Billy Graham - September 11 and the Love of God
George Beverly Shea... Then the other person that was with me standing here was my son, Franklin, and Franklin will be... He just finished a mission in Recife, Brazil, and the last night they had 81,000 people. and then he flew to New York and he was at Ground Zero this week, praying with those people, the firemen, the police. He set up an office there where people can phone in to counselors and pray. And those switchboards are filled with people that are calling in, wanting spiritual help, and I'm thankful for that little bit of ministry we can have in New York. Thank you, Franklin. My heart is heavy, just like yours, because of what our nation is going through.
The September 11th attack has been called the bloodiest day in the United States since the Civil War. I had two grandfathers. Both of them fought at Gettysburg. One of them had his leg shot off. And the same man lying there to be helped had his eye shot out also. That was my mother's father. My father's father was named Crook Graham, and he got scrapnel, or a bullet lodged next to his spine that he couldn't move the rest of his life.
So, I know a little bit about, historically, some of the bloody battles. But what happened on September the 11th, was the deadliest, bloodiest we have ever known. It was unbelievable and heartbreaking to see all those lives lost on the four planes and at the Pentagon and Twin Towers. Prior to this attack most of this culture's attention was on the newest song, or the greatest movie. A person was often considered a hero if he could sink a basketball, or play a chord on a guitar.
Now we know what true heroes are. They're ordinary people. They're ordinary people, just like you and me, that have done extraordinary things. Who can forget the incredibly courageous action of the firefighters and police rushing into the burning Trade Center while everyone else was rushing out. Or that wonderful chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, who was just ministering to a man who had just been injured, was killed himself by a falling brick. We've read about the man on the 27th floor of the North Tower who called his brother in Brooklyn, after the plane hit, and said, "I'm still here in the office, and I'm okay". His brother couldn't believe it. He said, "Get out of there, and get out of there quick"! He said, "I'm with Ed and he's afraid to go down, because the smoke is so strong".
Ed was a fellow worker with him, and a close friend. He also lived in a wheel chair. Abe's brother pleaded with him to get out, but he didn't. Abe, who was Jewish, stayed to help his friend, who was a Christian. They never made it out. But they left a message of heroism and working together no matter what our race or our religion may be. What a wonderful story. There are so many stories that we could tell. My wife and I cut a lot of them out of the papers that we had. Both from England and other places. Heroes laid their lives down for total strangers.
This reminds us of what Jesus did for us on the cross. When he picked up that wooden cross and carried it to Mt. Calvary. There was no cheering crowds. As a matter of fact, they jeered him. They'd already spit on him and pulled his beard. They'd ripped his back open with a cat of nine tails. Even after they nailed him to the cross, they still mocked him. Yet, he went through it. Why? Because He loved you and me. and He loves us tonight. I want to speak tonight briefly on the love of God. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life".
That's the first verse of Scripture that my mother ever taught me. I've never forgot it. I guess I've preached on it a thousand times. Much of the world is feeling the effects of terrorism and war right now. But there are other things that are bothering us. Disease, poverty, racism, hate, lonliness, AIDS, unemployment, divorce, psychological problems, boredom, murder statistics, moral problems. Our papers are filled with all of that. So, the world didn't stop sinning after September 11th. Didn't stop getting bored. Didn't stop the divorces. For some time, suicide has been on the increase. But suicide is no solution, because you only kill the body. You don't kill the soul, and the soul is the most important.
"For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul"? That verse says, "For God so loved... For God" I was thinking the other night as I looked up at the stars, "For God". You can't put God in a test tube. You can't see Him on a computer screen. But that doesn't mean that He's not real. He is the Creator. He created everything that there is. All the stars we see spread out on the entire sky. A part of the immense Milky Way that we live in. But that galaxy of the Milky Way is just one tiny part of a universe containing millions of galaxies. And they've found now that there are galaxies beyond what they thought would be the last one.
The Los Angeles Times on the 5th of this month had the story about the discovery of a baby galaxy which is over 13 billion light-years from earth. Do you know what a light-year is? One light year is more than 5 trillion miles. That's how vast our universe is and we're just a little speck floating out in the middle of it. And we develop all this technology to try to make us like God. That wasn't our motive, but that's the way it sort of turned out. Now we're afraid technology is going to destroy us.
Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Psalm 8 talks about "Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers. the moon and the stars, which Thou hast created". "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth". The Bible also teaches that God is a spirit. He doesn't have a body, like you or me. God is a spirit. And then the Bible says He's unchanging. "I am the Lord, I change not". "In Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning". The Bible says God is a Holy God. "He is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all of His works".
