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The Miracle We Need Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2022 1:00 am

The Miracle We Need Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 24, 2022 1:00 am

The day someone is born again looks different for everyone, but your natural spiritual condition is hopeless without God. Whatever stage you’re in spiritually—the midnight of confusion, the twilight of conviction, or the sunshine of confession—it’s God who grants new life. In this message, you’ll conclude an exploration of the characteristics of regeneration. Your testimony of being born again will bring glory to God.  

 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. A great joy awaits those who, through the new birth, begin their own race on the track of the Christian life. After the finish line of this life lies an eternal future. Today, why the new birth is a miracle only God can perform.

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. We're in a series on how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God. Pastor Lutzer, since a baby cannot decide to be born, is it possible for a person to reject the new birth God bestows? Dave, your question is excellent, but I have to say that the juxtaposition between the human will and God's will is a subject that is very much a mystery, and sometimes we struggle with the relationship between what we can do and what God has done.

So, I'm going to answer your question very directly by saying this. Anyone who is listening today, who desires to be saved, can be saved. And that's the important message that we have to get out there. You know, I've written a book entitled How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity With God. It deals with issues such as the miracle we need, that's the new birth, held in God's hands, the doctrine of assurance. In fact, a separate chapter is entitled Saved for Sure.

Very important issues. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. But now let us listen again to God's word and the wonder of the salvation that he offers to all. We're born not only the work of God, it is also the will of God, the will of God. Now I'm going to tease you a little bit and stretch your theological horizons. And some of you may feel uncomfortable about what I'm going to say, but I'm going to say it. I always say, you know, that if you disagree with me, that's fine.

You can come up later and apologize for having done that. I need to ask you a question. Did you choose to be born physically? Was that your choice? Did your parents say, well, now, you know, really we can't bring this child into the world unless we ask him first? No, that choice was made for you by your mom and dad. Did you choose to be born again or could it be that it was the father who chose to beget you? Say, oh, pastor, there you go again.

You're stretching it. Well, your Bibles are open, aren't they? I hope you'll always bring them because it's so important that you make sure that what I say is biblical. Look at chapter 1 of the Gospel of John. This is what it says in verse 12, a very famous verse, as many as received him to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believe in his name. But look at verse 13, who were born. You see, when they received him, they were born again not of blood, had nothing to do with your lineage. That's why some of you are Christians even though your parents weren't. And some of you have Christian parents and you're not Christians. It's not of blood. You can't say, well, I'm a Christian because my grandfather was a Methodist circuit rider.

It doesn't work. You were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh. This was not a decision made for you by some human beings nor of the will of man, but of God.

John closes off all opportunities to think that somehow this was our idea. It was the will of God. And James agrees. James says, by his own will begat he us through the word of truth. By his own will, he begat us. You say, oh, well, if you're going to say that, que sera sera, whatever will be will be.

Not quite. Because even though it is the father who does the choosing, always remember that now that we are physically alive, he does work through the human will to get us to agree with his choice. And that's why in this text that I read to you from John 1, verses 12 and 13, there's such a beautiful balance. Looked at from our standpoint, as many as received him, to them he gives the authority to become the children of God. The human side is to receive him and as many as receive him to those he gives that authority. But from the divine side, they are receiving him because God is working in their wills so that they are begotten by God. They are begotten by God. And God therefore works through the human will so that anyone who wants to receive Christ may do so.

And on the other hand, no one ever is forced to against his will. Part of the work of God is to get our wills in agreement with his purposes. And that's why it's so important for you to listen to the word of God as it is preached. It is important for you to read the word of God because the word of God will then be used by God to bring your will in line with his purposes.

My wife and I have a friend who grew up in what used to be called the Soviet Union, grew up as an atheist. I have been sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with this woman and when I stopped into her shop a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she is now reading her New Testament. She's reading her New Testament and that is wonderful.

I have a hunch that one of these days her will is going to be lined up with God's and there's going to be a miracle that is going to happen in her heart as the word of God and the spirit of God combine to produce the miracle of God. Would you believe that the new birth, always remember, I'm not asking you would you believe, I'm assuming that you believe, that the new birth, first of all, is the work of God. Secondly, it is the will of God. And thirdly, it is always done the way of God. It's done in God's way.

What do I mean? Did you know that the new birth is something direct and immediate that God does in the human heart? It is not mediated by sacraments. It is not mediated by some person who claims to represent God. It is something that God does in the heart directly.

