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Rescued From Despair Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 9, 2021 1:00 am

Rescued From Despair Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 9, 2021 1:00 am

The book of Romans has played a major role in world history. By reading its pages a man came to faith in Christ, a man whose actions began a tidal wave of spiritual power across Europe and around the whole world. His name was Martin Luther, and he was desperate to know how he could be right before a holy God. In this message we’ll begin tracing his story through the Protestant Reformation.

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One reason for us into Jesus's past major league history by reading its pages man came to faith in Christ man whose actions began a tidal wave of spiritual power across Europe and eventually to all the world's name was Martin Luther.

Today will begin tracing his from the Moody Church in Chicago. This is with Dr. when Sir whose clear teaching helps us make across the finish line… I know that for you. Martin Luther was a pivotal figure that's right. It's been my privilege to lead tours to the sites of the Reformation to the Lutheran country so this week Luther is a very complex person.

Catholics at one interpretation of him Protestants another, but I need to say to all who are listening. Whether you are Catholic or Protestant. You have to understand his struggle. You have to understand the depths of his despair and despondency and the wonder of God's matchless grace and his understanding of the gospel of justification by faith alone. That's why this series of messages is so important and you know for a gift of any amount. These messages can be yours. Here's what you do go to RTW RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the series of messages rescued what God did to save us now.

No matter who you are, no matter where you are on the spectrum of religion, Lutheran, Protestant, Catholic, maybe you belong to a different religion. Listen carefully. Right now, because the gospel of Jesus Christ that transform people long ago can do the same for you in July 15 05 a 21-year-old university student was walking along near starter in Chaim Germany when he was overtaken by a fund he was struck to the ground by lightning and cried out in his terror. Saint Anne save me and I shall become a monk. It is indeed interesting that the man who called out to a saint to save him would eventually repudiate the idea that we should pray to saints, and the man who would become a monk would eventually renounce his his vows that mom could of monasticism and he would in turn become one of the most famous men in all of history, more books have been written about them than any other man who is ever lived except the of the life of Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul, I have Catholic friends who say that that Martin Luther was a turncoat. He was a man with many flaws and that he began what is known as the Protestant Reformation because of some personal grievances. If you're looking for a man with flaws.

Indeed, you should look Luther's way because he was a man with that many many flaws I most assuredly do not agree with everything that Luther taught her everything he said or did, but at the same time. Whether you are a Catholic Protestant. Whether you are a Mormon I Hindu Muslim, whatever your religion is you and I need to appreciate the struggle that Martin Luther had and how it was eventually resolved.

Luther struggled with what is known in German as unfinished again. That's an interesting word to translate.

Sometimes it is translated depression or it can be also translated guilt. This sense of alienation from God. A disconnect is the disquiet up spirit.

I sometimes call it a kind of existential despair. He wondered how he could please Almighty God. And so in honor of his vow there in the thunderstorm.

He enrolled in the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, Germany, and he was there in the monastery and he was living there and in the monastery you can see that there is a very beautiful church attached to it with dutiful windows and it was in this beautiful church next to the cloister that Luther would prostrate himself on a slab of stone and Verity took his vows of celibacy vows of poverty, and obedience, and because I have the privilege of leading tours to the sites of the Reformation. Every time I do I reenact the event personally for all of the cameras and all of the tourists that come along with us on the tour.

Luther took those bows and he was terrorized by God.

He saw God unlike us moderns. He saw God is very very holy and so when he performed his first mass he trembled, fearing that God might strike him down about his first mass behind the altar. Later he said these words at these words. I was utterly stupefied and terror stricken.

I thought to myself with what tongue shall I address such majesty, seeing the old man ought to trembled in the presence of even an earthly print who align that I should lift my eyes are raise my hands to the divine majesty.

The angels around and that is not the earth trembles and shall I am miserable little pygmies say I want this or ask for that I am but dust and ashes and full of sin and I'm speaking to the living eternal and true God. Luther availed himself of all of the things that were available there in the monastery in terms of the disciplines of the church.

Nowadays it's not possible for tourists to actually see the place where Luther lived. It is a room but I call it a cell. You can see it through a lattice so to speak, but I've been in that room and it is solid stone floor stone walls.

Luther slept without blankets so as to put to death the movements of the flesh.

