For Doubters Only
Dr. Lutzer concludes by addressing our human doubts, including the ways doubt can help us grow in our faith.
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’s 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. Welcome to our program. I’m john Achterberg and my guest is dr Irwin loot sir, he is pastor emeritus of the moody church in Chicago Illinois, where he’s been the senior pastor for 36 years, folks Think of being the pastor in Chicago downtown Chicago for 36 years. You’re looking at the man right now and it’s one of the churches that is known around the world because of his ministry. God has blessed him greatly. And Irwin, I’m so glad that you would come and be with us today and share this information. We want to talk about something. I think that you folks out there are gonna really like is I could call this program for doubters only. So I would say how many of you folks uh, that are christians out there, You’ve ever had a doubt about your faith. Okay. If you haven’t had a doubt, you know, change the channel, I bet you nobody would change the channel because you’ve all had doubts about your Christianity at some time or other. We want to talk about how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God and get rid of these doubts. Okay, And maybe I want to change this up a little bit here. And if you look at Michelangelo’s painting of the last judgment, all right, you could look at different people in the last judgment and you will see all of them except one person have doubts or worries on their face. Okay? They’re scared of what’s gonna happen to them now. You can go around to different people only. The virgin mary Michelangelo put in there, had a calm face now, whether that’s true or not, I’m just simply saying all the rest, they had worried faces, they didn’t know what was going to happen to them. And I want to hook that up with another thing that causes people a lot of doubt in the bible. There are many books and scholars today think that the apostle paul is the darling of the Skeptics. So there’s 4000 of the top scholars in the world and they will give you out of the 13 books that paul wrote in the new testament. They’ll give you seven of these, they won’t say that their holy scripture, but they’ll say they’re reliable because before paul became a christian, he killed christians. This after jesus was crucified, Rose from the dead, he killed christians and he knew the eyewitnesses, he knew all the apostles and he was on the scene. And so they say, we trust him, he’s a scholar because you look at his book, you look at the Book of romans, we had the foremost philosopher in the world, sit right here and we said, what do you think of paul? He says, he’s a first rate philosopher. I said why? He’s got a logical argument in romans. The whole book is a logical argument says, well that’s great. But here’s the thing is that in one of the books that the scholars accept as reliable, they don’t call it holy scripture, they just simply it’s reliable, it’s Galatians and I’d like to read a verse from Galatians because paul is somewhat mad in writing this book. It’s he’s already visited these people. He’s established the church in Galicia and the fact is now he’s heard some things about what’s going on in the church and he writes this verse in Galatians 16 through seven. He says, I’m astonished that you are so quickly deserting him, who called you in the grace of christ and you’re turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of christ. Now what’s paul saying? He says, look folks, I sweat blood to come and I preached to you and you accepted the Lord, I told you there’s only one gospel and you’ve already been listening to other people that have led you astray. There’s not other gospels, there is only one gospel and it came by the grace of christ. No other way. Alright. And he says, even in his day, there were different gospels going around. He says, why did you believe them? And today folks, we’ve got the same thing going on. You’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of churches in your town, but they don’t all preach the same message. You can look on the internet and people have different religious beliefs and different ideas. And they’re not preaching the same message. Here’s what I want to get in your mind as we start this program today. Biblically the apostles, the ones that saw the risen jesus and paul was one of them on the road of Damascus. Jesus appeared to him. He said all of us, we were preaching the same message. We were all on the same page that jesus christ came into this world. He was the son of man, He was the son of God. He was the messiah. He was horribly murdered on a cross. He shed his blood for our sins. He was buried in the ground. He arose from the dead. We all saw him, we touched him. And that’s why we’ve gone to the rest of the world to tell them that jesus is the savior, why would you dessert him? You’ve got a different gospel. It’s not the true one. And I would ask those of you that go to different churches, what is the message that you hear? And Irwin, I think it’s a good question for people to think about what is the message they want to hear. And I’m gonna let you answer this in a different way. You and I would do funerals for people and a lot of them. If there were a lot of people, people say, well, that’s a very nice funeral or if there’s just a few folks that are friends and there’s some beautiful flowers. That’s a very nice, nice funeral. I don’t judge funerals on that basis. I wonder about the person that’s in the box, who is now standing before God. What does God think about that person? All right. And I wonder when people talk about different words that we use? Okay, one of them is has this person been justified by faith alone? In christ alone? They say, What in the world does that mean? And why is it so important to you? Christians? Why would it matter to God that this person that died and is now standing before him is justified by faith in christ alone. Why, what is that, john first of all, before I answer your question, I want to go back to Michelangelo’s painting. If it is true that all of these people had consternation on their faces not knowing how the final judgment was going to turn out for them. The reason is because in Michelangelo’s time, the church was teaching that there is no assurance of salvation because salvation was a cooperative