Billy Graham - What Is Truth?
Pilate asks the question, "What is truth"? And truth, not facts are what we're talking about tonight, and there's a difference. Facts are not necessarily the truth. They are the best we know at the time, but today's newspapers, I mean, this day's newspapers reported that public confidence in the leadership of our major institutions, such as the media, education, banking, government, the military, medicine, business, has sunk to the lowest in at least a decade. And every institution today is under attack in our country: the home, the church, the government. And many people asking, "What is the truth"? They're asking what is the truth about the airliner that was downed off the coast of Japan.
And inside the pages of the Bible are stories of lust and hate and war and crime as bad as anything that we read in history. It's called the Holy Bible. It's holy because it tells the truth. It tells the truth about God, about man, about the devil. But Satan has caused a credibility gap to be established. Our magazines are filled with stories of Satan worship. Satan has his disciples. Demons, sorcery, witchcraft, and wizards are front page news today. And the devil and his legions seem to be gathering steam for the last great conquest of this earth. Now Jesus wasn't afraid to call him what he was. Jesus called him a liar and the father of lies. He said, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own for he's a liar and the father of it.
In the garden of Eden, God had said, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die". If you eat of that particular tree, all the fruit in the garden is yours, except that one tree. God was testing man. The devil came along. He was in the garden. How did the devil get here? Read the 14th chapter of Isaiah, the 28th chapter of Ezekiel and you'll get some hints and ideas as to how Satan came to this planet. He was probably the finest and the most gorgeous of all the created beings of God. And one day his heart was lifted with pride and he decided he wanted to be greater than God. So, he led a rebellion against God.
Now we don't know how that happened. That's a mystery beyond our comprehension. There's no use really spending any time on it because we just don't know. But we do know what he said to Eve. He said, "Yea, hath God said"? He was putting doubt in her mind about the word of God. Just as the devil is still putting doubts concerning the inspiration of Scriptures. Are the Scriptures authoritative? Are they infallible? "Yea, had God said"? And then, "Ye shall not die". That was the next thing she said. Universalism. Everybody will be saved eventually. And then, "You will be as God". That's what the secularist and the humanist are saying. We're our own god.
Now the first time that man had to make a choice between God's truth and the devil's lie, he chose the devil's lie. And when Adam and Eve rejected God's truth and accepted the devil's lie, that was the moment that all the troubles of the whole world began. Our sinful nation nature often sides with the devil's lie instead of God's truth, because you see, we are now sinners. We're crippled, crippled for life and we side with the lie. We'd rather believe the devil's lie than God's truth. And a child can lie before it can talk. It can steal before it can walk. Ask your child before he can talk or walk, "Did you take your sister's doll"? And he, being unable to talk, shakes his head no. He lied before he could talk; and he stole before he could walk. Now where did he learn to lie? The disease is inherited like other inherited diseases.
You see, we inherited from our parents and they inherited it from their parents on back to Adam and Eve. It's a disease that is all through the whole human race. No group of people in the world are exempted from the disease of sin. And it's the disease of sin that is at the heart of the troubles of the world at this moment. Sin is taking sides with the lie. Now the Bible, speaking of the antichrist says in II Thessalonians 2, this lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the false wonders and signs and falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world, he will come with evils undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused the love of truth, which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evils delusion so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play fellow.
And God also says in Romans 1, these men deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie. God, therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions. They see truth as a lie and the lie is the truth and they make money, power, sex experience, and other things, their gold, and their gods. And they accept the lies of the devil and many young people that are here tonight are accepting now the whispers of Satan in your ear. Come down this path, take this drug, sleep with this girl, do this, do that and you will find pleasure and happiness. That's the way you ought to live. And then there's religious hypocrisy that brings no lasting peace. Millions of young people go to church without having a personal relationship with Christ.
I remember I used to be taken to church by my parents and I hated church. They made me go to church and I had to sit there. And my cousins and I sometimes could slip away and crawl under the seats, or we could make little paper airplanes and fling them. And my father would always see it. And he would say, I'll see you when we get home. And he never forgot, never forgot. And I got many a whipping because of what I did in church. And I couldn't wait to grow up and go away from home, so I wouldn't have to go to church. But then when I was about 16 or 17, I received Christ as my Savior. And I went back to church and the next Sunday I told my parents, I said, "You know, Dr. Lindsay is certainly is preaching a wonderful sermon. He's learned something from this evangelistic campaign in our city". And they said, "No, he's preaching the same type of sermons, but you're just listening with different ears".
