, and they said that they were going to fast until they did. And so Paul was taken to Caesarea, about 50, 60 miles. Caesarea is the Roman place.

Jerusalem, yes, of course, Herod was there and so forth, but actually Caesarea was where the Roman courts were and many of the Roman prisons. So Paul is there, and a man by the name of Felix doesn't know what to do with him. And we find at the end of chapter 24 it says these words. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. And Paul was in prison for two years in Caesarea. Now the passage in chapter, the next chapter, 25, opens with a man by the name of Festus who took Felix's place. Festus is therefore the new governor. Felix is asked to go back to Rome because they didn't think that his relationship with the Jews was as good as it should be. Riots were beginning to break out, and so Festus has the responsibility of the Apostle Paul. When Festus arrives, he goes to Jerusalem and says to all of the Jewish leaders, what shall we do with Paul? They says, give him to us. And we read in the text they want him because they want to kill him.

What I want us to do is to set up this marvelous story by putting ourselves in the shoes of Festus. What do you do with Paul? He had three options. One was to send him back to Jerusalem, let him be lynched. That would make the Jews happy, and he'd be rid of him. The problem with that is that Paul had appealed to his Roman citizenship. And for a Roman to be taken and lynched by a mob in Jerusalem without a fair trial was not exactly what Festus wanted to have happen. There was another possibility, and it would have been the right one to say, Paul, you are innocent of the charges both religious and you have no charges against you so far as Rome is concerned. I'm going to let you go, just promise you will never return here.

Get out of the country and stay out. And that would have been the right thing to do, but Festus had a problem with that and that is that the Jews would have been very, very angry with him. Very angry. And he needed to keep a good relationship with the Jews. So the question is, what to do? There was a third and that's the one that Paul requested that he be sent to Rome. But the problem with that is you don't take a prisoner and send him to Rome along with the guards, et cetera, et cetera, unless you have some reason to do so, unless there is some charge that you are bringing. So Festus was in a dilemma that he didn't know how to solve. Well, he thought maybe his dilemma would be lessened by the bringing into the situation of a king. And with that now, we're in the 25th chapter, the 25th chapter of the book of Acts, verse 13. Now, when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. We have to stop there.

We have to stop there for a couple of reasons. First of all, who is this man by the name of Agrippa? Agrippa is one of the Harrods. If you were listening last time, you know that his grandfather, his great grandfather, tried to kill Jesus and massacred the boys who were two years of age and under in the environment of Bethlehem. That was his grandfather. His uncle put John the Baptist to death. His father is the one, you see, who put James to death with a sword and was planning to kill Peter.

So that's his heritage. So he is given a kingship in the northern area of the country in what was known in those days as northern Palestine. And he is therefore given by Rome the title king. So King Agrippa shows up with a woman by the name of Bernice.

Who is Bernice? She is his sister. And because of this incestuous relationship, his kingship was not well received by the Jews. But Agrippa, being a Herod, said that he was a Jew.

At least he tried to practice Jewish customs. So what's going on here in the text is this. Festus is saying to himself, If I can get Agrippa to come and advise me, I might know what to do with this guy by the name of Paul. So Festus tells Agrippa the whole story. And Agrippa says these words that he wants to see him too. It says in verse 22, Then Agrippa said to Festus, I would like to hear this man myself. Tomorrow, Festus said, you will hear him. Now comes one of the most dramatic stories.

I love these kind. This is something like Luther at the Diet of Worms. It's the kind of setting that you hope God videotaped. And if things get boring in heaven, he shows us the tape. Though, they will not get boring in heaven.

But I'd like to see the tape anyway. You'll notice it says, The next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. They are coming with all the paraphernalia of royalty. We're talking gold crowns.

We're talking about such things as purple vestments. And undoubtedly, they were loaded with bling. And they come in here, and who in the world comes in but Paul? And Paul is under arrest. He has chains on his arms.

This becomes very clear because later in the speech, he says, look at these chains. So you'll notice it says, And Paul was brought in. So there's Paul. Historians tell us that Paul was not striking in appearance. Apparently, he was short, somewhat balding.

Well, that's not all bad, is it, you guys? He apparently was sort of bow-legged and just not impressive. And so here you have this guy showing up to give his defense in the midst of all of this ceremony and all of these hot shots. And so Paul is going to defend himself, and defend himself he does by giving his testimony. And what I'd like us to do is to look at that testimony, and then we'll see the response of both Agrippa and also of Festus.

