Billy Graham - Truth and Freedom
Tonight, I want to turn to John's gospel, the 8th chapter. The 8th chapter of John's gospel. And this passage of scripture, the 32nd verse. The 32nd verse of the 8th chapter of John's gospel. "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free". These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. He's having a debate with some of the religious leaders of his day and he said, "Ye shall know the truth". Now that word shall could be translated must. You must know the truth if you're to be free.
Tonight, I want to talk about truth and freedom. We hear a great deal about both today. You know, there's an old Scottish oath upon which our American oath is based and it reads this way, "I pledge before Almighty God, before Whom I will give an answer on the day of Judgement to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free".
Now in this passage of Scripture, Jesus discussed two personalities. He discussed God on the one hand, who is truth and Satan on the other, who is a liar and the author of lies. Now here's what Jesus said. He was pretty rough in some of the things he said. He turned to these religious leaders and he said, "You are of your father, the devil, and the lust of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in truth, because there was no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own for he's a liar and the father of lies".
Jesus said that there's the lie and the truth. And in II Thessalonians, the second chapter, we are told that in the latter days of this age there will be a system called the lie and a great delusion will sweep over the people of that generation. They will believe a lie and they will reject the truth. Many people think we are living in that generation. And the apostle Paul said in the first chapter of Romans, that the people of that day had changed the truth of God into a lie.
And then secondly, not only to we change the truth of God for a lie, but Paul said in Romans, the first chapter, the eighteenth verse, "who hold the truth in unrighteousness". In other words, you can know the truth and not live it. This is holding the truth of God in unrighteousness. The Bible says the wrath of God is against such people. And that's why Christ was so bitter in his denunciation of the hypocrites. You hold the truth intellectually, but you don't live it. Jesus said, "You serve me with your lips, but your heart is far from me". You can hold the truth in unrighteousness. and that brings about the wrath of God.
And then thirdly, Paul said, judgement according to truth. Romans 2:2. "But we are sure that the judgement of God is according to truth". In other words, some day God is going to judge the world. Yes, there is a day of judgement coming. Just as certain as I'm standing here, a day of judgement is coming and God is going to judge us according to the truth. Did we live by the truth? Did we believe the truth? Did we accept the truth? What was our attitude toward the truth? or, did we exchange the truth for a lie? or, did we hold the truth in unrighteousness? God will hold us accountable the Scriptures say. Jesus said you must know the truth and the truth will make you free.
Now you know that's what philosophy has been doing and that's what science does and that's what we do in psychology and every field of study and every discipline. We're searching for truth. We're trying to find what the laws are. We're trying to find what the truth is. Now early in childhood we soon learn the truth that fire is hot. We learn that ice is cold. We learn that doing wrong makes us feel guilty and doing good makes us feel good. We learn that early. You see all of us really are on a quest for truth. What is the truth about myself? Where did I come from? Why in the world did God ever put us on this planet, if there is a God, and where are we going? Is there life after death? I'm searching for answers. All of us are, consciously or unconsciously. We ask ourselves these questions. What is truth?
The same question Pilate asked 2,000 years ago. And that's why a lot of these kids are taking LSD and mind expansion psychedelic drugs. They're trying to find some experiences that will lead them into some sort of spiritual truth. Now truth is important in mathematics. It's important in chemistry, it's important in science, and it's important in the spiritual life. It's important in morality. It's important to find the truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth". No guesswork, no speculation is allowed. In aviation you can make one mistake nowadays and may crash into another plane. You must know the truth.
Now Job said, "I know my Redeemer lives". The Apostle Paul said, "I know in Whom I have believed". The Apostle John said, "You can know that you are saved". The Bible teaches that you can know the truth. You can find the truth. You can believe the truth. But what is the truth? Every religion and every philosophy may have some of the truth, but there is one place you can find all the truth. Where is it? Jesus said, "Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice". Buddha said, "I'm still searching for truth", at the end of his life. But Jesus made this astounding claim. Jesus said, "I am the truth". Jesus said, "I am the truth". I am the embodiment of all truth. And if you're going to get to heaven, you've got to believe that. And you've got to take it by faith.
Well, you say, anybody that would come along and say I'm the embodiment of all truth, he must be mentally deranged. He's an egomaniac. Yes, you can make that, you can make a case for that. Or, maybe, Jesus just told a lie. He knew is wasn't true and he just lied. Yes, that's one of the options. But suppose he is the truth. Suppose he is the embodiment of all truth and you reject it and exchange the truth for a lie. Then you have made a fatal error for eternity. Now I personally believe that Jesus is the truth. I believe that he is the embodiment of all truth. I have accepted that by faith and when I took that step and took that stand, it changed my life. And it's very simple. He made it so simple that you can know the truth that a blind man, a deaf man, a black man, a yellow man, or a red man can come and know the truth. The educated man can know the truth. The uneducated can know the truth.
