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Book Review of Erwin Lutzer’s “Cries From The Cross”

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“Going Deep With Jesus On The Cross”

By Dr. David P. Craig

In this short book by Dr. Erwin Lutzer he does a wonderful job of taking the reader deep into the significance of what Jesus said in his last seven sayings on the cross. The work of Christ on the cross magnifies the holiness and  justice of God and the ugliness and heinous nature of sin. As Lutzer says, “The cross properly understood exalts no one whom it first does not humble; it gives life only to those whom it first ‘puts to death.’ The cross exposes the futility of our self-righteousness; it reminds us we are sinners, incapable of bringing about our own reconciliation with God. Before the cross we can stand with bowed heads and a broken spirit.”

As I devoured this book on Good Friday I was filled with sorrow and grief over my own sins and the sins of humanity; and yet I was also filled with joy over the reminder that Jesus could pronounce “It is finished.” A pronouncement that His life and death accomplished everything He set out to achieve. As the author of Hebrews testified, “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). In the Old Testament, the priests offered sacrifices, but could never sit down. Their job was never finished. Jesus’ payment covered our indebtedness. He took our spiritual bankruptcy and covered it with the solvency of His perfect righteousness in exchange for our sin.

I love the way Lutzer expresses the truth of Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice: “This means that my sins are on Jesus, not on me. Yes, there is sin within me but not on me. My sinful nature keeps luring me toward sin, and even in my best moments my works are tainted with selfish motives. But legally, I am accepted on the basis of the merit of Jesus. Figuratively speaking, I have a new set of clothes and a clear record in heaven. The righteousness of Jesus has been successfully credited to my account. God’s justice has spent all its ammunition; there is nothing left to be hurled at us.”

Lutzer spends a chapter on each of the last sayings of Christ on the cross showing how they tie the Old Testament and New Testament together; fulfill prophecy; express the unity and purpose of the Trinity in accomplishing our redemption; and practical reflections and meditations that will help you understand and appreciate with greater depth the beauty of redemption. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand, and delight in the Savior who went to the cross in submission to the Father, to defeat Satan and death, and grant forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who like the thief on the cross will repent of their sins and put their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

 

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Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer on the Great Need For Revival in America Today

“America’s Spiritual Crisis”

Despite its foundational Christian heritage, America is rapidly degenerating into a godless society. The church in America, although highly visible and active, appears powerless to redirect the rushing secular currents. Mired in a moral and spiritual crisis, America’s only hope is a national revival, like God has graciously bestowed in the past.

The Removal of God. From the beginning, Christian values ingrained America’s political and social fabric. Its democratic form of government was founded on faith in God. To this day United States currency bears the inscription, “In God We Trust.” America flourished while Christianity permeated all aspects of life, including the laws, education, and culture.

The powers in America today, however, have chosen a path of rejecting God and His ways. Federal courts have interpreted our constitution as requiring that the Bible, prayer and religious discussion be removed from classrooms, community buildings and places of public gatherings. Government officials and educators across the country are systematically eliminating any vestiges of God from society. Militant secularists will not be satisfied until God is expunged from every facet of American life.

American laws are being reinterpreted and rewritten to sanction what is abominable to a holy God. In 1973 the Supreme Court legalized abortion for any reason, and Congress subsequently passed a law providing government funds for such barbarous acts. Old laws making homosexual practices criminal are being repealed, and new legislation is being enacted requiring society to support such lifestyles. While religious discussion is gagged, pornography is permitted to saturate our culture.

Our society is fast becoming openly hostile to Christian values. The media trivializes and ridicules Christianity in the name of humanistic and pluralistic concerns. American culture is dominated by television and movies, whose profanity and lewdness tramp God’s honor into the mud, inculcating non -Christian values from infancy. Public schools teach our children how to practice various forms of immorality. One school curriculum in America teaches acceptance of homosexuality in the first grade and mutual masturbation in junior high.

America is reaping the dire consequences of rejecting God. Our society is morally bankrupt, and the problems seem resistant to government cures. William J. Bennet, in his Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, provides the following statistics for the past 30 years. Despite increased funding and stricter laws, violent crime has increased more than 500 percent. While sex education programs have proliferated, illegitimate births have increased over 400 percent, significantly among teenagers. The divorce rate has quadrupled, and single parent homes have become the majority. Our young people today exhibit a hopelessness, with a more than 200 percent increase in the teenage suicide rate. And America appears helpless before its great problems.

The Church’s Ineffectiveness. The church in America, despite its many activities and apparent successfulness, has had no measurable affect in reversing this downward spiral. We must candidly admit that no country has had more Christian organizations, more radio stations, more books, more seminars, and more churches with proportionately less impact on society. We are confounded with the pollsters who tell us that religion is up but morality is down.

Sadly, the influence has been in the wrong direction, as we see evidence that our culture has begun to permeate our churches. The church is seduced by the social agenda of wealth and pleasure, and has condoned sinful compromises. There is moral decay within the church, with highly publicized scandals involving ministers, and divorce statistics which are not much better than those outside the church. Think of all that we and our churches would have to repent of if a spirit of holiness began to captivate us. How can America be influenced by an inconsistent and hypocritical church?

