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The Word Of God Converts Us Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2021 1:00 am

The Word Of God Converts Us Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 8, 2021 1:00 am

Why haven’t you started reading the Bible? It could be that you have different beliefs, you’ve lapsed in the faith, or you’re a Christian struggling to see the relevance of the Bible. Despite its widespread influence, very few people read the Bible every day. In this message, you’ll encounter the reasons why people don’t open their Bibles as well as why it’s origin and purpose speak to you today. This book is far more than a collection of writings. It’s the revealed Word of God that transforms your life. 

 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.

Over a period of 1600 years, God inspired about 40 authors who penned what we know as the Bible. This book is far more than a collection of writings. It's the revealed Word of God and that written revelation has the power to change the lives of its readers. 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, give us a preview of this series you're calling, Changed by the Word. Dave, as all of us know the Christian life begins with conversion, but it certainly doesn't end there. The Bible makes very clear that we need an intake of the Word of God. Let me tell you why this series of messages is so critical. It's been my experience that if you begin a day without a thought from the Word of God guiding you, then oftentimes we don't think about God for the entire day.

Let me be very clear. For example, this morning I read a chapter from the book of Haggai, an Old Testament prophet, a small Old Testament prophet in terms of the length of his book, but a powerful prophet. In that first chapter, I was reminded of the fact that it's possible for us to serve God without God's blessing. And so that's the thought I'm taking with me today, and I'm meditating on that. This series of messages will transform anyone who is serious about experiencing indeed the transforming power of the Word of God. As a matter of fact, we are actually converted by the Word. My friend, here's what I want you to do.

Get on the phone, invite someone to listen with you so that together we might learn how important it is that the Word of God be a part of our lives and allow it to bring about the transformation it is able to do. Let's listen carefully. Let me begin today with a question. If I were to ask you, as I am, for you to guess the percentage of evangelical Christians, Christians who claim to be born again, people like you and me, what percentage would you think read the Bible every day? You don't have to shout your answer out loud, but would you say, well, I think 50 percent would? Somebody said no. I don't know why, because you may think it's 75 percent.

But the news gets more discouraging. Would it be 20 percent? No.

11 percent. Is it any wonder that the Church of Jesus Christ is so anemic today because we are not being nourished by the Word of God? And all that is going to change as a result of a special challenge we're going to lay before you today. Now there are reasons why people don't do it. First of all, because the Bible seems to be a complicated book. Sixty-six books in one, and you don't know where to begin, and you're indecisive. I used to think that I was indecisive, but now I'm not sure whether I am. And that's the way people are.

Where do I begin? There's another reason, and that is they may read the Word, but they're not nourished by it, and we want to teach you how to be nourished by it. And so they read the Word, but it's in their mind, and it's gone, and they don't think about it at all for the rest of the day. So they say it's just a waste of time. Some people are indifferent. They don't see even the relevance of the Word to life, and therefore they set it aside. And of course, in this day when we are bombarded with stimuli, all kinds of electronic gadgets. Somebody told me this past week that someone in front of them in church at Moody Church was actually playing a game on their phone during the service last week.

I don't know who they are. God does, and that's sufficient for me. But we can't even concentrate anymore unless, you know, your phone is going off. Oh, there's a ding.

Now who wants to talk with me? And the distractions are keeping it. And then at the bottom line, there's Satan who wants to do everything that he possibly can to distract you and discourage you from being in the Word. And beginning today, we as a church are going to overcome all that for the glory of God. And so what you have is Christians today who think that they are going to grow in osmosis some way when they go to sleep at night while they are sleeping. God is going to inject in them spirituality so that when they wake up, they have a heart hot for God.

And they've not been in his Word at all. Maybe they open their Bible on a Sunday or watch the verses of scripture on a screen, and that's it. The 40-day challenge that we're going to lay out before you is transforming who is it for. And we'll give you, of course, some of these details, some of which those of you who are in the Moody Church here, you have them in your bulletin.

If you're watching online, you can download the same instructions there. Who is this for anyway? First of all, it's for struggling Christians. For struggling Christians. Anybody a struggling Christian? Can I see your hands, please? All right. Quite a few hands went up.

You'll notice that mine went up, too. Struggling Christians. You know, if you're perfect, you don't need this.

But before you guess whether or not you're perfect, I am reminded of a man who said, you know, if I just had a little bit more humility, I'd be perfect. So if you fit into that category, you don't need it. But if you're a struggling Christian like I am and like you probably are, you need this.

Who else is this for? Well, it's for the lapsed Christian. For the lapsed Christian. It's a Christian who, first of all, is so defeated by sin that they give up on the battle and just say, I'll have nothing to do with it. Or they are very angry. They're angry at other people.

They're angry at God. And so they want to step away from the faith. Just this morning, I heard about a pastor who stepped away from the faith for a year.

He was at a beach. And as he looked out over these beautiful surroundings, he said, you know, I'm just going to see what it's like to live without God for a year. No prayer, no Bible reading. And he's kind of now an atheist of sorts.