And then we'll talk about God and injustice and God at his best. The apostle Paul begins his defense, and you'll notice what Festus is concerned about. He is speaking still to Agrippa. He says in verse 26 of chapter 25, He's a guy with a book contract and no idea. What he needs to do is to let Rome know why he's sending this prisoner, and he can't find any reason.

So he says to Agrippa, listen to this guy, and help me out of this mess. All right, Paul speaks. You'll notice that Paul, first of all, begins by talking about his previous conduct. You'll notice he says, verse 4, and of course we have to look at only a few of these verses, Now we're in chapter 26. Paul says elsewhere, I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees.

I could out Pharisee them all in terms of strictness. Not only that, but I put to death people who belong to the church. You'll notice it says in verse 9, And in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Wow. Killing Christians, trying to get them to deny the faith. In 1 Timothy chapter 1, when Paul is giving his testimony, he says that I persecuted the church.

It's essentially the same as here, but he says, and my translation translates it, I was insolent. And actually, that Greek word can be translated, I was sadistic in my fury. In other words, what Paul is saying, I not only persecuted people and put them through pain, but I loved doing it. I enjoyed seeing people die. I enjoyed trying to torture them to blaspheme the name.

Now I need to ask a question. Did the Apostle Paul think that he was right in doing this? Was he absolutely convinced that he was right? Absolutely convinced.

No question at all. He thought that he was right in doing it. And you know, you have people today who believe that they are right. On Friday, Rebecca and I were here in the city to do some business and we caught a cab and the man who was the cab driver was a Muslim and as you might have guessed, I began to engage him in conversation. And I was trying to explain to him how that Jesus died for sinners. And he said Jesus didn't die. He says the Quran says that Jesus didn't die.

And that's absolutely right. Surah 4, 157 to 159 in the Quran says that Jesus didn't die, but they thought they were crucifying Jesus, but they were crucifying someone else. I mentioned to him that Muhammad lived 600 years after the time of Jesus. The New Testament had eyewitness accounts that are even corroborated by secular history, Tacitus and others.

It became clear after a while that this discussion was one in which facts would not play any great prominence. But what I did then is what I should have done at the beginning. I appealed to his conscience.

That's the best way to witness. The way you appeal to a person's conscience is I began to ask him, how do you manage sin in your life? Do you live up to what the Quran teaches? No, he said he didn't.

I began to ask him, now what is Allah going to do with you in light of the fact that you do not live up? And he said that he would just simply trust Allah. Do you have the assurance that you are forgiven when you stand before God that you'll go to heaven? No, I don't have any assurance.

I have to put a parenthesis here because this is very important for all of us to understand. There are people in the world today who are just as convinced in many respects as we are that their religion is right. But what they lack is individual assurance.

No other religion on the face of this earth can give individual assurance. And the reason for that is because Christians are not depending upon their own performance. You see, the problem that you have, if you don't have Christ, the problem that you have is simply this.

You're trying your best. You know that you sin, but you don't know how high God's standard is and you don't know what he's going to do with you when you get there. Whereas because Jesus came to die for us as the Son of God, dying for us, paying our penalty, our faith therefore is totally in him and not our own performance.

So it's not a matter of saying, I wonder if I'm good enough. We already admit we aren't. But Jesus stands in for us, bears our penalty, takes our sin on his shoulders, and then on top of that, when you believe, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which confirms that in your heart. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. So what you always need to do is to understand there are people fanatically committed to their religion like Paul was, killing people.

But they do not have assurance. And by the way, before we left, we mentioned that God loved him. We wanted him to understand that. And Rebecca actually also quoted John 3.16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but of everlasting life. But the bottom line is this, the Apostle Paul, in being a violent, sadistic man, was absolutely convinced he was right.

That was his conduct. Well, we'd better hurry on to his conversion. You'll notice that he says, he journeyed to Jerusalem, I'm in verse 12 now, with the authority and the commission of the chief priests, and at midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the light of the sun that shone around me, and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice.

A couple of comments here, so rich. First of all, notice that the light came and all of them fell to the ground. This was not some kind of a private hallucination. Everybody saw the light. Not everyone in the delegation heard the voice. Paul makes that clear. But he hears a voice because this is directed toward him. And the voice says, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.

