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The Third Reich And The Blood Of The Martyrs Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 11, 2022 1:00 am

The Third Reich And The Blood Of The Martyrs Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 11, 2022 1:00 am

Would we choose to suffer if we knew it was worth it? Some modern-day martyrs decided to make the ultimate sacrifice during the oppression in Nazi Germany. In this message, we examine five characteristics of Christ for the suffering church in Smyrna with applications to the 1940’s and today. No suffering, especially in Christ, is ever meaningless. 

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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. Good runners train to win their races, but for believers the training for life's race includes lessons in how to die. Some modern day martyrs gave their lives during the oppression in Nazi Germany, and these people can show us how to die faithful to Christ. 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, how can a believer best prepare to face paying the ultimate price? You know Dave, I'm not sure that I have a complete answer to your question except to say this, that those who knew hymns that they could sing to themselves, those who had memorized scripture, which they could go over in their mind, they were more likely to be faithful to Christ. And one other very important thing was that other believers supported them, and they knew that they were being upheld in prayer and spiritual support.

But it's a question that we all ought to ask ourselves. I've written a book entitled Hitler's Cross, How the Cross of Christ was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda. And yes, I do talk about the martyrs. I also talk about the failures of the church, however, and the lessons for you and for me today. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us learn from history and God's word the lessons that we need to navigate our culture. I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the book of Revelation chapter 2, where we have the story of the church at Smyrna. Now what I'd like to do in the next few moments that are left to me is to give you five characteristics of Christ, because you see, what Jesus does is he becomes the hub of our suffering. When we begin to suffer, he becomes the center of it all. Everything begins to point to him, and he makes sense out of what we are experiencing.

Let's go. Number one, the presence of Christ. Notice in the text, I know your tribulation and your poverty. I know it. Your ways are not hidden from me. I understand what you are going through. There is no detail of your pain that escapes my notice. I know.

I know. You've heard me say it before, that when Stephen was stoned, the first Christian martyr, as Stephen had the privilege of looking into heaven, he saw Christ awaiting him. And it's almost as if Jesus was saying, be faithful Stephen, hang in, soon we will be together, but be faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life. How different trials look from heaven. You know, I can't help but think of all those confessing pastors who originally opposed Hitler and then in the end swore allegiance to him. I can't help but think how different it all would have looked if they had seen their trial from the standpoint of heaven. Many of them probably were true Christians, many of them were not true Christians, but either way, from the standpoint of eternity, how different our trials look. And Jesus is saying to a church that is suffering, I know what you're going through, be faithful unto death and when that happens I will be there to meet you on the other side.

I know the presence of Christ. Secondly, notice the power of Christ. Verse 10, behold the devil is going to throw you some of you into prison that you may be tested and you will have tribulation 10 days.

What an explosive text. First of all, I want you to notice that Christ's power controls the source of the suffering and the source of the suffering is the devil. You know, there is a teaching today that we as Christians never have to encounter the devil. We never have to accept anything that comes to us from Satan because after all we have triumphed in Christ. Well, we have triumphed in Christ and we need not accept anything from Satan when it is sinful, when it is a temptation, when it is an addiction, over that we are victorious in Christ, though accepting that victory is oftentimes a tremendous struggle. But hear carefully. There are many trials that come to us from the devil, but though they come to us and the immediate cause is Satan, the ultimate cause is God and God controls the devil and says thus far and no farther.

Stop here. The book of Job is a good example of that. And when Paul had his thorn in the flesh, it was a messenger of Satan. Here is an evil being who seeks my destruction and God uses that evil being not to destroy me but to refine me. And that's why Luther has said that the devil even is God's devil. Christ controls the suffering.

Notice that he not only controls the source of the suffering, but he even controls its extent. He says you will suffer ten days. We don't know how to interpret that. Does it mean ten literal days?

That's possible. Does it mean ten eras of persecution as some people interpret it? I do not know, but this much I do know. However we interpret it, it is Jesus who prescribes the time limit. You will suffer ten days and all the hosts of hell and all the forces of wickedness in the world cannot stretch it into eleven if I say that the length of time is ten. My dear friend today, when you are going through that kiln, the furnace of affliction, Jesus Christ not only has his hand on the thermostat, but he also has his hand on the timer and he controls both and he is a part of it because he is all powerful. Just think with me about a truck going along an expressway and a piece of metal falls off of that truck and lands onto the expressway and behind it is a van driven by a Christian man, a pastor and his wife with six children. And this piece of metal hits the gas tank, causes an explosion, six children die. They can pull only one from the wreckage and he dies later and the parents live. Have you ever thought of all the contingencies that surround something that you and I call an accident? There was no reason why that piece of metal had to fall from the truck right there and furthermore after it had fallen it could have skidded into the ditch. Furthermore the van could have begun five minutes later or five minutes earlier and the vehicle that would have hit that piece of metal may have been a different vehicle and gotten a flat tire rather than having the gasoline tank punctured and obviously it could have been on a different day other than the day in which elections were being held when the pastor was visiting another son of his in Milwaukee and you begin to think of all of the contingencies and you say, oh God, why? I want you to know today that what we perceive as randomness, randomness is controlled by a loving heavenly father who says, all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the cold according to his purpose, even if it involves a piece of metal falling onto an expressway and an explosion of a gas tank and six dead children. I've said it now.

