Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Most sports take quite a physical toll on those who strive for victory.
It's no different in the race of life. It's only through some hard knocks that we learn to help others face their hard knocks. Learning to endure hardness was advice Paul gave, advice you and I need to hear in this age of self-gratification.
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 sensing that enduring hardness may become very real in the days ahead for believers and for everyone. You know, Dave, it's always been difficult to be a Christian, but here in America especially, it is increasingly difficult. I won't even begin to tell you about the challenges, because you already know them, that Christians face in an unholy world. That's why I've written the book entitled Holy Living in an Unholy World. The subtitle is Balancing Love, Law and Grace. This is a very practical book. It isn't a book about theology per se, but rather the application of theology to the decisions and the difficulties of life, navigating a culture that clearly has lost its way.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours, and I want to mention that today is the last day that we are making this resource available. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337, the name of the book Holy Living in an Unholy World. And in order to do that, we need to listen to God's word.
I hope that you've seen two things already so far. First of all, in Paul's trials and in his triumphs, does he not mirror Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is spoken of as the suffering servant. You think of all the sufferings that he went through, and then he said he did not come to be ministered onto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many. You look at the life of the apostle Paul and you say, Paul, you must be a follower of Jesus.
You're acting like Jesus, about whom it is said that when he was reviled, he reviled not again. When he suffered, he uttered no threats, but kept committing himself unto him who judges righteously. What is God trying to do in the life of the apostle Paul? God is saying, Paul, when people see the way they hassle you, and when they see the way you respond, which is so different from what would be expected, that is going to give your message credibility. It is going to make you authentic and believable.
Now let's go on to a third category here. Paul gives his testimony. We've had the trials of the servant, we've had the triumphs, and now we have the testimony of the servant. And I need to tell you what I thought about as I was looking at this up and down, almost like a yo-yo. Some of you have heard my rather humorous news report, which actually goes on for about five or six minutes when I get wound up. But I remember that one of the lines is this, and some of the people on the platform are already snickering.
I'm glad to know that. But one of the lines is this, that a ship carrying 100 metric tons of yo-yos hit a reef off the coast of Florida yesterday afternoon. The vessel sank and resurfaced 64 times. Now, I look at this and I read the passage of scripture and I say, Paul, you seem to be sinking and resurfacing at least nine times. Notice the expressions that he uses here. He says, first of all, in glory and dishonor.
In glory and dishonor. Sometimes I'm popular, he says, and sometimes I am regarded with reproach. An evil report and a good report. He says, sometimes there are those who speak well of me and he's talking here about those who speak behind his back.
A good report and then there are those who bring an evil report. And all of these things are swirling behind my back and there's nothing that I can do to really substantiate myself. I have to entrust my reputation to God. I have to make sure that my conscience is clear before God that the ministry be not blamed. But ultimately I have to punt the ball to God because I can't control what people say. Some give a good report, some an evil report.
Notice the next one. He says deceiving yet true. People made up false stories about the apostle Paul and they said he's a deceiver. And then there were others who said, oh no, no, no, no. He speaks the truth and so you have a debate about him.
Notice what else? Unknown yet well known. There are those who said, why do you follow the apostle Paul? Nobody's ever heard about him.
He's not as famous as Peter. And then there are those who said, well, he was well known as a persecutor of the church. And on and on this kind of an activity the apostle Paul had to put up with. Dying, he says, behold, we live. Elsewhere he says, hour by hour my life has been in jeopardy. He said, I die daily and when he was stoned, that is to say that when he had rocks thrown at him at Lystra and when he was brought to life, it was like a resurrection.
And that's what he is referring to here. Dying, behold, we live. As punished yet not put to death. And so the apostle Paul says that as a result of his experiences, he was punished by others which was used as a discipline of God and yet he's alive.
He survived. Sorrowful yet rejoicing. Isn't that a picture of the Christian life?
We grieve but not as those who have no hope. And then he says, poor yet making many rich. Financially poor, he had nothing that he could depend upon and yet spiritually very rich because of the wealth that he had in Jesus Christ. Rich toward God and communicating that riches to others. And finally, as having nothing, Paul says, and yet possessing all things. What a wonderful passage of scripture that the apostle Paul gives us. He tells us his trials, he tells us his triumphs, and then he gives us his testimony of God's grace through it all.
How do we take all this and filter it down so that it becomes practical for you and for me and so that we can apply it? Three very important principles that we need to draw from this passage of scripture. First of all, credibility. Credibility comes through servanthood.
Credibility comes through servanthood. Some of you are new converts. You've received Jesus Christ as your savior recently. And you've had the experience of going home and sharing with your friends and your family and say, why don't you believe on Jesus too?
