Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The word angel simply means messenger. These beings serve God in heaven and on earth, doing his bidding. When they massed over Bethlehem the night Jesus was born, they heralded the greatest message that has ever been sent.
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, as you continue your series on the mystery of Bethlehem, you're telling us about the angels. And you know, Dave, the remarkable thing about angels is that they have various ranks. You have the cherubim, you have the seraphim. And then, of course, two angels are actually mentioned by name in the Bible.
You have Michael and you have Gabriel. So, I'm sure that in heaven someday we'll understand that a lot better. But aren't we glad that they rejoice because of our salvation? That's why they are so connected with the Christmas story. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win.
And of course, we're coming near the end of the year. And as you think about your giving, I trust that you will pray and include us in your commitment to help us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to more than 20 different countries in three different languages. You can simply connect with us by going to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or calling us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, let us listen as once again we open God's word and contemplate angels. So they were there. They were there when man fell. They saw what happened there in the garden. That man took the serpent's route and that we identified ourselves with the devil. They saw that. That that fallen angel, Satan, was allowed to be in the garden so that your grandfather and grandmother, mine as well, sinned by taking the devil's route. They were there. They were pained by the decision.
Because you see, they remember some of their colleagues and they remember how those colleagues fell. The one third of the angels that fell from heaven. Lucifer, son of the morning, said, I will be like the most high. Apparently, the devil was like a choir master. He was giving praise to God and making sure that all the praise was going to God.
And then suddenly he kept some of it for himself. And it was that pride that made him rebel against God and become thoroughly and totally evil. So the angels have seen all that. And then they knew that there were promises of redemption. And this is what the Bible says in 1 Peter.
This is in your Bible, too. It says in 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 12, when it's speaking of the time when the promises are going to be fulfilled and the coming of the Messiah and so forth, it says, these things the prophets were trying to understand and these things the angels desire to look into. The angels are fascinated by our redemption. Absolutely fascinated.
Let me tell you why I think they're so fascinated by it. Because the angels understand things that you and I don't. We know the words, but they experience what we're talking about. The angels understood that God is a God of many attributes. And one of his attributes is love. And love would like to redeem people. Love would like to take them out of their sin, redeem them, reconcile them to God and give them hope and forgiveness and eternal life. Love would like to do that. But holiness says you can't.
You can't. Because there is justice and there is holiness and God can't mingle with sinners as if the sin didn't happen. So there you have in God dissidence, tension.
The question was, how is that going to be resolved? How is God's love going to make, be made free so that he could redeem humanity? How would that freedom come about until his holiness was appeased and until justice was settled? And that's what the coming of Jesus was all about. The story of Christmas isn't just a baby in a manger.
The story of Christmas is a baby in a manger who ended up being a man on a cross. That's what it is all about, reconciling the world unto himself. And so the angels, they looked into this and they said, how is God going to do it? That's why the Bible says that when God created, it says that the heavens are the work of his fingers. But when it came to salvation, it says God bared his mighty arm. I mean, this was much more breathtaking than creation could have ever have been. So the angels understood that and the Bible says they desire to look into it. Now just think about this for a moment. They are fascinated with our salvation.
I love this. They're fascinated with our salvation, even though they knew that in a previous world, those who were their colleagues, namely the demons that fell, they cannot be redeemed. They cannot, Satan cannot be redeemed. Humans can, but Satan can't, even though essentially we are born into the same camp. And the reason for this is the Bible makes it very clear in the book of Hebrews that you have to be like the one you're going to redeem and Jesus became one of us.
It says he took upon himself the seed of Abraham. He did not take upon himself the nature of angels. You see, when Jesus died on the cross and he came to save his people from his sins, it was people he came to save and no price for sin was included for the demonic spirits, for the evil spirit world. So they are incapable of redemption. Now we know that they'd never ask to be redeemed, but even if they did, sorry, no sacrifice for your sin, no redemption for you. Now think of this, the angels who received no personal benefit from the doctrine of salvation, of our salvation, they are fascinated with a whole matter of our salvation. I'm sure they were absolutely fascinated to think that a baby would be born in Bethlehem and this baby would be the redeemer of mankind.
Can't you imagine their enthusiasm watching everything that is going on on earth? And they do watch us, you know, especially when we worship together. It's what the Bible teaches. You know, Paul says in Corinthians, he said, the reason that women should be properly covered, he says, in a church service is, he said, they should do it for the angels. You remember that verse?
