Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The lights of Christmas come down in January, but the light Jesus brings into the hearts of believers can burn brighter every day. Sin can quickly douse that light, so we must be diligent to walk in the paths of righteousness.
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, walking in the light means forsaking deeds of darkness, so we as believers need to make crucial choices every day. You know, Dave, recently I've been studying the darkness-light motif in Scripture.
It's found everywhere. As a matter of fact, I remember reading in the book of Proverbs, chapter 4, where it says in effect, and I'm paraphrasing here, that the wicked stumble in darkness and they don't even know what they are stumbling over. What a description of human nature. We need light. And that's why it's so important for us to emphasize the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem, of course, but also his death and resurrection. He is the light of the world, and that becomes transformative. I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. We are trying to shed light everywhere around the world.
For example, we're even in the Middle East. Thousands upon thousands of people listening to Running to Win in Arabic. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com. Now, when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, and also you can spend some time there to see other resources.
But go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Help us to shine the light as far as we possibly can. Walking in the light means that I expose myself to God. Everything that he reveals to me that is sinful, I confess it to God.
I own my stuff. I admit it to him. He is the one who forgives me and cleanses me so that I can walk with God. Because God is light, the only way we can walk with him is if we walk in light. And because of our sinfulness, we constantly need the cleansing that comes to those who want to walk with God.
And in order to see God, we must be willing to come to the light. Remember that famous story in the book of Isaiah? Isaiah gave six woes to the people around him. He said, woe to the drunkards, woe to those who exploit the poor, woe, woe, woe.
But when he gets to chapter 6, the seventh woe is, woe is me. Because in the presence of God, finally, all pretense ends. In the presence of God, finally, we see our hidden sin. In the presence of God, we see now who we are. And it is there that we receive the knowledge of who we are, but also the cleansing that enables us to go on. You remember Job, who was arguing with God and asking all of those philosophical questions. And then God came along and asked questions of his own.
And finally, Job said, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee. Therefore, I repent in dust and in ashes. As a matter of fact, it's not possible for us to know who we are unless we understand who God is. Calvin, the great theologian, said in the first sentence of his Institutes that there are two questions that are paramount. And one is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self.
And it is clear that you can't have one without the other. If you've never come to God, if you've never been exposed to the Scriptures, you cannot have a knowledge of who you really are because we walk in darkness. Now there's another necessity of light, and that is light enables us to follow Christ. You'll notice what he says here, and I'm back in chapter 8 where it says in verse 12, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
You follow me. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, that remarkable statement, ye are the light of the world. That's why if you come to our Christmas Eve service, you will find that we all have candles. And we begin with one candle and then one lights another, lights another, and pretty soon, all throughout the sanctuary here, we have candles that are lit, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world, but you and I also spread his light in so many different ways and with so many different opportunities. We live out Jesus to this world. When we are willing to participate in angel tree, when we are willing to be able to go to the school that is near us where we've had a ministry this past fall, when we do those kinds of things, we are representing Jesus in the world. Remember that statue in the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in Berlin, the statue of Jesus, which was largely destroyed during World War II, and when they were putting it together, they couldn't find the arm. And they decided to have it there, and it is there today without one of the arms.
Why? Because they said Jesus Christ is thus represented. We are his arm, and we are his representatives to the world. So Jesus said that as we walk in light, we represent him as well. Now how can we nail this down for ourselves so that our lives are changed and transformed? What about those of you who perhaps do not know God?
You think you do because you know about Jesus or because you've had a religious background, but you have never really come to Christ. Let me leave two transforming lessons with you. The first one is simply this, that let us keep in mind that the light that reveals us is also the light that heals us.
The light that reveals us is the light that heals us. Now I began this message by telling you that there was a time when we did not have electricity on our farm, but I remember in November of 1962, I remember when those great power posts came across the field and brought us electricity. You say, well, how come you remember November?
I think it was November the 11th, which has other meanings, I think, in our history, but I think that was the day when the power finally came on. It was unbelievable. We could go through this old house, the old farmhouse, and we could flip a switch, no more lamps, no more lanterns. One of the things that we had right in the middle of the farm was a lamp light.
It was a light that lit the path, floodlight really, on a post that lit the path between the house and the barn. And what we used to do as kids is we would run toward the light and then we'd run far from it, and we noticed that the farther we ran, the more shadow we had. The longer the shadow became, the farther we ran. But when we got close to the lamp, our shadow became smaller and smaller and smaller under the yard light. And then what we'd do is stand directly under and see whether or not we could actually have no shadow at all.
