Billy Graham - The Hope of the World
Tonight, I want to talk about Jesus Christ. I want to ask the question, who is Jesus? Many of us have crosses embossed on our Bibles or carrying around our neck, but we don’t really know Jesus. You know when you fly into Brazil, into Rio de Janeiro, there’s a great big statue of Jesus. It’s a landmark of Rio day and night. It stands a hundred and thirty feet high. It’s a hundred and thirty feet from fingertip to fingertip with his arms outstretched. Someone has called this, in this country, the year of Jesus. One of the networks recently ran a mini-series on Jesus. My daughter has written a book called "Just Give Me Jesus". There is a movement among teenagers that asks the question, "What would Jesus do"?
Almost everybody has heard of Jesus, but millions really don’t know who he is. They don’t have him in their lives and in their hearts. And the world today is looking for Messiah to come and save us. Many years ago, the prophet Ezekiel said, "I searched for a man among them, but I found none". In other words, God was searching for someone that he could put his hand on and bless and use and he couldn’t find anybody that was willing to totally surrender and commit their lives to him.
The world today, if you read the newspapers and watch the telecasts, the news telecasts, is rushing madly toward, I think, Armageddon. Tonight, in the Middle East, they’re battling again over the same things they‘ve battled for hundreds of years. They’ve had meeting after meeting and truce after truce and treaty after treaty and promised made by all around but somehow, they can’t quit their fighting. You see, man is a moral failure. God is our only hope. God’s plans are already formed and are clearly stated in the Scriptures. And at His right hand, in heaven, sits a man who was despised and ignored and rejected by men when he came to earth the first time. And who is still rejected and ignored by the majority of the human race.
God has pledged that He will be the future world ruler. He will put down all rule and all authority and power. There is coming a day when every knee will bow to him and every tongue will confess his name. This year, 2000 A.D., the calendar we use each day dates back to the birth of Jesus. We can’t get away from him. Our generation cannot escape Jesus. Over the years so many plays and books and operas and movies have been made about Jesus. In March and April, both Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report magazines had cover stories about him. In its science and ideas cover story, U.S. News carried the title, "Why did Jesus die"?
Why is there so much interest in Jesus today? Is that the question you’ve asked? Who is this person who has done so much to transform human history than any man that ever lived? He only lived 33 years. His longest journey was less than a hundred miles. Is He just a folk hero or a revolutionary or is He who He claimed to be, the Son of the living God? Who is this person that demands that we call him Son of God and follow him even to death? We know he was a man. He was completely human, he was the representative man, he was the all-out man. He was identified and numbered with the transgressors the Scripture says.
Eighty-three times in the New Testament he’s called the son of man. There are many places in the scriptures where we’re reminded of his humanity. The Bible teaches that he was hungry. The Bible teaches that he was tired. In the back of a boat he was asleep. He knew the joys of friendship. He was misunderstood and despised. He wept at the tomb of a loved one. He had to fight temptation and endure disappointment. He claimed to be the unique Son of God. Before the world ever was or before the human race ever existed, he said, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God". And Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am". With these words Jesus set himself aside from every other person who ever lived. In other words, Jesus said before Abraham was born I always am. The eternal present. There is no past with Jesus and there is no future with Jesus. It’s all in the ever present.
And he’s speaking to you tonight. And he’s speaking to all of us collectively and individually. In Colossians 1 it says, "For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created by him and for him. And he is before all things. And by him all things hold together". This whole stadium would fly to pieces were not for the fact that he is the thing that holds it together. Peter’s statement in Matthew 16:16, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God".
When he came at Bethlehem that was not his birth or his beginning. He had already existed. That was his incarnation. When Jesus came to Bethlehem it wasn't the place of his origin. It was his incarnation. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us". You know it's interesting to me that Jesus never apologized for sin. He challenged others to prove any error in his thinking, or in anything that he ever did. How do we explain Jesus from every other individual that ever lived? How do we explain Jesus from every other person? What is the basic cause of hate and greed and lust and war today? And racial injustice and racial division?
Jeremiah gave the answer, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it"? King David said, "In sin did my mother conceive me". "I was born in sin", said David. He said, "I was shapen in iniquity". The Bible says in Matthew 15, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies". I think we need to do something about guns, but that's not the real problem. The real deep problem is in our hearts. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and murders and adulteries and thefts and blasphemies. All of these things come from the heart of men and women.
How do you explain Jesus? His authority. No one ever spoke as this man spoke, says John 7. He forgave sin. No other prophet had ever forgiven sin. Mohamed didn't attempt that. Buddha didn't do that. No one else in history has ever said, "Your sins are forgiven". He also had authority over nature. When the sea was boiling and the storm was raging he just held up his hand and said, "Peace, be still". and the sea quieted down and the storm stopped. He had authority over disease. Every sick person who ever came to him by faith and he touched, he healed. But what about his death? Different than any other person that ever was.
You see, Jesus was executed. He was a criminal. He took our sins. He became sin for us, who knew no sin. Can you imagine a person being the embodiment of sin? That's what Jesus was on the cross. Isaiah 53 says, "God hath laid on him the iniquity of us all". In 1 Peter 2:24 it says, "Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree". Micah says that all of our sins are cast into the depths of the sea. I was reading today about that lake in Russia that is the deepest water in the whole world. Thousands of feet down. Our sins are buried in the depths of the sea, the scripture says, because of what Christ did on the cross. He became sin for us. He was executed for you. He took your judgement and your hell. You won't ever have to go to hell. You don't ever have to go before the great white throne judgement if you are in Christ. But everybody else will.
