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The Clash Of Cross And Culture – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 18, 2024 1:00 am

The Clash Of Cross And Culture – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 18, 2024 1:00 am

Christians are rightfully uncomfortable within our disintegrating society. The cross has always been at odds with popular culture. In this message, Pastor Lutzer shows the five contrasts between the City of Man and the City of God. Governments may rise and fall, but the Gospel will endure despite the battles we face.

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Hi, this is Pastor Lutzer. Let me ask you a question.

Have you been blessed by running to win? Recently, we received a very interesting proposal. One of our listeners has pledged up to $25,000 for those who contribute to this ministry for the first time. Now, this only lasts until the end of June.

Would you take advantage of this opportunity of doubling your gift? Here's what you do. forward slash matching. That's forward slash matching, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. themselves increasingly at odds with the culture. That's because the cross of Christ is inherently at odds with the culture. Today we begin a series on Christians, politics and the cross. 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, in every election year, we wonder if getting involved in politics does any good.

Give us a look ahead into this crucial series. You know, Dave, I preach this series of messages trying to emphasize the fact that the cross of Christ must always be above the flag. But I think it's so critical for people to recognize that, of course, politics is important. If somebody tells me that politics isn't important, the question that I ask is, would you rather live in North Korea or South Korea? I could give example after example. But of course, as I want to emphasize, politics is not the most important thing.

It is not supremely important. So I have written a book that deals with these issues and for a gift of any amount, we're making it available. Immediately following this message, I'll give you some info as to how this book can be yours. This is a time in our history, of course, with an election coming up when we need to think clearly about the relationship of the cross and the flag. Now let's listen.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that the cross has always clashed with popular culture. Come with me to the year A.D. 410. Rome is lying along the Tiber River majestically asleep. When the citizens awake that morning, they have no idea that traders are within their gates. Alaric the Goth, some of his soldiers overpowered the soldiers that were stationed at the Silurian Gate and now they are within the walls of the city of Rome. They spend three days trashing the place.

They take works of art, gold, silver, they load their carts and three days later they leave. They did not burn Rome, they only destroyed it. They did not destroy entirely the city, but they wanted to humiliate it and they did.

And the question that the people and the citizens of Rome asked as they thought about it after the three days of horror were over was this. Who is to blame? Who's to blame? And most of the citizens of Rome said that it is the Christians who are to blame. Their God is responsible for this. Rome is the city of Christendom and God did not take care of his own city and his own people. In order to understand why the Christians were blamed, we need to go back nearly 100 years before that to the year 312. Constantine is coming to Rome and about to conquer it and he sees the vision in this sign conquer and he assumes that this is the Christian cross. Marches his men to the river, has them baptized as Christians and puts the cross of Christ on their shields and then goes to battle and wins. Thanks to his influential and famous mother Helena who urged him to make Christianity the religion of the empire. Constantine does and by the next generation the whole city of Rome and the Roman empire is quote Christianized. The pagans resented it.

They resented it. Some of them said we are going to continue to worship our own gods and they did. Others said if we have to worship the Christian God at least we can take some of our pagan practices and we can continue to worship those too and that's where you have a lot of paganism coming into Christianity.

Rome was pagan polytheistic. They had a god. If you were to go on a journey you were supposed to pray to that god. If you were to sell something you were to pray to that god. Well Christianity couldn't absorb all those different gods but they accepted the idea that saints would now take over those responsibilities and so many of the people who became Christians did so resentfully and only outwardly and they were not genuinely converted and now Rome had adopted this Christian god who did not defend them and the pagans said our god could have done a better job.

In order for us to understand what really happened let's put ourselves into the picture. Let us suppose that the religious right in America really got what they wanted, the criminalization of abortion, mandated school prayers. Let us suppose that we had a Christian congress and a distinctively Christian president and a supreme court that acted in a Christianly way and judges who gave Christian decisions. Let's suppose it were to happen and in the middle of that there would be an economic collapse. Banks would be closed, people would be laid off.

What you would find is huge soup lines. Can you imagine what people would say? They would say you Christians you're the ones that wanted to take over America and the minute you take it over here's this economic crisis and you told us, you promised us that if only you could have quote America back then things would be different and righteousness would abound and God would bless this place and look at what has happened and it's your fault. Can't you just hear it?

Believe me it would happen. Now in order to defend the Christian god and in order to give some perspective to what happened there was a man by the name of Augustine sometimes pronounced Augustine and he wrote a book, one of the great influential books of all time and it's entitled the city of God, a city of God. Augustine said that really in order to understand this we must see that there are two cities. There is the city of man and the city of man goes by man's rules. The city of man lives according to man's standards and as far as the city of man is concerned it is what men build.

