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A Lasting Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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May 13, 2022 1:00 am

A Lasting Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 13, 2022 1:00 am

How do we know God is working in us to bring about His purpose? In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham—entirely based on His own word. In this message, we are invited to a covenant without conditions. God says He will do what He promises—our eternities depend on it. 

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Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
In Touch
Charles Stanley

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In Genesis 15, God makes an unconditional covenant with Abraham. God says He will do what He promises, no matter what. Today, why that covenant means that the work of Jesus is all that's needed for a believer to gain eternal life. 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 learning about Abraham, who found strength for the journey God called him to undertake. Pastor Lutzer, a covenant God Himself guarantees is one we can be sure of. And you know, Dave, the very same guarantee that Abraham had is the same that we receive when we believe the gospel, when we trust Christ.

He guarantees that He will bring us all the way home. Let me ask our listeners this question. Do you believe that Islam is more powerful than Christianity? After all, it has supplanted much of Christianity throughout the Middle East.

These are the kinds of questions that I deal with in my book, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Go to or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. And then the two of you walked through in between these pieces. And what you were saying, in effect, is if I break my word, I deserve the same fate as these animals. It was the most solemn covenant that you could ever possibly make. And then the Bible says that a deep sleep came upon Abraham, verse 12, and behold, a dreadful darkness befell him. And in his sleep, God says to him, Abraham, know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in the land that is not theirs. I'm in the middle of verse 13 and will be servants there and they will be afflicted 400 years.

But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace and you shall be buried in a good old age and they shall come back here in the fourth generation for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. God says, Abraham, your seed is going to inherit the land. But that's not going to happen for 400 years. First of all, you have to have a child and then there will be this family that will be created that will go into Egypt for 400 years and then they're going to come back. And of course, we know that that happened under Moses and Joshua, and then they're going to enter into the land.

400 long years, but they'll be back because God is God and time is not a limitation to him as it is to us. So Abraham receives this revelation and then most startling, this is what happens. It says in verse 17, when the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abraham saying to your offspring, I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates, the land of the Kenizzites, and then all of these other Gershonites and Jebusites and megabytes and all of the other folks that are in the land. What's with this flaming torch and this pot or this oven? That's God passing through the pieces, as becomes very clear both in this text and other passages of scripture. The furnace perhaps representing the furnace of affliction that the Israelites are going to go through and the torch representing the light that they will eventually be to the world, both suffering and glory. God says, I am walking in between the pieces.

All right, now you've followed it this far, haven't you? $64 question, where is Abraham in this whole thing? The answer is, he's asleep. He's in another world. He's somewhere else. He does not walk with God between these pieces.

God walks between the pieces alone. Because what God is saying is, I'm making this covenant with you, Abraham, but guess what? This isn't an agreement where you do your part and then I do my part. This is a covenant that I am making with you that I will accomplish and it rests wholly 100% on you and is not even dependent upon your faithfulness or your obedience, though God will bring that about because I am God and this is what I have decided to do and it will happen and nothing, including even the human will, will stand in my way. Wow. Welcome to what is called the unconditional covenant.

No conditions. God says, I'm making this agreement with myself. It's what it says in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews says, when God made a promise to Abraham because he could swear by none greater, he swore by himself, it says in the text. Since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself saying, surely I will bless you and multiply you and thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. God says, this is my doing. You say, well, does that mean Abraham could be disobedient, so forth? Well, theoretically, but God, when he makes a covenant like this, in effect is saying something else. I am going to work in Abraham's heart to birth in him the faith. I'm going to do the miracle that he and Sarah need to have a son and I am going to work through the human will to accomplish my ends, but at the end of the day, this is me swearing by myself that it's going to happen. There is nothing more certain on planet earth than that Abraham's seed will inherit the land that God gave. And one of the questions we have to ask is, have they already inherited it all or is there still a future for the nation Israel? Because God says it's going to happen and if he says it's going to happen, it is.

Three very important lessons, life-changing lessons that will help you. First of all, do you notice in this text that God doesn't treat everybody alike? Did you know that God doesn't treat everybody alike?

Oh, you know, there people say, well, I can't accept a God who's going to treat some people differently. Well, God didn't give this revelation to Hammurabi, for example, one of the kings that gave us a great law that has been discovered who lived shortly after the time of Abraham. God didn't give this revelation to Lot. God didn't give this revelation to any other of Abraham's kin folk. God says, Abraham, I'm choosing you.

And if you ask the question as to why, you're probing into a mystery that I have chosen to not reveal simply because of my good pleasure. God doesn't treat everybody alike. He has to treat everyone justly, absolutely. But there are some who receive mercies that others do not receive. If you struggle with that, let me simply suggest that you let God be God.

