Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. There is no room for error or opinion when your soul is at stake. What you and I need is the truth and nothing but the truth. Today, the core components of the Gospel and why any teaching that omits them or distorts them is heresy.
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, the essence of the Gospel is certainly the bottom line, but there seem to be many flavors of the Gospel out there. You know, Dave, that is a reminder of the fact that when you come to a word like the Gospel, it has to be clearly defined, because it's possible to take a word like that and make it say whatever you want it to say. For example, I'm thinking of those who have politicized the Gospel. I believe that politics is very important, but politics is not the Gospel. I'm also thinking of those who have sacramentalized the Gospel. The Gospel is boiled down to rituals.
As you've mentioned, Dave, it is so important that we get the Gospel right, and I believe that the New Testament is very clear on that point. I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry, and for a gift of any amount, we're making these sermons available to you so that you can play them again and again, share them with your friends. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com.
That's RTWOffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the sermon series, Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians chapter 1 verse 6. He says, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel, which is really no Gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ, but now notice in verse 8. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a Gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned. Wow. As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a Gospel other than the one that you accepted, let him be eternally condemned. Remember the translations that say, let him be accursed.
Wow. If an angel came and preached a different Gospel, reject him. Now could you imagine, let's suppose that while I'm preaching or just after I'm preaching or even just before I'm preaching, what if an angel came down right out of the ceiling of Moody Church? Splendor, glory.
Looks so much better than anyone on the platform, I can assure you of that. And let us suppose that this angel said, I want you to know that God is interested in you being a good person. And if you're a good person, you'll get to heaven.
Can you imagine people would embrace it? Well, they say, of course this is true. An angel spoke it. Paul says, let that angel be accursed, eternally damned.
Wow. Today we live at a time when people are interested in angels and we know that angels do guide us. We know that angels exist, but angels are sometimes used as a subject of revelation. All that you need to do is to say that some angel appeared to you and gave you some kind of a message. And virtually, no matter what the message is, as long as it's a message of peace, pretty soon a shrine will be built there.
And they'll say an angel appeared or an apparition of Jesus or an apparition of Mary appeared. And people are willing to, to stake their eternity on that revelation. Paul says, if they preach a different gospel or ignore the one that we have preached, let such a beautiful being an angel from heaven be accursed.
Wow. Now what I'm going to do is to delineate five necessary truths to understand the gospel. And we're just going to give you some verses of scripture for them.
And then we're going to engage in this antithetical thinking because what we're going to do is to affirm and we're also going to deny. So this is an exercise in doctrinal discernment. Are you ready?
Ready or not? Here we come. First of all, the holiness of God. That means that God is separate. God is other. The Bible says holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. The whole earth is perfect before him. It says that God is so pure that he cannot regard, he cannot absorb, he cannot condone any evil.
Why is that important? Well, if God weren't holy, why then of course we would not need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And people say today, isn't it wonderful that God is back in America? I'm not so sure that I rejoice with everybody else because I don't know which God is back.
That's the problem. The word God is a blank slate upon which people can write whatever they wish to believe. It is in itself not very comforting to know that God is back.
Nashville, Tennessee, two adult bookstores, porno shops have on their marquee God bless America. I don't know what God that is. I don't think that's the God of the Bible. That's some other God out there. Now listen, God is holy.
What does that mean? It excludes all possibility of people being able to access him on their own. Because the Bible would teach that all access to God has to be mediated because he is too holy to approach. That's why when we come to God we come in the name of Jesus and the sacrifice of Jesus because we can't get there on our own. How is a holy God going to make contact with sinful man unless there is some mediator between God and man who is qualified to bring man and God together, who is qualified to appease God's holiness and his justice.
It cannot be done. Remember in the Old Testament there were two seminary students by the name of Nadab and Abihu and they said to themselves we want to go into the holy place also and they offered strange fire before the Lord. We don't know exactly what they did. They were doing some experiments in a laboratory and thinking you know the priests do it one way but we can do it our own way and God came and zapped them both and they were both dead. Say wow did God overreact?
God didn't overreact. They were thinking that they could come to God on their own and so you have today all of the talk about God, how that I'm into God, I'm into spirituality, I have accessed the almighty God this way and that way. No my friend you must come to the right God and you must come in the right way and we need to be able to say that to society. Remember that all spirituality and we live in a very spiritual age, all spirituality apart from the Bible and Christ is ultimately at the end of the day some form of occultism because there are only two spirits in the world.
