Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We need help to run the race of life and carry out the ministry God has for us. Our task requires spiritual power, and that power comes from the Holy Spirit who was promised to all who believe in Jesus. As a Christian, you need never feel alone. 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, have you ever experienced the strengthened heart Jesus promised in John chapter 14?
Dave, you've asked me a straightforward question, so I will give you a straightforward answer. In my experiences, I've walked through very difficult places. Oftentimes, I've not really felt the presence of Christ. I take heart in the fact that Martin Luther had the very same experience the night before he stood before the Diet of Worms and said very clearly that he would not recant.
He did not experience the presence of Christ, but he knew that God's promises were with him. And I think that's been my experience. There are times that have been very fearful. There are times with questions. And even though perhaps I did not sense the presence of the Spirit in retrospect, I realized that the Spirit was powerfully present. Bottom line, I think that what we need to do is to be willing to trust the promises of Jesus, even independent of how we feel.
Like I like to tell people, feelings are not facts. When we open the Scriptures, we discover that Jesus tells us facts, things we need to know. Let me ask a question to all who are listening today.
Are you blessed as a result of this ministry? Consider becoming an endurance partner. That's somebody who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, you need info. Go to rtwoffer.com.
When you're there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us listen carefully to everything Jesus has to say. And he is with you at all times. He's with you when you ride the subway. He's with you when you drive in a Chevy. He'd better be.
And he's even with you. Yeah, I'll finish it when you drive a motorcycle. But could I remind you bikers that are here that angels that guard you when you drive officially retire at 65? Could I remind you of that?
The Spirit is with us. I know that you may think that this was strange, but when I went to seminary, the first time when I arrived in Dallas coming from, you know, the hinterland of Canada, I was very lonely. I know I shouldn't have been because I was in my 20s, but just accept the fact that I got there early before anyone else. And for those first few days and even the first couple of weeks, I was lonely. Later on, of course, I made tons of friends and it was okay. But I would just be so lonely. I finally learned that loneliness is a terrifying thing where you think that, you know, you're kind of alone here and you don't have anyone who really cares about you because nobody knows you and you don't connect. So sometimes, and I had a roommate and he and I just never really bonded.
He was on a different trajectory all together. But sometimes I would come into the room when he wouldn't be there and I'd just throw myself down in the presence of God and I would just pray and spill out my heart to God. And I had such an overwhelming sense of the presence of God that I said to myself, I could live alone all my life if God were always this real. Now I'm not lonely anymore. Since that time, I had the good sense to marry a lovely wife. We have three children.
We have a grandchild and another one on the way. So I'm not lonely. But the ministry of the Spirit now takes on a different character. Now the Spirit ministers to me in terms of guidance, in terms of wisdom, in terms of dealing with hidden sins and protection from the enemy. But the same Spirit, but he's that to me because that's what I need.
That's the helper I now need to be alongside of me. Listen up, those of you who are grieving, maybe because of a lost partner or because of a lost marriage or a lost child. Listen up. The Spirit of God to you is what? He is, as the King James says, he is a comforter to you. Those of you who are seeking guidance, you say, I don't know what to do with my life.
The world is so confusing and my choices are so few or my choices are so many. To you, he is the counselor. To those of you who aren't sure of your salvation, you're not sure whether you have savingly believed on Christ. When you savingly believe, the Holy Spirit witnesses with your spirit that you are a child of God. The Spirit of God takes on the ministry of witnessing to you and to your spirit.
And if you're fearful and you don't want to face tomorrow because there are all kinds of things that you don't want to deal with and you're just saying, I'm tired of this life. The Holy Spirit of God comes alongside. He is your companion.
He walks with you and the issue is not how much courage you have, but the companion that stands with you and walks with you through the darkness. That's what the Spirit does, different ministries. The Holy Spirit is our helper. The Holy Spirit is a companion and he's also a teacher. Now we have to skip all the way down here to verse 25. All this I have spoken while still with you, but the counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
There's another ministry of the Spirit. As long as Jesus was here on earth, they could ask him questions. As long as he was here, they could clarify. Jesus isn't here now. We have a record of him in the text. We know what he said. The Spirit of God came along, brought to the remembrance of those who were there, the things that happened and they later on recorded the Scriptures, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
They did that. But the simple fact is, folks, that the Spirit of God today has a little different ministry. It is called the illumination of the Spirit. The illumination of the Spirit is when truth not only comes to you, but you're transformed by it and you're gripped by it. The Bible says that the truths of the Spirit are not discerned by the world.
That's why you can have people listen to messages, and whether the messages are good or bad, as long as they're scriptural, it could well be that it absolutely does not penetrate anyone. I was at Promise Keepers speaking in Portland not too long ago, and it was wonderful to see. There were some men who just came there and sat through the whole thing. They were unmoved by it, untouched. They went home as they came. And there were others, hundreds of them weeping as they came forward to pray with their pastors. In one of the most remarkable scenes I had seen, in fact, they were lined up to pray, many of them weeping.