It is the art and the buildings and the paintings and the sculptures and the beauty of Rome. That is the city of man but there is another city it's called the city of God. The city of God is the God of the apostles. It is the God of the prophets. It is the God is the God of the apostles. It is the God of the prophets.

It is the God of all those who trust Christ and it is his city and we seek that city whose builder and foundation is God and of course because there are two cities there are also two different kinds of citizens. There are those who became angry when Rome was trashed because this is their life. They are materialistic. They are filled with greed. Wealth and pomp and creature comforts represents all that they live for and when that is taken away they think that that which is most precious has been taken from them but then there are Christians and and the Christians they did not lose a whole lot when Rome was looted and they didn't lose it because that's not where their heart is. They have treasure in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal and there's nothing that a lyric and his hordes of barbarians can do to touch what is particularly precious to them. It is secure. I don't need to tell you today that in America there is increasing antagonism between the city of man and the city of God.

They are in conflict. Today in America the city of man is based on a self-absorption radical individualism. The idea that I have the right to create my own truth to have my own standards to make actually ex nihilo my own religion by combining whatever bits and pieces of other religions that I care to or to believe nothing at all. Everyone is into their rights and into their freedoms. The city of man in America is based on human nature the desires of human nature doing your own thing best summarized perhaps in the words of Woody Allen the heart wants what it wants and whatever it wants it should get.

And then of course it is based on the lie of Eden that basically you shall be your own God. You shall be your God. What do we do folks? What do we do? That is the question of the hour and that is the purpose of the series of messages that I am beginning today. What does America need at this critical hour? What is our answer as we cast about reading the newspapers and seeing everything that we once counted dear being tossed aside?

What is the answer? Well I want you to know today that the Bible has an answer for us as it always does and I need to encourage you by reminding you that most of the epistles of the New Testament were written to little pockets of righteousness in the midst of a sea of paganism. The Christian church today is not facing any challenge that the church in the past has not faced. True Christianity has always been a minority.

It has never usually been a friend to government and government has never been a friend to it. There has always been this clash that we shall continue to talk about next week and as a result of that I want you to know that God is able to work in and through us and yes perhaps in his grace things can still be turned around but the question is how and what are we to be doing? I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Philippians chapter 3 for just a moment. The Apostle Paul is sitting in jail in Rome and he does not have a righteous ruler in Rome. As a matter of fact did you know that as Paul was sitting there penning this epistle in Rome sitting in jail Nero was ruling. Nero after all was the man who had his own mother murdered. Nero was the one who when Rome burned blamed it on the Christians and a number of years ago my wife and I were in Rome just outside of Nero's palace. We were actually in the palace too the ruins but outside the palace and it is said that Christians lit his palace as they had pitch poured on them and they were lighted and there they burned.

He was an evil evil ruler. We've not seen the likes of him. We've not seen the likes of him in this country and the Apostle Paul now is talking about the two different cities and you'll notice in chapter 3 we pick it up at verse 18. He is speaking about the fact that our citizenship our polis that's the Greek word our politics verse 20 is in heaven.

That's the city of God. Our politics is in heaven and very briefly five contrasts between the city of man and the city of God as outlined in these verses. First of all notice that Paul says we walk in different directions.

We walk in different directions. For many walk of whom I often told you and now tell you even weeping that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. True believers walk toward the cross. We submit to the cross.

The theme of my messages during these next weeks is the cross which I'm going to explain because it is the centerpiece of God's agenda and we love the cross. God forbid that we should glory except in the cross of Jesus Christ but those who are enemies they are not walking with the cross. Now I want you to know that very probably Paul was not talking about the pagans here.

He was talking about the Judaizers who were filled with legalism. Did you know that you don't have to be a pagan to be an enemy of the cross? All that you need to do is to distort the cross, add to the cross, add to the cross, think that the cross is not sufficient for salvation and in other ways distort its message and you become an enemy of the cross of Christ.

Notice the contrast though. The city of God we love the cross. The city of man despises the cross. One of my messages is going to be entitled what men think of the cross and why. Second contrast we have different appetites whose end is destruction whose God is their appetite. Whatever desires I have in the body I shall fulfill.

Whatever I want to do I will do. What seems good in my sight is sufficient for me. They know nothing about the fact that there is meat to eat that they know not of and that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. They do not understand that because they are headed for destruction. Different appetites.

Different appetites. And then I want you to notice that we have a different language. It says whose glory is in their shame and what a commentary on some of our trash talk shows today.

People who should be embarrassed to let anybody know what they've done and they're gloating about it on national television. Their glory is in their shame. They set their mind on earthly things and that's all that they can talk about is those earthly things and what about us? Well we have a different language out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speak of and we talk about the glories of Christ. We talk about his wonders. We love God and we confess our love to him.

