Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many inviting rabbit trails try to pull us off the main track, but believers know to not be sidelined by lesser matters. Today we focus on a defining moment for a great believer of old, a moment that set his aim at the goal line and nowhere else. 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, today we find Peter's faith increasing as he acknowledges that apart from Christ, there is nowhere else to go. And you know, Dave, that is such an important passage of scripture because the reality is that apart from Christ, there is no other way to go toward hope, toward forgiveness, toward reconciliation with God. Christ is the only hope.
And if we lose that message, we've lost everything. I've written a book entitled Hitler's Cross. I wrote this book when I began to see that the church in Germany has lessons to teach us today.
The church during the time of the Nazi regime, many of the believers were faithful, many weren't, perhaps the majority weren't. But what went wrong? This is the second to the last day that we are making this resource available to you. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And I want you to stay tuned to the end of the broadcast when I tell you a story about a young German guard. And then I'm going to leave you with a question to ponder. For now, let us listen to God's word. We live in a day that can be described as an age of pluralism. Pluralism means that there are many different options from which we can choose. Just like people who have cable TV can get maybe 40 or 50 different channels in the same way when it comes to religion, people have a lot of options. There are a lot of different Christian churches. There are a lot of different churches that fit into the general category of Christendom.
And then there are many other religions other than Christianity. And all of those are options in today's world. We live in a land with many choices. But in addition to that pluralism, we're also in an age that can be characterized as one that believes in subjective truth. Subjective truth.
Subjective truth means that when I go into an ice cream parlor that has 31 different flavors, I can choose whatever I want. Well, of course I choose butter pecan. But maybe you, not knowing how good butter pecan tastes, choose plain vanilla. But we can do whatever we like. I mean, we have 31 different flavors.
Not only can you choose the flavor you like, but you can mix and match. In the very same way when it comes to religion, people say, well, I mix and I match. And so I take a little bit of Christianity and I take a little bit of Eastern religion and I add my own ideas with a little dab of humanism and a fragment of scripture, and I come up with my own concoction that is just for me.
And it really is exactly what I want, and what I want doesn't have to be what you want, because you can do your thing, I can do my thing. And that's the era in which we are raising our children, and that's the mood of this generation. That's why it's so important for us to turn to our Bibles to the sixth chapter of the book of John, John chapter 6. Now, if you've been following this series, you will know that this happens to be number 5 in a series of messages on the life of Peter. And Peter made a fantastic confession we noticed last time, but today he makes another in the sixth chapter of John. The context of Peter's confession is that Jesus did many miracles and the people really liked some of the miracles that he did. He had just fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish.
That's what he did as the sixth chapter of John opens. And it says in verse 15, Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take him away by force to make him a king withdrew. They believed that a king would be one who would bring them much bread just as Moses did. And here was somebody who could speak the word and the bread came from nowhere, literally out of thin air. And so they said to themselves, this is the kind of man we want to rule over us. Imagine a president who could create bread out of nothing just by the spoken word.
He would be elected here in the United States very quickly by either party. So there were people who loved Jesus because they said we like his miracles, but then Jesus would say some things that turned people off. And he really turned them off. He said things that caused them to stumble. Notice for example, things such as in verse 44, he talked about their inability to believe on him without divine help. No man can come to me except the father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day. That didn't suit people very well. What is this business that no man can come to God except the spirit draw him?
We don't like this teaching. We can come to God on our own strength whenever we think we need him. And then if that wasn't enough, Jesus said in verse 51, I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. If any man eats this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. Verse 52, the Jews therefore began to argue with one another saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? And then Jesus makes it even stronger in verse 53. Truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Wow.
Talk about stumbling now. They knew the Old Testament where it said that you were forbidden to drink human blood. Cannibalism seems so inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. What could Jesus possibly mean?
Now if they had thought about it, they would have recognized that Jesus was talking here figuratively. There are some people who are sacramentalists who believe that we literally eat his flesh and drink his blood during communion. But we know that Jesus was not talking literally not just because the Old Testament forbids the drinking of human blood and cannibalism seems to be inconsistent with the rest of the teaching of the Bible. But Jesus said in verse 56, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me. Verse 57, as the living father sent me and I live because of the father, so he who eats me shall live because of me. Jesus said just like I live in dependence upon the father and receive my spiritual food from him, that's what I mean when I say you're to eat my flesh and drink my blood. The bread that I created fed your body, but there is also spiritual bread that feeds your soul and if you eat that bread, you will be abiding in me.
