The Gift We Can’t Do Without
Dr. Lutzer and Dr. Ankerberg emphasize the importance of salvation as a free gift from God.
you know, people can be wrong about many things. You can be wrong about sports, you can be wrong about your career choice. You can be wrong about who you should marry and where you should live. But don’t ever be wrong about the question of how you can be certain that you will spend eternity with God john you’re right. This is the most important topic that anyone could ever consider because when you stop to think of it, time is short and eternity is very long. It’s endless. And the moment that you die, you will either be in a place where you will see nothing but beauty and holiness and be welcomed or you will be in a place of darkness and abandonment. My guest today is dr Irwin looser who is pastor emeritus of the moody church in Chicago Illinois, where he has served as the senior pastor for 36 years and has authored over 50 important books today. Most people say they believe in God, but they are not certain that they will be accepted by God for all eternity and before they die they want assurance ahead of time that they will be accepted by God today. And in the weeks ahead, Dr Luther will give you a concise biblical answer of how you can be saved and the assurance that you are saved. On this important edition of the john Achterberg show. Mhm Welcome to our program. I’m Jonah Goldberg and my guest is dr Irwin loser. He is pastor emeritus of the moody church in Chicago where he has served as a senior pastor for 36 years downtown Chicago. And today we’re gonna talk about a topic that I think you’ll really be interested in. And it’s this how can you be sure? We’re talking about how can you not your wife, your husband, your kids, How can you, whoever you’re watching out there? How can you be sure that you’ll spend eternity with God? We all know we’re gonna die. The question is, will you be with God or you’ll be someplace else? All right. And today, we’re gonna talk about a topic that goes with that and we’re talking about the gift that you can’t do without everybody likes gifts, right? You like a gift, I like gifts. But God says he’s giving away a gift that you can’t do without. And Irwin, what is this gift, Jesus actually, he opened up the conversation about this gift because it was a gift that God does spiritually in the lives of people. And he was talking to a religious leader in John Chapter three and he expected this religious leader to know it. Boom, right off the bat. But as you read the conversation, we will see that he did not know what jesus was talking about and you know, john in order to put this in context, he was speaking to Nicodemus who was the ruler of the jews. That meant that Nicodemus had the responsibility of making sure the jewish law was enforced. He was one of the top leaders and he comes to jesus at night. And probably the reason is because he didn’t want to be seen. Jesus was supposed to be his enemy, but he knows there’s something about jesus that intrigues him. He says, I know that you are a teacher come from God because nobody can do what you’re doing unless God is with him now, Jesus, who knows everything. Doesn’t even really wait for a question and to all those who are listening today, this is so incredibly important because Jesus said if you don’t have this miracle in your heart, you will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven, let’s hear it from Jesus himself. And by the way, jesus is an authority on this, he is an authority on this. I remember being on a plane, I’m witnessing to this person who says, well I think if I do the best I can, I’ll get to heaven. I said, really, what is your authority? I said, did God reveal that to you? Because how could you possibly know what God’s requirements are. And then I pointed him to jesus who speaks to us with great authority and everyone needs to listen to this because Jesus says truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. And I’m going to pause here and simply say that there are many people out there who would say that they were born again because of baptism or because of this, or a change of mind, john as we shall see, jesus is talking about a miracle that only God can do. Now, let’s remember our last session together was on justification by faith, justification happens outside of us. It is God’s declaration that legal, the legal declaration, this is a work within us. They happen simultaneously, but they must be distinguished. Well anyway, Nicodemus thinks of obstetrics, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? I have to pause here and say, I was witnessing to a man in Germany and I happened to know these verses in german and he asked me the very same question when I told him he had to be born again, he said, I’m old, how can I be born again? So Jesus answers and says truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, yep. And I want to stop right there because some people associate that you gotta be with water as you have to be baptized. And that is the last thing that Nicodemus would have thought of. Now Jesus expected him to know the old testament, after all, he is a pharisee, he’s teaching the old testament alright, So he thought that he would know this upside and down and let me give you two illustrations why this does not apply to baptism with water. Okay, Because in the old testament, it’s never associated that way. Water is associated