Billy Graham - Christ Is Our Hope
Is it possible that man, with his fallen human nature, can bring about peace in our world? Winston Churchill said, "No". Winston Churchill said that our morals are lagging far behind our technological advance. Just think what’s happened in a hundred years. A hundred years ago we didn’t even have radio, and certainly, no television, and we barely had a few automobiles, and no one had seen any, at least in the part of the world I lived in. We didn’t have airplanes. The first airplane flew in this century, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and it just flew a few yards. And all of this has happened so quickly. And our human nature has not changed. We’re still human beings capable of any kind of crime. And we’re capable of war.
And so, the time has come for us to look up some of those passages in the Bible that have to do with the future of our world. And we ask ourselves, "Is there any hope"? A person can live a lifetime without sex. A person can possibly live 75 days without food. I read about a man on a hunger strike in Britain that lived 70 days without food. And it’s possible to live about 10 days without water. It’s possible to live maybe 6 minutes without air or oxygen. But it is almost impossible, we’re told by sociologists and psychologists and psychiatrists and clergy, to live without hope.
And one of the great needs in our world today is hope. And many young people have lost hope and that’s why many of them are rebelling and turning to drugs and turning to other things. They see no hope as they look into the future. We read about the green house ecology, and they talk about Armageddon, they talk about global genocide, they talk about the end of the world. And we see, almost daily in the press and on radio or television, some reference to it. A New York philosopher says, "As never before, America needs a philosophy of hope and confidence".
The former Prime Minister of Canada, making a speech recently said, "Billions of people today are living without hope". And he said, "Hope is the greatest need of our generation". They’re tempted to give up. They opt out. And so, we tend to hide from reality and responsibility. As many people today are searching for hope, so the zodiac signs are being studied as never before. Spiritual mediums are prospering. Computers are being used on a massive scale to predict the future. We hear a lot about astrology and the best-selling author, Herb Cohen says, "The most wide-spread feeling of these days is one of hopelessness and helplessness". And what oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.
In our passage, that I want to read now, there are four things that I want you to see. They all begin with a "V". Luke, the 21st chapter beginning at verse 25. "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up," Look up with hope, "and life up your heads; for your redemption draws near". The four things beginning with "V" that I want you to see.
First, there’s a view of the world today. When these things begin to come to pass. What things? Things that we’ve just been talking about. The disciples just asked him a question. They said, in Matthew 24, "When shall these things be, what shall be the sign of your coming, and what will be the sign of the end of the world"? Jesus said, "Don’t speculate". He said don’t speculate about the end. There is going to be an end to the world system of evil, but the kingdom of God is going to ultimately triumph. God is not going to retreat. God is going to control the whole thing before it’s over and the Kingdom of God will prevail. Jesus’ answer in Matthew 24 to these questions took 94 verses. He gave a whole scenario. Jesus said one of the factors would be fear. Fear of the impending annihilation. And that’s what Greek scholars tell us "the powers of heaven shall be shaken" means. We will be fearing.
There will be wars and rumors of wars, He said. And in this century, which was called the Christian century, there’s a magazine called The Christian Century that was started in 1900, because they predicted that this was going to be the Christian century. It looked like the whole world was becoming good and filled with love at the beginning of this century. And there was tremendous optimism in Europe and America and all over the world. And in this century, what's happened? We’ve fought the bloodiest wars, and more people have been killed in wars in this century than all the other centuries put together in the past thousand years. What happened? Human nature was not put into the equation.
God’s answer to the real deep problems of our lives was not taken into account. Wars and rumors of wars. Then He said there will be signs in the sky. Signs seeing the militarization of outer space involving American and the Soviet killer satellites, equipped with laser weapons. Nuclear bombs and neutron bombs that can descend from the skies anywhere in the world. All of these things taking place. Signs in the sky. We talk about SDI and other things has to do with signs in the sky. We now are told that many nations have or are on the verge of getting the atomic bomb. Suppose some little nation gets its back to the wall and starts throwing bombs? And that could start a chain reaction.
There are so many things that I’ve heard at some of these conferences as scenarios coming from scientists and some of our top educators. Jesus said another sign would be disease and famine and hunger and suffering on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world. And more people today are starving and suffering from disease with all of our modern medicine, with everything we have. And then he said there would be immorality on a wide scale. People would be swapping wives "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the coming of the Son of man". They ate, they drank, they married wives and they were given in marriage. And the divorce statistics all over the world, including the Soviet Union, including Great Britain, where we have our friends on the platform. They could tell you stories of what’s happening all over the world.
And in II Timothy 3:1 and 5. I was sitting on a plane one day and sitting beside me was a man that I met. And he was a very well-known sociology professor from one of our great universities. I happened to be reading the third chapter of Timothy in Phillips translation. And he said, "What are you reading"? I said, "Well, I’m reading a part of the Bible". He said, "Do you mind if I read and see it"? He said, "I’ve never really read much in the Bible". I let him read this passage. "But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered and greedy for money, full of big words. They’ll be proud and abusive without any regard for their parents. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, reverence and normal human affection. They will be remorseless, scandal mongers, uncontrolled and violent and haters of all that is good. They will be treacherous, reckless and arrogant; loving what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a façade of religion, but their lives deny the truth. Keep clear of people like that".
