The Word of God is at the center of a believer's life. It teaches us, guides us, and encourages us. But before doing any of these things, it first converts us, taking us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son.
Today, how the Bible does this. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor Erwin Lutzer. Today, Dr. Lutzer begins a six-part series he's calling Changed by the Word. After our music, we'll turn to the books of James and 1 Peter to learn how the Word of God converts us.
Here now is Dr. Lutzer. Our theme today is Changed by the Word. You are going to be so inspired as a result of what we plan to do together as a church.
We expect great transformation through the power of God's holy Word, and we'll give you those details. Let's join together in prayer and open our hearts to God's Word, to His truth, and the unity of the Spirit. Father, thank you that we are together today. Thank you that we are gathered together in the strong name of Jesus that binds us together.
And this bond is so strong that other differences pale in comparison. Today we pray as our hearts are open that we might be able to give you glory to worship you in spirit and in truth. We ask in Jesus' name.
Amen. Would you please stand and sing with us our testimony of God's greatness to us. He gave us this sound to give His life. Let us open for sin and open the wide page that all may go in. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear His voice. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice. O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done. Great things He hath done, great things He hath done, and great are rejoicing through Jesus the Son, the pure and higher and greater will be, our wonder, our transform when Jesus be seen. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear His voice. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice. O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done. Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.
Hallelujah, Jesus is my life. I once was lost in darkness night, yet thought I knew the way. The sin that promised joy and life, and led me to the grave.
I had no hope that you would know the remedy. And if you had not loved me first, I would refuse you still. But as I ran, I felt a grace, He gave them to the cross. He looked upon my heartless state, and led me to the cross.
O Father, use my handsome light in any way you choose, and let my song forever be my only voice. In you, in you, oh hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life. Oh hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life. Hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life. And our Father, today we thank you for the words of the Apostle Paul, that for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Life or death, I win. We pray today, Father, that we may receive a better look at Christ, with new appreciation and new worship. Thank you for your people gathered together in your name. We thank you in Jesus' name.
Amen. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here we go. Praise Him, Allah, the heavenly host. Praise, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen. I invite you to follow along with me in your bulletin as we read together from 1 Peter chapter 1. Please read aloud with me on the bold print, this is God's holy word. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. Since it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy. And if you call on Him as Father, who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. Prepare our hearts tonight, help us to be sweet. Break the heart and slowly break the soul. Help us to be sweet. Break the heart and slowly crown the power of belief.
Help us to be sweet. Open up our ears to hear. Show us Christ, show us Christ.
O God, hear your glory through the preaching of your Word, till every heart confesses Christ is Lord. Where else can we go, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Where else can we go, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Where else can we go, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Where else can we go, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Show us Christ, show us Christ. O God, reveal your glory through the preaching of your Word, until every heart confesses Christ is Lord.
O God, reveal your glory through the preaching of your Word, until every heart confesses Christ is Lord. Let me begin today with a question. If I were to ask you, as I am, for you to guess the percentage of evangelical Christians, Christians who claim to be born again, people like you and me, what percentage would you think read the Bible every day? You don't have to shout your answer out loud, but would you say, well, I think 50% would? Somebody said, no, I don't know why, because you may think it's 75%. But the news gets more discouraging. Would it be 20%?
No, 11%. Is it any wonder that the Church of Jesus Christ is so anemic today, because we are not being nourished by the Word of God, and all that is going to change as a result of a special challenge we're going to lay before you today. Now, there are reasons why people don't do it. First of all, because the Bible seems to be a complicated book, 66 books in one, and you don't know where to begin, and you're indecisive. I used to think that I was indecisive, but now I'm not sure whether I am. And that's the way people are.
Where do I begin? There's another reason, and that is they may read the Word, but they're not nourished by it, and we want to teach you how to be nourished by it. And so they read the Word, but it's in their mind, and it's gone, and they don't think about it at all for the rest of the day. So they say it's just a waste of time. Some people are indifferent. They don't see even the relevance of the Word to life, and therefore they set it aside. And of course, in this day when we are bombarded with stimuli, all kinds of electronic gadgets. Somebody told me this past week that someone in front of them in church at Moody Church was actually playing a game on their phone during the service last week.
I don't know who they are. God does, and that's sufficient for me. But we can't even concentrate anymore unless, you know, your phone is going off. Oh, there's a ding.
