Billy Graham - The Family
Tonight, I want to read a passage of Scripture that was on the cake that they presented to my oldest grandson the day that he was confirmed, and this was on the cake. In the third Epistle of John, the fourth verse. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth". Of course, John was talking about those young converts of his, that he called his children, but here we could apply it to our families and to our own children.
You know, the other night, a 20-year-old couple got married on Friday night in Ohio. They came to Toronto on their honeymoon, attended the crusade Tuesday night and responded to the invitation to receive Jesus Christ and the counselor said the husband immediately started taking his role as the spiritual leader of the home because he said, "We're going to get into the word of God". And the counselor added what a wedding present that was.
There was a man here the other night who is one of the chief karate instructors in South Africa on his way home to Johannesburg. And after taking some refresher classes in Japan, he stopped here for two days. He attended the crusade, accepted Christ as his Savior, 41 years old. He said, I'm rushing back to Johannesburg to tell my wife and family that I have found Jesus Christ. And we've had story after story and if I'd had time tonight, I was going to tell you some more stories of people that have found Christ here in this tremendous crusade here in Toronto during these days. But I want to get quickly to what makes up a happy home or how you can have the right kind of a home.
And the first point that I would like to make is that God performed the first marriage in the garden of Eden and it was God's idea to have a family in the first place before the cities and governments, written language, before nations, temples, churches, there were families and the family is the most important institution in the world. The first miracle that Jesus ever performed was at a wedding at Cana of Galilee and Jesus was underscoring the importance of the home because if the home goes, the nation is going to go.
It was my privilege the other day to talk to the prime minister of this country and today to the premier of Ontario and on both occasions it was interesting how we got to this idea of how the home is a basic unit and the home cannot be separated from the health of the nation or of the province. Many today are wringing their hands with fear and insecurity, but more important than what happens at Wall Street or what happens at the United Nations is what is happening to our families. In the home character is formed. Integrity is born. Values we live by are made clear. Goals are set. Attitudes are formed that last a lifetime.
Is your home built on a solid foundation? That's the question I want to ask. Remember the man Jesus told about that built his house on a rock. This your house built on a rock? Is your home secure tonight or is it filled with tension? Is it about ready to break up? We've had more couples come forward here that were living together without marriage, or more couples come forward here that had been separated and more couples that had been divorced that have come here together and be reunited than almost any crusade we've held in a long time. And it indicates to me that this is a growing problem in Toronto and it's a growing problem in this part of Canada as well as in the United States and other parts of the world.
The third point I'd like to make is that our modern life puts tremendous pressures on the home and the family. You know, some of the pressures that the home faces today. It reminds me of Nehemiah, the fourth chapter where the scripture says, "There is much rubbish so that we're not able to build a wall". And we see rubbish everywhere. Rubbish on television and in films and in magazines, making fun of the home, making fun of marriage, making light of one of the holiest of all institutions, the marriage and God has indicated from one end of the Word to the other that when the home fails, the society is going to fail.
And I tell you this, unless we have a spiritual revival and our homes are renewed, the nation is going to be destroyed. There is no way that we can escape the judgment of God unless we come back to Christian or to God-fearing homes. You know, we're living in cities today. All over the world people are moving to cities. As a boy on the farm, I could watch my father work and was made part of that work. Today a man goes to work in a factory, or an office and his wife goes off to work too and often the children never see either one of them doing their jobs and they never become a part of it. In small rural communities of yesterday, everyone knew everyone, teachers and parents were friends, but the working mother or the two-career family is already upon us and many times it's impossible to escape it because of taxes and because of inflation, and all the rest of it.
In order to make a living, both parents have to work in many instances, but Ezekiel 16 says, "As is the mother, so is her daughter". As is the mother, so is her daughter, which indicates that we as parents ought to set the example in front of our children of Bible reading, of prayer, of integrity, of truthfulness, of honesty and let them see in us Jesus Christ because one could say as the father, so the son as well as the mother and her daughter, and we have that responsibility as Christians, but we're glorifying today not getting married.
I read the other day that 1,500,000 couples are living together in the United States without any intention of ever getting married. And the number of those getting married is decreasing and the number of divorces is mounting until one of our great sociologists said recently, at Columbia University, that we may not have any homes at all by the end of this century. It may be something of the past. And sex is now treated by many like a physical appetite to be satisfied completely apart from any meaningful relationship. Just like you go out and buy a hamburger to satisfy your appetite, so you go out and have sex. That's not what God meant it to be at all. It's a holy gift from God to be used within matrimony.
But there's a satanic attack on the family today. Even Christian families are feeling it. I've never heard so many stories of Christian families even having so much tension and so much difficulty. We've never had more books on the bookshelves telling us how to solve our family problems or sexual problems than we have today, and yet somehow, we are more miserable. We are more broken. We're more torn. We're more hurt than we've ever been. Why? Because we have not taken the word of God into account because God has laid down the rules and the regulations for successful and happy home and we broken them. We thought we could do it some other way and we've found that we failed.