And guess what? He has discovered that he can find happiness and help other people find happiness without religion. Well, of course, he still has a moral sense because he is created in the image of God.

You know, I had to just kind of laugh out loud when I thought of this. Here's a man who said, I'm going to do away with God. I'm not going to have anything to do with God for a year. I'm doing away with God for a year. What if God were to say, I'm doing away with you for a year? I mean, he'd be a grease spot on a rock by the beach.

The very breath that he breathes is God-given. And think, if he is a believer, and I don't know that he is, but if he is, think of what he is missing in terms of fellowship with God. I wouldn't want to go a whole day without fellowship with God.

Imagine what he's missing, but he doesn't know that. So that's for you. It's for people with other religions. You may be here as a Muslim or as a Hindu or some other religion, and you're kind of exploring Christianity.

This is for you. This would be a wonderful way for you to have some direct access to the text of Scripture, and therefore, we want you to participate as well. Now, everybody with their Bible open, of course, with your Bible open, 1 Peter. 1 Peter 1, when you look at the text, what you discover is that Peter is talking about the family of God. I hope that your Bible is open. You'll notice in 1 Peter 1, it talks about children in verse 14.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. But as he who has called you is holy, so be you holy in all your conduct. So we are children in the family of God. You'll notice that there is a father, of course, in the family of God. Verse 17, and if you call him this father who judges impartially.

So you'll notice that. Notice we are brothers. And of course, when you have the term brothers in the New Testament, it refers to sisters as well. Verse 22, having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love. Well, we're brothers and sisters, so we love each other.

And guess what? There are infants among us. Chapter 2, verse 1, put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk. So we're the family of God. But the question is, how do we join the family of God? How do we get into the family of God?

That's the first question now that we want to answer today. And you'll notice the words of Peter. I'm now in verse 22. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. That's the way a family is supposed to exist with love. Now, your family wasn't perfect, and this church isn't perfect. But we are a family, and we are part of the family of God.

But how did we get there? Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God, because all flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of the grass, the grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of our God, our Lord, remains forever. And this is the word, the good news, that was preached to you. All right, how do we get into the family of God? What Peter is doing here is he is contrasting natural birth with spiritual birth. He says that we were not born again with perishable seed. That's what happened when we were born the first time physically.

Our fathers and our mother got together, and as a result of that relationship, what we have today is our own life, but it will die. You can look at the animals. You can look at the plants. They come and they go, and it is perishable seed, even like the flower of the field, he says, because sometimes flowers are, they stand above the grass and they look very, very beautiful, but at the end of the day, those flowers fade and they die.

That is perishable seed. But he says when you're born into the family of God, you are not born into, with perishable seed, you are born with imperishable seed, with the living and the abiding word of God that abides forever. And this is the word, he says, that was preached to you. That's what happens when we are born again. Now, just like you have the seed of the Father and the ovum or the egg and they come together and you and I were conceived, in the very same way, God takes the Holy Spirit. Do you remember Jesus in John chapter 3 said to Nicodemus, unless you're born again, you'll not see the kingdom of God. You have to be born from above by the Spirit of God. So what God does is he takes the word of God, he takes the Spirit of God, and he brings them together to create within us the life of God so that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, old things have become new. If you are a believer today, I need to emphasize the fact that God did a miracle in your heart from above. It wasn't something that you generated, it wasn't something that you participated in. It was a direct miracle of creation within you so that after you received Jesus Christ as Savior, there was something within you that was not there previously.

It's a miracle of God. You know, George Beverly Shay was the singer for evangelist Billy Graham. Now, there arises a new generation that knows not Billy, but he was one of the most famous men in the world. He could draw crowds much larger than anyone else.

He was in Haringey Arena, London, England for three months every night filling Haringey back in 1954. But his soloist, George Beverly Shay, sang a song that some of you will be acquainted with. It said, it took a miracle to put the stars in place. It took a miracle to hang the world in space, but when he saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole, it took a miracle of love and grace. That is a miracle, just as great really as the miracle of creation. And by the way, an English woman misunderstood what Bev Shay was singing. And she went up to him later and said, Mr. Shay, what do you mean by saying it took America to put the stars in space?

Now, America has done some wonderful things. America has put a man on the moon, but one thing that America has never done is to create so much as one single molecule. Creation is God's work. And the Bible says that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. You didn't participate in the creation part, but the moment that you believed and the miracle of the new birth happened simultaneously. And that's why the Bible is so very clear that it does not happen by baptism. It does not happen by confirmation. People say, I'm a Christian. I was in confirmation. Good to be in confirmation to learn something, but it doesn't produce within you the new birth apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ and the transforming experience of the gospel.

All right. What does the word do? The word combines the word preached, he says. This is now, of course, in verse 25. The good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners and that he's the only savior of the world. And if we believe on him, we shall be saved. That's the word that was preached to you that is combined by the Holy Spirit to produce the new birth. So first of all, we're converted by the word. But secondly, we're nourished by the word. The chapter break here in 1 Peter chapter 2 is unfortunate.

