July 18, 2022 1:00 am
Can human beings really change, deep down in their core? Society has many suggestions but no real answers. In this new series on Peter’s life, we find three truths we need to know about a life changed forever. Just as Jesus gave Peter a new name, He is the only one who truly knows us and what we need.
This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-217-9337.
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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.
The Bible tells us to run life's race to please Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross bought the forgiveness of our sins. Today, we begin a series on the life of a man who ran his race just like that. 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 now begin a long journey through the life of one man.
Erwin Lutzer will guide us through the story of one who was chiseled by the master's hand. Dave, you know, it's hard for any one of us to not love the Apostle Peter. And we like him so much because he of course often had things to say.
Oftentimes they were appropriate, sometimes questionable. But the other thing that we like about him is that his failures as well as his successes are all mentioned in God's Word and we get details about his own struggle. And of course he ended very well despite the ups and downs. That's why it's so important for us to understand his life and I want to say to all who are listening today, get on your phone, call other people, invite them to listen because we're going to learn a lot from someone in the New Testament who of course influenced Christianity in so many different ways, the life of Peter. So now I want you to sit back and I want you to begin to think about Peter.
And by the way, next time on Running to Win, we're going to have a very special offer for you. But for now, let us listen. The real question that society needs to ask and to find an answer for is, can human beings really change? Can they really change? Is it possible to take a criminal and make him into a law abiding citizen? Can you take a perpetual habitual liar and turn him into a truth teller? Can you take someone who is immoral and cause him to live pure? Can human beings really fundamentally change? In society, there are several answers that are given to that question. One is behaviorism and behaviorism says that we are really the product of our environment and therefore, if you have the right kind of a combination of rewards and punishments, you can make people change.
But of course, you and I know that that's nonsense. There have been people in a very fine environment. Adam and Eve had a wonderful environment and they blew it, much less those of us whose environment is just a little less beautiful than theirs. There's some truth to behaviorism. That's why we spank children. It's because we think that if we make disobedience painful, we might get a better response out of them. And that usually works when they're young.
It works a little less once they're older and they become a little stronger than daddy. Behaviorism is not the answer. What about education? Plato said that the reason that people misbehave is because they don't have enough information because people essentially keep doing what they think is right. Well, interpreted one way that may be correct if you say that people do what they think is right in relationship to their own selfish motives, but certainly people do not always do what is honorable even though they know what the honorable path is. Because within all of us, there are desires that sometimes are so strong that all rational considerations are thrown to the winds and we just do what we feel like doing regardless of the consequences. And so you can educate people, still doesn't change them. I hope when you read the newspapers that you do so with a heavy heart. Society doesn't know what to do.
All that we can do with our rising crime rate and all of the abuse that is taking place in society and the breakdown of the family is to create more prisons with more court systems and fund more policemen because that's all we can do. We are absolutely helpless apparently in seeing people change from the inside out and yet that's what Christ came to do. And the passage of scripture I want you to turn to is the first chapter of the Gospel of John. John chapter 1.
Today I'm beginning a series of 12 messages on the life of Peter and today is number one and I hope from time to time I will publish in the bulletin the various passages that we'll be looking at so that you can read them in advance as we see all that God did in the life of this outstanding difficult servant called Peter. In context in chapter 1 verse 35 John is next to the Jordan River and as he was standing two of his disciples looked upon Jesus as he walked and John said behold the Lamb of God. Previously in verse 29 he had said behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
But back to verse 37. And the two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus and Jesus turned and behold them following and said to them what do you seek? They said rabbi which means teacher where are you staying? And he said come and see and they came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day for it was above the tenth hour. They spent the day with Christ and they were converted.
They became believers. One of the two which heard John speak and followed him was Andrew Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him we have found the Messiah which translated means Christ. He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said you are Simon the son of John you shall be called Cephas which translated means Peter or rock.
I want us to see this passage because it is a very important statement regarding Christ's ability to change people and to change them forever. Remember that John was baptizing and Andrew was one of his disciples. Andrew of course being the brother of Simon Peter. I don't know of anything in the New Testament that gives us the birth order of these two boys. But my guess if the Lutzer family is any gauge as to which person may be the first born and which may be the second or the third born is that Peter was undoubtedly the first born in the family. Peter asked more questions than all the other disciples put together.
When you read the gospels you can see that. He's the one who attempted to walk on water. He's the one who made that great confession. He's the one who says though all men deny you I will never deny you.
And he meant it when he said it but then he failed. He's the one who vacillated between great strong faith and much doubt. That was Peter.