Did you know that this work is instantaneous? During medieval times they used to teach that conversion was a process that you went through and you had to attend church and you had to do this and you had to do that and you had to do that and always and you were never sure because you were being converted and it looked as if it was an impossible process because it never ended. The Bible says that when you receive Christ you pass from death onto life.

And just as I mentioned that God who caused the light to shine out of darkness shines in the human heart and when it shines it is an instantaneous experience. It happens at a point in time. It is never repeated. You never have to be born again and again and again and again and that incidentally is the topic of next week's message. And then two weeks from today, very important, namely how do you deal with doubts and how do you know for sure that you have been born again?

Please be here for that one. But nevertheless what the text is trying to tell us here is that just as a child is born in a moment of time so a person is born into God's family at a point of time. You actually cross a timeline. At this point you were not born again. At this point you are and your relationship with God is eternally settled. You say well what happens after a person is born again?

They just go back and live the way they lived? Well what happens when a baby is born? Now you know when a little baby is born those little precious bundles you look at them and you count their fingers. All new fathers count their fingers and their toes and in most instances they come up with ten of each. But have you ever noticed the fingernail? I mean it may be like a pinprick of a new baby but it's there.

And some little children when they are born may not have eyebrows but you can see where those little eyebrows are going to grow. The baby is complete, absolutely complete. What it needs now is growth and that's the way you are when you are born into God's family. You are born complete. The Bible says in Colossians 2 we are complete in him. But then you begin to grow and as you begin to absorb the milk of the word and as you begin to fellowship with other believers suddenly you discover that the life of God which has been created in you begins to have more control over you and you begin to grow. That does not mean that you become perfect all of a sudden. It may be possible and certainly it is true that there are those who are Christians born again of the Spirit who still struggle with alcoholism or sin of various kinds who still fail but there is now within them the life of God. The switch has been turned on.

The switch has been turned on. God has done a miracle and Jesus said that without this miracle don't even plan on seeing the kingdom of God because you will not see the kingdom of God because unless you are born a second time into God's family you are not then a member of that heavenly throng and that's why Christ said you must be born again. I think Nicodemus became born again.

Pastor Wiersbe has an outline that he preaches on this text that goes like this. He says that in the third chapter of John he says Nicodemus was in the midnight of confusion because he didn't know the things that he should have known just like some of you should know that you have to be born again and yet you're hearing this for the first time. But he was in the midnight of confusion. In John 7, the passage of scripture that was read earlier where he stands up for Jesus in the Sanhedrin and defends him, that is the twilight of conviction. He's now beginning to believe that this was a prophet come from God indeed and that he had to be born again. That is that Nicodemus had to be born again. And when he's willing to be identified with Jesus Christ, in the midst of all of this hatred and anger directed towards Christ, Christ dies on the cross.

Who is it that helps take his body down and brings 100 pounds of spices to anoint the body of Jesus but of all things Nicodemus? No man would have done that unless he had been born of God and had experienced the radical change of the new nature that Jesus had told him about on that very interesting midnight. And you know that represents the people that are here today and those who are listening by radio, doesn't it? There are some of you who are in the midnight of confusion. You're walking in darkness.

May you ask the right questions of the right people who can help you. I'm glad that you're here. I'm glad that you are listening. But that's where you are. You're confused.

Even this message may not have made that much sense. And you're there. There are others who are in the twilight of conviction.

And you're to the point where you say yes, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief. You want to believe and you are on the verge of believing but you still cannot bring yourself to that last step. Like someone who said to me, I still can't get over the hump that I have to come as I am.

But you're on your way. And then there are those of you, bless you, who have come to the bright sunshine, the sunshine of confession where you are willing to be identified with Christ even at great personal cost. Because you have experienced the radical change of the new nature by his own will he begat us by the word of truth, you have been born again. Now it happens differently for some people. It is always supernatural, instantaneous, invisible and eternal. But it happens differently. Some people it's a big experience. Other people it's a quiet experience.

But without it you can't see God. Remember Dori Vanstone? Some of you have read her book. Fourteen years old in an orphanage, beaten, sexually abused in that orphanage by the way. Very angry child she said that she would fight other children. Could I say parenthetically, why are children violent? Why are they so prone to fighting and anger? It's because of lack of love.

That's why. But here a student from a Bible college comes and gives a little lesson and then before the student leaves turns and says to the kids before she walks out the door the student teacher said always remember this, if you forget everything else I tell you, remember that Jesus loves you. Now Dori had always heard the word Jesus as a swear word. She didn't even know much about Jesus and God. But after everybody left the room she sat there cross-legged and was alone and said Jesus if you love me, if you love me, I'm yours. And that night she cried herself to sleep as she did all the time she said in the orphanage but this time she cried for a different reason. She knew within her heart she had found God.

