Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Believers can be sure that no event in their lives can take place outside of God's knowledge and plan. The New Testament teaches that God has predestined the eternal future for every Christian.
Today, more about this gift. 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, does predestination relieve us of responsibility for making wise choices in life? Dave, you have just asked a question that of course has been debated, talked about throughout the centuries as we read the Bible and discover that indeed God does predestinate people. But yes, in answer to your question, he also holds us responsible. Theologians sometimes speak of a synergism, that is to say, the bringing together of the human will and the divine plan. And we don't pretend to be able to understand all that except to say that the Bible teaches both. But what I want to emphasize is that you are a part of an eternal plan. You know, when we speak about predestination, we're talking about the fact that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. I've written a book entitled The Inheritance of the Redeemed, claiming the spiritual treasures that are yours in Christ. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's the info.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And so we have been predestined again, it's using the word according, verse 11, to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. That's as far as we're going today because the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the next message in this series. And that's the text that we'll be referring to among many others.
And so why all this? We are to be to the praise of his glory. I remember reading that as a boy. In fact, I memorized the book of Ephesians probably 35, 40 years ago or more.
Boy, that sounds like a long time, but it goes quickly. And I always thought in my mind, yeah, someday when we're in heaven, we're going to be to the praise of his glory. Yes, of course. But I believe it begins here on earth. Let me simplify your life a little bit, okay?
It's not about a lot of things that you're worried about. You may find that you are promoted to the praise of his glory. You may find that you are demoted. Somebody else has taken a place that you know right well you should have, and you're suffering with injustice. Why? To the praise of his glory. You look at some people who have no use for God, and they're living long lives, and you are young, and you love God, and you find out that you've got a disease or some kind of an illness, maybe even a terminal illness. Why that?
It's to the praise of his glory. You say, I lost some money in the stock market. Yeah.
I know one man who says that he made so many bad investments that if he were to buy a cemetery, he's convinced people would stop dying. Yeah. Well, so that's what my life is about.
That's what I'm worried about. Uh-uh. You exist to the praise of his glory. It's not about all of these other things that do impinge upon us, and they all have their own sense of importance, but at the end of the day, it's all about God.
And listen to this promise. Since we exist according to his glory in the text, talk about the fact that he works all things after the counsel of his own will. I hope that you take out time to read these texts more carefully. It really is all about God, and it says that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Called according to his purpose. God takes all things. And then you know what the next verse says there in Romans chapter 8? It says, whom he foreknew, he predestinated. You notice for knowledge again, but whom he foreloved, he predestinated to be conformed to the image of his son, and those whom he predestinated, he called, and those he called, he justified, and those whom he justified, he glorified. It's all done. I'm going to be preaching about that in this series, God willing. But notice that all things work together for good.
You say, oh no, all things are working together for my bad. Really? You know, back out in the farm we had a clock, not like the new ones, you know, that this one I think has a battery, and I haven't changed it in a couple of years, but there used to be clocks that you had to wind every day, and if you didn't, it would stop by the next day. And we had a couple of those out in the farm, and one time, not sure exactly why, but I took the back off and began taking the parts out. When I put it back together, I had some extra parts. One of the things, though, that I noticed was this, that, you know, when you took one of those clocks apart, there were little wheels, and some of them were turning the same direction as the hands, and some of them were turning the opposite direction, and some were big, and some were little, and isn't that according to life? There are big wheels, and there are small wheels, and some of the wheels turn in the right direction, and some of them turn in an opposite direction, but they make no sense, none whatever, as long as you're looking at the back of the clock, but somehow they work, if you look at the front of the clock, to tell time. That's the way God's purposes are.
You and I look at them, and it certainly doesn't seem as if all things work together for good, but if we trust and believe, and we live to the praise of His glory, which is what it's all about, God works all things together for good. If you've believed on Christ, you are number one on God's list of things to take care of in this universe. He's not going to make that big investment of having His son die for you and then say, well, you know, I kind of forgot about him for a while. Things are cold in Chicago, the stock market is struggling, and you know, when I have some time, I'll get back to my people, my elect.
No? Those whom He knew and foreknew, He predestinated, His hand is upon you. So we can say that we were chosen, we were predestinated, we could use the word again, or we could say that we were part of God's will and plan for the praise of His glory. Even someone crossing a street here on LaSalle Street, as happened last week, being killed with a truck as part of God's eternal plan, blessed are those who can see past the tragedy in one of God's children and see the other side and God's purposes. It's all about the praise of His glory.
