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Joining The Overcomers – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2023 9:00 am

Joining The Overcomers – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 1, 2023 9:00 am

Many of us will never be well-known for our service or influence. But will faithfulness in obscurity be rewarded in eternity? In this message from Luke 16, Pastor Lutzer identifies the privileges, responsibilities, and honors given to believers who overcome. Let’s be faithful with whatever we’ve been entrusted with by God.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The book of Revelation tells of people known as the overcomers. Who are they? Am I one of them?

Are you? Today in our series on Your Eternal Reward, we begin a look at the overcomers and find out how we can be numbered among them for all of eternity. 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, will there be believers who, in the end, are not overcomers? Dave, whether you realize it or not, you've asked a question that has really divided theologians. For example, on the one hand, I have friends who say absolutely every Christian is an overcomer because the Bible says that the one who overcomes the world is the one who believes on Christ.

I take a different point of view. I'm not sure that all believers are going to be overcomers. I do know this, that those who are faithful will be greatly rewarded, and those who aren't faithful less so. I've written a book entitled Your Eternal Reward, and this is the second to last day that we are making this resource available to you. And I cannot help but emphasize how important it is that you recognize that we must live in light of the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

I'll be giving you that contact info again because this resource, I believe, can be transformative in your life. When Jim Warren of WMBI Radio asked George Beverly Shea of the Billy Graham team, what would you like to be when the Lord comes back? Bev Shea said, on pitch. Well, I think that all of us would like to be on pitch when the Lord comes back.

Our choir is always on pitch. And the Lord is going to come back, and He is going to receive us, and the Scripture says His reward is with Him. This is the sixth and last of a series of messages on the judgment seat of Christ, the Bema. And the Apostle Paul says we shall someday all stand before Christ individually, thorough evaluation to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. We've learned that when the Reformers discovered that works were of no merit in salvation, the same idea was carried over into works that are performed after we are saved. So many of the Reformers whom we admire nevertheless said that in heaven either all Christians are going to receive the same reward or the differences will be due to God's sovereign choice.

Well, if you've been here for these messages, you know that I disagree with that. The rewards, as we shall see in a moment, are certainly gifts of grace, but they are not given simply on the basis of God's choice but based on faithfulness here. What I'd like to do in the next few moments is to give you five principles that will help us to understand rewards, principles that may review a bit of what we have learned but build upon the previous messages, and we shall end by telling you as best we know how what it will be like to reign with Jesus Christ forever and ever and the final destiny of redeemed humanity. And what a destiny it shall be.

So if you have your pen and pencil ready, if you use the bulletin, and people say that they do, but there isn't enough room on the bulletin for notes, and the bulletin is to be read, by the way, if you are ready, let us begin. Principle number one, rewards are not a payment. They are not a payment.

They are not earned in the sense that we generally understand the meaning of that word. Visualize with me a king who has a huge kingdom, and he is wondering whether his son will rule. Does he say to his son, now I want you to work real hard so that I can pay you by giving you this kingdom?

Of course not. What father asks a child to work for his inheritance? He doesn't do that, but the king, the father, might say to the son, I am very interested in having you rule, but I need to test you to see whether or not you are worthy.

That's the point, worthiness. Jesus used the word three times in two verses when he said, he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. He who loves son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. God is interested in worthiness, and this life sees whether he can trust us with the estate. Take your Bibles and turn, for example, to Luke chapter 16. And because we are drawing a number of different strands together today, I'll ask you to turn to several passages.

In many instances, I shall simply quote the passages as we try to take all of what we know about rewards and condense it as we think about the end and significance of mankind. Luke 16, Jesus is talking about money, which is one of his favorite topics, speaks about it oftentimes because it is the clearest test of our relationship with the world. He says in verse 10, he who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much.

He who is unrighteous in very little is unrighteous also in much. If, therefore, you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? Money, which is unrighteous mammon. If you aren't faithful in the use of your money, what makes you think that God is going to entrust to you the riches of the world to come? That's Christ's point. And then he says it again in the next verse. Verse 12, and if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?

What is he referring to? That which is another's is what God gives us in this life. The money that we receive, either through inheritance or through work or through fortune, happenstance, the stock market, if we're into that, the money that we receive is not our own. It is not our own. It has been entrusted to us by God.

