Billy Graham - The Holy Spirit and You
And now tonight, I want you to turn to that passage that Ralph Bell read to us a moment ago. He talked about the comforter, and that comes from a Greek word, and I'm not a Greek scholar, please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to show off how much or how little I know but it means "Advocate" or one who helps alongside. That word comforter. And that is what the Lord Jesus Christ was promising just before he was to die on the cross and be resurrected and ascend into heaven, that he was going to send a comforter, someone to help alongside.
Now the apostle Paul wrote and said, "Now concerning matters pertaining to the Spirit, I would not have you ignorant". Now we've all been aware that in the past few years we've had a movement called the charismatic movement. It hasn't been limited just to certain denominations. It's been in all denominations, whether it's episcopal or Roman Catholic, or wherever. For example, down in Southern Poland, where the pope comes from, we held a crusade down there in a great Cathedral and there was a great charismatic movement in Southern Poland, and across the border into Germany, we sensed that God was working in those people in a new way.
Now some people interpret it one way, and some interpret it another way. And some people mean that we're having a renewal or revival in our churches or among our people and they call that charismatic, and others may have certain gifts that they call evidences of the charismatic movement, and so forth. I'm not going to try to get into all of those differences tonight because I would be here all night and I'd be here all week, and all month, and for a year, because there are some differences of interpretation. But I think you know what I'm trying to say. But it's impossible to understand the Bible, Christian living, or the structure of the church without understanding something of the person and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Timothy Leary, the former Harvard professor, was on a network program just a few days ago, and he said that he believed in the use of drugs as a route to tune into God and to turn on to God. Well, the route is the Holy Spirit, not drugs. The scripture teaches that he's a person. He's not an agent or influence, he's God! And we're never to refer to the Holy Spirit as "it". Now there's some mistranslations in the authorized version because in those days when this was translated, several hundred years ago, they referred to certain things about the Holy Spirit as it, because it was a neuter, but he is not "something," but he's "Someone," and holy indicates that he's holy within himself. Holy Spirit.
Now, some places in the authorized, it's translated "Ghost". As it was in those days, the word spirit was called ghost, but it didn't mean ghost in the sense that we mean ghost today. Some film out of Hollywood in which a ghost comes along. The spirit is used in contrast to that which is flesh and material. Now the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. There is a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and no one can explain. It's like the the little girl, that was in her classroom, and she was about in the third or fourth grade and they asked how many of you can explain electricity, and one little girl lifted up her hand. And the teacher said, "All right, well, what is electricity"? And the little girl thought for a moment, bit her lip and she said, "I forgot". And the teacher said, "Well, that's too bad because you're the only one that ever knew".
Now the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. The word omnipotent means all-powerful. In Micah 3:8 it says "I'm full of power by the Spirit of the Lord". And then the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is present everywhere at the same time. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence," said the Psalmist in 139:7. You can't go anywhere and get away from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. And that's the reason when you have a sense of guilt put there by the Holy Spirit many times, that guilt will go with you even if you travel to a faraway island trying to get rid of it. The Holy Spirit convicting you of sin. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus Christ who is the truth.
One young man remarked, who had been converted to Christ, "To induce spirituality by taking drugs is like trying to turn on your TV set by kicking it". And many people do that. I found out that it'll work sometimes. So that's not a very good illustration. But there are those that think that because of drugs, or some trance or some hypnotism, that they can have this same experience that you have with the Holy Spirit is wrong, it's false. You cannot! Oh, yes, there's meditation and all kinds of things that can give you a high, but the real, permanent high comes from the Holy Spirit, and he gives you a high even in your low moments.
Some of you that are watching by television, have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and you need Christ. He's trying to draw you tonight to the cross of Christ where that sin can be forgiven. And there's a telephone number on your screen (+18777724559) now that you can call and a counselor's standing by now to answer your questions and to help you to make that commitment to Christ, or to talk to you about whatever problems you may have in your life.
Now the Holy Spirit not only convicts, but he gives new life. The Bible says that we're dead in sins. Do you realize that you're a walking dead person? You're dead toward God? You're spiritually dead, your soul is dead, your spirit is dead, your body is alive, but you're dead. The real you is dead. Now what needs to be done for a dead person? He needs to be made alive, and that's the work of the Holy Spirit, to make you alive. Jesus said you must be born again, and that word actually means to be made born from above. Born from above, born by the Spirit of God.
You see, man without God is dead. And life is at best a bore. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God". Have you been born again? Has that happened to you? We've got that expression born again, born again, born again, and people are getting a little bit tired of it. Because people are saying, "I'm a born again Christian," or "He's a born again Christian," I'm not so sure but what it hasn't become a phrase that really doesn't mean what we really mean biblically about being born again. And back when Mr. Carter was president and running for president, they called him a born again Christian, and he certainly was a born again Christian, but then they began to use that word "Born again" describing automobiles. And they had an ad on television, said, "This is a born again automobile," and then they said this was born again and that was born again until it became a phrase that was used out of its context. It means born from above, and Jesus said it to a religious leader, a person who's more religious than most anyone here tonight.
