Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many people think they somehow have to earn their way into heaven.
They don't realize how much that would cost. When Jesus cried out, it is finished, He was signaling to all who could hear Him that His imminent death would pay that debt in full. Please 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, I'm so glad that it was finished because that means there's nothing I can ever do to add to what he did for me. And you know, Dave, the reason that there are so many people who need this message is because they lack assurance of their salvation. And what I'd like to emphasize is that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, as you've already mentioned, He did all that ever will be necessary for us to stand in God's presence. And the better we understand the cross, the more assurance that we have. That's why I've written a book entitled Cries from the Cross, and this is one of the last days that we are making this resource available. 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. Let us rejoice that indeed Jesus paid it all. Jesus died for great sins, and these are Luther's words now, He died for damnable iniquities.
And come to think of it, all iniquities are damnable because they would all send us to hell. So I say to you today, my dear friend, that when Jesus said, it is finished, it is finished. What did He mean when He said it is finished? He said the sufferings are finished. He said redemption for us as sinners, I'm talking about us now, is finished. And the defeat of Satan is finished. In Colossians chapter 2, there's a marvelous story of what happened at the Cross. You know, if you had a videotape and you looked at the Cross only with human eyes, you wouldn't see what was happening because there were all kinds of battles going on in the spiritual world. Satan was opposing Christ.
And it says in Colossians chapter 2, He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us. He took it away, nailing it to the Cross, having disarmed the powers and the authorities, that's the devil. He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross.
Use your imagination for a moment. I want you to see that when Jesus died, what was really happening was this, that that loathsome beast, the serpent, the devil was trying to strike the heel of the seed of the woman and that's all that he could do. And the scripture says that the seed of the woman, namely Christ, was crushing his head. So the loathsome beast with all of his spangs and all of his accusations and all of his poison is trying to undo what Jesus is doing, but he cannot. And now I want you to see this and I know you can't see my feet because the pulpit is in the way, but I'm taking my shoe like this and I am rubbing the heel right into the carpet. I want you to imagine that this heel is being rubbed right into the asphalt, taking the head of the serpent and just crushing him and taking out all of his life.
That's what Jesus did on the cross. He disarmed him. I want you to visualize a courtroom scene, okay? Because in the Old Testament it says that a man by the name of Joshua, not the Joshua the commander, but a different Joshua, was standing in the presence of the Lord, clothed in filthy garments, and Satan was standing next to accuse him because he is the accuser of the brethren. So who's in the courtroom? You're there.
I can see you there. God is there. The devil is there. So what does the devil do?
He accuses and this is what he says. He says, first of all, God, if you were to take these people to heaven, you would defile the courts of heaven. Look at the abominable sinners they are. Furthermore, what the devil is saying is to you and to me, don't you know that you've sinned too much? Don't you understand that you really did cross some important boundaries and that you are outside of the boundaries of what God can forgive? You have no right to go into heaven. And then what he argues quite plausibly is that everybody should suffer the same fate as he, namely to be in eternity forever paying for their sin and the lake of fire, which is what he's going to have to do. And he's arguing that it would only be just if everybody else did the same thing. The apostle Paul here visualizes that above the cross, all of our sins were written on some kind of a cosmic bulletin board.
That's what he says. He says that Jesus Christ took all of these sins and all of these accusations, even though the accusations in themselves are just because we are miserable sinners, and God took them and he nailed them to the cross and he took them away so that when Jesus said to Telestai, paid in full, we can turn to the devil and said, you might be right about the extent of my sin, but you are not right about the extent of my personal punishment because Jesus bore it for me. Be gone, for it is written who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Yea, rather that is risen again and who is even now on the right hand of the throne of God who also make up intercession for us.
Devil to Telestai paid in full. By the way, how do you handle the accusations of the devil when you sin and Satan comes to you? And by the way, I'm toying with the idea of preaching a series of messages entitled what to do after you sin. I think that would be relevant, wouldn't it? Now don't look so pious, you folks.
Only you know how very relevant it would be. How do you handle the accusations? So the average person continues to commit the same sin because he says I've blown it anyway and there's no use standing up. Do you look into your life and say, well God, I'm not as bad as this shame within my heart would lead others to believe because after all I did do some good things. Or do you try to say to yourself, okay, it is bad but on the other hand, I also want you to know that in my own heart of hearts, I really do desire you. Listen, if you talk to the devil like that, he will have you for lunch.
