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The Mystery Of The Baby Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2021 1:00 am

The Mystery Of The Baby Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 21, 2021 1:00 am

There is no question in the world that is more important than this: Who is this Child? Yet many people try to explain away Jesus’ humanity or His divinity. The Apostle Paul wrote of a deep mystery: “great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh.” This Christmas, you’ll remember a night like no other, the night Jesus was born on planet Earth.  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. The Apostle Paul wrote of a deep mystery. Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh. At Christmas, we remember a night like no other the night Jesus was born on planet earth. Today, part one of a wondrous story. 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, today you begin a Christmas series on the mystery of Bethlehem, probing the wonder of the coming of Jesus into the world.

Give us a preview. You know, Dave, for years, for centuries, actually, theologians have tried to probe this mystery. And the mystery is the fact that Jesus had a divine nature and a human nature all fused together. But we can say with confidence he was God in the flesh. That's why a ministry that emphasizes the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus is so critical, because it is a mystery.

But thank God, it is also our redemption. I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The Bible Code, Finding Jesus in Every Book of the Bible. It's a wonderful book for you to begin the new year.

And you'll be able to understand how Jesus is the centrality of scripture. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. And by the way, we want to thank the many of you who support this ministry and during this Christmas season, we thank you for your generosity in helping us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to so many.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us contemplate the mystery. The words are very familiar. We know them all, don't we? And she brought forth her firstborn son and laid him in a manger, wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. You know, at Christmas we sing songs like What Child Is This?

Or we sing Who Is He In Yonder Stall At Whose Feet The Shepherds Fall? And the amazing thing is that the answer that you give to that question determines your eternal destiny. There is no question on planet earth that is more important than that one. Who is this child?

Well, we know that there are different answers to that question. The answer of popular culture is that this child is a baby, at best a teacher, but he's harmless. He's one that puts his arms around everybody and tells us that we should simply love everybody. But he's not the kind of Jesus who would interrupt your lifestyle. He's not the Jesus who might offend you. No, he's not the Jesus who might point out your sin. He's not that Jesus. He's the Jesus of popular imagination. And as long as he stays as a baby, nobody fears him. In fact, there are all kinds of warm feelings that we have about this Jesus. He's a wonderful universal man and he applies himself to everyone. And all that we need to do is to take him like a book at Christmas.

We bring him down at Christmas and then we put him back on the shelf and that's it for another year. That's the answer of popular culture. And then there's also the answer of Islam. Islam says that Jesus was a prophet, a very revered prophet. Islam mentions Jesus 93 times in the Koran, Jesus is referred to. But it also teaches that Jesus didn't die on a cross. Surah 4, 157 and following, says that they thought that they were crucifying Jesus, but they were wrong. They didn't crucify him. As a matter of fact, Islam says that they revered Jesus more than we do because God loved him so much he never allowed him to die.

Now, no matter how we might understand that, the fact is that this sincerely and greatly misunderstands who Jesus is and why he came and why the cross is the best expression of God's love. And then there's also the answer of the merchants. Who is Jesus for the merchants? Jesus is a commodity to be advertised and he's one who can be sold. Yesterday I was riding in the car and on the radio it said that this year one half percent more has been spent up until this time for Christmas than last year. It's really all that matters is the bottom line. Christmas on the news is not about the birth of Jesus.

Christmas on the news is what do the retailers think and how much are we going to spend on ourselves at Christmas time? Well, that's the answers that we have floating around in our culture, but what is the biblical answer? The biblical answer is that Jesus was God. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Jesus is God. And the Apostle Paul says great is the mystery of godliness.

God was manifest in the flesh. Almost every Christmas I tell you about our oldest daughter when she was about seven years old and she asked me this question. She said who was taking care of the world when God was a baby?

It's an excellent question and it's the only the kind of question that a child would ask. Who is taking care of the world when God was a baby? Well, I'm going to be answering that question in a few moments, but I'd like to spend a few moments today giving you a rationale for the fact that Jesus of necessity must be God. If we are to be redeemed from our sins, and the Bible says that he came to redeem his people from their sins, if we're to be redeemed from our sins, why does God have to do it? Can't somebody else, can't some other creation do it? Why God?

A couple of reasons. First of all, because of the extent of our predicament, because of the extent of our problem with sin. You see, Horace was a playwright and he commented on the various plays that were used in Rome in the theater of his day. And he said that the writers sometimes brought God onto a stage. You see, what happened is as the plot developed, it became so complicated that no human being could resolve it. So what the playwrights would do is they would bring God onto the stage and a God would do a miracle and then the plot would be resolved. Horace said that they were bringing God onto the stage too soon.

