Billy Graham - Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Peace with God
Now, tonight I want to speak on John's gospel, the 11th chapter, the 25th verse. And Jesus is speaking to Martha, Lazarus has died, and Lazarus is in the tomb, and Jesus is trying to comfort Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. And here's what He says, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this? And she saith unto Him, 'Yea, Lord I believe. I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.'" You know, the Bible talks about three parts of us. The Bible says we are built with three things. First, we have a body.
Now, your body allows you to see people, to walk, to hear, to shake a hand, but the body can never make a friend. It is the soul and the personality that has the capacity to love a person and to have social relationships. And most of us don't like to go to funerals. We don't like to talk about death. And we in America have a great fear of death. And the Bible says in Hebrews, the second chapter, "Who through the fear of death were all their lifetime in bondage". The fear of death can hold you in bondage all your life, says the Bible. In Genesis 3:19 the Bible says, "For dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return". And in Genesis 5 it mentions this, It says this, "And he died". Eleven times. You're going to die. Are you prepared to die?
The Scripture says, "Prepare to die. Prepare to meet God". It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. But Satan whispered to Adam and Eve and said, "Thou shalt not surely die". And he still uses the lie on you. You say somebody else is going to be killed in that automobile crash It's somebody else that's going to get pneumonia and die. It's going to be somebody else that gets cancer. It's somebody else that's going to have a heart attack. But one of these days it will be you. We look at our screens and we see motion pictures like Gabel and Lombard, Or pictures on Marilyn Monroe and we think that they're alive or we even see former President Kennedy come back on the screen, or Martin Luther King come back on the screen. And somehow, we get it in our minds that they're alive right now, just like that in the same old body, but they're not; they're dead.
So, the body dies. Everybody's body is going to die. Your body will go to the grave. The second part of us is called the soul. Sometimes we interchange it, soul and spirit, but I believe there's a difference between the soul and the spirit. But the soul, what is the soul? The soul can think. The soul can decide. The soul can desire. The soul can know. It can love it can hate, it can react. To sum it up, the soul is that part of us that we call personality. Now I have two dogs at home. German Shepherds. Highly trained dogs, I might add. One of them is trained to run when you come, and the other one is trained to growl, or bite, if necessary.
But, you know, I've noticed that those dogs... They have emotions. They grieve. They seem to worry, if they're not fed in time. And they get angry and they love. And they each have their own personalities. Because, you see, a dog has a soul, just like you do. The whole animal world has a soul. If an animal has body and personality similar to humans, then what makes humans different? Have you ever thought of that? What makes you different than your dog? What makes you superior to an elephant? What makes you superior to any other animal? The third thing, the body, the soul, the animals have bodies. the animals have souls, but no animal has a spirit. The spirit is something only humans have. Man possesses something in addition to his body and his soul that the animal does now have. He has the spirit. And the spirit is totally unique.
You know what the spirit is? The spirit is the ability to know and to enjoy and to have fellowship with Almighty God. The God of the universe. The God that made the stars and the moon and the sun and the whole world. You, just little ole you, can have fellowship with that mighty God, because God gave you a spirit. You are a spirit. Your spirit lives in your body. You're born with that spirit. That ability to have fellowship with God. And the spirit makes even the lowest person in the whole world superior to the highest animal. Thus, the human race operates on three levels. Physically, with the body. Socially, with the soul. Spiritually, with the spirit.
Now the question is, "What has happened with our spirits"? The Bible says that our spirits are dead in sin and trespasses. We've rebelled against God and our spirits have been cut off from God and our spirits are dead, and the reason Jesus Christ came and died on the cross was to reconcile us to God. Sin has separated my spirit from God. I cannot fellowship with God. I cannot know God. I might study all my life theology, and never find God. I might study philosophy all my life, and never find God. I may be the most brilliant scientist in the whole world, and never find God. Because something has come between my spirit and God. and that something is sin.
The Bible says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God". You are a sinner. I am a sinner. Separated from God. This is a planet in which all human beings are born separated from God. You can be physically alive, socially alive, but spiritually dead. The Bible says, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she lives". There's a country-western song this year that has an older cowboy singing to a younger one that what's needed is faster horses, younger women, older whiskey and more money. And that's what the world is, alive but dead. Faster horses. Alive but dead. Very much like the man Jesus told about who was a rich man, and he said, "Soul, take thine ease, drink, and be merry".
