Billy Graham - The University of Life
Tonight I want to speak on "The University of Life". Many of you go to college or the university, and if you don't go, you maybe are planning to go, and I want to talk about the university that we all attend in life. And I want to take as a text Matthew, the 11th chapter, these words, the 28th verse, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light".
Now in this university of life, you can fail, but you cannot drop out. And "Unto me", Jesus said, "Come unto me", that's the first invitation that he ever gave was in this passage. "All ye that labor", that word "Labor" means a toiler, a person that cannot find rest, "And are heavy laden". They were ladened down with the ceremonies of the law. The ceremonial law and the moral law of the Old Testament. All the rules that the pharisees and the religious leaders had laid down, all the legalistic things. And they were ladened down with it. They were laboring with it. Jesus said, "Come unto me and I'll give you rest". The rest of refreshment. Not the rest of doing nothing.
And this invitation is to men and women who are exhausted with their search for truth. You've become exhausted searching for the purpose and the meaning of life. Where did I come from? Why am I here? And, where am I going? I'm searching for a purpose and a meaning to my life. I'm searching for truth, and you're exhausted from it. Jesus is claiming that the weary search for God ends with himself. He said, "Now you've found the truth. I am the truth". You can stop your searching. You've found it. He said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I'm meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light". Jesus said, "Come to me all ye that are weary and burdened, and I'll give you rest".
Wouldn't you like to have the relaxation and the rest that Jesus can give you? There's some of you watching by television that would like that. There's a number on your screen (1-877-772-4559). You can pick up a phone and call right now and talk to a person who is trained to answer your questions and help you, because you can have this relaxation and peace and forgiveness and joy that Christ can bring into your life. Pick up the phone now and call.
But there are many people that want to escape from life. And they say with the Psalmist, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and get out of the world". Have you ever wanted to do that? Just get out of the mess you're in? Get away from the pressures of life and fly away. Well, you can't. The Psalmist's longing to escape, has become the cry of so many in our world today. The Bible is right up to date. It is the book of life for man, and it's never changed. The Psalmist also said, "I'm full of heaviness and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none". And you've looked everywhere for help, and you haven't been able to find it.
And I think that the period between about 14 and 25 is the toughest period in all of life because your body is changing, you're changing psychologically and physiologically, and yet you're asked to make some of the greatest decisions of your entire life! Where you're going to go to school. What kind of job do you want, or if you can even get a job. What is going to be your vocation? Who you're going to marry. And you're asked to make those lifetime decisions. What is going to be your philosophy in life? Who's going to guide you and direct you? What's going to be your religion? Because all of us are religious by nature. We believe that there's a God. I don't believe there are any atheists in this audience tonight.
To those who feel there's no way out of their problem, Jesus said, "I am the way out". Jesus said, "Learn of me". You see, Jesus was the professor at this university and he spoke as one having authority. And today I want us to sit at the feet of Jesus as a professor. Now there are three required courses in this university of life. Three required courses, you have to take them. There's nothing you can do about it. First, you've been born, life itself.
Now, you didn't choose to be born. One man said to his son, "Son, if you had asked to be born, the answer would have been no". We were not consulted about living. Nothing we can do to stop living. You did not choose where you were going to be born. And you didn't choose what color skin you're going to have. That's the reason you shouldn't ever have racial prejudice. That person who may have white skin, or that person who may have dark skin, or a brown skin, they didn't ask, they didn't have a choice! Love them as fellow human beings, and certainly love them as fellow Christians or believers, if they are. So you cannot escape. You can't jump out of your skin. You can't jump out of your race. You can't jump out of life. You're here. So that's one fact that you can't change.
Now the second required course is that you're going to die. You're born, you live, but you're going to die sometime. God said to Hezekiah, "Thou shalt die and not live". The Bible said, "It's appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the judgment". Ecclesiastes says there's a time to be born and a time to die. It doesn't matter whether it's five years or ten years, or fifty years from now, you're going to die. Many biblical characters and many people in history who lived many years, but they all died. There's a day, there's an hour, there's a minute already appointed, already set for your death. The Bible says, "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee. Thou hast appointed his bounds and he cannot pass".
There's only one man in history who did not have to die, and that was Jesus Christ. But he chose to die, to die for you in your place on the cross. "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself", he said. He didn't have to die. He did it voluntarily because he loves you, and he loves you and he loves you. And it's a wonderful thing to know that he's willing to help us carry the burdens of life, and that he loves us and he's willing to forgive our sins and our failures and our mistakes, and we can start life all over again. We can be born anew, born afresh, born again. Think of it, he not only died on the cross and they buried him, but he was raised from the dead and he's coming back. He said, "There's more! The best is yet to be". "For to this end, Christ both died and rose that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living". "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable".