The Bible says that there's coming a day when he is going to judge the whole world and you will stand before God at the great judgement, hundreds of you that are here tonight, and you won't stand with a great crowd like this tonight. You say, oh, we'll have a good time when we get there. No. You'll be alone. You're going to stand before God alone and give an account of what you did with Jesus, and how you lived your life. And many of us are going to be terribly disappointed. And we're going to scream for mercy, but it's going to be too late. The Bible says we'll call for the rocks and mountains to fall on top of us and hide us from Him that sits on the throne, but we can't.
The crucifiction of Christ is a stubbling block to many people, because it's foolishness, the Bible says, to those that perish. Many will accept the teaching of Christ when he says love everybody, but they stop at the cross. At the cross is where you have to come before you can really know him. And you have to confess that you're a sinner, and you have to repent from sin. And the word repentence means that you turn, that you change. You're going one direction in your life and you're willing to go another. You say, but Billy, I don't have that ability. I've tried to change. I've tried to do better, but I can't. No, you can't. But God will help you if you submit to him and say, Lord, I need your help. I need your help even to repent. I need your help even to have faith to believe. The kind of faith that I must have. What about you?
And then there's his resurrection. The Bible says they took him out and they burried him after his death but on the third day he rose again. And he's alive tonight. When some of the disciples went out to the tomb where he was buried there were two men there, two angels that said, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He's not here. He is risen". Jesus is alive and the thing which inspired the disciples to go to the whole world with the gospel, is the resurrection. We're talking about a living Christ that can come into your life and heart today and change you, and change your family and change your neighborhood and change Nashville and change middle Tennessee and change all of the whole country if we'll let him.
The Bible says that, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, we shall be saved". You have to believe not only that he died but that he rose again. That's one half of it. One half is that you repent. You come and say, "O Lord, I am a sinner. I'm sorry that I've sinned. Please forgive me and help me to change". But then, you have to live the life, and there the resurrected Christ is there through the Holy Spirit to help you live the life after you've come to Christ. If Christ is not risen, then he's not God, and the tremendous force in history is unexplained.
The apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus, was persecuting Christians and killing Christians. He hated Jesus. And one day, there was a blinding light, and he fell down on his knees and he knew it was Jesus. And he said, "Who art thou, Lord"? in Acts the 9th chapter. And this is the question you must answer. Who is Jesus? That's the question of our generation. Who is Jesus? If Jesus claimed to be God, knowing that he was not, he was a deceiver. If he thought that he was God and didn't know the difference then he was a maniac.
Jesus was whom he claimed to be. God manifested in the flesh. Think of it. The mighty God that created the stars and those planets and this whole universe and holds it all together. He is the one that wants to come into your life and your heart tonight in a new way. Oh, you might be a member of the church. You might have been confirmed and baptized and all the rest, but deep down inside you're just not sure, you're not certain that you're ready to meet God. You're not certain that you'll escape that great judgement.
You must face the question that Pilate asked, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ"? Pilate washed his hands. Tonight you can wash your hands and leave and leave this stadium and go back to the old life and nothing has happened. But Paul was fearful. He was trembling. He was astonished, He was amazed. But he asked the right question. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do"? And Jesus said unto him, "Arise and go". And that's what Jesus is saying to you tonight, up in those stands and down here on this lower stand. Arise and go. Get up out of your seat and make a new commitment to Jesus, and make certain that your sins are forgiven.
You see this may be the only chance you'll ever have the rest of your life, is tonight. You may not be able to come back to these meetings this week. You may never have another moment quite like this when the Holy Spirit has spoken to you as He's speaking tonight. And Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and fellowship with him".
Jesus is knocking at your hearts' door tonight. He wants to come into your heart. He wants to change your life. He wants to have an impact in your community and in your family and in your life. He wants to give you peace and joy that you've never known before. He wants to forgive all your sins and he wants to give you assurance that if you died tonight you'd go to heaven. You can have that assurance tonight before you leave here. And I'm gong to ask you to do something that may be very difficult for you to do. But when Jesus died on that cross, He was dying for you, because He loved you, and He's asking you to open your heart to Him tonight.
And if there's a doubt in your life about your relationship to Christ you get up out of your seat right now and come and stand in front here on this beautiful stadium floor that they've put down. If you're with friends or relatives, they'll wait on you. And come and stand here. I'm going to say a word to you, and have a prayer with all of you, and give you some literature to help you in your life in the week to come. You get up and come right now. Men and women, young people, hundreds of you. Just get up and come and stand here. That's all. By that act, you're saying to God, "I do open my heart to Jesus who died for me and rose again and whose alive tonight. And he's knocking at my heart's door I can sense it".
You get up and you come. We're going to wait on you right now. If you've come with a group, they'll wait on you. If you've come in a bus, they'll wait. There's plenty of time. This is the most important moment in your life. Don't miss it. Quickly from up in the top stands, you get up and come. It will take you a little time. It will take you 4 or 5 minutes, so come. We're going to be here to pray with you, and talk with you, and to help you.
Now while you're still coming, I want to say a word to all of you that will be watching by television. You can make your commitment where you are. Wherever you are. You may be at home. You may be in a hotel room. I don't know where you are, but God is speaking to you. You make your commitment. Or you can call that number you see on your screen. There's somebody ready to talk to you right now, and have a prayer with you, and we'll send you the same literature we're going to give to people here tonight. You can make your commitment. You make it now.