A goad is a stick that was used to prod cattle. And so what he's saying is, Paul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to resist my will and also I am goading you in an entirely different direction and it is hard for you to resist it.

Parenthesis. I believe that the Apostle Paul, when he was putting Christians in prison, when he was trying to get them to renounce Christ, when he was in cahoots in killing them, when he stood there at the stoning of Stephen and the Bible says that they took Stephen's clothes and they laid them at the feet of the Apostle Paul, I think that Paul had moments of deep disquiet in his conscience. You know, when you find violent people, you have to understand that one of the reasons for their violence is because they are so interested in defending their faith. But the other reason is, is to cover a very troubled conscience.

People are not willing to take the time to follow their conscience where it leads. So Jesus said to him, it is difficult for you to kick, he says, against the goads. And he said, who are you, Lord?

Talk about a revelation right there. And the Lord said, I am Jesus who you are persecuting. I get the magazine of martyrs. There's a magazine that comes out periodically that is the magazine of the martyrs.

And I don't read it as often as I should, but as I look at those pictures of people in places such as Sudan and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia. When I think of young men asking to dig their own graves so that they can be buried in those graves, here's a verse of scripture. It is Jesus whom they persecute.

It is Jesus in that grave digging it. It is Jesus in that jail when people persecute believers. Well, Jesus revealed himself to Paul and then Jesus said, rise and stand on your feet because I have appointed you. Now we've talked about his conversion and I need to explain that and it'll become a little clearer as we now look at his commission. God says, Jesus said, I'm sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. That's verse 18. That's Paul's commission.

Boy, we have to stop here now, don't we? Because this is New Testament conversion. What Jesus is saying is, Paul, I am commissioning you to preach a message that is going to take people from darkness into light.

Why is it that the gospel is light? We're talking about the fact that people without Christ live in moral darkness. They live in moral darkness and they live in moral darkness and they manage their sin.

See, one of the best ways to witness to a person like I did a rugby player in Europe when I was flying over there a few months ago, the best way is to ask people about how they manage the failure in their life and how they manage sin. And immediately, you're getting to their conscience. So the average person, you see, because we are desire driven, our desires say, I want to do this and then we enlist the mind and we say, mind, use all the power that you have to justify what I want to do. So we rationalize it. Everybody's doing it. I'm not as bad as somebody else. Other people get by.

This is best for me and on and on and on. The mind is used to justify the evil that the heart wants to do. So people live in moral darkness. When you come to the light of the gospel, suddenly you see God. I don't mean that you see him physically, but you begin to understand him and the Holy Spirit reveals the likeness of God to you and suddenly you are humbled because of your sin and it is actually coming into the light.

Back out in the farm in Canada, we had a very dingy basement and all of the bugs and the vermin and everything else that was down there was very, very content, very content until you turned on the light and you put a heavy flashlight on them and suddenly they began to scurry and they were so uncomfortable. That's what the world is, content. Like a young man said to me on the plane, he said, I don't need Jesus. I'm going to do okay in the day of judgment.

You're going to do okay on your own record standing in the presence of a God who is so holy that if you were standing next to him, it would be like being incinerated by the sun and you're telling me that your record is going to do it. Blindness. The Bible says that men love darkness because obviously they need to cover it rather than light. But Paul is going to preach a message of light, first of all, and secondly, preach a message that will take people from bondage to Satan to the freedom of God. Do not ever underestimate, do not underestimate the power of the devil in false religions. He keeps people bound oftentimes by fear. By fear you can't convert.

You can't change your mind about these things. And of course there are some religions that say that if you do we might actually kill you. And so what happens is people are in bondage to fear, they're in bondage to Satan, and Paul is going to be given a message that turns them from darkness to light. That is his commission. And that's why Moody Church exists for many reasons, but one is to help people to understand how they can come from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, and that can only happen through the gospel and the deliverance of Jesus that he brings through faith in his name. Paul actually is giving this address and lo and behold he gets cut off. And you'll notice that I don't think he was finished but Festus couldn't take it anymore. It says in verse 24, and as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul you're out of your mind, your great learning is driving you out of your mind, you're mad, Festus shouts. Now if I'd have been Paul I'd have said, now sit down because my sermon isn't finished. But Paul was speaking to a king and so he deferred to him and said, well what did Paul say? We have to read it, but Paul said I'm not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I'm speaking true and rational words, for the king knows about these things, for I speak boldly, I'm persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, and that this has not been done in a corner.

