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Rescued From Misplaced Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2021 1:00 am

Rescued From Misplaced Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 14, 2021 1:00 am

When Paul wrote to the people of Rome, he gave conclusive evidence that no ritual can bring salvation. He let his Jewish readers know that their father Abraham was not justified through circumcision or law-keeping but rather through faith. Similarly, we might be tempted to believe that religiosity can save us, but these rituals are empty if they aren’t grounded in the promises of God in Christ.

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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. When Paul wrote to the Romans, he gave conclusive evidence that no ritual can confer salvation.

He let his Jewish readers know that their father Abraham was not justified through circumcision. Today, more on why believing in rituals is to have misplaced 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, could it be that a ritual is easier to understand than a concept like justification?

Dave, you've raised a very interesting question. You know, rituals can help us. They can remind us of what the truth of scripture really is, but oftentimes they get in the way. And people begin to trust them. They begin to trust a crucifix or they begin to trust beads. And pretty soon they believe that these items have magical qualities.

It's really distracting. It's contrary to the gospel. Yes, it is true that the gospel of Jesus Christ is based, of course, on truth, then therefore it is based on concepts such as justification. But it's not difficult to believe those concepts if we see that we are a sinner and we need a savior. That's what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

And even as we open our Bibles to the book of Romans in a moment, we'll understand that more clearly. And by the way, before we do that, I want you to know that these messages can be yours for a gift of any amount. You go to

That's And for a gift of any amount, as I've mentioned, these messages can be yours or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I need to tell you that these messages also come with a personal study guide. But now we go to the book of Romans to understand the gift of salvation. Now in the rest of this section, Paul goes on and this is his argument, and I'm going to summarize five or six verses here very quickly for you.

Here's the fundamental issue that people in his day asked the Jewish community. Well, we're circumcised. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant, and therefore, this is proof that we belong to God because we have circumcision and the Gentiles don't. Here's Paul's argument for the next five or six verses here in Romans chapter 4. What Paul says is this, that Abraham was justified by faith, and then it was 14 years later that God gave him circumcision.

So the whole point is this, that he really is the father of us all, as the text says, when it comes to faith. And the reason is because he was justified before God, justified before God, long before he was circumcised. So if circumcision comes as a result, circumcision comes as a result or brings about salvation, that just doesn't wash. He says circumcision is a sign of faith, but it is not an indication of faith. It's not the way salvation comes. So Paul here is arguing for a message that you and I need to hear, that rituals never save. And yet I meet people who say, well, I was baptized a Christian.

I have a certificate that says I was baptized a Christian. I meet people who say that I participated in the sacraments or in one way or another, I did this ritual, I did this prayer. And Paul is saying none of that is the means of salvation. These may be expressions of salvation. In a little bit, we're all going to be able to participate in what we call the Lord's Supper.

As we participate, we are saying do this, as Jesus said, in remembrance of me. It does not save, but it is an act of worship because we have been saved through faith. So the answer to saving faith is you need to understand sin and grace, that Abraham was not justified simply because he was a good man. He was justified because he believed God's promises, parenthesis. You see, because all the other religions are based on works, oh, there are people who are absolutely convinced that their religion is true.

They are willing to kill others to prove that their religion is true and be killed. But what they do not have, please understand this, what they do not have is personal assurance that when they die they will go to heaven because there's something within them that tells them that that assurance is impossible because after all, after all, that assurance is something that they cannot attain to. Christianity says that when you believe on Christ, there is an assurance and that assurance is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Spirit gives us that deep settled peace that Jesus paid it all and that we belong to him. Romans chapter 8, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

And the Spirit cries within our hearts, Abba, Father, God, you are mine and I am your child and thank you that you have adopted me into your family. There's a third characteristic and that is that saving faith always is a growing faith. For this I want you to look at the latter part of the fourth chapter. You'll notice that it says in verse 18, in hope he believed against hope that he should become the father of many nations because he was told, so your offspring shall be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. Faith I should put it this way, faith, true faith, is both an act and a process.

It is an act. God had told Abraham many times, you're going to be great, I'm going to multiply your seed, and so far as we know, Abraham was not justified because he didn't believe it. But there in the 15th chapter of Genesis, he finally really believed God. Before his faith was perhaps somewhat shallow, he heard what God was saying, but there in the 15th chapter at least, he knew that what God was telling him was the truth and he believed in God. He believed in a God who could do the impossible, so it's credited to him for righteousness. Now that was the act of faith that saved Abraham. But that wasn't the end of his life of faith, was it? Years later, Isaac is born in accordance with God's promises and now he's the son of promise and God says to Abraham, I want you to take him to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him.

