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A Message To This World From Mars–Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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March 15, 2024 2:00 am

A Message To This World From Mars–Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 15, 2024 2:00 am

The central proof of our faith is Jesus’ resurrection. The city of Athens was filled with false gods, but Paul went to Mars Hill to preach judgment and resurrection. In this message from Acts 17, Pastor Lutzer shares Paul’s in-depth explanation of how God reveals Himself to us. We must listen because the resurrected Jesus will judge the entire world.

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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. When the apostle Paul proclaimed Christ to philosophers in Athens, he pointed to the central proof of his faith, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

These pagan thinkers listened as Paul spoke of a day when this resurrected Jesus would judge the entire world. 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 curious why you titled this sermon, A Message to this World from Mars. Well Dave, you of course already hinted at the reason, and that is that on Mars Hill the apostle Paul proclaimed the judgment of God but also the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so this message is based on this passage, but something else Dave, if my memory serves me correctly, and I think it does, you were with me on Mars Hill, oh so many years ago. What an experience to be able to be where the apostle Paul preached that very famous sermon. We're making available to you a book I've written entitled The Vanishing Power of Death, and the reason that I'm emphasizing that today is it's the last day that you can order it so that you will have it by Easter.

Here's what you can do, go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It has in the book a chapter on the message that we're going to be listening to right now. I begin today with two questions for you. The first question is, what is God like? Art Linkletter said that a little boy was drawing something and he went to him and said, what are you drawing? The boy said, I'm drawing a picture of God. Linkletter said nobody knows what God looks like.

The boy said, oh yeah, they will when I'm finished. So the first question is, what is God like? And the second question is, how do we connect with him? How do we get in touch with him?

How do we find him? In the New Testament there's a story of a man by the name of the Apostle Paul who went to Mars Hill in Athens and you can still go to Mars Hill in Athens. In fact, my wife and I were there last year. It's close to the Parthenon. 2000 years ago to go to Mars Hill was to go to a debating society. It was kind of a think tank where Athenians would gather to discuss something new. And the Bible says in Acts chapter 17, which is the passage that I'm referring to. In Acts 17, it says that the city was full of idols, but it says in verse 18, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with Paul.

Athens, the great city of philosophy, Socrates and Plato were of course dead, but many other philosophers were there. The Epicureans says they believed only in matter. They did not believe in spirits. They didn't believe in soul. They didn't believe that the soul would actually survive the body. They also were hedonists believing that since you go around only once in life, you have to grab for all the gusto.

You have to have all the pleasure you can crammed into your life span. The Stoics, they were more pantheistic. They believe that the soul existed. The soul survived the body, but in the end it would be absorbed into the big one, the big eternal. And they also believe that there should be virtue for virtue sake.

You simply endure pain. That's why today we even speak of those who take news or take tragedy stoically, goes back to those times. Now Athens had freedom of religion. There were gods all over the place.

In fact, it says in verse 16 that the city was filled with idols, filled with idols. In fact, in order to cover their bases to make sure that they didn't leave any gods out and therefore offend some god, they actually put up a statue and they said, this is to the unknown god. So if we offended you out there, you deity, take this, this one's for you.

They wanted to cover indeed all the bases. And today in America, we have as many gods as the Athenians. We have impersonal gods. We have tolerant gods. We have also finite gods.

You can go to Borders Bookstore. Yesterday I went to Transitions Bookstore on North Avenue just to find out the kinds of gods we have today. And I noticed these book titles, the demonic divine, that's a different kind of god. The Hindu gods, there are thousands of them. The Wiccan Bible, that's a different god entirely.

The Lucifer principle, the teost healings appealing to a different god. We have as many gods as the Athenians. And the Apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill and said two things to the people. I'm going to proclaim to you the true God, and I'm also going to tell you how you can connect with this true God. And so he begins to give a detailed explanation as to who the true God is. First of all, he presents God as creator, God as creator.

He says, for example, in verse 24, the God who made the world and everything in it being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. God the creator, the personal God who creates. God created you.

And because he did that, he knows you intimately. In fact, he created you for himself. As Augustine said, Oh, God, thou has made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their all in thee. Some of you listening to this message today have a restless heart because you've not found your all in God. That's why there is such a thing as a purpose driven life.

