Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We're called to run life's race on the high ground of God's Word. Today, why we must discern right from wrong and truth from error. Otherwise, we'll have little impact on a world in dire need of Jesus.
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, as we learn about how to judge, it seems these days that right is wrong and error is the new truth. Dave, I don't think anyone could put it more clearly than you have just articulated it. Error is the new truth. That certainly is the case even sometimes in Christian circles. That's why I've written the book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. For example, one of the chapters is entitled When You Judge Neo-Paganism. Another, When You Judge Ghosts, Angels, and Shrines, How Shall We Interpret These Phenomena, These Events? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.
Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The subtitle of the book is Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. Let us listen. So he prays, first of all, that they would be protected from disunity, that they'd be protected from disunity, because he knew the importance of unity. And I need to say that we should be praying the same prayer for God's people, for our church, and for the churches in this community that belong to Jesus Christ.
We need that sense of unity, not just mystically, in the sense that we're members of Christ's body, but actually in terms of our experience, in terms of our relationships to somehow model that unity. And then you'll notice he also prays that they would be kept from Satan. Verse 15, my prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. How is the evil one going to try to destroy the church? In the first centuries of the church, the evil one tried to destroy the people by persecution. You had Rome standing against Christians, and you had people thrown to the lions, you had people ostracized from jobs, and people oftentimes going through tremendous hardship, lacerated on their backs because of their faith in Christ. And then after the time of Constantine, what you have now is where the church and the state were united, the world came along and embraced the church, and the church ran in Constantinian ways to that direction and began to say, this is a wonderful, at last we are popular, at last the world has come to us and said we have the right religion.
And what do you have after that period of time? You have the evil one trying to destroy the church with false doctrine and with politics and all the other things that came to be as a result of that. Jesus is saying, I'm praying that they will be kept from the evil one. I pray for their protection.
And this is the kind of prayer that we should pray for one another. Secondly, he prays for their sanctification. Notice in verse 17, he says, sanctify them by the truth.
Your word is truth. Don't be afraid of that word sanctify. It means to set apart. God says, I want these to be my special people. I want them to be set apart unto me for my purposes, for my glory.
I want them to belong to me and be special because of that relationship. It is an honor to be sanctified. Now notice that the sanctification is not merely personal holiness though it is that. Holiness should be the thing we long for.
And let me tell you this. Holiness is not something that God looks to us for because we have none of it. Holiness is something that God has in mind for us that he gives us as we yield to him and learn to walk in the spirit. So he's saying, I want them to be holy because of that, but also because of the great mission that I am imposing upon them.
I am calling them to represent me in the world. And how are they going to be sanctified? By the truth. The more you and I spend time in God's word, memorizing it and meditating on it, thinking about it, singing hymns that are based upon it. The greater the transformation that takes place and our ability to say no to sin is strengthened because that's the means of sanctification.
It is sanctification by the truth. And we have the wonderful privilege of being a part of what Jesus has called us to do. So he prays that they might be protected. He prays for their sanctification. I choose only one other request from this marvelous passage, and that is in verse 24, where he prays for our eventual glorification and to be in his presence. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am to see my glory. This is the glorious vision to which all saints long and the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Remember now that Jesus is praying for two things.
He says, I want them to be with me. Isn't that blessed? Do you realize that Jesus is praying that you're going to be with him? And until he returns, the only way we can be with him is through death. So death isn't quite as bad as we thought it was, is it?
It is really a fulfillment of Jesus Christ's prayer because death is the means by which we are brought into his presence. But when we're in his presence, what are we going to be doing? Beginning on number one in the hymnal, singing all the way through, and then beginning on number one again and singing all the way through until we say, oh, Lord, is this all that heaven is? No, heaven is going to be exciting.
There's going to be much to do. But I'll tell you, one of the things I look forward to the most is to be with him and to see his glory. Imagine undimmed, unshielded glory and beauty of our blessed savior. No wonder Carrie Breck wrote face to face with Christ, my savior, face to face, what will it be when in rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ, who died for me. Only faintly now I see him with a darkling veil between, but a blessed day is coming when his glory shall be seen. Jesus said, I love them so much. I'm praying that they're going to be with me.