Now who wants to talk with me? And the distractions are keeping it. And then at the bottom line, there's Satan who wants to do everything that he possibly can to distract you and discourage you from being in the Word. And beginning today, we as a church are going to overcome all that for the glory of God. And so what you have is Christians today who think that they are going to grow in osmosis some way. When they go to sleep at night, while they are sleeping, God is going to inject in them spirituality so that when they wake up, they have a heart hot for God.
And they've not been in His Word at all. Maybe they open their Bible on a Sunday or watch the verses of Scripture on a screen, and that's it. The 40-day challenge that we're going to lay out before you is transforming. Who is this for anyway? First of all, it's for struggling Christians. For struggling Christians. Anybody a struggling Christian? Can I see your hands, please? All right, quite a few hands went up.
You'll notice that mine went up, too. Struggling Christians. You know, if you're perfect, you don't need this.
But before you guess whether or not you're perfect, I am reminded of a man who said, you know, if I just had a little bit more humility, I'd be perfect. So if you fit into that category, you don't need it. But if you're a struggling Christian like I am and like you probably are, you need this.
Who else is this for? Well, it's for the lapsed Christian. For the lapsed Christian. The Christian who, first of all, is so defeated by sin that they give up on the battle and just say, I'll have nothing to do with it. Or they are very angry. They're angry at other people.
They're angry at God. And so they want to step away from the faith. Just this morning, I heard about a pastor who stepped away from the faith for a year. He was at a beach, and as he looked out over these beautiful surroundings, he said, you know, I'm just going to see what it's like to live without God for a year. No prayer, no Bible reading. And he's kind of now an atheist of sorts.
And guess what? He has discovered that he can find happiness and help other people find happiness without religion. Well, of course he still has a moral sense because he is created in the image of God.
You know, I had to just kind of laugh out loud when I thought of this. Here's a man who said, I'm going to do away with God. I'm not going to have anything to do with God for a year. I'm doing away with God for a year. What if God were to say, I'm doing away with you for a year? I mean, he'd be a grease spot on a rock by the beach.
The very breath that he breathes is God-given. And think, if he is a believer, and I don't know that he is, but if he is, think of what he is missing in terms of fellowship with God. I wouldn't want to go a whole day without fellowship with God.
Imagine what he's missing, but he doesn't know that. So that's for you. It's for people with other religions. You may be here as a Muslim or as a Hindu or some other religion, and you're kind of exploring Christianity.
This is for you. This would be a wonderful way for you to have some direct access to the text of Scripture, and therefore, we want you to participate as well. Now, everybody with their Bible open, of course, with your Bible open, 1 Peter. 1 Peter 1, when you look at the text, what you discover is that Peter is talking about the family of God. I hope that your Bible is open. You'll notice in 1 Peter 1, it talks about children in verse 14.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. But as he who has called you is holy, so be you holy in all your conduct. So we are children in the family of God. You'll notice that there is a father, of course, in the family of God. Verse 17, and if you call him this father who judges impartially.
So you'll notice that. Notice we are brothers. And of course, when you have the term brothers in the New Testament, it refers to sisters as well. Verse 22, having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love. Well, we're brothers and sisters, so we love each other.
And guess what? There are infants among us. Chapter 2 verse 1, put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk. So we're the family of God. But the question is, how do we join the family of God? How do we get into the family of God?
That's the first question now that we want to answer today. And you'll notice the words of Peter. I'm now in verse 22, having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. That's the way a family is supposed to exist, with love. Now, your family wasn't perfect and this church isn't perfect. But we are a family and we are part of the family of God.
But how did we get there? Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God, because all flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of our God, our Lord, remains forever.
And this is the word, the good news, that was preached to you. All right, how do we get into the family of God? What Peter is doing here is he is contrasting natural birth with spiritual birth. He says that we were not born again with perishable seed. That's what happened when we were born the first time physically.
Our fathers and our mother got together and as a result of that relationship, what we have today is our own life, but it will die. You can look at the animals, you can look at the plants, they come and they go and it is perishable seed. Even like the flower of the field, he says, because sometimes flowers are, they stand above the grass and they look very, very beautiful, but at the end of the day those flowers fade and they die.
That is perishable seed. But he says when you're born into the family of God, you are not born with perishable seed, you are born with imperishable seed. With the living and the abiding word of God that abides forever.