He sometimes fasted so long that there were people who thought that he might die. He begged for his food to humiliate himself and in those days it was clearly believed that you had to be perfect to get into heaven but the question was how is that kind of perfection attained, and what do we need to finally do know that we've satisfied Almighty God, it was believed that if you were in a monastery you had a better shot at it. You maybe had some special consideration, but Luther knew no peace because no matter what he did. He didn't know whether he had done enough in those days it was believed that there were at least two kinds of Christians there were the saints who may be got to heaven directly after death, but the common person didn't do that. They had the common person died with too much sin for heaven so purgatory it was believed as a place where one would be able to eventually be purged well enough and thoroughly enough to enter into heaven. Nobody knew how long purgatory was or how torturous the process might Luther took advantages of the sacraments of the church of special consolation to him was confession. Sometimes he would begin his confession. Dishtowel puts his confessor, and he would begin and by reciting the seven deadly sins and the 10 Commandments to jog his memory and then come session would begin one time lasting seven hours and then Luther would say dishtowel puts you know I think we have to meet again because I forgot some stout bits became so exasperated he said Luther the next time you come to confess, let it be for some big sin like murder or adultery or blasphemy, but not for all these little peccadilloes. These little little sin.

Luther was a better theologian than his contemporaries, and he realized that the issue was not whether or not the sin was bigger little but the real issue was whether or not it had been forgiven because Luther understood, as we moderns do not, that the slightest smidgen of sin banish you from God's presence for ever and Luther thought that the question was how do you do this but you see, he reached an impasse sins in order to be forgiven had to be remembered if they were not remembered. They could not be confessed, and if they were not confess they could not be forgiven. So the question was could he trust his memory and then the issue was even deeper than that. The question was that what if there were some things he did that God considered to be sin, but Luther didn't recognize them as sins. What then then when he looked into his heart. He realized that his problem was even so much greater than all that he realized that his whole nature was corrupt and that he was a sinner and didn't merely commit sins but was a sinner even if he remembered all of his sins. Even if he confessed all of his sins tomorrow would be another day, and that tomorrow would be fraught with more confession because more sins would be committed and so the question was it was like perhaps mopping up the floor with a faucet running the question is when does this all and and when can I have assurance that I've done enough for God. Luther was in despair now so happened that in the year 511, he was transferred to Wittenberg where there was a new University and so he went there to Wittenberg where the University was to teach philosophy and their as you enter into the University. There is a door and if you were to look out the door you'd see a courtyard and it is their worst outputs came to visit him and said Luther why don't you. Why don't you teach the Bible here at the University and so Luther began to teach the Scriptures and that's when some of the light began to dawn so rather than teaching philosophy began to lecture on the book of Psalms and he came to Psalm 22, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken now, said Luther, why is it that Jesus himself experienced this sense of alienation.

This uninfected and gun. Why is it that Jesus went through this he experienced what I have experienced the light began to dawn, it was for him that Jesus experienced that. And then he was lecturing on the book of Romans that if you have your Bibles.

Let's just look at one or two text here in Romans chapter 1, where he began lecturing and he noticed as we did in our series that it says it very clearly in verse 18 for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness.

But notice verse 17 it's there we should begin, for in it that is in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. Luther trembled when he came to that word. Righteousness the righteousness of God because his whole point was if God wasn't as righteous as he is.

I'd have a better chance of meeting his demand. Luther said love God pieces. I was terrified of God.

How can you reach the demands of God who has righteousness as one of his at so Luther began to struggle with this and then he came across the words in chapter 3 of the book of Romans. You'll notice it says in verse 24 we are justified as a gift by his grace, Luther began to ponder these things and in chapter 4 it says that Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Abraham received the gift of righteousness. So Luther said day and night. He said I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God which terrified him, and this statement, the just shall live by faith, and he says God's justice is the righteousness by which, in sheer mercy, he justifies this through faith.

And Luther said when I understood this.

I felt myself to be read or and enter into the gates of paradise.

What Luther discovered what had been lost throughout the centuries of tradition is that we are saved by the righteousness of another. It is somebody else who gives us righteousness. We don't have, and it is received by faith. What he learned was that there is an attribute of God called righteousness but there is also the gift of righteousness that God gives freely to those who believe the gospel, no wonder Luther felt as if he had entered into the gates of paradise.

His search was over. But meanwhile in Rome, there was a poet by the name of Pope Leo who needed some money. St. Peter's Basilica that you see on the news had been started.

Actually, a number of years before, but the huge tears of the Basilica were still upright and the Basilica was unfinished.

So what Leo decided to do is to issue a new proclamation of indulgences. Now indulgences had been sold for centuries and indulgence was a payment that you would make it could be a work but then obviously it it also became a gift that you could give it could be a monetary gift that would actually shorten the length of time that you would experience the temporal consequences of sin. I emphasize temporal. For example, indulgences would never keep anyone out of hell because those were eternal consequences. But indulgences would help in that it would shorten your time in purgatory indulgences were sold. But this time with a new twist. You could buy not only an indulgence for yourself and your family but you could also buy and indulgence for those who had died, who are presently in purgatory. So across the street from across the river I should say from Wittenberg.

