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Rescued From Despair Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2021 1:00 am

Rescued From Despair Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 12, 2021 1:00 am

The slightest trace of sin will disqualify you from the presence of God forever. Martin Luther understood this and therefore spent hours each day confessing his sins. But even then, he knew that constant confession wasn’t enough. Luther found salvation by reading the book of Romans, and he used his newfound faith to call the Church back to a biblical understanding of salvation.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It took a man like Martin Luther to free the church from darkness. Luther found salvation by reading the book of Romans and used his newfound faith to change the church's course toward a biblical understanding of salvation. He rediscovered the meaning of grace, justification and faith. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Luther made many enemies with his spiritual insights, didn't he? Well Dave, you're absolutely right, and as you know, Luther was a very complicated personality.

He himself oftentimes lit fires, figuratively speaking, though one time very literally that we can talk about, but he sometimes got into controversies, said very extreme things and so yes, he attracted a lot of enemies, but the reason that we need to understand him is because he came to the conclusion that justification was by faith alone, and this was his deliverance. You know, this series of messages is entitled Rescued, What God Did to Save Us, and I'm so glad to be able to tell you that we have a new study guide that goes with these 12 sermons, because what I want you to do is to dig into the depths of the book of Romans and see its transforming power. So at the end of this broadcast, I'll be giving you this information again, but for now, if you wish to go to our website, go to

That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us take the time to go to the pulpit of Moody Church and let us understand better the gospel of Jesus Christ, our most precious possession. And the Bible says that God covers our sins, so he can cover one sinner's sin just as much as another. And what this really means, and you've heard me say it a number of times, but you'll probably hear me say it a number of times in the future, is that the real issue is not the greatness of our sin. God actually can save big sinners, criminals if you please, if they transfer their trust to Jesus Christ. Because no matter how great our sin is, God's, the merits of God in Jesus Christ are above that sin.

So listen to me carefully. Nobody listening to me today can say to me, Pastor Lutzer, I've sinned too much for God to forgive me. I'd say believe his promises and go for it, my friend, because Jesus died for some mighty big sinners.

So first of all, it is a free gift. Secondly, we discover in the text of scripture that not only is it a free gift, but it is given equally to all who believe. You say, well, where's that in the Bible? Well, it says in the book of Romans chapter 3, it is given to all who believe. And obviously, there's only one kind of righteousness, and that's God's, that is being given as a gift. It's righteousness that cannot be improved upon.

It cannot be made any better. And so this righteousness is given equally to all who believe. So you know, this division between the saints who had righteousness, and there were some who believed that the saints had more righteousness than they needed to enter into heaven, and that you could actually draw on their treasury of merit, as many people did in medieval times. All that needs to go because the righteousness of God is given to all who believe. That's why one of the first doctrines that Luther no longer believed in was purgatory. Because, you see, purgatory says that very few people, certainly not people like us, we would never die with enough righteousness to enter into God's presence.

But if the righteousness of God is given freely as a gift to all who believe, and if that righteousness is as holy as God himself is, if that's the case, why, then when we die, we go from this life to the next without having to pass go, without having to receive $200, without going to jail, or purgatory, because we die as righteous as Jesus is, and when we arrive in heaven, we are welcomed as if we were Jesus, saved totally and completely on the basis of his merit alone. You see, it was this that led to what we call the priesthood of the believer. And in Wittenberg, there are two churches. There's the famous Castle Church, the Church of the Reformation, but there's also the Town Church, called Town, because the people from the town would go there. And it is there within the church on Christmas Day, 1521, something happened that had not happened for centuries in the churches of Europe.

Two things. First of all, the liturgy was said in German. Do you realize, first time a whole generation of Germans heard the words, this cup is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, this drink in remembrance of me, the first time they actually heard it in German in language that they could understand. But there was something else that happened within that church, and that is that not only was the liturgy in German, but now people were able to participate in the cup and also the bread together, because now everyone was a priest before God.

And therefore, the common person had just as much access to God Almighty as anyone else. Now, mind you, when this happened on Christmas Day, 1521, Luther wasn't there. Luther was holed up in the Wartburg Castle, because you see, the emperor had said that whoever finds him can kill him, so he was hiding there for 10 months in a room in the Wartburg Castle. And it is there that Luther translated, among many other things, he wrote all kinds of books, but is there that he translated the Bible and translated it from the original into German. He did the entire New Testament in something like about 20 weeks.

Can you even imagine that? And so he eventually translated the entire Bible, including the Old Testament, and that, of course, took years. Luther wanted the common person to understand and to read the Bible. That was very important to him.