It's because God made you, he created you and he created you for himself. And he knows everything about you, including your hidden thoughts. So Paul proclaims to them, God as creator, also God as revealer. He says in verse 26, and he made from one man, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined the allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.

Yet he is actually not far from each one of us for in him we live and move and have our being, even as some of your own poets have said, for we are indeed his offspring. So Paul says, God reveals himself and he does it through nature, through the beauty of the sky, through the stars, through all that he gives us. We know that there is a God, but he also reveals himself through conscience. There is something within us that seeks for God. Everyone is a God seeker. You today may be a skeptic, but you are a God seeker because God has created that desire within us to find him. And he's not playing hide and seek.

He's not playing hard to find. Paul says that even in nature, we realize that there is a God and that we can seek out him. We can grope for him because he reveals himself in nature and in conscience. But even more specifically, he reveals himself in Jesus Christ, as we shall discover in just a moment. So Paul says, God is creator.

God is revealer. God is judge. God is judge. The times of ignorance, Paul says, got overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent because he has fixed today on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.

And of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. God is judge. I want you to know today that you will stand before God. Every one of us will stand in God's presence and will be judged according to his standards, not our own. It's God who makes the rules. It is God who is holy. It is God who shall evaluate our lives. It is God before whom we shall stand. This is a compulsory judgment. Nobody skips it.

Nobody. This is a judgment that you can't have an attorney trying to tweak things and make them come out a little better. This is a judgment where there's nothing but reality, nothing but truth, nothing but who you really, really are.

It is individual. When I attended a Bible school in Canada, it was so small that everybody, everybody was in the choir. The choir was about 60 and the way you got into the choir is to be accepted into the Bible school. So I was in the choir, Jerry, write that down. And I'm not that bad a singer, but I'm not choir material exactly. And most of the songs I was able to sing and we practiced them so often, God knows, we needed to and we did fairly well.

But there were some that were a little bit tricky. So what I did is I just mouthed the words and everybody else carried the day and nobody knew the difference and everybody thought that I was singing just as loudly as anyone else, but I knew when to be very quiet. When we stand before God, we're not going to be in a choir.

It's going to be an individual audition, just you and God, nobody else, nobody to cover for you. So Paul speaks about God, the judge, and then he goes on to say God, the Redeemer in verse 31, he says he is appointed a time by which he is going to judge the world by that man whom he appointed. That is Jesus Christ. And as proof, he raised him from the dead. Earlier in the 17th chapter, it says that Paul proclaimed to them the resurrection of the dead.

What Paul was saying is that when you believe in Jesus, you don't just believe in your average guru or teacher. When you trust Jesus, you are trusting someone who actually was dead. Today we have many people who speak about near death experiences.

They go into a situation where their body seems to leave the soul and they separate and then they come together, but it's only a near death experience. I don't trust near death experiences. The only person I trust is somebody who actually was dead and then rose from the dead. I would think that he alone is qualified to really tell us what lies on the other side. The other day someone was being interviewed and they were asked, what would you ask God if you had a chance to ask him? And he said, well, I would ask him about the afterlife. And I want to say, my goodness, if you read the New Testament, you would already know enough about the afterlife to prepare for it.

That's true. So Paul speaks here about the triumph of Jesus and the claims of Jesus. And he preaches to them the resurrection.

And what I want you to see in this passage is very interesting. There are three responses to Paul's message. And I can tell you in advance that those three responses are going to be found also today in this congregation and those listening on the internet or by radio or MP3 or other kinds of gadgets that I do not understand.

Three responses that happens all the time. First of all, there were mockers. It says now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, this is verse 32, some mocked. Some said it can't be, doesn't fit our view of reality, doesn't fit our understanding of the world. And therefore what they wanted to do is to say that we're not opposed to God, but we just can't believe this.

And some of you right now are there, aren't you? Down deep inside, you're a mocker. It's not that you dislike God. In fact, you would like some benefits from belonging to God, but you don't want anything as drastic as believing in a Christ who is Lord God. Not quite that much.

Wilbur Rees wrote this. He says, I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beats with a migrant worker.

No, no, no. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper bag. I'd like to buy just $3 worth of God, please.

In other words, I'm here because I want some benefits that God might give me, but I don't want the new heart that he wants to give me. The mockers. By the way, the Bible says God is not mocked. God is not mocked.

