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Extraordinary Death Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 11, 2021 1:00 am

Extraordinary Death Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 11, 2021 1:00 am

Christ’s defining moment was His cruel death on the cross—a horrific price paid for our salvation. The death of Jesus bought the forgiveness of sins, and for that we must be eternally grateful.

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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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. Christ's defining moment was a cruel death on a cross. For those who believe, that death bought forgiveness of sins, and for that we must be eternally grateful. Today we will begin to experience the horrific price paid for our salvation.

Stay with us. 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, at a time when crucifixion was frequent, what sets apart the death of Jesus from that of common criminals? Well Dave, of course, the big difference is simply this, that common criminals died for their own sins and crimes. Jesus died not because he had committed any crimes or sins, but he died on behalf of others.

And when you begin to contemplate the separation that he experienced even from the Father as he became sin for us, all that we can do is to stand in awe of what happened at Calvary, how thankful we are for it. These messages, I believe, will be a tremendous blessing to you and to others. You know, you can play them again and again, share them with your friends. If you would like to have them in permanent form, here's what you do. Go to

That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now as always, we here at the Moody Church open our Bibles to understand better the remarkable death of Jesus. Of course, later on we'll speak about his resurrection and ascension as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Listen carefully. A few years ago, I was at a banquet seated next to a woman who is a popular pastor, but whom I knew was into what we call the New Age movement. And so halfway through the meal, I leaned over and I said to her, do you believe that Christ is the only way to God? She said, well, sure.

Why do you even ask? I thought to myself, well, I'm going to have to corner this lady somehow, so I took another bite of steak. And a few moments later, I said to her, do you believe that all the religions of the world are equally right? And she said, sure, it doesn't matter whether you're a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Christian. And I said to her, how do you reconcile that?

On the one hand, you're saying that Christ is the only way to God, and on the other hand, you're saying it doesn't matter what religion you belong to. And she said, I'm not going to tell you because I want to be your friend. I said, ah, come on, tell me.

So I pestered her a little bit. And finally she leaned over and she whispered in my ear and she said, you must understand that when I preach Christ, I am not talking about Jesus of Nazareth. She said, I am talking about the cosmic Christ who indwells everybody. Do you realize that there are many people who are living who put faith in the wrong Christ today and they will be lost forever? In fact, Jesus said that the day is coming when there will be many Christs. He said there will be people who say Christ is here and Christ is there. He said, don't believe them because those are the wrong Christ. What is it that the New Age movement is trying to do?

It's trying to separate the historical Jesus, Jesus the man, from the cosmic Christ who is impersonal. And if you read their literature, you'll find out that they believe that Jesus was born a boy, just a man, and then he became the Christ, maybe because he went to India and there he was imbibed with a guru who taught him meditation, or maybe it was because he was reincarnated, but he became the Christ. By the way, all such theories are really wrong.

They have no basis whatever. And then what they say is, we believe that we have revelations that supersede the Bible and furthermore, as for the literalness of the Bible, we will reinterpret it in an esoteric way to strip it of all of its literal meaning. What is the New Age movement after anyway? Well, first of all, you have to understand their theory of salvation. In the New Age movement, Eve is to be commended for having disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Eve is to be commended, the serpent is to be commended, which is Satan, because Eve chose enlightenment. If she had not disobeyed God, her eyes would have remained closed, but because she chose enlightenment, rather than there being a fall in the Garden of Eden, there was actually the ascent of mankind in the Garden of Eden. And we're better off because we disobeyed God. Now you must understand that this explains why in Gnostic literature as well as in the New Age movement, you have all of this emphasis on the goddess. Why the goddess?

It is because it is related to Eve who led us in the right path. Satan, if you please, turns out to be the Redeemer. Now you can't harmonize a heresy like that with the New Testament unless you have a different Christ, a cosmic, impersonal Christ. And the New Age movement wants a Christ like this because such a Christ does not have flesh. Such a Christ does not shed his blood.

There are no nail prints in the hands of an impersonal cosmic Christ. Well, today I want to speak on the topic of the death of Christ. You know, of course, that this is the fifth in a series of messages entitled Christ Among Other Gods. And I've been trying to emphasize that there is a ditch between Christianity and all other religions.

In fact, I've been trying to say it isn't merely a ditch, it is as, it is a chasm that is really as wide as the Grand Canyon. And today what I intend to show is that the chasm is not just that wide, it is an infinite chasm between Christianity and all other religious options. What I'd like to do today is to give you six statements regarding what the New Testament says about salvation. Salvation, by the way, is defined as reconciliation with a very personal holy God. Six statements, six facts, if you will, regarding salvation in the Bible. Are you ready?

