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

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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March 18, 2024 2:00 am

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

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 18, 2024 2:00 am

We need hope for what lies beyond the grave. Paul’s discourse in Athens pointed the way to that hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this message, Pastor Lutzer identifies three different reactions to the risen Christ: mocking, procrastinating, or believing. What is our response?

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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.

Death is in the news, death from disease, war, and even death from medical treatment. Whatever kills us, we need hope for what lies beyond the grave. Paul's discourse in Athens pointed the way to that hope, a hope based on one man's rising from the dead.

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, how did you feel walking atop Mars Hill, a scant few yards from where Paul encountered those Greek philosophers? Well Dave, as you remember, Mars Hill is very rocky and we were on top of Mars Hill and I had the opportunity of preaching from Acts chapter 17, very close as you have mentioned to the place where the Apostle Paul stood when he preached his famous sermon. What's interesting is that throughout the centuries, Mars Hill has become famous for that sermon, but also a reminder to everyone that the Apostle Paul preached about God as creator, God as the judge, and God as the one who came to rescue us from our sins and that's why he preached on the resurrection from the dead.

What an experience. Well I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The Vanishing Power of Death and of course it contains in it a sermon on Paul's famous sermon. We're making it available to you as a resource that we think will help all of our listeners as they walk through their own experience in trying to help others face death, reminding themselves of their own death, but best of all, the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Here's what you do, go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 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 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 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 Ries wrote this he says I would like to buy three dollars 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 three dollars 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 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. 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. A 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. During one of these services a few years ago I gave an invitation to receive Christ just like I'm going to do today. A woman told me later that she was sitting in the balcony and when that happened she embraced Jesus as her Savior and she believed and it turns out that we discovered that others believed as well, some believed. What did they believe? They believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins but they also believed 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. 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.

So what do you have to do? You have to turn from all the things that you are depending upon, everything, and look only to Jesus, dead, buried, ascended on your behalf, no longer can you trust your rituals, your baptism, or communion, you must look only to what Jesus did for you on the cross and personally receive him by faith. Just let go, that's what you do when you come to Christ. You let go of all of your own good righteousness, your own view of how well you have done, and you come to Jesus just as you are and you receive the forgiveness that he died to bring us and you walk in the life that his resurrection gives us and you now know that you serve a risen savior and because he lives you shall live also.

Take it from Jesus himself, but as many as received him the Bible says to them he gave the authority to become the children of God even to those who believe in his name. Open your life to him, believe in him for your eternity, and if you will let us pray. Our Father we thank you for Jesus, thank you that amid the welter of all of the gods of contemporary society there is only one who's qualified to save us. We pray for those who have never trusted Christ as savior. As they've heard these brief words we pray that you will enable them to let go of themselves, their righteousness, and receive the gift of God through Jesus our Lord.

My friend this is Pastor Luther and I want to have a personal word with you. We're making a book available entitled The Vanishing Power of Death but I want to remind you that you and I do not know when we are going to die. I was reminded of that this past week when some friends of ours had a son who died in a hotel room.

He was quite young. A reminder of the fact that death sometimes comes unexpectedly. So are you ready for that moment which could happen today? Through faith in Jesus Christ we can be assured that when we die even if dying unexpectedly we'll be in the presence of God. And that's why we're making this book available to you The Vanishing Power of Death because you know people who may be going through a great deal of sorrow because of the death of a loved one and you want to give them hope. And then you think of your own future death and you want to make sure that your faith is in Jesus Christ and through illustrations through biblical teaching we are given the hope that all of us seek. For a gift of any amount this resource can be yours.

Here's what you do go to or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. When we stop to think about death it is very sobering isn't it? Because everything that has been done has been done.

Nothing can be changed. Reality sets in and so does eternity. That's why we're making this resource available to you The Vanishing Power of Death. Simply go to or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. I am he who lives and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore. I have the keys of death and of Hades. The glorified Jesus said this as revealed in the book of Revelation. Next time on Running to Win a celebration of the empty tomb formerly occupied by the keeper of the keys. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-18 05:27:56 / 2024-03-18 05:35:43 / 8

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