with God doing something in the human heart. I’ll give you two examples. Okay, one is in Ezekiel chapter 36 and the verses are 25 and 26, God says, Hey, I will Sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Let me give you another one. That’s Jeremiah chapter 33 verse eight, God says I will cleanse them from all the iniquity they have committed against me and forgive all the wrong that they have committed by rebelling against me. So here God says, I will cleanse you, I will change your heart. And that’s what Jesus was expecting. Nicodemus to get out of these words. And john to anyone who’s listening, who depends upon baptism to be saved. Their faith is spurious. It is a wrong faith and it is not the faith that is necessary to get into heaven. Now, let me be very clear. Obviously, Nicodemus would have thought of those verses, he would not have thought of baptism. And furthermore, Jesus says he’s not talking about two births. He doesn’t say unless you are born of water and born of the Spirit. He’s talking about one birth where there is water and Spirit, the cleansing of the spirit and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, john it just dawned on me that if jesus meant water, that meant that he was not even participating in his own teaching about salvation, because he didn’t baptize anybody and they were not baptizing anybody in the old testament either. No, So jesus here is talking about a work of God in the heart of cleansing and of the miracle. So here’s the way we can understand it. Human birth puts us into the human family alright, and what we need is a divine birth. That is a miracle of God to make us members of God’s family, Children, sons and daughters of God’s family, and this is a miracle that must happen. You know Billy Graham was preaching in europe, and a famous theologian, Billy was preaching on this text, said Billy, there’s nothing wrong with your message, but I wish you wouldn’t emphasize that little word must and I heard Billy Graham in preaching saying, but I emphasize it because Jesus emphasized it, you must be born again. And jesus goes on to talk about the fact that that which is born of the flesh is flesh were all born of the flesh were born into the human family and that which is born of the spirit is Spirit. So we have to ask those who are listening again, john we cannot overemphasize this, really. We have to ask them again, are you born again? And don’t tell me that it happened when you were eight days old and baptized or when you were baptized as an adult. It is true that in the Book of Acts, baptism was often associated with salvation because it was assumed that if you believe you’ll be baptized, but the thief on the cross proves to us that baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is faith in a savior who is actually qualified to save us. Yeah. And Irwin, the thing I want people to get is that jesus is talking about after you’re born again. There is actually something within you, then that was not in you before you were born again. Talk about that, john this is so exciting. There’s no other religion in the world that can make a claim like that. All of the religions of the world, if you took a piece of paper, you could write all of them on one side. Works are necessary for salvation. Here’s the eightfold path. Here’s the fourfold path, Christianity comes along and says it is a free gift, but also it creates a new nature within us which is so important when, because we have so many people that have come to us and said, look, I’m hooked on this or I’ve I’ve gotten addicted to this kind of behavior and I can’t change, they need a new heart and this is exactly what jesus is talking about. A new nature. Okay, not only does he legally declare you justified before God that your sins are forgiven, but he also gives you the holy spirit who comes in and gives you the power to change your life has changed. You have a new set of desires. If any man be in christ, paul says he is a new creation. Now, just think about this miracle paul says in second Corinthians chapter four, he says the same God who spoke light into existence, the light that came out of darkness and said let there be light is the same God who has shown in our hearts to give us the light of the glory of God. In the face of jesus christ, the same creative ability by which God created the world’s is the same creative ability by which God actually saves us. Now, let me mention my testimony Here I am. I’m born into a Christian home. I’m told I have to accept Jesus as my savior. I do it over and over again. And by the way in another program we’re going to be discussing assurance and I don’t feel any different. But at the age of 14 my parents says you have to get this straight, christ has to be received by faith, whether you feel differently or not. So there in the little farmhouse we got on our knees and that night as best as I knew how I said I received christ and trust him. All right, john the next day I knew that I knew God. I mean the presence of God was so overwhelming why the miracle of the new birth had happened in my life. And there are people out there who have never experienced it. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna see angels and you know, you’re gonna necessarily always feel different. But it does mean the fact that jesus comes into our heart to use another expression, The Holy Spirit of God is resident within us and the miracle happens. It’s also an answer to those who say, hey you guys say that you can accept jesus and all of your sins are forgiven. Then you can live like the devil. No, you can’t. Because when you invite jesus to come into your life, you put your faith in him. He gives you the Holy Spirit who changes you and gives you this new nature and you don’t want to live like the devil. You want to live more like jesus christ because our desires are changed by God. We begin to love God. We begin to call God father. And this is so essential to understand. Let me ask you this, john let’s use this as an illustration, okay, here’s a man who asks a young woman to marry him. All right and she knows he’s absolutely trustworthy. So she can trust the engagement does she say, well, now that my marriage is secure, it’s gonna happen, I’m gonna go sleep with some other men. Of course not. She loves him. And therefore when we are changed, we are not only loved by God, but we love God. I remember a woman who struggled with alcoholism because even though we have a new nature, we still struggle with sin. But every time she prayed, she always began by saying, Father, I know that I have sinned against you and she was in grief over her sin. She knew that the word father came out of her mouth. Why? Because Romans eight says the Holy Spirit of God when he comes within us changes us and we begin to call God father, I love this Irwin because of the fact that the greek actually, when jesus says, you must be born again, actually means you must be born from above. Okay, God’s got to do the changing in your life. And jesus called that being born again. And when people that have had this experience, I remember the day that I invited christ to come into my life and you know, some people talk about the experience of falling in love with a girl or a guy and it was a real moment, okay, But for me, it was a moment where all of a sudden I realized, I know God personally, and I just couldn’t I couldn’t fathom it and I couldn’t stop from telling people, I know God, it’s something that people should have and you know that’s the problem with Nicodemus, he was so overloaded with rules, but he had no reality, he had lots of rules to live by, but he had no relationship, john there are people listening to us today who don’t understand that you can know God personally, once you are born again and the holy spirit of God changes your desires. Now when a person is converted, it is instantaneous, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t all kinds of incremental issues which eventually lead him to conversion and that certainly is true, I could give examples of that and there are people who are listening today who have had the gospel shared with them in different ways and God has brought them to this moment to see this program for this moment in their lives that they may accept christ as savior and once that happens it is an instantaneous change folks. Look, you might have like Irwin and I, we went to church all of our life, but we weren’t born again. We uh probably sang in the choir, I went to the christian boys club, I played with all my christian friends, I read the bible with our family, I still wasn’t born again and you can be a church member, a choir member on usher, you can do good works, you can take care of the poor, you can give money in the offering plate and you still aren’t born again, this is something, it’s a gift that only God gives and it’s a gift that you desperately need. Now, Irwin, you’ve got a tremendous illustration of how you can have a fantastic entrance into the Kingdom of God by being born again. I’d like you to share it with the people. I’m so glad to be able to share this illustration because when we begin to think about entering into the Kingdom of God, it’s going to be an awesome experience. And I have to emphasize again that jesus said, you must be born again. So take it from jesus many years ago my daughter and I were in Washington, D. C. My wife wasn’t able to be with me at that time and I was speaking in a church that was just outside of Washington when I was finished, a member of the Secret Service came to me after I had preached and said I’m a member of the Secret Service. Would you like to go into the White House into the Oval office tomorrow. Now of course that was very exciting and monday happened to be the Labor Day weekend. And this was during the time when the first President Bush was President. And so perhaps security was not quite as tight as it is today. So obviously we agreed that we would meet him on monday morning on one of those little huts that you frequently see on television and there are a number of guards that were there at the gate. Now what’s interesting is that the the guards looked at him, the Secret Service agent. Then they looked at us and they said oh you’re with him, go on in now when you get to the door of the White House, what you discover is that there are more guards there and they looked at the agent and then they looked at us and they said go on in at the door of the oval office. There was one guard that was standing at attention. He kind of glanced at us that we were with a Secret Service agent and he said that we could go in now we couldn’t go to the President’s desk but we were able to enter into the oval office. Now as I reflected on this I thought to myself imagine all of us dying and all those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit as we are