effort. God did his part and you do your part. And the problem with that teaching is that we never know whether or not we have done our part. And so what you had during that period of time as well as today, is this question namely, can assurance even be attained if I might use that word in those days. It was referred to as presumption, you know, that is the sin of presumption that you know that you’re going to heaven. And so what we have to do is to illustrate very clearly. So, people understand that we can have assurance and your illustration of the funeral. Absolutely. Here’s a man who perhaps many people are gathering around of course at funerals, we say such nice things about people that others maybe don’t even recognize the corpse. But the fact is that that person is in eternity, either he is in the presence of God as the apostle paul assured himself thanks to the word of God, that that’s where he would be to depart and to be with christ is far better or else he is in a place called Hades, a place of darkness, a place of judgment. So the critical question is, has that person believed the gospel that we’re talking about. Now there’s a lot of false faith out there. I mentioned one and that is where works are part of the gospel message and you never know whether or not you’ve done your part. Sacraments tell you, oh, you have your sins forgiven. But tomorrow’s another day with brand new sins and on and on it goes, and you have no assurance. The other thing that happens is there are people who doubt because they have believed superficially they’ve prayed a prayer and they think that the prayer will save them. Actually prayer doesn’t save anyone. It’s the transfer of trust that is represented by prayer that saves And then there are people out there who say, well, you know, as a child I received christ and that’s fine. But the problem is you may not have known what was going on or even why you needed a savior. There may be people listening today who don’t know that they need a savior. And the reason is because they don’t see themselves for the sinners that they are. And so the gospel is the fact that we can do nothing towards our salvation. We cannot earn it, we don’t deserve it. We can only receive what God has done as a gift, the gift of righteousness, the gift of salvation and it must be received. And there are many people out there who find that very difficult to accept, they find grace properly understood to be very difficult to accept because number one, they are righteous, I believe that I’ve done as much good as my neighbor, I’m better than my neighbor. But if you ask them, are you perfect? They will have to say no. You know I’m not perfect, but I’m working at it, that will not get you into heaven. Even if you add later, of course I’m trusting jesus to. That’s what I find many people saying, oh yeah, yeah, I trust jesus, jesus my works, plus jesus, the other people that find it hard to receive the gift of eternal life are those who have really seriously messed up their lives, they say I am so unworthy God can’t receive me now. Well the good news of the gospel is that jesus died for sinners. You know that I was on a plane one time, john and I was witnessing to this older woman and she was very self righteous. And I determined that very early on. And I said, would you consider yourself to be ungodly? And she looked at me and she was offended and she said, no, I’m not ungodly. I said, you know that’s too bad because that means you cannot avail yourself of the work that Jesus christ did on the cross, because the bible says that christ died for the ungodly. So if you’re not ungodly, you don’t need christ. But thank God that because of jesus christ, we can believe on him. And the Pure Gospel is the fact that you can receive the gift of eternal life. It’s not what we can do for jesus, it’s what Jesus has done for us to pay our penalty on the cross. There were attributes of God that resolved themselves. Love wanted to redeem, but love could not redeem until justice was satisfied. So when jesus died on the cross, he satisfied the father’s need for justice and said, it is finished. The work is done now, what you need to do is to believe now there’s somebody watching us today, john I can’t help but think that this is true. Who says that’s nothing but easy believe ism well thank God belief is only necessary, that’s all. But it’s not easy to believe to admit that your sinfulness your helplessness, the fact that you cannot contribute to your salvation. That is very difficult. And so what we must do is to ask ourselves and critically ask ourselves, have we saving lee believed that’s the issue Jesus said in Matthew chapter 15, he said that every plant that my heavenly father has not planted will be uprooted. You know in Canada, there were some people who came to our neighborhood and said we’re gonna plant trees all along the boulevard there and so forth. So all the neighbors got together and said yes we’ll raise enough money to do it. They came and planted the trees, but the trees did not grow and you know, no matter how much they were watered until somebody pulled one out and realized that they were not trees, they had just put branches into the ground. And there are some people listening to us today who think that they have believed the gospel, but they really haven’t because they have never been planted by God. So the kind of faith that we’re talking about is a faith that turns from our sins, admits our helplessness and our hopelessness and cast all of our need on christ and the sacrifice that he made as a free gift, it does not come through sacraments, it does not come through you adding to the work of christ. It comes through christ alone and that’s what leads to assurance of faith. Yeah. And when Israel was in Egypt, they found out that you could trust God regardless of who you are, if you trusted what he said, give us an illustration. The bible teaches us that God said to Israel, when I see the blood, I will pass over you. And you remember how the Israelites put blood on their door. Now let’s just imagine this for a moment. I can visualize that there is some jewish home in which they had a very troubled teenager. Maybe he struggled with emotional and spiritual difficulties, schizophrenia or whatever or they just had some bad man or a bad woman in the house. Right. God said when I see the blood, I will pass over you and the Egyptians might have