I know you are. Number one, God planned salvation. God planned it. It says in the book of Titus 1 verse 2, in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began. And after mankind fell in the Garden of Eden, you remember, it was the Lord who said to, speaking to the serpent, he said, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed, the seed of Satan, and the seed of the woman, which is Christ, and the seed of the woman will crush the serpent's head.

God plans it right from the beginning. Now I need to pause here and point out that this means that the God that is represented in this Bible is different from all the other gods of the religions of the world. First of all, he is a personal God. He is a God who can think, feel, choose, will, and act a personal God. Not only that, but he is the infinite personal God, the one infinite personal God.

Do you realize that this separates Christianity from all of the other eastern religions where God is thought to be impersonal and where the various gods are finite? Have you ever wondered why it was that in the early days of the Christian church when in Rome, Christians were asked to worship Caesar on one day of the year and simply confess him as Lord? The choice was not between Caesar and Christ. The choice was whether they were willing to worship Christ and Caesar.

Rome was very tolerant of all kinds of pagan gods. After you gave your allegiance to Caesar, you could go back and you could privately worship whatever god you wished. But the Christians did not do that. For the most part, they understood that even though we could worship Caesar on one day of the year and God the other days of the year, we still cannot compromise. Finite gods are always very tolerant.

Wherever paganism goes, it absorbs the paganism of that country because finite gods have very little choice except to be very tolerant of other finite gods. The Christians understood that the gap between those pagan gods and Caesar and the infinite personal god was a gap that was so great that there could be no divided loyalties. They understood that we were talking about a personal infinite god who planned salvation. Well, first of all, God plans salvation.

Secondly, he initiates it. I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 3. One of the most important passages in all the New Testament begins in Romans chapter 3 verse 21 where Paul has been arguing that salvation cannot come through the law. Romans 3 21, but now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe because there's no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith.

I'm going to stop there for just a moment. You see what the Bible is saying is because we are under sin, God is the one who took the initiative. He took Christ and displayed him publicly as a propitiation that is as a mercy seat, as a blood offering. God took the initiative.

He planned redemption and then he took the initiative in redemption and began the plan. Now you need to understand why God did this and this separates Christianity even further from all other religious options. The Bible teaches what we call the depravity of man. It's not a very nice thing to say about people. Remember a friend of mine when one of our daughters was born looking at that precious little darling girl and saying that is one of the most beautiful totally depraved babies I've ever seen. Total depravity though doesn't mean that we always do bad things.

We sometimes can do good things. Total depravity means though that whatever we do it is always tainted. We have mixed motives and even when it appears as if our motives are pure, God's standard is so infinitely higher that there is no way that we can attain his standard because the standard is the glory of God. Verse 23, for all have sinned and have fallen short not of man's standard but of the glory of God. Do you realize what that means? That means that just as you can take a thousand bananas and never get an orange, so you can take all the human righteousness that has ever been produced on planet earth from the beginning of time and you can add it together and it will not change God's opinion of one single sinner.

Why? Because there's no common ground between us and God. If there's anything that was evident in the parliament of world religions it was the naive utopianism, the belief that we could get together and begin to meditate and unite and solve all the problems of the world regarding hunger simply through meditation.

We could redistribute the world's wealth, we could take care of the planetary problems of ecology and we could all live happily ever after. Hans Kuhn, the great famous German theologian said basically that all the religions of the world conflict but we all agree that we should treat one another as we would like to be treated. That is the central point and so he lectured on what that would mean. I went up to him later and I said to him in German, in other words it was a good speech but I said you know that after people have heard you they aren't going to go out and live that way. I said to him you're a theologian you know that Jesus said that from within the heart of man comes evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, thefts, covetousness and wickedness and unless we change the heart we'll never transform society and the reason that Jesus came was to actually change the heart. We know what we should do but there is no power within us to do it.

That's our problem and he said to me well you may be right but I think we should be more optimistic than that but I want you to know today that when I look at the Chicago newspaper and when I look into my own heart I have run out of reasons to be optimistic about human nature. You see there is the depravity of man and then there is the holiness of God. God is holy other. There is nothing in God that corresponds to us.