And this is the word, he says, that was preached to you. That's what happens when we are born again. Now just like you have the seed of the Father and the ovum or the egg and they come together and you and I were conceived, in the very same way, God takes the Holy Spirit. Do you remember Jesus in John chapter 3 said to Nicodemus, unless you're born again, you'll not see the kingdom of God. You have to be born from above by the Spirit of God.
So what God does is he takes the word of God, he takes the Spirit of God, and he brings them together to create within us the life of God so that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, build all things have become new. If you are a believer today, I need to emphasize the fact that God did a miracle in your heart from above. It wasn't something that you generated. It wasn't something that you participated in. It was a direct miracle of creation within you so that after you received Jesus Christ as Savior, there was something within you that was not there previously.
It's the miracle of God. You know, George Beverly Shay was the singer for evangelist Billy Graham. Now there arises a new generation that knows not Billy, but he was one of the most famous men in the world. He could draw crowds much larger than anyone else.
He was in Haringey Arena, London, England for three months every night filling Haringey back in 1954. But his soloist, George Beverly Shay, sang a song that some of you will be acquainted with. It said, It took a miracle to put the stars in place. It took a miracle to hang the world in space. But when he saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace. That is a miracle. Just as great, really, as the miracle of creation. And by the way, an English woman misunderstood what Bev Shay was singing. And she went up to him later and said, Mr. Shay, what do you mean by saying it took America to put the stars in space?
Now America has done some wonderful things. America has put a man on the moon, but one thing that America has never done is to create so much as one single molecule. Creation is God's work. And the Bible says that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.
You didn't participate in the creation part. But the moment that you believed and the miracle of the new birth happened simultaneously, and that's why the Bible is so very clear that it does not happen by baptism. It does not happen by confirmation.
People say, I'm a Christian. I was in confirmation. Good to be in confirmation to learn something, but it doesn't produce within you the new birth apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ and the transforming experience of the gospel. All right, what does the word do? The word combines the word preached, he says. This is now, of course, in verse 25. The good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners and that he's the only savior of the world and if we believe on him, we shall be saved. That's the word that was preached to you that is combined by the Holy Spirit to produce the new birth. So first of all, we're converted by the word, but secondly, we're nourished by the word. The chapter break here in 1 Peter 2 is unfortunate.
You know, of course, that chapter breaks are not inspired. They were put there to help us find our way through the Bible and sometimes they're in places that really break the thought. So he's saying in chapter 2, put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may be growing up into salvation, that is to say so that you enter into the full experience of salvation, if indeed you've tasted that the Lord is good. So what Peter is doing here is as he's talking about the family of God, what he is emphasizing is the fact that we begin as infants. We begin as infants. Now he's talked about the new birth being born from above and when you're born from above, you are likened to an infant into the spiritual family of God. What do we know about infants? First of all, they are born complete, aren't they?
Complete. In other words, when you bring them home from the hospital, and by the way, they let you know that they are home from the hospital, if I remember correctly, but when you bring them home from the hospital, you don't say, okay, well, next week what we need to do is go back and get the toes of the child because, you know, we have part of his body and then what we need to do is to get his hands or his feet or whatever. No, they are born complete. By the way, when a little baby is born, a couple days old, have you ever looked at his or her little thumbnail or I guess I should say the nail of their little finger, just as small as the head of a pin, but it's there, it's there, and it's going to grow. It's complete.
All that it needs to do is grow. Spiritually speaking, the Bible says in Colossians chapter 2 verse 9 that all the fullness of the God-held dwells in Jesus and then it says, and you are complete in him. You are filled up in him. When you receive Christ as Savior, you receive the imprint of God in your life and you have everything in you that you need for growth except, of course, you need to be fed. Infants always are born complete. You have within you the DNA of Jesus and what you need to do is to grow. And, of course, we know that infants often should have an appetite.
If a child is born and has no appetite, that's very, very serious and indeed they let you know that they are hungry. And in the very same way, when we are born spiritually, what we need to do is recognize that we have a new appetite. Created within us is a love for God.
It's miraculous. You know, before you're converted, God is just there to kind of be used. Oh, I need prayer.
Yeah, I want God to help me. And then after you're converted, there is birthed within you a love of God and a love of Christ that needs to be nurtured and what you need is food. Now, have you ever seen, and I know you have, on television children that have had no food? Most of them are starving because of some reason. It's hard for me to look at that to see the way in which they are sometimes children that are four years old that look as if they're 18 months old. And yet I force myself to look at it because I say even though it's so hard for me to accept, I have to remember that those infants are actually going through the experience.