In fact, nothing of what we have is ours. Now says Jesus, if you are unfaithful in that which belongs to somebody else, we usually take better care of things that belong to somebody else, especially if we love and respect the person whose goods we have. Jesus says if you are unfaithful in that which belongs to another and Christ can't entrust money to you, how are you going to receive the true riches of your inheritance? He who is faithful in that which is little will be faithful in that which is much. He who is unfaithful in that which is little will be unfaithful in the greater. And this life is a test.

As a friend of mine says, we are formed, shaped, and tested for reliability. And based on the degree of our trustworthiness in this life, we will be entrusted with the true riches to come. So reward is not based on repayment. It isn't a matter of payment or merit as we generally think of it. No one could work for the inheritance that awaits the children of God. But the question is worthiness. Are we worthy to rule? Well, there's a second principle and that is that rewards are based on character.

They're based on character. I know that we emphasize this in a previous message when we talked about what Christ was looking for, but I want to remind you of how character goes to the heart of the issue. Here he is. He calls little children to him and he says, he who humbles himself as this child shall be great in the kingdom of heaven. Humility. What is humility? Humility is submission to God.

I came not to do my own will, said Jesus, but the will of him who sent me. That is submission. Sometimes we think that someone who is shy is humble. It's just because they don't want to talk a lot or they may be embarrassed when they speak up and we say, well, you know, he's so humble.

Listen, that might be covering a very arrogant, independent spirit. Humility comes through what is sometimes called a word that you and I don't like. It's the word brokenness. Rebecca said to me the other day, why don't you preach a series of messages on brokenness? I'm not sure whether she felt that I should because the preacher needed the series, but I do know this. Usually we are not humble until God crushes us and you and I have seen God chase people down alleys up one street and down another through a series of failed relationships, through a series of difficulties, through all kinds of hardship and grief until he corners them and they fight until in the end they say, you win.

You win. And that's brokenness. That's humility. That's a crushed spirit that God cherishes.

Humility. And he who is least in the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall be great. He shall be great, said Jesus.

Now listen, think this through. Jesus becomes our model. What does it say in Philippians two? It says he humbled himself. He became obedient onto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, whenever you see the word therefore, you check to see what it's there for.

You know what it says? He humbled himself. Therefore, God highly exalted him and gave him a name which is above every name. Why? Because of his humility.

Wow. Let's look at this from a different standpoint as we think of the characteristics of Christ. I invite you to turn to the tenth chapter of Mark, Mark chapter 10. Now, in order to understand what's going on here in the text, you must realize that Jesus promised the kingdom and rulership in the kingdom to the disciples. He said, you who have been with me during this time, you shall be on 12 thrones ruling the 12 tribes of Israel. Now, remember that Judas, of course, dropped out and Matthias was substituted in his place. But Jesus had promised 12 thrones to the 12 disciples. Pretty good promise.

What he didn't say was which thrones they would sit on in proximity to him. So we pick up the text in Mark chapter 10, verse 35. And James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, come up to him saying to him, teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you. You know, children will say this. Dad, do you promise to give me what I'm going to ask for? Ouch.

You ask for it and then I'll tell you, right? Jesus was smart enough not to fall into that trap. So he said, what do you want me to do for you? They said, grant that we may sit in your glory one on your right and the other on your left. Jesus had promised them the thrones, but they did not want to be far from Christ. They were not only interested in a throne, they were interested in the center throne next to Jesus.

They were into pecking order. Now, interestingly, Jesus did not really chide them for that, but he did say, you do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am able to drink or to be baptized with a baptism with which I am baptized?

They confidently said we are able. Jesus said, the cup that I drink, you shall drink and you shall be baptized with a baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on my right or on my left, this is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared. Now, notice what Jesus is saying to them is that because you are willing to suffer for me and the baptism is the baptism of martyrdom, I believe.

Jesus said, because you are willing to suffer with me and for me, yes, you shall be exalted, though I cannot tell you who is going to be sitting right next to me, to my right hand and on my left. Well, you can imagine that when the other 10 heard of this, they were angry. They were angry. They were indignant and they were saying, why are you jockeying for this high position?

You think that your office is the only place where this kind of stuff goes on? It's been happening for a long time. Verse 41, the 10 became indignant toward James and John. And then Jesus answers them by saying, look, you know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles, they lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you. Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.

Please don't overlook this. In the eyes of the world, the more people you rule over, the more important you are. We've had presidential candidates who are willing to do practically anything to get elected, practically anything. It has happened even in America.