True story. Two sisters grow up in the very same home. One grows up searching God, knowing that she has to be born again, going from church to church saying, I know that if I'm not born again, I'll not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Somebody tell me how to be born again. And she's gloriously converted. Her sister, whom I happen to know, who's a relative of mine, hard as nails atheist, wants nothing to do with God, the Bible, or anything else.

Well, to one he shows mercy. You say, well, what about this atheist? Couldn't she believe? Yes, yes, if she desired to believe, there's no question about it. But it's almost as if the desire has been taken from her, the other one in whom God worked. You say, Pastor Lutzer, by mentioning this point, you have scared up more rabbits than you're able to shoot on a Sunday morning. And so I have. But I want you to think about that.

Not everybody is treated alike. Now, if you find in your heart a desire to pursue God, pursue him, seek him, seek Christ. Because if you have that desire, it shows that God is working within you to bring about his purpose.

Seek it with all of your heart. Second, all of God's children, all of God's children live with delayed promises, delayed promises. Here's Abraham. God says, I'm giving you the land.

It's yours and your descendants forever. OK, God, start doing it. Well, you don't even have a son yet, Abraham. In fact, the next sermon, I hope you don't miss, has to do with the birth of Ishmael and all of the consequences.

We're going to look at the impact of this in the Muslim world and the Jewish world and the Christian world. But God says, I'm going to do all this for you. And now what does God say? It's going to be 400 years before they actually come back and even begin the process of inheriting it.

And some of us think they still haven't finished the process. So God is saying, this is the way it is. You're going to have to wait, Abraham. It says in the book of Hebrews, he died, he died in faith without the promises fulfilled. You know that when Sarah dies, he has to buy a plot of land to bury her.

What's this? Buying a plot of land? The land was given to him by God. God says, yeah, it's yours.

But you know what? The promise is going to be delayed. We live with delayed promises all the time. Of course, healing is in the atonement.

Jesus died for us, body, soul and spirit. And there are some people who tell us, you don't have to delay anything. Oh, no, no, it's yours.

Just name it, claim it. No, our healing will be ours someday when we have resurrection bodies, when we won't need the glasses, when we won't have the limitations of the flesh. Yeah, but it's coming. It's coming. Justice, all of the things.

Now, can't you imagine Abraham being in touch with a health and wealth preacher? Abraham, it's yours. Take it. God gave it to you. You claim it. What do you mean you're paying for the land? You own it.

You just bring all these enemies under your control and in submission because it's all yours. Grab it now. Can I share something with you?

I will. If God wills it in about a year, I'd like to preach a series of messages entitled Living with Delayed Promises. I think that's one of the greatest confusions that we have is that we have to live with delayed promises. You say, well, are there some promises we can embrace right now?

And the answer is yes. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved if you wait until some future time. It may be too late. There are some promises that need to be embraced right now. But there are many promises that are delayed, but they are as certain as God's holy word. But we die in faith.

Third and last, through faith. Through faith, you and I also enter into an unconditional covenant, an unconditional covenant. It's called the new covenant, the new covenant in my blood. Today, we're going to have an opportunity to remember that new covenant when we have communion together. And that also is an unconditional covenant.

Once you come to saving faith in Christ, God says, I am going to take responsibility for taking you all the way from earth to heaven and making sure that you arrive. My sheep hear my voice and they know me and they follow me and I give on to them eternal life. Neither shall any of them perish. My father who gave them to me is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of my hand. My father is greater than I.

No man is able to pluck them out of his hand. God says, you trust Christ as Savior and I enter into an agreement that depends on me and my faithfulness to take you all the way to the promised land. You say, does that mean Christians can be disobedient? Just as in the case of Abraham, God says, I'm going to work in their hearts to bring about the faith that they need to be saved and the obedience by which they represent me here on earth. But at the end of the day, it's all one sided.

It all comes from me to them. Abraham did not make a promise that day. God made all the promises. That's why when you hear me preach the gospel at Moody Church, when I'm asking those of you who have never believed on Christ to be saved, you'll never hear me say, now make a promise to follow Jesus.

I may say that to believers, but not to unbelievers. What do you mean make a promise to follow Jesus? The gospel isn't something that I promised. The gospel means that I come absolutely helpless to receive a promise that God has given. That's what the gospel is.

D.L. Moody said that he heard a man stand up and say, it took me 42 years to learn these three things. Well, you know, if you find somebody who can tell you in two minutes something it took 42 years to learn, I think you ought to listen up as the saying goes. The man stood up and said three things. First, I can do nothing to save myself.

