Greg Laurie - The Power of the Bible
Listen. The Bible is the uncompromising Word of God. God uses the Bible to heal marriages. God uses the Bible to cure the addicted. God uses the Bible to melt the hardened heart. God uses the Bible to comfort the bereaved. God uses the Bible to give hope to the hopeless. That is why I believe in the Bible because the Bible is the Word of God. This is the Book.
How many of you brought a Bible with you tonight? Grab your Bible. Hold your Bible up. We are not ashamed of the Word of God. This message has been sent to us from heaven, given to us in a book, and everything you need to know about God is right here in the Bible. No wonder people don't want it displayed on a billboard or anywhere else. But here is the bottom line. God has given us a message we all need to hear tonight that we are going to get from this book. So why don't we start with a word of prayer and commit this to the Lord. Father we are so thankful for the power of your word. We are so thankful for the way that it has changed our lives. We pray now that you will speak through your word as we open it together and we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. It is good to see all of you for the 29th annual harvest crusade. 29 years. Can you believe it?
The title of my message tonight is The Power of the Bible. You know this whole billboard Bible controversy is interesting to me because it was about a billboard that we had which was really our poster that shows me basically just holding up a Bible and that was offensive to people. So it was taken down on a few billboards, but the good news is it became a national news story and I was able to talk about the Bible all over America. And I think the fact that people say the image of a Bible is offensive speaks of the power of the Bible. I mean if you think the Bible is filled with myths or made up stories or is full of contradictions, what do you care if I believe in it? What do you care if I even hold it up?
The fact that someone would say you "You can't hold that book up to me" it is acknowledgment of the power of the message that is in this book. If you don't believe me just take a Bible out some time, like when you're on an airplane and you're in that middle seat in coach, you know, the seat from hell and people are right next to you. I mean reach into your briefcase and pull out this Bible and people might be alarmed. It's like you pulled a rattlesnake out of a bag or something. You know they're afraid it's going to attack them. Right. Get it off me! Sorry, it's a living Bible. It's very active and alive. No, but the thing is people recognize what this book represents.
The first time I saw the power of the Bible I was a brand-new Christian. I'd just given my life to Jesus on my high school campus and so someone recognized me and they said, yelled to me across the campus, "Brother Greg"! And I'm thinking, "You're not my brother. Why are you yelling my name"? "Brother Greg"! I didn't like being called "Brother Greg" by the way. "Bro! Bro"! I said "Yeah". "How you doin', bro"? And I thought, "If you're my brother, you're a brother from a different mother because I don't even know you". And he says, "Bro, I saw that you accepted Christ the other day". I said, "Yeah, so"? He said, "Bro, you need a Bible". Oh, okay. "No, you need a Bible, bro, and I want to give you mine".
And he gives me maybe the ugliest Bible I've ever seen. It was all beat up and it had two popsicle sticks glued together in the shape of a cross. I'm like, "Thank you. All right". And then I walked off and I shoved it into the pocket of my coat because I didn't want anyone to see me carrying a Bible. Remember I'm a brand new Christian. So I would see my old friends that I used to do drugs with all the time since I gave my life to Jesus, so they wondered where I had been because I had stayed out of contact with them.
So I walk in the house where we would normally get high every day at lunch time at school. And as I started to walk in the house I thought I can't take this popsicle stick Bible in there. So I literally hid it in the bushes in front of my friend's house and I walked in. So my friend said, "Laurie, how you doing"? I said "Fine". He said, "Where you been"? I said, "Nowhere". And God's Holy Spirit is speaking in my heart and he's saying to me "Tell them about Jesus" and I'm saying "No way". So they said, "Hey man, we just got some weed in. You want to smoke some weed"? I said "No". "You don't want to"? "I don't want to".
And then suddenly the front door opens and in walks the mother of one of the guys holding up my Bible. She says, "Who does this belong to"? Every eye in the room goes to the Bible with the popsicle sticks in the shape of a cross then they all look at me. Somehow they knew there was a connection. And I thought, what is the deal with this woman? She has kids doing drugs in her house and she's freaking out about a Bible? What's wrong with this picture? "Who does this belong to"?