You know, of course, that chapter breaks are not inspired. They were put there to help us find our way through the Bible, and sometimes they're in places that really break the thought. So he's saying in chapter 2, put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may be growing up into salvation.

That is to say, so that you enter into the full experience of salvation, if indeed you've tasted that the Lord is good. So what Peter is doing here is, as he's talking about the family of God, what he is emphasizing is the fact that we begin as infants. We begin as infants. Now he's talked about the new birth being born from above.

And when you're born from above, you are likened to an infant into the spiritual family of God. What do we know about infants? First of all, they are born complete, aren't they?

Complete. In other words, when you bring them home from the hospital, and by the way, they let you know that they are home from the hospital, if I remember correctly. But when you bring them home from the hospital, you don't say, okay, well, next week what we need to do is go back and get the toes of the child. Because, you know, we have part of his body, and then what we need to do is to get his hands or his feet or whatever. No, they are born complete. By the way, when a little baby is born, a couple days old, have you ever looked at his or her little thumbnail, or I guess I should say the nail of their little finger?

Just as small as the head of a pen. But it's there, it's there, and it's going to grow. It's complete.

All that it needs to do is grow. Spiritually speaking, the Bible says in Colossians chapter 2 verse 9 that all the fullness of the God-held dwells in Jesus, and then it says, and you are complete in him. You are filled up in him. When you receive Christ as Savior, you receive the imprint of God in your life, and you have everything in you that you need for growth, except of course, you need to be fed. Infants always are born complete. You have within you the DNA of Jesus, and what you need to do is to grow. And of course, we know that infants often should have an appetite.

If a child is born and has no appetite, that's very, very serious, and indeed, they let you know that they are hungry. And in the very same way, when we are born spiritually, what we need to do is recognize that we have a new appetite. Created within us is a love for God.

It's miraculous. You know, before you're converted, God is just there to kind of be used. Oh, I need prayer.

Yeah, I want God to help me. And then after you're converted, there is birthed within you a love of God and a love of Christ that needs to be nurtured, and what you need is food. Now, have you ever seen, and I know you have, on television children that have had no food? Most of them are starving because of some reason. It's hard for me to look at that to see the way in which they are sometimes children that are four years old that look as if they're 18 months old, and yet I force myself to look at it because I say even though it's so hard for me to accept, I have to remember that those infants are actually going through the experience.

But you know, that's the case, I believe, of many believers in the body of Jesus Christ. They're basically infants, and they are starved spiritually. And as a result of that starving, they don't know how to receive the pure spiritual milk of the Word that Peter talks about. Now imagine a baby who gets fed once a week. Every Sunday morning he goes for some food, and then he's starved during the week, and then he comes on Sunday, and he sings songs, and he hears the Word of God preached, and he opens his or her Bible, and so they are inspired, and they say, wow, you know, that was really interesting and helpful, and I'm motivated, and then nothing.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, starved, and they don't grow. And why is it that we don't have an appetite for the Word? Well I think what we need to do is just look at the context of what Peter is talking about here. You'll notice it says in chapter 2 verse 1, put away all malice. Why that'll stifle your appetite for the Word of God. If you have malice in your heart, if you're overcome by hatred, and all deceit, what are you doing that's deceitful? You begin to live a deceitful life, and I'll tell you, it'll be hard for you to put up with church much less reading the Word and being encouraged by it and being fed by it. What about hypocrisy and envy and all slander? You see, as sin develops in our life, it zaps our appetite for the Word, and the world does. My mother, I remember, used to say, no, you can't have sweets before dinner, and so forth. Why?

Because it takes away your appetite. So we've got all of these other things going on, including the technology around us that is constantly distracting us, and so there's no way for us to grow spiritually, and it would be very interesting to see what Moody Church would look like if we took all the spiritual babies and put them in a nursery. I wonder how many we'd have. And so you see, appetite needs to be developed, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to do it together as a church. We are going to restart, jumpstart an appetite for the Word. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Luther, and of course you have to listen to the next message in this series as I continue to explain what that means in terms of developing an appetite for the Word of God.

But, brothers and sisters, I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that we are constantly bombarded by that which distracts us from the Word and from its transforming power. That's why I believe that this series of messages is so critical. I want to make sure that you have a copy, because even if you listen every day, there may be messages that you miss, and furthermore, there are people who need to hear these messages, and you can listen to them again and again. For a gift of any amount, we are making this resource available to you.

Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, perhaps I said that too quickly, so I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. But let me thank you in advance for helping us. Thanks to you, Running to Win is now in 20 different countries in three different languages, and we are listener-supported.

Because other people have contributed to this ministry, you today are blessed. So here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Thanks in advance for helping us. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Next time on Running to Win, more on the converting power of the Bible and how it can bring people from darkness into light. Thanks for listening to our series on being changed by the Word. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-26 07:46:07 / 2023-07-26 07:55:12 / 9

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