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God, Yes, But Why Jesus? Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2023 1:00 am

God, Yes, But Why Jesus? Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 4, 2023 1:00 am

Many are into spirituality but are often offended by absolute truth claims. While some think all religions are equal and scoff at evangelism, Jesus stands alone. In this message from John 1, Jesus has three credentials that qualify Him: His deity, His humanity, and His ability to save. God has revealed Himself in the flesh.

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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.

These days you cannot say you have the truth without offending those around you. And when you say that Jesus is the truth, people become unglued. Today, a look at why Jesus is the only way to God.

Modern pundits notwithstanding, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Wind with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, you're beginning a two-message series on the increasing rejection of Christ in society. Tell us why you preached on God, yes, but why Jesus?

Well, you know, Dave, I have to clarify something. Our society thinks it is in love with Jesus. The problem is the Jesus of the modern age is not the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is a Savior, and he's the only one who actually has the qualifications to save us from our sins.

There's nobody else out there. And in order for us to make sure that we have good evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be, I've written a book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. And of course, if you can trust the Bible, you know that you can trust Jesus Christ. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Now, the reason this is so critical is because we're living in a day and age when the Bible is rejected and spoken against. Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible will be a great blessing and help to you as you think through why we believe what we believe. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Simply go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen as we're reminded that Jesus is the only one who can save. Ingmar Bergman, it is said, was standing in a cathedral in Europe and saw a picture of Christ. And he went up to the picture and said, speak to me. There was dead silence. And that apparently became the basis of a movie that this Swedish film director made entitled Silence.

I begin today with a question. Does God speak? Is he silent? Has he spoken? If so, who speaks on his behalf?

That's the question. Where can we go when we need a word from outside the universe? Where do we go when we want to hear a word from God? Many years ago, I attended the Parliament of World Religions here in the city of Chicago. Five thousand delegates met in the Palmer House for one full week discussing the possibility of unifying the religions of the world. There were several presuppositions that were in effect at this conference. The first was that no religion is superior to another.

As a matter of fact, of the 700 workshops that were available during the week, many of them were dedicated to the myth of superiority, what stood in the way of unity. The second presupposition was that doctrines should be thought of as traditions and not truths. Because if you think of them as truths, they are going to stand in the way of this grand unity.

But if they're traditions, well then you have your tradition and I have my tradition and we take the best of all of our traditions. The third presupposition was that proselytizing, that is we would call it evangelism, was a no-no. Because if I try to convince you to become a part of my religion, that is inherently this idea of superiority that we have to do away with because it is that notion that stands in the way of the grand unity for which this conference was dedicated. In fact, I remember that I met somebody on the elevator who said, I'm a Christian Buddhist. There were those who took verses of scripture and united them with transcendental meditation, with Hindu notions and ideas, and they put them together and like a smorgasbord, everybody can kind of pick and choose. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, to quote the words of Tom Paine who was a skeptic, he said, my church is within my mind. Whatever I accept, whatever is meaningful to me is mine.

Whatever is meaningful to you is yours. One night at the conference, the leader stood up and said, I want you to think of all the religions of the world as a wheel. On the level of the rim, we all have our disagreements and can't understand why anyone would hold to what the other person believes. But at the level of the hub, which he defined as the clear blue of sky, it is there that all the religions of the world are united.

You know that here in America we've gone from the idea that everyone has a right to his own opinion to the foolish notion that every opinion is equally right. Now today I'm going to begin a two-part series entitled God Yes, Everybody's Into God, Everybody's Into Spirituality, But Why Specifically Jesus? And I'm preaching this for two reasons. First of all, because there are some of you here that I'm talking to who would belong in the realm of skepticism. You kind of keep Christ at arm's length.

You know about him. You're even listening to this message, maybe through the encouragement of someone else, but you're absolutely convinced on an intellectual level that Christianity is on the same kind of plane as other religions and you want to put Jesus Christ with Krishna and with all of the other teachers and you are unwilling to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior. And I'm talking to you and I'll let you in on my agenda. I want to persuade you to believe in Jesus, to trust him as your personal savior.

That's where this message is going. There's a second reason why I am preaching it and that is the fact that there are some of you, there are some of you as believers, if someone were to ask you the question, well, don't you think Jesus is just one way among many? You might not be able to have an answer and I hope that after this second message particularly that comes next week, you'll be excited if someone says, well, you know, I think Jesus is just one way among many. I want to show you that Jesus is unique, that there's no one else like him. I want you to see that he alone has the qualifications of saviorhood. With that introduction, I want you to take your Bibles and turn with me to John chapter 1 verse 1. John chapter 1 verse 1. Now I can imagine that if you're a skeptic here, somebody might say, well, I don't even accept the Bible.

