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An Extraordinary Authority Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2021 1:00 am

An Extraordinary Authority Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 7, 2021 1:00 am

In all of history, no one has ever manifested the authority Jesus had. People were either drawn to Him, or they wanted to kill Him. Even today, when encountering the real Jesus there is still no middle ground. Why is that?

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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. In all of history, no one has ever projected the authority Jesus had. People were either drawn to Him or they wanted to kill Him. For anyone confronting the real Jesus, there still is no middle ground.

Today we'll see why. 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, the authority Jesus projected divided his listeners right down the middle.

And you know, Dave, he still does the same. There are those who think that they are friends with Christ because they accept Him only as a teacher. For many people, Jesus is like a book on a shelf.

You bring Him down when you're interested in Him, but then you can tuck Him away. Those people do not understand Christ and they insult Him. On the other side of the divide are those who understand that He is Savior, Lord, God, and that's the side I'm on.

And I hope that it's the side that all of our listeners are on. I've written a book entitled Christ Among Other Gods, a Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance. We want you to have this resource. We want you to have it for yourself, for your family, so that we might understand the uniqueness of Jesus in a world that has lost its way. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Go to RTWOffer.com.

That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us open our minds and our Bibles and answer the question of why it is, again, that Jesus is so very special. The Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman said that he had a vision of standing in a great cathedral in Europe, standing before a picture of Christ. And wanting to hear some word from outside of the universe, wanting to hear some word from God that might make sense of life, he stood before the picture and shouted, speak to me! Dead silence. And he said that was the motivation of his movie, Silence. When it comes to hearing a word from God, there is nothing but dead calm.

Well let me ask you something. Has God spoken? If God has not spoken, if God is silent, then certain conclusions follow. First of all, we must be silent regarding morality and religion because we have no fixed point by which to judge morality and religion.

We are, as I mentioned in a previous message, like those ants on the Rembrandt painting that notice the canvas and the roughness of the canvas and the change of the colors, but we cannot make sense of the whole picture. There's a second conclusion we must be led to, and that is that our quest for justice, the desire that we have, the cry within our hearts that justice might be brought to the world will forever go unanswered because if God is not personal, all the injustices in the world will never be rectified. I have a Jewish friend who's an atheist. I said to him on one occasion, are you not disturbed by your belief that Hitler is going to have gotten by with what he did and that there will never be an accounting for the Holocaust?

He admitted that that was disturbing. But if God is impersonal, there will be no justice. I know that in Eastern religions, the problem of justice is relegated to karma, but karma is a cruel, impersonal law.

In karma, there is no grace, and the untouchables of India are untouchable and despised simply because it is believed that they committed some sins in a former life in which they are now in this life receiving their retribution and even compassion should be ruled out toward them because that would upset this delicate system called karma, hopelessly, viciously cruel. There's a third conclusion and that is that the great desire that we have in our hearts, the great desire for the ultimate must ultimately go unfulfilled because then we do not know what God is like and we can only speculate and we are cast back on our own intuitions and our own ideas, never being able to see our way regard to eternal issues. Now the question is, has God spoken? Christianity asserts that God has spoken clearly and he has not stuttered. He has spoken to man. Now let us be very clear in saying that the moment we say that God speaks that differentiates Christianity from all the pantheism of the east, all the eastern religions because the east does not believe that God speaks.

You say, well, that's not true. Look at all the gurus, look at all the prophets, look at all the teachers, but remember that those prophets and teachers are basically only reflecting on their own experience of the ultimate, the impersonal ultimate. They are trying to speak the unspeakable and know what they believe to be essentially unknowable because the eastern gods always cast man upon himself and it is within human beings that we find all of these supposed insights. God or the gods of the east do not speak.

You say, well, what about Islam? It's a monotheistic religion. They believe in one God. There is but one God and Muhammad is his prophet. Yes, the Muslims believe that God is capable of speaking and that God has spoken through Muhammad, but Christianity is far different from that. Christianity says that not only does God speak through prophets but also that in his final revelation God actually personally has come to speak.

It is not just that he has sent a messenger but that he himself has become the messenger. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The east does not have a savior. The Muslim faith does not have a savior.

They have only a prophet. Only Christianity says that God has come, he has spoken, and he has acted. Look at what your Bible says in Hebrews chapter 1. That's a passage that you may take a moment to turn to and I will be quoting many passages today and turning only to few, but notice what the text says about God's speech in these last days. Hebrews chapter 1, God after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many different ways, sometimes through dreams and visions and what have you in the Old Testament. In these last days he has spoken to us in his son whom he appointed heir of all things through whom also he made the world.