talking about today, imagine that all of us are on our way to the Kingdom of God to the Holy City, the very presence of the Almighty. And let us also imagine that along the way there are centuries of angels that are kind of guarding the heavenly city. We go past the first group they look at jesus who comes to accompany us and they says you’re with him, go on in, we come to another group of angels, you’re with him, they look at jesus go on in and then we have a flashback and we think of all of our sins because now in the distance we see the holiness of God and we think to ourselves we can’t go in, we can’t go in because among us there are those who are criminals and done horrible things and the rest of us who perhaps haven’t done all those awful things, still had a lot of iniquity in our hearts that we committed. But the angel looks at jesus and says you’re with him, go on in. Then Jesus presents us to the father and his father. These are your people. They are all born again. They are redeemed by your blood and I have inspected them and I find no fault in them. They are yours, they are redeemed imagine entering into the Kingdom of God and the only way to get there is to be born again and accept the words of jesus and the work of jesus. I’m gonna pray for you right now because God has brought you to this moment that you might accept christ as savior and be born from above, pray a prayer like this. But it’s not the prayer that saves you. It is the transfer of your trust to a qualified savior. Lord jesus. I thank you today that you came to this earth to die on the cross to be buried and to be raised again and to remind us that we must be born again and today I received that miracle is mine. I confess my sinfulness, my inability to help myself and my faith and my trust is in jesus alone, trusting him to take me all the way to the father’s house in jesus name, I pray this amen. Now folks, if you prayed that prayer with Irwin and you meant it, God’s word says whosoever shall call upon, the name of the Lord shall be saved. That’s what he did for you. He put the Holy Spirit into your life and you’re going to know him and you’re going to experience him and I’m so glad that you tuned in today, next week we’re going to continue with this topic of how you can know for sure that you’ll spend eternity with God and I’d say call a friend, tell them to join us, but right now stay tuned because I’ve got a personal word for you now, if you’d like to watch this program again or share it with a friend, you can do so for free on your phone through our app, just go to the app, store on your device and search for anchor. Berg once you download it, you can watch this series again as well as over 100 other programs anytime, anywhere absolutely free to find these videos in your language, simply open up our app and tap on languages along with this, our app lets you read and even listen to the bible in over 1000 languages, simply tap on the bible icon displayed on the main page of our app to find your own language. Once it opens, you can find your language by tapping on the second box at the top. If you have never read or listened to the bible, I encourage you to find your language and check it out for yourself. The gospel accounts of Matthew, mark, luke and john are a great place to start then if you can understand english, we have even more resources available for you. These include hundreds of Q and a videos where leading scholars answer your tough questions about the faith. We also have a large collection of bible studies by my friend dr Wayne Barber. He does a great job of walking you through books of the bible verse by verse to help you better understand and apply God’s word. In addition to this, we now have over 8000 articles on our website, simply go to J A show dot org and at the top you will see a tab labeled study, click on that and then articles And we have organized our articles into over 30 categories which you can find on the right side of the page. This is a great way for you to explore almost any topic even further and lastly be sure to follow us on facebook instagram, twitter and youtube to stay up to date with the latest news, videos, articles and more from the john Achterberg show. Thanks again for joining us today. I hope that you will tune in this time next week for another episode of the john in Coburg show. Until then May God bless you and I’ll see you next week. 2 4. No, doesn’t just mean to know ahead of time. Obviously God knows all things ahead of time. But he says in the old testament regarding Israel only you have I known from all the families of the earth. Well doesn’t God know everything of course what it means is to for love that’s why some translations there in the old testament say only you have I chosen. So if you’re safe today and at the end of this broadcast, we’re going to invite others to get saved. But if you’re saved today, you were loved from before the foundation of the world. And then the second word is predestination. And that word basically means what it indicates to predestination means to plan ahead of time. It was sometimes used of surveyors who wanted to have a city built like Washington D. C. That was laid out in terms of its avenues and its streets, it was laid out ahead of time. God predestined you to be conformed. It says he for new. He predestined to be conformed to the image of his son. That’s God’s purpose. If you wonder what God is doing in your life