I know people that don't have any education at all, and they know this truth and it gives them a satisfaction and a joy And I know professors at great universities, and I know some of the great scientists. They have come and accepted this as the truth and bowed in humility before the Christ back of science. And it has changed their lives. Truth. The profoundest truth in simplicity, so that anybody can come, and anybody can believe, even children. Whittier once said, "We search the world for truth; we cull the good and the pure and the beautiful from the graven stone and written scroll. From all the plowed fields of the soul; and, weary seekers of the best; we come back laden from the quest to find that all the sages said is in the book our mothers read". It's here.
Jesus Christ, the story of Christ, he is the truth. And Jesus said this in that same chapter, the 24th verse, He said, "If ye believe not", Listen to this. "If you believe not that I am He, you will die in your sins". If you believe not that I am the embodiment of all truth, you are going to die in your sins. You must come and believe and accept and commit. Yes, Christ claimed to be ultimate truth. And Jesus told the truth. He told the truth about sin. Where does the lust and the greed and the pride and the hatred and the jealousy and the fighting come from? Why do people hate each other? Why do they fight and kill, and every generation has a war? We've had 55 wars since World War II. Why all of this throughout history?
The Bible tells us man has a disease of the heart called sin. For from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts and adulteries and fornications and murders and thefts and covetousness and wickedness and deceit and blasphemy and pride. All of these things come from within and defile a man. We're suffering from only one disease in the world. Our problem is not a race problem, really. Our problem is not a poverty problem. Our problem is not a war problem. Our problem is a heart problem. We need to get the heart changed. The heart transformed. That's why Jesus said, "You must be born again".
You must have a new nature, a new heart, that will be dominated by love. Ah, but we go out and we say we ought to love each other and we soon find that we don't have the capacity to love each other. Where are we gonna get it? We get it from Jesus. You see, the Spirit of God comes into our hearts the minute we receive Christ and he begins to produce in your heart love and joy and peace and patience and temperance. All of these fruits of the Spirit are produced supernaturally by the Holy Spirit when you receive Christ. He told the truth about what is wrong with the world. And then he told the truth about our social responsibility, our responsibility to our fellow man, in the 25th chapter of Matthew, beginning at verse 35, you'll find it. People were hungry. They were sick. They were tired. They were cold. And they were visited in prison. They were visited and they were helped.
And at the judgement Jesus commended them. They said, "But Lord, we didn't know that we visited you. We didn't know that we fed you. We didn't know that we did that for you". Jesus said if you've done it unto the least of these, you've done it unto me. And every time you give of your time, and your energy and your money to help those in need, you're helping Jesus. You're giving to him. And then he told the truth about judgement. He warned us to flee the wrath of God. Every idle word a man shall speak they will give an account in the day of judgement, he said. There is a judgement coming. He told the truth about repentance. He said except you repent you shall perish. You say, but how do I repent? You say, O God, I've sinned. I'm willing to change the way I'm living. I'm willing to live in a new dimension of life. I'm willing to follow you and serve you no matter what the cost. That's repentance.
And Jesus said if you don't repent, you're going to perish. He told the truth about that. He told the truth about conversion. He said except ye be converted and become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Be converted. We're frightened of that word in religion. We use it in everything else, but not in religion. Young people want an experience. They want something that means something. They have their happenings and they want to do their thing. And they want to take their drug. They want their kicks. And in the church, we've stifled out any kind of religious experience. Jesus said you need to be converted. I can remember the day I was converted. I had an experience with God. It wasn't an emotional experience with me. Some people it is. Nothing wrong with emotion. We've got certainly emotional intellectualism today on campus.
I see these intellects on campus on television and boy, they're shouting it up pretty loud for their cause and what they believe. No, we allow emotion for everything except Christ. If anybody sheds a tear on religion, they say too much emotion. And that's one of the devil's lies and the devil's tricks so that we've lost all feeling in our faith and all joy in our faith. And all the excitement and the thrill that these early Christians had. Jesus said you need to be converted. Now the word conversion simply means to change. Turn-a-round. You're going in one direction on the broad road that leads to destruction. Turn-a-round and go in the right direction. Go the narrow road that leads to eternal life. That's what it means, conversion, to change, to turn around.
Has that happened to you? Have you changed your way of living? Have you had an experience with Christ? Do you know him personally? Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Now I know that there are many people who think they are free already, and they don't know Christ. They think they know how to live. The Bible says there is a way, outside of Christ, that seems right unto man, It seems the right thing. But the end is death and judgement. I have a little boy. When he was much smaller, 3 years of age, we were loaned a boat down in Florida and we were going down the river.