Why the difference? There are some people who are illumined by the Spirit as they belong to Christ, and there are other people sitting under the same messages, the same truth, and it does not affect them. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, to illuminate the Word of God, and to change us by that Word, and also to grant us the wisdom. The Spirit of God is very intelligent, needless to say. The Spirit of God knows all things. That doesn't mean that He reveals things to us directly. He does so through the Word. But what it means is that Christ is made onto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, and ultimately God comes to us at the very point of our need and meets us where we are. And the paraclete is standing beside us as a companion, a helper, and a teacher. You say, yeah, but I have never really experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Or if I have, it's been a long time ago, you say. You say, you know, somehow I'm going through all these difficulties, and I go back to my apartment, and I am alone, and I go to work, and I'm alone, and I fall into sin, and the Spirit of God doesn't seem to help me. Where is all of this ministry of the Spirit about which you have been speaking?
Where is this companionship? There's something that I need to remind you of as we come to some final conclusions here today. And the first is this, that don't ever forget the sensitivity of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is very, very sensitive, and we can grieve him easily. That's why he's represented as a dove.
Doves are birds, evidently, that can be very easily offended, and then they fly away. The Spirit doesn't leave us, but when he is grieved, the Spirit of God can no longer minister to us. That's why Paul says don't grieve the Spirit, and he lists the sins that grieve the Spirit in the book of Ephesians, because the Spirit of God, the Spirit of God must find a home within us where he can be comfortable. Just imagine the Spirit is at your side and in you, watches every television program you watch. He can't help it. Maybe grieved by it, but he's there. Watches everything that you see, is aware of everything that you and I think. And the Spirit of God has to put up with this in our lives, and when we are unwilling to deal with the sin in our life and confess it and forsake it, the ministry of the Spirit of God is not experienced.
He is resident, but he is not president. I remember in Ephesians, chapter 3, where Paul is preaching, speaking, I should say, to Christians. And he said, he said, I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. I used to read that as a child and say, you know, Paul, is he having a problem here with his theology? Very dangerous, you know, to try to correct the theology of the Apostle Paul, until I learned something. But actually, the word that he uses is this, that Christ may have a deep down dwelling, that Christ might feel at home in your heart.
That's a good translation. That Christ would feel at home in your heart by faith. In other words, that we might give him a residence that is clean, that is yielded. And yes, of course we struggle with sin, but we're constantly confessing it, and we're constantly forsaking it so that the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, can minister the truth of God and the companionship of Jesus in his physical absence.
That's why he was sent. F. B. Meyer says, God is willing to become the mansion of the soul that believes on Christ, but asks in return that such a one should prepare a guest chamber and become a mansion in which he may dwell. As he steals with noiseless tread into the loving, believing heart, I hear him say, this is my rest forever. Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. From my heart to yours today, don't ever think that the Spirit of God is reluctant to fill you.
Reluctance has never been on the part of the Spirit. That's why he dwells you. That's why he's there. He wouldn't have come if he'd be reluctant to minister to you. That's not the issue.
The issue is on our side of the equator, our unwillingness to listen to his voice. And another thing I'm learning the older I get, I know I'm not getting old quite as fast as you are, but the older I get, silence, silence. Ask the Holy Spirit, what is there in my heart that I have done that grieves you?
What is there that I need to take care of? And then be silent before the Lord, and it will be amazing to you the things that the Spirit of God will reveal to you at a moment like that. Remember, it's his desire.
It's his desire. The sensitivity of the Spirit, we need to deal with sin. Could I say also a second truth, and that is that the Spirit's ministry in his fullness must be received by faith, by faith.
You know, Jesus said, it is good for you that I go away because if I go away I can't send the comforter. Elsewhere he says clearly that the Spirit can't come until I've ascended, and then I'm going to begin this new ministry of the Spirit. Well, when Jesus died on the cross, he purchased your salvation. How do you receive Christ? By faith.
Some of you to whom I speak have not yet done that, but you can. You can receive Christ as your Savior by faith, but also part of the act of salvation was the resurrection and the ascension into heaven. As a result of the cross, we have forgiveness.
As a result of the ascension, we have the poured-out Spirit. How do you receive the Christ to the cross? By faith. How do you receive the poured-out Spirit? By faith.
He indwells everyone who is a believer, yes, but his fullness is received by faith. Let's just talk candidly for a moment. This is just you and me now.
Now we're getting to pay dirt, okay? When I woke up this morning, I have to tell you in all honesty, I didn't have a heart hot for God. As a matter of fact, when I rolled out of bed at about 6 10 this morning, I thought to myself, you know, today would be a good day to not go to church. But then I remembered that if I did that, some people would know about it.
