Billy Graham - Hopeless, Yet There Is Hope
I want to welcome all of those that have joined by television as well and tell you tell we are at the University of New Mexico in their beautiful, beautiful arena. One of the most beautiful anywhere in the world. Now tonight I want you to turn with me to the second chapter, the second chapter of the book of Hebrews. The second chapter of the book of Hebrews, beginning with verse one, "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip".
Now in the Greek that's very, very strong language. In other words He's talking about the Old Testament. It's very important to study and read the Old Testament. Give heed to it. Study it lest you let those things slip that are taught there. The Scripture says, "And every transgression and every disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? And in the context here he's talking about the salvation through Jesus Christ. How that Jesus Christ came down from heaven as we heard a moment ago. And was made a little lower than the angels.
Now, of course Christ is far above all angels and principalities and powers in the hierarchy of heaven and the universe. But when He came to earth He was made lower than the angels, identifying Himself with us. And when you come and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior you are made higher than the angels. You are joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. And you'll never know 'til you get to heaven what it means to receive Christ, what full salvation is. But as I look into your future of this generation it's not a pretty picture. In fact, many of the statements that are being made today are very despairing and almost hopeless.
I received a letter from a radio commentator some time ago, and he said, "Billy", he said, "I listen to your preaching". And he said, "You know", he said, "You're too discouraging. Give us little hope". Well, I'm a little bit like Jeremiah. My wife calls me Jeremiah sometimes. Because, you know, Jeremiah watched for forty years the deterioration of his country. He saw his country captured. He saw the city of Jerusalem destroyed. He lived through all that. And he's called the "weeping prophet". And I look at America tonight, and I look at the world tonight and I'll be honest with you. I weep over it. I weep in my soul and in my heart and I cry out. And I say, "God, how shall we escape"? And it's moving in on us fast now. Events are accelerating very fast.
And we see all over the world many of the old traditions and the old things that people believed in crumbling and shaking throughout the world. And we ask ourselves, "Is there any hope"? A London editorial said the other day, "Western civilization is committing suicide". A very prominent churchman in this country went recently to Asia. He came back, he said, "All of my ideas have changed. I went out an optimist; I'm a pessimist. I don't think the world can last". There's a philosophy of despair.
Bertrand Russell, before he died, said, "The best we can hope for is unyielding despair". Now think of that. Here's a brilliant man, a man of letters that says, "The only thing we can hope for is unyielding despair". Hopelessness everywhere. A headline the other day said, "Scientists despair as they move the atomic clock forward once again". Now, the Scripture says in Ephesians that, "At that time ye were without Christ having no hope, without God in the world". Now without Christ, I don't think I would have any hope.
One of the United States Senators said to me a few weeks ago, I was going, I was eating in the Senate dining room with some Senator friends, and he called me over to his table. And he said, "Billy", he said, "Are you an optimist or a pessimist"? He said, "We're having an argument here at the table". I said, "I'm an optimist". He said, "How can you be an optimist in a world like we're living in"? Now, here's a United States Senator saying that. And he's been in the Senate a long time. I said, "I'm an optimist because I've read the last page of the Bible. I know it's going to come out all right". "God has a plan". "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"?
I look at the world scene today and I don't see much hope for permanent peace. I look at the world scene today and I look at the American scene. And I see corruption almost everywhere we turn. Every time they appoint an investigating committee they turn up a bunch of snakes; local government, high government, federal government, state government, business. Every area of life it seems we have our corruption and we have our cutting of the corners and our cheating and our lying. Now, that doesn't mean that we're worse than any other generation because every generation's been doing it. "All have sinned". We're all sinners. "The heart is desperately wicked, who can know it"? That's always been true. And my reason for standing up here preaching today is not to try to save this perishing world in which we live. It's not going to be saved.
You see, we have built our civilization on a cracked foundation. The cracked foundation of sin, human iniquity. And it's not going to be saved by any actions of the United Nations. We are told to do all we can for world peace. We are told to do everything we possibly can to preserve the very best qualities that are in life, whether they're in the East or the West. We are told to make life as peaceful as we possibly can. "Blessed are the peacemakers". But in the very end we won't succeed totally. We might succeed for a generation. We can patch it up here a little, and there a little, and there a little. But in the end we are headed toward world judgment in which there will be a tribulation, there'll be an antichrist, and there will be a judgment. But at the end of all that when man stands at Armageddon, and the human race is ready to destroy itself, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back. Hopeless, yet there is hope.
Now what are people doing about it when they read the headlines and watch their television screens? I'll tell you what they're doing. They are trying to escape. Trying to escape. How do people escape? Some of them escape by just daydreaming. Just making out like it's not going to happen at all. Or they escape through evil imaginations as they did in the days of Noah. You see, Satan turns himself into an angel of light and he says, "Go out and just live it up and have good time and forget it all".