Then the news even gets better. Second, God doesn't expect me to do anything to save myself because he knows I can't. And thirdly, Jesus paid it all. That's the good news of the gospel. A week ago yesterday I was at a reception and I didn't know the folks very well, but I was asked to be there and so I was.

And during a moment there was a cameraman there who was taking pictures of the bride and groom and he had a few moments. So I put my hand on his shoulder and said, can you tell me how far have you come in your walk with God? You know, just thought I'd throw out a question. And he gave me an answer of sorts and then I explained the gospel to him, something like I've done to you. And he said, oh, very easy, very easy, very easy. So is it easy? Well, if it's so easy, why don't you believe on Jesus right here?

No, I'm not willing to do that. Well, it's easy. Is it easy? It's easy looked at from one standpoint, yes.

Very hard from another standpoint. Because when you come to Jesus, you are saying, I cannot save myself. My works are rubbish, as we read this morning in the scripture. I am a sinner convicted of my sin apart from the mercy of God. I'm going to be forever damned. And that's what you're saying when you believe.

So yeah, yeah, it's easy. But my is it hard on pride and human nature, which stands in the way of receiving God's free grace. Overcome that barrier by the power of the Spirit. I pray that you shall, that those of you who have never trusted Christ would believe even right now where you are seated in this sanctuary or listening by some other means. Join me as we pray. Father, we want to thank you today that when God swore and made a covenant, he swore by himself.

He said, this is what I'm going to do. My plans will not be frustrated by human nature with all of its sins, with all of its failings. I shall do as I please. What confidence that gives us in your holy word and your promises. And I pray now for those who have never trusted Christ as Savior. At this moment, may they believe in Jesus. May they say amen to Jesus and receive the gift of righteousness. Cause that to happen, Father, for our lives are frail.

And we can only do it if you work in our hearts. Before I close this prayer, whoever you are right now, would you say amen to Jesus? Amen. I pray, Father, that those who have been converted this morning may tell someone of their conversion that indeed they have chosen to say amen to Jesus.

Not to make a promise, but to receive the free gift that he offers. We pray in his blessed name. Amen. Amen.

And my friend, I have to say this to you. If you've never savingly believed on Christ, would you do that right now? Would you turn from your sin and put all of your trust in him and he will redeem you. He will save you.

That's his promise. Let me ask you a question. Are you aware of the fact that the FBI uncovered some secret documents regarding Islam's plan for America and how they intend to overtake America? Well, this is the kind of information I have in my book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. I wrote it so that we would understand some of the lessons of history, how it is that Islam has been able to triumph even in Christian lands. But what does this mean for the future?

And how do we maintain the sovereignty of God when it appears that in this world, sometimes the church seems to be losing ground? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to And thanks in advance, by the way, for helping us financially because running to win is today in 20 different countries in four different languages.

That's Or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. I trust that this weekend you will be in church. I hope that you will be encouraged through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But meanwhile, pick up that phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337. Time now for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The sequence of events for a believer at death is something it's hard to be dogmatic about. Believers have differing opinions on what lies ahead. Robert listens to running to win and has this question. If I die today or before the rapture, the scripture says that a believer is present with the Lord and is immediately judged.

Am I right so far? Next, what are we doing while in this condition until we receive a resurrection body? Two very good questions, Robert.

A couple of comments first. It is true that Christians are going to be judged after they die. 2 Corinthians 5 verse 10, for we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.

There it is. I'm not sure, however, that it will take place immediately after death. There seems to be some evidence that maybe it will take place at the rapture.

But your second question is even more intriguing. What will we do until we receive our resurrection bodies? This becomes very personal because my father died last year at the age of 106, and I've often thought, I wonder exactly how my father looks now in heaven. Fact is, he does not have his resurrection body. No one in heaven today does. I believe that in heaven the soul takes on the characteristics of the body.

I believe that they can recognize one another, they can talk to one another, but they are always incomplete. Paul talks about that. He talks about our desire to be clothed, and I think he's speaking of the resurrection. So let's remember today that this is an intermediate place, heaven today.

It's a place of bliss, communication, recognition, joy, and all that, and yet the resurrection awaits. I think that's the best I can do in the two or three minutes allotted me today, Robert, and thank you so much for thinking about this, and God bless you all the way to eternity. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer, for handling Robert's question so well. 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, IL 60614. Sometimes we second-guess God. We may try to engineer circumstances to bring about His will. Abraham did that when God promised him numberless offspring. Since his wife was past childbearing, he slept with their Egyptian maid Hagar. Next time on Running to Win, we find out the result, the present Arab-Israeli conflict. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 10:05:52 / 2023-04-19 10:14:25 / 9

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