Billy Graham - Rebellion and Youth
Now tonight I want you to turn with me to the 15th chapter of Luke's Gospel. Jesus tells three stories. First he tells the story of a lost sheep. A man had a hundred sheep, and one of them got lost. Now he was lost through his own stupidity, and Jesus is indicating that you are the one lost sheep because the shepherd goes after that sheep. And Jesus said, indicated, that that was the reason he went to the cross. God sent him to the cross to find you, that you could have forgiveness of sin, have eternal life, know that you're going to heaven, and have fulfillment and purpose and meaning in this life as long as you remain in this life. You are the one lost sheep.
And then the second story has to do with a coin. A woman lost a coin. Now that's not so unusual. A lot of women lose coins, and men, too. I'm always losing something. But she lost it through carelessness. And many of us are careless about our spiritual condition. And Jesus is teaching something else here, that you can be careless about your spiritual condition and lose your soul. And so this woman, the reason she was collecting those coins, she collected ten coins, and when she got ten coins she had enough in her dowry to get married. And the rest of her life, she would wear them as a hairpiece around her head.
And so it was very important. And she looked everywhere for her coins. She lit a candle and looked under the bed. She swept the rug. She went outside, she swept the outside. She looked everywhere and tears were streaming down her cheeks. She couldn't find her coin. This may mean two or three more years before she could get married. But one day she found the coin, and when she did, she called all of her neighbors and friends in and said, "I've found the coin", and they rejoiced together.
And then Jesus tells another story, the third story. It's about the story of a lost son, or a loving father. There's one thing Jesus also wants to teach in here. He's teaching about repentance of sin, turning from sin, changing your lives, and the joy in heaven over one sinner that repents of sin. Think of the angels in heaven singing and rejoicing over you, when you make your commitment to Jesus Christ. Because you see, when the one lost sheep was found, they all gathered and rejoiced. When the one lost coin was found, they gathered and rejoiced. Eventually when the son came home, they gathered and rejoiced and had a great banquet and a feast in his honor. And Jesus is saying that's what happens in heaven over one person that repents of sin and comes to Christ. But the story of the lost son is what I want to dwell on.
There was a 16-year-old boy in London, when we were there not long ago, written about in the paper, and he had no ticket from Glasgow to London. He was a runaway, running away from home, in search of the bright lights, and the life in London. And that's one of the great problems in America at this hour, runaway young people. But in this text in Luke the 15th chapter, beginning at the 11th verse, we have the story of this runaway son. And it's a picture of God loving and searching. A picture of a man away from God, and it's one of the tenderest and greatest stories in all the Bible.
Instead of calling it "The Prodigal Son", we could call it "The Story of the Loving Father". He loved his two sons. He loved his family. This father had a farm, and there was a great deal of love and discipline and faith in God in that home. But this young man was dissatisfied with it. He didn't like it. So he goes to his father and he says, "Father, I want to leave home. I want to go out on my own, I'm old enough now, and I want to go out and see a little bit of life. I want to go to Seattle, I want to go to Chicago, I want to go to New York, I'd like to go to Miami or Honolulu, some place, Lord, just anywhere. Let me go to Anchorage, get away from here where I am. I want to see something and meet some young friends and live it up a little bit".
And said, "You know, when you die a third of this estate goes to me by law", (according to the old Jewish law), and so the father said to him, "Well, son, you're right. But I would advise you against it. I don't think you'll ever find what you're searching for in the big city and in the bright lights and the good times". But young people today are that way. They want instant solutions to problems. And we think we can find satisfaction in our lives, just a little change, maybe moving away from home, or getting out from under father and mother, or getting away from the old familiar surroundings. Maybe if I could just go to New York or someplace like that it would be different for me. I'll find the satisfaction that I'm looking for.
So the father didn't argue. He knew that his son has a right to do it. We're not satisfied with the way we are constructed, we're not satisfied with the way we look. We're not satisfied with the way we live. We're not satisfied with where we live. We're not satisfied with our education. We're not satisfied with our inner self, and there's something lacking and we don't know what it is. Like the girl that was crying and crying and crying at the university, and they couldn't find out what was wrong, and finally they brought her parents, and she finally blurted out to her father. She said, "Father, I want something and I don't know what it is".