I've said it. I can't say that I could live it. I marvel at the ability of the parents to accept it but the scriptures tell us that suffering ultimately must be seen as coming from the hands of God and not the contingencies of men. I know your poverty.

I know what you're going through and you will be tried 10 days. The thermostat and the timer is in Christ's hands. Thirdly, we notice here in this text also the purpose of Christ. Why? Why all this suffering? Why six dead children?

I almost said 10 because I was thinking of the book of Job. Why? Notice what it says, that you may be tried. That's it. You say, well, does that mean that God opens his diary and asks us to read it and now we can tell exactly what he's up to and what his ultimate purpose was?

No. The testing has to do with the testing of our faith and faith believes and faith trusts even when sight does not have all of its questions answered. And just as in the scripture here, so today God takes us through suffering and all suffering, follow this very carefully today, my friend, you who are hurting because of a ruptured relationship, because of your injustice of being wrongly released from your job, because of emotional turmoil and trouble, listen to me very carefully, because it comes from the hand of a sovereign Christ, it is never meaningless.

There is no such thing as random stupidity. There is purpose that you might be tried. Now, of course, the church in Germany experienced a trial and unfortunately many people failed.

Many people passed. And we do not know, we do not sit in judgment upon them because we do not know whether we would pass or fail if the fire of affliction really came to us. All that we know is that God expects suffering to produce testing, testing. And of course, during the days of Antichrist, if we had time, we could look into the book of Revelation and there we would discover that there are those who bow before the beast and take his mark and his image.

Why? Because they believe that their existence, their life is the most important thing. And they say in order to survive, in order for my family to survive, I will bow before the beast. Then there are going to be those, the scripture says, who are going to be put to death. They will be beheaded because remember we read in Revelation 13, authority was given to him over every tribe and dominion and every nation upon the earth.

And he beheaded all of those who would not get onto his agenda. Notice that the text always says that the purpose of testing and martyrdom and trials is that we might go on believing. God loves to be believed. He loves to be believed.

He loves it when we trust him. And so he says, the only way I can elicit all of this trust is to put people in circumstances in which it appears as if I am not for them and to see whether they will trust that I am even when it looks as if I'm against them. And so the scripture says that the purpose of Christ is clear. Next, the promise of Christ. Be faithful unto death, he says, and I will give you the crown of life. Last part of verse 10, that's the promise. And who is making the promise?

Well, notice how this letter to Smyrna opens. He says in the middle of verse eight, I am the first and the last who was dead and has come to life. Jesus is saying, I've been through it. Do you realize today, my friend, that there is nothing that God will ever ask you and me to go through, nothing but that he himself has already endured it. And the final thing we will go through is death itself. And we will be shepherded through the experience by someone who was dead and is alive. And because I live, you shall live also. He takes us all the way home to the Father.

The promise of Christ. Is it any wonder that he said, blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. Some of you for the sake of Christ have endured a little bit of persecution. You have been ostracized in your job. You have been spoken against. You have been demoted because you are a Christian. You have been excluded from the parties because you are a Christian and you feel a bit of pain. Jesus would say, oh, blessed are you.

Blessed are you if it is for my name's sake. Finally, we see the punishment of Christ. For this, I want you to turn to Revelation chapter six. Revelation six, a very interesting passage.

It says in verse nine. And when he broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they had maintained. And they cried out with a loud voice saying, how long, oh Lord, holy and true will thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?

And there was given to each of them a white robe and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed, even as they had been, should be completed also. Number of interesting issues you may say, well, what does the soul look like? I saw the souls of those who were beneath the altar. Well, it could be that the word of soul means persons.

On the other hand, maybe the soul takes certain physical characteristics. Have you ever thought of what believers are like in heaven today because they don't have their permanent bodies yet, do they? The resurrection is still future. But what's interesting from our standpoint, in addition to that, is that Jesus is saying that I am not yet judging the world because all those who are to be martyred have not yet been martyred. The matter is not finished, but when the matter is finished, those who perpetrated the evil, yes, every Nazi, but not just the Nazis, those who have persecuted believers throughout all the ages and the Romans and the communists and all those who have created martyrs for the cause of Jesus Christ, will personally and individually be judged by God and will be dealt with. And when our hearts cry to God for justice and we say, how long, O Lord, can you endure this evil world? How long can you put up with the immorality and the violence and the despair and the real, real terrible evils? The answer is that the day is coming when justice will be meticulously meted out so that throughout all of eternity we will sing, just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints.