He says God should not be brought onto the stage until the plot is so incredibly difficult, until there is absolutely no way out and only then should God be brought on the stage. My dear friend today, our situation, our predicament was so difficult that only God could unravel it. You see, if you are sick, you need a doctor.

If you are drowning, you need a lifeguard. But if you are dead, you need a God to resurrect you. And the Bible says that we were dead in our trespasses and in our sins. And as a result of that, we need God to deliver us. And not only do we need God to deliver us, but at this moment, I also need a drink.

Because of the frailty of the human body, my throat was saying I need water and it could say the same thing again. And so we need to keep in mind, folks, that we needed God to resolve our problem. Only God could come. And you see, the problem is that if sin were only eating chocolate, we might be able to redeem ourselves.

We might be able to better ourselves. But the Bible talks about us not only being dead in trespasses and sins, but not knowing that we are dead in trespasses and sins. Like Luther says, the natural man is blind and deaf and dead, but he perceives himself to be able to see and to be able to hear.

And he sees himself as being alive because physically we are, but we are separated from God and only God can enter into our world to redeem us. There's another reason. And the other reason is because of the fact that God's holiness demanded it, his justice. You see, in Islam, Allah forgives and there's no sacrifice for sin. He just chooses to forgive. But let me ask you a question.

The other day, I read an account where somebody was so angry at somebody else that they took a car and rammed it in a parking lot to hurt the other person to try to kill them. Now, should we just simply say, well, you know, he's asking forgiveness and so we just grant it? No, there's something within us that says this person must pay. Justice must be satisfied. Now, you multiply that and you magnify it in the case of God.

Then what you discover is that God, God must be satisfied. Justice must be appeased. A sacrifice for sin must be given. Somebody needs to pay.

The question is who? Could an angel have paid? No, an angel could not have paid. And let me explain to you because the person who pays has to become one with the people whom he is redeeming and angels are not human beings.

So they're immediately disqualified. What about a perfect human being? Could God have created a perfect human being and said, you die on the cross. You make a sacrifice for humanity because I've created you perfect.

The answer is no. Even if that human being could redeem one person, one human being in the place of another human being, even if that were possible, you couldn't have one human being bear the sin of millions and billions of human beings. Now, God had to do it. God says I'm going to become one like those who I'm going to redeem. I'm going to become a man to redeem humanity and on that perfect person will be laid the iniquity of the world. Your awful sin and your inability to even realize your sin will be laid on him the iniquity of us all. And in six hours time, he is going to endure the suffering of an eternity of hell so that you and I could go free. And that's the gospel.

And thank you whoever you are over here saying thank you. I appreciate that because all of us should say thank you, Father, for that gift of Jesus Christ. And so you see, God was in flesh, perfect humanity, perfect deity to do what no human being could do. And of course, if God delegated it to some created creature, we'd give that created creature honor and glory and God would receive the honor and the glory. But God receives it because the Bible teaches so clearly that God is a redeeming God. Jehovah is salvation.

He does it. Now the question is, how do the two natures relate together? Some time ago, I was in a panel discussion. A Muslim asked me this question in a panel discussion, an excellent question. That's why we need more dialogue.

We need more discussion with those who disagree with us because sometimes there are misunderstandings. And this Muslim said to me, he said, do you believe that Jesus Christ is God? I said, yes. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross?

Yes. If that's the case, then you are saying that God died. How can God die? Well, the answer to that question is, of course, God didn't die as God.

It's unthinkable. You see, Jesus died in his perfect humanity. His body died. But God didn't die. And that actually is the answer to my daughter's question. Who is taking care of the world when God was a baby?

When you held that baby in your hand, there was a part of the baby, much more to him than you could have possibly seen with the human eye. Because God was doing what God does, upholding the universe and governing the worlds. And he continued to do that.

He continued to do that all throughout the redemptive process. God cannot die. God cannot die. But Jesus as a man died.

His humanity died. And on him was laid the iniquity of us all. Now with that background, I want us to see just briefly what Jesus has to say about himself in the book of Revelation chapter 22. What does Jesus have to say about himself? And let's spend a moment contrasting this with the fact that Jesus also was a baby.

Let's notice this. First of all, you'll notice that Jesus is speaking there in verse 12. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me to repay everyone for what he has done. And then he says, verse 13, I am alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

That's what Jesus said of himself. You could say in terms of figures of speech that this is an alphabetical figure of speech. I am alpha.

That is the beginning. I am omega. That is the last letter of the Greek alphabet.