If the strength of the church should be determined by its impact on its surrounding culture, we desperately need an injection of spiritual life. The present powerlessness of the church may be a sign that God has withdrawn His blessing that we might seek Him.

A National Revival Needed. There is reason to believe that only a national revival can pull us out of the ditch into which we have slid. I am convinced ‘ as all of us must be ‘ that every human resource is now inadequate and only the direct intervention of God can reverse our country’s spiritual decay. If America will really be given another chance, at least some kingdoms of darkness will have to fall like dominoes. That can only happen if God chooses to show us the mercy we most assuredly do not deserve.

America has experienced three great periods of revival in the previous two centuries, during which all of society was dramatically affected. There was a widespread restoration of the people of God, that resulted in tens of thousands of conversions greatly affecting the culture of the day. America returned to its Christian roots. Taverns were closed, families were reconciled, and young people became sober in their pursuit of God.

From our past, we learn the clear lesson that a genuine spiritual revival can do more to transform culture than all of our political/social activism. We need a renewal that can only be effected by widespread repentance before the Almighty whom we have so grievously offended. The forces of evil are so deeply entrenched that any cultural shifts will only be cosmetic unless they are accompanied by a spiritual awakening that affects large segments of our population.

When Ephesus experienced revival, the people brought their occult books and artifacts, and publicly burned them (Acts 19:18-19). What bonfires of pornography, rock music, artifacts, and books of occultism we would have if God’s presence was manifestly felt!

There is Hope. Revival is possible as long as God is God. Jonathan Edwards, a leader during the First Great Awakening in America, argued that God grants light when the darkness is the greatest, and it was in just such times that the glorious periods of revival occurred in America’s history. When there was disinterest in religion, gross immorality and rampant unbelief, God poured out His undeserved gracious blessing.

So let’s dream for a while: Catch the vision of crowded churches from coast to coast, shops closing during the noon hours for special prayer, and our legislators turning to God for wisdom in making decisions. Think of the nightly news telling the story of tens of thousands of believers making restitution for past wrongs, and reports of thousands of conversions to Christ.

Imagine a country where abortion would become rare, not just through legislation but because mothers valued their children and immorality was on the decline. Imagine a country in which homosexuals repented and sought God for help in overcoming their lifestyles rather than imposing their values on society. Imagine a country where the courts would reflect America’s Christian roots.

We must believe God for something more than our generation has seen. May our sights be raised and our faith increased, to fervently seek God for a national revival. What God has done in the past, He can do again!

About the Author: Since 1980, Erwin W. Lutzer has served as senior pastor of the world-famous Moody Church in Chicago, where he provides leadership to Chicago pastors. Dr. Lutzer earned his B.Th. from Winnipeg Bible College, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. in philosophy from Loyola University, an LL.D. from Simon Greenleaf School of Law, and a D.D. from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Dr. Lutzer is a featured radio speaker on the Moody Broadcasting Network and the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Power of Death, Cries from the Cross, the best-selling One Minute Before You Die and Hitler’s Cross, which received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (EPCA) Gold Medallion Book Award. He speaks both nationally and internationally at Bible conferences and tours and has led tours of the cities of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Dr. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area and are the parents of three grown children.The article above was adapted from: http://articles.ochristian.com/article3157.shtml. If you would like to read more on the theme of this article check out his short book Is God on America’s Side? The Surprising Answer and How It Affects Our Future.

 

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Book Review: After You’ve Blown It by Erwin W. Lutzer

Helping You Reconcile With God and Others

In the opening chapter of this concise book (less than 100 pages) *Lutzer writes, “Strictly speaking, of course, not one of us deserves redemption. God owes us nothing, but He nevertheless offers His undeserved grace. Though we deserve damnation, He invites each of us to be redeemed. Worthy or not, we come to Him to receive forgiveness and the assurance that God still has a plan for our lives.”

Using Biblical stories and modern applications to those stories this is a book about how there is hope for anyone, no matter how bad they have blown it, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this book especially for the following types of people:

1)    Those who think they are too “bad” to be saved.

2)    Those who think they are “good” and don’t need to be saved.

3)    Those who are enmity with God and know it – and aren’t sure how to remedy it.

4)    Those who are at enmity with others – and aren’t sure how to remedy it.

5)    Those who need to be reminded that God has a plan for them, and that no matter how bad you’ve blown it – there is hope for you because of the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

6)    Those of you who help others in counseling ministries.

It’s a fantastic little book – concise, full of Biblical wisdom, a clear gospel presentation, and leads and will encourage and give you hope. I also recommend it highly as a gift to give to those who are confused, discouraged, and broken over their sin.

*Since 1980, Erwin W. Lutzer has served as senior pastor of the world-famous Moody Church in Chicago, where he provide leadership to Chicago pastors. Dr. Lutzer earned his B.Th. from Winnipeg Bible College, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. in philosophy from Loyola University, an LL.D. from Simon Greenleaf School of Law, and a D.D. from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Dr. Lutzer is a featured radio speaker on the Moody Broadcasting Network and the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Power of DeathCries from the Cross, the best-selling One Minute Before You Die and Hitler’s Cross, which received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (EPCA) Gold Medallion Book Award. He speaks both nationally and internationally at Bible conferences and tours and has led tours of the cities of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Dr. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area and are the parents of three grown children. (Courtesy of Multnomah Publishers)

 
 

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