You'll have you for lunch. You must always talk to him by saying to Telestai, it is finished. What happened at the cross?
What is involved in the it? Jesus said the suffering, my suffering is over. He's saying your redemption is complete. And then he says, the defeat of Satan has already happened.
It's already a done deal. How do we bring this down? Let me give you three important lessons. First of all, I want you to know that the issue is not the greatness of your sin, but the worth of the sacrifice. The issue is not the greatness of your sin. It is the worth of the sacrifice. I remember in my short life meeting people who told me that they could not be forgiven because there were things in their life that were so terrible that if I knew them, I would agree with them that they could not be forgiven. Even in this audience today, there could be people that if the truth were known, you've committed crimes, you've, you've done evil, you've deceived and you say to yourself, it isn't for me. But I want you to know today that while it's much better to live a good life than to live a bad life, that the real issue so far as God is concerned is not the greatness of the sin. The real issue is the wonder of the completeness of the sacrifice and the one who on the cross said it is completed.
It's done. The sacrifice has been made. Remember that old line that frequently is asked Christians. This, this is a common question that people, I get this frequently when I explain the gospel to people. They'll always say something like this.
Do you mean to tell me, notice how the question begins because obviously they're headed for a very specific target. Do you mean to tell me that there could be somebody out there who murders others and because he believes on Jesus in his death bed, on his death bed, he gets to go to heaven whereas a good, sane, decent person who's never done any of those things goes to hell? That's the way the question is asked and it's usually approximately in that tone, though not quite as loud. The whole point is to make the gospel appear ridiculous. I mean, that's stupid, but I want you to know today that the answer is yes, but I need to explain why the answer is yes. God says, I think so much of what Jesus Christ did on the cross that I can even forgive a murderer if he believes in him, but I cannot forgive a good, sane, tax paying, decent citizen who doesn't believe on him.
That's a wonder of the sacrifice. This society of ours needs to hear what I'm going to say next. Of course they need to hear everything I've said so far, I think.
It's a humble opinion. Whenever you add to it is finished. You subtract from it. If you take the word love and you say, well, you know, I like the word love, but I'd like to add a letter. You get something else.
It's no longer love. The minute you begin to say that I need to contribute towards it, I need to get my life straightened up so that I'm worthy of grace. You do not then understand grace.
Grace accepts you as you are. If you are willing to transfer all of your trust to Jesus and accept what he did on the cross. To tell us, it is finished. Second lesson. This gets difficult now. I don't like to preach about these things any more than you like to hear me preach about them, but those who pay for their own sin will never be able to say to tell us die.
It is finished. You see, even if you do not accept Christ as savior and you say, I'm going to bear my own sin. And I remember talking to somebody who said, I'm going to stand before God on the basis of my own record. I will not accept the record of somebody else. I will not accept Jesus.
I'm willing to stand there on your own record and you will suffer eternally. And in a hundred million years, you still will not be able to say it is finished. Will never be finished for you. Never, never be finished. Because Jesus suffered in a few hours of time, what all of the eternities of hell can never owe to a holy God.
Here's a final lesson. That is, of course, that the need to accept Jesus Christ is urgent. Now I'm going to tell you about some of my pet peeves at this point as to how the gospel is sometimes presented by very well-known and very well-meaning people. Sometimes you hear people to say, yeah, you should get saved.
Everybody awake now? You should commit yourself to Christ. I think that kind of terminology confuses the issue. What am I supposed to do to commit myself to Christ? I know that Paul says he was committed to Christ and I'm committed to Christ and I hope you are, but that's confusing terminology. We don't come to the cross to commit ourselves when we're talking about salvation.
We don't come to give anything. We come to receive. I like much better the words of the hymn, nothing in my hand I bring, but simply to thy cross I cling. Now that's getting closer to the essence of the gospel. Or sometimes you hear people saying you should make, and they're speaking to non-Christians now, you should make a promise to follow Christ. Oh my, follow Christ? What's following Christ? And furthermore, I follow him today and I fail tomorrow. Where does that leave me? I like this terminology. Best way I know how to put it, and if you can improve on it, you should come and tell me later how you would have used a better term. That what we must do is to accept Christ as our sin bearer.
We must accept him as the one who died for sinners and say that he died in my place receiving the judgment that I should have received, and I accept that and embrace it because I'm a miserable sinner who cannot save myself. This past week I was listening to somebody who was talking about an eccentric preacher. I suppose some like that exist, don't they? Eccentric preachers? Who would get a crowd by taking his umbrella, pushing it into the mud, walking around it long enough until a crowd gathered.