And I was and I began to make notes on the sermons I was hearing. Come to Christ. It's so easy to be in the church. Why they even me the president of the young people's class and they elected me the treasurer even. And I was looked upon as a good person and they didn't know that I was rejecting Christ all the time and rejecting the teachings of the church and couldn't wait to get away. I was a hypocrite. Now there's another delusion that's going around among young people and that is that peace is just around the corner. It is not. There will not be any peace in the world until the Prince of Peace is taken into account and the Prince of Peace comes; but we find deception, delusion, and the practicing of the lie on every hand. The credibility gap is seen everywhere.
What is the answer? What can young people do? Turn to Christ. Turn to the truth. He said, "My truth will set you free from the bondage and shackles of sin". And you that are watching by television, pick up the phone and call that number that's on the screen right now. There are counselors standing by. There'll be happy to talk to you. And if first you call and it's busy, call again. Call several times. They'll be there all evening to help you in your Christian life or to find Christ right now.
Now, many of you with problems in the home or problems with drugs or alcohol or whatever, call and talk to that counselor now. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free". He is the truth. He said, "I am the truth". I'm the embodiment of all truth. It's in Me. You come to Jesus Christ and He's the truth. He's not the lie. And He tells the truth. Jesus did not say you shall know a truth or any truth, but the truth. There are usually truths in every religion and every philosophy. But He's the embodiment of all truth.
The scripture says about Jesus Christ, that He's the image of the invisible God. The firstborn of every creature. 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 consist, that in all things he might have the preeminence for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell. That is the truth I'm asking you to receive and believe tonight instead of the devil's lives. Jesus said, "If you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins". If you don't believe that and don't accept that and know Christ, you're going to die in your sins, and you'll be lost.
Jesus Christ claimed to be ultimate truth. Are you willing to face the truth? Jesus Christ told the truth about everything. He told the truth about sin. He said, "For within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts and the adulteries and all the other sins that we commit". It's out of the heart. War comes from the human heart. Family tensions and problems come from the human heart. Rebellion comes from the human heart. We are that way by nature. He told the truth about love. He said, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". God loves you.
You say, "Billy, how do you, how could God love me? You don't know what I've done. You don't know what a big hypocrite I've been". I don't have to know. I just know that whatever you've done, whatever you are now, God loves you. And He loves you with a love that you don't even know anything about because there is no human love comparable to divine love. God's love sent His son to the cross to die and shed His blood for you. And He would have died had you been the only person in the whole world. He loves you. Don't ever forget He loves, loves, loves, loves you. And He sees you sitting there.
And when He was on the cross because He was God, He had the capacity to look down these 20 centuries and see you and say, "For you, Jim, I'm hanging on this cross and there's being put on Me right now your sins. You've told lies, Jim or Mary or Suzy or whatever your name is. You've committed immorality. You've stolen. You've been a big hypocrite. You've listened to the devil. You've done all those things. Well, let me tell you, Jim, Mary Suzy, your sins right now are being put on me. I'm dying for you. I'm taking your judgment and your hell on me now. And I'm going to stay on this cross. I could come down and you could go to hell, but I love you too much. I'm going to stay here and die for you". And that's exactly what our Lord Jesus Christ did. And God raised Him from the dead and He's alive.
And so, I do not preach to you a dead Christ hanging on a cross. I preached you are risen Christ who is alive tonight and who is coming back. Yes, God so loved. And then he told the truth about judgment. Jesus warned people to flee the wrath of God. Yes, God is angry with the wicked every day. God has anger. And that anger is going to explode into the judgment. Jesus said every idle word that men speak; they shall give account in the day of judgment. Every idle word, all your thoughts, all your words, everything you've ever done will be at the judgment. And you will be condemned by your own words. He said, except you repent, you shall perish.
Now that's truth, Unless you repent. Unless you Mary, Bill, Suzy, unless you repent, you're going to perish. What is repentance? Have you repented? Are you sure? I was a good boy in church. I'd never repented. I might've said something to the elders when they met with me to see if I was okay to join the church at 12, I didn't know what they were even talking to me. I'd memorized the catechism. I couldn't understand it. It was just some memory things for me. I hadn't really repented because repentance means that I change. I change my mind about God, about myself, about my fellow man. I change my way of living. But you know, I don't have any strength to change. I can't really change. I can't really become a Christian. Why? Because I'm dead in trespasses and in sins. God has to help me change. He has to help me repent. And I say, "Oh God, help me to repent".
And then the second thing, not only do you have to repent, but by faith, you must receive Christ into your heart as Savior and Lord. And Jesus told the truth about conversion. He said, he indicated you cannot be born into the Christian faith. You have to be born from above, born again. And the process is called conversion, which includes faith. And Jesus said, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, he's not telling people to become like adults. He's telling us to become like little children and have child-like faith. Some people try to enter the kingdom of God headfirst. They want to understand it, but you can never understand it all.