If this is the end, if this life is all there is, we're miserable. What's life all about if this is it? We live a short time and we die? Then it's all over? Don't tell me that. There's a meaning to life! There's a purpose to life! And it's outlined in the Bible. Outlines exactly what it's going to be. And tells you exactly how to do it. Death is never the last word in the life of a good person. There's life after death. Paul wrote to the Romans "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved". Thou shalt be saved, you shall be saved.
If you're willing to acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior and you believe in your heart and commit yourself to a risen Christ, you can be saved tonight! And you can know it! And then the third thing in this university that's required, and that is the judgment of God is required. Some day you will have to give a moral account of the life that you lived here. You see, from the moment that you were conceived, God has been watching you, and recording in something called the books, every thought that you ever think, every motive that you have, every decision that you make, every word that you say, all the hidden things are there to be shown on the screen some day at the judgment, and to be listened to. And you will be judged according to what is there, unless you have come to the cross and repented of your sins, and received Christ as Savior, then the tapes are erased.
The pictures are wiped out, and even God cannot recall them. It says, God forgets our sins. He buries them in the depths of the sea. When you're born, your name is written in the books, and everything you've ever done or thought or said are written in the books. When you receive Christ, really receive him, I don't mean just joining a church, I mean really receiving him, committing your life totally and completely to him, when you do that, he wipes your name out of the books, blots it out, and writes your name in the book of life, and if your name is in the book of life, you're going to go to heaven. And you're going to have heaven here on earth, from that moment on. Oh, there'll be problems and sorrows and difficulties and all, but he'll be with you through them. And even when you come to die, he'll be there to hold your hand in that moment that you must face.
Now, there are certain courses at the university that you can choose. The options in the university of life. First, you can choose your way of life. Joshua said, "Choose you this day"... You have the right to choose. That's what makes us different from the animals, at least partially different from the animals. We have the right of moral choice. You can choose. God doesn't coerce anybody into his kingdom. He doesn't make you obey him. You can choose. You can reject him if you want to. You can shake your fist at him if you want to. Or you can open your heart and let him in. Because the Bible teaches that he's knocking at your heart's door, wanting to come in. The Bible teaches there are two roads of life. Either through the narrow gate, or "Enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many there be that go therein, but small is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, and few there be that find it".
He said only a few of the people that have been born in the history of the world are going to find that narrow gate. They may find it, but they refuse to go in. Or they neglect to go in. The narrow gate is the cross. You have to come by the way of the cross. Oh, we like to have a cross around our neck. We like to have it embossed on our Bibles. We like to see beautiful gold crosses. We like to see the cross on the top of the steeples in the churches. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that old rugged cross where Christ died and shed his blood for you.
You come to that cross and say, "Lord, I am a sinner and I'm sorry, and I'm willing to turn from my sins and I receive you from this moment on and I make total commitment to you without reservation". That's when your name is blotted out of the books, and that's when you're walking on the narrow road. That's when you go through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. Jeremiah said, "Thus saith the Lord, behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death". There are two ways set forth in the Bible. The way of life, the way of death. Which way are you on? Which road are you on? I'm asking you tonight to change roads because you're on the way of death, you're on the broad road that leads to destruction. Turn! Change! You can! That's what this meeting is all about. That's why these men have worked and prayed and these women and young people. To bring this all about so that people like you will change roads before it's too late.
You see, Satan used a beautiful serpent to come and deceive Adam and Eve. And he tempts in three ways and he's tempting in those same three ways tonight to you. Appetite, beauty, pride. In Genesis 3:6, she saw the forbidden fruit that it was good for food. Appetite. Secondly, pleasant to the eyes, beauty. Make one wise, pride. Satan did not disguise himself when he tempted Christ in the same three ways. Jesus resisted him. And do you know how Jesus resisted the devil when he came in the same three ways that he did to eve? By quoting scripture. He didn't argue with the devil. He just quoted scripture. He said, "It is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God".
Now he tempts you in the same way three ways. There's first, the lust of the eye. That's the appetite for things. Possessions can become the supreme object of your life. These things are not wrong, but when your life is centered in the acquisition of money and possessions, that's wrong. That becomes idol worship. And God hates idol worship more than any other sin. That's the lust of the eye. Then there's the lust of the flesh, pleasure. It looks beautiful. There's lust. Physical things. Luxury, entertainment taking first place over God. And some of us are selling our souls for pleasure. Overeating. Wrong use of sex. Too much alcohol. The scripture says, "The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God shall abide forever". That's what we heard a moment ago. It passes away.
All of this that you see and hear and are doing will be gone in a short time. The only thing that will last is what you've been doing for God and your faith in him. Then there's the pride of life. That's position, the ego, with all of its self-centeredness. Not only are these things wrong in God's eyes, but they do not give permanent satisfaction. And then the second thing that you have a right to choose you can choose who's master, who's going to be your master.