But you know, that's the case, I believe, of many believers in the body of Jesus Christ. They are basically infants and they are starved spiritually. And as a result of that starving, they don't know how to receive the pure spiritual milk of the word that Peter talks about. Now imagine a baby who gets fed once a week. Every Sunday morning he goes for some food. And then he's starved during the week and then he comes on Sunday and he sings songs and he hears the word of God preached and he opens his or her Bible and so they are inspired and they say, wow, you know, that was really interesting and helpful and I'm motivated. And then nothing, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, starved.
And they don't grow. And why is it that we don't have an appetite for the word? Well, I think what we need to do is just look at the context of what Peter is talking about here. You'll notice it says in chapter 2, verse 1, put away all malice. Why, that'll stifle your appetite for the word of God. If you have malice in your heart, if you're overcome by hatred and all deceit, what are you doing that's deceitful?
You begin to live a deceitful life and I'll tell you. It'll be hard for you to put up with church much less reading the word and being encouraged by it and being fed by it. What about hypocrisy and envy and all slander? You see, as sin develops in our life, it zaps our appetite for the word. And the world does. My mother, I remember, used to say, no, you can't have sweets before dinner and so forth. Why?
Because it takes away your appetite. So we've got all of these other things going on, including the technology around us that is constantly distracting us. And so there's no way for us to grow spiritually and it would be very interesting to see what Moody Church would look like if we took all the spiritual babies and put them in a nursery. I wonder how many we'd have. And so you see, appetite needs to be developed and that's what we're going to do.
We're going to do it together as a church. We are going to restart, jumpstart, an appetite for the word. Now, what does the word do for us? Well, it is food. It is food. Spiritually speaking, it is food. If you need food to grow physically, you need food to grow spiritually.
You'll notice it says the pure spiritual milk of the word that you thereby may grow. You need milk. But it's not just that you need milk.
You also need bread. And that's what Jesus was using when he was combating Satan. You know, milk is just the basics of the Christian life. How to read the Bible, reading the stories about Jesus in the New Testament, all that is milk. But Jesus is withstanding Satan and he quotes from Deuteronomy that says, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. And in the Scripture, bread is spoken of, what bread is to the body, in the same way the Scripture is to the soul. So if you want to graduate from being a baby in the Lord that needs milk, you begin to memorize Scripture so that you can use it the way Jesus used it against Satan. Satan comes to him with one temptation and Jesus says, It is written. And Jesus is able to quote it. I wonder, anyone who's been saved here for two, three, five years, how many verses of Scripture could you quote in a moment, a fierce, unrelenting temptation?
How many would you be able to quote? The more you're able to quote and to apply the word, now you're getting to the level of bread. But the Bible also is meat.
It's also meat. You'll notice that the author of Hebrews, and you can just write this down and read it later, I'm picking it up in chapter 5, verse 11. He says about this, in context he's talking about Melchizedek and Jesus and the parallels. We have much to say and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. And you're saying, I just don't understand this. Let's go on to something else.
Let's answer the cell phone. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. Solid food is translated in some translations as meat, which is what it is. For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness because he's a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment, trained by constant practice to distinguish good and evil.
You say, well, what's an example of solid food, of meat? Well, certainly the doctrine of Melchizedek. How long has it been since you have read the book of Hebrews to try to understand the relationship of Melchizedek to Jesus and how it affirms the priesthood of Jesus Christ? Do you know something about that?
Well, that would be an example. Paul's writings, no doubt. The book of Romans and Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians, now we're beginning to get into the meat. And he says, you should be able to teach others. Fathers, you should be able to teach your families.
And if you say, I don't know even where to begin, I'll give you a suggestion. Take the book of Proverbs and read it with your children. And read a chapter a day of the book of Proverbs, for example, and learn along with them. But the point of spiritual growth is that eventually we become disciplers of other people rather than simply saying, OK, we have all this truth and we are not sharing it with anyone else. You begin to get to the meat of the word so that you can instruct others. And it doesn't mean in a formal classroom, though it includes that.
It means just in relationship. Are you able to sit down with someone else and say, let's read the Bible together and let's figure out what it says together and let me be able to guide you because I have come to the point, and of course I'm being very careful in what I say here, none of us comes to the point where we understand everything, but we're further along in growth. And then of course you say, oh, but you know there's milk, there's bread, there's meat. That's pretty heavy, but I need some dessert.
