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The Light Shines In Jerusalem Part 2

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

The Light Shines In Jerusalem Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 20, 2022 1:00 am

What are we willing to do because of our passion for God? In Jerusalem, some new believers insisted that converts to the Christian faith keep observing Jewish laws. In this message, we meet Paul as he settles an argument that put the outreach of the Gospel at risk. We too are called to give our lives to carry out God’s desires. 

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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. In Jerusalem, some new believers insisted that converts to the Christian faith keep observing Jewish laws. The conflict was sharp, and Paul had to settle an argument that put the outreach of the Gospel at risk.

Stay with us. 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, even today some believers insist on following Old Testament law. The conflict between law and grace is still with us. And you know, Dave, because of conflicts like that, there are people who actually deconstruct their faith. In other words, they become so weary of the disagreements among evangelicals that they say to themselves, I'm abandoning the faith entirely.

In my new book entitled No Reason to Hide, I discuss that. I show, for example, how the word love is sometimes misused, and as a result, grace is misused and misunderstood. It's so important for us to realize that there are certain lines that we have to draw as Christians and say, here we stand, we cannot do otherwise. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.

Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. So, let me encourage you and say that even though there may be some doctrinal differences in your church, let us at the same time make a distinction between those that are eminently important and those that are lesser issues. But let's listen in now on God's word. What Paul was saying is that if you want to do these rules, that's fine as long as you don't think that they are salvific.

What I mean by that is as long as you don't think they save you. Now, here's what they do. They tell Paul something.

I mean, James is speaking here. Verse 23, do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow, it must be a Nazarite vow, take these men, purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses so that they might shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we've sent a letter that they don't have to keep the law, but they should of course abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from immorality and so forth.

There's no question about that. The Gentiles, in Acts chapter 15, there was a conference where they agreed Gentiles do not have to keep the law. They don't have to be circumcised or anything in order to be saved.

The question was, what do we do with the Jews who are struggling with this issue? And here they say, why don't you join them in their vow, pay their expenses? This probably came about because Paul did bring an offering and it was customary in those days for a richer person to help a poorer person to fulfill his vow with all the sacrifices that attended to it. You go through that, Paul, and that'll show people that you're also observing the law. You understand now why there are some people who think that Paul compromised here?

I don't think so. In 1 Corinthians he says this, to the Jews I became as a Jew that I might win the Jews. To those who are under the law, I became like those who are under a law to win those who are under the law.

And those who are outside the law, I became like they that I might be able to win those that are outside the law. Paul, I think, is saying I can do all this as long as it's correctly interpreted and not a matter of compromising salvation. So that was Paul's stance. So we've looked at his determination. We've also looked at his dilemma.

And what is his defense? Well, he doesn't fulfill the vow because a riot breaks out. And you'll notice it says, for example, in verse 27, when the seven days were almost completed, God kept Paul from having to offer sacrifices which were part of the Nazarite vow. When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They laid hands on him.

They arrested him. They accused him of bringing Gentiles into the temple area. Paul would never have done that. He had some Gentiles with him, but he would have never brought them into the temple area because he understood. If you go to Jerusalem today, it's been a long time since I've been there, 10 years. But I remember going to the temple mound, and there still is a sign there that says, do not enter upon the pain of death owing to the sacredness of the place. Gentiles were not supposed to go. We're in the inner temple area. So there's a warning sign there, which all of us respectfully, of course, ignore. And we go in anyway. And the Dome of the Rock today, of course, is a Muslim shrine.

But the point is this, my friend. The Apostle Paul would not have brought people, a Gentile, into the inner sanctum because in those days, that was a crime that resulted in death. Bottom line, Paul is arrested.

He gives his defense. And you can go on, and you can read what he has to say. And these events are actually going to turn out now in such a way that he does end up going to Rome.

But I won't tell you that story. That will become more evident in the next message in this series. So Paul gets to Jerusalem, and he also gets to Rome.

Here's my point today. Think of what a man is willing to do when he has a passion for God. First of all, if you have a passion for God, you are committed to obedience. Obedience transcends everything. Hear the Apostle Paul against good advice.

And hear me when I say that I never tell people to ignore good advice. But Paul did, constrained by the Spirit. And the reason I think he did right is not only because of that phrase in chapter 20, but also because later on he says that when he was there in Jerusalem, he had a vision from Jesus to give him courage to do what he needed to do. But sometimes God lays it on the hearts of people to do things that appear to be irrational, but they are operating in obedience to God. And obedience to God takes precedence over all human emotion. You remember what the Apostle Paul said in chapter 21. It says, I am willing to die in Jerusalem. Now they were urging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Verse 13, Paul answered, what are you doing weeping and breaking my heart?

For I am ready not only to be imprisoned, but to die in Jerusalem. Sometimes you have to just ignore the tears. The tears are fine, but you can't go that way. I have two sisters, both of whom were missionaries, one in Africa for about 30 years and one in Mexico for 20 some years. And every time we said goodbye to them, we always cried as a family.