And I want you to know today that if you're a believer, that prayer will be answered in your behalf. What does all this have to do with our series on judging, with our series on asking the question, what is it like to be in the world but not of it? A few observations. First of all, I want us to understand that we are to be distinct from the world, distinct from the world, obviously. And the Bible says that if we are lovers of the world, the love of the father is not in us. And what is the world? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, all of those values.
We live among people with those values, but those are not the values that we should have. What ever made us think as an evangelical church that it is possible to follow Jesus without turning our backs on this world? When he says that the world is his enemy and to think that we can follow Jesus and buy into all the values, all of the things that the people of the world do, that we can just somehow not be affected when truth is desecrated in our presence, I have to ask the question, where have we come? Where have I come? Where has we as a church come?
Where has the evangelical church in America come to? We are to be distinct from the world. And now it becomes even more important folks. We are to be united in the truth. Why did I take so much time to point out that Jesus here begins to pray for those who accepted his name, for those who knew that he came from the Father, those who trusted him, those who obeyed his word, and those who were sanctified by the truth?
Why did I take so much time to do that? It's because this passage of scripture is so often misused. What you have people saying is, now Pastor Lutzer, don't you dare teach doctrine because it divides people. My dear friend, that's the whole point of preaching doctrine is to divide people. That's why I preach it is that they might be divided. You look at the ministry of Jesus, he was constantly talking about false preachers and false teachers and that's why, if I didn't mention it already, one of the messages is on identifying false prophets and false teachers. It's because that's the whole purpose of doctrine. People say, well you know, but we're supposed to all be one. My dear friend, it is much better to be united by truth, and we're supposed to be united by truth, than to be somehow united with false doctrine. Or let me put it this way, it is much better to be divided by the truth than to be united with error.
Do I have a witness out there by the way? Now if we can have a prayer service in Yankee Stadium, and you can have all the different religions of the world invited and they're all praying to their own god or gods, and if Jesus shows up in that prayer service, because he's represented there too by a minister, if you can look at that and there was nothing in your heart that just absolutely sunk with pain, I don't know whether or not you love Jesus or not. Because you don't put Jesus on the same plane with Krishna and Baha'u'llah and Buddha.
He does not fit there. He is above all principalities and powers. During the days of the early church, with all that persecution going on, one Roman emperor after another kept persecuting Christians, some of them were more moderate. Finally there was one emperor by the name of Alexander who said let's let the persecution end, and the Christians were happy for that. But then he said not only is the persecution going to end, I'm going to do something very wonderful for the Christians. He said I'm going to take an image of their god Jesus and put it in the pantheon where we have all the Roman gods and Jesus will be one among the many. And the Christians said no way, Jose.
They maybe said it in a different language, but that was the idea. You're not doing Christianity a favor by taking an image of Jesus and putting it in the pantheon of gods. He does not belong as one among many.
He is King of kings and Lord of lords and above all gods. You don't try to put them on the same pedestal as those others. You don't have to come up later and say to me, well, can't you be nicer?
I am nice. Of course all the other religions of the world have a right in America to believe whatever they want to believe and to worship whomever they want to worship and to pray to whomever they want to pray to. I understand that right, but let's not go from the idea that everybody has a right to all these different beliefs to the silly idea that all these different beliefs are right. What we need to do is to recognize that there is a distinction. Jesus is King and beside him there is no other.
What am I expecting in these messages? First of all, a sense of unity to grow that we might love Christ better, but that in our discernment we'll represent him better to the world and also that we will be more courageous in the best possible way, courageous in the best possible way to represent him and not think that he is just one among a whole host of deities. There's a third conclusion I come to and that is obvious. I've already mentioned it and that is our responsibility to represent Jesus Christ to the world and to represent him well. I began this message by talking about our post-modern culture and the $64 question is this, how do we represent Christ in a nation that no longer believes in reason, a nation that is awash in superstition, superstitious ideas from whatever and they can all be accepted and be all touted as just the latest knowledge. How do we do that? It used to be that you could actually present arguments for the Christian faith. How do you, how do you witness to people who no longer accept any arguments because they have no confidence in reason, they trust their own intuition and their own perceptions?
My dear friend, there is an answer as I've been thinking about this. You know what it is too. Our nation is so fractured because of the brokenness of the homes, because of rampant sexuality that is destroying people and they are in despair and emptiness. They have all of these ideas in their minds. Some of them have made up their minds to reject Christianity but others it's a mixture of Christianity and God knows what else and by the way he does know what else because he knows everything. What we need to do folks is to establish credibility by our love and by our sacrificial involvement in the lives of other people.