Let's go on to a second and that is the deity of Christ. We're going to have to look at this next time because we talk about false teachers and I'll show you how that they preach another Jesus other than the one that is proclaimed in the scriptures and John the apostle of love says dearly beloved test every spirit. How are you testing the spirits? When you're watching somebody on television how do you test the spirits?
Are you expecting some feeling to come over you? No as we shall see in this series we test the spirits by the word of God but the Bible says that Jesus Christ is God a very God and he has to be God in order to be the mediator between God and man. Now think of what that excludes. It excludes the Jehovah's Witnesses who believe that Christ was a created being. It excludes all the New Agers who separate the historical Christ from the so-called cosmic Christ. It also excludes all those who belong to the Jesus seminar who torture the scriptures so that Jesus is made to appear as a mere man. Christ is God.
Let's go on. Let's take as the next one the lostness of man. How bad off are we without Christ? The scripture says in the book of Ephesians that we are dead in trespasses and sins. That is to say that we cannot respond to God. We are like people in a funeral home laid out in a coffin. We might even desire God but we cannot find him unless he comes to us and breathes life into us and gives us the ability to believe and to see our sin and to see the wonder and the beauty of Jesus. We're really bad off.
Now do you realize what that means? That excludes virtually all the other religions of the world and some good branches some large branches of Christendom too who say that we're really not that bad off. We are saved by our good works. We are saved by being good people as long as we strive to do our very best. Surely God cannot turn us away.
Well my friend he will. He will because he has to be approached in the right way and that is through Christ. Let's go on now and let's look at the substitutionary atonement.
That's what we call it. It means that Jesus died for sinners. It says in 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 18 that Jesus Christ died for our sins once for all the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God.
You know what that means? That means that there can be no other way to God. Oh I know that that's so unpopular today but people don't understand why it can't be is because Jesus Christ is the only one who can give us the righteousness that we need. Jesus is the only one who met the requirements of a holy God and because we can't access God on our own we must come to God in the prescribed way.
He is the only name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There are no other options. Gurus aplenty, prophets, teachers.
Here's the path. Do this but nobody to scoop us out and to take us to almighty God. No other religion.
You've heard this from me so many times but I need to say it again. No other religion has a savior. So the substitutionary atonement and then the last one is faith alone. Why is salvation given through faith alone? Why can there be no cooperation between us and God?
Why is it not true to say that we do our best and then God comes along and does his best? It's because when we come to salvation there's nothing that we have to offer as the song says nothing in my hands I bring simply to thy cross I cling and so we don't bring anything to the table except our great need and the righteousness that we need from God is a righteousness of which we have none so we make no contribution. We do not add to that righteousness and make it more righteous. We do not subtract from it.
We simply receive it. That's all that we can do because in our helplessness and our sin there is nothing else that we can do but imagine what this last point denies. It denies that we are saved by our baptism. It denies that we are saved through the sacraments. It denies that we are saved by our own good works and all works righteousness and there are some of you here today who need to hear this for a very specific purpose. Perhaps you've never heard before as clearly as we hope you've heard it that it is through Jesus Christ's sacrifice that we transfer our trust to him and by that means we are saved and God credits to us his righteousness and his glory and it becomes ours all because of a free gift because we've humbled ourselves and know that we can't save ourselves. We have to cleave to that which Jesus Christ has done for us. That is the gospel.
I hate to throw this in because we are going to be speaking about Paul's teachers but I need to ask this. How often do you hear that preached and some of the largest ministries that there are today where you can be happy, healthy and well without even repenting or without coming to the cross of Jesus Christ and God has these blessings for everybody without discrimination. It's not biblical but it's preached and it's believed and it's taught and it's accepted.
What am I saying today? I'm saying that our greatest message that we must defend with our lives. Now there are very few things I would die for but I do know that one of them is I trust that I'd be willing to die for the gospel. There is nothing else except the gospel. During the days of the reformation when Luther uncovered the gospel even though he was confused about such things as infant baptism for example he still believed that somehow it saved but despite that contradiction he did understand that salvation was through faith alone. During the days of the reformation the church, the official Christendom said wait a moment we have the truth because we have the miracles. Show us your miracles, show us your signs, show us your wonders. They said we have apparitions, we have relics that multiply themselves, we have statues that weep and what Luther said is that the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation. If you want to see the gospel in all of its strength and all of its power you don't need to see these miracles. It's not a contest to see who has the greatest miracles.
In the Old Testament you remember when Moses was doing miracles all of the magicians were able to do the same miracles as he did for quite a while. The Bible says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe and it is power to you my friend if you believe today and you turn to Christ. In a large American city there was a little boy who was lost.