Now, we couldn't have none at all because there would still be a bit of a shadow, but it would be very small and very insignificant. You see, folks, the further we get from Christ, the longer the shadows, the darkness. Remember this, we are only as sick as our darkest secrets. And that part of us that we deny, that part of us that we justify, that part of us that we don't deal with, that sense of guilt and self-incrimination that we feel because we know that we have sinned and we have alienated ourselves from God, that part of us needs to be brought to the light so that in openness and humility, as we come to Jesus Christ, we then begin to walk in the light that he came to bring us. Remember the words of Jesus, men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. It's the old story of going into a musty basement and flipping on the switch and suddenly you see all of these vermin scatter in all these different directions. That's the way it is when you and I are exposed to the light.
We want to maintain our darkness because it is in darkness that we are comfortable. But the minute we come to Jesus Christ, isn't it interesting that when we expose our lives to him, when we open our life and our sins are uncovered in his presence, he is there now to cover them. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered, the Bible says. And this happens as a result of our faith and trust in him. I urge you today, come to Christ.
He knows all about you anyway. You may think that you are hiding from others and you may be, but you cannot hide from Jesus because the Bible says that all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. So you and I come to a Christ who already knows about us, but now we come owning our own sin and our own darkness and we come to receive healing, forgiveness, and help. And just like sunlight can bring about healing, in the very same way, the Son of God brings healing to our own hearts. So remember that the light that exposes us, that reveals us is also the light that heals us. And then finally, let us keep in mind that light and darkness cannot coexist. Light and darkness cannot coexist. There is a legend about a cave that said to itself, you know, there is darkness here, but the sun has never experienced any darkness. So in the legend, the cave invites the sun to come beneath the earth into the cave so that the sun might experience darkness. So the sun took the cave up on the opportunity and came and of course the sun came and says, where is the darkness? It's not here.
It's not any place that I can see. Because when the light comes, darkness must dissipate and you cannot live with both light and darkness. Now you and I all have some light and darkness within us, of course, because we are imperfect pictures of God and of eternity. But at the end of the day, when we receive Jesus Christ into our lives as the light, it is then that we are able to walk in light and not walk in darkness, as he has indicated. Remember this, light and darkness throughout the entire New Testament, they are not only distinct in this life, but also in the life to come.
Remember that story that I told you in a different context about a miser who was dying. And as he was there about to die, he told his daughter to blow out the candle and she said, but daddy, you might need something. And he said, I don't need any light to die. He lived in darkness.
He died in darkness. That's why the Bible speaks about hell as outer darkness, outer darkness, darkness forever. But then I want you to think of the contrast and it is a wonderful contrast of the fact that those who know Christ as Savior, what is their destiny? The Bible says in the book of Revelation, they need no sun, light of the sun, nor of the moon to shine upon them. For the Lord God giveth them light, and the Lamb is the lamp. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and their honor into it. And there is no night there because they walk with God in light.
What a difference light makes. Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Come to him as somebody who has never experienced God, who's never experienced conversion. Come to him also as a believer and know that you will be received and forgiven and cleansed so that you can walk with him in light. It was the famous philosopher and mathematician Pascal. And by the way, someday I'll tell you about his conversion.
It was remarkable indeed, Pascal's conversion to Christianity. But he says, in faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows for those who don't. There's enough light if you want to believe. You come to Christ. He is the light. But if you want to retain your darkness, there are enough shadows that can enable you to reject Christ and go on without him.
In a moment we're going to be singing together. Light of the world, you step down into darkness. Open my eyes, let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore you.
Hope of a life spent with you. Jesus came to dissipate the darkness. I and I alone am the light of the world. Let's pray together, shall we? Our Father, we want to thank you today for your goodness to us in giving us the gift of light.
We ask today that you will help all those who have listened. May all of us come to the light. We pray, Father, for those who deny their darkness, those who continue on not knowing what they stumble over, not knowing that what they are looking for cannot be found in darkness. May they come to Christ as the light of the world. And now before I close this prayer, if you need to talk to the Lord, why don't you talk to him right now about what God may have spoken to you about?
Would you speak to him? Hear the prayers of all those, Lord, who are coming to you now. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen. If you've been listening to the ministry of Running to Win for any length of time, you know that our emphasis is always on Jesus, always Jesus who is the light of the world, who came at Bethlehem. We love him. We celebrate him. We worship him. And because of people just like you, this ministry goes to different parts of the world.