Nicodemus, a professor of theology, and he said, "You need to be born again, Nicodemus". "And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statues and you shall keep my judgments and do them," God says through Ezekiel. "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you," Jesus said in this 14th chapter of John. "Know ye not that you're the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you"? The Holy Spirit comes to live within you, and when you receive Christ tonight, the Holy Spirit will come to live in you, to help you live the Christian life in you and through you. He also empowers us for service. "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me". Power, supernatural power.
And I want to tell you, and I'm not going to boast, I say it with all humility, I believe that my preaching, and I'm not a great preacher, by preaching standards. If you took a group of theological students and they studied my preaching, they wouldn't put me as a great preacher. But I believe that God has given me power in preaching, and there's the power of the Holy Spirit. When you lift up Jesus Christ, and when you present him, there's a power there. There's a power in the cross. There's a built in power in the Gospel. The power of the Holy Spirit. And then he produces the Fruit of the Spirit. When you receive Jesus Christ, you want to be a person of love and joy and peace and long-suffering and gentleness and goodness and faith and meekness and temperance and self-control. That's produced by the Holy Spirit. Those are attributes of Jesus Christ himself. Love, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, he had it all. You can have it all, but it has to be done by the Holy Spirit through you.
You cannot not, of yourself, live the Christian life. You'll be a total flop and failure. It has to be the Holy Spirit living it through you, and producing it in you, and he will do that. You see, if you take up Romans, the seventh chapter, that's a chapter of defeat. But then you pick up the next chapter, Romans 8, and you'll find the Holy Spirit is mentioned eight times, and it's a chapter of victory. You can have victory in the Holy Spirit. We're told to walk in the Spirit. But the Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit opens and shuts doors. And I found that true in our ministry, that he opens some doors, he closes others. And one of the greatest tasks that we have is deciding where to go, which city to go to next because we have invitations from many parts of the world. And where should we go next? Where should we put our emphasis?
And then as we see all these computers coming, and we see new channels opening up on television, and we see new mediums of communication opening up, we ask ourselves just how can we use this effectively for spreading the Gospel of Christ. And this is where the Holy Spirit comes in to help us and to lead us and to guide and direct us, and we constantly are concerned about it and on our knees about it. "For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say". He comes to teach us and to guide us, and to open and shut the doors. And then he magnifies and glorifies and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. He shall not speak of himself.
If you find a person coming along saying, "The Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit", never talking about Jesus Christ, you can know that that man is not speaking from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit exalts Christ! He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not come to talk of himself. And then he fills us. The scripture says, "Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit". And that means to be continually filled with the Spirit. You have to be emptied of your selfishness and your own desires and your own gratifications so you can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that's a command! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!
Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? You can be, by faith, you can say, "All the, every known sin in my life has been forgiven, I've confessed every known sin. By faith I believe I'm filled with the Holy Spirit". But also you can sin against the Holy Spirit, and the worst of all sins are the sins against the Holy Spirit. You can anger the Spirit. As I pick up the Bible, I do discover the wrath of the Spirit. The translation from the septuagint as we read in Psalm how often then rebelled and grieved him in the desert, the translation is "They disobeyed and made angry the Spirit of God". They rebelled and angered his Holy Spirit, therefore he turned to be their enemy and himself fought against them.
Wouldn't it be terrible to have the Holy Spirit as your enemy because you'd angered him? The word "Grieve" means to make very angry. And I would urge every one of you to be very careful lest you rouse the wrath of the Spirit. "My spirit shall not always strive with man," God said way back in Genesis 6, in the days of Noah. And the Spirit of God ceased striving and the flood came and the world was destroyed except for eight people. The Holy Spirit can be lied against. In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira, "Thou has not lied unto men, but unto God," said Peter. They acted a lie. They pretended to be what they were not. They were hypocrites. And they acted out a lie.
The Holy Spirit can be tempted. "How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord"? Many times sinners say "Well, if God is God, let him strike me dead". There was a fellow years ago, down in Tampa, Florida where I was, and he stood out there with a watch, and he said, "All right," (he was an atheist) he said, "If God is God, I'm gonna give him one minute and let him strike me dead". Nothing happened. And some old brother on the front row said, "You cannot exhaust the patience of God in one minute".