It's not about us, it's about Him. A couple of things that we have to get clear about so that we can understand this, and it may be in your mind a few things. Number one, be very clear about this, that God takes the initiative in salvation. God takes the initiative. There was a poem I was going to find on the internet but forgot, but the emphasis is the fact that I sought God, but actually He was pursuing me.
That's the essence of it, and that's so true. I love to read stories of how people came to faith in Jesus Christ, but I have one book that's entitled How They Found Christ. Well, I know what they mean, but you found Christ? Well, you did, but bless God, you did, because God found you. That's why you found Christ. Yes, God found you.
You know, I'm a very proud grandfather, and when our oldest grandchild was born, whose name was Jack, he's a big boy now, but when he was about three and a half or so, I was playing hide and go seek with him in the backyard where there were about three trees, and I expected that he would hide behind a tree and that I'd pretend that I couldn't find him, but eventually I would, but he didn't do that. He stood beside a tree and cupped his eyes in his hands like this, because he thought that if he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him, and that's the way we are with God. Oh God, I don't see you.
I don't see you. You think that because you can't see God, then sometimes life is so difficult that we can't? Are you telling me that just because you can't see God, God doesn't see you? Listen, his eyes are trained upon you. He knows the number of hair you have on your head.
Some of you could say that you could count your own, but he knows all that. But also when Jack finally, and I of course pretended I couldn't find him, you know, what else is a grandfather supposed to do at that point, but finally when he took his hands away from his eyes, he looked at me and he said, I found you, Papa. Well, yeah, I guess you found me, but you know, I was there.
I was looking for you, and if you wouldn't have found me, I can assure you, I would have found you. God takes the initiative in salvation. It is God who comes to Adam and Eve and says, Adam, where are you?
Adam and Eve aren't looking for God. They're figuring out where can we go to get away from him. We have to hide our shame.
Even if he knows what we've done, we need to run. And so they try to hide, but God comes into the garden and says, here I am. Where are you? And that's a question God may be asking you today.
Where are you? So first of all, we have to see that God takes the initiative in salvation. Secondly, very important now, God works through the human will. God works through the human will. When we preach on matters of choosing and predestination, we should never give the impression that God says, now, you don't want to believe, but boy, you're predestined to believe, so I'll take you by the scruff of the neck and you believe. No. Nor does this scenario ever happen where someone says, oh, I want to be saved, but I'm not elect. That never, never happens.
Why? God works in the human heart to bring about his purpose, so people voluntarily receive Christ as Savior, but behind that voluntary decision, there is God who has birthed conviction in their hearts. He's shown them their sin.
He's shown them why they need Jesus, and then he even gives them the faith by which they need to believe. He does it all. Amen. Boy, I'm hearing one or two amens.
I could take three or four, actually. You see, it's really all of God. God is the one, you know, who does it. I think a beautiful example of that is Lydia in the 16th chapter of Acts when Paul and Silas and so forth went to Philippi. It says that they went to the river and they met a businesswoman, a seller of purple goods, whose name was Lydia, now catch this, whose heart God opened. And then it says she listened carefully to what Paul says, and then she was baptized. Well, obviously, she believed the gospel or she'd have never been baptized.
That's a good example. There are some of you to whom I'm speaking today, and even while I am speaking, though you're having problems with some of the things that are taught in God's Word, you might find that your heart is open to God, even now. Listen to that voice, because it is God that opens the human heart, and you and I can't do that on our own.
And this leads, I think, also to a very important fact. Of course whosoever will may come. Of course if God has worked in your heart, you can come whosoever. Many are called, and this is a general call, few are chosen, but many are called and few are chosen, and you can find out whether or not you're among the chosen.
So don't complain. I know you've got all kinds of questions about the unchosen, but I'm talking to you now, and I want you to understand that if you want to know whether or not you are chosen, predestined, that you are within the will and the purpose of the eternal God who grants life to those who believe, well then find out. Come to Jesus, and he will receive you and he will welcome you into his kingdom, because whosoever will may come, certainly.
I think that old illustration that has been used many times is actually a very good illustration. That as the gospel goes out across the door and the entry point, it says whosoever will may come. After you go through and you go through that door and you receive Christ, you look back and you'll notice that at the back of that door are written the words, elect from the foundation of the world.
So the invitation goes to everyone. The reason that I take delight in reading testimonies of how people came to saving faith in Christ is that each story is different. Each circumstance is different.
Each person approaches it differently. But at the end of the day, it always comes out the same that people see their sin, they see their need, and they see as Jesus meeting their need because he died for sinners. Let's take a few people.
Let's take a couple of famous people. Let's take Martin Luther, for example. Here he is, he's struggling so much with his guilt and his heaviness. And he said, day and night I pondered to try to see the connection between the righteousness of God and faith because he was troubled by the righteousness of God. If God wasn't so righteous, I might be able to meet his standards. But he's so holy, he's so righteous, I can't meet those standards.