The problem was he could only remember his name, he couldn't remember his phone number, he couldn't remember his address, couldn't remember where he lived and what do you do with a little guy like that? And finally as they were discussing with him what to do he said you know he said if you take me to my church he said I could find my way home and they said well how do we recognize your church and he said it's the church with a big cross and he said yeah he said if you take me to the cross I can find my way home. I want you to know today from the bottom of my heart that as we look at the uncertainty of life around us if you come to the cross you can find your way all the way home to heaven through faith in Christ alone. How do you know whether or not a post modern is saved because he says I believe in Jesus?
No that's not enough because people are believing in all kinds of things today. You only know he's saved when he says I believe in Jesus and I know that he is the only way. That is the gospel.
Let's pray. Our Father today we ask in the name of Jesus that you'll make us discerning Christians in an age with so much confusion. Grant oh God hearts that are ready to respond to the truth and for those who are here today who've never trusted Christ as Savior may they even at this moment say Jesus I'm a sinner and I accept your free offer of eternal life. I transfer my trust to Christ alone. Do that Father in their hearts. Create that faith and that desire we pray in Jesus name. Amen. I remember a man making a statement to the effect that if when he stands before God and God were to say to him why should I let you into heaven he would say because of Jesus Christ alone and if God were to say well that's not enough you have to bring some works that you have been depending upon.
He said I would be lost. I've done good works but they do not save. Oh my friend today from my heart to yours believe on Jesus Christ alone to be saved. You know as I consider these messages that you are listening to it is so important that you hear them again and again and of course because life is very busy there will be some sermons that you will miss.
Perhaps the one about false prophets, neo-paganism miracles all of these issues that are part of this sermon series. We are making this series available to you in permanent form for a gift of any amount. Imagine this after receiving this series of messages you can play them again and again share them with your friends. You need these messages in an age when oftentimes we have lost our ability to discern between truth and error.
So let me give you that info. Simply go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the sermon series who are you to judge and let me give you that information again.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. As we look at the United States today we know that as we drift farther from God, farther from the gospel we discover that there are so many theories out there and so much coming at us and we need to be able to discern. The subtitle of the series of messages learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Finding your way out of moral sin can be a struggle. Shelly listens to running to win and wrote asking advice.
Here's her story. I have a question for you regarding fornication. I'm a single lady with no children who has been living in a fornicating relationship. Of course I do not feel close to God and have no peace. I'm ready to turn my life around but I'm having a hard time releasing that spirit of lust. I need help on how to defeat this so God will be pleased with me and dwell within me.
I don't want to disappoint him anymore. Thank you so much for writing to me and for asking that very, very important question. First of all, a couple of thoughts. I am glad that your conscience can no longer continue in sin. You said that you are willing to turn your life around. That is wonderful but it's going to be difficult as you wrote because the spirit of lust may be very, very deep and it may be very difficult for you to let go of a relationship no matter how sinful it is. So I have a couple of thoughts. First of all, it is so important that you realize you cannot do this alone. You know, I was born on the farm way out in Canada and I remember one of our horses walked into a slough. You're acquainted with that word.
It's a small pond but it's dirty water and it has high weeds. He walked in alone but he couldn't get out alone and that's the way the pit of sin is. We can fall into sin alone. We don't need any help but getting out, we need help because you are going to be too weak to be able to get out of this yourself. You need to go to two or three friends in whom you have confidence. You need to pray with them. You need to tell them that they are going to hold you accountable and no matter how strong the temptation is, you are going to resist it with their help and with their sense of accountability toward you. Secondly, it's so important that you begin some healthy relationships, going to church, reading the word. You need to understand the meaning of deep repentance where you really realize that this was very serious and that you were deceived during that time where you had this fornicating relationship. All that becomes a part of it and don't ever think that you will get to the point where you'll never be tempted in this area again. You will be but what you need to do is to cut off all possibility of going back.
Not only back to that relationship but cut off all the possibility of going into another relationship. It's going to be a struggle, but God will be honored and finally your conscience will be clear. Thank you, Shelley, for sharing your life with us. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for your words of counsel. If you'd like to hear your question 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 LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Television, it sells people what they want to buy. Some programmers use it to sell false doctrines and millions eat it up. Next time on Running to Win, how discerning believers can and must separate truth from error when listening to religious teaching on TV. Plan to join us as Erwin Lutzer speaks on Judging False Prophets and Teachers. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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