That in itself is a sermon, but I must hurry on. In verse 63, Jesus clarifies it even more. It is the spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.
If you're thinking of literal flesh and literal blood, there's nothing to that. The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and they are life, said Christ. Well, still strong words though. It says that many stumbled because of him. There was disagreement. Verse 67, and then it says in verse 66, as a result of this many of his disciples withdrew and were not walking with him anymore. Members of a larger crowd, members of the Jews who heard Jesus speak said, we can't take it.
This is too much for us. Jesus therefore said to the 12, you do not want to go away also, do you? He asked the question in such a way that he was anticipating the answer, no, we're going to stay with you. Remember this, even though the Bible says that Jesus knew those who would stay with him and those who were defectors, he knew Judas, it says in this passage.
Still, remember that Jesus did feel the hurt of rejection. It was not nice for him to be able to see this large crowd and then people walk away shaking their heads and saying, what is this? He does a miracle over here and then he says things that we can't swallow over here. What are we going to do with him? Let's let him go, he's mad.
Jesus felt the hurt of that. He said, you guys to the 12, you aren't going to go away too, are you? And Simon Peter to his everlasting credit makes a statement that should be seared into the minds and the hearts of every one of us. He said, to whom shall we go? To whom shall we go? We don't understand everything that you were saying, but who are we going to go to? Are we going to go to the Pharisees that put a load on us that we cannot carry and that give us no hope? Are we going to turn to the esoteric religions of Neoplatonism, which lead us into mysticism, but eventually do not answer the ultimate questions that our soul seeks answers for. To whom shall we go? What are our options? You have words of eternal life and we believe and have come to know that you are the holy one of God.
There is no other sensible option. What I'd like to do is to give you three characteristics of truth. Three characteristics of truth and I'm not saying that Peter was thinking of these characteristics when he spoke, but you'll notice that they are there in what he said. The first characteristic of truth that I want you to notice is that it is consistent. By that I mean Peter realized that if they stay with Jesus and with what Jesus taught, then obviously they are saying no to a host of other teachers. A truth is not only consistent within itself, but there's no such thing as believing as some people do that all the religions of the world could be right.
That is not possible. You follow the path of Buddha, you do not follow the path of Jesus because those two paths are diametrically opposed and contradictory to one another. If you're a Hindu, you believe that salvation comes through the absorption of the soul into the ultimate like a drop that is thrown into the ocean and loses its identity and that's the goal to which you work if you're a Hindu. Buddhism was born because Buddha did not like Hinduism.
He did not feel that it answered his deepest questions. So Buddha says that what you do is to obtain salvation you go through a torturous path that includes seeking the truth and self-denial. In fact, Buddhism does not even believe in God. Hinduism has 330 million different gods. You can't be both and still be sensible. And then you have people like the teaching of Islam Muhammad.
What can we say about him? How is salvation obtained in the Islam faith? It is obtained by trying to keep the Quran and the things that Muhammad taught. Mind you, you should not do what Muhammad did because he did one thing and said another.
But what you must do is to try to follow his teachings as best you can and then maybe you will obtain some kind of undefined salvation. Nobody can follow those three paths and say that they're all following the same path. Especially to say that they are following Christ because as we shall see in a moment, Jesus Christ's teaching cannot be combined with that of all of the religious leaders of the world.
There is no common ground of significance. Truth is consistent. Peter said, to whom shall we go? If we go to you, Lord Jesus, we've got to say no to the scribes and the Pharisees and the esoteric religions because they are teaching something different. If we say yes to you, it is no to a host of other alternatives. Secondly, truth is universal. Truth is universal. He says that we have come to believe that you are the Holy One.
We have come to believe that you are the one that gives eternal life. We're talking about truth that is not simply cultural. Jesus is not just a Jesus for the people of the Middle East. He is not just the Jesus for the people who live in the Western world. If he is the Holy One of God and speaks words of eternal life, his teachings are applicable to all who inhabit planet earth. They are universally true. It's not like going into an ice cream parlor and selecting the one that means the most to you.
This is not the same. When Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me, he was excluding all other people who teach that they are the way to God. No man comes unto the Father, said Jesus, but by me. And in that statement, if it is true and we believe that he is, it is all other religions are automatically disqualified. Truth is universal. You must look at religious truth as you look at mathematics. Now nobody says, at least nobody who is sane says, well, you know, two and two is equal to four, but that's just culturally American.