Then the Bible says God is a god that is going to judge the world. "It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment". You are going to be at the judgment. If you don't know Christ, you are going to be at the great white throne judgment. God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Everything you've ever done is going to be wide open at the judgment. All your sins will be there. You say, "Well I won't be alone, there'll be many with me". No, at the judgment and in hell you'll be alone. You won't have your friends with you and you won't have the parties and you won't have the drinks. You'll be all alone, naked before God. But the Bible also says, "God is love".
In I John 4:8 it says, "God is love". And I hold onto that. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love". Jeremiah 31:3. There was a populaar song year's ago that said, "I can't live in a world without love". You don't have to, because God loves you. No matter how bad you've been. No matter how many sins you've committed. God loves you. I could talk all evening just on that. And God is not only a God of judgment, and He's a God of love, but He's also a God of mercy and forgiveness. He wants to forgive you. He offers His hand of mercy to everyone of you that are willing to open your heart and receive Him into your heart.
In a few minutes, I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come and stand in front of the platform and say by coming, "I need Jesus. I want to receive Him as my Lord and Savior". There may never be again in Fresno like this when you have such a moment before God. You see, God gave man a choice in the garden of Eden, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". And Satan was there, in the form of a serpent, and he tempted Eve with great promises that he had no power to offer. And so Eve succumbed. She gave the fruit to Adam, and Adam was not deceived, he just knew what he was doing, and he took it.
And God had said, "You can have of every fruit in the garden except this one". And God was testing man. And that's where sin began and where all the troubles of the world began. Right there. We know that something is wrong with human nature. Terrorism, war, greed, immorality, racial prejudice, poverty. Sin is what's wrong with the world. And only Jesus Christ can solve it. No one else can forgive it, but Jesus. Sin is your problem. The Bible says, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work". I John 3:4 it says, "Sin is the breaking of the law". You know the ten commandments? Have you ever broken one of them? If you've broken one of them, one time, you've broken them all.
Isaiah said, "All we like sheep have gone astray. We've turned every one, to his own way". Instead of going God's way, we go our own way. And we get lost. And we are lost. There's a film I saw, I think advertised called, "Lost". We are lost, from God. We think we're on the right track, but the Scripture says, "There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end there is death". There are two roads. There's a broad road, well lighted, a lot of fun, and most of us are on that road. But then there's a narrow road. The narrow road leads to heaven and paradise. Jesus is on that narrow road. And you stand at the crossroads. Which road are you going to take? You have to make a choice.
You say, "Oh, I'm not going to make a choice". You have to. God has arranged for the fact that you cannot ignore that great decision, because the end of the broad road is death. Natural death, but primarily spiritual death. Separated from God forever. Our souls separated from God. And that's called hell. I'm going to ask you tonight, as you stand at that crossroads, to make the right decision, and come to Christ, and open your heart to Him. You might have thought you were a Christian, but you're not sure. There's a little voice down inside that says, "You're not sure, that you need to make this decision, and be sure".
We're living in a moment in history, I wouldn't want to live for the next 5 years if I didn't know I knew Christ. And many of us are members of the church. We've been baptized, we've been confirmed or whatever, but deep in our hearts we have that void, that uncertainty. You need to make sure. You may be a Catholic, or a Protestant, or Jewish, or whoever you may be. You can make your commitment to Christ tonight. I'm going to ask you to come, hundreds of you, get up out of your seat and come And when you get here, I'm going to say a word to you, give you some literature to help you, and we'll have a prayer of commitment. You get up and come right now and say, "I need to be sure. I need Jesus". Get up out of your seat, if you would. Maybe you can bring a friend with you.
I spoke a few weeks ago after the tragedy on the 11th of September. I spoke from Washington. And all the networks were there. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. We've always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We're facing a new kind of enemy. We're involved in a new kind of warfare, and we need the help of the Spirit of God.
And I've gotten letters from all over the world, from people that listened. And two or three of them couldn't find a television station that was carrying it, so they went to a bar, and they said an interesting thing. They said when I got up to give the Gospel, everything got quiet in the bar. And people received the Lord in there.
So, wherever you are, whether it's in a hotel or a bar or wherever, Christ will come into your heart if you open it to Him. Many of you have been watching by television and you've seen this great number of people here in the valley of California, San Joaquin Valley, making their way to assurance of their faith in Christ. And where you are, you can make that same commitment:
O God, I'm a sinner. I'm sorry for my sin. I'm willing to change my way of life, but You will have to help me. Now, I open my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. I want him to be Lord of my life. I want Him to take me into the fellowship of His church. In Jesus' name, Amen.