Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. At Christmas, we'd rather not think about the end of life, but the eternal life Jesus makes possible for those who believe means that death is not the end. In one sense, it becomes the beginning of the real life we were meant to have.
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, most of us hold our lives dear and would rather not think about the death we all face. Well Dave, the truth be told, we don't like to think about our death, do we? And yet at times, it becomes very apparent that that's where we are going, and if I might say, and frequently I do emphasize, that the statistics on death are very impressive.
We can live in denial only so long. But isn't it wonderful that we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to give us life and to give us eternal life and that more abundantly. We love him and we are so glad that we have the opportunity to share his message with the world. I'm holding in my hands a book now. I wish that I could give you this book so that you could hold it so that you could learn more about God's creation. 365 readings for every day of the new year, all color illustrated. For example, do you understand the cactus? I'm looking right now at a picture of a cactus and a description of what happens and why it survives. Fascinating. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The one who came to give us life is also the creator and him we worship. Well, how are you all doing with Christmas? I always remind you every year of the little boy who used to pray, forgive us our Christmases even as we forgive those who Christmas against us. Christmas is a very busy time of year and it's a time also when people begin to think about their health. And I think it's true to say that we live in a society that is somewhat obsessed with good health. There's some goodness to that. There may also be some negatives. By the way, I heard of a husband who gave his wife membership to a health club one Christmas and he promised her that she would lose weight. Very bad, very bad Christmas present to give your wife. A year later she said, you promised that I would lose weight and I haven't lost a pound. He said, I forgot to tell you the membership itself isn't enough.
You actually have to go there once in a while. Yes, people are obsessed with their physical health. But you know, in the end we lose that battle. Like a hen before a cobra, the time is going to come when there's nothing that we can do, no matter how we dance, no matter how we try to talk ourselves out of it, suddenly there we will be and death will come to us. Now the Bible teaches that every person who has ever lived upon the planet and who is alive today has eternal existence, eternal existence, conscious eternal existence. But there's also a category of people who will have eternal existence but they will have what the Bible calls eternal life, eternal life and what a difference that is.
You know, C.S. Lewis who said some remarkable things and I'm going to read one of those remarkable things to you. He said every human being is in the process of becoming a noble being, noble beyond imagination or else alas a vile being beyond redemption. He exhorts us to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which if you saw it now you'd be strongly tempted to worship or else that person might be a horror and a corruption such as you now meet if only in a nightmare. He says there are no ordinary people. It is immortals whom we joke with, whom we work with, whom we marry, whom we snub and exploit, immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
Wow. That's what happens one minute after you die and we're all going there. But eternal life, that's what C.S.
Lewis is referring to regarding those categories who if you saw them now they would be so tempted for us to worship them because of their beauty. Those kinds of beings, they are the ones who have eternal life. And later on in this message if you stay with me for the next few moments I'm going to explain to you what that eternal life is, how you can have it and why it's something that you ought to have. I want your mouth, so to speak, spiritually speaking to be watering and say that's exactly what I want is the eternal life that the Bible lays out for us.
That's where we are going. Well, our text today is actually in 1 John. 1 John, and if you have your Bibles you know that 1 John is near the end of the New Testament. You have 1 John and then you have Jude and then you're at the book of Revelation. 1 John was written by the same man, the same apostle who wrote the Gospel of John. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. This is the same John and he wrote three small letters and this is known therefore as 1 John. Then we have 2 John and 3 John. And these are his writings. And what I'd like us to do is to see if we can the aspects, the aspects of eternal life that he lays out here for us.
Not eternal existence but eternal life. Let's just open the text to 1 John 1 and begin reading. That which was from the beginning which we have heard.
We have to stop. What beginning? Well, I think it's the same beginning as in John 1, 1 as the letter of John because he says there in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In what beginning? In the beginning for all of eternity. Because for God there was no beginning.
In the beginning was. No matter whether you take the beginning to be creation or any other point in time, the fact is God existed before that. He existed from all of eternity and it is this word that became flesh as John is going to explain it to us. The first aspect is simply this, that the word is manifested. That's the translation that we have here. It says that which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on and touched with our hands concerning the life, the life was made manifest.
Now that's an old word, isn't it? We don't use that in regular English that we talk about something being made manifest. It really means revealed. What John is saying here is that in Jesus, in the word, God showed up. There's some of you who would say that you are seeking for God and if you are, I'm so glad that you are listening and the fact that you're a seeker is great because that means something good about you and maybe something wonderful is about to happen.
