Billy Graham - Excuse Me, Please
Now I want you to turn with me to the 14th chapter of Luke's Gospel. The 14th chapter of Luke's Gospel. I'm gonna skip the little story I was gonna tell you. I'll tell you that tomorrow night and go right into this message. The 14th chapter of Luke's Gospel beginning at verse 16. Now Jesus has been invited to supper. Supper is the old English word for dinner, what we call dinner, evening. For me it means a stop at McDonald's hamburger or sending someone down to the pizza hut to get me a pizza, but in those days it was called supper. And when I'm home, we call it supper, but my wife is here tonight and we don't get home as much as we used to because we have no children at home. We have two dogs and we go by and say hello to them once in a while. They look after our place for us. And if you ever go up there, they'll lick you to death and wag their tail they're so happy to see anybody.
"Then said he unto them, a certain man made a great supper and bade many"... Now Jesus is telling a story. He's done several things that have embarrassed his host already. He was at the home of a Pharisee and he healed a man on that day, because it was the sabbath day and he wasn't supposed to, in their eyes. He said, "All right, if you have an ox that falls in the ditch, wouldn't you help him out of the ditch on sabbath"? And they didn't say anything. And they knew that he had them. And then he also told another story about a wedding. Then he tells this story: "A certain man made a great supper and he bade many". In other words, he invited many. "And sent his servant at suppertime to say to them that were bidden, come, for all is now ready".
They used to send their invitations out weeks in advance, and then on a day or two before the dinner they sent another invitation, a more personal invitation to come. And they didn't sit in chairs like we do, and they didn't have name tags at the table, they just came rushing in. Sometimes they'd tear the table up trying to get to the best place so they'd be near the host or get the best food or the best wine. And that's how they got there. But Jesus was at this feast and had been invited. And he was sitting there telling them a story of another feast, and he told this story to illustrate a spiritual truth.
And so this guy sent his servant at suppertime to say to all of them, "Come, for all is now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I've bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it. I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I've bought five yoke of oxen and I go to prove them. I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I've married a wife, and therefore, I cannot come. So that servant came and showed his Lord these things. Then the master of the house was angry, and said to his servant, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, all that's been done, just as you've commanded but there's still room. And the Lord said unto the servant, go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come into my house that they may be filled. For I say unto you that none of those, none of those that were invited shall taste of my supper".
While eating he uses these two stories to tell a very serious truth. Because these people have a special need that he's talking about. I read the other day, I saw on television about a body scanner, a new one that they've got, which can monitor minute chemical changes within diseased cells and virtually as they take place. All-seeing eyes to give a total readout of all that ails you. Now God also has a scanner and God is scanning you tonight. He's scanning your heart and your mind and your soul and your spirit. And he sees the spiritual need in your life. And Jesus was saying that we all have spiritual need. There's a universal guilt. We're all guilty of breaking God's law.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in the third chapter, "Now we know that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world become guilty before God". Nobody is going to be at the judgment and say, "Lord, I didn't do that". That scanner has been scanning from the moment you were conceived in your mother's womb. The computers have been running. The motion pictures have been taken, not only of your deeds, but of your thoughts. Now, the laws of man may change, but God's laws never change. But you say, "But I've really only broken one or two of God's laws". If you've even broken one law one time he says you've broken them all. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all", wrote James in the second chapter and tenth verse.
And then the scripture says, that people are dead. In Ephesians 2:1 it says "And you who were dead in sin". Our spirit, our soul is dead toward God. The Bible says in I Timothy 5 we're dead while we live. We're alive physically, but our soul, our spirit that lives inside of us, the real us that could have fellowship with God is dead! We're dead toward God, and when we're dead toward God, we're dead toward each other, and that's the reason we have wars, and that's the reason we have tensions in the home. That's the reason we can't get along with each other. We're dead toward God! And when we're separated from God, we're dead toward each other.
I heard Bishop Kaldy, who is president of the Lutheran World Federation, well, he said it to me, he said, "The closer we draw to Christ the closer we are to each other". And how true that is. When we come to Christ, we're closer to each other. Look here, at all the different ethnic groups here, all the different languages in this second tier around, look at the language groups. Here's the Taiwanese: there's the Mandarin, Cantonese... Can't read that one, my eyes are getting bad. Vietnamese... Japanese, Korean. All these different groups. Spanish. There's so many Hispanic people here tonight that I expect you outnumber everybody. And you're making a wonderful contribution to our country by so many things you bring us. And all the different races that are here. The black people, the white people. Everybody all mixed together. We could be one big happy family in Southern California if we knew Christ!
But you see, we're sinners and we're dead toward God and we're dead toward each other. And then the scriptures says we're blind. In Revelation 3, we read about this one man, he said, "I'm rich. I'm increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that you're wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked". These people at this church in revelation that Jesus was writing to in Asia Minor, they said, "We don't need anything! We've got it all! We're rich"! Jesus said, "You're not rich. You're poor and you're naked and you're blind and don't even know it", and that's worse! The apostle Paul wrote, "In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not".