Don't you think it would be wonderful? Just like me yesterday, after I had a sandwich for lunch, I had a chocolate attack. I don't know whether or not you've ever had a chocolate attack, but you really need a chocolate at that moment. That was my dessert.
You say, oh, I need dessert. Well, the Bible has that too. In Psalm 19, the Bible says that the precepts of the Lord are more important and more precious than gold, yea, then much fine gold, sweeter also than honey, and the dripping of a honeycomb.
You need dessert. You go to the Psalms, and it's full of honeycombs. So the Word of God has within it a whole meal, and meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body. And it's the transforming power of the Word of God, grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, growing, vibrant Christians. You say, oh, I've been defeated by sin all this time. Well, yeah, have you been reading the Word and listening to the Word? That's where the power is.
What I want to do is to nail this down. I was going to mention being confronted by the Word, but we'll leave that some other time. First of all, God wills. God wills that we grow into a predetermined image, that we grow into a predetermined image, namely the image of Jesus. I emphasize that we have the DNA of Jesus. One of the most remarkable things to me about the miracle of birth, and I don't know how in the world somebody can see a newborn baby and not believe in God, but that's a separate issue. The fact is this, the miracle of birth, where you can look at a child who's a couple of weeks old, and you can see in that child actually the features of his father or his mother, and you just say to yourself, this is incredibly amazing.
The color of eyes is determined already when the child is conceived. Height, hair color, all kinds of features, all wrapped up, all wrapped up in that embryo, in that birth process, all there already. God says, when I convert you, I give you the stamp of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says in the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians, it says that we are to exercise our gifts within the church and communicate with one another within the church so that we might grow up into Him in all things, into the image of Christ. Scripture says in the eighth chapter of the book of Romans that God puts us through various experiences, that we might be conformed to the image of His Son. When you are converted, God had His Son Jesus in mind and said that if this person grows and gets out of the spiritual nursery and begins to allow the Word of God to feed him or her, when that begins, then Jesus is going to break through some of the characteristics of Jesus. We're all different, just like members of the family are different.
I mean, I can't believe we have three daughters who are so radically different, all with the same parents, and within us, very much different. Racial differences, economic differences, abilities different, but all of them having within themselves implanted, all that they need to have Christ-likeness, apart from the fact that they must be in the Word of God and learn to feed themselves. And one of the things I'm going to be doing in a future message is to speak specifically about meditation and how the feeding process works. Second, growth can only take place with the intake of the Word.
Growth can only take place with the intake of the Word of God. Now, the idea of listening to seven chapters a day or whatever it turns out to be so that you listen to the whole New Testament in 40 days for many people seems formidable. They just say, I don't know where I would have the time. I want to be very sensitive here, but I don't believe you.
Is that clear? I'll tell you why I don't believe you. I was on the phone this week with a pastor friend of mine in California who had leukemia, and he went through a treatment that involved five hours a day for several weeks. Well, where in the world does a pastor, a busy pastor, get five hours a day?
Please tell me. Ah, but his life was at stake. When your life is at stake, you find five hours a day, thank you very, very much. And when your spiritual life and your eternity is at stake and whether or not you really live a life to the glory of God, when that's at stake, somewhere, someplace, you find 28 minutes a day.
Somewhere, someplace. And when you think of listening to it nowadays, you can do that with your family over a meal. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a meal without any arguments because everybody is just listening to the scripture being read? You can even listen to it in the car. Though I remind you that angels that guard you when you drive officially retire at 75. So be vigilant. Be vigilant. But, you know, you can listen in that context.
If you are creative, you will find that half an hour somewhere, someplace. And of course, if we do it together, if we all say today is our beginning date and we write that on the back, imagine the impact that it's going to have. This is what the Bible says in 1 Timothy chapter 4.
It says, exercise yourself toward godliness. Now, there are other ways to do it. You know what you can do. You can read a chapter a day and so forth. This is jump-starting.
This is immersion. And when you read or when you hear the word of God, before you do, you have to pray this and say, Lord, open thou mine eyes that I might behold wondrous things out of thy law. Pray that prayer from Psalm 119. Then what you do is you ask God for the ability to concentrate.
And that means turning off everything, all the stimuli that normally interrupt you and say, God, I'm giving you this time. And you know what's going to happen? Oh, the first times it's going to be so hard, you're going to say, I did it yesterday and I don't even remember anything. So what do you do? You do it the next day.