When he finished reading that he turned to me and he said, "You know, that’s really a description of our country today". He said, "Is that really the Bible"? I said, "Yes, and that was written more than 2000 years ago. It’s a prediction of what’s going to happen in the future". He said, "It’s happening now". He said, "We see it every day in all the papers that I have to see and the papers I have to read and the books I’m writing". He said, "I’m going to take this. I may use this whole thing in the next book that I put out". And then Jesus said there’ll be worldwide evangelism. Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world for a witness to all nations. Then shall the end come".
Now the whole world, at this moment, can hear about Christ by radio, television, the printed page. There’s nowhere that you could go that someone couldn’t tune in. Do you know how many television sets they have in China, in color? Over 400 million in China. Who’d a thought that. And the television they have in the Soviet Union has different lines to it, more along the European line and much clearer than we have in the United States. And in China, it was our privilege to go to the universities, to several universities, and proclaim the Gospel and answer questions. Who would have ever thought that?
I was talking to a Chinese man here last night, a leader. He said, "You know, that’s the first time, we think, in history that a clergyman has gone to see the Prime Minister of China". On the second day after he was inaugurated, the new premier, Mr. Li Peng, invited us to come. And we went, our entire party, and we spent 50 minutes with him. And the Chinese press reported it in some detail. And they reported what was said by me and what was said by him, because we were the only two that did the talking.
Jesus does not say when these things will take place. But the next word that I have is vigilance. It says that we're to watch and we're to look. When it begins to come to pass, we're to look up. There should be hope, not fear. The world that's outside of Christ may fear at the possibility of annihilation, but you and I, as believers, we look forward with great hope to the coming kingdom of God, because Christ is going to come back. He may come tonight in your sleep. When a person dies, that's the end of the world for them. People ask me, "When is the end of the world going to come"? When you die, that'll be the end of the world for you. But the end of the age that we now live in, with all of its sinfulness and all that, is going to be wiped away and the kingdom of God is going to come.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth," Jesus prayed. I believe that prayer is going to be answered in some future day. But for you, it's an immediate decision. It's an immediate thing. How do you stand before God? Jesus doesn't say when these things reach their worst point, nor does he say when these things have reached completion look up. He says, when these things begin to come to pass. In my judgment, many of them have begun to come to pass and we could look up and put your eyes on Christ, not on the newspapers, not on the television screens for your hope. Your hope is in Christ. He's the one that has made the promise that His kingdom is going to ultimately prevail. He's going to come back.
And in First Thessalonians, the apostle Paul said in the fifth chapter, "And when men shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes". Several times the expression is used concerning His coming. "A thief in the night". A number of places in the New Testament, "He will come when you least expect him as a thief in the night". And it may be at death. And that may be as a thief in the night. And Jesus is in heaven now, where? "He's preparing a place for us," the Scripture says. And Paul said, "Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye".
Christ's coming in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Do you know how fast that is? It's not like a clap of thunder that takes a long time. General Electric reported that an eye blink takes 11 hundredths of a second. That's how quick. And Christ is going to come like a flash of lightning, and for you that know Him, it's something to anticipate. Many of us are so taken up with this world and the pleasures and the sensualities of this world and the money that we make and the lifestyle that we live, that we don't want to leave this earth. We hold on as long as we can. But for all of you, the world and the lust thereof, is going to pass away. But he that does the will of God shall abide forever.
I would rather know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and live in the poorest country in the world, where you had nothing, than to be a millionaire in America and not have Christ. Christ gives hope and peace in the midst of all the troubles and all the difficulties that the world has today. But Jesus said, "Then shall two be in the field. The one shall be taken and the other left. Watch, therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord doth come. Therefore, be ye also ready for in such an hour as you think not, the son of man cometh". Are you ready? He said, "Be ready". How do you get ready? Be sure that you have repented of your sins.
Repentance means to change your way of living, means to change your mind. It means a change takes place. You're going in this direction in your life. You turn and go another direction. You can't do it by yourself because God has to help you in the repenting. And then you must by faith receive Him into your heart. You come to the cross where He died for you. He took all of your sins and He took your judgment because the scripture says when you die, you're going to go to judgment. There's going to be a day of judgment in which all of us will give an account of what we've done here and the things we've thought, and our thoughts and intents will be judged.
And then the third V, the vision of hope. We're to look up. The Scripture says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". Peter Jenkins writing in The Guardian in Great Britain said some time ago, "We've all moved into unknown territory, and there's no clear vision of what the future will resemble". Jesus gives us a clear picture of the future. Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we of all men most miserable". If this is all there is, this life, we're of all men most miserable. But there's a future life. There's something to look forward to, something to be happy about, something to be expected.