Now the God of this world in the Bible is the devil. There we come with the devil again, the adversary. He's working overtime. He blinds our minds. And I cannot lift that blind. No amount of argument, no amount of debate, no amount of proof will lift that veil that he's put over your mind. Only the Holy Spirit can do it. Now the Bible calls the preaching of the Gospel foolishness to those that perish. It's foolish. You say, "How can you be talking about something that happened 2,000 years ago that could affect me today in my life"? That's what the devil is going to say to you. That's what he wants you to believe. He's got a veil over your mind. And your mind cannot see spiritual things or understand spiritual things until the Spirit of God comes and opens it.
In Ephesians 4:18 it says, "Having our understanding darkened". You see, your mind has been affected by sin. You cannot trust your mind. You cannot trust your conscience. Your conscience has been, like a compass that's broken. Your conscience is dead, or it's been hardened toward God. You can't trust your mind. You can't trust your conscience. What do you trust? You trust Christ by faith, then he resensitizes the conscience and he comes and opens your understanding so that you understand. And then the scripture says, "They are without excuse". So they were without excuse.
Now what are some of the excuses that I hear today that people make? I want to list a few of them that some of you are making. First, there's that young person or older person here that says, "I want to make a commitment but I'm too sinful. I'll wait until I'm better". Ah-ha, you'll never get better. You haven't finished until you know something about the grace of God. God's grace can reach to the lowest depth.
There was a woman in Sheffield that came one night to an usher after the meeting was over in England three or four weeks ago when we were there, and she said, "Am I too late? Am I too late"? He said, "No, you're not too late. You can find Christ right now". She said, "I don't mean too late as far as the meeting is concerned. I mean, I'm 72 years of age, do you think I've waited too long"? No! You can come at any age! But don't tempt God.
God is speaking to you tonight, come while you can, because God may speak to you again but you may not hear him again. God may give you other opportunities but your heart may not be like it is tonight. You see, God is speaking to you tonight and saying, "Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation". Jesus Christ came to save sinners and you cannot justify yourself. "Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight". There's nothing you can do to save yourself. There was a man that boasted that he was a self-made man to an evangelist a century ago by the name of D.L. Moody. And Moody said, "That relieves the Lord of a terrible responsibility".
A famous person said the other day that she had arrived at the ultimate by becoming a member of the who's who. That was twiggy. She's in who's who now. And that's commendable. But having your name in who's who doesn't mean that you're in the Lamb's Book of Life and you've got to get in the Lamb's Book of Life before you get to heaven! You have to repent of your sins and receive Christ and then God writes your name in the Book of Life. You see, there are two sets of books that God's keeping. The first set is just called the books. The moment you're born your name is written in the books and under it is everything you've ever said and done and all the things of your life.
And then the moment you receive Christ, your name is blotted out of the books and rewritten in the Lamb's Book of Life, and only those names that are in the Lamb's Book of Life are going to be in heaven. They're the only ones. Is your name written in the Book of Life? If I wasn't sure tonight that my name was written in the Book of Life you wouldn't get me out of Anaheim Stadium 'til I had made it right, 'til I was sure. You may be the best person in town. You may be a fine church member as you heard a moment ago. You may do great and wonderful things for the Kingdom of God, but deep in your heart, you're not sure that your name is written in that book. And that you're ready to meet God.
And then I hear people saying, "You're over-simplifying it, it just can't be that simple". Yes, it can be that simple because Jesus said you have to become as a little child. You can't make it too simple. I was giving some talks three years ago at Cambridge University, and the students packed the great St. Mary's Church every night for those, they called them lectures, and then they had five other buildings wired with sound so that the students could come to other places and listen as well, and I was speaking. And I always thought that I talked very simply. And they, in the meeting the next day, the leaders of the group that had invited me to come, the religious leaders of the university, came together and they said, "You know, you're talking over the heads of the students. You've got to make it more simple".
And I thought to myself: how can you make it more simple? Because I'm a very simple man. I'm not a great don, I'm not a great professor. I'm not a great intellectual like these people here. But you see, people come to Christ because, you see, you may be a Ph.D. in chemistry, but you may know nothing about the things of God as far as really knowing Christ. So it has to be simple. And then there are others that say "I'm too young", or, "I'm too old". You see, if the devil can't get you while you're too young, to say you're too young, he'll tell you you're too old.
And then there are people that say, "Well, there are too many hypocrites in the church". Well, I agree to that. But you know there are quacks in every profession. Quacks among doctors. I'm never gonna go to a doctor again because they're quacks! Grocery man will put his hand sometimes on the scales, in the old rural areas, and make it weigh more than it really does. Am I not gonna buy any more groceries because they're cheating in it?
My wife was in a restaurant some time ago and they added something to her bill and she looked at that bill and she knew it didn't belong so she took it to the waitress and said, "What happened? I didn't order some of these things". She said, "I know, but the people that were here before you, they ordered it and they didn't pay for it, we had to put it somewhere". Now my father was a dairy farmer. And we had dairymen in our area that were accused, allegedly, of putting water in the milk. Now, does that mean that I'll drink no more milk because there's been water in it?
