Billy Graham - Building Relationships
I want you to turn with me to Luke's Gospel the 10th chapter. The 10th chapter of Luke's Gospel, if you have a Bible with you, beginning with the 25th verse. "And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life"? "He said unto him, 'what is written in the law how readest thou'? And he answered said, 'thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all thy mind and thy neighbor as thyself'. And he said unto him, 'thou hast answered right, this do and thou shall live'. But he (the lawyer) willingly to justify himself said unto Jesus, 'and who is my neighbor'"?
Who is your neighbor? "And Jesus answering said, 'certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance, there came down a certain priest that way and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place came and looked on him and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and he went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed he took out two pence and gave them to the host and said unto him, "take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I'll repay thee". Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves'? And the lawyer said, 'he that showed mercy on him'. Then Jesus said unto him, 'go and do thou likewise'".
Now Jesus gave this little story in answer to two questions posed to him by this lawyer. "Master, what shall I do that I might inherit eternal life"? Now the first mistake the lawyer made was there's nothing you can do to inherit it. You cannot inherit eternal life from your parents or your grandparents. You could say, "I was born in a Christian home", but that doesn't make you a Christian. Or born in a Christian community, but that doesn't make you a Christian. You could say you were born in a garage, but that doesn't make you a motor car.
Now the second question he asked was this: "Who is my neighbor"? Who is my neighbor? Now there are three things wrapped up in that question, "Who is my neighbor"? First, it was a social question, who is my neighbor? My neighbor is the person who is close to me, of course. My boyfriend, my girlfriend, roommate, husband, wife, mother, father, person next door, your professor, your friends. But today we must take a wider look. Because of modern communication and modern technology, the whole world has become our neighborhood, and everyone is our neighbor that lives on this little planet. Because we are a small planet and we have technology in our hands now that have made this a very, very small planet. And we are demographically moving closer and closer to each other and we've become a neighborhood without becoming a brotherhood. And this is one of the great problems that we face in the world today.
And Jesus said, "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul and strength and mind, and thy neighbor as thyself". You're to love the people of Africa. You're to love the people of the Soviet Union. You're to love the people of China. You're to love the people of Latin America. You're to love the people of Europe. You're to love all of those people. You say, "But there are some of those people I don't even know". But we're to love them, and we're to pray for them. Pray for the whole world everyday. And so this story teaches many things. And one is about relationships. There are several relationships in loving our neighbor that I would like to mention tonight. The first is the race question.
I remember back in the early days of the 1950's when we were just starting, Drew Pearson who is a columnist, a famous columnist in this country, wrote me a letter and he said, "Billy, would you be willing to go to Clinton, Tennessee"? That was the first incident, big incident we had, racial incident that we had in the '40s and '50s was in Clinton, Tennessee. He said, "Do you have guts enough and courage enough to go there and preach to an integrated audience"? And I said, "Yes, I do, if you'll go with me". And he went with me, and I remember senator Kefauver and different ones of the senate were there, and they sat on the platform. The head of the white citizens council had declared that he was going to blow up the meeting, or he was going to stop the meeting, or he was going to do something that it would never be held. The meeting was held, the Gospel was preached, and one of the first people that came forward to receive Christ was the head of the white citizens council. And from then on, he found out he was to love the black man, and that he had a responsibility in this race question.
You see, the story of this good Samaritan is really a story about a race question because the Jewish people of that day had very little to do with the Samaritans. They were of a different ethnic background. And this is a story that Jesus tells directly to teach who our neighbors are. Our neighbors are people of a different race, or a different cultural background, and we're to love them. When Jesus went back to his hometown in Nazareth, he was well-received until he spoke about the race problem. And when he spoke about that, they tried to stone him.
And then secondly, there are the rich and the poor relationships in the world today. The rich nations, the poor nations. The rich people and the poor people. In James 2 it says, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor". And we read the statistics pouring out about 60,000 people a day starving to death. Or one billion in the world today who are on a starvation diet, and then we read about all the money we spend for dog food in this country. And then we read about all the garbage that we waste. And somehow, there's an inequity in the world that we have to face.
Now the Gospel of Christ has no meaning unless it is applied to our fellow man who hurts and is in need. And I would like to ask you a question tonight: when is the last time you shared your life with another person? Or someone of another race. Or your material goods with the poor. Or your knowledge with those who crave knowledge. Or your skills with the untrained. You stop to teach them what you know.
And then thirdly, there's the relationship with the opposite sex. Now, instant sex, we're told, is in, while enduring relationships are downplayed. Now this was a problem in the oldest book in the world: job. And job said, "I've made a covenant with mine eyes, why then should I look with lust upon a maid"? The apostle Paul told young Timothy to flee youthful lusts. Peter said, "Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul". Now we say, there you go, there's God again, telling us we can't have a good time. No, God is not saying that. There's nothing wrong with sex. We're all here tonight because of sex. And it's a wonderful gift of God. God gave it to us. But we're to use it properly. He meant it was to be used within the confines of marriage. And he says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery". Why? Because he doesn't want you to have a good time? No! To protect the marriage! If you commit immorality before marriage it affects your marriage.