had just as bad or they might even had a better person in their house, but they did not put the blood on the doors of their house. That’s correct. And you and I must understand that the fact is this that the blood of jesus christ God’s son is the means of salvation. And by blood we actually mean the sacrifice of jesus christ on the cross and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. And when we trust what Jesus has done for us, that is actually the key. But that was a tip off in the old testament that God when he did see the blood on those door posts, whatever the people were like that were inside, he passed over them. And if the blood wasn’t there, they were dead, the firstborn was dead. All right now let’s get down to the fact of jesus has paid for the sins of everybody. But the fact is they must receive it and he’s got some promises for those that do receive and put their trust in him. And there was a lady that came to you and she was so troubled and tell us about the lady in the phone call that she gave to you. You know, I would like to just tell that story to all those who are listening between us. I want you to hear very clearly what her dilemma was because it illustrates what the gospel is and how we have to trust what Jesus did on the cross. I was in my study at moody church when I received a call from an elderly lady, she was in a nursing home. She and a number of others had gathered in a room and they had just listened to a preacher who preached, who in effect said that if you sin after you receive christ as savior, you probably have not believed now the simple fact is that all of us have experienced sin after we believed on christ because of the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. And so she was very puzzled and she began to doubt her salvation. So she called me and I said to her, tell me your story. And she said, oh she said, I received Christ when I was 21 years old. Oh but she said, I have failed my savior so many times. And I said to her, what are you trusting? And she said, I’m trusting in the blood of christ. And I said to her, the blood of christ and the sacrifice of jesus christ is enough. She said, I’m trusting the blood of christ. And then I absolutely love this phrase. She said, I cannot take steel wool to my heart and scrub it. I’m trusting in the blood of christ. I showed her, I said, Dear lady, the blood of christ is enough, as we indicated a moment ago, when God said to the Israelites, when I see the blood, I will pass over you, the blood of jesus christ is completely and totally sufficient to cover all sin. And she then said, okay, I’m going to tell all the women in the room that the blood of jesus christ is enough. We’ve done a number of programs here on this show entitled How we can be sure that we will spend eternity with God. There was a well known evangelist who before he died and by the way, it was not Billy Graham who is the world’s most famous evangelist who died some time ago, but a different evangelist who had led people to saving faith in jesus christ. And he said that as he was dying, he was filled with fear and uncertainty. And there were people around him who said, look at all of the books that you’ve written. Look at all of the evangelism that you have done. And he received no help from that until someone said these words remember the blood of christ is enough and he remembered that he will not get to heaven because of all that he had done all whom he had preached to when you and I stand before God, God is going to say, have you trusted what jesus did for humanity? And if you trust him and his sacrifice, the blood is enough. Is that what you’re trusting today or are you trusting in yourself or are you thinking you don’t even need a redeemer? Let me tell you, judgment is coming and only the blood of christ is enough. I’m gonna pray now and I want you to pray with me some of you know christ as savior. And you want to affirm your assurance by reminding yourself that the blood of jesus christ is enough. There are others of you who have never saving lee believed on christ, you’ve gone to church, you’ve been baptized, you sing the right songs, you say the right verses, but you’ve never received him and transferred your trust to him alone, Will you do that right now? You can pray after me. And remember it’s not the prayer, it’s the transfer of trust to christ and to christ alone Father I pray for all who have watched, I pray that you will help them to overcome their doubts. May they remember that the true gospel is not about us, it’s about what jesus did for us and that he paid it all. We pray for those who come with their doubts. We’re reminded of the song just as I am though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt fightings within and fears without all lamb of God, I come, we pray in the lamb’s name. Amen, thank you Irwin and folks, I hope that you did put your trust in the Lord jesus because he can be trusted and if you did, he’s gonna give you the confidence on the inside and he’s going to start to change you, he’s put the holy spirit there and you’re gonna know him and you’re going to start to change and it’s gonna be a joy because you’re gonna know God personally, thank you for being with us today and I hope you’ll stay tuned for just a moment because in the moment I’ll have 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. 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. Mm Thank you. Yeah, If jesus was only a man, only a prophet, he lived closer to God than anybody else. But if he did then he, if he was only a man should have seen his sin more than anybody else. And we should have seen and heard those prayers, but we don’t, we see just the opposite. Which of you can convict me of one sin. Nobody could absolutely unique. Absolutely unique. Now, what would you consider being in that kind of a person’s presence? A guy that says, I’m the light of the world. He can create and he can do all these things and he can forgive sins. What kind of a personality do you think he would have? Most people that are perfect or try to think they’re perfect, They’re kind of stuck up, right? You don’t want to be around them, They’re proud. They’re not humble. But isn’t it interesting that this guy who claimed to live a perfect life absolutely Sinless is also considered by the skeptics to be the greatest example of love and humility that’s ever walked the earth?