What's going on there? That's a longer story. Of course God didn't want him to be sacrificed and God never let it happen. But God is saying, Abraham, you know this business of the seed? You believed me once, namely, that you were as good as dead and Sarah as good as dead, decades, way past the age of bearing children, but yet you trusted me that I could actually raise you from the dead. Can you trust me that I will raise Isaac from the dead if you sacrifice him? The Bible says in the book of Hebrews that when Abraham went on to Mount Moriah, he believed that God was even able to raise him from the dead. Wow, no wonder the text says he didn't struggle with faith.

Well, that's not exactly what it says. He did struggle with faith. You know the whole story about his relationship with Hagar. Abraham's faith wasn't perfect, but as you look at his life you see the astounding faith he had that he had heard from God and that God was going to fulfill his promises. What an amazing story. And you and I know that we come to saving faith in Christ. It is an act and then God keeps bringing us more trials, more trials, more trials.

Why? To test our faith, to develop it, to give us such confidence that even if we should be put to death for our faith, we can endure it because as the text says regarding Abraham, he was absolutely convinced that what God said God could perform. I'd like to nail this down and quickly give you three facts about faith that will help you determine whether or not you've really believed in Jesus or whether you're just going along with the crowd and your family.

Listen carefully because I believe God has been preparing some of you to hear this message, so be careful. First of all, it's very obvious that the object of faith is much more important than the amount that you have. Jesus said even a little bit of faith, if it is placed in the right thing, can bring you great benefits. A little bit of faith in the true Jesus is much better than absolute confidence in the wrong Jesus. And this is maybe why those folks were barred out of heaven when Jesus said, I will say to you I never knew you even though you know you cast out demons and all that. They were believing in a wrong Jesus. Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 11, he says, I'm afraid that some of you are being misled by another Jesus.

We don't know exactly what that Jesus was like, but we know it was so much like the true one that Paul feared that people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. See, not any Jesus will do. You have today, for example, the cosmic Jesus who indwells everyone. You have the Mormon Jesus, a different Jesus. You have the Santa Claus Jesus that I think I saw on television last night. We saw the Santa Claus Jesus. You give money to me, and God is going to bless you and give you a lot of money back.

Thank you. It's not even Christmas, and here we have the Santa Claus Jesus. And all these people, you know, they're talking about Jesus, Jesus.

There are some countries in the world where parents name their children Jesus, and it's a very popular name. You just can't believe in any Jesus. You have to believe in a Jesus who is a Savior who shed his blood on the cross for sins, who's qualified to be a Savior. You have to believe in that Jesus. And if you come even with a little faith to the real Jesus, he'll accept you. Better to believe in the real Jesus with a trembling heart than to believe in the wrong one with calmness and smug serenity. I was counseling a woman one day who I believe was a true believer, but she struggled with assurance.

She led Bible studies and led other people to Christ, and we were beside a lake. And I said, you know, an illustration comes to mind of a time when there was a lake that was totally frozen, and somebody wanted to walk across it. And Midway began to fear that the ice was too thin and so began to actually crawl so as to spread his weight.

And then off in the distance toward him came a team of horses, and he knew, why in the world am I crawling? Obviously, this ice is strong enough to hold me. I said, I'm on the same ice that you are.

It is thick. You have promises that you can believe and trust in. You can investigate Jesus. Those promises have every reason to be believed. But I said, you're crawling across the lake, and some of us are just so confident.

We're hopping and skipping and sliding around, I guess, on the lake. Better to trust with trembling at Jesus that can save you rather than to think that you're trusting another Jesus. Finally, or not quite finally, but second, second fact about faith. Sometimes faith, how shall I put it? We have to believe even though we don't know how God is going to do it. We have to believe even though we don't know how God is going to do it. When God said, Abraham, you know, you're going to be as great, and you're going to have all these posterity more than we can count.

Abraham wasn't given a game plan as to how God was going to do it. The promise in many respects was too good to be true. And there are some of you here who are listening to this message who are saying, you know, this is too good to be true. But I can believe on Jesus and be saved. And I'm saying to you today, no matter what problems you have with the promise, even though you don't quite see how an omnipotent God can do it, it is very important that you realize that it's not necessary for you to understand it all.

You just know that the person who's giving the promise is reliable and that which he says he's qualified to do. And that's what you must believe. And when you believe that, God puts everything else in perspective and in place. Finally, very important, faith is not just information. Faith is an attitude of trust. Faith is a transfer of trust.

And that's another place where people go wrong. They say, well, you know, I love Jesus. I admire him. I go to church. I am involved in this ministry or that ministry. And I'm basically a good person.

And yeah, I believe. I've asked many people the question as I did on a plane this past week. If you were to die, what would you say if God were to say, why should I let you into heaven? The man, though educated in religion, said he had no answer. And then he said something that I liked.

