Billy Graham - Fools
- Peace with God
I'm sure that by now all of you that are watching by television know that we're at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. I want to speak on the subject of fools. F-O-O-L-S. You member, Anthony Newley, saying What kind of a fool am I to the top of the charts? Some years ago, P.T. Barnum came to this country and he said that a fool is born every minute in the United States. He said, The American people want to be fooled and I'm here to fool on. And that's how Barnum and Bailey got started. But first Corinthians, the third chapter and the 18th verse, these words let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. And in Proverbs 10:21, it says Fools die for the want of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says Fools despise wisdom.
Now you ask the question tonight, "What is a fool"? Look it up in your dictionary. I looked it up in a book of synonyms. What is a fool? And here are some of the things that it says. A stupid person, a bonehead blockhead, a simpleton, a chump, a nitwit, a nincompoop, a dullard, an oath, a goose, a sap, a sap head, silly Willie Numskull, ignoramus, beetle head. Those were just some of the synonyms of what a fool is. But there's another definition that I found in the dictionary that says that a fool is a person deficient in judgment. I'm idiot a moron an imbecile, a half wit and a defective. And then there's the third definition in your dictionary that says under the meaning a fool, one who is a professional jester or a clown is many times called a fool in another meaning of the word. Then there's a fourth meaning in the dictionary, one who has been imposed upon by others like a stooge. A person that's a very gullible person. We sometimes call him a fool.
Now, in the Bible, it may mean all of this as it's used in its context, because the word fool is used many times, but it's also a moral thought. And these verses that I just read to you seem to contradict each other. They seem to be paradoxical. First Corinthians 3:18, it says, Let him become a fool. And then in Proverbs 1:7, it says Fools despise wisdom. Now, this is from God's point of view that we are looking at it tonight. What is a fool? in one passage The fool is an unthinking, thoughtless, a careless person without true understanding. In the other passage, the word fools is used from the standpoint of people who have received Christ, and the world laughs at them because they're Christians. As the coach was saying, a moment ago. So they're unwise fools in the Bible and there are wise fools in the Bible.
Now, to be born again has become a popular expression in the United States. But if you stand in a university in some of the countries that I go to and say that you had been born again and carry a Bible around and prayed, you would certainly be called a fool. Jesus said, whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hellfire. Then what is the Bible calls certain people a fool. If Jesus says, If you call your brother a fool, I wouldn't dare use that name for you. And never use the word fool in anger, because that's what that passage really means. If you use the word fool in anger and call a man a fool, Jesus said, You're in danger of hellfire. That's pretty strong language. Go home and look it up. But I'm telling you what God says about you. Many of you, in certain instances, there are many fools in the Bible. I'm going to list a few of them tonight. One. There's the atheistic fool of the agnostic fool. The fool has said in his heart there is no God.
Now that expression is found twice in Psalms, Psalm 14 and some 53. And the word, the Hebrew word carries with it the idea the fool had said in his heart, There is no God for me. In other words, you have rejected the idea of serving God. You really know there's a God. You know there's a supernatural being. But he's not for you. The Bible says you're a fool. I look up in the starry heavens at night in this wonderful weather we've been having in Indiana. And you can see the stars at night. And I sense the voice of conscience within. And like a manual count many years ago, I say, I know there must be a God. How could he put together a mind that we have? Or if you could see the birth of a baby, just sex itself.
When you think it through life and death, the entire universe, they are now telling us that the universe is so great there may be no end to it. Billions and billions and billions of galaxies and billions of stars and planets in each galaxy. And we don't have instruments to go to the end of it. Back of it is a supernatural being called God. We cannot conceive of the universe in its perfect precision without an intellectual mind. The back of it. I sat beside Wernher von Braun, longtime personal friend, at a dinner one evening, and he said, only a fool could say there is no God and how right he was. But you know, they are there. People here today that that wouldn't say that you're an atheist or an agnostic, but, you know, you live like one. So you are a practical atheist. You profess to believe in God, but you live as though there is no God. So practically, you're an atheist and the Bible says that you're a fool.
I heard about a professor who was having his shoes shined and he came out with an oath using the name of God. And the shoeshine boy said, Sir, aren't you afraid to curse God? And the professor responded, Well, don't you know there's no God now? There'd be no professor like that in Notre Dame. But there may be at some other universities that are watching. Don't you know that there is no God? And the shoeshine boy in his simple, childlike faith looked up and he said, Sir, don't you suppose that you really ought to be saying there is no God that you know of? Yes, there is God, but there is the atheistic fool in the Bible. The fool had said in his heart there is no God from me. Are you like that? Not intellectually, but I mean in your heart, in the way you live.
And then secondly, there's the ignorant fool. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. That's the reason we ought to study. We ought to study the Bible. We ought to study God. We ought to study philosophy as well. To study the serious things of life. We hear a great deal today about the Bible, whether it's the infallible word of God or not. Well, the God has spoken in this book and through this book. And given us this book. And he gives instruction not only through the book, but by the Holy Spirit. He shows the path of life. He warns of judgment to come. He tells us plainly about how to be saved. And anybody reading this book would know the way of salvation. And there's no excuse for ignorance. You'll never be able to stand before God and say, I never knew.