That's in your Bible too, by the way, not making that up because you see, they've seen insubordination, they've seen rebellion, they've seen disorder. And so the angels have a great deal of interest in what we are doing and what's going on on earth, even though they have no benefit coming to them as a result of our salvation and yet they are thrilled with it. And I believe that when Jesus was there in the garden, you remember he says, could I have not called 10 legions of angels to come and deliver me? I think there were angels all around just waiting for the signal to deliver Jesus, but they were not called because Jesus knew he had to go through Gethsemane and the cross for us and there was no way out.
But boy, were those angels ready. So you see, I think that they model worship. Imagine being so free from jealousy. Jonathan Edwards said, just think of this for a moment that in heaven, you and I are going to be like the angels, free of sin, free of jealousy. And as a result of that, we will see the exaltation of others and we will rejoice in the exaltation of others as if that exaltation were our own.
Imagine being that free to worship and to serve God. So first of all, I think they model worship. I think they model also their interest in salvation. In fact, the Bible says that throughout all of eternity, we are going to be on display as God's many faceted wisdom, the wisdom of God, and the angels love to see it.
There's another reason, and that is, I think they are our example in attitude, in attitude. You know, in the 15th chapter of Luke, and you don't have to turn to it, Jesus was saying this. He says he was being criticized for finding sinners. And when you're looking for sinners, you have to go in some unlikely places. You have to go beyond the church walls. And Jesus was with prostitutes and Pharisees, yes, but they were the self righteous ones. He was dealing with people, publicans and all kinds of nasty people.
So he was being criticized for it. And Jesus said, you know, he said, if there is a woman with 10 coins and she loses one, doesn't she go throughout and light a candle and search the whole house? And once she has found it, she causes all of her friends to come over and to have a party and says, rejoice with me because this coin that I lost has been found. I had an experience like that two weeks ago today. Two weeks ago this morning, I woke up and could not find my wallet anywhere. And yet I had to come to church. Don't tell anybody. Don't tell anybody. Desperate.
You know, I have to come to church, drive a car. Oh, where was it? Now, when you lose something like a wallet, I can tell you this from personal experience. You look in a hundred places where it could never possibly be, don't you? I mean, you just start looking in the most bizarre places and I decided to keep looking in places where I absolutely knew it could not be, but I had exhausted all the others and an opening a bag, which I knew for sure the wallet could not be in it, I found it. And I just, I looked up to heaven and I said, thank you Lord. I've never seen my wallet with so much joy on my face as I did when I found like that.
Even if it was empty, I was still glad I found it. Now that's what Jesus said. And then he said this, even so, he says, there is joy in heaven and the angels rejoice over one sinner that repents.
Wow. I believe that throughout the world today, there'll be tens of thousands of people, I hope so, who will believe on Christ and repent. And every single one of them is going to cause a cosmic celebration. And I'm hoping and praying that some of those people who caused the cosmic experience in heaven are here today because you're not here today by accident.
You may have been brought by a friend, you may attend regularly. Whatever it is, God has brought you to this moment, to this hour, to this part in the sermon to speak to you and to tell you that you need to repent. Turn from your sins, turn to Christ. And if you do, Jesus said, the angels rejoice over one sinner that repents. You can cause rejoicing in heaven today if you repent. Now to those of you who don't know Christ as Savior, a couple of things.
First, let me say candidly that some of you are satisfied with yourself. You've talked yourself into the idea that you're good enough for God. I hope that God divests you of that illusion because it is an illusion. But there are others of you who have come and you know that you need a Savior. And the way you know it is through the sense of conviction of sin, the knowledge that you can't get to God on your own and you aren't good enough unless God does it.
And I'm speaking to you because, I'll tell you why, because I know that God is speaking to you. What you need to do is to admit your sinfulness and then look to Jesus Christ, the baby becoming a Savior, now raised in heaven, but who died to reconcile and to bring about a resolution of the two attributes of God that were intention. On the one hand, God wants to redeem you, but he couldn't until justice was satisfied.
Justice is now satisfied, so now he is free to redeem you. That is the good news of the gospel. And you say, Lord Jesus, be my Savior. Martin Luther said that all of salvation is dependent upon the pronouns. To be able to say Jesus is a Savior, Luther said even the devil can say that. But what the devil cannot say is Jesus is my Savior. Make him your Savior today.
You may be watching on the internet, you may be listening by radio or other means. Receive Christ and the angels in heaven rejoice. Now catch this. The angels in heaven rejoice over a sinner that repents, even though they know that all who repent are going to be exalted above them forever. Of course, we're going to be above the angels. And the reason is because Jesus is our brother. And when the title deed to the universe is read, why, indeed, your name is going to be there and mine if you're a repentant person and you've received Christ as Savior because we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. You see, angels were created individually. They have no aunts and uncles and cousins and so forth.
