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Following The Right Leader Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 20, 2022 1:00 am

Following The Right Leader Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 20, 2022 1:00 am

About 90% of all Christians have never led anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ. We use excuses like “It’s the wrong time” or “This is the wrong place.” In this message, we hear Jesus’ call to Peter to “fish” for people. You never know whose hearts have been prepared by God. Isn’t it time we trusted God beyond our own experience? 

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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.

As believers, we run life's race to please Jesus, who sets the pace as the goal we aim for every day. He's the leader we're eager to follow. Today, Peter will learn a great lesson from his new leader, a lesson on trusting beyond his own experience. 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 studying the life of Peter, a man chiseled by the Master's hand. Today, Erwin Lutzer begins a message on Peter's early days, one he's entitled, Following the Right Leader. And you know, Dave, following the right leader is as important today as it was in the life of Peter.

The question is whom shall we follow? And the church in Germany under Hitler faced that question. Bonhoeffer told them that there was one altar before whom the church should bow, namely that of Christ. And of course, you also had the other altar, the altar of Nazism.

In my book entitled Hitler's Cross, how the cross of Christ was used as a symbol of the Nazi agenda and to promote the Nazi agenda, these are the kinds of issues that I discuss. Now, for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you can do. Go to This of course is our featured resource this month.

You go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us speak about the true leader whom we should all follow. It's been said, and I suppose the statistic is accurate, that about 90% of all Christians have never led anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

I would like to think that those statistics aren't accurate, but they may be. Let me ask you, why is it that we do not witness? Why is it that sometimes even those of us who know the Gospel very well keep it to ourselves? Sometimes we may say, well, it's because I'm not spiritual enough. These are excuses that all of us have used.

I've used them on occasion. We say, you know, if we only had it together more, if we were really godly, then we'd feel free to share the Gospel with others. Well, of course, the fact is that there are many people who have walked with God for many years and they don't witness either. Sometimes even the godly ones don't. Or we may say to ourselves, I don't know how.

That isn't a very good excuse, is it? Because all of us know that witnessing is nothing more than one beggar telling another beggar where he can get bread. We can all point men and women to Christ and we have seminars from time to time here available at the church that help us become better witnesses. Another excuse may be, well, we don't have the gift. If you know anything about spiritual gifts, you know that one gift is the gift of evangelism.

So it's easy to say, well, that isn't really my gift. And so we excuse ourselves from witnessing to the Gospel of Christ. But I think that when all of this settles down, probably the real reason that many of us, myself included, have bypassed wonderful opportunities to tell others about Christ, the real reason, is because of a fear that we might be thought oddballs, that we may be thought just a little bit kooky to talk to others about Jesus. Remember when Larry Poland was here two or three weeks ago when he spoke at our business luncheon? He led a man to Christ. He was telling us this story in Hollywood. And after the man was gloriously converted and his life changed, he told Larry, he said, you know, it was interesting. He said, when I was addicted and ruining my life and my health, nobody in Hollywood told me I was crazy. He said, when I was destroying my marriage, nobody told me I was crazy. When I was alienating my children, nobody told me that I was crazy. But after I accepted Christ as my Savior, he said, I said to a friend, I've met God. And he said, you're crazy.

You see, the truth is that most of us don't want to be thought of as just a little bit crazy. And so we don't share our faith in Christ. Those of you who were here last Sunday know that I've begun a series of twelve messages on the life of Peter. Last week we looked at the way in which Peter met Christ and Jesus beheld him, Jesus gazed at him, looked to his eyes and said, Peter, your name is Simon, but you're going to be called Peter, which means rock.

By the way, we had several people last week who had their names changed. I received even a letter from a visitor who said I came to church and he said my name was abuse and my name was anxiety, but Jesus changed me and gave me a new name and my new name is peace. Christ still does that, by the way. But today we come to a second episode in the life of Peter and that is when Jesus Christ called him to be a disciple.

Take your Bible and turn first of all to Mark chapter 1 where we see a summary version of his call, but then also while you're turning to Mark 1, turn to the fifth chapter of Luke where we see the same incident, I believe it's the same incident, in a little bit more detail. It says in Mark 1 16, and as he, that is as Christ was going along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, remember it was Andrew that actually brought Peter to Christ, and they were casting a net in the sea for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men.

And immediately they left the nets and followed him. And notice verse 19 and 20 indicates that these brothers had a business going. There were a number of people who were involved in the business because there was also James the son of Zebedee and John his brother who were also in the boat mending the nets, and immediately he called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants. Notice how many they had working for them and they went to follow Christ.