For example, I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who listens to us in the Sudan. He says, I have no Christians around me and no mentors where I live. I cried out to the Lord asking him to send me help and understanding.
That night I found Running to Win and began listening daily. I felt that God was talking directly to me about how to manage my life and to follow his word and glorify him. That makes this ministry all worthwhile, doesn't it? It blesses my heart, and I know that you've been blessed because of testimonies just like this. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
In a moment, I'm going to be giving you some info, but I need to tell you I look at endurance partners as those who are part of the Running to Win family. Here's what you do to find out more information. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, because this is so critical, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again.
But during this Christmas season, thank you so much for standing with us. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
When you're there, look at some resources, but also click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The New Testament has 27 books, but some people wonder why there aren't more. Peggy listens to Running to Win on WYFG in Ashland, Virginia.
She has this question. What are your feelings about the Gospels according to Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Judas? Why were these books not added to the New Testament?
I'm so glad that you asked that question, Peggy, and I am ready with an answer. You know, during the days when the Da Vinci Code was news, I wrote a book entitled The Da Vinci Deception, and the Da Vinci Code, as you will remember, is basically based on this Gnostic Bible. Now, I have a copy of the Gnostic Bible, and it is just as thick as our regular Bible, and it has all of these Gnostic books. You mentioned only a very few of them. So why is it that these aren't in the Bible?
Well, let me give you a couple of reasons. First of all, they are spurious. That is to say, they are false writings for a couple of reasons. First of all, when you read them, you notice how different they are from the New Testament. You know, the New Testament has names of places of people in relationship to Jesus. It also has references to the Sea of Galilee and mountains and so forth.
What you will find is that these books refer to no historical events. These books actually were written by Gnostics. Now, that word Gnostic comes from the word knowledge. They believed that they had hidden knowledge, and much of this knowledge was derived from a mystical view of the world. Many of them were followers of Plato.
So what they tried to do is to harmonize the New Testament with Platonic writings, and that's basically what the Gnostic Gospels really are. One thing that we know, and every scholar admits, for example, is that their authorship is not genuine. That is to say, nobody believes that Thomas actually wrote the Book of Thomas.
Nobody believes these sorts of references. What scholars generally say is that they attributed their Gospels to somebody who was famous so that people would read them. Of course, when the New Testament says, I, Paul, am writing this, we believe very deeply that it is authentic that Paul wrote these books. You have no such assurance in the Gnostic Gospels.
And the bottom line is this, the late date. You know, the New Testament, by and large, is a reference to eyewitness accounts. You know, John was there when Jesus was crucified and when he was raised and so forth. The Gnostic Gospels occurred about 150 to 200 years after our regular Gospels were written. So as a result, you find a lot of speculation, but you have no historical verification.
Let me put it to you this way. Whose account of, say, George Washington would you want to believe? Somebody who knew George Washington? Who saw him? Who interacted with him? Or somebody who speculated about Washington 150 years after he lived and tried to combine his beliefs with some philosophy that meant something to somebody.
So that's what we are really confronted with. You may be aware of the fact that recently it has been said that Jesus might have been married because there was some kind of a reference to Jesus and Mary Magdalene in a small scrap of manuscript that existed. And that manuscript also goes back to about the third or fourth centuries.
So of course it is spurious. We do not have any assurance that it is based on historical fact. We have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with some rather detailed accounts of Christ. And yet, of course, there's no reference to Jesus marrying anyone.
And most of us would believe that that would have been impossible because of who Jesus was and all of the theological implications. The 27 books that we have in the New Testament, they were accepted by the church over a period of time. And since that time, no book has had a serious claim to the canon. Yes, there have been those who have wanted to add to the New Testament, but when you read the books that they want to add, even when you read them, you don't get the sense of divine inspiration. And furthermore, many of these books contradict the 27 books of the New Testament. So we need to believe that God preserved his word, and most assuredly, the Gnostic gospels are not the word of God.
If you don't believe me, just pick up a Gnostic Bible and begin to read them, and you'll see that they are filled with many foolish ideas, and they simply do not have the earmarks of authenticity. Thank you, Peggy, for your question. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for helping us understand which books belong in the New Testament. 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. At Christmas, we'd rather not think about the end of life. Next time on Running to Win, why the eternal life Jesus makes possible for believers means that death is not the end. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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