It always seemed so long and so many years, and we never knew whether we would meet again. But you know, there are times doing the will of God you just need to say, I have to set all that aside. Cry your eyes out, but be obedient to God if you have passion. Paul had that passion. I'm willing to die.

I'm willing to be imprisoned. I wish I had that passion. I prayed yesterday that I would. This passion for God that no matter what he asks me to do, no matter what he asks me to go through, I might say I love him so much that I don't even count my life dear to myself, but I'm willing to die for the faith. Would God birth a passion like that in the hearts of all those, the family of Moody Church?

Could you imagine what we could do in the city of Chicago with that kind of passion and love for God? So the first thing is obedience. A second thing I noticed in the Apostle Paul as we have this window into his heart is his humility.

Here he is. He's being told what to do, and he does it. Maybe he had some misgivings, but you see, he was interested in the unity of the church.

The church was about to split, and he would have been the cause of it because they were saying that you no longer, you just tell people to disregard Moses. And he needed to show that in certain areas, it was OK, as I mentioned earlier, as long as it didn't confuse the issues of the gospel. And that's a reminder of the fact that when you go to the mission field, there's much in the culture where you find yourself that you can appreciate and that you can incorporate. But when it comes to the issue of the gospel, the line must always be clear.

Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, alone. But I marvel at Paul's humility. You know, he was sailing on a ship and having traversed some of the areas that the Apostle Paul traversed as we did when we were on that tour. I marveled at how long he had to travel. You know, I mean, Caesarea to Jerusalem. What are we talking about? Thirty-five, forty miles.

You walk it, take several days, horseback, few less days, difficult travel. It didn't matter. God was to be glorified. As he said in the book of Philippians, whether it is by life or by death, God must be glorified. Yesterday, I just happened to take from my shelf a book I've perused before, as you might guess. It's entitled Just as I Am by Billy Graham. And I just happened to reread the chapter on his London Crusade. Now, many of you weren't born during that time. That was 1954. Billy is thirty-five years old. Thirty-five years old. My goodness. He's just come in from the barn.

He was a farm boy. And he goes to London and because of a misunderstanding, he gets all of the press. I won't even tell you the story, but there is such a crush on him when he arrives in Waterloo Station that he needs help to proceed. They go to Haringey Arena. Yeah, it only holds 12,000 to 14,000, but imagine this.

They rent it for three months. And as the weeks go by, the crowds get bigger and bigger until there are more people outside of the arena than there are in the arena, to hear Billy preach. One of the most remarkable crusades. No wonder when he was finished, he was 15 pounds lighter.

It almost killed him. But imagine his humility. Billy Graham today is one of the most humble, unassuming men you'll ever meet. Passion for God. Always humility. Lauren Sani asked the question, how do you know whether or not you have the heart of a servant?

The answer is by the way in which you react when you are treated like one. That's how you know whether you have the heart of a servant. All God intoxicated people do because it doesn't matter.

It's not about us. It's a God thing. Finally, there's clarity. By clarity, I mean the ability to be able to see exactly what the purpose of life is. And if you don't have something that you are willing to die for, you aren't fit to live. Paul says, I'm willing to die for the gospel and to go for Jerusalem. Can you imagine living a life like that with something to die for that you know is eternal? And it has to do with the eternal God.

God grant us that passion. Now, as I was thinking about this, I was reminded of a man in whom I have more than just a passing interest. His name was Martin Luther, who had a similar zeal and passion for God. Can't give the background for lack of time, but he's on his way to Worms, Germany. He's told not to go. He's told you go to Worms, you're going to be killed to Worms. Luther says, I will go to Worms even if there are as many devils there as there are tiles on the roofs.

And I've been to Worms many times, and I've pointed that out to people and said, let's look at the tiles of the roof. He's asked to recant his writings. The first day he says, give me time to think about it. They say, OK, come back the next day. It was good that it happened that way.

Because the next day, this was a big diet. The next day, the emperor, Charles V is there, the head of the Holy Roman Empire. All of the German princes, both the religious and the civil rulers of Europe show up. Luther is asked to recant. You remember the famous line that I'm sure I've mentioned to you many times. My conscience is taken captive by the word of God.

I cannot and I will not recant, so help me God. But before he says that, he prays this prayer the evening before. When you hear it prayed, think of Paul praying as he goes to Jerusalem. Luther said, because he expected to die, it was just a done deal.

It didn't happen because of some reasons, but it was like saying, here I am, kill me. This is what he prays. Oh, almighty and everlasting God, how terrible is this world. Behold, it opens its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in thee.

How weak is the flesh. Satan, how strong. If it is only in the strength of this world that I might put my trust in trust, all is over.