Most everybody's searching for something and they don't know what it is. Do you know why? Because you were made in the image of God. You were made for God. You have a body, but living down inside of your body is your spirit, your soul, made in the image of God, and made for fellowship with God, and that fellowship has been broken by sin, and so, inside, you're constantly screaming and crying out for something. You're not quite sure what it is. You think you'll find it in drugs. You think you'll find it in sex. You think you'll find it in something else. Power, success, money, it's not there. And you end up with emptiness, still searching. And you're actually searching for God and don't know it. And you'll never find that total satisfaction and peace and purpose and meaning in your life until you have surrendered your life to God. Surrendered your life to Christ.
One of the most listened to songs, I suppose, of all time maybe, was the rolling stones, when they used to sing, "I can't get no satisfaction". And there are thousands of people just can't get no satisfaction. No matter what you do, you just don't have it. Oh, you have a good time for a short time. "There is pleasure in sin for a short time", the Bible says. But in the end, it ends up and you don't have the satisfaction.
And there are many people watching by television right now you don't have satisfaction. You don't have purpose and meaning in your life, but you'd like to have it, and you're hungering for something, you're thirsty for something. You don't know what it is. Why don't you pick up a telephone right now, call the number on your screen (1-877-772-4559), talk to that person that is at the other end of the line ready to talk to you. If you get a busy signal, call back again and again and again. They'll be there all evening to answer your questions and help you with your problem and your need.
Well, this young son in his rebellion headed for some city. I don't know what city it was. In America, many of them go to the west coast and that used to be the jumping off place. Now they can go to honolulu or come to Alaska. And they search for something but they don't find it. They say, "Oh, if I can get to Los Angeles". "If I can get to san Francisco". "If I can get to Hawaii". "If I can come to Alaska, "I know that's where I'm going to find everything "I've been searching for". But they don't find it. But this young fellow did find it. He found it for a short time. He wanted to get away from the boredom of the country to the city with its bright lights and its throbbing lifestyle.
You know, boredom is an age-old problem. This young man was bored as well as restless at home. And when he got to the big city, he wasted his inheritance, the Bible says, on riotous living. When he got there with all that money, he found a lot of friends. He was the toast of the young social set. They took him into their crowd because he had money. He had beautiful girls on his arm. He probably drove the best automobile. He had everything. And he attracted friends.
But then a depression came, recession came. He lost his money. He gambled a lot of it away. He drank a lot of it away. The women took a lot of it. His friends took a lot of it. And soon he found out, he didn't have any money left. And when he had no money left, he had no friends. And he went from friend to friend trying to get a job. He couldn't find a job. Nobody was interested in helping a fellow that was broke like he was. And a depression and a recession had set in and jobs couldn't be found. Finally he got one job.
You see, the day of reckoning always comes. He had rebelled against his father. He had rebelled against his family. He had rebelled against God. Now he's paying the price. And the scripture says, "He begins to be in want". He begins to be in want. When a man leaves God, his troubles begin. Sometimes it's a long process, sometimes it's a quick process. But when he ran out of money and his friends left him, he was worth nothing. No home, no money, no friends, no job. And it's impossible for us who were created for eternity ever to find anything in the things of this world to satisfy our souls. And yet the Bible says, for those that know the Lord, I shall not want. His body began to be in want. His body wanted drugs or alcohol for kicks. Drugs affect the mind.
There's a great deal of drunkenness today. There are many articles and stories in the papers about alcoholism. Alcoholism, as a killer, is the number two in America, having jumped over cancer. Heart, alcoholism and cancer, one, two, three. And drunk driving in America kills more than 25,000 people each year. And then his mind began to be in want. You see, the Bible says sin affects your mind. That's the reason you can't think clearly. That's the reason we're confused in our thinking today and we cannot think clearly about world problems, national problems, state problems, community problems, personal problems, family problems, because sin has affected our minds.
You see, the Bible says that Satan blinds the mind. Second Corinthians 4: "But if our Gospel be hid, it's hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world, the devil, has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ who is the image of God should shine unto them". Satan blinds our minds. That's the reason you cannot come to Christ with your mind. You cannot come with your mind alone. You can't think your way to Christ. You can't go to a university and study how to find Christ out of a textbook. You cannot come intellectually alone. Your mind has been affected by sin. It's affected by Satan. He blinds you.
