Billy Graham - Unchanging Love
In Time magazine, earlier this year, there was an interview with George Lucas. He said, “I think there is a God.” “I’m not sure. I don’t know what he is, what he looks like. I’m not sure about him.” That’s maybe how you feel tonight. I want to tell you about him tonight. I want to tell you about God. The first book, the first verse in the Bible tells us, “In the beginning God.”
Now where did God come from? How could he just suddenly appear? And in the beginning there was God. I don’t know. Neither do you. The Bible says that he’s from everlasting to everlasting. How can that be? I don’t know. There’s a mystery to it all, and yet by faith, we believe that God has no beginning and he has no end. I cannot even prove to you the existence of God. No scientist can. How do we know there is a God? You can’t put him in a test tube. You can’t make a mathematical formula of him, as Einstein did in relativity. You accept by faith that He is the creator of the whole universe.
When Charles Lindbergh took his plane, The Spirit of Saint Louis, all the stars that he could see spread over the entire sky were just part of our Milky Way, just our little galaxy. But that galaxy is just one of tiny part of a universe containing billions of galaxies and they’ve found now that there are galaxies beyond what they thought was the last one, with billions and billions and billions of planets and stars and suns. And last January astronomers saw a gamma ray burst that came from way beyond the galaxy it originated nine billion light years away. How long would that be? Count it up, you mathematicians. One light year is five, well almost six trillion miles. You know what a trillion is? I don’t. But the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And the Psalmist said, “When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained.” The Bible says, in Psalm 33, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”
Think of it. And then the Bible teaches in this same passage, the third chapter of John, or the next chapter, I guess it’s in the 4th chapter, that God is a Spirit. God is a Spirit. He doesn’t have a body like you and me. He’s not just located in just one place. He’s all over the world, all over the universe at the same time. He’s not limited by a body. He is spirit. How do you explain that? I don’t. But the Bible says something else about him. The Bible says, "I am the Lord, I change not". He is unchanging. In all these centuries and trillions of years, He’s never changed one iota. “In him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” the Bible says.
God does not change. The Bible also teaches that God is a holy God. "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works". The Bible says, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity.” God is absolute purity. I remember when I was a boy in North Carolina, we’d all look forward to the day when maybe we’d have a little bit of snow. We didn’t get much snow in the place I lived, but boy, when it came, we were excited.
And I remember my mother pointed out something to us one day when the snow came. She put out some washing, some sheets and towels and shirts and things, to hang out, but when the sun came out, they were dry. And then she said, “Look at the snow. Don’t you think it’s clean and white? and look at the cloths.” The cloths that she had washed, that we thought were perfectly white were now dirty in comparison to that snow. And that’s the way we are. In comparison to God, we’re dirty. He is absolute holy. But the Bible also teaches that God is a God of judgement. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die but after that is the judgement.”
There is going to be a time of judgement. And the Bible says that God will bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing whether it be good or whether it be evil. “The wages of sin,” the Bible says, “is death.” You may confess your sin, but you must pay the consequences. When we abuse the environment, we pay a price. When we break God’s moral and spiritual law, we pay a price. The Bible says that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world. There is a day already set aside in God’s calendar in which He is going to judge the whole world. But the Bible also says that God is a God of love.
The Bible says, “God is love,” in 1 John 4:8. In Jeremiah it says, “Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” A popular song a few years ago was, “I cain’t live in a world without love.” You don’t have to because God loves you. Whatever your background. However many your sins might have been, However many mistakes you may have made. Whatever your ethnic background, Whatever your educational background. God loves you. And it’s an everlasting love and it’s a supernatural love. It's something that we don’t understand. It’s not eros love, sexual love. It’s not phileo love, which is friendship love. It’s something beyond. It’s a supernatural agape love, that only God has but He can give it to you if you come to His Son, Jesus Christ. And that’s what Jesus Christ was doing on that cross. He was loving you and taking all of your sins and all your failures on Him at the cross.
Now have you ever thought why God created man? Many people are asking, “Who am I?” What am I here for? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? God gave man a choice. He created him. Put him on this little planet. And he said, He put them in what is called the Garden of Eden in Iraq. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God said there’s one tree. You can have all the fruit in the garden, you can eat anything you want to, but don’t eat of that one tree. God was testing man, because God gave to man a free will. He can make his own choice. He doesn’t make you a robot. He pushes a button and you do what he says. He gives you the freedom of choice.
And in the Garden of Eden God told man from the very beginning. But what did man do? Man and woman. The man and the woman ate of the tree. They deliberately did it. They were deceived by the devil, because there is another mystery at that point that goes all the way through the Bible and it comes into our world today. The mystery of iniquity, the mystery of sin, the mystery of the devil and demons. And the devil is very real. He works hard and he can deceive. He can come as an angel of light, the Bible says. He is very deceptive. He slips up on you. He comes in your thoughts. He comes in your mind. We know that something is wrong. We read our newspapers and watch our television and we know that something is wrong in our world.
And this is what is back of the race problem. It’s sin. Back of all that is sin. And sin is breaking of the moral law of God. Breaking of the Ten Commandments. Breaking of the Sermon on the Mount. Also, poverty. And today we have a desperate situation, in my opinion, much of the world is getting poorer and some of the world is getting richer at the same time and one of these days it’s going to be a clash, as there always is. Man has a terminal illness. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, the Bible says in II Thessalonians 2:7. How many of the Ten Commandments have you not kept? The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.” We want to have our way. Not God’s way, but our way, and that’s sin. And so, our basic problems are not social. They’re not educational. It’s sin. The breaking of God’s law.
