Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
Weary runners welcome a second wind, a source of fresh power. For believers, that second wind is the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter felt the rush of that spiritual wind remake him from the inside out.
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. Erwin Lutzer is explaining some amazing changes in Peter, a man chiseled by the master's hand, a man transformed from confusion to understanding, and from fear to confidence. And you know, Dave, you pointed out in your intro the emphasis that we should have on the Holy Spirit in Peter's life. And I believe that we as Christians oftentimes don't pay enough attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit is a comforter. Actually, in the Greek text, it means that he comes alongside of us.
And that's what was happening to Peter. And that's exactly what can happen to us. I'm so glad for the many of you who have joined us today because I think that the ministry of Running to Win is going to be a special blessing to you. And thanks also to those of you who are part of this ministry. We're going through a time when some of our friends have said that they are willing to match gifts given to the ministry of Running to Win. So you can double your gift. You can maximize it. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen to God's word very carefully. Do you understand now the transformation of Peter? You see, before that time, filled with timidity, filled with fear, and suddenly now speaking in boldness because, if I may say it very clearly, God is standing with him. And tomorrow morning, when you go into the workplace, God accompanies you and stands with you. And he sits where you sit and he talks through you as you yield to him. And he is with you in that delicate negotiation.
And his presence is ever so near that you can't be in a single place in all the world without taking Christ with you at your side. Transformation, confusion to understanding, fear to confidence. It touched his emotions. Let me tell you now, there's a third contrast that I want you to see, and that is from discouragement to determination.
Discouragement to determination. Look at Acts chapter 5 now. We're going to skip just ahead a little bit. And again, we see the emotional part of Peter, but we also see incredible boldness and determination. You know, we live in a day, before I read this text, in which people are terrified.
They're scared to speak. There was a pastor who was involved. He himself wasn't, but someone in his congregation was in an embarrassing situation that had to do with pornography. And he phoned me and he said, I just wonder, he said, what you would do if I were in, if you were in my position. He says, would you be willing to speak out on this issue? He says, we have several attorneys who are investigating what I can say. I had to myself several attorneys investigating what you can say. Wow.
You see, because everybody wants to be politically correct today, and if you're not politically correct and if you're not saying the party line, which is sort of a catch-all for the liberal side of the agenda, people are saying, you don't have a right to say that today because of all the implications. Well, guess what? The early church really never thought in those terms. I want you to notice their determination, and it is chapter 5, verse 40. And they took his advice, that is, Gamaliel, who gave them some advice, and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them.
Parenthesis. Did you know that being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean that you will be protected from physical abuse? Think of all the people who were filled with the Holy Spirit who died as martyrs under the early days of the Roman Empire. And here is Jesus in the disciples, speaking through the disciples, standing with the disciples, and he does not prevent them from receiving 39 lashes, which is usually what a flogging was. Forty was to be the maximum, so they had 39 to make sure that they would not meet the maximum. They were beaten, and they ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus and release them, and they went to their attorneys to check to see what their rights were so that they might be politically and religiously correct. Well, you know that is the reversed vision, don't you? It says in verse 41, and so they went on their way from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for his name, and every day in the temple and from house to house they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as Christ.
Don't you wish you could be there? Where all this energy, where all this determination, where all this emotional wholeness that they could be beaten and still find joy in their hearts for the privilege of having been counted worthy to belong to Jesus? Why this transformation? Why these timid disciples who forsook Christ and fled at the cross and now suddenly with boldness and joy and nobody could shut them up? They were affected by their minds, new understanding, their emotions, a new sense of wholeness, their wills, a sense of determination.
Why the transformation? Well, you know as I do, it was the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit, the second member of the Trinity. Now I hope that you're sitting there saying something in your mind.
Don't say it out loud because maybe someone will sit next to you and gently lead you away, but it's okay to say it in your mind, all right? You're saying, well, Pastor Lutzer, all that is fine and dandy, but this was Peter. You're talking about the apostles.
You're talking about the book of Acts. What does that have to do with me? Well, guess what? Good news. Did you know that you and I can also benefit from the blessed Holy Spirit of God and in similar fashion be changed? That's why he was given to us. He was given to us when we believed in Jesus.
Let me explain this very briefly. Christ said in the seventh chapter of John that the Holy Spirit, or rather John said in interpreting Christ's words, the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. We look to the cross today for our forgiveness and our justification, and we know that because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can believe and benefit. In the very same way that we look to the cross for our justification and forgiveness, the New Testament teaches us that we need to look to the ascension of Christ for the fullness of the Holy Spirit because when Jesus ascended, the Spirit was poured out to the church. Now everyone who believes in Christ and is saved has the Holy Spirit of God take up residence in their lives. Paul said to the people at Corinth, do you not know that your body is the inner shrine of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit indwells us.