Let's come back to the Bible. Let's come back to the Word of God and build our homes on this book and the God that performed the first marriage. The fourth point I would like to make is that the family is still the most durable institution in the world. Historically, the family has survived all attacks, but many today want love without commitment.
The latest polls indicate that young people may be turning back toward the family relationships and commitments and it's most encouraging. Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn. I pray that it will be, I believe it is beginning to turn in the United States and I'm happy to see it because you see, even in Russia and China where they profess atheism, they are finding that cannot build a strong society without a home. They experimented at first without homes. They laughed at marriage, but now they've changed their minds.
And then the fifth thing I'd like to say is the family needs help and encouragement. God is interested in your family, your marriage, your children. He shows us the ideals and the goals for the family and he's willing to help us. Ezra said, "Then I proclaimed a fast there to seek of him a right way for us and for our little ones". Seeking God's will for your family. That's what Ezra was doing, seeking the will of God for his family. Have you sought God's will? Have you gotten on your knees and committed your children to the Lord time after time? Do you gather them together for family devotions? Or are you too embarrassed to or too hypocritical to? What keeps you from doing it?
Because it's been proven statistically that the homes that have Bible reading and prayer and go to church every Sunday, there's only one divorce in 400 marriages. While the national average in the United States is now almost one out of every two marriages. The answer is God. The answer is spiritual. The answer is surrendering your heart and your life to Jesus Christ as parents, as children so that every member of the home knows Jesus Christ and loves the Word of God. And then the next point I would like to make is that the husband-wife relationship is the key to the family's success.
Nearly all the psychologists or sociologists that I've talked to and the books that I've read indicate that the home will only rise so high as the husband-wife relationship. The children seeing love between the husband and the wife. You see many people get married without any idea of how much is at stake and laying the foundation for failure in the very beginning, in courtship. You be careful who you go with and fall in love with. Be sure that he or she is God-fearing and loves Christ. The scripture says, "Be not unequally yoked together".
How many of you have tried it and failed? There must be a spiritual oneness. There are three people that make up a marriage, the husband, the wife and God and be sure God is in your marriage. You see so many are marrying someone with whom they've have a very little chance of having a successful marriage. Seventeen Magazine made a survey some time ago of young men and they asked the young men many questions and one of the questions was, what do you want your girlfriend to have on the first date? And the number one answer was a good figure. I would say the number one answer as far as I'm concerned would be to love the Lord with all her heart and all her mind. Many marry without being aware of the ideals and the goals which God has set for marriage.
You see God planned marriage for people with some maturity. Now you can be mature when you're 17, you can be mature when you're 18 and you can be absolutely immature at 40. I see some little teenage 40-year-olds trotting around and there are many of them. The scripture says, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother". You must be people who are ready to emotionally leave home. Now you think about that. We're always to love our parents. I don't care where you go to the ends of the earth. You are to love your parents, you're to confer with your parents. You're to honor your parents. You're to enjoy your parents. But when you get married, you must realize that they can never, that you can never again depend on them as you did when you were little children.
Many parents ruined the marriage of their children by refusing to turn them loose. Learn when to turn them loose. For this cause shall a man leave and his wife must be first. The husband must be first while still honoring and loving and seeking the advice and the counsel of the parents and the parents must learn how to turn loose and when you turn them loose. I'm going to tell you something. When you turn them loose, they'll come back to you closer than ever as adults and you'll enjoy them as much as you ever did. And then God wants marriages to be permanent until death do us part.
Many people enter the marriage vow without any idea that this is for keeps. A young man at the marriage alter thinking to himself, "if this doesn't work out, I'll get a divorce". Yes, tensions are going to come. There's going to be that adjustment period and you keep adjusting the rest of your life. There’ll be problems, there'll be disagreements But you are to accept each other's faults. Your wife is not perfect, and your husband is not perfect. You found that out after about two days. That first morning you saw her in curlers, and that first morning when she saw you get up bleary-eyed. And it's not always romantic but we are to be together in a relationship that God has formed.
We become one flesh and many people that had been married for many years have loved each other so much and been together so much and know each other so well that they begin to look like each other. That's actually true. People tell me that I look like Ruth. If that's true, I'm getting mighty good looking. And I'll tell you when I haven't seen her in two weeks, she looks better than ever. But there must be a lifetime commitment when you come to Christ. It's forever. Repeat it to yourself forever, forever, forever, till death do us part. Don't ever intend to entertain the idea of separation and divorce, if you know Christ. He can hold you together.
There is no problem that you face that cannot be solved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and then God's ideal is for the husband and the wife to be faithful to each other, faithful to each other. I read the other day, that's 70% in a survey. 70% of the men it indicated were cheating on their wife. I just can't believe that statistic. I cannot allow myself to believe it. It didn't say how many wives cheated on their husbands, but I want to tell you, the Bible calls it adultery. And the Bible says that no adulterer will be in heaven.