Oh, this is so, so full of meaning. It's not been done in a corner. Did you know that Christianity is not done in a corner?

It's not some little hidden thing out there, it's exposed to the light, it's been investigated by the best of investigators. You know the Bible, they always say, well you know what we're going to do? We're going to take the Bible and we're going to have a funeral. But somehow the corpse never stays put.

It is always there. Now what does King Agrippa think of this? Paul says, King Agrippa do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe. Remember Agrippa, I told you about him, he claimed to be Jewish.

You believe the prophets? And Agrippa said to Paul, in a short time will you persuade me to be a Christian? Paul says, whether it's short or long, I'd sure like to. This has been sometimes misinterpreted by a translation that says, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. That's probably not what is meant. A better translation is the way I just read it here in the ESV, where it says, do you think in a brief time you're going to convince me? Probably very sarcastic. What he's saying is, Paul, do you really think that in this brief time I'm going to become one of those hated Christians?

Are you serious, Paul? You don't really expect that, do you? And so that was the response. And then they have a little discussion.

Afterwards, the king and the governor, they get together and Bernice is there too. We're talking now in verse 30. And the conclusion is, this man has done nothing to deserve death or imprisonment. If he wouldn't have appealed to Caesar, he could have been let go, but of course, Festus wouldn't let him go because of the political fallout. And that's the amazing story of the Apostle Paul.

A couple of things. First, first, notice how God uses injustice. Two years, Paul is in prison for something he didn't do in Caesarea. Felix leaves him there to please the Jews.

What you have is discussion about him because he hasn't broken any laws. And so the question is, what do we do with him? He appeals to Caesar and that becomes the means for him to get to Rome. Was there any doubt in Paul's mind that he was going to get to Rome?

I don't think so. Listen, if there was doubt in Paul's mind that he would get to Rome, he was living in unbelief. Because if you look in chapter, and I'm going to find it here in chapter 23, Paul comes to Jerusalem and the Lord has stood by him. Chapter now 23 verse 11. It says, the Lord stood by him and said, take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, you must also testify in Rome.

But here's what is great. How does God get Paul to Rome? He gets him to Rome by a governor who's too weak-willed to do what he should. He gets him to Rome by a situation with a king who comes and listens to him and still doesn't have anything to write about him on the way to Rome, but Paul has appealed to Rome and so eventually ends up there. He gets to Rome because there was a mob in Jerusalem that tried to kill him, but God didn't let it happen. And that's just like God. In the midst of human messes, injustices, there he is weaving his own pattern, doing his own thing. Joseph chapter 39 of Genesis.

Don't turn to it, just remember that it's there. Joseph, the Bible says, becomes an assistant to Potiphar. And it says, and the Lord was with Joseph and blessed Joseph.

Isn't that wonderful? He gets falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, falsely accused of attempted rape. He gets thrown into prison, no attorney that can defend his wrongs, the wrong that has been done, no attorney, nothing there to give him any idea that any day is going to be any better than the one before it. And you know what it says, same chapter, and the Lord was with Joseph in prison and gave him favor in the eyes of the jailer. Isn't that beautiful? God is with us in our promotions and God is with us in our demotions and he is with us in our injustices and he is with us in our justices. But God always sticks with his people. God always sticks with his people. Wherever you find yourself today, if you're a believer, God is with you.

There's a second lesson. I love this conversion story because it is indeed God at his best. You know, we can pray for people that they might be healed, but the fact is that only God, only God can take a bad man and make him good.

And let me explain why. Because you see, behavior modification, where you take people even through counseling and so forth, you can say now, here's why this behavior isn't good. You have to start to do that behavior and that behavior. But in the end, when the guy has freedom, he ends up doing what he wants to do because his desires remain unchanged. To change behavior is one thing. To change desire is well nigh impossible. And remember, you and I are desire driven. Whatever the heart wants, in the famous words of Woody Allen, whatever the heart wants, the heart wants. We're desire driven. So the question is, where do you get this change of desires? Where do you get this new heart? Where do you get a guy who was insolent, that is to say sadistic, cruel, trying to blaspheme Jesus and Jesus Christ's followers, on the way to Damascus, understands that Jesus is the Lord, is the Son of God.

He has his eyes open from darkness into light. And by the way, you know, it may well be the reason that Jesus appeared to Paul on the way to Damascus and didn't send an Ananias or somebody else to go witness to him. Hey, nobody wanted to witness to this guy.