And then notice another contrast. We live by different aspirations. Different aspirations. Our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for his savior the Lord Jesus Christ. We want him to we want him to return because we love him. On this recent tour to Israel somebody said you know I want Christ to return but what about those who are not ready for his appearing and that is a conflict indeed. We wonder about those and therefore it is with mixed emotion that we refer to the return of Christ but over and above all things we desire his appearing because we are anxious to see him as he is and I hope that if you are a part of the city of God that that is your desire. That is your aspiration. That's not what the world is looking forward to.

They're looking for one more opportunity to make more money so that they can live comfortably so that they can live isolated from the traumas of life and somehow eke out just a little bit more pleasure in the years that they might happen to have and then of course there's a different destination. You'll notice it says who will transform the body of our humble estate into conformity with the body of his glory by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to himself and what about the end of those who know not God? Well pick it up there in verse 19 whose end is destruction. Now said Augustine, the city of man and the city of God they interact. In eternity past there was only the city of God. Because of the fall of man now there is the city of God and the city of man and we are citizens of both realms and in the future they shall be separated again forever one to everlasting destruction and the other to everlasting bliss. But the challenge before you and me is this present moment. It is their interaction and the question that is before us is how shall the city of God live in the midst of the city of man? What is our agenda at this very critical moment of American history? That's the question before us.

What do we do? People are asking. Christians are asking.

What is God's answer? Well do we withdraw? After the Scopes trial in America fundamentalism tended to withdraw from culture. It had its bible studies. It preached its sermons largely though to itself. There was really no bridge to culture because the world was deemed to be evil and the best way that you separate yourself from the world is to be isolated. Isolated from it.

Well that does not seem to be the problem today. There is another extreme that people are falling into and that is to say let's do this. Let's capture the city of man. Let's take it over. Let's elect a congress that is distinctively Christian. Let us elect a president who is distinctively Christian. Let us make sure that our judges of the land become Christian and then we will be in charge and you will see the changes that will be made and America will be great again. Maybe if we can capture the city of man we can turn it into a paradise.

Well I want you to know today that history does not bear out the possibility of that being successful. Well my friend this is Pastor Lutzer. I want you to know that I preached these messages many years ago long before the present political campaigns and just to be clear as a pastor I have never endorsed a political candidate or a political party and I say that because I think that this is oftentimes an unnecessary stumbling block even as we try to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. That being said it is very important that we as citizens make an informed choice. We seek our consciences.

We study and then from there on we make our political decisions. But I've written a book entitled Christians Politics and the Cross and I wrote this book because as you might know throughout history the issue of the relationship of the church and politics has oftentimes been debated. I think that this book will shed some light on our present situation and for a gift of any amount we're making it available for you.

We here at Running to Win are committed to helping you and giving you resources that we believe will encourage you even as you run to the finish line. Here's what you do go to or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book Christians Politics and the Cross and even as you communicate with us may I in advance express my deep appreciation for your financial help as we continue to expand the ministry of Running to Win.

Go to or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Issues of marriage have prompted a listener named Charles to email us these questions Dr. Lutzer. He asks after divorce is remarriage allowed and what place do the remarried have in the church? Does it matter if they come to Christ after their divorce rather than if they had been divorced as Christians and can they be restored to fellowship?

Well thanks so much for your email Charles and of course you're asking some very very interesting and far-flung questions but very simply I'm going to begin with your middle question. No it really doesn't make any difference whether you accepted Jesus Christ or not in relation to the marriage bond. You know the question of whether or not the bond is broken I don't think has a whole lot to do with whether or not you were a Christian when you married or whether you became a Christian afterwards. In answer to your other question is divorce allowed? Well I believe it is under certain conditions certainly when there has been prolonged adultery and when one partner remarries I think the other is free to remarry but you'd better check with your pastor because not everybody is agreed on that but finally you ask the question can somebody who is divorced or has been divorced can they be restored to fellowship?

Yes of course they can be. Forgiveness is available for divorce as it is for other sins but we have to distinguish here between fellowship and also the question of ministry because while you may be restored to ministry you may not be able to have certain functions or roles within the church. For example here at the Moody Church we have an informal rule that someone who's been divorced can't be on the elder board.

Other churches have different policies so you have to stick with that church but always remember that yes God is a God of new beginnings and so if you're the one to whom this question applies what you need to do is to assess the past receive forgiveness in those areas where forgiveness is needed and move on. Some wise words of counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at 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 Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. The cross of Christ is inherently in conflict with our culture especially when the media flaunts immorality as normal. Politicians vie for position on issues the Bible settled long ago. Thankfully the cross can do what politics can't. Next time on Running to Win Erwin Lutzer will continue listing the conflicts between what he's calling the city of man and the city of God. Plan to join us for more of the clash of cross and culture. Thanks for listening for Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-18 02:12:28 / 2024-06-18 02:21:07 / 9

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