Why? Because rulership, if you can rule over 10,000, you are great. But if you can rule over 10 million, you are greater and a hundred million and a thousand million. And if it could be the world, that is greatness. Jesus said for you, it is the opposite. The number of people you can serve is your ticket to greatness opposite to the world.

And what is the great example? Next verse. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. What is Christ looking for? What are rewards based on character, humility, suffering, and servanthood?

To be able to serve in obscurity without feeling hurt because you are recognized. Faithfulness in that which is least is the key. Michelangelo used to say that every block of marble had an angel in it. What God does is he takes just a block of clay. He takes you and me, and then he begins to chisel and he chisels. And what's he looking for? He's looking for Christ.

He's looking for Christ. So first of all, we notice that rewards are not a payment. Secondly, rewards are based on character. Thirdly, they involve or they are described in the Bible as privileges, as privileges.

That's one way to describe them. Would you take your Bibles and turn one more time to the book of Revelation, Revelation chapter 2, where we have a series of promises to overcomers. We do not have time to look at them all. I only want you to sample them and then on your own, you can read the letters to the seven churches and you can see all of the privileges that are given to overcomers. For example, chapter 2 verse 7. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.

How do you interpret that? Do you think this means that those who are in heaven are constantly going to have to eat of the tree of life? If not, they will lose that gift of eternal life and it will wear off?

No, it's not possible. When you have expressions like that in the book of Revelation, it is a reference to intimacy. You know, the Middle Eastern idea of hospitality was so important. And what Jesus is saying is that the person who overcomes, I shall grant him that sense of oneness and eating together and participating joyfully in heaven. Now, there are some people perhaps in the second chapter who weren't overcomers. They had left their first love and Jesus gave them a warning and to the whole church he said, unless you repent, I will remove your candlestick from your place. But to those who overcame special privileges, with your Bible still open, look at chapter 2 verse 17, another example.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give him hidden manna and I will give him a white stone and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. What is the hidden manna? We're not sure but manna is something that you eat and what is the stone? Well, we know that stones were given to the winners in the Olympic Games but what is written on the stone? Jesus said no one knows what is written except the one who receives it. Well, you can understand that Bible commentators have speculated as to what is on the stone.

Theologians always are trying to pry open that which God has closed and solve mysteries that he has not seen fit to reveal the answers to. But do you catch the intimacy, the oneness that you and God have a secret, the secret of the Lord or with those that fear him? That's another reward to overcomers.

We shall have only one further one. Chapter 3 verse 12, he who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God and he will not go out from it anymore and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem. You will be there in the temple, the very presence of God and that's where you will be.

Symbolism of course. Of course you'll not be a literal pillar but you will be in the inner relationships of God forever and ever. Those are the overcomers. So rewards are sometimes described as privileges. Fourthly, rewards are described sometimes as honors, as honors that are given. You keep your Bible open to the book of Revelation but I want to remind you that in the Bible there are various crowns that are designated, given to the faithful.

And it's just a way, again a symbolic way of talking about those who are honored and given special privileges because of faithfulness. Well my friend you're going to have to listen to Running to Win next time to hear the end of this message. But I want to ask you a question. How far do you think eternity is a way for you? None of us is able to answer that question correctly. We have no idea how long we're going to live when we're going to be facing Jesus Christ. You know this is the second to last day that we are offering a book entitled Your Eternal Reward Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ because quite frankly eternity might be very close even though we don't know it.

The question is are we living for Christ in such a way that we will receive rewards? For a gift of any amount this book can be yours. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because as I emphasized this is the second to last day that we are making this resource available to you. But I want to ask you this question. Why will there be tears in heaven? You wouldn't expect tears would you? And thankfully God will wipe away those tears but why the tears? Well various ideas have been put forth.

I personally believe it will be tears of regret. So the question is how do we live in such a way that we hear well done thou good and faithful servant. That's your desire and that's why we here at Running to Win are so committed to help you make it successfully all the way to the finish line. Well once again go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's rtwoffer.com or 1-888-218-9337. Thanks so much for helping us because together we're making a difference. 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 roadmap for your race of life. Pastor Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of Joining the Overcomers another message in his series Your Eternal Reward. Next time tune in for more on becoming an overcomer. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 10:57:47 / 2023-11-01 11:06:09 / 8

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