So holed up in that particular room. That's where he began his translation. He said he wanted Moses to speak such good German that the Germans wouldn't even know that he was a Jew. Luther put the Bible in the hands of the German people. Now, you think of the impact of this.

Let's fast forward. Centuries later, up in Canada, my parents, who were of German descent, they are reading to us as children every morning before we went out to work or school. They read to us from the German Bible. And if you were to open the German Bible, as I did as a child, you would notice they're based on the Martin Luther translation.

It is impossible for us to over exaggerate and to overemphasize the impact that Luther had with the many books, the hymns that he wrote, and the translation of the Bible into a German that the people could understand. He said, I want the scrub woman to be able to pick up the Bible and read it. Now, there's something else about the righteousness of God, and that is it is given to us permanently, permanent acceptance before God. Now, I have a question I'm going to ask you, and I want you to answer this because for some of you, your eternal salvation could rest on how you answer the question I'm going to ask.

And the question is simply this. When was Luther actually converted, born again, as Jesus said we must do if we intend to enter the kingdom of God? Was it at his baptism? No, no, baptism didn't do it. Was it during those times of confession, the hours and hours of confession as he tried to rack his brain, remembering every sin that he had ever committed?

Was that the time that Luther actually was converted? No, you don't get saved by confessing your sins. Because if you simply confess your sins without understanding the gospel, it's something that you do once and then you return again and again and again, but you have no assurance that you've ever done enough or that you've confessed enough. No, it's not then. Today, millions of people in America will be attending church, and they will be confessing sins, and they will leave through those church doors as unconverted as Luther did as he confessed them for hour after hour back in Erfurt.

What is going on here? You say, well, don't you believe in the confession of sins? Yes, we as Christians confess our sins, but that's not how you become a Christian.

Luther's right. You can't remember all of your sins. You confess them one day, you return the next.

You're not sure if you get them all, and you don't know where you are at. What the gospel says is this, that what we need is one act that permanently settles our relationship with God, and it doesn't happen simply because we remember all of our sins, though we do have to, of course, acknowledge that we are sinners, and it is that one act by which we become children of God forever, and our destiny is finally and totally settled, and we become God's children. And then we are born again, and after being born again, we then belong to the family of God.

You'll notice what the Bible says so clearly in the book of Hebrews in one of the most beautiful passages that you could ever read or meditate upon. Speaking of the Old Testament, the writer says, and every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins, but when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice. Luther pointed out that Jesus is not re-sacrificing again and again. He offered a single sacrifice for sins.

He sat down on the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemy should be made a footstool for his feet, for by a single offering, he's perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. For one time, that when Jesus died on the cross, he doesn't have to die again. That sacrifice is sufficient, and when you place your trust in Jesus, your sins legally, past, present, and future, are forgiven. How many of your sins, by the way, were future when Jesus died?

All of them. In the very same way, we must understand that Jesus Christ's death on the cross was so expansive, so well accepted by God the Father, that if you believe in him, you become a child of God forever. Now, within that context, of course, confession now becomes important, because that maintains our personal relationship with God and keeps the issues clear between us.

Maybe I can give an example. What if Rebecca and I had adopted a boy into our family, and he were to say to us, now that I am your child and the adoption is secure, does that mean I have to keep re-upping my adoption by constant confession of my disobedience? And we would say, no, we don't want you to be disobedient.

We do want you to confess to us and be reconciled to us, but your stature in this family is secure and immutable, and that's the way it is when we believe on Jesus. Now, I can imagine there's somebody here, I see what your mind is thinking. You're thinking this, oh, so, isn't this nice? Because I've had people say this to me. They say, well, isn't this nice? What this really means is that I can just believe on Jesus and live like the devil.

I can just go out and I can just commit murder. If you're saying that today, I have a couple of things to say to you as I look into your mind. Number one, thank you for thinking that, because that is the natural response of somebody who finally believes that salvation is a free gift. But number two, I would also say that you are tipping your hand here, and I almost certainly can tell you that if you're thinking that way, you have never been born again of the Holy Spirit. You have never trusted Christ in the way I've described. It would be something like our son, to use the analogy again, whom we adopted, coming and saying, well, now that I belong to you, I can just go out and murder somebody and I'll still be your child, right?

Come on. Yeah, I get what you're saying, namely your understanding that our relationship with you is immutable. But is this the response of someone who's been welcomed into a family and loved and redeemed in the family of God?

I don't think so. So as you think about the freeness of the gift, remember this, that it is indeed free to those who transfer their trust to Christ alone. Not Christ and my sacraments, not Christ and prayers, not Christ and vigils, not Christ and all these good deeds. Good deeds flow from our relationship with Christ. But it is to see the merit of Jesus as being complete and total. That's why, you know, we even sing, I need no other argument.