I'd say that's eccentric. But when he was doing this, a young man shouted out in sort of a sarcastic way, what must I do to be saved? And the preacher said to him, it's too late. He said, you mean I can't be saved? The preacher said, I didn't say that. But according to your question, what must you do to be saved?
It's too late. Well, as you know, the point that he was trying to make is simply this, that it is done. It is finished. But what you and I must do is to transfer our trust to Christ and say he is mine. And when you do that, you not only are saved, but you have the assurance of salvation because you know that what Jesus Christ did on the cross is sufficient for you and that he died and his payment was accepted by the Father on your behalf and thereby your assurance rests. I conclude with a personal word from my own heart. As best as I know my sinful heart, I would like to trust Christ so completely and so entirely that if when I get to heaven, God says, trust in Christ is not enough.
You also had to bring something else. I'd be damned forever because all of my faith was in Christ alone. I don't believe that God is going to require anything else.
And I'll tell you why. No wonder we sing lifted up was he to die. It is finished was his cry. Now in heaven exalted high. Hallelujah. What a savior.
There is none like him. And let us pray. Our Father, we thank you for these marvelous words of Jesus. We thank you today that we can have assurance of heaven. We thank you today, Father, that we can say to the vilest of sinners who truly believes that moment from Jesus, a pardon receives.
And we know Father that he died for those who would believe on him and paid their debt. Now, my friend, what do you have to say to Jesus today? Would you come to him?
Would you receive him even where you are seated? Say, Jesus saved me. I come to trust you. Oh, Father, for those who are struggling within who have not yet come to peace, I pray that they may not be left alone. I pray that they may not sleep at night. I pray, Father, that their week would be a week in which they seek you. And I pray, O God, please don't let them.
Please don't let them go until you've saved them. And for those who know you, we pray that you might not let us go until we have been reminded of your work in our hearts and the cleansing of the blessed Holy Spirit. Do that, O Father, we ask in Jesus name.
Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, and I most assuredly hope that you personally have come to saving faith in Christ and have entered into what we can call the full assurance of faith. But perhaps you've also wondered how you can witness to your friends, your neighbors, your relatives. I hold in my hands a book entitled, Cries from the Cross, a Journey into the Heart of Jesus.
I believe that this resource will be of tremendous blessing and help and introduce the gospel in a way that they will be able to understand much better what the cross of Jesus Christ and redemption is all about. Ask for the book, Cries from the Cross. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I want to emphasize again that this is one of the last days that we are making this resource available. It's entitled Cries from the Cross. Here's what you do.
Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I believe that this book will bless you. It will bless all who read it. And I want to thank you in advance for helping us with your prayers and with your gifts, because it is this message of the cross that is going around the world thanks to people just like you. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.
It's only right that we be concerned for the lost, especially those close to us. That concern has led one of our listeners to ask one of the big questions about redemption. We know Christ is the only way to salvation, but what about the people who lived before Christ? Where does their salvation come from? Well, thank you for your question.
And first of all, let me clarify a certain number of matters. The people in the Old Testament that lived before the time of Jesus, they were saved also on the basis of Jesus Christ. Now, mind you, they had to offer sacrifices as an indication of their obedience, as an indication of their faith, but the sacrifices didn't save them. It was their faith that saved them. And they were saved on credit.
Just like you might go to a store today with a credit card and you don't pay for that refrigerator, but you do enjoy the refrigerator, but payment eventually comes due. That's why David and Abraham and men like him in the Old Testament and all the prophets and all the redeemed of the Old Testament, they were able to have fellowship with God. They communed with him because God set aside their sin for a time until Jesus would come. And then Jesus took away their sin, even as he has taken away ours. However, with regard to those who do not know Christ as savior, remember again that God will judge everyone on the basis of what they did with what they knew. And if they lived up to the truth that they had, that didn't mean that they were saved, but it did mean that their judgment would be less severe. And so what we need to do is to understand that salvation has always been through Jesus Christ in the sense that anyone who is saved in Old Testament or New Testament is saved because of Christ. But we also need to understand that for those who do not believe in Christ, they will be judged according to their works. And this judgment will be fair. It will be just. And at the end of the day, we will sing as the book of Revelation indicates, Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Indeed, as the Bible says, salvation is of the Lord. 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. Next time, the final words of Jesus from the cross, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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