You always knew what he was thinking because anything that he was thinking he was always saying. Andrew must have been a third born. Never preached any sermons never did too much in life but nevertheless was always in the background bringing people to Jesus. Here he brings Peter to Christ. In the sixth chapter of John he brings the little boy with a lunch to Jesus Christ and a miracle takes place. In the 12th chapter of John there's some Greeks that are saying we would see Jesus and who is it that brings them to Jesus but Andrew. And someday when we substitute the smog of Chicago for the glory of heaven we're going to find that Andrew is going to be up there receiving many of the great rewards that God has for faithfulness. Sometimes there are organizations who even begin a process called Operation Andrew it means that we should bring people to Christ just as he brought them to Christ and here we see in this passage the greatest privilege namely to bring somebody to Jesus and the greatest miracle when you bring the person there. Cain asked in derision am I my brother's keeper?
I always have to say that statement very slowly because I always get it confused with what the monkey said in the zoo. He said am I my keeper's brother? I need to keep those straight but in derision Cain asked he said am I my brother's keeper and what he meant was don't look to me for responsibility but Andrew realized that he had a brother and he was his keeper and he brought his brother to the right place to Christ. He didn't bring him to the Jordan River to be baptized though John was baptizing he didn't bring him to Moses which represents the law he brought him to Jesus and now let's look at the text and see how Jesus introduced himself to Peter. Verse 42 Jesus looked at him and said you are Simon.
Three truths that you need to know today but I want you to remember. The first is Christ knows who you are Christ knows who you are. That name Simon really comes from the Old Testament simian which means to hear and so what he's saying is Simon I know your ordinary name the name that your parents gave you but I'm going to be renaming you in just a moment and I know the significance of that name.
By the way the Greek word is Simon evidently means flat-nosed. I don't know whether that means anything about the way in which Peter looked but Jesus said to him you are Simon I know your name in advance. Did you know that Jesus knows your name too he knows your character. He knows all of the hurt that you have endured all of the injustices that have been done against you.
Christ knows you thoroughly and totally and completely he understands and knows the harassment that you sense this week even from satanic powers. He knows all of the things that you think may be hidden from him or all of the things that you tend to hide from others. Jesus knows it all through and through.
He says I know you Simon. He even knew as Simon's background he says you are Simon the son of John. Jesus knows your genealogy. Some of you perhaps were brought up in a home where there was no father and you may not even know who your father is if you're adopted but I want you to know that Jesus knows who your father is.
He knows the circumstances of your birth. He knows all things and I want you to know that his loving Providence and his grace is great enough to include you in his purpose and in the privileges of belonging to him forever. Christ knows you and he knows you intimately. Remember when the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was here and they sang so beautifully when he was on the cross I was on his mind.
Just let that sink in for just a moment would you because some of you have gone through an incredibly difficult year. Some of you have gone through an incredibly difficult week maybe even a difficult day and your heart seems to be breaking and you say oh God where are you in my need I want you to know that Jesus knows you completely knows all of the circumstances that have brought you here understands your background and he knows who you are. But then secondly Christ knows what you can become what you can become and here the text says you shall be called Cephas. Cephas is the Aramaic word for Peter and the word Peter as you know means rock. What Christ is saying is Peter I'm renaming you. Now you know in the Bible God frequently renamed people whenever he changed their character or whenever he gave them a promise and gave them a greater goal to live toward he would rename them that's why he took Abram and he called him Abraham the father of many nations and you remember Jacob in the Old Testament when he wrestled with God that word Jacob means cheater Jesus said I am I'm renaming you you are no longer going to be called Jacob you are going to be called Israel which means prince with God. Jesus said Peter I'm going to give you a new name rock.
What comes to mind immediately of course is strength. Peter is going to be the one who is going to bless many there is going to be such a transformation of character that will take place that Peter will impact tens of millions of people throughout all generations. After all he's not only the one who preached those great sermons that are recorded for us in the book of Acts he's not only the one that was involved in so many different missionary journeys but he's the one that gave us first and second Peter books that have blessed the Christian Church throughout all of these generations and Jesus saw it all and said Peter right now you may be a sand dune but you are going to be a rock and Christ gave him something to live up to something to look toward and some hope in his need.
What else do we think of when we think of a rock not only strength but also permanence rocks are around long after the sand washes away aren't they? Let me ask you if I were to say to you when is the last time the name Peter occurs in the New Testament? You might say well of course it occurs in second Peter because after that Peter is no longer mentioned in the Bible. What you're saying may be quite right technically but I want you to know that Peter's name even though it's not written out does occur even in Revelation chapter 21. Just write this passage down for now but think about this. In Revelation 21 we have an awesome picture of the glorious holy city that's come down from God out of heaven and it says in verse 14 and the wall of the city had 12 foundation stones and on them were the 12 names of the 12 apostles of the lamb.
