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Faith At The Breaking Point Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2021 1:00 am

Faith At The Breaking Point Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 28, 2021 1:00 am

In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted and killed by the thousands. If you think those days are over, it’s time to think again. Christians are being murdered for their faith from one end of the Muslim world to the other—and often the mainstream media remains quiet. There is currently a war to destroy the faith of believers in Christ, and this war is coming to our own shores. In this message we ask ourselves what it would take for us to deny our faith.

 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. Like it was in ancient Rome, there's a war on to destroy the faith of believers in Christ, and this war is coming to our own shores. Today, we ask ourselves what it would take for us to deny our 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, being a Christian in the days of Caesar often meant death. As you speak on faith at the breaking point, I have to ask this, for committed believers in America now, could the same thing happen again?

Dave, the answer to your question is yes. You know, there is the law of merited impossibility. It will not happen here, but when it does, you bigots deserve it. That's what society oftentimes says to us, but I have to emphasize that we here in America, I don't think we're ready for this. You have people denying Christ at the workplace, you have students who deny Christ in order to graduate.

We're simply not ready for the kind of persecution that the church has had to endure. This message is absolutely critical. Faith at the breaking point. And my dear brothers and sisters, you can help us get this message to the minds and the hearts of many. If you become an endurance partner, that's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

They support this ministry. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com.

That's RTWOffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks so much for helping us, standing with us, even as we ourselves prepare for the day of calamity. Let me begin today with a question. What would it take for you to deny your faith in Jesus Christ? At what point would your faith break and you say, I can't trust him anymore and I'm willing to deny him because of, and then you fill in the blank. I know somebody who denied Jesus Christ simply because of bitterness. He was angry at Christians who had done him an injustice and he was right about that. But in his anger, he decided that if that's the way they live, I don't want anything to do with their Christ whom I had received. And so he stayed away from church and basically denied Jesus because he was bitter at Christians.

What a tragedy. Tragedy to be bitter at Christians, tragedy that Christians would treat someone unjustly, but don't deny Jesus because people have failed you. You look at Peter who was there and on the Mount of Transfiguration, he saw Jesus in all of his glory. And yet when Jesus is being crucified, Peter of all people denies that he even knew him and swore that he didn't know Jesus. Throughout church history, there are many people who gave up their faith during the time of persecution. And one of the questions that the church had to face is simply this. What do we do with those who lapsed during persecution and then want to be reinstated in the good graces of the church after the persecution is over?

And there was a division in the church as to what to do about Christians like that. What if you lived in a Muslim country over in the Middle East? I have in my hands Newsweek magazine Newsweek, February 13th, 2012. I encourage you to get this magazine, that is to say this edition of the magazine. I'd have never dreamed that in Newsweek, a magazine that is not necessarily known for its conservative viewpoint would publish such an excellent article. The cover story is entitled, The War on Christians. And if you look inside at the story itself, it talks about the rise of Christophobia from one end of the Muslim world to the other. Christians are being murdered for their faith. The author, who is a woman who is not a Christian, says that the Western news media is quiet about this.

They are silent. I am amazed, by the way, the extent to which the mainstream media protects what is happening and protects Islam. She says that we are accused of Islamophobia. But then she says, and now I'm quoting directly, but a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity and ultimately all religious minorities in the Islamic world is at stake.

Newsweek, February 13, 2012. She goes on to point out as she gives a survey of what is happening, whether it's in Egypt or other Islamic countries. She points out that in many of these countries, you are killed for dishonoring Muhammad, but you don't have to say anything against Muhammad or the Quran. Just being a Christian is to dishonor him. To believe in the Trinity, which is contrary to Islam, is reason enough for you to be put to death.

At what point would you and I deny Jesus? Now I have to be quick to point out that not all Muslims agree with Sharia law. Let me tell you what happened in Canada in the year 2004 in the province of Ontario. The premier decided that Sharia law could be practiced in certain Muslim enclaves. And there was established at that time a ministry called the Islamic Institute for Civil Justice. What happened is there was such an uprising of Muslim women in Ontario. And these women said, Mr. Premier, we came from countries where there was Sharia law. Sharia law, they said, is legalized violence against women. They said it justifies marital rape. And then they went on to say that already in these enclaves where you have Muslim schools, girls 13 to 15 are being married forcibly to men twice their age.

And this would only continue to exacerbate the violence against women. As a result of that, the premier backed down and said, no Sharia law in Ontario. And you and I need to stand with every Muslim who stands against Sharia law. And we have to say that we are on your side and we will stand with you against Sharia law. As a matter of fact, there's a small group of Muslims.