She says. I said "That's mine" and one of my friends said "What is that, Greg"? I said "It's a Bible". "A what"? "A Bible". "What"? "A Bible! B-i-b-l-e. It's a Bible". One of them said, "Oh, praise the Lord brother Greg. Are you going to be a Christian now and carry a Bible"? I said "No, I'm going to hit you in the mouth that what I'm going to do". See, I hadn't read 1 Corinthians 13 yet. I hadn't read any of the Bible yet, and they all began to make fun of me and laugh at me and I realized right there okay I don't want to hang out with these guys anymore, and I also realized the power of the Word of God and from that day forward I proudly carried this Bible and I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
Take out your cell phone for a moment. Just take it out. I saw some of you turning the flashlight on and that's a great thing to do. But you know, we carry these phones with us everywhere we go, right? You ever drive out of your house and forget your cell phone? What do you do? Oh, you go back home and get your cell phone. It's almost a feeling of terror, isn't it? I don't have my cell phone. People look at their cell phones all the time. When you stand in lines now nobody talks to anyone anymore. Everyone just stares at their cell phone. I've seen people walk across busy intersections with multiple lanes going each way looking at their phone. I'm like people, what if a car runs a red light?
And here's my question to you: what if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone? And you know what people are looking at on their cell phone? They're looking at social media. American adults spend eleven hours a day listening to, reading, or watching social media. Here's my question for you: what if you had your face in the book as much as you look at Facebook? Because you'll find answers here. Listen, God does not own an iPhone, but he is my favorite contact. God is not on Facebook, but he is my best friend. God doesn't use Twitter, but I follow him. God is not connected to the internet, but I am connected to him and his customer service is out of this world. He's online 24 hours a day. He takes every call and he never puts me on hold.
I've talked a lot about the Bible. Let's talk about the message of the Bible. Well, you say, "That could be a very long message". Yes, it could be, but let me summarize it. If I were to choose one verse in the Bible that sums up the message contained therein, what verse do you think I would choose? I would choose John 3:16. I think it sums it up as well as anything. John 3:16, Jesus said it, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life". That is the message of the Bible. That God loves you.
Sooner or later we all get around to asking the big questions of life like why am I here, what is the meaning of my life, what happens after I die? The Bible answers all those questions and more. Let me tackle a couple of them. Why are you here? Why are you on this earth? Modern society tells us that our problem is a lack of self-esteem. So we have to find ways to build our self-esteem up. But then scientists tell us that we really don't matter because we're simply evolved amoebas, specks of dust in a vast empty universe. So we're caught between the psychologists who tell us we need more self-esteem and the scientists who tell us we're nothing.
Let me tell you what God says. God says he created you. God says he loves you. God says he has a plan for you. Your life is not an accident. It has meaning and purpose. It was mentioned earlier that I was conceived out of wedlock. I was not planned. I could very easily say I guess I wasn't supposed to be here. No, my life was planned by God just like your life is. He loves me, he has a plan for me, and what is that plan? Many people spend their lives chasing after things that don't fill the hole inside of them.
Listen, your life is like a puzzle. How many of you like puzzles? Raise your hand if you like to put puzzles together. I am not one of you. I'm impressed by you, but I'm not one of you. My wife is a puzzle person. If we're walking along and she sees a puzzle on the table, she stops and says, "Oh, I want to put the puzzle together". I can't think of anything I would rather do less than put a puzzle together. And you know, life is a lot like a puzzle. We think if I had these things happen then I'll be a fulfilled person. You know, if I get x, y and z, if I graduate from this college and I get this career and I marry this person and we have the just perfect amount of kids together and we have just the perfect dog and the perfect life, everything is fine. So we put all of these things in their place, but there's something missing.
Coming back to puzzles, the other day my wife finished a puzzle, my wife is named Cathe and it was all done. There was one piece left. She said, "Greg, I can't find the last piece of the puzzle". So we were literally on our hands and knees on the floor trying to find this missing piece of the puzzle. I finally found it. So that's us in life, you know we get all these things in place and we say "I can't find the last piece of the puzzle". Meanwhile up in heaven, God is saying, "Hello, it's right here". The missing piece of the puzzle is a relationship with me through my Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sin and rose again from the dead. And if you will ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, your puzzle will be completed.
Listen, the last thing God in heaven wants is for any man or woman created in his image to spend eternity separated from him in this horrible place called hell. God did not create hell for people. God created hell for the devil and his angels. In fact, God poured his judgment on Jesus on the cross. He died in our place so I don't have to go to hell. But listen, if you end up in this horrible place one day you will have no one to blame but yourself. God did not send you there, you sent yourself there by rejecting his offer of forgiveness that is on the table and available to you tonight through Jesus Christ.