But it is like the story of the old eagle that I heard about on an iceberg on Niagara river, and he had landed there to eat on the carcass of a sheep. And uh, as he was floating down, he was getting closer and closer to the falls, and as he got closer to the falls, somebody from the shore yelled off and said, "Watch out, old eagle! Watch out! You're near the falls"! But the eagle thought to himself, "With my strong wings, I can get up off this in a second". But just as he came to the falls, and he lifted those wings, he found that his feet were frozen in the ice, and he couldn't, and he went screaming over the falls. You can tempt God. "Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God". You can wait too long. You can tempt God too long. And the day or the time will come when it's no longer possible.
And then the Holy Spirit can be resisted. "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit, as your fathers did, so do ye". You can resist the Holy Spirit. And some of you tonight know that you need Christ, but you've been resisting the Holy Spirit. That's a sin against the Spirit. A solemn thing to resist the Holy Spirit. You detect his voice, and yet you deliberately do nothing about it. It's a dangerous thing. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace"? Resisting the Holy Spirit.
Tonight you're going to have an opportunity to receive Christ into your heart and to make sure of your relationship with him. The Bible says "Because there is wrath beware lest he take thee away with his stroke when a great ransom cannot deliver thee". My Spirit shall not always strive. There comes a time when you go beyond a certain point and your heart gets so hard that even if the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you can no longer hear. That's the reason the Bible says come to Christ in your youth, before the evil days come not. When your heart is tender, come to Christ. Anytime you hear the voice of the Spirit of God saying come, you better come, then and now. You may never have that moment again. "He that hardeneth his heart, being often reproved, shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy".
A friend of ours this morning was driving, and he came up over a hill, and he was going very slowly, and he had his wife and his daughter with him, and a man who wasn't familiar with that particular territory and he came over the hill and he hit the side of their car, and by the time she got to the hospital, she was dead, never dreaming this morning when they got up, a happy, little family, that she would be gone before noon. How quickly it all happens. Come when you can. Come to Christ when you have a chance. You have that tonight. "He that being often reproved, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy". "Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth". We don't know that we'll be alive tomorrow. You don't know that if you're alive you'll have another chance like this. Come while you can.
You're voting tonight. Every one of you are gonna cast a vote. This is election day. You're going to vote either for Jesus Christ, or you're going to vote for the devil. Jesus with you, the Holy Spirit in you. You say, "What do I have to do"? Three things. First, you must repent of sin, and the Holy Spirit has to help you in your repenting. And then the second thing is by faith you receive Jesus Christ who died for you on the cross by faith as your Savior and Lord and master. And then thirdly, you are willing to obey him in all the little things that he'll speak to you about and teach you out of his word. You must be willing to say yes to all that. You must be willing to turn your life over to him and he becomes the master, he becomes the pilot of your boat, or the captain of your airline, of your airliner.
You're like a plane going through the sky, and all of a sudden, the bomb will come, the destruction will come, unless you let Jesus in the cockpit, and become the pilot. He knows all the instruments. He's been over the route before, he knows all the dangers. You turn your life over to him. He'll help you in your marriage, as you heard Joni and Ken a moment ago tell so beautifully. Turn your life over to him as master and Lord and Savior. If you have a doubt of your relationship to God tonight, you make sure. Or you might be like that priest, you may be in the church, but not sure of your relationship to God. Make sure tonight. I'm going to ask hundreds of you to do what we've seen hundreds every night do here in Sacramento. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat right now and come and stand in front of this platform symbolically and say, "I do want to receive him, I do want to know that my sins are forgiven, that I have eternal life, that I'm ready to meet God".
Why do I ask you to come? Because every person Jesus called in the New Testament he called in public. Every person, think of it, in public. There's something about coming forward openly. Like when I got married, I got married in front of witnesses. You come to Christ in front of witnesses and give your life to him. If there's a doubt in your heart about your relationship, you come and settle it tonight. Hundreds of you, thousands of you, that God is speaking to. Do not resist the Holy Spirit. Do not say no to the Holy Spirit tonight. You come. He's drawing you to the cross. We're going to wait. And after you've all come, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you and give you some literature that you can take home and help you in your Christian life.
It's very important that you do this, and it's important that you come, and after you've come you can go back and join your friends, they'll wait. If you've come in a bus or with a group, they'll wait. But come and make this, and settle this tonight. Don't wait another minute. There may not be any other time for you. Time may be running out. Young or old, man or woman, Catholic, protestant, Jewish, whatever your background, the door is open for you. You get up and come. We're going to wait on you, now, from everywhere. Way back here, and over there. I'm going to ask that people not leave the service at this holy moment. It disturbs so many people. But you come, quickly. You may be in the choir, God has spoken to you, you get up and come.
You that have been watching by television, can see that here in Sacramento, California hundreds of people have been coming to make their commitment to Christ tonight, drawn, we believe, by the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you. I'm going to ask you to pick up your telephone and call the number that you will see on your screen, and make that commitment over the telephone. If it's busy, call back again, and again. The counselors will be there all evening. May God help you to make that commitment, and be sure and go to church next Sunday. God bless you.