We would say I am A and I am Z. Notice he says the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Jesus is affirming here his deity. As it says in the Old Testament, from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Thou art God. And Jesus here is emphasizing his eternality, the fact that he is the Lord, the fact that he is God. Now the Encyclopedia Britannica, as you know, has 30 volumes, I think, on science and history and philosophy and all of the knowledge of humanity. And Jesus, of course, being the alpha and the omega is the A to Z, the Encyclopedia Britannica. And it has all of this knowledge.

And it's all communicated in 26 letters. Jesus contains within himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the Bible says. And in him is all things.

Wow. Who is Jesus? Well, I can tell you this about Jesus. He's the creator of the stable in which he was born. All of the elements that went into the building of that stable, whether wood or stone, he created them. He is the owner of the inn that rejected him.

He owns the place because he owns everything. He is the one who is going to be judged and he is the one who is going to rule. And so you have Jesus Christ here as the beginning and the end. He was here at creation because he was the one who did the creating. He was here at his birth, veiled in flesh, the God had to see. You couldn't see everything that belonged to him. But nonetheless, he was here always doing his thing, ruling the world by the word of his power.

Don't that take your breath away? The fact that Jesus was still ruling the world by the breath of his power and his word. You know, I'm holding in my hand a book entitled The Bible Code, and this is the last week we are making it available to you. The Bible Code shows how Jesus is really the central teaching of every book of the Bible. It's very readable. Each of these sections is about two or three pages. It will help you to understand that actually the Bible is one storyline.

And of course, the storyline is Jesus Christ in the Old Testament as well as the New. And I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. Because of you, we are in 20 different countries in three different languages. For a gift of any amount, this special offer can be yours. Ask for the Bible Code. You can go to rtwoffer.com. Let me give that to you again, rtwoffer.

And of course, as you might guess, rtwoffer is all one word. rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that phone number again.

Hope you have an opportunity to write it down and call us, 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the Bible Code and thank you so much for enabling us to get this ministry around the world. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Where do the souls of people go when they die? A listener named Nola is trying to find out and she's exploring her Bible to do so. She writes, in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 8 through 10, it speaks of Jesus descending to the lower earthly regions. I've heard that he went to paradise to take the saints that had died back to heaven with him. Is this the way you interpret these verses?

And if not, where are the souls who died before Christ rose from the dead? Well, Nola, I want to commend you for asking a question about one of the most difficult passages of Scripture in all the New Testament. It is not easy to interpret but I am going to help you through this and I think it'll take only a moment. You're referring to the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians verse 8 where it says, therefore it says, when he ascended on high he led a host of captives. Now I'm going to read the next verse that you asked about in a moment but let's just stop there. The imagery is taken from Psalm 68 and the imagery there is that when a king won a victory, take David for example, he would not only vanquish the enemy but sometimes his own soldiers would be caught in the conflict and now he would free them. So they would rejoice in his victory and he would lead them in victory having been taken from the entanglements of the enemy. So the imagery is here we are, we are really slaves of Satan, we are under his domain.

Jesus comes and he redeems us and he saves us out from under the hand of the enemy and we participate in his victory. When he ascended on high he led a host of captives and I think that that's a reference to us. He took us, he redeemed us and we are his. Now I'm going to get to the question that you asked in just a moment but notice it says in the next verse, he ascended what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth. So many Bible teachers teach that Jesus when he ascended not only took us, figuratively speaking to heaven, having won a victory, but he actually went into the lower part of the earth, namely Hades, and took those spirits with him to heaven. Now the bottom line is this, many Bible scholars think that it is reading too much into the passage to see that. When it says he descended into the lower parts, namely the earth, it may simply be the grave. But the bottom line is this, I do believe that those who were in Hades, in the righteous side of Hades, and you can go to Luke chapter 16 to see a picture of this in the story that Jesus told, I do believe that they are in paradise today, they are in heaven. There does not seem to be any evidence in the New Testament that there is now a gulf and that they can see one another across this gulf. And whether or not it was in the ascension of Jesus or exactly when it was that he led them into heaven, I do not know. Maybe this passage of scripture teaches that, maybe it doesn't, scholars are divided on it. But what I think all of us can agree on is this, that the people who died in Old Testament times, they are now also in paradise with Christ, taken with him into heaven, rejoicing in his victory and waiting for the resurrection to take place when they will get their permanent bodies.

Thank you Nola for asking, I hope that this clarifies a very difficult text, but I'd also encourage you to look at a commentary, find out what others have said about it, and whatever you do, keep studying God's holy word. Thank you Nola, and thank you Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us with your question 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. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Jesus is indeed more than just another baby. Next time, more about the one who said, I was dead, but behold, I am alive forever and ever. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-06 23:11:44 / 2023-07-06 23:20:12 / 8

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