That's what we were taught in our schools. But if you go to the schools of the Middle East or the Far East, you'll find that two plus two is equal to five and if you think about it a lot, you can make two plus two is equal to five. Remember Lewis Carroll in the Looking Glass, Alice in Wonderland. She was able to believe six contradictions before breakfast.
Just imagine that. I've often jokingly said that if you can believe two before lunch, you need more help than we're able to give you here at the Moody Church as nobody can believe that two plus two is equal to five. That is not a phenomenon that has a peculiarity that makes it Western. It is universal and that's the truth about Christ. What he taught is universally true to all cultures and to all nations and that's why we are saying to the unreached people of the world, go because without Christ, there is no other way to God, period. Without that way, there is no going and without that truth, there is no knowing. But there's a third observation about truth. It is not only universal. It is not only consistent, but it is based on evidence. Peter said, we have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.
I certainly hope that you listen to Running Twin next time as you hear the rest of this message. During Nazi Germany, there was a man by the name of Niemoller. He was a pastor. He was accused of abuse of pulpit, which meant that he was criticizing Hitler. And for that he was taken and imprisoned. Before his trial, a young guard came to get him out of his prison and they had to walk through a tunnel to the courtroom. As they were walking along Niemoller hears this verse of scripture. At first he doesn't know where it is coming from. The young guard is whispering in the man's ear, the name of the Lord is a strong tower.
Whoever runs into it is safe. Niemoller said that young guard will never know the blessing that he was to me. But let me ask you a question. This young man obviously raised in a church, how did he become a part of the Nazi agenda? These are the kinds of stories I tell in my book, Hitler's Cross. And this is the second to last day that we are making this resource available to you.
For a gift of any amount it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Hitler's Cross.
Right now you can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question comes to us from Texas from Christina. She writes, I feel I am very ineffective at prayer and just a few days ago a passage of scripture struck me in a way that gave me pause. I was reading in Matthew chapter 21 and this verse jumped out at me. Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will say to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith. I know God can do anything, but I doubt because I also know that he does all only what he wants, that is, what his divine will is. I'm not so bold as to presume that my prayer will change his mind. I've been praying for someone who is seriously ill, but because I don't know God's will, my prayer is vague.
If it's not God's will for this person to be healed, then he won't be healed no matter how much I pray. It seems to me like a self-defeating circle. Well, Christina, I've been sitting here listening as Dave McAllister has been reading your question to me and wondering exactly how to answer, because I could give you a very long answer to many excellent questions that you've embedded in your letter.
But just a couple of comments. First of all, when Jesus said if you have faith, you can move this mountain from here to there, obviously he is using hyperbole. He just means to say that faith can do mighty things. And why is it that he goes on to say that if we ask in faith without doubting, we'll receive it? Well, in cases like that, it appears to me that God shares with us what he intends to do. And therefore, when we begin to pray, we are in effect praying his will back to him.
There are instances like this in scripture. And of course, at a time like that, you can really pray in faith because God is granting you the faith and the ability to know that this is his will. Now, the other question regarding your friend who's sick and the whole matter of the will of God.
There are times when we don't know God's will, and we can't pray with great faith that God is going to heal someone, but we should pray for that person and we should commit them to God in something like Jesus in Gethsemane. Father, if it is your will, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
That's the bottom line for every growing Christian. Let God's will be done. But we do bring our petitions to him, like the Apostle Paul says very clearly. He says, you know, that we come before God, we bring our cares before him, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keeps our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ. And therefore, we should come with all of our petitions.
But there's finally, I do need to add this. You say that you would not presume that you could change God's mind. Well, that might be true because we don't know what God's mind is. But remember this, Christina, prayer changes things. It may not change God's mind in the sense that you and I think of it, but prayer changes things. Your prayer might under the divine will of God make a huge and lasting difference. Keep praying, keep praying, keep seeking, and you'll grow in faith.
And who knows, but you may even see some miracles. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or you can 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. These days, it's fashionable to think of truth as a personal possession. You have your truth, and I have my truth. Then we hit the jarring claim of Jesus. I am the truth. Next time on Running to Win, moving from truth as opinion to truth as a person. Thanks for listening to our series on the life of Peter. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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