There are many things in the Bible I don't understand. You come by simple faith, like a little child trusts its mother and its father. And you put your total confidence in Jesus Christ by faith. Have you done that? Repent, receive by faith, and then obey Him. Live the life, follow Him, serve Him, whatever the cost. And it's costly. Let's face it, in the world in which we live, if you hold on to Christian values and you live up to moral standards laid down by Christ, it's going to cost you. It'll cost you some friends. It'll cost you some money. It'll cost you a lot of things and certain pleasures of the world. It'll cost us. And sometimes I have a hard time deciding on some things. Whether I should have this or have that. Whether I should go there or go here because we lived in a confused world.
Satan has confused us and no longer do we even hear many sermons on being separated from the world. What does it mean to be separated from the world? The Bible says, "Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The world and the lust thereof shall pass away, but he that doeth the will of God shall abide forever". I remember preaching sermons on that and hearing sermons on that years ago, separated from the sins of the world, having our own lifestyle, having our own Christian culture. Where is it? We somehow think we can hold hands with the world and make it to heaven. We somehow think we can have one foot in the world and one foot in heaven and we're going to make it. We won't.
So, there's repentance, there's faith, and there's obedience, following Christ even to the death. He said, "Even to the death of the cross". Are you willing to do that? "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free". Every day, newspapers, radio, and television tell us of demonstrations and marches and protests and bombings. All of which are designed to gain some sort of freedom. A little baby, for example, may scream and cry and waive its arms and legs trying to be free, but without restraint and care, it would soon be dead. I read about a baby. I think it was locked in a car. I don't know whether it's here in Sacramento or was here in California and all this heat. And the mother went into the store and she was only gone a few minutes and she came back, and the little baby had suffocated. Baby needs care. A teenager rejects his parents in search of freedom and soon finds himself dependent on some drug or on some gang.
Thousands of laws indicate that we do not have total freedom. Jesus said He would give you total freedom, spiritual and moral freedom, and ultimately freedom from the very presence of sin when we get to heaven, Pope John Paul gave a message last week in Austria on the prodigal son. And we have just made a motion picture, by the way, on the prodigal that's being released just about now throughout the country. And I hope you'll see it. It's the best picture we've ever made. We've been making them for 30 years. But the history of mankind, he said, is the history of the misuse of freedom. The history of mankind is the misuse of freedom. Jesus will teach us how to use our freedoms for the glory of God and will bring fulfillment in our lives.
Before you come to Christ, you're a slave of sin. No other truth can free you. Scientific truth can't free you. Mathematical truth or philosophical truth will not free you. Suicide will not free you. That only kills the body. It doesn't kill the spirit or the soul. Zacchaeus was freed by Christ from greed and Mary Magdalene from lust, and Peter was freed from his cowardice. Christ truth makes you free. Free from the penalty of sin. You'll never have to go to hell. You'll never face the judgment. Freedom someday from the presence of sin. Freedom from the power of sin now. Sin shall no longer have dominion over you from right now on if you come to Christ. Right now, the devil snaps the whip and you obey. You're his slave. You don't think you are, but you are. You can be free right now by coming to Christ and letting him change you.
I'm going to ask you tonight to do something we have already seen hundreds of people do in this crusade. And we've seen thousands on every continent, Oriental people, black people in Africa, Europeans, Latin American people in every country in Latin America, except Bolivia, where we've held crusades. We've seen them do this same thing. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come and stand in front of the platform as a symbol, a symbolic act in which you are saying, I do repent the best I know how, with God's help. I do receive Him. I will follow Him and obey Him. Or maybe you're coming because you would like to be sure. We had a Bishop come forward one night in a city, not too long ago. And he said, "I came forward because I wanted to make sure of my relationship with Christ".
You may be a leader in the church, but you're not sure that your sin is forgiven, that you're going to heaven, or that you are free. The kind of freedom that Christ is talking about. He's the truth that can set you free. And after you've all come and stood here, we're going to have a prayer, and I'm going to say a word to you and then give you some literature and you can go back to your friends. If you're with friends and relatives, they'll wait on you. If you come from that top stand up there, it'll take you almost two minutes, so start now. Hundreds of you come from everywhere from the back, from the front and after you've come, we'll have our prayer, give you your literature and you can go back and join your friends, but get up and come. If there's a doubt in your heart tonight that you're ready to meet God, you come and make sure that your sins are forgiven, that you're going to heaven. Quickly, get up and come right now. We're going to wait on you.
You that have been watching by television. There's a telephone number there that you can call and find help by talking to a counselor that's standing by waiting to talk to you about some of these things that I've talked about tonight about your relationship to Christ. Make that call. And if it's busy, keep trying, May God help you to make that commitment tonight. And may God bless you and be sure and go to church next Sunday.