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A Believing Heart Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2022 1:00 am

A Believing Heart Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 5, 2022 1:00 am

In the Upper Room, Jesus said that those who would believe in Him would do greater works than He did. At first glance, that appears impossible. What works could be greater than His? With a believing heart and by His Spirit, His believers can reach the world with His Word. Let’s contemplate this astounding promise.

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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. In His famous Upper Room Discourse, Jesus said that those who would believe in Him would do greater works than He did.

At first glance, that appears impossible. What works could be greater than His? Today, what this astounding statement means. 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 hint on how we could ever do greater works than Jesus did. Well, you know, Dave, I have to be absolutely candid and tell you that that passage of Scripture has often puzzled me.

You're absolutely right. What greater works are we able to do? The only way I think that we can interpret it is to understand that the wider church that Jesus Christ was giving birth to was going to be doing miracles around the world and not just physical miracles, but rather preach the gospel and the greatest of all miracles will take place. But actually, this passage of Scripture also reminds us to have faith built in our hearts. I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future, Final Words of Warning and Comfort from Jesus to His Followers. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. When Jesus speaks, we must all listen. We must contemplate.

We must carefully think. And as He speaks to us, we must obey. You and I live at a time of history when there's a great deal of pressure to trim Jesus Christ down to manageable proportions, to make him one of the boys, so to speak, to put him on the same shelf as Krishna or Buddha or some other leader. One of the things that John's gospel helps us to see is that you can't do that because Jesus is unique. And as you look at the text of Scripture, what astounds you is not the similarities that he has to other religious leaders, but rather the contrasts, the differences. For example, and I hope you have your Bibles as you turn to the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John, we're doing a series of messages on the upper room discourse entitled When Jesus Has Your Heart.

Today, we speak on the topic of a believing heart. But remember last time how Peter and the other disciples began to interact with Jesus. And Thomas said to him, you know, we don't know where we're going and you don't know the way, or we don't know the way. And Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. And then Philip begins to ask him and says, well, you know, you talk about going to the Father, but we have not seen the Father. Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied. And Jesus said, he that have seen me have seen the Father. What distinguishes Jesus is that he claims to be God and he not only says that if you see me, you've seen God, which is astounding, but he also says that all the works that I do, they are not really my works, they are the works of the Father. Verse 10, don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me and the words that I say to you are not my own, rather it is the Father living in me who is doing the work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe me on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

Miracles do have an ability to elicit faith, not in an absolute sense, because there are many people who saw the miracles and the more miracles they saw, the more they rejected Christ. But Jesus here makes a claim to deity that is outstanding. Also, Jesus is different from all other options because of the promises that he makes. Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God and every Jew knew that that was the first commandment that you believed in God, but you believe in God, believe also in me.

And to believe in me, Jesus taught, is equivalent to believing in God. But don't let your heart be troubled. And I say to those of you today with troubled hearts, don't let your heart be troubled. But now what follows in this context in John 14 is one of the most astounding promises found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, when you read it, you say to yourself, surely Jesus could not have said this, but he did.

And we have to look at it and we need to apply it. You'll notice he says in verse 12, I tell you the truth. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. That's quite a promise.

But notice he doesn't end there. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And we say, Lord Jesus, do you really mean it?

What could he mean? First of all, he says, those who believe in me will do the same works that I do. Well, what works did he do? He healed the sick. All kinds of different diseases were healed under the ministry of Jesus. He heals the sick. He takes some bread and feeds a multitude.

He stills the storm and he raises the dead. When you read the book of Acts, you discover that the disciples did many of these things. We could almost say they did the same works because the apostles did some of the same things that Jesus did.

Sick people were brought to them and they were healed and distressing situations were taken care of. And after the time of the apostles, however, miracles generally fade from the pages of church history. Oh, I know that there were fantastic claims made sometimes during medieval times, but I need to tell you that they were often intertwined with an awful lot of superstition. And some of the pagan miracles were said to be done by Christians and so forth. Generally speaking, we don't see a lot of those physical kinds of miracles today. We see some, but not a lot, not like the pages of the New Testament.

And that's been true for nearly 2,000 years. Before James M. Boyce died, he spoke to his congregation for seven minutes in great weakness. But one of the things he said to them was, many of you have been asking, should you pray for a miracle?

He had liver cancer. Should you pray for a miracle? And he said, yes, go ahead and pray for a miracle. But I want you to know that we don't see a lot of miracles today. If God didn't want me to have cancer, he said he would not have given it to me and just pray that God will give me, and I'm paraphrasing, but pray that he will give me the grace to die well because I know that my sickness is part of God's providence and part of his grace. Jesus said that if you believe in me, you'll do the same works and the apostles did, but after that, we don't see a lot of the same works.

Some, but not a lot. But now we come to the most astounding part of the promise. If we are surprised by the words that you shall do the same works as I do, look at what the rest of the promise says. And greater works than these you will do.