I mean, really. You witness to Paul who kills Christians? Hey, Paul, I'm a Christian. Let me tell you why you should be a Christ follower too. Jesus looked down and said, there's nobody on earth that has the faith to witness to this guy, so I'm going to have to go do it myself.

And he did it upright, didn't he? Praise God. Now the point is this, only God can do that. We pray that somebody will be healed from cancer and they are healed of cancer and that is a wonderful work. But to take a bad man and to make him kind and good is a more wonderful work. To take a tongue that perhaps has disease and Jesus heals the tongue, that is a wonderful work. But to take a tongue and to heal it so that a cursing man now speaks pure speech and a lying man becomes a truthful man. Now there's God at his best doing a miracle that only God can do. To take people and to turn them from darkness into light and from the power of Satan to God. Does Son of Sam mean anything to you?

1977, most of you were born back then, by then. Here in New York is terrorized by him. He's killing people. Thirteen months later, they arrest a postal worker, David Berkowitz, and lo and behold, they put Son of Sam in prison for life. An inmate witnesses to Son of Sam, he gets on his knees, he receives Christ as Savior. Just talk to Jim Cymbala about him because he and Pastor Cymbala have an ongoing relationship. David Berkowitz is now an assistant to the chaplain in the jail.

He's never asked for parole because he knows that the crimes that he committed were so terrible, so terrible, that he would not even ask for parole and deserves all of the time in prison that he has coming to him. David Berkowitz says that during the days of his crimes, he was like Mark chapter 5, the demoniac driven by demons, driven by evil. The more evil, the better.

The more pain he could inflict, the better. Jesus came to deliver him. Now that is God at his best.

Don't you think that it is? God at his best. Johnny Erickson taught a lot. I absolutely love her writings and they're up here somewhere. And I want to just read a paragraph.

She is the one who's a quadriplegic. She says, God is an intruder. He encroaches, presumes, invades, infringes. He crashes the party, tears curtains aside, throws open locked doors, hits the light switch in dark rooms, pulls the fire alarm in a stuffy, four-sanked hallway. He intruded primeval chaos and brought forth light, beauty, order, and life.

Well, we could go through all of these. And in the end, he will once again intervene in history, judging the nations, vanishing sin and death, setting his throne upon earth even as he rules in heaven. And then she says, God is a glorious intruder into my life, my thoughts, my pain, my sorrow, my brokenness. The Spirit of the Lord even invades me, taking up residence in my very body. His word is a razor-edged sword, piercing my complacency and dividing my soul and spirit. He boldly intrudes into my sin, calling it what it is, challenging me to leave it behind. God is an intruder. And when he saves sinners like you, and I mean you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you, me, it's God at his best.

Let's pray. Father, we thank you so much for the conversion of the Apostle Paul, and it's possible that today there are people listening who feel that they're beyond hope, people who look at their sin and say there just isn't enough grace in God's heart to forgive me. We ask, O Lord, that they will see that if Jesus saved Saul who became Paul, he can save them too.

Become an intruder in their lives even now. If you've never received Christ as Savior here at The Moody Church today or watching or listening on radio or the internet, why don't you say, Jesus, turn me right now from darkness into light, from the power of Satan to God? Would you pray that to him? No sinner has sinned too much for God's grace.

You can't out-sin the marvelous grace of God. Receive him right now. Believe him. Father, do your will, we pray, and in those in whose hearts you are working, may they not be like Festus and Agrippa or Felix, but we pray in the name of Jesus that you'll open their hearts to the truth, and may they let you invade their lives. Do that, Lord, because we are needy. We pray in your name. Amen.

Amen. O precious is the flow That makes me white as snow O mother, fount I know Nothing but the love On today's Moody Church Hour, Pastor Lutzer brought the seventh in an eight-part series of messages on light shining in darkness, how the Gospel impacts culture. We saw the light shine on King Agrippa before Paul was sent to Rome.

Next week, we'll recount Paul's perilous voyage at sea. Erwin Lutzer's entire series on the Gospel's impact in the ancient world can be yours on CD as our thank you for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church Hour. Call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Church's ministry.

When you call, mention the series on light shining in darkness. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church Media, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Online, go to That's 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. O precious is the Lord and makes me wide and strong. O Father, out I come out in the world of Jesus.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-20 11:43:04 / 2022-11-20 12:01:10 / 18

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