Isn't that great? Do you know that someday when we were in the New Jerusalem and we see it we are going to notice the 12 foundation stones and Peter's name will be there. Talk about permanence forever and ever in the holy city. Peter's name is there as one of the foundations and of course Andrew's name will be there. The name of Judas will not be there however because Judas was a spurious apostle. He was not a real apostle. He never really believed in Christ and that's why after he died they had an election to take his place because there was supposed to be 12 and though those 12 names will be there and Peter's will be there among them.
Now just think of it. Here's Peter being brought to Christ by Andrew and when Jesus says to him you are Peter what Christ is really knowing already in his heart is Jesus can already see Peter and his name as one of those foundation stones in the New Jerusalem. Let me ask you something why is it that Jesus told Peter that?
Why did he rename him? It's because Christ was saying Peter I want to give you hope because there are going to be times when you are awash with guilt there are going to be days of failure and days of need and I want you to know that I have a plan for your life that is great and wonderful and that plan will be accomplished. Peter I believe in the transformation that I'm going to bring into your life. One of our problems is we sometimes see people only at a specific point of time and we have no idea who and what they eventually will become within the will and the plan of God. Did you know that it is impossible to predict whom God may mightily use in the future? If you were to have a classroom of children there would be no way that you could predict how God is going to use some of these children. Some of the least likely may become the most important in God's kingdom because Jesus sees things in people that others may not see. So first of all Christ knows who you are. Secondly he knows what you can become and thirdly he has the power to make the difference. The power to make the difference. One day Seneca one of those ancient philosophers cried up in his desperation and he said oh that a hand would come down from heaven and rid me of my besetting sin said Seneca.
I need some help. Jesus is able to do that and he can do it because of who he is. First of all it says in verse 29 behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and again of course you'll notice that it was repeated behold the Lamb of God. In the Old Testament many lambs were slain and there were lambs slain for Israel but there was never a lamb that was slain for the whole world. You see there were lambs that were slain that covered sin. There was no lamb that was ever slain that could actually take sin away and the Bible indicates that our greatest problem is sin because we are cut off from God. We are separated from the Almighty. There is moral distance between us and God and we need as someone to wipe the slate clean. We need someone who can take God and man and reconcile us because there is a huge gap a stain of sin between us and only Christ is qualified to do that but he can come and he can wash us clean and he can speak us clean so that we can belong to God forever and become one of his family members. And of course that's exactly what happened to the Apostle Peter and you and I have the benefit of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior.
I know that we did not experience him directly in the flesh as Peter did and the other apostles but the good news is that Jesus Christ is with us and he indeed does give us that hand from heaven and we are so thankful. I think that this series of messages is going to be a great blessing to you and even as you think about it you recognize that there may be times when you cannot listen because of schedule conflicts and then again there might be those messages that you would like to listen to again or share them with your friends. For a gift of any amount we are making the sermon series available it's titled Chiseled by the Master's Hand. Now here's the information you need go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or you can pick up the phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again give you time to write it down. Thanks in advance for helping us financially your prayers your commitment is holding our hands to get the gospel to many.
Go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. So thanks in advance for helping us pray for us share the good news with others because together we're making a difference. It's time again for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.
Today's question Dr. Lutzer comes from Luke and Luke lives in Pennsylvania. He says, I have heard you say that you're convinced that a teenager was demon possessed because he played some video games. I don't think believers can be demon possessed but it's still frightening. What video games are bad? If I watch a kung-fu movie or play a karate game am I sinning because karate has origins with Buddhist monks?
Luke you've asked a very important question. First of all I didn't say that all video games lead to demon possession but in the case of the teenager that I was speaking about he got into those kinds of video games where you have occult religions and where there is violence and there's absolutely no doubt that that is the devil's playground. Now you may say well surely he wasn't possessed. Well what made him unable to sit on a couch even?
He had to continually move back and forth. This is not the teenager that his parents once knew. What is it that caused these strange fears and this strange obsession with this particular game on the internet? There's no doubt in my mind that there was demonic activity and we need to warn our teenagers and warn others about this. So let's keep in mind that the devil can do mighty things in the lives of sinning saints. Mighty evil things. Now you asked the question about specific movies or specific games.
I can't answer all of those questions. All that I know is that those kinds of games that have their roots and their origin in the occult in my mind they are dangerous. I hope that there are things that you can do on the computer, wholesome games, wholesome ideas, rather than resorting to that which includes violence, sex, and occultism.
Those three entities are where Satan loves to do his work. It's a warning from my heart to yours. Thank you Dr. Lutzer for those words of counsel. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at rtwoffer.com 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. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. When Christ calls someone, life is never the same. Jesus called Peter from a life by the sea to a life he never could have imagined. For his new task, Peter had to accept a new name from his new master. Next time on Running to Win, more on a man with a new name and on how any of us can also be used by God. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 09:00:42 / 2023-03-23 09:09:15 / 9