The question put to Pilate was: "What shall I do with Jesus"? That was his question. What shall I do with Jesus? That's the most important question in the world. What are you going to do with Jesus? You cannot escape Jesus Christ in our generation, he's everywhere. All over the world, he's knocking at people's doors, asking to come in. Not pushing the door open, just asking for you to turn the handle and say, "Come in, Lord Jesus, and take charge of my life. I'm making a mess of it". The disciples asked him in an earlier chapter, "Whom do men say that I am"? He is the Lord and the master, the Son of God. And then thirdly, you can choose your destination. "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction. Narrow is the gate and hard is the way which leadeth unto life", but you choose which road you're going to be on. That's your choice, that's your option.
What are you going to do about it. You can make your commitment tonight to Christ. And say yes to him. I've met three people already today that said that they made a commitment to Jesus Christ in one of our crusades somewhere. Well, three tonight. About four or five today, in all. And they wouldn't turn back for anything. The joy and the peace and the sense of forgiveness and fulfillment that they found in Christ. And the scripture says come while you're young. Don't wait 'til you get older. Because you see, the older you get, the harder your heart becomes. And there'll come a time when the Spirit of God will speak to you but your heart is too hard to hear. You've put it off too long. Come while you can.
And many of you older people or senior citizens that may be here tonight that God has even whispered to you, "You come", this may be your last moment when you'll be so close to the Kingdom of God. You open your heart and let Christ in. You say, "What do I have to do"? First, repent of your sins. The word "Repent" means to change. Change your mind. Change your way of living. But you can't do that. You have no power to do that. There's some things in your life that you know are wrong that you cannot give up, but God will help you if you'll let him. And then the second thing, you must receive him by faith.
Now the word "Faith" means commitment, total commitment. I totally commit myself to Christ without reservation. I'm going to trust him and him alone for my salvation. And I want to know that I'm ready to meet him. You may be a member of the church, you may be a Sunday school teacher. You may even be a pastor of a church, but you're not sure about where you stand with God. There was a bishop on the West Coast summer before last that came forward in one of our crusades and I went to him and I asked him, I said, "Sir, why did you come forward tonight? You're the bishop of the church". He said, "Mr Graham", he said, "I am a bishop, and I've read the Bible and I've been religious for many years, but I have no assurance in my heart if I died right now I'd go to heaven. I came forward tonight to be sure. I want to make sure".
I'm going to ask you to come tonight and make sure. If you're with friends or relatives, they'll wait on you. Or if you've come in a bus, they'll wait. Now it's not easy to follow Christ, I don't want you to get me wrong. It costs you something. You must deny self, all your selfish ambitions and dreams, and put them in his hands, and say, "Thy will be done, Lord". And then, you must be willing to take up a cross and that's not easy to take up a cross, a place of execution.
Take your stand for Christ in your business, or in school, or here in Ft. Lauderdale, where you're visiting, or where you live. And let all of your neighbors and friends know that you're standing for Christ no matter what. That's taking up the cross. Because you'll be ridiculed. They may laugh and sneer and... Not as much as they used to. People are beginning to respect those that stand up for Christ, in our country, at least. I've been to some countries where it's hard to serve Christ. I've been to countries that you wouldn't think of and they said, "You know, we are persecuted for our faith in Christ, but we'd rather have our persecution, than all the things you in America have to tempt us and pull us away from Christ. We'd rather have Christ and the suffering than to have a partial Christ or to be a halfway Christian with no suffering".
I'm going to ask you to come tonight and say, by coming, "I want to follow Christ. I want to march with him. I want to follow his flag. I want to serve him. I want him to forgive my sins and give me the certainty that if I died I'd go to heaven and that my sins are forgiven". I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat right now, hundreds of you, and do what we've seen several thousand people do already in the first four nights. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come and stand in front of the platform, and after you've come and stood here for a moment, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you, and give you some literature to help you in your Christian life.
You say, "Why do you ask people 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 before men, I'll not acknowledge you before my father which is in heaven". There's something about coming forward publicly that settles it and seals it in your life. You come forward tonight and make that commitment. If there's a doubt in your life, you make sure before you leave here because you may never have a chance like this again. "He that hardeneth his heart, being often reproved, shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy". We're going to wait on you. If you come from that stand back there, it takes about a minute, a minute-and-a-half. Over here, the same, about a minute, maybe two minutes to come.
To you that are watching by television, you can see that here in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, hundreds of people are coming to make that commitment to Jesus Christ. You can make the same commitment where you are right now. And if you will, pick up the phone and call that number on the screen and if you get a busy signal, they'll be there all evening, keep calling and make that commitment over the phone, with these hundreds of people that are coming here in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. God bless you. And be sure and go to church next Sunday.