You've got many years. Build bigger barns. And God called him a fool and God killed him that night. And God said, "Thou fool". Many of you think that you have years, and years and years, and years. And you don't know at this very moment there is appointed a day that you are to meet God. And it may be this week. We never know. In this passage that I read, Lazarus, a person that Jesus loved very much, and one of his closest friends, had died. And I watched the other night, on television, a replay of that magnificent picture of George Stevens "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
And I thought one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole picture is when Lazarus is raised from the dead. And I thought about Lazarus when he was in that tomb. He's been there for several days. And there are several things about him as I looked and thought about him. Lazarus didn't have any appetite. When he was alive, he got hungry regularly, but while he's dead he doesn't have any appetite. Did you know if you are spiritually dead, your spirit is dead, you don't have any appetite for God. You don't have any appetite to read the Scriptures and to have prayer and to talk about spiritual things. You're spiritually dead. You can go to church. Thousands of people today belong to the church, that are spiritually dead. They don't really have any appetite for God, for fellowship with God.
And the second thing about Lazarus I thought about was there was no activity. A spiritually dead person has no spiritual activity. They have much physical activity and social activity, but little activity on behalf of the kingdom of God. A few months ago, my wife and I went down to Guatemala with Luis Palau, who is here tonight. Right after the earthquake. And we saw devastation on a scale we have never seen anywhere in the world. And our hearts ached for those people and I said, "By the grace of God, we're going to do all we can for the hungry and the needy and the hurting people of the world, whether they're at home or whether they're abroad". Activity for the kingdom of God.
And then, another thing about Lazarus was no awareness. He was not aware of his friends. Dead men don't love. Dead men don't see danger. Dead men are unmoved by hunger. Dead men don't weep. And then the fourth thing, he was blind. And the Bible says that we, too, are blind. We have spiritual blindness. Your spirit can be blind. The Bible says the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not. You are spiritually blind. And then, the fifth thing about him was, he smelled. He'd been dead four days and they said, "He already stinks". But you know what the Bible says? The Bible says all of our righteousness and our goodness that we try to pile up to please God, smells in the sight of God. It's like filthy rags, the Scripture says in Isaiah 64:6. We're saved by grace, through faith; that not of ourselves. It's the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
And then the sixth thing about Lazarus was, he was bound. You know, the Oriental's method of embalming was one of the most effective the world has ever known. It consisted of endless wrappings. And yet, you are alive tonight physically, you're alive as far as your social activity is concerned, but you are bound and spiritually dead. You are bound by habits and sin. Johnny Cash talked a moment ago about drugs and alcohol. And men are bound by the chain of habit. The lust and sin of drugs, the lust for money, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, sex sins. All of that indicates spiritual deadness. Socially you're alive, physically you're alive, but your spirit is dead toward God.
Would you like to be made alive tonight? Totally. completely fulfilled. Totally alive. Spiritually. What can you do? Well, let's think what we can do for Lazarus, now he's dead? Let's give him some food. They say, "Well, what we need to do is feed everybody". Jesus didn't feed everybody when He came. Did you know that? There are thousands of millions of hungry people in the world, and we have compassion. We are to do what we can, but that does not bring about reconciliation with God. They have a deeper hunger, a deeper need to be met, and that's the need of reconciliation with God.
You say, "Well, give people better housing". That's all good. We ought to give people better housing and I'm for everything that can give better housing to people in this country and people all over the world. But that doesn't bring back the spirit. The spirit is dead. Man had a deeper need. Man's greatest need is reconciliation with God, and that's what Christ came to do on the cross. You say, "Well, maybe they need more entertainment". Change their environment. You know, many intellectuals today, I notice, are growing disillusioned with the whole human race. They're disillusioned because they fail to understand that the problem of the human race is a spiritual problem. The problem of the human race is not a soulish problem. The problem of the human race is not a physical problem. The problem of the human race is a spiritual problem.
Man's spirit is separated from God. He hates, he lies, he cheats, he fights, he kills, he has war because his spirit is not right with God. So, man needs to get his spirit straightened out with God There is one great thing that a dead man needs. Do you know what it is? He needs life. And Jesus himself claims to be the life that spiritually dead men need. He said that the reason He came into the world was that He might give life more abundantly. Here's one of the greatest passages in all of literature. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life". Now, if you were a dead person lying in a grave, wouldn't you like to hear that? "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live". You believe in Jesus Christ. That means to commit, to surrender your life to Him. To receive Him as your Lord and your Savior. And you can have spiritual life.
In addition, the Bible says your body is someday going to be raised from the dead. You say, "How can that be"? I don't know how it can be. I only know that science says that no chemical is lost in the world today and the God that made it in the beginning can bring it together again. But your spirit will be joined to your body again in the future world if you know Jesus Christ. I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never, never, never die. Your spirit can be made alive and have fellowship with the God of the universe by believing in Jesus Christ.