Now I want you to look at the fifth chapter of Luke because I think that Luke chapter five is essentially the same story. Where Jesus is again asking Peter to come and to become a fisherman of men. For example in verse 10 it says, and also James and John the sons of Zebedee who were partners with Simon, and Jesus said to Simon, do not fear from now on you will be catching men. Now I need to explain that catching men has nothing to do with perhaps some enterprising single young lady who attends the singles ministry. You know there is that line that says eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a bachelor by the toe.

If he hollers let him eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catching men has to do with winning men and women to Jesus Christ and so even though it talks about catching men it also means catching women and bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Now Luke five which is going to be the passage for this morning. Jesus is preaching to a large crowd of people and as he does he continues to go backward and backward because the crowd is pressing around him and finally he says to Simon he said Simon let me use your boat because Jesus was at the shore of Galilee and Christ sat in a boat and used the boat as a pulpit and actually preached from the boat to the people who were at the shore. It says it came about that while the multitude were pressing around him and listening to the word of God he was standing by the lake of Gnezeret which is the lake or the Sea of Galilee and he saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake but the fishermen had gotten out of them and they were washing their nets. They had had what sometimes is called a fisherman's bad day and now they were putting all their gear away and he got into one of the boats which was Simon's that is Peter's and asked him to put out a little way from the land and he sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat and when he had finished speaking he said to Simon, Simon put out into the deep water and let your nets down for a catch. Simon answered and said master we worked hard all night and caught nothing but at your bidding I will let down the nets just that far for now.

I want to reconstruct the scene. These men had been out all night fishing and now they were putting everything away discouraged because they had caught nothing and Jesus the teacher comes along and says now take your nets take them all back out and let them into deep water for some fish. Two reasons why the command seemed unreasonable and senseless. First of all because it was the wrong time. It was the wrong time. Any fisherman knows that you don't fish in the middle of the day. You fish during the night and early in the morning and I can almost see Peter and all of his companions thinking to themselves Jesus may be good at theology. He talks as if he's really plugged into God but he doesn't know anything about fishing. This is the wrong time.

You don't do it now. We have fished all night and we have caught nothing. We fished at the good time and none bit. Why should they bite now?

Secondly there was another reason why this seemed to be an improbable and even foolish request. Jesus said take your nets and let them down in the deep and once again the fishermen and the Sea of Galilee know that you don't do that. What you do is you fish near the shore. That's where the fish are but to Peter's everlasting credit he says and nevertheless and I like the King James translation here nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Aren't these excuses that you and I use for not witnessing to people and sharing the gospel? We say first of all Lord it's the wrong time that this is not the time to do it. I will wait for an appropriate time and I say to my shame that sometimes I've said that and I have waited too long or years have gone by and it didn't seem to be quite the appropriate time. Second we say it's the wrong place.

It's the wrong place. Now sure I want to witness but the context must be absolutely correct and I'm going to wait for that opportune moment. Now Jesus said to Peter, Peter respond to my word and let down your nets right now.

Take all your gear and put it back out in the boat and do it. Notice what happened I pick up the text now in verse six and when they had done this they enclosed a great quantity of fish and their nets began to break and they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them which is incidentally what is happening in Russia today. There are so many people that are believing on Christ that we're receiving signals from the Eastern European countries saying come over and help us because the nets are breaking.

The harvest is so great we need others to come and to share in the bounty. So they signaled to their partners and they came and filled both of the boats so that they began to sink. Verse eight when Peter saw that he fell down at Jesus feet saying depart from me for I am a sinful man O Lord for amazement had seized him and all the companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken. A.T. Robertson in his commentary says sometimes we need to fish again. We need to fish again where we have failed before we must go down deeper than we were before but we must fish again. Have you ever thought to yourself I could be successful if I did it somewhere else?

If I wasn't only in Chicago or if I were in some other area I could be successful. I want you to notice that success is really tied to the command and the obedience of Christ. Without his command they caught nothing and with his command they had two boats filled with fish. Net after net cast into the sea and every one of them coming up with hundreds of fish until the boats could scarcely bear them all.

Yes sometimes we must fish again. You may be discouraged in your walk with Christ or where you are or even in your witness and I encourage you sometimes in the same place in obedience to Christ do it one more time be obedient but notice Peter's response. He said depart from me for I am a sinful man oh Lord.

The Greek word for Lord is kurios. It really means God. Isn't it interesting that Peter didn't say well just think we've made a thousand dollars in fish. This is fantastic.

This is our best day. Why is it that Peter standing there in the presence of this miracle recognized who he was? First of all he knew that the fish were there by divine command.