Yeah, let's clap. There's a small group of Muslims, in fact, who hope to reform Islam and actually say that Sharia law should not be a part of their religion. Unfortunately, as you well know, many of these who live here in America are living in hiding oftentimes because of multiple death threats. But we must stand with those who stand with us for religious freedom.

But in other countries, people are not necessarily that fortunate, are they? Let me quote from the voice of the martyrs. And it says that these kinds of notices are increasingly being found on the doorsteps of Christians in Muslim majority nations. In the name of Allah and of his final prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the true religion of Islam will arise in your area and you cannot stop Allah's will.

We have been watching your family. We have seen you go to church and seen you pray to your false god. We know that you are infidels and we will deal with you as our holy Quran declares in Surah 927. Fight those who have been given the scripture and believe not in Allah or the last day or follow not the religion of truth. If you and your entire family do not leave your false religion and follow Islam, you will be killed. Your sons will be slaughtered and your daughters will become Muslim wives bearing sons who will fight for Allah in this region. Your only option is to flee tonight. Leave your home and everything behind Allah Akbar.

What would you do? What I decided to do in this series of messages titled famines, deserts and hard places is to ask ourselves the ultimate question of how we would endure persecution, personal death and even death to our families and to our children. How would we do in those circumstances faced by millions of Christians today? And in order for us to get a handle on this, I decided to talk about the most difficult time that is ever going to come upon this planet.

It has not arrived yet. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that a time is coming, he said, the likes of which have never been on the earth before nor will ever be afterwards. I say to myself, Jesus, what could you be speaking about? Could there be anything worse than the Holocaust?

The answer is yes. Certainly the Holocaust, nothing can be worse than it locally, but what has happening or what happened in the Holocaust is going to eventually become worldwide, a time of suffering on this planet, the likes of which we have never seen. Now, you know that here at the Moody Church, many of us believe that we are going to be raptured before the tribulation begins. What a happy doctrine that is. And many of our friends who are post-tribulationist who believe that we're going to go through the tribulation, as I often say, they will be very glad someday that we are right. But at the same time, everybody agrees that there are going to be God's people and saints during the tribulation period. They will be converted evidently by the preaching of 144,000 Jewish people who have been sealed by God to proclaim the gospel, and they will come to saving faith in Christ.

At any rate, you do have saints living during the tribulation. And so because I want to talk about the worst possible scenario, we're going to speak about the tribulation today. And then we're going to ask the question, how would we endure? And then, of course, we're going to end this message by talking about why they were able to endure. And then everybody who is listening today, we are going to leave today with all fear gone. It's a promise.

Thanks for being on this journey with me. In the book of Revelation, we find that Antichrist arises. Before he does, and I want to just say a word about the four horsemen of Revelation in chapter 6, you need not turn to it because we're going to hurry over it very quickly. But in that passage of scripture, we have four horsemen. The first is a white horse, evidently Antichrist.

He comes with a bow but does not have an arrow because he is going to conquer, and a lot of his conquering is going to be without war. But lest you think there's not going to be turmoil on planet Earth, the next horse is a red horse with a sword that is able to take all peace from the Earth. The next horse is a black horse, that's famine, starvation that we're going to be talking about. And then you have death, a pale horse. In fact, it says that with the coming of this rider, catch this, he has the power to kill one fourth of the world's population, which today would be about a billion people dying.

Can you even imagine it? But now we're going to look at the tribulation directly and with your Bibles open to the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, Revelation chapter 13. And it is here that we have the rise of Antichrist and the awesome power that God allows him to have for a little while. You'll notice it says in chapter 13 verse 1, I saw a beast rising out of the sea. And then it describes it, and we don't have time to go into the description except to say that this is a description of certain empires that were in existence in the past, and he is the embodiment of them all. And it says, and to the dragon gave his power and his throne and his authority. That is, the dragon gave to the beast, let me get this clear, the dragon gave to the beast his power and his authority. Who is the dragon?

It is the devil, as we shall see in just a few moments. Out of his heads, one of his heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. Now I have to stop here and say that Antichrist is going to want to duplicate everything that Jesus did. And so Jesus had a resurrection. He is going to be put to death. Perhaps it will be fakery, but the world will believe that he has been raised from the dead.

He has a mortal wound, but it's healed. And everybody wonders after the beast. In fact, there are at least 15 parallels between Antichrist and Jesus.

We can't mention them today. That's a separate message, but another is the Trinity itself. You'll notice in this passage of scripture, you have the dragon who corresponds to God the Father, obviously in a negative way. You have Antichrist who corresponds to Jesus, the opposite of Jesus. And then you have the false prophet, which basically plays the role of the Holy Spirit in directing attention toward the beast so that people worship him.