Take this offer. Don't be afraid of this book. Don't be afraid of Jesus. Run to Jesus. He's the one you're searching for. He's the one you're longing for deep down inside. Listen, Jesus did not come to this earth to make our lives a little better. Jesus did not come to improve our lives. Jesus Christ came to this earth to save our lives, and he'll do that for you if you'll believe in him. Oh listen, you become a Christian you'll have that hole in your heart filled. You become a Christian you'll find that missing piece of the puzzle. You become a Christian, you'll have this peace that God promises.
If you become a Christian, you'll find the happiness and joy you've been seeking after. But listen, friend, those are the fringe benefits. The best thing of all, if you become a Christian, you won't go to hell. You will go to heaven and you have God's Word on it, and that's the biggest deal of all. The Bible, the user's manual of life tells you have your sin forgiven. The Bible, the user's manual of life tells you how to find meaning and purpose in this life. So you say, "All right, what if I want to believe in Jesus? What if I want my sin forgiven? What do I need to do"? Listen, if you've not really listened to anything else I've said, listen for a moment.
Number one: you have to admit you're a sinner. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". You say, "Well Greg, okay maybe I'm a sinner, but I'm not as bad as the person sitting next to me who happens to be my husband or wife or my parents or my kids". Hey, that may be true, but one sin is enough to keep you out of heaven. We've all sinned and the Bible says "If you offend in one point of the law, you're guilty of all of it". So we're separated from God by our sin.
Number two: recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. That's why he went to the cross and died because someone had to be a substitute. Someone had to stand in the gap. Someone had to take the judgment of God on himself. So instead of you taking it or me taking it, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God and he died in our place. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for our sins". And that's what he did for us. I already quoted John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life".
Number three: you must repent of your sin. The Bible says, "Repent and be converted and times of refreshment will come from the presence of God". It's interesting, the word "Repent" is a military term. It means an about-face where you just turn around. So instead of running from God, you run to God, but yes you need to turn from your sin and come to Christ.
Number four: You must receive Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. Being a Christian is not just getting yourself a Bible. Being a Christian is not just showing up in church on Sunday. Being a Christian is not merely believing in a creed. Being a Christian is simplified is having Christ himself come and take residence inside of you. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and I knock: if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in". Only you can open the door of your life to Jesus. I can't do it for you. Someone who is with you tonight can't do it for you. Your parents can't do it for you. Your husband or wife can't do it for you. You have to say yes to Jesus. You know, some of you are kids here tonight. You're very young, but you're understanding what I'm saying.
I remember I had a conversation with Dr. James Dobson. I think you all know him. Wonderful godly man. I said, "Dr. Dobson, how old were you when you became a Christian"? He said, "Four years old". I said, "No way, really"? He says, "Four years old". I thought what did he struggle with at that point? Like candy and toys. I mean, you know, four years old and he gave his life to Jesus and he's walked with the Lord ever since then. There could be some very young person here tonight listening to me. You're seven years old, you're eight years old, nine years old, but you're understanding what I'm saying. You're understanding I need Jesus.
Yeah, that's right. But I might be talking to somebody else who is 80 years old, 70 years old. You're saying, "Well, it's too late for me, Greg. You can't teach an old dog new tricks". Well buddy, you're not a dog and these are not tricks. This is called salvation and it's available to everyone. Everyone. Young people, old people, men, women, boys and girls. Everybody needs Jesus. You must ask Christ to come into your life. Then you must do it publicly.
You know thousands of people have come on this field behind the stage here at Angel Stadium and made a public commitment to Christ. Thousands. But you know, the Bible says that there's joy in heaven over one sinner that comes to repentance just one. This is about you and Jesus. Not just you as a part of a crowd. This is you finding what you've been looking for in life. You must do it publicly and lastly, you must do it now. Do it now: not tomorrow night, not Sunday night, not a week from now, not a month from now. Right now. Because the Bible says today is the day of salvation.
Let me just say to you if you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life to be your personal Savior and Lord you can do it right now. So if you would please, pray this prayer after me. You might even pray it out loud. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. But you died on the cross for my sin and shed your blood for all the wrongs I have done. I am sorry for my sin. I turn from it now. I ask you to come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord. Be my God and be my friend. Thank you for loving me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.