It's not because the fish were there naturally because they had toiled all night during the best of time and in the best of way and now Jesus had spoken and they had acted in faith and the response was so great and he recognized now that he was in the presence of God a very God and what does he do? He does the same thing that every person does in the presence of the living God. He falls down and recognizes his own helplessness and a sinfulness in the presence of this Lord Jesus Christ and at the one hand he says depart from me for I am a sinful man but on the other hand he is also clinging to Christ and saying oh Christ you are God a very God.

Remember that blasphemous movie a few years ago called The Last Temptation of Christ. Martin Scorsese said this, what I've tried to do is to create a Jesus who in a sense is just like any other guy in the street. In his struggle to reach God and find God he reflects all of our struggles. I thought this would give us all hope and I want to scream and say no no a thousand times no a Jesus who is like the rest of us does not give us hope but leads us into despair because if he is like the rest of us he cannot save us. We need a hand to come down from heaven that is a divine hand. We need a divine savior who is sinless who is God a very God apart from him we are damned forever. You know why it is that we sometimes pray about revival but in our hearts we really don't want it. It is because when God really comes to town and when people really begin to see the glory and the wonder of Christ all of us then find within our hearts inexcusable sin inexcusable sin. We are suddenly revealed for who we really are up against the holiness of a wondrous blessed pure God and that is a very uncomfortable moment. You say well isn't that pitiful?

I mean here is a disciple of Jesus Christ saying depart from me for I am a sinful man oh Lord going through a lot of existential guilt. The answer is no this is not a pitiful moment. This was Peter's finest hour of hope.

It's his finest hour of hope because only when we see who we are in the presence of the risen Christ it is only then that we can finally be forgiven of our sins and we can be hearing the voice of Christ say you are forgiven but our age does not like this. Someone sent me a cartoon which I have on my door of a pastor pointing to his congregation and saying you know what the problem with Cain was? Cain's problem was low self-esteem. I can imagine someone saying you know that's why Peter did this.

He suffered from low self-esteem. I'll tell you something it is only when we are willing to finally give up all of the game playing and see who we are in Christ's presence that we can hear him tell us we're cleansed and forgiven and belong to him. And having done that my friend we have to be faithful to Jesus Christ wherever he has planted us. You know the church in Germany under Hitler faced a very important decision. The question was would they go with their nationalism?

Would they go with the economy? Or would they be obedient to Jesus Christ? These are the kinds of issues I discuss in my book entitled Hitler's Cross. How the cross of Christ was used to promote the Nazi agenda. Many of the German Christians decided that a full stomach was more important than obedience to Christ. Now of course there were some who did stand for truth and stood for Christ and many of them died.

But the question is how would we have responded? What a challenge history is for us. Now for a gift of any amount this book can be yours. It's entitled Hitler's Cross.

Here's what you do and I hope you have time to get a pencil so that you can write this down. You can go to Of course rtwoffer is all one word or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 and I want to thank you in advance for helping us because together you are holding our hands and we are making a difference as we get the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many as possible.

Right now pick up the phone you can call 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question comes from Arizona Dr. Lutzer and it's coming to us from Edward. He writes, the Jacob Esau birthright deal seems like superstitious nonsense. God is not obligated to honor contracts or deals by liars and schemers. Also I don't believe there was a mystical birthright Isaac could give to whoever he wanted like he could give a piece of property.

What do you think? Well Edward I'm a little surprised by your question because this is not superstition. It's there in the Bible as you correctly noted and Isaac had the right to give a birthright and normally it was given to the oldest son which in this case would have been Esau instead of Jacob but you know the whole story. It is not a superstitious story nor was this a superstitious ritual. You see the firstborn was recognized by others as having special privileges and when Isaac gave the birthright to Jacob this had significance among the family and among the whole business of inheritance issues. No it wasn't like a piece of property but this was instituted by God and yes it's true that Jacob was a schemer and he received the blessing. You called him a liar not sure if that's exactly right but at any rate sometimes God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines and if you look at the life of Isaac and Jacob and even Rebecca who is in on the scheme I'm assuming here at this point that many of our listeners know the story you see that God is greater than the failures of human beings. He had chosen this family and he continued to use this family for his honor and glory and by the way Edward aren't you glad he is a God of grace?

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. Peter's journey of faith began when Jesus told him a fisherman how to fish. The resulting catch proved that obedience to Jesus was the key. Next time on running to win Peter learns that the power of Jesus to save men is as total as his power to draw fish into a net. Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-21 21:49:37 / 2023-03-21 21:57:55 / 8

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