Look at what Jesus has done. And they don't believe at all. In fact, they think that you are really quite, you've been derailed. And they think that you are weird. They think that you don't fit the normal pattern of human experience. And they reject you. And they deride you. And they disbelieve your gospel.
How do you handle a situation like that? You become a servant of the people to whom you are witnessing. Paul says it is through servanthood that we gain credibility.
That's what he's talking about. He says, we're recommending ourselves as servants. You begin to serve. And as a result of service, God begins to use the message which people reject verbally and show that it is a message that should be investigated. Lauren Sani, who for many years was head of Navigators, when the Navigators emphasized servanthood, somebody asked him one time, they said, how do you know whether you have the attitude of a servant? Very good question. He said, you know that you have the attitude of a servant by the way in which you respond when you are treated like one. That's a very good answer. One day there were some disciples who were arguing as to who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Big debate. And Jesus said, look, you're talking like the pagans. You're talking like the Gentiles. That's the way the world thinks.
But it's not supposed to be like that among you. In fact, if anyone among you is going to be great, let him be as this little child. Let him be the servant of all. And the bottom line, the Jesus is saying, very important principle, because especially in some cultures the number of servants that you have was a sign of prestige. What Jesus is saying is it is not the number of people that serve you that is important. It is the number of people whom you serve that is significant and is the mark of greatness.
That is what gives your life the authenticity that we all seek. And that's why Jesus was so believable is because he did not come to lord it over people. He came to serve. And as a result of serving, people saw that he spoke the truth. So the first principle is credibility comes through servanthood. The second is that servanthood leads to or is made credible by suffering, by suffering.
That really then begins to get the gap between life and lip closed. Where what you believe and the way in which you behave now suddenly becomes one when you're in a position of suffering. It was Charles Coulson who said that whenever God allows people in the world to get cancer, he also allows Christians to get cancer so that the world can see the difference.
You see because that's what gives credibility. It's Tom Condron calling me two days before he died and said, Erwin, goodbye. I will see you in heaven. I will never forget that conversation.
Never as long as I live. How deeply I was affected by it. Dying with such confidence that he said that all the promises of God have been made true to him as he lay on his deathbed.
Now that's what you mean by credibility. So servanthood leads to suffering and finally suffering leads to salvation. It leads to salvation. I do not mean that through your suffering you are saved.
Let me be very clear about that. I mean that through your suffering others are brought to salvation. That was true in the life of Jesus Christ. You know Jesus died in many respects like other criminals died. Crucifixion in those days was very common but there was something about Jesus that was so incredibly unique. There was something about Jesus, the way in which he was able to accept his fate with a sense of forgiveness.
Rather forgive them for they know not what they do. He accepted it with a sense of resignation to the will of God who when he was reviled did not revile in return but accepted it. People who looked upon him were impressed and while he was on the cross the Bible says a centurion gazing at Jesus said, surely, surely this is the son of God. It's because of his suffering and as a result of his suffering salvation came to that centurion and salvation comes to you and to me as well. And it is through the suffering of Christ the Bible says it pleased the Lord to bruise him.
Jesus was a bruised servant and because he was a bruised servant he was a qualified servant and an authentic servant. That's why Tertullian said so many years ago that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and the Romans said the more Christians we kill the more there are. It seems as if that would be a difficult circumstance under which Christianity would spread and yet the more Christians that were put to death the more needed to be put to death.
What brought that about? It is because the Christians who died died with such a sense of commitment to God that other people said I want what they have even if I have to die too. The ultimate statement of credibility. During the days in Germany those dark days in Hitler's Germany when the church was under so much persecution there was a pastor by the name of Baumgarten which in German means tree garden literally but he made a very wonderful and telling statement. He said sometimes the gospel can no longer be communicated with words. He said the time has come where the gospel must be communicated through the deeds and the sufferings of the saints and then he says it will be translated into a new vocabulary that will cause people to believe. May I say to you today that with our age of cynicism oftentimes the gospel can no longer be simply communicated with words. There are people whose hearts are open to the truth but there are those whose hearts are close to the truth. They say don't tell me.