We don't realize what a vial and terrible thing it is to break the marriage vow with that type of a sin. I know it's old fashioned. I know that's out of date, but that's the teaching of the Word of God and the Word of God never, never, never, never changes. It's the same. God hasn't changed in all these centuries. Do you think that God is changing his whole nature to accommodate himself to your sins? No. He's the same, yesterday, today and forever. And the same God that hated the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah hates the sins that we're committing today in the countries of the world that I travel in because it's worldwide. To have an affair is said to put spice in a marriage.
I read that the other day in some newspaper. It's a sin against God and it breaks the marriage vow and many of you are asking, "Well, what can I do to help my marriage"? The first step is to turn your life over to Jesus Christ. Let him come into your life. You say, well, how do I do that? We've seen hundreds and even thousands here in Toronto, come to Christ. Be willing to repent of your sins. That's the first step. Realize that God loves you in spite of your sins, in spite of your failure, he loves you and he's willing to forgive you, but you must be willing to repent and that word repent means to change. Change your mind, change the direction of your life and determine that you're going to bring your life under the Lordship of Christ.
If you failed in the home, if you failed at being a parent, if you failed at being a husband or wife or an obedient child in the home, surrender your life to Christ tonight and let him come into your heart and help you to be the right kind of a husband or wife or the right kind of a child. We had a man come forward in Las Vegas to make his commitment to Christ and he and his wife were in the divorce courts, and he called her on the phone and he said, I'd like to come and see you and said, I'd like to settle this divorce business. And she didn't know what he meant.
And so they got together and they went to the little restaurant where they'd been before and they fell in love all over again. They called their lawyers and said, call it off. We are being reunited in Christ. That can happen to you. Maybe you and your wife haven't separated, but spiritually you're separated, emotionally you may be separated, psychologically separated. Let Christ come in and bring you together. And then our children need help. Our children need help. They need your love
You know, I heard a psychiatrist say many years ago that helped me. They said, you know, your children may come to a point where they do rebel because most children come to a point where they're seeking their own identity and they may rebel for three or four years or five years, a little bit, maybe some of them, while they rebel. The psychiatrist said, let them know that you disapprove, but that you love them. And when they come through that point of rebellion and when they find their own identity, the love will still be there.
Let the love of Christ dominate your family, dominate your relationships within the family, and you can have a wonderful home. It's not too late to repair it. It's not too late to change. You can start tonight. What do you have to do? Be willing to repent of your sin and receive Christ by faith into your heart. Notice I said, by faith. You may not understand it all. You may not understand what I mean when I say accept Christ by faith. You don't have to understand it all. Come by simple childlike faith like a little child is trusting his father. You trust the heavenly father.
Put your hand in his hand tonight and say, "Tonight, I want Christ". You see, he died on the cross for you. He shed his blood for you. He rose again from the dead and He's alive and the Bible says He's coming back again. You believe that and accept that and that He's willing to come by the Holy Spirit and live in your heart tonight right now. You don't have to live the Christian life alone. You don't have to be that husband alone or that wife alone or that child alone or that teenager alone. Christ will come into your heart right now tonight, if you'll let him, and on this wet, damp, cold evening. What a wonderful moment to let Christ come into your own heart and you become the right kind of a husband, the right kind of a wife, the right kind of a son or daughter.
I'm going to ask you to receive him right now. I'm going to ask hundreds of you to get up out of your seat right now and come out here on this field and stand here as a moment of recommitment or a moment of receiving Christ. Whatever your reason for coming. You may be a member of the Anglican Church or the United Church or the Pentecostal Church or the Catholic Church, or you may not have any religious background. I don't know who you are, but I'm going to ask you to come and say, tonight, "I want Christ in my heart. I want Him to be my Lord and my Master and my Savior and I want to go back and be the right kind of a husband and the right kind of a wife. I want him to forgive my past. I want him to change me. I want to be the right kind of a young person in the home. I've been rebellious against my parents and I haven't lived the Christian life in the home, but I want to from this moment on".
You may be here with your fiancé or your sweetheart and you want to dedicate your lives together to Christ. You come as people are already coming. You get up and come right now. No one leaving. As hundreds are responding to Mr. Graham’s invitation to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ, you can make that same commitment right where you are. Just pick up the phone and call the number you see on your screen. Special friends are waiting to talk with you and pray with you about this most important decision.
You that had been watching by television can see now that God has been wonderfully working and that you can come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior. Right now, accept Him and if you'll make that commitment, we'll send you the same literature we are going to give to people here. Many hundreds and thousands of people have come to Christ here in Toronto, Ontario and you can come to Christ where you are. Give your life and your heart to him right now. God help you to make that commitment tonight and go to church next Sunday.