Well, I need to wrap this up. Will you remember, number one, that no suffering is ever meaningless? No suffering is ever meaningless. Whatever it is that you are enduring, the pressures of work, the struggles of the soul, God is working in your life. He's trying to refine you. He's trying to rebuke the evil. He is working in your life and mind to make us like Jesus.

And that is part of the equation. And he says to you today, I know. Secondly, will you remember that suffering is a test of love? I quoted it earlier, greater love hath no man than this, but that a man will lay down his life for his friends. And many of us may not die as martyrs, but we can prove our love for Jesus through being willing to go through the testing that he puts us through and to hang in and to go on believing, even when believing does not seem to make a lot of human sense. As I think about martyrdom and its characteristics, the best example really is of Jesus himself. He says, I was dead and I am alive.

He's the ultimate martyr because number one, he died voluntarily. No man takes my life from me. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again.

This I have received from my father. Tonight in our Bible study, we are going to be looking at the text which says that God handed Christ over. It says he delivered him up.

He handed him over. It was a choice made by God, the father and God, the son, and it was made voluntarily. Jesus Christ was the ultimate martyr dying voluntarily. He died for a cause that he believed was bigger than his individual happiness. Who for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame and is even now on the right hand of the throne of God who also makes intercession for us. He pleased not himself, but he said obedience to the father and redeeming humanity is worth it.

And aren't you glad that he reasoned that way? Because we are sinners. We are big sinners and were it not for God's grace and his power and his forgiveness, we'd be alienated from God forever and we are a part of fallen humanity. Oh, how the world likes to vilify people. Even that mother, bless her, who drowned her two sons. We would like to be able to see a picture of her on television and notice that she has horns growing out of her forehead.

Oh, it's a ghastly thing. I admit that, but I'd give anything to be able to talk with her and to explain to her that it is for sinners that Jesus died because even some who are listening today have done some pretty terrible things if the truth were known. And Christ died to redeem us, to make us members of his family. And he did it for us. And because of his obedience, we live. Christ had a theory of obligation, which most martyrs had. And that was that silence is complicity. There were many bystanders, you see, in Nazi Germany who said, well, I'm not going to do anything. I'm just going to remain silent. I'm not going to hurt the Jews, but I'm not going to get involved in their plight either. And then there were many others who said, you know, silence is complicity. If we do nothing, we become a part of the crime.

Jesus could have stayed in heaven and said, look, it's Adam and Eve. They're the ones that started the mess. Why should I become involved in their pain? I'll just stay out of it. But Jesus was willing to become a part of our pain that we might be redeemed and belong to him forever. Have you received him? Have you accepted that gift?

Have you accepted him as your substitute? That's how you become a member of his family. And then you inherit all the blessings that we've talked about today, blessings even in the midst of suffering. Let us pray. Our Father, we thank you today for this church, the church in Smyrna, a church that you did not rebuke, but you encouraged. And we pray today for those who are facing martyrdom, and there are Christians like that around the world. We pray, Lord, though also, help us to live for Christ in the little things that are far less than that. And we pray that we might rejoice when we have the privilege of suffering for you. And then, Father, we ask that you might make us faithful, faithful to believe and to trust no matter what. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. And of course, you and I will probably not face martyrdom. But the question is, are we willing to take some vilification, some marginalization, maybe even the loss of a job for the cause of Christ? These are questions that we need to answer in our secularized culture. I've written a book entitled Hitler's Cross, How the Cross Was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda. And some of the chapters have to do with issues like how the church was deceived, and how the church was divided, and how Hitler broke the power of the church. All of these are important lessons for us today. Now for a gift of any amount, we're making this resource available to you.

And I believe very deeply that you'll be encouraged, blessed, but also instructed if you read the book Hitler's Cross. Here's what you can do. Go to Let me give that to you again,

Or you can pick up the phone and call 1-888-218-9337. Many of you right now will go to And thanks in advance for helping us, because together we're making a difference preparing the church for our own future. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. A committed runner never stops until he reaches his goal. Sometimes, in the will of God, a believer's race of life is cut short. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one such man, a man who paid the supreme price for allegiance to the cross of Christ rather than the broken cross of the Nazis. Next time, this account begins, giving each of us courage to face what may come our way in the not-too-distant future. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 05:26:16 / 2023-03-26 05:34:42 / 8

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