That's what frustrated him. Until he said, I saw the connection, that there is not just the attribute of God, the righteousness of God, there is a gift of God given to those who receive it by faith. And he said, when I saw this, he said, it was as if I was reborn and I went through the gates of paradise. The struggle was over.
The conscience was silenced. Jesus was now meeting his need. O Lord Jesus, I am thy sin, thou art my righteousness.
I accept that. And he was converted. Let's take another theologian. His name is John Calvin, lived in Geneva. Calvin said that God overcame his blindness and his darkness and showed him the light of the gospel.
That's one way to describe it. And if you would like to have somebody who emphasized free will and find out their story, John Wesley said that he had no assurance of salvation until someone was reading Luther's preface to the book of Romans where the gospel is clearly presented. And he said that he found his heart strangely warmed and he said to himself, I do believe in Christ. I do believe. And he, and he grasped that I do believe. And that was the point at which he had the assurance that he belonged to God forever.
Everyone's story is different. As you know, I usually witness to somebody on the plane who's sitting next to me, not all the time, but almost all the time, I would have no idea of the number of people to whom I've explained the gospel on the plane. Most of them receive it graciously. We interact and I've not led many people to Christ at all.
I think that I see myself as helping them along the way and other people are going to reap where I have sown and so I leave those results with God. But this past fall I was flying in from God knows where. After a while the flights blur just a little bit, but I know that I was coming from the east to Chicago. And I sat beside a businessman who knew all about gold and silver and which one was going to go up and which one was going to go down. And he had many clients.
He had people working for him, under him. Well, we got into the gospel when I asked him, you know, where are you on your spiritual journey? Turns out that he goes to church and all the right things.
But clearly he does not know the gospel. I explain it to him. And he asked some questions and I answered them. And then he says, you know, I want to tell you today, he said, I really get what you're saying. He said, I understand what it is that you are telling me. Now I should have prayed with him there on the plane.
I actually didn't. I entrusted that to the Holy Spirit. But after we got off the plane at O'Hare, we still connected together and he said again, he said, I want you to know that I got what you were saying. He said, I understood what you were saying. And of course I gave him a good book that would help him carry himself through the door with the help of Jesus, of course, and actually the scooping up of Jesus, which is a better metaphor of salvation.
I expect to see him in heaven. I've explained it to many people and they just don't get it. You know, why God, why Jesus? I'm not that bad a sinner. I'm a good person. You know, it just dawned on me. All the people I've talked to, I don't think I've yet met a bad person. I really don't.
Everybody's a good person. And they have no sense of conviction, no sense of their need for God, no sense of interest in Jesus. They just don't get it. But as we sow the seed, we find people like that businessman who told me twice, I just want you to know, I get what you're saying. Is that where you are at today?
I hope that there are people who are right now saying, I get it. I need a savior. And if you say that, that means that God is working in your heart to bring you to saving faith and all of our trust. All of our eggs are in one basket. All of our trust is in Jesus and Jesus alone, the only savior of the world.
Do you know him? Do you get it? Let's pray together. Father, we ask in the name of Jesus that your word might go out in such a way that people across this nation who are listening to this message and here in the sanctuary of Moody Church may say to themselves, I get it, and believe the gospel, and thereby prove that they were chosen, they were predestined, they were part of your will and part of your plan from all of eternity. In Jesus' name, amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer.
So I do have to ask you one more time, do you get it? As this message was being preached, did the Holy Spirit of God speak to your heart, show you your sin, and show the wonder of Jesus Christ who died for sinners? If so, you have believed the gospel. And in believing the gospel, it really does prove that you have been elect from before the foundation of the world. What a beautiful truth. I've written a book entitled The Inheritance of the Redeemed, claiming the spiritual treasures that are yours in Christ.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Now, I need to emphasize that this book actually is going to be a tremendous blessing. We read so many books that condemn us. This is a book of hope. It is a book of optimism.
It is a book that focuses our attention on God, what he has done for his people, and also about our future. And as you connect with us, I want to thank you in advance for helping us. Because of the ministry of Running to Win and because of your involvement, we are now in 20 different countries in four different languages and expanding. Of course, you need info, so here's what you do. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. Go to RTWOffer.com. As you might know, RTWOffer is all one word. RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book The Inheritance of the Redeemed, claiming the spiritual treasures that are yours in Christ. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's road map for your race of life. We can never reach God's standard of holiness on our own. That's why we can rejoice in His gift of righteousness. Next time, all about this gift. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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