You say, well that's fine, but where is his power? Just as I look to the cross to receive my forgiveness and my justification, we are to look to the ascended victorious Christ in faith to receive the blessed power of the Holy Spirit of God who begins the work of transformation. And let me say that the Spirit is not only a gift.
If you were to go into a store and buy two volumes and you forgot one or you left one on the shelf, you could go back the next day and they'd say you can have this other one without making a new payment. When you come to Christ to receive him, you receive two volumes. You receive the benefits of the cross, and you also receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me tell you that the Holy Spirit is not only a gift given, but he is a very sensitive gift, very sensitive. You know when demons control somebody, if somebody is demon driven, they are compulsive. They are driven.
They are torn in two. There's an anxiety level that is just a spirit of agitation. That is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is gentle. He does not push.
He leads. He is so sensitive that one of the emblems of the Spirit in the New Testament is the dove. Why? Because if you treat a dove badly, the dove is going to feel it and even perhaps want to fly away. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit doesn't leave us, but the Spirit is sensitive. That's why the Bible says don't grieve the Spirit. And you and I know Christians who are living in disobedience day after day, and they no longer hear the Spirit's voice. The Holy Spirit is within them, but they're not listening.
In fact, they are driven by guilt and by their own self-will, and the Spirit who is resident, who wants to be president, is squelched. That's why Paul says don't grieve the Spirit. If you and I are sensitive to the Spirit, the Spirit will control what we say even. And we'll want to utter some criticism and suddenly we will be rebuked and we'll know this is wrong. We will be rebuked for what we say, for what we see, for what we do, and we will sense that the Spirit is guiding and leading because we've developed sensitivity to his work. And he begins this transformation process.
We may be cocoons, but we are on our way to being butterflies. But I want you to know that the Spirit is so sensitive that he will not manifest himself and he will not work as long as self-will is on the throne of our lives. That's why Jesus said, except a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone.
But Jesus said, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. Back in 1968, I had the privilege of being in Egypt, riding to the pyramids on camels. That part of the experience I could probably have done without, but nevertheless. We crawled into the pyramids and we went down where the body of the king and the queen had lain. In one of those caverns in the pyramids, when those tombs were uncovered, scientists discovered grain because when they died in those days, they would take some grain so that you'd have something to eat on your way to some kind of a happy hunting ground. But nobody ever used the grain. It was there. After being in the dust and the dryness of the pyramid for four thousand years, they took the kernels out, put it in warm soil with some sunshine and moisture, and those kernels of grain grew. For four thousand years, the life was locked up there, dormant, unused, no evidence of life.
But when put in the right conditions, it was there all the time. Listen to me very carefully. If you're here today as a born again believer, the Holy Spirit of God indwells you. He goes with you. He watches the television programs that you watch, and that's why you should not grieve him because he sees what you see. He goes with you wherever you may go.
He is always at your side, closer than your elbow, but he is very sensitive. And if you override his authority and his power, you can just do your own thing. But the transformation never happens. You are just as negative as you've always been. You are just as bound by your past as you've always been.
You're just as timid as you've always been. And nothing changes until you say, I'm willing to fall into the ground and die. And it is that death to self-will that gives the Spirit the liberty to begin the transformation process. You know, we look at Peter and we say, well, you know, after all, he was Peter. I hope one of the impressions that you got as we preached nine other messages is that he was incredibly human.
I don't think that Peter had any more going for him as a human being than you or I. What the change was brought about was through the Spirit in whose life and strength you and I are participants. To change our mind, our emotions, our will, we can be different. And even some coping mechanisms that some people have to say, I'm going to cope, only hardens their hearts instead of giving in to the sweet voice of submission to God. You may be here as an unbeliever. You say, well, I don't know if I know Christ as Savior. Does the Holy Spirit have any ministry to me? Yes, one.
It is the ministry of conviction. Years ago there was a miser who used to count his money every evening and then put it in the floor of his cabin. Maybe he thought that the more often he counted it, the more he would have. A thief was looking through the window and saw what he was doing. And that night after the man had a drink, the thief decided to break into that cabin and get all the money. And the thief began to try to open the door and to pry it open and the man's dog began to bark. And the man became angry with the dog and the dog continued to bark and the man told the dog to be quiet and the dog wouldn't be quiet so he shot the dog. Well, you know the rest of the story, don't you?