In the Bible you really come to the end of your search for God because in Jesus, God is revealed. He is manifested and John wants to talk about Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances, that is after Jesus was raised from the dead. You'll notice it says that which we have seen, that which we have heard, he begins by hearing. He says we actually heard Jesus speak. Now creation speaks about God but it does it with a great deal of ambiguity.
In creation, you would never know that God loved the world given all of the various kinds of natural disasters in the world. It speaks about God. It speaks about his love and his judgment but you couldn't figure him out but Jesus actually spoke to us so he says we were alive.
We knew him. We heard him and then it says we have seen him with our eyes and just imagine Jesus making this statement as he does in John chapter 14. He who has seen me has seen the father.
Oh that's so important. If you want to see God you read the New Testament. You read about Jesus and then he says goes on and he says whom we have touched. Now why would he say whom we have touched?
Why is that important? Well you know during these days there was Platonic philosophy. Do you remember the days of the Da Vinci Code and the Gnostic Jesus? Gnosticism was basically an attempt to unify Christianity with Greek philosophy particularly Plato's philosophy and that's why the Gnostic Gospels and I have in my possession a Gnostic Bible because I wrote a book about the Da Vinci Code.
When you read it it makes no pretense to be a historical document. It makes no reference to cities, towns, rivers, and so forth that is not like the New Testament. It is the musings of Platonic scholars trying to unify the Bible with Platonism and because Plato says that all matter is evil it was unthinkable in the minds of people that God could become a man. It would be like saying God is becoming evil and so they believe that when Jesus showed up he wasn't really a man and so they tried to take away the humanity of Jesus and say that he was some kind of an appearance. He was some kind of an apparition and that's why in the Gnostic Gospels they put into the mouth of Jesus anything that they want because he's not a Jesus who died on the cross and was raised. So John is saying we actually saw him and we touched him. He was real.
The most explosive verse in the Bible is not John 3 16 though that's the most known and the most beautiful and the most gospel centered but the one that just shattered the philosophical world of the day is actually John 1 14 and the word became flesh. God became man unthinkable to the Greeks but thankfully known to us as God a very God. My wife soon after we were married Rebecca worked at Allstate actually as a secretary and she had a boss who once said to her you know if I if when I die I show up and God is there I'm going to ask him well where have you been? Well where have you been? Certainly he should have seen God in creation and that should have created within this man's a desire to seek for God that's number one but God will say to him someday I did show up.
I did show up. Jesus came to reveal the father and whoever saw him saw the father because in Jesus God showed up and this man born in the United States of America would have no excuse because he could go into a bookstore you could buy a Bible he could go to churches that preach the gospel if he were really seeking God God was there for the finding but he said I want to say to God where have you been? Well I'll tell you where he's been he's been here on earth he was in Bethlehem and he died on the cross that's where he's been. You remember Phil Donahue those talk shows that he used to have one day he said you know if God loved the world why did he send his son to die?
Why didn't he do it himself? Phil in Jesus he did it himself. God was in flesh reconciling the world unto himself. So John says the life was manifested and then he says thirdly in the third aspect the life was proclaimed. You'll notice he says it is this word he uses the word we we've heard we've seen we've handled we've touched him and we now testify and proclaim to you this eternal life I think it's verse two we proclaim it to you and why wouldn't you proclaim a message like this and spread it abroad? Now the first time this particular message was proclaimed it was by angels on the outskirts of Bethlehem and then later on the shepherds themselves proclaimed the good news and then beyond that even we have of course the wise men but they didn't understand everything that John understood because they didn't understand the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus with the clarity with which John did because he was there for all of the events and so he says we proclaim this message to you first of all by words by words because you need to know the gospel you need to know that Jesus died for sinners and that his death is a substitute for those who believe on him so you proclaim it but you also have a sense of authenticity you proclaim it with your life you know in chapter two you'll notice at the bottom of the page in my bible at least you'll notice that John says verse six whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked why wouldn't a Christian who's come to saving faith in Christ who understands the glories of the gospel why wouldn't he share it with his colleagues at work to me it is unthinkable that you wouldn't to give him a book to read and or a small booklet and say look read this booklet and then we'll talk about it in two weeks let's go out for lunch and let's talk about it and and to share the good news remember in second kings chapter seven old testament there are four lepers and they are dying they are starving and they say we're going to go to the camp of the Syrians and if they kill us that's fine we're dying anyway but they might take care of us and they go into the camp and they discover that there is no Syrian there because what happened is they had had a false report and they all ran and they left all of their food and all of their belongings and all of their money and so these four guys are just having the most unbelievable party you just read about it I read it this morning I mean they are hauling off stuff for themselves and then they think you know we're not doing this right we ought to actually tell other people what we found a great idea how can you know Christ and not proclaim him that is to say share him with your colleagues and those at work of course you've been