That's what you do. And you keep doing it day after day until suddenly there's an appetite that develops within you. And you say to yourself, you know, I don't think I can go a whole day without the word of God.
Because you've tasted and you've seen that the Lord is good and the appetite, as you deal with issues through the word, will happen. Now, I have to tell you, I had a heads up here. And so yesterday, I listened to today's section.
So I'm ahead of you. All day yesterday, because I did it in the morning, all day yesterday, various passages came to mind. You know, this passage, and then I'd be thinking about this and this passage. When you're going through a large section like that, you don't have to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. You can go back later and you can study.
And what you're interested in is the whole sweep of it. And remember, we're only challenging you for 40 days, though we believe it's going to go much longer than that. Israel was in the desert for 40 years. Goliath challenged David for 40 days, 40 days.
And then David took care of him. Maybe it'll take 40 days for you to slay Goliath, but be faithful. Jesus was tempted of the devil for 40 days.
We can do this together for 40 days. Do I have a witness that we can do this together? And now I have to ask you a question. Have you been born again by the water? Jesus mentioned water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Have you been born of the Spirit and the Word?
That's a very good question. As I mentioned, it's not something that you grow into. It's not church attendance. Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, that religious leader, who came by night because this leader had a hunger within his soul, and he knew that there's got to be more to religion than these boring rituals. He knew that it isn't just a matter of rules and regulations and promises that we make to ourselves that we break anyway.
There's got to be more to it. And Jesus said to him immediately, you must be born from above. It's a miracle that you can't do.
It's not a matter of determination. The Scripture says that we are born from above by the will of God. Have you been born from above? Has God created within you that new nature? Because now you're hearing the Word of God, that Jesus died for us as sinners. He shed his blood so that we could be reconciled to God, and he rose again in triumph to show that what he did was legitimate and right. And do you say, I believe on him as my Savior? And it'll happen in a moment of time when you, with a kind of desperate faith, know your sinfulness the moment you believe.
How does that song go? It's just coming to mind as I'm preaching. The moment we believe that pardon from God we receive.
Something like that. But it's right. And God transforms you. For some people, it's a great experience because the environment is such.
For others, it's a quiet experience. You could believe on Christ right now. Those of you who are listening by radio or by internet or any other way that you are listening right now, you can say, Jesus, today I accept you as my substitute, as my Savior, and I believe and trust you alone for my eternity. In the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 16, there are two remarkable conversions. One is the conversion of the Philippian jailer. There was an earthquake, and he was so terrified. He began to get his life in order really, really fast. And he said to Peter and the others, he said, what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved. And evidently, he was saved right there because they went into his home. And all those who believed were baptized.
We don't know that there were any children in the home. There's no infant baptism in the Bible. But they were baptized.
And that was a rather spectacular conversion, I'd say. But in the very same chapter, there's the story of Lydia. And the Bible says that Lydia was going along by the river and there was going to be a Bible study there. And it says she was a woman whose heart God opened.
And later on, she helped the apostles. Are you listening today and your heart is being opened to God? Or you say, OK, I reach out to Jesus as my Savior to receive the miracle that he alone is able to give. Bottom line, a man was explaining how he got saved to someone. And he said it very, very simply. He said, I did my part. God did his part. He said, oh, interesting.
Explain. He said, my part was to do the sinning. Jesus Christ's part was to do the saving. At the end of the day, that's what the gospel is. Our part is the sinning.
His part is the saving. And then as a newborn infant, you'll notice that the text says you'll begin to desire the pure unadulterated milk of the word because you're going to be reading the Bible, that you may grow thereby. And with that, I invite you to pray with me. Father, we ask today that you might grant us as a church the great opportunity to be able to be involved in your word. And Lord, if we are discouraged and we miss a day, we pray that you might help us to continue on the next day because you understand our weakness. But at the same time, may we be determined to listen to your word, to read your word, and above all, with open hearts, to be transformed by it. For those who've never trusted Christ, may they do that right now, I pray, as your Holy Spirit works in their life and brings them to saving faith. We thank you.
If you need to pray right now, you pray because God is listening and He knows your thoughts. We ask in Jesus' blessed name, amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. On today's Moody Church Hour, Pastor Lutzer spoke on The Word of God Converts Us, the first in a six-part series on Changed by the Word.
Next time, we'll look into Psalm 19 and learn how The Word of God teaches us. Changed by the Word can be yours on CD. We'll send the entire series 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. 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 moodyoffer.com. That's moodyoffer.com. 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. .
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