And then it goes on to describe the beauty and the godhood, the deity of Christ. In these last days God has spoken to us through his son. There has been an explosion of revelation. God has come.

He has spoken with clarity in a human language. Now, in light of the fact that God has come and spoken, what has he said? Well, first of all, of course, we need to be reminded of Christ's claims to deity, his claims to deity. Take your Bible again and turn to John chapter 8, the gospel of John chapter 8 where Jesus Christ is being confronted by the people of his day who were very impatient with his theology. And you'll remember that Jesus is speaking and the Jews are saying to him in verse 52, now we know that you have a demon because Christ has said that before Abraham existed or rather that Abraham wanted to see his day and he saw it and was glad and the prophets also and you say that if anyone keeps my word he shall never taste of death. They were saying nobody can speak these words.

Nobody has ever said such astounding things as you are saying. And then Jesus goes on to say, verse 56, your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day and saw it and was glad and the Jews said to him, are you not yet 50 years old? You aren't 50 years old and you have seen Abraham. And Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. They understood Exodus chapter 3 verse 14 where God says, I am the I am. And that's why the very next verse says they took up stones to stone him because they knew he had made a claim to be God, a very God.

He claimed to be Jehovah. Think with me about Jesus Christ standing before the high priest and the high priest says to him in the 14th chapter of the Gospel of Mark, are you the son of the blessed? Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed? And Jesus said, I am. I am. And from now on, he said, you will see the son of man in heaven and eventually you will see the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with great glory.

I am. To the paralytic, he says, thy sins be forgiven thee. That which could only be had in the temple was now offered out on the street by Christ who was saying to people, I have the power to forgive sins, the deity of Christ.

Furthermore, he says that the father judges no one but has committed all judgment to the son and Jesus claimed that the eternal destiny of every man and every woman on planet earth would be determined by their relationship with him. Little wonder the Jews understood that he was claiming to be God. Do you understand now the difference between Christianity and all the other options out there? All the other options, all the other leaders are on the playing field and suddenly we say, let the one who is God, a very God, stand up. All the other religious leaders of the world disappear.

There is no competition. Only one remains standing, Christ. Now, you understand of course that other religions have to do something with this doctrine. Either they need to reinterpret it as the New Agers have done and say that all of us are Christs and that's what Jesus meant. He was God and that we are God too. You have to believe that absurdity and we will be discussing that very briefly in the next message in this series.

Or what you need to do is to say, as Schweitzer did, that he was a lunatic, that he was insane, making such claims or else you have to simply ignore it, simply deny it and go on. Look at what I picked up at the Parliament of World Religions. This is distributed by the Muslim faith. It was written for the Parliament.

It was available to all of us. It talks about the fact that in the Quran there is a Dajjal, which is a great tribulation, so much so that a Muslim is taught to pray to God in his five daily prayers to be saved from being afflicted with the tribulations of this Dajjal. There is no tribulation greater than that of the Dajjal from the creation of Adam until the day of resurrection. But nevertheless, the Holy Quran speaks of another great tribulation, a tribulation that is even greater.

Get this. It is the tribulation in the form of the Christian doctrine relating to the divinity of Christ. It denounces this doctrine in the strongest terms as the greatest of all tribulations for humanity. The heavens may almost be rent and the earth cleave asunder and the mountains fall to pieces to say that Christ is actually the Son of God. The heavens may be rent. And then it goes on to say the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus according to the Quran cannot be ascribed to Christ but to anti-Christ.

Now give this piece credit. The Muslims understand one thing with clarity. If Jesus Christ is God, there is no room for Mohammed because he contradicted Christ at every single point. If Jesus Christ is God, that is the only piece of good news left on planet earth. If he is not, it is the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetrated upon humanity.

Who is he? You see, it is understood by other religions that the deity of Christ is indeed the great divide. It is the infinite chasm. It is the unbridgeable gulf between Christianity and all the other options that are out there. So what did Christ claim? He claimed deity.

Secondly and logically, necessarily following from that, he claimed exclusivity. That is to say he was the only way to God, understandably so because he was God. Your Bibles are open to John chapter 8.

Now just turn a few pages to the right and you come to the 14th chapter. One of the most famous sayings of Jesus, John chapter 14. Christ is saying that he is going away in verse 4 and Thomas says to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going and how can we know the way? And Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.

Exclusivity. What did Jesus mean? First of all, he says, I am the way.