Because you remember that night back in South Bend in 1977 when you were told how to find Christ and you didn't. That won't be an excuse. People say, Well, I don't believe the Bible because I can't understand it. Well, I don't understand how a black cow can eat green grass and produce white milk and yellow butter. But I believe in the milk. I don't understand all about television. I don't even understand the mother's love. It's something intangible. How that a mother will love a child all the way to hell and back no matter what the child does. The mother's love is there. It's something God gave. But you can't put it in the test tube and prove it. But it's there. What they're saying is that there are foods.
When they reject the word of God, God says Fools despise wisdom and in structure, people of Zion, where it is because Zion means Jerusalem, the city of the King. It was a strong city with massive walls, the Royal City. But the people were dwelling in a fool's paradise because they were sinning against God and they were rebelling against God. And God has no pets. Israel was God's chosen people, but when they sinned and rebelled time after time, God judged them just like He will judge America. America is no pet of God’s. AMOS The prophet thundered, Woe to them that are at ease in Zion. Woe to them that are ease in New York or Chicago, Los Angeles or Atlanta or Dallas, Houston or wherever it may be. And we in America are at ease thinking that we're safe and secure and we're living in a fool's paradise.
I remember when I was a boy, we used to have something we'd find out on the farm, and we called it Fool's Gold. It looked like gold. And we would go out in the stream and we would get our pans and we would pan for that gold that it would. And I'd take it to my mother and I'd say, Mother, I found some gold. And I remember the first time I was so disillusioned when she told me it was called Fool's Gold. It wasn't real gold. I thought I'd found some real gold. And many of you have gold. And you think you're living in paradise and you think that this sort of temporary happiness and peace that you're involved in is going to last. And it's about ready to break up. Now because you don't know Christ.
You see, the only thing that is cohesive, the only thing that'll hold it all together is Christ and the man who thinks that he can be a Christian at the same time live for the devil is living in a fool's paradise. And then the third fool in the Bible that I want to mention tonight is fools Make a mark of sin. Proverbs 14:9 The Mocking Fool. God is a holy God. He demands holiness and righteousness among his people. And yet we mock sin. There's the deceitfulness of sin, the awfulness of sin, the treachery of sin. Sin is like a cancer. You may not sense it. You may not feel it, but it's working all the time. And every person here is infected with that disease. And it's terminal terminal a desperate, a desperate, desperate, desperate remedy must be found.
What is the remedy? There's only one remedy for sin, and that's the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus Christ. His son cleansed from all sin. Fools make a mark of sin. Yes. You can go on and laugh. You can be disobedient to your parents. You can mock God's standards of sex and marriage and divorce and ethics and social justice and all the rest of it, and make fun of the whole thing if you want to. But I want to tell you, if I'm the only one left in the whole world, I'm going to accept God. Standards The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount in which he lays out his moral standards. And God is not excusing us because we live in a permissive generation. He's not excusing us any more than he excused Sodom and Gomorrah or Babylon or any of the nations of the past that have perished because of sin are individuals that have perished because of sin.
The wages of sin is death, the soul that sins shall die. The Scripture says, What about you? Do you? Markets in the Bible says, Be sure your sins will find you out and don't ever doubt it. Notice your sin in that passage will find you out, though no one else on earth discovers it. Your wife may not know it. Your husband may not know it. Your children may not know it. Your parents may not know it. But God knows it. Be sure your sin will find out. And every sin that's ever been committed will find you. It's in God's record book, and the books are going to be opened at the judgment. And it's all there. Everything that you covered up, everything you did in secret, everything you got away with. You thought, Be sure your sin will find you out, Will. It's only a question of time. The word will is definite. The next word is fine. Be sure your sin will find you out. You've deceived everyone else. Even your church and your friends.
But one day a detective is going to come and put his hand on your shoulder and say, I've found you. It'll find you out in this life and in the judgment, fools make a mock of sin. If you're mocking sin, laughing at sin as though it's nothing really important, then you're a fool, God says, and it's going to find you out. And then the fourth fool that I'd like to mention from the Bible is the slandering fool here that hide his hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18 passing along an evil story about others. The Bible says you're a fool, maligning other people's character, wrecking their reputation. They think themselves filled with smartness. But God called you a fool, gossiping.
You wouldn't think of killing a person with a gun or a knife, but you've killed a character. You've murdered them with your tongue. Or you try to pull someone down to get even. Or because of jealousy by whispering innuendos in which you say, someone told me or he did this. And so and we commit murder by character assassination, and God says we're fools. He that utter slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18 Are you that kind of a fool? Are you a gossiper? A slander of other people's character. And then next, there's the covetous food. And of course, that's taken from Luke the 12th chapter. You remember the story Jesus told about the man who had laid up goods for many years, and he went out and looked over his barns and looked over all of his businesses. And he said, So you've laid up goods for many years. Take it easy. Retire. You don't have to work anymore.