They are created individually. We have connection and we have a brother who is our Savior. And because of that, we're going to be exalted above them. No angel will ever be an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. No angel will ever sit on the throne of the universe to rule. And yet Jesus said, he overcomes to him. I shall grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my father on his throne. Mind boggling. The angels know we'll never be like those human beings that have been redeemed, but we rejoice in their salvation, totally free of all jealousy, totally free of all one upmanship, totally free.
And I say that they are our model as far as their attitude is concerned. When Paul Gibson was leaving Cambridge as principal there of Cambridge, there was a painting commissioned for him. And when the painting was unveiled, Paul Gibson, paying a wonderful tribute to the artist, said, in time to come, people who look at this painting are not going to say, who is the person painted?
But they are going to be asking, who was that painter? Throughout all of eternity, the question will not be, who are the redeemed? The question is going to be, who is the redeemer to take them from the pit and to lift them to the palace, from the mud to the marble? What a redeemer.
What a redeemer. And the angels rejoice every time someone repents and takes advantage of the redemption. Would you receive Christ today? And of course, we know that the angels, they had a message, go to Bethlehem, adore him. And that's what we do here at the Moody Church.
Every service, we adore him. Would you join me as we pray? Our Father, today we thank you so much for angels, the good angels. Thank you, Father, for their model of obedience and worship, their model of being interested in salvation. And then, Father, their attitude of total selflessness, rejoicing in the fact that we have been converted. We look forward to being with them someday to join our voices to give you praise and adoration.
Help us to be like them and ultimately like Christ. For those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, where you are seated, wherever you're listening to this, say, Jesus, I repent. I'm a sinner.
I know I can't save myself. I receive your salvation right now. Receive it and the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents. Thank you, Jesus.
Amen. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. If you've never believed on Jesus Christ, I hope that you do that right now.
After all, he is our Redeemer and we rejoice in the fact that he came as our Savior and is actually able to save. I have in my hands a letter from someone who listens to this ministry. They said, I listen to you almost every day.
My 21-year-old son also listens. We both enjoy your teaching and heartfelt love of the Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ. After one sermon series, I realized that I almost knew nothing about the true nature of God. And as you said, God is not God if we can figure him out.
Aren't you glad, my friend, today that we don't have to figure out God, but still we can know him through Jesus Christ our Lord? I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry because in supporting us, you had a part in this person's blessing. And as we near the end of the year, I'm sure that many of us are thinking about where we might like to give, how we might be able to distribute our resources. Could you consider giving to the ministry of running to win? I hope that you have a pencil in your hand because to connect with us, you can go to rtwoffer.com. By the way, you could become an endurance partner. That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. So let me give you that info again, rtwoffer.com.
Click on the endurance partner button or right now call 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question is very short, but the answer may be a bit longer. Mavis has written from Richmond, Illinois to ask, is Satan the author of death and sin? Mavis, thank you so much for your question and I do commend you because in the many answers I have given and the many questions that have been read, I think probably yours is the shortest.
But yes, it does take a somewhat long answer, though I'm going to try to make it very brief and to the point. It really depends on how you define the word author. If by the author of sin you mean that Satan does the sin and brings the death, yes. This I think is very clear in scripture. God does not sin, but Satan does. Satan was the first one to sin.
I believe that he was created beautiful and I believe that he had responsibility of giving praise to God and then began to take it for himself. So he is the first one to sin and in that sense, he is the author of sin. And of course, along with that sin came death. So I want to affirm Satan as the author of sin. However, if you look at it from the bigger point of view, Satan did sin under God's supervision of the universe. God did permit the sin and he could have chosen to not permit it in many different ways that I will not go into on this broadcast.
God could have chosen to not permit it. Therefore, ultimately the Bible can say that all things are of God. God does not do evil, but God uses evil. God, through his providential government, ultimately controls evil.
He certainly does set the boundaries because he's in charge. So in that sense, ultimately, everything can be traced back to God, but not in the sense that he does it, but in the sense that it is part of his eternal purpose, part of his providence, and part of his ordaining work. Now I know that the implications are far reaching, but our time is short on this broadcast, but I hope that this has caused you to think through the implications of your short question. Thank you Mavis for taking us into the deeper waters of theology with Dr. Lutzer today. 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 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, IL 60614. The good news was not proclaimed first to the high and mighty. Rather, poor shepherds got the word straight from God's angels. Next time, we explore the mystery of the shepherds. Plan to join us. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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