changed you understand the gospel you understand the need you understand the predicament that people are in you know that Jesus is the answer to their predicament and you and I perhaps not sharing with others the good news of the gospel so first of all he says God was revealed he was manifest secondly he says we proclaimed the message and we shared it and then third he says we enjoyed this eternal life we enjoyed this eternal life this past week someone said to me and I do not remember who whether it was a staff member or someone else they said something like this I'm surprised at the number of people at moody church to whom I talk who do not understand the gospel and who probably therefore are not saved wow I thought to myself that's disappointing because I thought I preached the gospel almost every Sunday virtually every Sunday if you're listening for it I think you know that it's here so what I'm going to do is to take just a moment so that you better understand eternal life and then the purpose of eternal life and I want you to leave here absolutely excited about eternal life and to let you know what Christmas is all about well this eternal life begins by being born again six times in this little letter of three or four chapters John mentions the phrase born again he says if a person is born again he who was born of God does not do this he that is born of God lives this way who in the world is this person who's born of God many years ago Rebecca and I were in Germany and we rented a car and we drove to Herrnhut you know that's where the Moravians lived and I wanted to go to the cemetery there they lived there in the 1700s and the reason choir listen carefully why I wanted to go to the cemetery is because the Moravians were so into music sometimes they sang music up to six hours at a time and they were buried in accordance with the choirs for example you belong to that choir this is your plot to be buried could you imagine a cemetery here in Chicago this is the Moody church choir from the year 1970 to 1990 and then you have the other folks buried over here because I suppose in the day of resurrection they'd just all get up and be ready to sing and everybody be on tune and they'd be ready to go Tim you've got a job to do get them ready not just for tonight's concert but a little bit beyond it so anyway we're looking for the cemetery and through a stroke of Providence that I will not take time to tell you about it was just of God we met a man who was on his way to the cemetery and who had a key to take us into a tower in the cemetery now he spoke only German so I had no alternative but to try my German on him and as we're walking along I knew that I had this guy only for five or ten minutes so obviously I wanted to share the gospel with him so I began asking him in German whether or not he was either a Gabor and did you hear that whether or not he was born again and he said to me born again he said I was born once why would I want to be born twice I just smiled that's exactly what Nicodemus said to Jesus Jesus said you must be born again he says well can I enter into my mother's womb and be born a second time he said obviously not so I had to explain to him he had to be born of the Holy Spirit through personal faith in Christ and I said to him in broken German that it doesn't happen through baptism it doesn't happen through confirmation it doesn't happen to do by going to church you know there used to be an evangelist by the name of Billy Sunday maybe you've not heard of him but in the 1920s great evangelist he was actually buried here and when I came to Moody Church a woman wrote me a letter who remembered Billy Sunday I suppose by now she is in heaven but she said he used to hop from this platform that I'm standing on to the lower one without using the stairs and and vice versa because he was into baseball and he'd say you know hit a home run for Jesus slide into home plate he must have been a very interesting guy to listen to but I remember a quote from Billy Sunday because he was right on when he said this going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than driving a wheelbarrow into a garage and it becoming a car and Billy Sunday was right you're not born again by going to church though to go to church is good by listening to sermons by admiring Jesus you're born again by faith when you recognize that you need a savior and you transfer all of your trust to what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross now and when that happens something else happens it is not just that God creates within us a new nature so that we begin loving God etc though all that happens and we become partakers of the divine nature and God gives us brand new loves and we begin to love Jesus and we begin to love God all that happens but something else happens and this is why it's so critical for you to listen to this message and that is that the whole sin issue between us and God is actually resolved and taken out of the way and that of course is only something that Jesus can do because because listen to me carefully for us to meet God we have to meet him on his terms not ours well no wonder I rejoice in the opportunity of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as I possibly can and I want to thank the many of you who help us who support this ministry and we have a very special resource for you it's a book entitled have you considered it's a hardback book 365 readings one for every day of the year fully illustrated what an opportunity for you to make an investment in the lives of your children grandchildren you're looking for a Christmas gift this would I think be a very helpful and profitable gift to give and thanks in advance you know during the Christmas season we are always thinking about how we can help others how we can be generous for a gift of any amount this book can be yours here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com I'll give you time to get a pen or a pencil so that you can write that down rtwoffer.com and as you frequently hear me say rtwoffer is all one word or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 remember that the savior who gave us light wants to use us to shed that light to the world thanks so much for helping us you can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life for those who believe that life is an eternal one next time being thankful for that new life thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church
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