Of course the thief came in, stole the drunken man's money. Listen carefully. If you're here and don't know Christ as your Savior, the voice that you are listening to now, the voice of conviction, the voice that tells you you need Jesus is the only voice that can save you. Do not stifle. Do not stifle the only voice that can save you. And if you're here as a believer, why has the Spirit not been working in your life and mine as it should?
I have to ask myself that question. You need to ask yourself and all of us need to open our lives to him and say, Lord, today I die to self one more time that Christ may live. Do it by faith. I woke up this morning distressed of spirit but God enabled me to put all that aside.
Why? In faith to receive the Spirit's power just for today and I'll need it again tomorrow. D.L. Moody's famous line, why do I have to be filled with the Holy Spirit so often? Well, good old D.L. said, because I leak, because I leak.
That's why I'm going to need to be filled again tomorrow. Let's pray. Oh Father, your blessed Holy Spirit is here. Your Spirit yearns to control us, yearns to lead us, yearns to guide us and how often we've said no. We thank you for the transformation of Peter but Father, we also need the same transformation. Do it in our hearts, oh God, we pray, as we say no to self and yes to your sovereign grace and power. Now if you need to accept Christ as Savior, let me help you. I'm going to pray a prayer, phrase by phrase, line by line. Just pray it in your heart to God. Say, dear God, I'm a sinner. I've heard your voice today and I receive Christ as my very own. I trust him and in this act of trust, I give up all attempts to save myself and look only to the cross. Thank you.
Amen. And if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, why don't you reach out right now? Why don't you say, Father, I thank you that when Jesus Christ ascended, he promised to send the Holy Spirit and I want to receive the Spirit in his fullness.
If you need to confess sin, confess it, get yourself right with God, receive the Spirit of God, his presence and his power. I'm so glad for the fact that the ministry of Running to Win goes to 20 different countries in four different languages, all because of people like you. And this is a very exciting time because we have some friends who have said that they are willing to match whatever is given to the ministry of Running to Win during this period of time. They are willing to match it dollar for dollar. Well, you can do the math.
It means that your $50 becomes $100, your $20 becomes $40. Here's what you can do to help us. Go to rtwoffer.com and take advantage of those who have decided to contribute to this ministry. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact once again, give you a chance to write it down. You can go to rtwoffer.
And as you might guess, rtwoffer is all one word, rtwoffer.com or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Many who listen to us battle with deep fears.
Today's questioner is no exception. Nancy from Ohio writes, I've been experiencing many health issues over the last few months and feel like the devil has me chained up tight. I was a terrible sinner when I was young but have been God's child for quite some time. But the devil is using my mind as his playground. I'm overwhelmed with fearful thoughts concerning my family. I know God is my only hope but I cannot get free from these binding chains of fear and doubt.
I feel so worthless. I really worry about my two grandchildren who have never been taken to church and have had to endure a lot as children. Although I am God's child, I feel as though God is not listening to the prayers I pray to Him. I feel defeated and know I shouldn't since I am a child of God. Well, Nancy, I know that you have many burdens that you are bearing and God wants to help you bear them. So let me give you a word of encouragement.
First of all, I think that your analysis is right. I do believe that the devil is using your mind as a playground. And what you need to do is to not let him do that. You need to fill your mind with God's promises and you need to accept these promises. But you know, Nancy, it's possible for us to get into such a predicament that we can't get out of it on our own. I really do think that in your despair, you need people to come around you to pray with you and to pray for you.
Now, you know, you didn't mention anything about your relationship with your husband, but you spoke about grandchildren. That's another burden that you can't bear alone. I hope that God gives you some Christian friends who can encourage you and pray with you. That's really what you need. What you need to do is to find then time to put your mind on the promises of God and grant grace.
A further comment. I'm just rethinking about what you said about the sense of guilt that you've had over your past. God doesn't remember your past. He blots it out. The Bible says that he takes our sin and as far as the East is from the West, so far he removes it.
And then he dumps the sin into the depths of the sea and he puts up a sign saying, no fishing. Nancy, God has forgiven you. God loves you.
God cares. Keep walking in your faith. Words of hope for Nancy and for all in her predicament. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. 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, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Those who say I can't change need to look at Peter, a man Jesus changed from timid fisherman to bold proclaimer. His transformation was so complete that even his mere presence caused the sick to be healed. Next time on Running to Win, Erwin Lutzer takes a look at how Peter's shadow was a mighty instrument when used by the Holy Spirit. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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