Now follow this carefully. How big and long is the bridge between us and God, the gap? Morally and spiritually the gap between us and God is infinite. It is infinite and the Bible says we cannot take one single step in God's direction. If man is to be rescued, if we are to be reconciled to God, God must begin from his end and span the entire gap alone.

That's why Augustine says that he who understands the holiness of God will despair in trying to appease him and the Bible would teach that until we know how bad we are we have no idea as to how good God is. God plans redemption. God initiates it. It comes from his side. Thirdly, God completes it. He completes it. He does it all without any human being involved.

Notice what the text says. How does God do it? He demonstrates his righteousness in the last part of verse 25. The sins previously committed are those who committed sins in the Old Testament.

They were saved on credit. God says I'm going to let your debts accumulate and then take care of them when Christ comes so that when Christ died he died not only for future sinners like us but past sinners as well. But notice it says, verse 26, for the demonstration I say of his righteousness at the present time that he might be just.

Oh, how important that is. God could not bend his attribute of righteousness one little bit and that he might be the justifier, too, of those who have faith in Jesus. God retained his integrity and holiness.

It could not be compromised. There was no way that God could say, well, you know, I'm such a loving being. I'll just accept you sinners. No, he couldn't do that because his holiness would not allow it.

How does a man who is dressed in a beautiful white suit go into a coal mine and then having gone into that coal mine to rescue people and to bring them out of their coal mine without himself becoming soiled? That was God's problem. The question was how can God possibly rescue sinners reach down and become one of us and take us out of the pit of sin and reconcile us to himself and still remain untainted? Years ago there were some atheists who wanted to mock God.

So they wrote a pamphlet, a little tract, in which they said, look at God. In the Old Testament, Abraham was a liar and he's called a friend of God. Jacob was a cheater and yet he is called a prince of God. David, an adulterer and a murderer, and he was, quote, a man after God's own heart. Now, said the atheists, what kind of a God associates with people like that?

In their perverse way, they had a point, didn't they? That's the question of the Gospel. How does God associate with sinners and still retain his integrity? How can the scandal be removed from his name even though he associates with us who are sinners? So the Bible teaches that God remained just but he also became the justifier. God says, I sure can't look to man to rectify this relationship. That's for sure.

That's already been excluded. But God says, I will do it. I, as God the Father, will allow God the Son who is me in the flesh, three persons but one God, God the Son will go. He will become one with humanity, though remaining distinct from it and being sinless. And he will offer a sacrifice which I will receive and so it will be God the Son making a sacrifice to God the Father without so much as one bit of human initiative or effort or works involved.

None. Salvation will be of the Lord. I'm told there was a man in California who was caught speeding and who went to court to pay his fine and the judge read him the sentence. He had to pay the fine.

But after the sentence was read, the judge left the bench, stood by the defendant and paid the fine for him. That's what God does. How does God associate with sinners?

How does he do it without spurning his own reputation or denying his own honor? He says, these sinners who have done nothing to their salvation and to rectify their relationship with me, every single demand that I could ever ask of them has been met and I have been the one who has met it. You know, this is Pastor Lutzer. I need to say that after years and years of preaching, the message that I have just proclaimed today never gets old. I share it whenever I can, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as our Savior, as our Lord and as our King. Don't ever put him on the same shelf as others. He is special, unique, the very Son of God. I believe that these messages not only are a blessing to you now, but you can have them in permanent form.

And let me suggest why this would be something that I think would be a great resource. Play the messages again and again and share them with your friends. If you have children, let your children listen to them because we need to know in this very confused age why Jesus Christ stands alone and why it is that he is indeed the Son of God who alone is able to take away our sins.

That's the heart of my message, and it's actually, of course, the message of the Bible, and we proclaim it here on Running to Win Far and Wide. Would you like to have a copy of these messages so that you can listen to them again and again? Here's what you do. You go to RTWOffer. That's to find out information there, or if you prefer, you can call 1-888-218-9337. Ask for Christ Among Other Gods, a Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance.

Hope by now you've been able to pick up a pencil. Remember, go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And from my heart to yours today, thank you so much for standing with us with your prayers and your gifts. Together we are making a difference as Christ is exalted through this ministry in more than 20 countries of the world.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. The love of God was put on display when Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins. That day in Jerusalem His sacrifice was visible, and through the eye of faith it's visible even now to those who trust Him for the salvation His death purchased. Next time, Dr. Lutzer talks about the wonder of something we call justification. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 15:14:56 / 2023-11-19 15:23:05 / 8

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