What on earth would the greater works be? Well, in order to get a clue, we need to understand that in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, Jesus said something very interesting about John the Baptist. He said, John the Baptist was a great man, but the man who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. What Jesus meant was that John is not as great as the least is because John was not really in the kingdom of heaven, the realm of the kingdom of heaven.

He lived too early for that. So Jesus is saying that he who is least in the kingdom is really greater than John the Baptist. Christ is talking about greater privileges, greater privileges.

And I think he has the same idea in mind here as we shall see in a moment. What he's saying is, is that those who believe in me after I go to the Father and the Holy Spirit descends upon my followers. They will do greater works than I through the proclamation of the gospel throughout the whole world. There's going to be something that is greater that takes place in the realm of the Spirit during the era of the Spirit, which I am about to inaugurate. There is something more wonderful that is going to take place during that period of time even than what I am doing while I am here on earth.

Why do I say that? Well, when you think of the greater works, you realize, first of all, that the spread of the gospel throughout the world by the followers of Jesus is greater, first of all, in kind. In kind. It is much greater to have lives transformed by the power of God. It is much greater to have the gospel of Jesus Christ go out than the physical healings that took place in the New Testament times.

The Sea of Galilee will rage again after Jesus stopped it. The skin of the leper that was made whole will become wrinkled within time, and that leper will die. How much more wonderful is the salvation of souls? F. B. Meyer says, the pain from which the word of Jesus saves us is greater than a disease could ever inflict. The soul is greater than the body as the jewel than the casket. All work, therefore, which produces as great an effect upon the soul life as the miracles on the physical life must be proportionately greater, as the tenant is greater than the house and the immortal is greater than the mortal.

Let me ask you a question. Let's just bring it down to where you live and to where you're sitting today. What would you rather do? Be physically healed and be lost forever or be spiritually healed, be converted, and dwell with God in heaven forever? Well, I think we'd all say yes, I'd like number two, miracle number two, rather than miracle number one. Last week I was speaking in New Orleans. I discovered that down there they call it New Orleans.

And at the CBA convention and also participating in the morning service was Johnny Erickson Tada. And I remember the story of how she told she was in Jerusalem and she came to the pool of Bethesda and how wonderful it was to be there because for years she had hoped that she would be healed at that pool. She's a quadriplegic, or rather she'd be healed like that crippled man was under the ministry of Jesus, she said. But now as she finally came to the pool, she said she thanked God that she had never been healed physically, though she so desired it in those early years of her disability.

Because she said the work that God did in my heart as a result of my sickness and my disability was greater than the work that he would have done if he'd have healed me like he did that man so many centuries ago. There is something within the heart that is a greater miracle. So preaching the gospel, that miracle is greater in kind.

May I say that it is also greater in extent. When Jesus was on earth, he was limited really to a few square miles comparatively speaking. You know the land of Israel is maybe only about 80 or 90 miles long and 40 miles wide, and the entire ministry of Jesus was limited to that area. You think today of missionaries who have gone to Asia and throughout Europe and really throughout the world, so today even as we meet here in Chicago, congregations are meeting in all the places of the world, at least a few people are meeting to give praise to Jesus because of the miracle of the gospel. Jesus spoke only Aramaic.

That was the only language that he spoke. Today the gospel goes out in the many different languages of the world and thanks to Wycliffe Bible translators and thanks to our missionaries, thousands of languages now have the Bible translated and thousands of different people have come to know Christ from all the different languages of the world. Think of how the ministry of Christ has been multiplied through his people. Jesus spoke without a PA system. I can't help but believe that when he was speaking to 5,000 or 8,000 or 10,000 on the seas of Galilee, hundreds and maybe thousands could not get all of the words that he spoke because it dissipated in the air.

Today because of PA systems and because of radio and because of television, we go throughout the world. Now remember when Jesus made this statement, notice that he said, because I go to the Father. Elsewhere he said, it is good for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the comforter cannot come unto you, but when I send him to you, he will be with you, but then he will be in you and Jesus has multiplied himself millions of times over in the lives of his followers. Those who believe in me will do greater works. So we have a marvelous, a marvelous promise. Mary, I say that we also have in addition to the greater works, we do have this great promise and I'm looking at verse 13. He who believes in me, the works that I do will he do also.

He will do greater works because I go to the Father, verse 13, and I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it. We struggle with promises like that, don't we, because we've all struggled with unanswered prayer.

It sounds as if it's a carte blanche. Ask whatever you want to ask. If you ask for a $50,000 a year job, make it 150, make it a million and fifty.

Ask for whatever you like. You fill it in and God will do it. We know that that can't be the case because we all know that we've asked things that we've not received. Some people say that this applied only to the apostles because interestingly, the Apostle Paul did not make such blanket statements about prayer. You remember he said offer your prayer to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. He said what you'll receive is not necessarily the answer to your prayer. What you will receive is peace.