My friend, Lee Fisher was back there trying to get the fishing gear ready, and I was running the boat and my little boy Ned said, "Daddy, I want to run this boat". And I said, "No, I don't think you know how to run it". "Oh, yes, I know exactly how to do it", he said And he pushed my hands out of the way, so I let him have the wheels and he was heading right toward the rocks. You see, we all say, Lord, we know how to run our lives. Don't you interfere. We're going to be all right. We can handle it. Nothing we can't handle. But Jesus warns us that you're heading for the rocks. You're in trouble. Emptiness, neuroses, complexes of various sorts set in and ultimately, the judgement. Repent. Be converted, while you can. Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.
Now what does the truth do? It sets you free. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". From what? First, it sets you free, Christ sets you free from the penalty of sin. Yes, there is a penalty to sin. Now we're all sinners. Everyone of us is a sinner. And we're all under the penalty of sin which is death. "The wages of sin is death", the Bible says. Now death carries with it the idea of separation from God; It this life and in the life to come. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and he said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? He wanted life here and he wanted life to come because he felt the deadness of his spirit and the deadness of his soul. But he wasn't willing to pay the price. There's a price if you come to Christ.
The rich young ruler tried to bargain with Jesus. He wanted Jesus to lower the flag. He wanted Jesus to change the rules for him so he could get into the kingdom. But Jesus will never lower the flag, he'll never compromise, he'll never change the rules. You've got to come to Christ just like people did two thousand years ago if you're ever to get to heaven. We live in sophisticated America. We thought we had all the answers and look at us. Sending a man to the moon with one hand and building gigantic bombs and rockets with the other to blow the world to pieces. Campuses torn apart. Society being ripped apart. No, we don't have all the answers, because, you see, we rejected the truth. We rejected Christ.
Receive Christ in your life. Let him come and put the pieces back together in your life. Forgive your sin. Give you purpose and meaning to your life. And take the penalty of sin away. There is therefore now no judgement to them that are in Christ. He removes the penalty. Secondly, he can set you free from the power of sin. He said, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin", in this chapter. But when you receive Christ, this power of sin to dominate your life is broken. Sin shall no longer dominate in your life, said Paul to the Romans. Sin will no longer have dominion over you. You can reckon yourself to be dead to sin. So that sin may be in your life, you may commit a sin but it doesn't dominate you. You don't make sin a practice in your life. You have power over sin. The Spirit of God living in you through a new nature that God gives you.
And then thirdly, He sets us free ultimately from the very presence of sin. You read Revelation the 21st chapter and the 22nd chapter, and you will see the most glorious description of heaven and the future world. And then it says this. It says on the outside of this new world, this utopia that is called heaven that God is building now for those that trust him. For without are the sorcerers, the whoremongers, the murders, the idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. All liars, all people that live a lie will be on the outside, he said. Excluded and banished from the presence of God. Jesus said, "I am the truth". Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
There was an ad in the New York Times today, a whole page that said, Come to life. Great big boxcar letters; COME TO LIFE. I'm asking you tonight to come to life. Come to the truth, to the source of life, to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Someday we'll be removed from the very presence of sin and the devil and all lies. We shall overcome, some day. Til then, we can have God's life right here on this earth. We can have a little bit of heaven. We can be set free from the bondage of sin and slavery and the devil right now. Christ can set you free. I'm asking you tonight by faith to receive him. To receive the truth.
Notice I said by faith. You cannot come with your mind alone, because your mind was affected by sin. You have to come like a little child. Except you become as children and be converted, says Jesus. You have to come like a little child, by simple childlike faith and receive him. And if you will, he comes into your heart, gives you a new nature and you can go out and live a new life. Now it's hard and it's tough and it's rough to follow Christ. I don't want you to come under any false allusions, but when you make that commitment you don't go back into the world, and back to your house, back to your neighborhood to live the Christian life alone. He goes with you.
I'm going to ask you to come tonight and receive him openly and publicly. Every person he called in the New Testament, he called publicly. There was a reason for it. He said, "If you're not willing to acknowledge me before men, I'll not acknowledge you before my Father which is in heaven". Come publicly. I'm going to ask you from all over this stadium to get up out of your seats, hundreds of you, and come and stand in front of this platform, quietly and reverently, and say tonight, I want to receive Christ. I want the truth. I want the truth to dominate my life. You get up and come right now from all over; men, women, young people. God has spoken to you tonight and you need Christ. You come. We're going to wait.
I do not know whether you can see this great scene here at The Garden in New York, or not, but hundreds of people are coming from all over this great amphitheater to receive Christ as the Way, and the Truth and the Life in their hearts. You can make that same commitment right now in your home where you are watching by television. God help you to make that commitment tonight.