My last hour has come. My condemnation has been pronounced. Oh God, oh God, do thou help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, thou shouldest do this. Thine, I have nothing to do here, nothing to contend with for these great ones of the world. I should desire to see my days flow on peacefully and happily, but the cause is thine and it is a righteous and eternal cause.

Oh Lord, help me. Faithful and unchangeable God, in no man do I place my trust. It would be vain. All that is of man is uncertain. All that cometh of man fails. Oh God, my God, hearest thou me not? My God, art thou dead?

No thou canst not die. Thou only hidest thyself. Thou has chosen me for this work and I know it well. Act then, oh God, stand at my side for the sake of thy well beloved Jesus Christ who is my defense, my shield, and my tower. Lord, where stayest thou? Oh my God, where art thou?

Come, I am ready. I am ready to lay down my life for truth, patient as a lamb, for it is a cause that is just. It is thy cause. I will never separate myself from thee, neither now or through eternity. And though all the world should be filled with devils, though my body, which is still the work of thy hand, should be slain, stretched out upon the pavement, be cut in pieces, reduced to ashes, my soul is thine. Yes, thy word is my assurance of it. My soul belongs to thee.

It shall abide with thee forever. Amen. Amen. God help me.

God help me. Amen. Let us pray. Father, we are so full of self, so filled with our aches and pains and our own desires and our own attempts to be successful, that we've lost the vision of what it means to be holy and totally passionate for thee. Whatever that means, Lord, in our vocations, in our families, in our futures, would you grant that to us, Lord? Thank you for Paul who said, I'm willing to be imprisoned to die in Jerusalem. Give us, Father God, a double measure of that passion, a passion of Luther who is willing to give his life for a just cause. Grant that, O God, today, and for those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, may they see today that when they believe on him, he cleanses them, receives them, and welcomes them into everlasting habitations. We thank you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Let me have a personal word with you. I believe that we in the West have to rethink our view of suffering for Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, in the last chapter of my book entitled No Reason to Hide, I devote this chapter to a biblical view of suffering. Most of us think that if the church in America were all that it should be, why indeed, we would have freedom of religion and prosperity. We don't understand that the church oftentimes has been under persecution and they saw that persecution as a gift. Jesus makes the remarkable statement, blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say, all men are evil against you falsely for my sake, for great shall your reward be in heaven. We need to rethink the role of suffering in the Christian life. In this new book that I've written, I discuss various issues, all of which are controversial, all of which we as Christians need to take a stand.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. It's entitled No Reason to Hide. And by the way, we don't have a reason to hide, do we? No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. In it, I discuss a host of different issues culturally that we face today, that your children face today in university and in school. No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to RTWOffer.com or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. There is one sin some Christians fear may be unforgivable. One concerned listener to Running to Win poses this question for you, Pastor Lutzer. If a Christian commits suicide, will they be in heaven?

The answer to your question, I believe, is yes. I've known Christians who were godly, led Bible studies, led people to saving faith in Jesus Christ, gave all the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, and yet as a result of deep, endless depression, chose to end their life. And I would say to you today that I do believe that Christians commit suicide and I believe that they will be in heaven.

Now having said that, of course, I have to clarify a couple of things. First of all, some people say, well, you're dying with sin in your life, sin that can't be confessed. Well, the answer is, of course, yes, you are, because suicide basically is murder.

But at the same time, there are many Christians who die with sin on their consciences, and we believe that they go to heaven, so why wouldn't someone who had this sin on his or her conscience go to heaven? But the next thing that has to be said is this. If you are thinking of committing suicide, don't. It's a very bad idea. Suicide is putting a period where God intends that there be a comma.

It is a defeat. It is oftentimes a very selfish act. Because you think to yourself, that you're going to escape, you know, whatever it is that you're going through here on earth, you think you're going to escape. And then you begin to think of what this will mean to your family and to your friends. And you realize what an unbelievable devastation it will be to them.

So don't. Furthermore, some of you who think that suicide might be an option, you need to be warned that perhaps you are not a believer. I'm reminded of the words of Hamlet in Shakespeare's play, you know, in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil. Death is fearsome. Even for those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, there are so many unknowns.

It's not our responsibility to determine the time when we arrive in heaven. Let God do that. Now, if you're experiencing depression, go for help. And one word of hope and encouragement to you from my heart to yours. Even though today you are living in darkness, I promise you that someday the sun will shine.

Someday you'll be very glad that you didn't do something foolish, something sinful. God bless you. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for that compassionate answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, 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. Paul is now on his way to Rome. The apostle had appealed to Caesar in a conflict with Jewish authorities. This meant facing the Roman governor in ancient Caesarea.

As waves lapped on the nearby shore, Governor Felix came face to face with a man the likes of whom he'd never seen. Next time on Running to Win, join us for the full story. It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastor's book, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture, will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support Running to Win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Online go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com. Or write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-20 21:55:43 / 2022-11-20 22:04:38 / 9

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