My oldest son-in-law is a psychologist and he's told me how many people with guilt, you know, there was an article in the paper I think just two days ago about how many women in America commit adultery. Over 50 percent of the American women admitted to committing adultery, and yet 70 or 80 percent said they feel guilty. Now why do they feel that way? There's something in their conscience that tells them it's wrong and they suffer! And many of them have to go to psychiatrists and psychologists or to a clergyman or to someone and talk to them about this guilt. And then God said that to protect your body. We thought we had all the venereal diseases licked with penicillin, the comes along Herpes Simplex II. And many articles are appearing about it. It's like a raging plague through the population. There seems to be no cure. And just when it seemed that the pill and sex education and other methods of contraception were giving us a new freedom, then there suddenly appears this disease with no known cure. And then thirdly, God says thou shalt not commit immorality to protect you psychologically.
There was a girl from one of our great eastern institutions quoted in one of the magazines some time ago, saying, "After I've had a sex experience I always feel guilty... Why"? Deep emotional disturbances, insecurity. They often feel unloved. Well, there are many relationships I could talk about that involve us in loving our neighbor, trying to protect our neighbor, trying to help our neighbor. I could talk on parent, daughter and son relationships. The Bible says, "Honor thy father and thy mother". But young people have a hard time forgiving their parents. They forget what an agony and what a burden their parents carry for them. And parents sometimes forget that they were once young themselves. And there should be a bridge, and the bridge can be Christ, because Christ can help you to forgive. As Christ forgives you of your sins, Christ can help you to forgive your parents and help you parents to forgive your children, and to love them, because they're the closest neighbors you'll ever have, and they come under this when Jesus said, "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself".
Now I want to get back to this story before my time is gone. Some of you are watching by television, and there's a number there on your screen (1-877-772-4559). You can pick up your phone and call and talk to a counselor standing by in various parts of the country right now. And they will talk to you, and if you get a busy signal, call and call and call again. And they will help you in your need of Christ, your need of God, or some spiritual problem that you're facing.
Now you notice in this passage, Jesus said "A certain man". Jesus believed in the worth of the individual, and Jesus spent most of his time with individuals. Not just great crowds. And it's always the individual that he was concerned about. He said that he sees the sparrow fall. He has the hairs of your head numbered. The Bible teaches that God loves you as an individual. You're not just a person lost in a crowd here tonight. You are an individual before God. People talk about mass evangelism. This is not "mass". Anytime you get two or three people together that's "mass", and if you get 5,000 or 10,000, that's "mass". And you get a little bit more, that's "mass". But we're individuals. And you're standing or sitting before God tonight as an individual, not just someone lost in the crowd. He sees you as though you were the only person living tonight.
And Jesus said "A certain man". He loves people. And Jesus hugs us one by one because he loves us. "And greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends". And the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, and while he was on the cross, he was thinking about you, because he was God. He could look down the centuries and call you by name on that cross and say, "I love you, I will forgive you if you will come to me".
And then the man in our story was on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem. Now Jericho was a border city and it was the center of black marketing and crime, and international bandits, and the road from Jerusalem to Jericho in those days was called "The bloody way". But it was also a great city of priests. And it says, "A certain man", this certain man that Jesus is telling about, "Fell among thieves, which stripped him of his clothes and wounded him". Now all the world is a bit like that. Sin is rampaging through the world. It's ravaging humanity. Violence and terrorism, robbing and raping and all the things that we read about in the newspapers. And all the things that we do, the little things that are called sin in the Bible. So that the Bible says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God". Every one of us are law breakers, and that's what sin means, the breaking of the moral law of God. And we've broken God's moral law.
Now these thieves wounded and stripped this man, and departed, leaving him half dead, alone and forsaken. He was knocked out, and when he came to he was crushed and broken, and unable to move himself. And the scripture says that you and I are that way. Sin has made us dead in our trespasses and in our sins. The scripture says, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth". You see, that means that you can be alive physically but spiritually, your soul, your spirit that lives inside of you, that's the part of you going to live forever, that's the part of you that dreams and thinks, the real you that's going to live forever, that part of you is dead. It's dead toward God. You don't have any desire to read the Bible and pray and witness and live a good life. You have a desire sometimes, but you're unable to do it. Why? Because your soul, your spirit, is dead. It needs to be made alive, and that's what Christ can do tonight. He can make it alive. He can take a dead person here tonight and make you alive.
Now there came along some what I call "salvation quacks". The world is full of false Messiahs. There are over 400 people claiming to be Christ in Los Angeles alone, I read some time ago. I don't know how many in Tacoma, or in the State of Washington. C.S. Lewis, the great professor at Cambridge or Oxford, he's taught at both universities, once said, "All religions are a perversion or a preview of Christianity". Jesus said, "Take heed that no man deceive you". We have a lot of deceivers now. He warned that many false prophets shall rise and deceive many. Paul said, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived".