I believe that as God has blessed our church, we have seen it grow but do you know that it could grow much more if we all sacrificially became involved in the lives of our visitors when they stand or people whom we meet and we begin to say to ourselves that we have to broaden the little circle of our friends, we have to be involved in hospitality in caring and love because Jesus did say that people would know that we are his disciples by the way in which we loved one another and so what we need to do is to realize that in a day when intellectual arguments no longer carry the weight they once did, love will carry the weight and the day so that they understand that what Jesus did in us no other religion or leader can possibly do. Tertullian during those first centuries of Christianity in North Africa said that the pagans were so overwhelmed by the love of the Christians and yet they were irritated by the fact that these Christians seem to be so different. The pagans called them the third race because they said that when they have a funeral they carry their dead as if in triumph.
Who are these people who do not fear death? And the Christians gained credibility and soon the gospel in North Africa began to spread. Jesus makes this amazing statement that humbles me. He says as the father have sent me into the world so send I you.
You're to be my representatives. You're to be in the world and not of it just as I was in the world and not of it and that is our calling and that is the challenge to which we as a church rise at this very critical open moment in American history. And if you're here by the way and you've never trusted Christ as savior could I commend him to you? Could I tell you how wonderful he is? That he's the one who forgives us. He's the one who loves us. He's the one who scoops us out of our sin and self-centeredness and gives us a whole new set of values and changes our desires so that we love God. That's what Jesus can do for you and he is the focus of all things and to you we commend him. Well this is Pastor Luther.
I certainly want to live the rest of my life commending Jesus to people but having accepted him as our savior what we need to do is then ask the question how do we live in a very confused world? I've written a book entitled who are you to judge learning to distinguish between truths half truths and lies. Let me ask you this question what is the relationship between beauty and happiness?
We're living at a time that television of course puts before young people all kinds of beauty secrets sensuality in clothing in entertainment. How do you respond to that? What do you say to your children? Well these are the kinds of issues I discuss in this book. It is very important that we learn to make important distinctions between the world and the church between godlessness and our commitment to Jesus Christ. Ask for the book who are you to judge?
Here's what you can do go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com as you might know rtwoffer is all one word. When you're there ask for the book who are you to judge and for a gift of any amount this book can be yours or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's very important that when we approach the scriptures it is always with a question in mind how do I live for Christ in a culture that has lost its way how do I distinguish between truth and error and how do I enable others to make it all the way to the finish line. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. One listener seems to be getting two different stories from you Dr. Lutzer on the matter of the inspiration of the scriptures.
Ken wants you to set the record straight. He says I heard Dr. Lutzer say that the very words of the Bible were not dictated yet later you stated that the scriptures are God-breathed the very words used are from God. I'm sure you believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the whole Bible as I do yet your two statements seem to be in conflict. Could you please explain them?
Ken the answer is yes I'd be very pleased to explain them. I do believe that all scripture is given by inspiration of God but here's what happened. God so superintended the human writers that as they wrote without overriding their natural styles they were guided to write what they did and they stayed within the bounds of truth even though in most instances they were allowed to use their own style.
For example Paul had a certain style Mark had a certain style other writers had their own style and all of that was legitimate but they were superintended in such a way that they would not overstep the boundaries so that everything that they wrote was true and accurate. Now let me give you an example Mark liked the present tense he would say Jesus goes to Jerusalem Jesus heals a man that's a rough translation. Matthew might talk about the very same event and say that Jesus walked to Jerusalem. Mark says that Jesus goes to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit was saying you can express that in whichever way you want but at the same time what you will write will be completely accurate and inspired.
So that's why I can say on the one hand that the Bible was not dictated because most of it wasn't the Ten Commandments were in a few other parts of the Old Testament especially but much of it wasn't dictated and yet at the same time what the writers wrote was God breathed and accurate. Holy men of God the Bible says wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit it's probably the best way to say it. Thanks for your question Ken and God bless you and keep listening.
You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. There's much error mixed with truth these days so wise believers run what they see through a filter of discernment. Next time on Running to Win a foundational study in Matthew chapter 7 to help us know when and how to judge what we see. We'll hear the words of Jesus, judge not that you be not judged. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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