“The wages of sin is death,” the Bible says, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You see, sin alienates you from God. You’re separated from God. You’re spirit. You see, you’re a body, but inside your body is a spirit, a soul. And when you die, what happens? Have you been at the death bed of someone and seen them slip out into eternity? You wonder what happened. Well, the real person left this body. This body is going to crumble and decay and go back to dust. But the real you is going to live on, because the real you leaves the body. And if you know Christ as your Lord and Savior You go straight into His presence and you spend eternity with Him. Now death, death has three dimensions. There’s natural death. We’re all going to die.
When John Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn boarded that plane a few weeks ago that he was going to fly they never dreamed that they would never see home again. Like other young men and women their age, they had great dreams in their lives. Their careers, their marriage. Two of the most wonderful young people I have ever met. I doubt that they entertained a thought that they wouldn’t live to see those dreams fulfilled. And then there’s another death. Not only natural death, but spiritual death. Your spirit that lives forever, dies in the sense that it is alienated from God. And then the Bible talks about eternal death. Some of the words in the New Testament used by Christ to describe the penalty for sin is lost, perish, condemned, punishment, torment, hell.
You say, do you believe that? Yes, I do. I believe the Bible teaches it. I believe whatever the Bible says is true. If Jesus said there is a hell, there is a hell. I don’t like to think about it. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to preach about it, but Jesus did. He taught more about hell than he did heaven. The Bible says that Jesus Christ took your sins on the cross. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us.” Think of being sin. That’s all that Jesus was on the cross was just sin. Your sins. Mine. All the bad things that we’ve ever done. The lies we’ve ever told, the lust we’ve ever had, all on him on that cross. And his real suffering wasn’t the physical suffering, as terrible as that was, it was the spiritual suffering. It was our sins. He had never known a sin and all of a sudden all of the sins of the world are on him.
The Bible says, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Bible says, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” The Bible says, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.” He died for you because he loves you. And from the cross God is saying, I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m giving My Son for you. He’s taking your place. And then three days later something glorious happened. He rose from the dead. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” You’re never going to die spiritually because Jesus rose from the dead and died on the cross. “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,” the Bible says in Romans 10:9. And that can happen to you right here. Tonight.
What are you supposed to do in response? In order to know that your sins are forgiven, To know that you’re going to heaven, To be absolutely sure that your heart is right with God. First, you must repent of your sins. Well, what do you mean by repent? The first sermon Jesus ever preached was on repentance in Matthew 4. Someone said, repentance means sorry enough to quit. “Repent ye therefore that your sins may be blotted out,” said the apostle Peter. God commands all men everywhere to repent. He commands it in Acts 17. To repent means to turn around and go in the opposite direction.
You say, “Well, Billy, I’ve tried to quit some of the things I’m doing that I know are wrong and I just cain’t. I’m hooked”. But you can become unhooked by the power of the Spirit of God. The second thing, One thing is repentance. The second thing Repentance means to change your mind, to change your way and to change your habit. And the second thing is to come by faith. Now faith is not some blind irrational leap in the dark. Faith is commitment. When my wife and I got married, we didn’t have our fingers crossed. The minister didn’t say, “As long as love shall last.” He said, “Til death do you part.” The Bible says, “Faith commeth by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” We must commit. I thought a cartoon in the paper put it very well.
Someone wrote to the pastor and said, “Dear preacher, what does 'God forgive you' mean?” The pastor wrote back and said, “All your files are deleted.” And that’s true. All of our files are deleted. And that’s exactly what God does. You don’t have to leave here tonight worrying about some things that you’ve done wrong. It’s all been taken care of at the cross. And you have received it by faith. Faith means commitment. When I stood on this stage tonight, it’s the first time I’ve ever been on this stage. I committed myself to it. I’d never been on here before. I did it by faith that the people who built it, built it to hold a man, or several people. That’s commitment.
Have you committed your life to Christ that way? Are you sure if you died tonight that you’re ready to meet God? If you have a doubt about it, you make sure tonight. I’m going to ask you to do something that maybe you’re puzzled about, confused about, uncertain about. Maybe you’ve heard about the way we ask people to receive Christ. I’m going to ask you to receive him into your heart tonight by faith, to commit your life to him and ask him to come in and change your life and give you a peace and a joy you’ve never known. I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come and stand here in front. And after you’ve all stood here, I’m going to say a word to you, we’ll have a prayer together, there will be a counselor here to speak to you if you want to speak to someone or give you some literature to help you in your Christian life.
You may be Protestant, Catholic. You may be a leader in your church. You may even be the pastor of a church. I don’t know. You might have been a good person all your life, but somehow, down inside, you’re not sure about your relationship with Christ and you want to settle it. You get up right now and come and stand here. If you’re with friends or relatives, they’ll wait on you. It will only take a few moments, but it’s a moment in eternity for you. You say, “Tonight Lord, I say to you, I’m sorry that I’ve sinned. I turn to you by faith and receive Jesus who died for me. I want to make sure of my relationship with God.”
I want to say to you that have been watching by television that you can make this commitment to Christ right now, where you are. No matter where you are. You may be watching in a hotel lobby, You may be in a hotel room or you may be in a bar, You may be at home. But you can make this commitment and let Jesus in your heart.