So there came by a priest. Now, you'd think a priest would certainly help a man that's broken and crushed and knocked out like this man was, but he passed by on the other side. He probably had a religious conference he was going to. A very important wedding that he had to perform, I don't know. But he represented religion in all of its forms, and Paul wrote to Timothy of those "Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof". And I want to tell you this, religion doesn't save anybody. Religion is man's attempt to reach God. Christianity is God's attempt to reach man. There's a vast difference. Jesus said, "Ye are they which justify themselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts, for that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God".
Oh, yes, we can be religious leaders, but be insincere. And I told the other night about the bishop of a church, that asked to see me and he said, "I have a doctor's degree from the university. I'm a bishop in the church", but he said, "I really do not know for sure that I know Christ". And he knelt down and he wept and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and he was sure for the first time in his life. He'd had to become like a little child all over again. And there are many of you that are like that, that are in the church and leaders of the church, but deep in your heart you're not sure how you stand before Christ.
Then it says a Levite came by. He stopped and looked at this man and passed by on the other side. Now this Levite represented the law, the Ten Commandments. People say they can be saved by doing the best they can, or by keeping The Law. A poll was taken recently in New Jersey that said 92 percent of the people said they hoped to go to heaven, but most of them were unsure, they were not certain. Now the Bible says you can be sure! You mean to say, "Billy, that I can know that I'm saved, I can know I'm forgiven? I can know I'm going to heaven"? Yes, you can know it. Paul said, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day". John said, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life".
You can know it! And it's a wonderful thing to walk down the street or to go to bed tonight and know that every sin is forgiven, and that if you died during the night, you're going to go to heaven. How? Not by works of righteousness which we've done, but according to his mercy he saved us. I'm going to heaven because of the mercy of God. I'm going to heaven because of the grace of God. I don't deserve it. I deserve judgment and hell. I'm a sinner! Like you! But I have repented of my sins and received Christ as my Savior, and I'm trusting in the cross of Christ.
So the wounded and the derelict man was left to die. The priest and the Levite unable or unwilling to help him. Then there comes a man along from another race, another religion, and he could have felt no responsibility at all, but he did: he was a Samaritan. He had compassion on him. A former prime minister of one of our countries recently said, "I've never known such a time in my lifetime when there's such a shortage of love". I read of a woman in London who died at 102. And for the last years of her life, she had nightly made the entry in her diary, "No one called today. No one loves me". She died alone.
This Samaritan, of another race, of another religion, went to him. He didn't just love him and leave him. Jesus doesn't just love us, but he died on the cross, and he died for us, and for you. "But God who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us". And the scripture here in this passage that Jesus is teaching says that this man went over and bound up his wounds and poured in oil and wine. But he did something else! God doesn't just convert us and change us tonight. But he goes with us, he keeps us, and brought him to the inn and took care of him. In other words, this man went with him to an inn! Put him on his donkey. Peter says we're kept by the power of God. This Samaritan had his own ambulance with him, the donkey. Took him to the first good Samaritan hospital in history. And on the tomorrow, when he departed, he took out money and gave it to the innkeeper and said unto him, "Take care of him. And whatever you spend, when I come back I'll pay it"!
We sang tonight, or last night, the hope of tomorrow. "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow". Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing, and the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Christianity is good news! Not just good advice! Good news! That you can be forgiven, that you can have a new life, and that you can make a commitment to someone who will love you and go with you from here tonight, to help you change your way of life. You have a moment to decide. Tonight is the night for many of you. And it may never come again like it is tonight. The scripture says, "He that being often reproved shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy".
There comes a moment when you face God as you do tonight, and you face the cross and you must decide. And I ask you to come forward in these meetings and stand in front of the platform and say symbolically by coming, "I do indeed repent of my sins and receive Christ". You say, "What do you mean by repentance"? That word "Repentance" means simply to change. You say, "God, I have sinned, I'm sorry. I am willing to change my way of life if you'll help me. I'm willing to change". Are you willing to say that? And then you come secondly by faith, and put all of your confidence in Christ on the cross for your forgiveness and your salvation. And then thirdly, you're willing to follow him and you're willing to go back home and be a good neighbor. Are you willing to say that tonight? That's what it means. If you are, you can get up and come.
Now why do I ask you to come publicly? Because he said, "If you're not willing to acknowledge me publicly before men, I'll not acknowledge you before my father, which is in heaven". And it's always been interesting to me that every person that Jesus called in the New Testament, he called publicly. So I'm going to ask you to publicly do what we have seen about a thousand people each evening do since we've been here. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat, right now in a moment, and come and stand in front of the platform, and after you've all come and stood here, I'm going to say a word to you, have a prayer with you, give you some literature to help you in your Christian life, you can go back and join your friends. You get up and come right now.
You that are watching by television can see here in the Tacoma dome here in the State of Washington, on a beautiful evening, hundreds of people coming from every part of this great stadium to make their commitment to Jesus Christ. You can make the same commitment where you are, just pick up the telephone and call that number that you see on your screen (1-877-772-4559). Make that commitment. It's my prayer that you will. And be sure and go to church next Sunday. And God bless you.