That's the reason it takes the supernatural act of the Holy Spirit to convict you and to break through that blindness so that you can know Christ. His spirit, his soul began to be in want. It was restless, alienated, empty, without God. You see, the human soul is so large that the world cannot fill it. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul"? Your soul, your spirit, living there in your body for which you're responsible, is more important than all the world. Than all the gold, and all the oil, and all the riches of the whole world, your soul, your individual soul is worth more.
You say, "Well, Billy, how could that be"? Well, I don't know how it can be but that's how the Bible teaches it. And I believe that's true. God made you in his image, and you are important to God. God loves you as an individual. I don't care what your sins are or what your failures are. God loves you. He sent his Son to die for you. He suffered and died on the cross in your place. So this young man's body began to be in want. His mind was in want. His spirit was in want. Why? Because of the slavery of sin. "Whosoever committeth sin is a slave of sin", the Bible says. So, he got a job and became a slave to a former friend of his who had a farm out here raising pigs. So he got a job feeding the pigs.
Now what are you trying to fill your soul with? Money? Fame? Sex? Intellectual attainment? Or maybe you're a perennial student at the university. I've been to universities where students were 40 and 50 years old. They've been there for 15 and 20 years. It's an escapism. They get their parents to support them, and they get degree after degree after degree. They don't want to face the responsibilities of life. You see, he'd walked out from under the discipline of his father, but he's now under the slavery of a stranger. He exchanged one type of discipline for slavery.
You cannot be neutral. You're either a servant of God or a slave of Satan. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and materialism". You cannot serve God and yourself. You have to put Christ first. You have to make a choice. And you stand tonight at the crossroads. Here's the broad road, there's the narrow road. And when you receive Christ you go against the tide of the broad road.
That's the reason it's not easy to be a Christian. It's not easy to really follow Christ. I'm not going to kid you young people and tell you it's easy, it's not. It's hard. If you want to be an all-out Christian, if you want to serve Christ with all your heart, and be everything Christ wants you to be, it is not easy. It's tough. But if you want a challenge that will pay off a million times in this life and the life to come, then give your life totally to Christ tonight. March under his flag. March shoulder to shoulder with the people that have committed their lives to Christ.
Which master are you serving tonight? Which road are you on? The narrow road, he said, leads to eternal life. But you have to go through a narrow gate. You have to come by the way of the cross. You have to come to the foot of the cross and say to God, "I have sinned, I'm sorry for my sin, I receive Christ as Savior".
If you that are watching by television will do that, and would like to do that, pick up the phone and call the person on the other end of that number that you see on your screen (1-877-772-4559). You can do it right now.
Well, this young man had all these experiences and now he sits down with the pigs. He's eating with the pigs. He looks like a pig. He grunts like a pig. He fights with the pig over the food. He becomes discouraged and despondent. He decides that maybe he ought to just commit suicide. And I imagine the hogs watch him very curiously, this new hog that's joined them. And that's how low we sink morally. We sink to the very bottom when we turn ourselves over to the devil. But we're told that this young man came to himself. The Bible says he came to his right mind.
You, tonight, can come to yourself. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you tonight. You're away from God, you're not yourself, but you can come to yourself. So this young man said, "I've sinned against heaven". How right he was. He had not only sinned against his father, he'd sinned against heaven. He admitted that the fault was not God's, but it was his. He said, "I have sinned". Then he said a very wonderful thing. He began to think about his father, and he thought to himself, "The servants that my father hires get more to eat and live a better life than I live now. If I could go back and just be a servant of my father, maybe my father would let me do that". And so the scripture says he said to himself, "I will arise and go".
I'm going to ask you to do that tonight, to arise and come and receive Christ. Come back to God. Come back to Christ. Surrender your life to him. Maybe you're a member of the church, and you go to Sunday school, and you go to church, and you try to live a good life, but deep down inside you know that you are away from God.