But I think even within the context of Christ's words, there are limitations that are clear. First of all, he says if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. To ask in the name of Christ means that we ask consistent with the character and the desires of Jesus because he doesn't lend his name to everyone. You can't say that you've just tagged on the name of Jesus at the end of a prayer and therefore you can expect a request. Remember in the book of Acts, the sons of Sceva were able to cast out or they wanted to cast out demons like the Apostle Paul and they said we're going to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons and they began to use the name of Jesus and some demons came and ripped their clothes off and they fled naked because the demons said Paul we know and Jesus we know but who in the world are you? Could I ask parenthetically do you think that your name is known in the spirit world?

But they learn something. It's not just tagging the name of Jesus onto a prayer that makes it powerful and that asks God to answer it. It means that we ask consistent with the character and the desire of Jesus. Often I've been asked to lend my name to certain organizations and I still do that from time to time but I'm more careful than I used to be because one time a man came to me who was well known and he was beginning this organization and he asked whether or not I could have my name on his letterhead and I said yes and then I learned later that his organization was going in an entirely different direction which is quite contrary to where I was at so I asked that my name be removed. In the very same way to come in the name of Jesus means that we come understanding his will, his desires.

F.B. Meyer said let the living water which has descended from the eternal city return back to its source through the channel of your heart. You are really praying the will and the plans of God. So the first limitation is we ask in his name. The second is that we ask that the Father may be glorified in the Son. That means that we come now not with our own agendas but we come with God's agenda and we don't use prayer simply to say Lord I'm in difficulty please get me out though it's fine to pray prayers like that and God often hears the prayers of those who are troubled but at the end of the day what we say is Lord I want to give to you I want to submit to you and I want the Father to be glorified in the Son in fact I desire that he be glorified more than I desire that my personal request be answered. It's that burning desire to see the glory of God.

You know my friend it has well been said that in acceptance there is peace. There are times as we come before the Lord we discover that our prayers aren't answered the way in which we wish they were but God is there and he grants us grace. You know in the upper room Jesus Christ was preparing the disciples for his death but as all of us know after his death thankfully there was a resurrection and soon we're going to be celebrating Easter reminding ourselves of the triumph of Jesus Christ and even though things were very dark during the time of the crucifixion light dawned at the resurrection. I've written a book entitled prepare your heart for an uncertain future final words of warning and comfort from Jesus to his followers. I believe that this book will prepare your heart of course for trials yes but also as a reminder that Easter is coming the resurrection will soon be celebrated by all of us. For a gift of any amount this book can be yours you can go to that's or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 prepare your own heart for resurrection Sunday. Thanks in advance for helping us again that contact info go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the book prepare your heart for an uncertain future final words of warning and comfort from Jesus to his followers. It's time again for you to ask pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life what do you do when you believe you are forgiven but you feel very unforgiven Tim from Indiana writes thank you for writing the book on how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God because of the sinful lifestyle I previously led I cannot come to terms with my salvation and oh what I wouldn't give for internal peace I know the scripture concerning forgiveness and I have acknowledged my sin and confessed it to my wife and counseled with two pastors at my church and still my inner self is tossed about with these solemn warnings from the Bible my problem is that I just have this internal despair that I've sinned too much though I know all the promises from the Bible oh Tim it is so important for you thank you first of all for going to your pastors and receiving counsel from them because during this time you really do need their help you need their encouragement they need to take you to the promises but you need to stand on those promises and you need to affirm that the blood of Jesus Christ God's son cleanses us from all sin seems to me that Satan is doing a number on you remember the Bible says that he accuses the Saints all night and all day and he loves those accusations because as long as you are being accused by your conscience you can't live a life of joy and of faith let me give you an illustration that has helped many people in your predicament let us suppose that we had two roads and one of them was very well traveled it was very neat but the other road was not well traveled it seems as if the travelers have gone into the ditch their deep ruts and mud and it looks ugly but then let us suppose that two feet of snow were to come and to cover both roads at that point you couldn't tell the difference could you the Bible says come now let us reason together says the Lord though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool remember my friend that the blood of Jesus Christ the snow if you will can cover your messy trail just as well as it can cover the trail of the person next to you you need to affirm that and to say with confidence and faith I stand forgiven go in that strength. Thank you Tim for opening your heart to us thank you Pastor Lutzer for your words of counsel if you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at 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 In the upper room discourse Jesus seems to indicate that whatever we request we can have. What are the conditions on getting answers to prayer? Is it all tied somehow to how fully we believe? Next time on Running to Win more from John chapter 14 and a look at what Jesus meant when he said whatever you ask in my name that will I do. Thanks for listening today for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-11 17:29:29 / 2023-05-11 17:38:15 / 9

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