Well, there's a second category and that is the procrastinators. It says in verse 32, we will hear you again about this. We're not ready for a decision because we have to do more comparative shopping. We have to see if we can get a better deal somewhere else.

Maybe one of these other gods that I referred to is more in keeping with our lifestyle. And so what we want to do is to put it off. Yeah, yeah. Let's postpone a decision, but I want you to know that that's a very bad idea because if you delay today, listen to me, those of you in the balcony and on the lower floor, if you delay today, I can assure you that you'll delay tomorrow. And the road that is marked tomorrow leads, as someone has said, to the town called never. The Bible says in the book of Proverbs, do not boast about tomorrow because you don't know what tomorrow may bring forth. Many people who intended to repent at 12 midnight died at 11 o'clock in the evening. Next year, God willing, if we're here, we will have another service like this, but some of you will not be here with us. Maybe I won't be here because we don't know the future, do we? Procrastination, putting it off.

You know what you should do, but you want to do it later. There is a legend, and it's only a legend, that Satan called some demons together and said to them, I want you to all think of the best way to keep people from believing in Jesus. And one of the demons said, well, let's tell people there is no God. Well, immediately that was rejected because even Satan knew that that's not possible because the evidence for God is overwhelming. So another demon said, tell them there's no hell. Satan said, well, it's maybe a little better, but they know intuitively that judgment is coming and some of their friends are already in hell.

That's maybe not the best idea. The third demon says, tell them there's no hurry. And that demon won the prize. So some of you may be mockers.

Some of you may be procrastinators, but there's another category and this ought to thrill us. It says when they had heard of the resurrection, some mocked. Others said, we'll hear you again. Paul went out from their midst, but some people joined him and believed one was Dionysius.

He was in charge of Mars Hill and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Some believed, and I think that's going to happen this morning. Some believed. What did they believe? They believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. But they also believe that because he was Christ God, that his death for sinners was so triumphant that he proved that death could not hold him and that he was raised from the dead and that he ascended into heaven and that his ascension into heaven is proof positive that the father accepted the payment that Jesus Christ made. And therefore these people repented of their sins, turned from their sins and accepted Christ as their personal sin bearer.

That's what happened. To make this as clear as I possibly can, if you believe that when Jesus died on the cross, he did all that ever will be necessary for you to stand in God's presence and that he did pay it all on the cross and that he was raised from the dead as we celebrate today. If you believe that you will be saved and you will have the assurance of being saved because your entry into heaven will no longer be based on your own flawed performance, but on the wonderful performance of Jesus welcomed into heaven as if you were Jesus saved on the basis of his merit. And let me tell you this, when you receive Jesus Christ as your savior this way, you don't get just three pounds of God.

You get the whole Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes to live within your life. My friend, I want to tell you how excited I am that we are making available to you a book I've written entitled The Vanishing Power of Death. Have you ever wished that you would have a book that you could give to your neighbors and friends that was very optimistic and yet of course gospel-centered, a book that gave people hope and through the scriptures and experience to be able to understand how important it is that we be ready for that final day when we die? The name of the book is entitled The Vanishing Power of Death, and I want to emphasize it because today is the last day that you can order it, and it will be yours for Easter. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I am going to be giving you that contact info again, but as I look through the table of contents, the book talks about a friend who calls our name. I'm thinking there of course of Mary Magdalene, how Jesus resurrects our dreams. Can you believe and still doubt?

That of course has to do with doubting Thomas. Jesus, the keeper of the keys, the Bible teaches that. Dying in the care of Jesus.

I've always said that Jesus really gives us an example of how to die, and then there are other messages too on the resurrection of the body and so forth. The title of the book, The Vanishing Power of Death, the subtitle is Conquering Your Greatest Fear. If you order it today, it can be yours for Easter. Here is what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And I want to thank you in advance for helping us financially. We so much appreciate your prayers. I like to think of all who are listening as part of the Running to Win family, helping us get the gospel of Christ around the world.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Death is in the news. Death from disease, death from war, and death from medical treatment. Whatever kills us, we need hope for what lies beyond the grave. Next time on Running to Win, more on Paul's discourse in Athens. He pointed the way to that hope, a hope based on one man's rising from the dead. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-16 02:49:51 / 2024-03-16 02:57:52 / 8

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