There was a man by the name of textiles selling indulgences and tensile would say to people listen to your mother who's in purgatory and she is saying. Can't you just give a few dockets as they were called in those days, the coins can't you just give a few and then I would be out of this fire, and so people gave him a lot of money.

They bought these indulgences and people from Wittenberg went to hear tensile and came back and actually said that they had found an indulgence and it purchased an indulgence for sins they had not yet committed but were intending to commit and when Luther heard that he was very angry at that point he was not against indulgences. He was against their abuse. So in anger. Luther walked a half-mile. He walked a half-mile from the University to the castle church there in Wittenberg and he walked there many times because it was the University church and when you go into the castle church today you discover it's the place where tourists go inside the sanctuary. Very beautiful. It's been my privilege to be there many times and to give a lecture on the Reformation. There Luther is buried there in the castle church but 10 what we must understand is that it's not just the inside of the church that is important to us. Rather, it is the door that is outside the church that we should focus on because what Luther did is he actually took 95 theses that he wrote out and he put those species on the door of the church in Wittenberg. The original theses were written in Latin. In fact today on a metal door. You have all of them inscribed in Latin and that these were taken and they were translated into German and they spread throughout Germany. He was challenging the abuses of the church today above the door. You can see a fresco of Luther and Melanchthon bowing before the crucified Christ as a result of this Luther became famous and this became a string of events that ultimately resulted in what we call the Protestant Reformation. Now we must realize that the real message of the Reformation.

Is this that when Jesus Christ died on the cross he was made sin for us, the one who knew no sin says in second Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21, so there were two transactions that happened at the cross. The first transaction was that our sin was credited to Christ.

The Bible says that our sin was allayed upon him, and it's very clear. He had no sin in him because he himself was spotless and sinless, but our sin was allayed upon him and he became the legally guilty of your sin and mine and other sins that are horrendous and grossly evil.

He became legally guilty of that.

No wonder it was Isaac Watts that said well might the sun and darkness hide and shut its glories in when Christ, the great Redeemer died for man. So the first transaction was that our sin was laid on Christ. But then the other transaction is that his righteousness is connected to us. It is given to us as a gift.

We become the righteousness of God in Christ so you can say really that there were two things happening at the cross. The first is that Jesus was getting what he didn't deserve. Namely our sin, and in turn we were getting what we didn't deserve. Namely, his righteousness, we were getting his righteousness by faith we are saved by his righteousness, his merit entirely and not our own. This righteousness has several characteristics. First of all, it obviously is a free gift. The book of Romans that says these words at the end of chapter 6 for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Now just think of it reasonably has to be free. Could you imagine us as sinners buying our way into heaven and and giving God something that he thinks we could do in exchange for his righteousness. Absolutely not. We've already learned in the book of Romans that we are tainted and even our best of works are tainted even participating in the sacraments or doing good deeds which in themselves may have some value. All of our works are tainted. So if were going to receive righteousness. It has to come from God on tainted by our own sin and it has to be given to us as a gift. Luther said it's like the ground. The parched ground. He said that it can't insist on rain coming. But when the rain comes, it falls on the ground and that Brown can be hard it can be soft and it is a gift from above, and the Bible says that God covers our sins so we can cover one centers sin just as much as another head. What this really means.

And you heard me say it a number of times but you'll probably hear me say up to a number of times in the future is that the real issue is not the greatness of our sin. God actually can say big sinners, criminals, if you please. If they transfer their trust to Jesus Christ, your friend, this is Pastor Luther.

Imagine the sense of relief that Luther experienced when he discovered it didn't matter how high God standard was as long as he didn't have to meet it as long as Jesus met God's standard of righteousness for him. Luther said you know my sins don't belong to me. They belong to Jesus and finally he was free. It's the wonder of the gospel and you and I must understand this gospel better and better.

I believe that this series of messages is being a great blessing to many people of tens of thousands who are listening but also to you. Would you like to have these messages so that you can listen to them again and read the book of Romans begin from the beginning. Listen to these messages and in this way understand the good news of the gospel for great sinners for a gift of any amount. These messages can be yours. Here is what you do go to RTW

Of course RTW offer is all one word RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and I need to emphasize that you and I needed God to rescue us. We cannot save ourselves.

We bring nothing to the table.

We bring our sin.

God supplies everything else. The title of the series rescued go to RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and let me thank you in advance for standing with us because together we are making a difference. You can write to us running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 traditions had attached themselves to the Christian faith for well over a thousand years.

Next time, how it took Martin Luther to rediscover the meaning of faith. This is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church

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