Many times, my wife and I go to bed and we talk about it, and we say, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Christ would come tonight? Wouldn't it be wonderful if, while we are sleeping, we would just slip into His presence"? I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to His coming, if He comes in my lifetime. I'm looking forward to death because, you see, the sting of death has been removed by His resurrection. He's alive. And because He lives, we're going to live too. What a hope we have.
I remember many years ago, I was preaching in Germany and I was invited to visit Konrad Adenauer. I had never met him. I didn't know he knew I existed, but we were preaching in various parts of Germany, and it was a lot in the press about it. So, he invited me to come and see him at 11 o'clock in the morning. And I went and when I walked in, he offered me a cup of coffee. He was in his last year as Chancellor of Germany. And he started right in and he said, "Young man, do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ"? Well, I was surprised. I said, "Yes, sir. I do". He said, "So do I". He said, "If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, I see no hope for the human race". He said, "There's not one glimmer of hope, as I sit here in my office, unless that hope lies in the resurrection of Christ". And he said, "When I leave office, I'm going to spend my time writing about this hope".
And we talked for about 40 minutes about the hope of the resurrection. Many people are thinking about that today. People in high places and low places, people at universities. I go to universities today, whether it's in the Soviet Union or China or Europe, or in Britain where it has been my privilege a number of times to be at Oxford and Cambridge and take the questions from faculty and from staff and from students. And they all ask the same questions, almost all over the world. What's the purpose of my life? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the hope of our world? What a mess the world's in. What's the cause of it? And I try to answer them from the Scriptures. And it's interesting how deep their questions are, how profound their questions are how thoughtful their questions in all those universities.
Do you know Christ? Does he dominate your life? Dante once wrote about a man entering hell. And he said, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here". There is no hope for those that are outside of Christ, but there's hope, which is laid up for you in heaven. Hope for handicapped people. Hope that you're going to have a new body. Hope for the poor people that some day you'll have more than you can ever possibly dream. Hope for the people that have been discriminated against, because you're going to go to a place where there is absolute total, total social justice. There's hope even for rich people that God will forgive us for having so much in a world that has so little because all of us are rich. I'm rich compared to the world's standards.
Paul wrote to Titus, "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ". He wrote, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began". And Peter said, the Apostle Peter, "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God". We are looking for a new heavens and a new earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness," said Peter. The Apostle John wrote, "Beloved, now we, the sons of God, and it doeth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure".
Do you have that hope in your heart? We're to thrive on hope. The Bible says in Romans 15. In Romans 12 it says, "We're to rejoice in hope". Romans 5 says, "We're to witness in hope, knowing that experience worketh hope". Do you have this hope in your heart? That there's a great future out there for all of those who let Christ dominate their lives. Happy as he whose hope is in the Lord. Isaac Watson sent millions of people singing, "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come". Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, "Through the medicine of hope, I have the hope to live and am prepared to die". Do you have that hope?
Then the last V, the victory assured. The Scripture says in Psalm 24:7, "Lift up your heads". And today I can recall so many of those great songs set to music. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth". I lift up my eyes and I look to Christ and my help comes from Him. He enters into us and He will give you the lift to the kingdom of God at no cost to you because He paid the price. The only cost to you is that you submit, surrender, believe, repent, follow Him, and serve Him.
Oh yes, when you go to serve Him, it's not going to be easy. You may lose a friend. You may have problems that you never dreamed that you'd have, because it's not easy to follow Christ in our present generation. But when you surrender to Him, the Holy Spirit comes to live within you. He gives you a power that you don't now have to produce the fruit of the Spirit, love and joy and peace and long suffering and gentleness. All these fruit is yours because the Holy Spirit will produce it in you and through you and give you a love that you never knew before. It'll be a supernatural love that he'll give you with your wife or your husband or your neighbors, or your friends, or the people that you're at school with. It's all yours in Christ. Yes, there's hope. Hope for the future. It's centered in the person of Christ who died for our sins and rose from the grave and is alive now.
And I have staked everything I have or ever hope to be on Him. And so must you, if you are to know Him, and if you are to be a member of the kingdom of God. I'm going to ask you today to do something that we've seen several thousand people do this past week. I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat right now and come and stand in front of the platform and say, by coming, "I want to rededicate my life to Christ". You might've been baptized. You might've been confirmed, but you'd like to think, what you've promised at confirmation, you'd like to rededicate yourself to that. Or, you may have never received Christ before. You might've thought that you received him, but you're really not sure. And you want to make certain, you come. We're going to wait. Hundreds of you that God is speaking to. You may be in the choir all these weeks. Don't let this day finish without you making your commitment. And you over there. And I'm going to ask that people not leave the stadium and block the aisles, because this is a marvelous moment.
There are many of you that have been watching by television, and you can see that here in Rochester, New York, many hundreds of people have come today to make their commitment to Christ. You need to make your commitment to Christ, and you can do that right now. I'm going to ask you to do it wherever you are. Say yes to Christ. And if you will, pick up the telephone and call that number that you see on the screen. There's somebody there that will have a prayer with you and say a word to you. God bless you and help you to make that commitment.