Well, for the moment, let me say that's okay. I want you to understand what the Bible says about Christ before you reject him. So no matter what level you are on in terms of unbelief or skepticism, please hear me out. John chapter 1 verse 1. Jesus, as we shall see, has three credentials, three credentials that qualify him to be a savior.

What are they? First of all, his divinity or his deity. Notice in John 1-1, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Why does John use the word word? Well, a word indicates communication, rationality. The Greek word is logos from which we get logic.

When I want to communicate what is in my mind and get it into your mind, I use words. Jesus is the intelligibility, the message, the communication of God. So he says in the beginning was the word, and later on it becomes very clear that the word is Christ because the word is made flesh. And notice what he says about this word. The word was in the beginning. He does not say that the word was created in the beginning. The word came to be at some point in time. In the beginning was, was the word.

The word was always there. And then, lest we should miss it, he says, and the word was God. The word was God.

And there's no other way, by the way, to logically and reasonably translate that. Clear statement of the complete deity of Christ. But now we come across a question, okay, so Jesus was God, but what about all the other gods? Maybe he was one God among other gods.

Maybe he is part of the gods of the New Age movement or the many, many gods, the hundreds of thousands of gods of Hinduism. What about Shirley MacLaine running out onto Malibu Beach years ago shouting, I'm God, I'm God, I'm God. Remember Colson's remark, aren't you glad she's wrong? But here we now face a question. We have Shirley MacLaine claiming to be God and we have Jesus claiming to be God and we've got a decision to make.

Now for some of us, if I may humbly suggest, the decision is not that difficult to make. But let me explain to you why it's not that difficult to make. Because you'll notice it says through him, verse 3, all things were made without him and nothing was made that has been made.

Wow. We're talking about a special kind of God here. We're talking about God as creator.

And what we're saying is, is that Shirley MacLaine, along with all the rest of us, were created by Christ and without him, nothing was made that was made. So the very breath that we breathe and the energy that we have to think and the mouth by which we can speak, all of that, all of that is given to us by the creator God. This is a special God. He is a God who is independent of the world. He is the creator. And could I say very quickly that one of the greatest sins mentioned in Romans chapter 1 is to confuse the creator with the creature. This is God. Second, first of all, his deity.

Second, his humanity. Now we come to the most explosive verse in all the Bible. You say, well, I thought it was John 3.16. No, John 3.16 is the most popular. John 3.16 is the most blessed perhaps, but it's John 1.14 that shatters the philosophical and religious world of its day just as it continues to do in our day. Notice it there in the text, verse 14. And the word became flesh.

This was so revolutionary. Why was it so difficult to accept in those days? It's because of Plato. Plato believed that all flesh was evil.

He believed that flesh was evil because it was changing. Plato says in order for it to something to be perfect, it had to be timeless and unchangeable. Perhaps an example is mathematics. Two plus two is equal to four.

And that's true even if you have a fever. In other words, it's unrelated to human experience and Plato was impressed by that. So to the Greeks and the influence of Plato, they would have read this and they'd have said, and the word became imperfect or the word became evil. Of course, the early church fought that heresy and tried to explain why it's possible for the word to become flesh, but it's at this point also that we have the great divide even today.

We need to explain to our Muslim friends, and I'm sure that some of them are listening. And I want to say that here at the church, we welcome all kinds of ideas and people to come and to listen and to investigate because we believe that Christianity will not suddenly evaporate if it is looked at carefully. But I want you to know here that we come to the crux of the Christian faith. The fact that God not only came alongside of flesh, that would have been easier to accept, or that even he assumed a human body, that would have been easier to accept. But the idea that the word became flesh was an unthinkable idea in those days, and it still is today among those who believe that to believe that God became a man is blasphemy, some people teach. I want you to know that this is the uniqueness of the Christian faith because what we're saying is this.

Follow it now. That God became flesh without compromising his fundamental unity and without compromising his holiness. Jesus was a sinless human being, to be sure, but he became one with us, and he bridged the gap between God and man. You see, if Jesus Christ were not fully God, he would be like a bridge broken at the farthest end.

If he were not fully man, he would be like a bridge broken at the nearest end. Either way, he could not bring man and God together, but this ability, this wondrous ability for him to become flesh, and that's why we celebrate Christmas and we rejoice in the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh. What a beautiful mystery.

What a saving mystery it is. And as a result of that, Jesus Christ can therefore be a savior. Now, I need to pause here and say that it is difficult for me to see how you can have any kind of salvation that meets God's holy requirements without believing in the Trinity. You'll notice it's right here in the text how beautifully expressed we read verse 1, the word was God, and verse 2, he was with God in the beginning.