What about the watermelons? Sure, I'm gonna eat watermelons. Just because some little something, and cheese... You know, they've got it fixed now so that you can't eat anything! It's gonna cause cancer. But the scripture says, "For we dare not make ourselves of the number or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves, but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise". God condemns the hypocrites. Yes, but that's no excuse for you. No excuse for you. No excuse for you. Because every church that I have ever been to has got some hypocrites in it. Every church. If you find a perfect church, absolutely perfect, and you join it, it'll become imperfect. Because we're all imperfect.
And then there are people that'll say, "Well, I'll have to give up too much if I come to Christ". Well, you give up a great deal for other things such as an education or power or money. Harold Macmillan, the former prime minister of England, once said, "Power is the chief motivation of human activity, and not money. Whether it's money, power, social prestige, you'll do most anything". God gave up everything he had. He gave up his Son for you. Will you come to Christ tonight and surrender to him? What's your excuse? Bev Shea was once asked, "What do you know about God"? He said, "I don't know much about God but what I do know has changed my life".
You see, you don't have to know everything about God. You don't have to know everything about the Bible. You don't have to be a theologian to come to Christ. Just come like you are. But the thing that I want you to remember is that this host at this banquet said, none of those that refuse my invitation are going to taste of my food. And Jesus is teaching, Jesus is teaching that if you refuse the offer of mercy and grace and love of God in Christ at the cross and where he rose again from the dead, if you refuse it, there's no more hope for you. "None of these which are bidden shall taste of my supper". They are without excuse.
And once Dwight L. Moody was invited to speak to 5,000 atheists and agnostics in England. And when he finished... One fellow stood up in the rear and said, "I don't believe a word you say"! And Moody said, "All right, let's find out something here". He said, "I want every one of you to say 'I will' or 'I won't'. I won't receive Christ, or, I will receive him. I won't or I will: I won't or I will". So one man got up and said, "Mr. Moody, today I will receive Christ into my heart. I want to make sure. I'm a good Anglican but I'm not sure I really know Christ". Another one got up and said, "I won't". Another one said, "I will". I won't, I will, I won't, I will, I won't 'til he had gone through that whole 5,000 crowd.
Which are you saying tonight? You've got to say something. You can't be neutral because God won't let you be neutral. You've got to decide one way or the other. Jesus said there's a narrow gate that leads to a narrow road that leads to eternal life. He said there's a broad road that leads to destruction and hell. Which road are you on tonight? And whichever road you're on is your own decision. Christ has provided the way to the narrow road that leads to eternal life. What are you going to do about it? Will you say, "I will"? It's a matter of your will when you get married and you stand before the minister, he doesn't say, do you love this woman? You've already decided that. Will you have this woman? You've decided that. He asks for you to say, "I will". I'm asking you tonight to say to Christ, "I will receive you into my heart".
Well, what do you have to do? You have to repent of sin. That means that you say, "Lord, I'm a sinner, I'm sorry. I'm willing to change my way of living. I'm willing for you to come and help change me like you did mike". And then you must receive him by faith. That means you put your confidence in him. You put your commitment in him. You're committed to him for life and forever. And no other gods will be there but him. And he's going to be first in your life from now on. If you have a doubt about your relationship to Christ, you come and settle it tonight. I'm going to ask you to do something that we've seen thousands of people do. I'm going to ask you to come and stand in the outfield out here, and say tonight, "I open my heart to Christ. I've got excuses, but they're only excuses".
And some of the excuses will be that you're too far away, it'll take too long. Yes, from that top deck up there it takes about 6 or 7 minutes, so start now. Now why do I ask you to come forward publicly? Because every person Jesus called in the New Testament he called publicly! He said, "If you're not willing to acknowledge me publicly before men, I'll not acknowledge you before God my father". I'm going to ask you to come publicly and openly. Going to ask that no one leave the stadium now. This is the holy moment of this service. Don't leave. And if you're up in that upper deck, go down and around. And if you're with friends or relatives, or in a bus, they'll wait.
And after you've come, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you and give you some literature that'll help you in your Christian life. It won't take long, but even if it does take long, come anyway. From all over, whatever language you speak, or whoever you are. You may be a member of the choir and you've been here several nights and God has been speaking with you. And many of you are in the church but God has been speaking to you and you know that you need to come and make this commitment to Christ. There are excuses, oh, yes. The devil is giving you some new ones right now. You get up and come. We're going to wait. There's hundreds that are already on the way. You join them.
You that are watching by television can see this great Anaheim Stadium here in Anaheim, California, almost filled to capacity. One of the great stadiums of America, and night after night we've seen hundreds, in fact, every night we've seen nearly 3,000 people a night coming to Christ. You can make that commitment where you are with these people that are coming forward here. You can say YES to Christ right now. I'm going to ask you to do it. You can pick up the telephone and call the person on the other end of the line. Call that number that you see on the screen. God help you to make that great life's commitment to him that'll transform your life. And be sure and go to church next Sunday.