So, this young man had rebelled. He was regretful for it. He had reflected about it. He had repented about it. Now he decides to go home, and we see him walking toward home. And his father, what had his father been doing all this time? His father still loved him, and every afternoon when the day's work was over, and the sun was setting in the west, the father would go out on the front porch and watch down the road, praying for his son, thinking about his son, loving his son. Wanting his son to return. Hoping that he would see him some evening, walking down that road. And after two or three years had passed, and everybody else had given up, the father was still loving him. He knew his son was spending his money, and spending his life in wild living, but this father loved him in spite of all that. And one evening he looked down that road and he saw somebody coming. He thought to himself, "That looks like jim, but it couldn't be. But he walks like him". The sun was just going down.
The father rushed out a little bit and took another look, a little closer, and he saw this boy stumbling toward him, in rags, dirt, and filth, and the father ran to him and threw his arms around him. Now the boy had made up a speech he was going to give to his father. He was going to say, "Father, I've sinned against heaven, I've sinned against you, I don't deserve to be your son. But please, give me a job just as a hired servant". He didn't get his speech out at all. He just got the first part of it out. The father had engulfed him in his arms. And the tears were streaming down both their cheeks as father and son came together.
And that's a picture of God tonight with you. God is waiting on you. And God is waiting with love. He loves you. He'll put his arms around you. He'll be closer to you than a brother, the scripture says. But here was the father who couldn't have cared more. There was a song some time ago, "Show me the way to go home". B.J. Thomas used to sing, "Home is where I belong". There was an old hymn that we used to sing when I was a boy, "Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, come home". The Bible says, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon".
I tell you right now, there are angels gathering in heaven ready to sing, the orchestras are ready to play, and there's to be rejoicing, as tonight, God puts his arms around you and says, "Jane", "Mary", "Susie", "Bill", "Jim, I love you, you're forgiven you're forgiven because of what my Son Christ did on the cross". He'll put his arms around you. Wouldn't you like that tonight? To give you a purpose and a meaning for your whole life? To help you when you go to pick out a mate. To help you to overcome temptation. To help you to understand some of the mysteries of life. To help you to have absolute assurance if you died you'd go to heaven. To forgive all your sins.
"Come and let us return unto the Lord", it says in Hosea, "For he hath torn and he will heal us, and hath smitten and he will bind us up". And the father ordered a robe to be brought. He ordered a ring to be brought to put on his son that gave him the authority of a son. He said, "You're not going to be my servant, you're going to be my son! You're my son, I love you, I forgive you! Welcome"! And they began to rejoice. And the father's words, in that case, "He is my son, no matter what". And God is saying tonight, "You're my son, you're my daughter, come, come home". Will you do that tonight? Will you receive Christ?
But there was another part of that story that I'll just mentioned. There was another brother, the older brother. He was out in the field, he heard the dancing, he heard the music, he heard the party. He said, "What's going on"? They said, "Your brother that was lost has returned"! And he became very angry, and the father went out and tried to appease him and he said, "Father, I've been here all the time, you never gave any party for me. You never killed the fatted calf for me. Look what you're doing for this boy that's gone out there and lived a life like that". And the father said, "But you've always been my son".
You see, it's an interesting thing. There were two lost boys there. One was outside the home, the other was inside the home. You can be inside the church and have the wrong attitude. You can be inside the church and still not belong to the father. You can be inside the church and still not have the right love for Christ that you should have. I'm going to ask you tonight to commit your life to Christ. To make sure of your relationship to him. And you may never have another moment like this as long as you live. The Bible says, "He that hardeneth his heart, being often reproved shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy".
I'm going to ask you right now from up in the stands everywhere, to come and stand in front of the platform, and say by coming, "I do want Christ. I want him to fill my life, I want him to forgive me. I want God to put his arms around me and love me. I do come home to him tonight". I'm going to ask you to get up and come right now, hundreds of you. Friends can come together, husband and wife can come together. Sweethearts can come together. But just get up and come, we're going to wait on you. Quickly, you get up and come. Hundreds of you.
You that have been watching on television, you can make that same commitment, just pick up the telephone and call that counselor right now that's standing by to talk with you about your problem and your need of Christ. You can make that commitment with these hundreds of people that are coming here in Anchorage tonight. God help you to make that commitment now and be sure and go to church next Sunday.