What kind of sense would that make? Except for the fact that Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, he dies on the cross as a sacrifice for us and meets the requirements of God the Father. All the while, God is unified in essence because there is only one God, but it's the beauty of the Trinity that enables us to sing with Wesley, and can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior's blood, and then to say that thou, my God, shouldst die for me. Salvation is holy of God. You see, if Jesus had not been God, his death on the cross would not have purchased our redemption because God would not be therefore the author of salvation.

He'd have delegated the dirty work to someone else to die. But God would only accept himself as a payment, and that happened in Jesus. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Let's go on to a third credential of Jesus. The first is his deity, the second is his humanity, and the third, we could say, is his ability.

He can do what nobody else can do. I'm still in verse 14. The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. In Greek, it's very interesting that the word there, schema, really means tabernacle or tent. And what John wants us to understand is this, that Jesus Christ now replaces the tabernacle of the Old Testament. Now, what was the tabernacle of the Old Testament?

It was a construction of 45 feet long, 15 feet wide. One third of it was known as the holy of holies that could only be entered once a year. The other two thirds was known as the holy place, and that's where worship took place. And it was to be the only place that the people were to really worship God, to bring their sacrifices, to bring their gifts, and to worship. Well, we don't do that anymore, do we?

Why don't we? It's because of Jesus. Think with me very quickly what that tabernacle represented, and we'll see how Jesus Christ replaces it. First of all, as I mentioned, it was a place of worship. Today we don't have to go to that tabernacle and worship. We can worship Christ all over the world, as Jesus said to the woman at the well, the day is coming when you shall worship not in Jerusalem or in Gerizim, but in spirit and in truth everywhere, and we can worship Christ. The veil of the temple was torn in two.

Why? Because the entry of that high priest into the holy place which happened on one day a year, we now have the same access through Jesus at any time when we pray in his name. And it was indeed a place of worship, and today we worship Christ.

At O'Hare Field, I was in line for a ticket agent, and I noticed someone who seemed to have a religious book in his hand. I didn't know exactly what the book was, so I struck up a conversation with him, and he said that he was a Jehovah's Witness. Now, you need to know that the Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus Christ is fully God.

They kind of believe that he was a kind of God or a lesser God. So I asked him, I said, you know, I have a question. I said, do you worship Jesus? And he said yes. And I said to him with a smile on my face, because one always should be smiling when you say these things to lessen the impact and to help the relationship. Well, that's true. That's true.

You always smile when you say this. I said, don't you realize that on the basis of your premises, you're an idolater. The Bible is very clear that Jehovah says, you shall worship me alone and worship no other gods. You are worshiping something other than Jehovah, because in your theology, Jesus is not Jehovah. And at that point, we had to go our separate ways.

He went one way and the other way. I'm just trying to defend Jesus wherever Jesus plants me. So we worship Christ unashamedly. This is Pastor Lutzer. If you've never fallen in love with Jesus, I hope you will.

If you've trusted him as Savior, tell him that you love him and you want to love him more and defend him better. That's why I've written the book entitled, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. I want you to have a confidence in Scripture. I want you to be able to defend the Scripture in an age in which the Scripture is rejected, in an age in which the Scripture is not only neglected, but often spoken against. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Ask for seven reasons why you can trust the Bible.

Hope that you have a pen or pencil so that you can write this down. You can go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but thanks in advance for helping us.

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. One Running to Win listener wants some details about the unseen supernatural realm. Carmen asks, I know that Lucifer took one third of the angels down with him. Please explain, is there a difference between a fallen angel and a demon?

Carmen, the answer to your question is no, there is not a difference. By the way, the fact that we believe that Satan took a third of the angels with him is based on the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation, where it says that the dragon, his tail drew one third of the stars. And because stars are sometimes referred to as angels, and in that particular context, it appears as if that's a historical reference to the past, when Satan rebelled and took a third of the angels with him. But the Bible speaks about the devil and his angels, because the word angel means messenger. But in answer to your question, these are demons, and they decided to side with Lucifer in his rebellion.

And of course, they're going to pay the consequences of their disobedience throughout all of eternity. Thanks for your question, Carmen. God bless and keep standing for the truth. And 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 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. If you were near death in a hospital, you'd want the truth about your condition.

Mere opinions wouldn't cut it. Finding out the truth about your spiritual condition and its remedy has to be job one. Next time on Running to Win, more about why Jesus is the only road that leads to God. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-05 04:02:59 / 2023-01-05 04:11:27 / 8

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