I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me. That is the good news of the gospel.

And I encourage you today if you've never trusted him or thought you have, but you really haven't, to rush to him in faith. You remember in the Old Testament there was a plague that God sent to the people, the Israelites, because of their disobedience? The Bible says that there were snakes, actually, serpents, yeah, who went among the people and bit them and many people died. So Moses cries out to God and says, God, he says, what shall I do? These people are dying and God says here's what I want you to do. Take a pole and on it put a brass serpent and I will work it so that there will be a miracle that will take place. If somebody looks at that pole in faith, I'll heal them and I'll keep them from the plague. Centuries later, Jesus was talking to a man by the name of Nicodemus who came to him by night and said, what shall I do to be born again? And Jesus said, unless you're born of water and wind, those are two symbols of the Holy Spirit, water, cleansing, wind, power. Unless you're born of water and wind, you will not enter into the kingdom of God. And so in order to get his point across, Jesus said this, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, he said, even so shall the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him will not perish but of everlasting life. All that was required for those people in the desert is to look up in faith. Sometimes I hear people preach the gospel and they say, why don't you give your life to Christ?

Well, I understand what they mean. But when you understand the gospel, you realize that it's not a matter of you giving God anything. You come to receive. You come as you are to receive as the hymn says, just as I am without one plea. But you come to receive. You don't come to give. Oh, I know giving your life to Christ is important, especially after you've believed.

But we come and we bring nothing to the table except our great need. Luther put it so beautifully. He was a very witty man. But he also had very pithy sayings in the process. He said, this basically is the gospel.

And I don't think I could summarize it any better than this. He said, oh, Jesus, I am thy sin. Thou art my righteousness.

That's it. I'm your sin. That's my contribution.

Your contribution is that you give me the righteousness that I receive by faith. That is the righteousness of God. Of course, Luther lived centuries before this poem.

And it's one of the few that I know by memory was written. But my how he would have rejoiced in it and agreed with it. The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do because my Savior's obedience and blood hides all of my sins from view. My name on the palm of his hands, eternity cannot erase. Forever there it stands, a mark of indelible grace. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is the story of the Reformation.

Have you trusted Christ as your Savior like that? So simple. And yet, oh, is it hard.

All the objections. Well, you mean this is all I have to do? And isn't there more for me to do? And you mean I can just do that? Or I have to humble myself and say that Jesus has to do it all. All the things.

So simple and yet so very hard to do. But there's some of you to whom I'm speaking and God is working in your heart and showing you exactly that this is what you must do, because the despair in your heart is a good sign to show you your need of a savior who covers your sins, who changes you within and makes you a member of God's family forever. Will you join me as we pray? Father, we thank you today for the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ. And we pray for all those who have never really trusted him this way. They've trusted Jesus plus a whole lot of other things.

Help them to see that Christ raised, risen, glorified, died for sinners just like us. We thank you for the gift of God. And now before I close this prayer, all those who are listening and you may be listening on the internet or by radio, in addition to the many who are here today, where are you in your relationship with God?

The turmoil within you. Do you realize that that may be God speaking to you, telling you it's time to believe on Jesus, leading you the path of Luther's, the recognition that the gospel is the answer and Jesus is what you're looking for. You talk to him right now.

You tell him that you believe on him. Father, we pray that your Holy Spirit who has been given to your people and through your word and through the gospel may bring about conviction, understanding, overcome all the resistance that some may have to see the completeness of the work of Jesus on our behalf. And we thank you that because of him, we can sing that it is really well with our souls.

We move from despair to wellness. In his name, amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Luther and I know that I've said this before, but I deeply enjoy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I never tire about telling people all that God did to save us. And you know, I believe that this sermon series, these 12 messages will be a tremendous blessing to you. For a gift of any amount, they can be yours. And along with them, we'll send you a study guide that will enable you to have questions so that there can be discussion because we can give ourselves to nothing more important than understanding the gospel better and sharing it with others.

So here's what you do. For a gift of any amount, as I've already mentioned, go to Of course, rtwoffer is all one word, Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'll be giving you that phone number again, but I have to tell you that this series of messages entitled, Rescued, What God Did to Save Us, can not only be transforming for you, but also for others. It's really an exposition of the opening chapters of the book of Romans, a book that has had a tremendous impact throughout the history of the church. And you can come to the same conclusion that Martin Luther did.

Doesn't matter how much God requires of us, as long as we don't have to pay it, Jesus paid it all. Once again, I'll give you that contact information. Go to For a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Faith in the wrong place is worse than no faith at all, because it creates false confidence. Next time, don't miss a message on how believers have been rescued from misplaced faith. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 23:12:14 / 2023-12-02 23:20:49 / 9

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