There's the escape of pleasure. A flight into passion, appetite and desire. A man wrote and he said, "I'm going to drown my troubles in alcohol". And millions are doing that, just that. A businessman said, "I'm going out and having my fling on the weekend with my secretary. The world is so bad I'm going to have my good time while I can get it". One in every two marriages is breaking. Wife swapping, all the things that are going on today, unbelievable things. How long? How long is God going to allow it to continue? "How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? The Bible warns against the deceitfulness of pleasures. Things are that serious.
John Steinbeck wrote to Adlai Stevenson once, a letter. And here's a part of that letter. He said this, John Steinbeck said this, "If I wanted to destroy a nation I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick". And he said, "That's where America is right now". James once said in the fifth chapter, "Your gold and silver are cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasures for the last days". But you won't be able to spend it. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul"?
And a lot of you are just killing yourselves trying to get just a little corner on the world. And you're losing your soul. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? One of our famous senator's wives was quoted in the press the other day as saying, "Dear God, where has all the happiness gone"? Real happiness and joy and peace seem to be disappearing. People are afraid to walk down the streets at night in the average city. Rapping, mugging, crime, murder. How shall we escape? The final escape, of course, is suicide.
And there was a great theologian, one of our greatest theologians, had been president of one of our most prestigious seminaries. He and his wife had a suicide pact and they committed suicide about three weeks ago. And people are committing suicide. But do you know what Amos said? Amos in the ninth chapter says, "Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, there will I bring them down". Suicides among those under 19 years of age doubled in the last two years. This crowd sitting over here. If you're under nineteen, suicides doubled last year in America.
And then there's another escape, especially on the university campus today. There's the escape of radicalism. Join a radical cause. Let's overthrow the government. And I heard on television the other day one of those fellows in the 1960s from the University of California and he fled off to Algeria or somewhere. And they were interviewing him. He'd cut off, he'd already cut his hair, shaved his beard. I didn't recognize him. I knew him by name. He had three children. He said, "No", he said, "if I could get back into America", he said, "I'd fit into that system, because", he said, "I've traveled enough around the world to know that the American system is the greatest system in the whole world".
You see, what you do, what you do, you substitute one crowd of sinners for another crowd of sinners. You're never going to get anybody that's totally one hundred percent pure and totally honest. There was only one man that ever lived like that and that was Jesus. And what we're looking for today is the perfect man, the perfect politician, the perfect businessman, the perfect labor union leader. You're not going find it. So you have to deal in society with human nature as it is. Now, let me tell you, there are thousands of honest politicians, as honest as they can be, as honest as the preachers. Because the Bible teaches that all of us have come short of God's glory.
I know some of the finest men in Washington, and in our state capitals that we've ever had. But Sir Winston Churchill said once, "Our problems are beyond us". He said, "There's no way out". "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? What is our hope? Well, I want to tell you it's very important that you have some hope. Because you see, you not only have world problems that I mentioned, but you've got your own personal problems. You've got your own personal pressures. You've got your own personal hell that you're living in right now. And you're looking for a way out and a way of escape. "How am I going to get out from under this load I'm carrying"?
Maybe you're failing at the university. Maybe it's a broken love affair. It may be something else. Pressure from your parents. Whatever it may be. Maybe your parents are broken up and it's torn you up and you feel the pressure. And you want to run and hide. And you want to escape. You've tried the drug route. You tried the alcohol and it hasn't worked. Well, it's very important that you have hope. If you ever lose your hope you're finished, old or young. What oxygen is for the lungs such is hope for the meaning of human life. And the fate of humanity is dependent, I believe, in its supply of hope. A famous cardiologist was written up the other day, and he said, "Hope is the medicine that I use most of all. When a man has had a heart attack", he said, "I try to give him hope immediately".
A well-known professor of medicine said, "In this state, hope is like medicine". How shall we escape? The Reader's Digest was quoted recently as saying, "In order to be happy a person must have someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for". What is your hope? What do you place your hope in? The government? The educational system? What is your hope? Well, I'm going to tell you where my hope is tonight. My hope is not in an organization. My hope is not in a plan. My hope is not in a treaty. My hope is in a Man, a Person that sits at the right hand of God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Bible says that God has put in Him all authority on heaven and earth. And my hope is centered totally, completely in Him.
And I want to tell you I have been a failure in my life. I have been a sinner. I have broken God's laws. I deserve judgment. I deserve hell. But He came and died for me on that cross. And because He came and died on that cross I am saved. I have escaped. I have hope. I know that I'm going to heaven. And I have God's presence with me right here and now to help me in this present life. Do you have that hope? The Bible talks about the hope of the resurrection. Paul speaks of the hope of the resurrection. And he said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable". Are you a Christian? You say, "Yes, somewhere when I was a boy or a girl I received Christ as Savior". But that's as far as it goes. Paul said, "If it's in this life only that I have hope", he said, "then I'm miserable". But, he said, "There is out yonder a continuing city". "There's a city whose builder and maker is God".