Notice he was talking to his soul, to his spirit. There were three things wrong with that. He tried to find happiness in the wrong place, in money and in things and in materialism and materialism will never bring you happiness. I talked to one of the wealthiest men in the world a few months ago. He sat with tears streaming down his cheeks. 75 years of age and he said, I'm the most miserable man in all the world. He said, I've wasted my life. And then the second thing about this man was he ignored the power of influence. The Bible says, no man lives unto himself. And this man had set a terrible influence on all the people around about him. And then the third thing he had made no provision for eternity. Like you. You've provided for old age. You've got your pension, you've got Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, all the rest of it, but not for eternity. You're going into eternity forever.
Young people say, "Well, I don't have to think about that for many years to come". You may have to think about it tonight. We never know when our moment is coming. God never promises that you'll be alive tomorrow. Make your commitment to Christ now. Jesus called that man a fool because, you see, Jesus had said he that lay at that treasure for himself and is not rich toward God is wrong. Every person who is more concerned about getting some of this world's goods like social climbing, I'm making money or having pleasure more than eternal things. God says is a fool. That night that man went to bed, Already made his decision about he was going to put everything you had into this life. And that night he clutched his chest. We're not told in Scripture how he died. I imagine it was a heart attack. But from heaven there came a voice that said thou fool. He had made provision for everything except that one moment when he had to face God.
And if you're not concerned about your home in heaven and you're not concerned about the riches that never fail and you're not concerned about laying up treasure where mouth and rust doth not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal, then you're a fool. If you had asked this man, What is your name, this rich man, he would have said, My name is the rich man. I'm the prosperous man. I'm the eminent man. I'm the great man of the neighborhood. I'm a famous man. Then you ask God, you say, Lord, what's the name of that fella over there? God says that the name of that fella is a fool. The rich man knew every name but the right name. He had been called by his family name, his given name. He'd been called by his ranks. His titles, his wealth. The flatterers of men had come to him, but in the sight of God, His name was. He was a fool.
And many of you tonight are in that same category. You're not rich compared perhaps, to that man of the millionaire I told about. But if you're an American, you are rich. Because you see, this year we're going to hold crusades in different parts of the world as well as in the United States. We will be in Manila, in the Philippines, and then we go from there to India, where we're going to be involved in three crusades in India. And I can take you to places in India and Bangladesh where the average income is around $35 a year. And if you have any shoes, if you have a crust of bread, you're considered rich. We are rich here tonight. And when God talks about a rich man, he's talking about us. And God says, if you don't make provision for heaven in God's sight, you're a fool. The Bible says, How are they brought on to desolation? As in a moment. In a moment. And at all. And in a moment they'll be judgment.
And then seventhly or lastly. So the preaching of the cross. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. But on dust which are saved, it is the power of God. I stand here and tell you tonight that you can find Christ by coming in simple, childlike faith to the foot of the cross in repentance of your sins, and that it will change your life and change your eternal destiny, where you're going to spend eternity. And many of you tonight will call that foolish. How that a man could die 2000 years ago and that that death could affect you tonight. But it's true. Hundreds of people could stand at this microphone in this arena tonight and tell you that the cross made all the difference in their lives, how that Christ came in and transformed homes and brought marriages together and changed people.
And yet people on the outside who've never had this experience of knowing Christ may call us a fool. They say We're foolish to say that a man can stand up here and preach as I'm doing tonight and there's power in the quoted Word of God, and there's power in the message, the power of the Holy Spirit, applying it to your hearts. And because of that, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and because of that, and you receive it as the Word of God and you receive it as God's message, and you do it by faith. Seems foolish, doesn't it? But it works. It's called the foolishness of preaching the power of God. Do you know, Christ has he come into your life and transformed you and changed you.
Whose fool are you tonight? The foolishness of the Gospel. The Bible teaches that the proclamation of the cross is foolishness to them that perish. I'm going to ask you to do something foolish. Foolish to the world. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat right now. Hundreds of you, as we've seen every night, get up out of your seat and come and stand in front of the platform and say yes to Jesus Christ.
Why do I ask you to come? Because every person Jesus called in the New Testament. He called publicly. There's no such thing as silently. You must openly acknowledge Christ and confess Christ. And the Scripture Jesus said, If you'll acknowledge me before man, I'll acknowledge you before my Father, which is in heaven. You get up and come. Right now, you may be Catholic or Protestant, you may be good, you may be bad. You may go to mass or church every Sunday, but down deep in your heart, you know that you don't have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. You get up and come. We're going to wait right now while you come quickly.
While people are coming here at this beautiful indoor arena at the University of Notre Dame, they're coming by the scores. You can make your commitment to Christ where you are in your home or a hotel room or a bar or wherever you may be with some friends quietly in your heart, Say yes to Christ, He'll come in. God bless you and help you to make that commitment and be sure and go to church next Sunday.