So I said that option is closed to me. But then I began to read the Word, go over my sermon notes, and then I told the Lord, I feel dry, I don't feel Spirit-filled, but what I want to do is to receive in simple faith the filling of the Holy Spirit. And in that act, for Christ who is the companion to be called alongside of me, he's already there, the paraclete, the comforter, the helper, whatever word you would want to use, all of them are true, and today Jesus becomes in me all that I do not have. You know, when I began to think about those truths, I was excited about coming to church and said, you know, it's going to be great to be there, to worship and to be with the people of God. You see, that's why D.L. Moody, when he was asked why he had to be filled with a Spirit so often, said, it's because I leak.
F.B. Meyer, whom I quoted a moment ago, said these words, I left the prayer meeting and crept away into the lane saying, oh Lord, if there were ever a man who needs the power of the Spirit, it is I. Does that resonate with your heart? You're a man or a woman or a child or a teenager, and if there's anyone in the world who needs the fullness of the Spirit, it's you and me. But he said, Lord, I do not know how to receive this fullness.
I am too tired, too worn, too nervously run down to agonize. And then it was as if he heard a voice that said, as you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, so you received the fullness of the Spirit from the hand of the ascended Christ. And in faith, he came to drink and to drink and to take again and again and again, and tomorrow I will have to take again because what I had today will not last for Monday. But Jesus said, I am sending you another comforter, one like unto me who will continue my work here on earth, performing not exactly the same but many of the same ministries as I did with the disciples. And so notice what he says, he will be with you forever all the way home to heaven, the presence of the Spirit in lonely apartments, in times of crisis, in times of need.
He is there. Would you receive him today in his fullness? Let's pray. Our Father, we want to thank you today for these comforting words. We confess that we do not understand how Jesus could say that the Father will love him and together we'll come and make our home, our dwelling place with him.
And yet, Father, God is here today and you are here with us but you are also in us, those of you, those who have believed. And so we pray today, oh, may this life of God break out from within us. May there be a death to our own self, a dealing with sin so that in simple faith we can receive the fullness of the Spirit and say today I accept all that the Spirit has for me. Oh, grant that, Father, we ask. And for those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, they've never believed on him, we pray today that they might do so. May they receive by faith salvation from the crucified Christ and the fullness of the Spirit from the ascended Christ.
Do that in our hearts, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Isn't it wonderful for us to remind ourselves that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was not the end? We, of course, anticipating celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, the reminder of his triumph, and then later on his ascension into heaven, his complete victory on our behalf. We love him.
We only wish that we loved him more. Let me ask you a question. Are you blessed as a result of the ministry of running to win? I want you to know that we not only exist in a broadcast mode, but also we make resources available for our listeners, resources that we think will help them in their Christian walk. I'm holding a letter in my hands from someone who says I have terminal colon cancer and will die sometime next year, probably by summer. I know where I'm going when I die, but one minute after you die is exactly what I've needed to solidify my faith. One minute after you die is one of the resources we make available. It's a book I've written many years ago, but God continues to bless it, and you can be a part of what we are doing.
Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Those are the ones who join the Running to Win family. They stand with us regularly with their prayers, with their gifts.
Of course, the amount that they give is entirely their decision. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Let me give that to you again, rtwoffer.com. When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. rtwoffer.com.
Click on the endurance partner button, or you can pick up the phone right now, and you can call 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. In-law trouble drove Lisa to write to Pastor Lutzer.
Here is her story. My husband and I have a good relationship, but he's not supporting me in relationship to his family. His mother has hurt me terribly because we've not always seen eye to eye on issues. As a result, we don't visit her often. That's fine, but my husband won't tell his mother the truth about how she and her other children have hurt us. He just makes excuses.
What should I do? Well, Lisa, you're in a difficult situation because your husband should take your side in these disputes. You know, that's why the Bible very wisely says, then shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. He is to leave, and he is to cleave. And that kind of leaving and cleaving isn't simply a matter of geography.
It's emotional also. He is to take up your side in some of the disputes that have happened between you and your mother-in-law. Now, a couple of things. First of all, it may well be that your husband thinks that you are partially at fault for the breach in fellowship. So you need to discuss that. You need to work through that. If there's forgiveness that needs to be offered and requested on your side, you most assuredly have to do that. But after that has been done, I think that you need to talk to your pastor. He needs to understand that if he wants a happy marriage, he can't always side with his mother. Now, you do say in your letter that you don't visit her very often, and that is fine. That's good, but it does mask a problem in your marriage that needs resolution. Go for help.
Pray for your husband that he will see that he has a part that he needs to play if he wants a harmonious relationship with you. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, and thank you, Lisa, for that question. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com, and there you can 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. Peace is getting scarcer with increasing fears of economic collapse in a world ever more hostile to Christ. Next time, the great promise of Jesus that he would leave a legacy of peace for those who follow him. Don't miss how to have a peaceful heart on our next Running to Win. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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