There's heaven to come. And the Bible talks about the resurrection. Yes, we're going to be raised from the dead. Yes, there's the hope of the resurrection and there's the hope of righteousness. "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith", says Paul in Galatians 5:5. Now, this word really is the same as the word we use, "justification". When God forgives, God says from the cross, "I love you. I'm willing to forgive you of every sin you've ever committed". That means "just as though you had never sinned". Now, suppose somebody does something against me. I say alright, "I forgive you". You're forgiven, but I can still remember it. Ten years later I'll see you and I'll say, "Yeah, I remember what you did to me when I was back there at the university. I forgave you but I can't ever forget what you did to me".
But, you see, God doesn't do that way. God forgives and forgets and justifies you just as though you'd never committed a sin. He can't even remember it. Incredible. But that's what happens. The hope of righteousness. Because you see, I am now clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when God looks at me He doesn't see the old evil, bad heart of Billy Graham, He sees Jesus who lives my in heart. And He says, "Because Jesus lives in your heart you're forgiven". You're clothed in His righteousness. So, I can claim tonight by faith a righteousness not my own, the righteousness of Christ. Because God says, "Be holy even as I am holy". I can't be as holy as God. But I'm going to have to be as holy as God if I get to heaven. And the only way I can be as holy as God is to appropriate the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
So, when I get to the gates of heaven they're going to look at my clothes and they're not going to see this old suit I've got on, they're going to see that I'm clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I'm going to go in on the merits of His shed-blood on that cross. Yes, there is a hope. And then, not only is there the hope of righteousness but there's the hope of eternal life. To live forever with Him. And there's the hope of the second coming of Jesus Christ. "Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ". "Jesus Christ our hope", said Paul to Timothy.
You know, the New Testament is an exciting book to read because it's so full of hope and expectancy. The Scripture says, "For our hope is in heaven from which also we look for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ". And the Scripture says, "And there were great voices in heaven saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of Jesus Christ our Lord and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever and ever'".
And that's the same hope and it's the same picture of two lovers that have been separated for a while, awaiting their reunion. All the heartbreaks of history will end in the meeting of lovers. All the agony of the ages will end in the meeting of lovers. Have you ever been separated from someone you love? You've got a girlfriend or a boyfriend you haven't seen in about three or four months? Boy, wait 'til you see each other. That's one of the great things about being an evangelist and traveling. My wife and I have a lot of goodbyes. But boy, when we meet each other again it's a honeymoon all over again. I look forward to her coming. I hope she looks forward to seeing me. At least she says she does.
And that's what it's going to be on that glorious day when Christ comes. And we're going to be caught in the air to meet Him. And it's like two lovers coming together. What hope we have! Suppose we didn't have a Bible? Suppose we had no salvation, no cross, no empty tomb. Suppose we had nothing to give except: "Do your best. Try to patch it up. Do what you can". But we have a hope. There's a plan in this book of redemption. God has a plan for the future. And the future is all outlined. Your future, and God is interested in you. "How shall you escape if you neglect this salvation"?
If you neglect Jesus Christ, notice it says "neglect". Maybe you're not going to reject Christ. You just neglect Him. Oh, you'll join a church alright. Maybe you're already a member of the church. But as far as your personal relationship with Christ, you just neglect Him. You really don't have time for Him. He's not first in your life. Something else is first. He demands first place. He demands that He be Lord and Master of your whole life. I'm going to ask you tonight to march for Christ. Hundreds of these young people had a march of love this afternoon. A march for love. And they came into this stadium.
I'm going to ask you tonight to march for Christ, to get under His banner and say, "I want Him to forgive my sins. I want to know I'm going to heaven. I want to know that I'm going to escape the judgment when it comes. I want to have the power in this present life to escape all the terrible things that happen to every one of us". That doesn't mean you escape problems and difficulties and circumstances that may be bad. It means that He gives you a peace and a joy in the midst of them. That's the escape that we have. The escape is not running off and hiding somewhere. The escape is getting into the Word of God and in personal fellowship with Christ all day long.
I'm going to ask hundreds of you to get up out of your seat right now and come and stand in front of this platform and say tonight, "I want forgiveness. I want a new life. I want to know I'm going to be raised from the dead. I want to know I'm going to heaven". I'm going to ask you to get up and come and stand in front of the platform. And after you've all come, I'm going to say a word to you, and have a prayer with you. And then we're going to give you some literature and you can go back and join your friends. That's all you have to do. A simple act of faith in saying tonight, "I want Christ". Get up and come quickly, men, women, young people, hundreds of you. We're go to wait on you right now. Quickly, come.
You that are watching by television can see here in this great university arena hundreds of people coming to know Christ as Savior. We've seen the largest percentage of people coming to Christ here in Albuquerque, I think, of any American city that we've ever been to. Hundreds and thousands of people this past week have said "yes" to Christ. You can do the same where you are right now. You can bow your head and say, "Lord Jesus, come into my heart", and He'll do it. I hope that you'll make that commitment tonight, and that you'll go to church next Sunday. God bless you.