I am the way. He comes to us and no matter where we may be at in our spiritual pilgrimage, we come to him. He receives us just as we are as we sing that song just as I am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me. We come with our sins and our helplessness and our addictions and he takes us by the hand and he leads us to the Father. He leads us to the Father and after he has led us to the Father in this life, he leads us to the Father's house in the life to come.

And why is he qualified? Why indeed in the very next verses, Phillip says, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied. And Jesus says these explosive words. Phillip, why are you asking to see the Father? He that had seen me had seen the Father. Of course I can take you by the hand and lead you to the Father because I am the Father.

God of very God. There was a man who was to be taking a trek through the desert with some tourists and they could not see the path and they asked the guide where is the path? The guide said I am the path. I am the path. Next Jesus Christ says I am the truth.

Lessing to whom I introduced you very briefly in the last message. Great German dramatist lived in the 1700s said on one occasion if God were to offer me eternal truth on his right hand and the eternal quest for truth on his left, I would take the left hand even if that meant that I should never attain the truth because the fun is in the journey. Lessing was a brilliant fool.

Brilliant fool. You see number one, if he did not have any truth, he would not even know what he was searching for. He wouldn't recognize it after he found it because after all he has not got any truth in that left hand and furthermore it is important to know the truth about poison, the truth about a faulty parachute and if it is important for us to know the truth about these matters, how important it is that we might know the truth about eternity. What Lessing did not understand though he was brought up in the home of a very pious Lutheran father, what he didn't understand was that his eternal destiny depended on whether or not he knew the truth and what he did with the truth that he knew. Jesus said, I am the truth. I'm not just a way shower. I am the truth.

My friend, don't you love that? The fact that our Savior spoke with such authority, such confidence and that's why he could say, I am the way, the truth and the life. He invites us to come to the father, but he alone can take us there. I hope that you love him. I hope that you serve him.

I hope that you have received him. I've written a book entitled Christ among other gods, a defense of Christ in an age of tolerance. We want to make this resource available to you for the simple fact that we're living in an age in which there is so much confusion, an age in which there is even a slippage of truth within what is sometimes called the evangelical church where younger evangelicals think that there might be alternate ways to the father.

For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to RTW offer.com. That's RTW offer.com or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for Christ among other gods, a defense of Christ in an age of tolerance.

Go to RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And thanks in advance for holding our hands because together we're making a difference. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Growing Christians come to understand their obligations in the area of stewardship, giving of their time and treasure as outlined in the Bible.

One of our Running to Win listeners is Victor, who's trying to make sure he's giving in the right way. He writes this, although I support my church, I find myself giving more to other organizations and individuals. So my question is, does giving, whether monetary or in terms of service time, have to be to the church? Can giving to neighbors, our community, or even to our families satisfy our giving responsibility? Well, Victor, your question has a number of different hidden ideas and meanings that I find very, very intriguing.

A couple of things. First of all, we are exhorted in Scripture to give to the church. In the Old Testament it was giving to the temple, you remember, and in the New Testament it is giving to the church. You find this, for example, in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and also chapter 9. You find it in other passages such as in 1 Corinthians where the Apostle Paul talks about putting in store week by week each person as God has prospered them funds for the good of the body of Christ.

That is very important. You say in your letter here, does giving to relatives, neighbors, family, satisfy our giving responsibility? Well, of course, no, it doesn't because the church is actually the place, the first place where we should give. Now, if you are edified by your church and you don't give to your church, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. For example, let us suppose that I were to eat at one restaurant and then go across the street and pay my bill.

Well, that doesn't make any sense at all. In other words, if you eat at a restaurant, that's where you pay. And if you are edified by the church, it is to the church that you should contribute. Now, having said that, you go on to say, can this satisfy my giving responsibility? That part of your question makes me wonder whether you are really a joyous giver or whether or not giving is that responsibility. You feel you have to give it somewhere and you're not a joyful, generous, hilarious giver as the New Testament says that we should be. So the bottom line, Victor, is this, that of course you should give first to the church. Then you can also give as God prospers you to neighbors, to community, and to family. But don't let one substitute for the other. And the bottom line, make sure, make sure that your own heart is right and that you give joyfully. It's not an obligation. It's not that God holds a club over you to do it.

But you do it because you love Him. So bless your church first, Victor, and then the others that you listed in your question. Some wise counsel once again from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer.

If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can. Go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or you can 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, Illinois, 60614. It's one thing to say you speak the truth. It's quite another to say I am the truth. Next time on Running to Win, Dr. Lutzer talks further about Christ's extraordinary authority, as Jesus spoke of Himself as one who embodied the truth and had the credentials to prove it. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-20 23:56:06 / 2023-11-21 00:04:25 / 8

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