Now that is essentially and basically what the Gospel is all about. And that's why it's called good news to the world. That's what the word Gospel means, good news. And it's good news to millions and billions of people who are dead toward God to say that there is a person that can give you spiritual life, and change you and make you a new person. You don't get eternal life when you die, you get eternal life the moment you receive Christ. You can have fellowship with God through Bible reading, through prayer, through fellowship with other Christians. You have fellowship with God. Your spirit is alive. Your body may get tired. Your body may get hungry. Your body may be imprisoned. Your body may be destroyed by the scars of sin that have already taken place. But God will forgive the sin that came between you and God. He will help you, and restore you in a thousand ways, but you've got to be willing to go all the way.
You know why some people really never find God? They're not willing to go all the way. They want to go part way. a third of the way, halfway, three quarters of the way, ninety percent of the way, ninety-nine percent of the way, but Jesus won't accept you. He says it's all the way. That's the reason he said in that chapter we read last night. He said, "I will not commit myself to you". You believe in me, but I don't believe in you. I know what's in your heart. I know what you're holding back. You've got to be willing to surrender all if you're to have eternal life. Then He turned, and He asked Mary and Martha, He said, "Believest thou this"? And Martha answered and said, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God that should come into the world".
And you know, Jesus did an interesting thing. He wept. And the shortest verse in the Bible is, "Jesus wept". Only three times did Jesus weep. He wept at the grave of Lazarus. He wept in Gethsemane the night before Calvary. And He wept over the city of Jerusalem when He saw that Jerusalem was rejecting Him as the Savior. And He weeps tonight, I believe, over the great cities of America as He sees the great majority of the people ignoring Him, going on in their spiritual deadness, like dancing on the Titanic before it hit the iceberg, and He weeps. There are millions tonight in the tomb of sin. There are thousands here tonight in the tomb of sin. You need to be awakened. Many of you are in the grip of an evil habit, too strong to break, worse than a living death. What was Jesus answer? He went to the tomb, and He said, "Lazarus, come forth".
Do you know why I believe Jesus wept? I don't believe Jesus wanted to call Lazarus back. Lazarus was already in heaven. I don't believe Lazarus wanted to come back. You get a person that has died and gone to heaven just for one minute and they see the glory of heaven, why you couldn't pay them enough money in all the world to get them to come back. You and I weep for them. They're not weeping. They're happy. Their spirits are happy in total fellowship with God, and their friends and the reunion and the happiness that's taking place there. Jesus wept, I believe, because He didn't want to have to call Lazarus back, but in order for His credentials as the Messiah to be established He was going to raise the dead, so He said, "Lazarus, come forth".
If He hadn't said the name Lazarus when he said come forth every person that had ever died in the history of the world would have come out of the grave. So He said, "Lazarus, come forth". And Lazarus came forth. But Lazarus was still tied in the old clothes. Jesus said, "Loose him". Now you and I have to be loosed, after we come to Christ, we have to be loosed from our sins, the things that bound us. We have to be set free. And there's many a person that says to me, "Billy, I would like to come to Christ, but I don't think I could hold out". You're right. You can't hold out. but He will hold you.
And Johnny was telling us a moment ago about that verse in First Corinthians that he came across and what a marvelous verse. "There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man but God will not allow you to be tempted above that which you are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, make a way to escape". And even I forgot it, Johnny, because there is a phrase there that says, "God is faithful". God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted. In other words, God makes a provision for your Christian life. He gives you the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside and gives you supernatural power to live a supernatural life. And your spirit is made alive and you have fellowship with God.
I'm asking you tonight, "Will you receive Christ"? Are you willing to go all the way in with Him and commit everything to Him? Your mind, your heart, your body, your friends, your family. And you would like to say tonight, I want my sins forgiven, I want to know I'm going to heaven. I want eternal life. I want Jesus to come into my heart tonight. I'm going to ask you to do something that we cannot do tonight. Every night, this stadium has been almost filled, not quite like it is tonight. And we've put people on the floor tonight, and when we put you on the floor we knew that we could not call people forward as we normally do.
So, I'm going to ask all of you that want to receive Christ, I want you to stand up where you are. We're not going to ask you to come forward. Just stand up where you are, and stand there quietly, and prayerfully, and with bowed heads. And I'm going to ask every head bowed and every eye closed and everybody in an attitude of prayer. And tonight, you want Christ in your heart. You want eternal life. Just stand up and keep standing, all over the place. Hundreds of you just stand up, right now. Everyone in prayer.
You that are watching by television, you can make your commitment to Jesus Christ right where you are with these hundreds and perhaps thousands here that are making their commitment to Christ right now. You can say yes to Jesus Christ wherever you are. God help you to make that commitment right now.