He said, I want to ask you that question. Oh, wow. That's really great. You see, the fact is, my friend, facts alone don't save you. There must be that transfer of trust. And in that transfer of trust, God saves us. And we begin a journey of trust and challenge because without faith, it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he rewards those who diligently seek him out.

For some of you, the gospel that I've just presented is indeed too good to be true. Because if the truth were known, you know very much so that you are a sinner and you need to believe on Jesus. And you say, but if you knew what I've done, I don't know what you've done, but God does. But today, as it says in this text, we know that God is able to justify you by faith in Jesus. Paul ends this chapter by saying that Jesus Christ was put to death because of our trespasses and raised for our justification. What he means is that if Jesus had just died and remained dead, Michael Radelnik is a Messianic Jewish person who's a great friend of mine. He said that if there is no resurrection, Jesus is nothing more than a dead Jew.

But thankfully, he's a living Jew, a living savior. And today, I urge you, don't just take in this information and say, well, wasn't that interesting? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If God has prepared you for this moment, right now you can receive him, shall we pray? Lord, we ask that you shall take these words and bless them to our hearts and ask for those who've never trusted Christ, may they do that. And for those of us who have, help us not to take for granted the great miracle that you've done in our lives that we do not understand, but Abraham never understood everything either. And yet he believed you and it was counted to him as righteousness. Grant that for us, O God, we ask in Jesus' name.

Amen. You know, as I was listening to the comments that I was making about the resurrection of Jesus, I was reminded of the words of Vance Havner. He was a southern preacher. He said, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a myth, then I am myth-taken, myth-tified, and myth-rable, and how right he was. But thank God that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact of history.

He died on the cross for our sins and was raised on the third day. If you are profiting from this ministry from the book of Romans, if you are being spiritually edified, I'd like to encourage you to get these sermons, to have them permanently so that you can share them with your friends. And when you do that, along with the messages, we will also send you a new study guide.

It's a personal study guide that will help you dig deeper into the book of Romans and understand Paul's argument and therefore understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the exposition of the gospel. Here's what you do. You can go to As I mentioned, for a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours, Of course, rtwoffer is all one word, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, I'm going to be giving you that contact information again, but from my heart to yours, I want to thank the many of you who continue to support the ministry of Running to Win.

We're in more than 20 different countries of the world, and it is because of people like you. Thanks in advance for your prayers and your gifts. Here's what you can do to receive these messages and the study guide.

Go to, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The Bible sometimes uses more than one word for what seems to be the same thing.

Making sense of this can be a challenge. Susan has gotten in touch with us to ask this, what is the difference between hell and Hades, and which is most appropriate for the Apostles' Creed? Thanks so much for your question, Susan.

A couple of things. In the Old Testament, you have the word sheol. That is the Hebrew word sheol.

I think it's used 65 times in the Old Testament. And what the ancient rabbis believed, and I think they were right, is that it really has two compartments. Because, you know, the righteous went into sheol, and yet it's a place of activity, according to Isaiah and other passages, and also the unrighteous went into sheol.

So it can be the grave, but actually it is more than the grave. We learn that in the Old Testament. When you get to the New Testament, and Jesus tells that story about the rich man who went to Hades—you see, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament was written in Greek. When the New Testament quotes a passage from the Old Testament that has the word sheol, it translates it as Hades.

And of course, there we have two compartments, don't we? You have Lazarus on the one side, and you have the rich man on the other. Now, the point is, neither of these is hell. As a matter of fact, in the book of Revelation, it says that eventually Hades is thrown into the lake of fire. Hades is the place where I believe unbelievers go today, but it is not their final destination. They are not cast into hell until they have been finally judged, as indicated in the book of Revelation.

Now the question of the Apostles' Creed, a couple of comments. First of all, it says he descended into Hades. Most assuredly, I don't think it should read hell. If anything, it should read Hades. But there, it might simply mean the grave, because once again, Hades can just be a more general reference to the grave.

But here's the point that I want to emphasize. It is not true, as some Bible teachers have alleged, that Jesus went to hell, and there he paid for our sin. I've heard it said that he descended into hell, and there he took our hell, and it is there in hell where we were redeemed.

No, I don't believe that. We were redeemed at the cross, the shed blood of Christ, the sacrifice that was made. It is there that we were redeemed. And if Jesus did go into Hades, which I believe he would have, if that's the way in which you interpret Scripture, he wasn't there for very long, was he? Because he said to the thief, today you shall be with me in paradise. So I don't believe that Jesus went to hell. I even doubt whether or not he went to Hades.

I tend to think that he went straight to heaven, and just to think his last companion on earth apparently was his first companion in heaven. Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you, Susan. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. One of the great blessings God confers on those who believe in Jesus is hope. Next time, don't miss Rescued from Hopelessness. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 07:28:59 / 2023-12-02 07:37:44 / 9

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