This will become a little clearer later on. But I want us to understand the awesome authority of Antichrist. It says in verse five, and the beast was given a mouth, uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwellings so that those who dwell in heaven. Also, verse seven, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. That is to put them to death. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation and all who dwell on the earth will worship it, with an exception that I'll talk about in a moment.

Every time I read this, I get chills. Imagine the authority given ultimately by God to Antichrist. Now, of course, he receives his power from the dragon, but always remember that the dragon also is in God's hands. As Luther famously said, even the devil is God's devil. And here's a man who has authority over all the earth and all of the dreams of people throughout the centuries, that there would be one unified religion that would finally unify the world has come to pass. We're all worshipping the same person. We are all in sync.

Everybody is obeying. And at last the world has unity. So Antichrist is given this kind of authority and there is finally a one world religion.

But notice the martyrdom. It says it was given over every tribe and people and language and all who dwell on the earth will worship it. I just can hardly believe that all who dwell on the earth will worship it. Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slain. Unless your name was written in the lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the world, all those on planet earth whose names were not in that book, they will worship the beast. When I was in China a number of years ago with a religious leader, I remember he made an amazing statement. He said persecution wiped out all liberalism in China. What liberal theologian is going to want to go to the wall for Jesus? Everybody is going to bow down. Everybody is going to worship the beast except this unique company of people whose names were written in the lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the world. He said, Dr Luther, I don't like this doctrine.

Well, learn to like it and learn to appreciate it and don't complain about it. If you want to know whether or not your name is in this book of life, you can find out. And the way in which you find out is you receive Jesus as your savior, acknowledging your sinfulness, receive him as savior as having died in your stead for your sin. And when you do that, I promise you, you will be received and you will know that your name was in the lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the world. Most of you know that your name is there through faith in Jesus Christ.

You know, my friend, this is Pastor Luther. I have to say, be sure to listen to running to win next time when this message will be completed. It is incredibly important and it's going to end with a prayer about fear.

The acknowledgement that fear exists and resisting that fear in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a message that you need to hear and to listen to again and again. This is one of the last times we are making this series of messages available. It's entitled Famines, Deserts, and Other Hard Places. If you would like this series of messages so that you can share it with your friends, here's what you do for a gift of any amount and let me thank you in advance for supporting this ministry.

It's because of the many hundreds and thousands of people that support the ministry of running to win that we can be in three different languages in more than 20 different countries. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Ask for Famines, Deserts, and Other Hard Places and here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. RTWOffer.com and of course RTWOffer is all one word. RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be repeating that info again because perhaps you've not had an opportunity to grab a pencil, but let me tell you that we here at Running to Win do all that we can to put resources into your hands and into your home that will help you run the race successfully and the day of calamity and the day of difficulty is on its way. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com.

That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And whatever you do, be sure to listen to Running to Win next time as I complete this message, Faith at the Breaking Point. You need to hear it. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The Wider Mercy Doctrine is a belief that salvation can be obtained even when a person has not heard the Gospel and does not know Jesus Christ. It's a belief that somehow God grants status to persons who are sincere in their religious beliefs even if those beliefs are false.

Tom lives in Indianapolis and listens to Running to Win on WGNR radio. He's asking this, please comment on the doctrine of wider mercy. This view of salvation is deeply troubling to me. Also, it appears that a very famous evangelist holds this view. When I first learned of this, I found it disturbing at best.

Well, my dear friend, I also find it very disturbing. Let me clarify, the wider mercy view says this, that a sincere Hindu or Buddhist, no matter what religion you are, if you are sincere and you're doing the very best you can, your sin is credited to Christ without you knowing it. So even if you haven't heard about Jesus, you will be saved. So the wider mercy view wants to say that there are people who are going to die, who are going to be in heaven, and only at death will they recognize Jesus Christ as being their savior. So they won't get to heaven without Christ. So this view wants to be held by evangelicals. You don't get to heaven without Christ, but you don't need to know him here on earth to get in on the benefit of his death and resurrection.

The problem with this view very simply is that it has no scriptural support. There's nothing in the Bible that would lead us to believe that it is possible to be saved without conscious direct faith in Jesus. I think that's one of the reasons why Jesus gave the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel, because faith comes by hearing, hearing comes by the word of God. And while we know that God is going to deal justly with those who haven't heard the gospel, indeed they are going to be less culpable than those who have, so justice will be done.

There's simply no evidence in the scripture that people can be saved simply because they are sincere. Thank you, Tom, and thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can just go to our website at rtwoffer.com 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, Illinois, 60614. The Antichrist is known as the Beast, and he'll force the whole world to worship him using military and economic pressure. Without his mark, no one can buy or sell. Next time, could any of us maintain our faith in Jesus during a time like this when it's worship the Beast or die? For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-26 10:46:36 / 2023-09-26 10:55:08 / 9

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