Years later she would understand that really God found her and she would discover that the switch had been put on and she knew the Almighty. Jesus put it this way. He says in verse 14 to Nicodemus as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. You remember that story in the book of Numbers? They're all dying in this plague. They have a disease that is in their bloodstream and God says Moses put up a serpent on the cross and if the people are willing to look at the serpent they'll be healed from their disease.

I can imagine some Jew who was there saying this does not make sense at all. How can looking at a serpent on a pole something outside of me bring about a change within me and heal the poison in my bloodstream? God says you obey me. You look and you will live.

Look and you will live. Let me do the miracle. Let me do the miracle. Remember there are some things that only God can do. There are some things that we can do with his help and with his help we can look at the cross and if we look at the cross and grasp as it were Christ as our very own as many as received him to them he gave the authority to become the children of God even to those who believe in his name. You receive him. You receive him.

And then God does the miracle. Karl Barth was a famous European theologian who died a number of years ago. In 1967 Billy Graham and he had their vacation together in the Swiss Alps.

Barth was from Basel, Switzerland. And I remember Billy Graham saying that he preached on the new birth that is Billy did and said ye must be born again. In fact it says that in verse 7 do not marvel that I said to you ye must be born again. But Karl Barth believed that everybody was basically born again that everybody in the end would be saved which wasn't a novel idea but it was certainly a very very wrong idea. And he said to Billy you know I liked your sermon but I wish you would not emphasize that word must.

Well I want to tell you something today. Let us this be unambiguous and very clear. Unless you are born again you'll never see the kingdom of God. And so let us say with Christ ye must must must must must must be born again. And if you aren't you're not one of God's children in this life and you will not be one of his in the life to come.

There is no other way. You say well Pastor Luther I don't know where I stand with God what do I do? Well would you seek him? Would you say God I don't know where I'm at but I want to know you I want to be born again? Or are you at the point where you say Pastor I know the whole thing today I receive him. I don't know what level you may be at if you're in the midnight of confusion you seek God. If you're at the twilight of conviction you can make that decision because God has worked in your heart. If you're at the sunshine of confession you pray for all those around you who have never savingly believed. But this much I know except a man be born again he shall never see the kingdom of God.

Can't have it many higher authority than this Jesus Lord God King. Let us pray. Now Father it is at moments like this that we finally recognize that we've come to the precipice of the impossible. We cannot make the deaf to hear we can't make the blind to see. We can't take people who are not born again and make them born again they can't either.

This is your miracle. We pray only father that those who are struggling today may find their wills brought in harmony with yours. And they may say Lord Jesus do in me what I cannot do save me. Cause them to do that father because we are helpless apart from the work of your spirit.

Grant them the gift of eternal life. Before I close this prayer I want you to pray and I don't know where you are in your experience so I can't tell you exactly how to pray. Why don't you tell God what you need to tell him if you're seeking tell him that. If you're prepared to believe tell him that. But always remember unless you are born again you'll not see the kingdom of God. Let God flip the switch.

You talk to him now. Father we pray that your saving work might be evident in the hearts of all those bowed in your presence in Jesus name amen. You know my friend one of the reasons I like to witness about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that indeed the message of the gospel comes from someone who is very authoritative namely Jesus Christ himself. And he made the statement that except a man be born again he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And the Bible says if any man be in Christ he is a new creation. All things have passed away.

All things have become new. Let me ask you do you have assurance of salvation. I've written a book entitled how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God.

And for a gift of any amount it can be yours. Here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or if you prefer you can call this number. I want you to write it down because you can call this number right now 1-888-218-9337. You know one of the chapters in this book is entitled for doubters only because there are some of you who doubt your salvation. You prayed a prayer when you were a child now you're not sure whether or not you are saved.

Those are the kinds of issues that are dealt with in this book. How you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God and even as you connect with us I want to thank you in advance for your prayers and for your gifts. Here's what you can do go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us. Running to win is in more than 20 different countries of the world in three different languages and this year we trust and we are planning to expand the ministry.

You can go to rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. In the race of the Christian life it is possible to be certain that you will finish at last in heaven and knowing your destiny makes all the trials of life bearable. The assurance of salvation that's our focus next time on running to win. In our series on how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God we'll hear a message on being held in God's hands. Running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-18 21:24:53 / 2023-06-18 21:33:17 / 8

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