I don't want to hear and how will we reach them? The answer is the deeds and the sufferings of the saints. The ability to have trials but to accept them with a sense of triumph and to be able to give a testimony of God's faithfulness through all the ups and downs of life. That's what makes people think that we might have something they do not and that is the key that God uses to unlock closed human hearts. The suffering and the deeds of the saints. 1934 Martin Niemoller stepped up to the pulpit in Berlin, Germany in a suburb of Berlin, Dahlem and he said to all of the people during the time of great Nazi persecution and infiltration into the church's agenda and I'm paraphrasing now. I wish I had the whole quote but I don't but he says God has allowed Satan to take the entire church in Germany and to shake it like a sieve and he says God has done that that the chaff might be separated from the wheat and he didn't say this but I would like to add that God then takes that wheat that has been separated from the chaff and when that wheat is planted it bears fruit because it has proven its credibility and when the Aryan clause was to be signed saying that no person of Jewish blood could occupy a pulpit in Germany and in 1938 when the time came when all pastors were forced to sign personal allegiance to Hitler in an oath or be excommunicated about 800 pastors didn't the rest did and these 800 pastors were taken into concentration camps and into prisons and they witnessed to the love of Christ and reports have come from people who believed in Jesus because of their witness and when they talked to people about Christ nobody said oh spare me who are you to talk because that which they believed and that which they the way in which they behaved and their life and their lip were one we've got all kinds of programs to save America at this critical hour and all of them I'm sure are good but I'll tell you this that America will not be saved from its critical hour until every single person that is listening to me and the thousands and millions of believers begin to say by God's grace I am going to live a life that will make the gospel worthy of getting a hearing and investigation and what we will discover when that begins to happen is that throughout this whole country men and women will believe and the answer to it all is to become a servant who is willing to be a suffering servant that the salvation of others will be brought about I wish it were easier I wish it were simply a matter of words but the time has come when it is the deeds and suffering of the saints that will translate the gospel into language that is understood and as I close may I remind you that the gospel that we're talking about is the good news of Christ we are not if you're here visiting today I want you to know that we are not a group of weirdos we just act like it once in a while what we believe is that Jesus Christ's death on the cross was a voluntary death given for sinners who desperately need to be reconciled to God and Christ is the only one who can reconcile us to God and there is no other way to be reconciled and you can't be reconciled through the various rituals of the church and through good deeds that comes as a result of being a Christian you must be reconciled by a transfer of faith in Christ alone in humility recognizing that apart from him you'd be lost forever and it is that that saves you makes you a member of God's family and then gives you the strength to be that credible Christian that the world so desperately needs will you join me as we pray together today our father we want to thank you today for the apostle Paul who in all of his suffering managed to stay pure kind loving experience the power of God all father how desperately we need that because you want us to live like Christ lived and that would be what we would desire today father I'm burdened for all the areas of inconsistency in our lives we pray that today may be a day of repentance a day of affirmation when we begin to say that we need to live what we believe do that Lord we ask and father help us to be better servants in Jesus name amen well I think that you will agree with me that the big challenge we face indeed is to live what we believe if we are Christians let us live as Christians should live I've written a book entitled holy living in an unholy world the subtitle is balancing love law and grace and I wrote this book because I know it is very important for us to take the theology that we know and apply it to life all of the decisions all of the aspects of living in a very unholy world well today is the last day we are making this resource available to you we think it'll be of tremendous help and 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 now because this is the last day that we are making this resource available I'm going to be giving you that contact info again hope that you have a pen or pencil handy and meanwhile I want to thank you so much for your involvement for your prayers for your gifts because the ministry of running to win continues to expand you can have it on your phone you can go to the app the moody media app and you can join us in that way thanks again and here's what you do go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 rtwoffer of course is all one word rtwoffer.com or 1-888-218-9337 it's time once again for you to ask pastor lutzer a question about the bible or the christian life some questions that we get here at running to win tug at the heart very deeply that's what happened for us when we read this question from an anonymous listener pastor lutzer will we know our miscarried children in heaven well my friend today i can't point to a verse of scripture but i deeply believe that the answer is yes when i look at the book of revelation i do not see babies giving praise to god i see adults giving praise to god and so i believe that god will allow those who have been miscarried to enter into the kingdom of heaven because they are persons and they will be adults they will either grow up or god will grant them bodies that are grown up so that we can interact with them so that we can talk with them so that they become a part of our family i cannot even imagine a situation in which someone is in heaven but actually functioning as an infant unable to be involved in the glories and the celebrations of heaven so based on that and some other theological considerations i do believe that we'll know one another in heaven miscarried children aborted children will be there as adults giving glory and praise to god some words of hope from dr erwin lutzer thank you pastor lutzer if you'd like to hear your questions answered you can just 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 lacelle boulevard chicago illinois 60614 next time on running to win we begin a series on who are you to judge learning to distinguish between truths half truths and lies make plans to join us for a wake-up call pastor has entitled the future is here thanks for listening for pastor erwin lutzer this is dave mccallister running to win is sponsored by the moody church
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