Greg Laurie - Ghost Bike
The title of my message is Ghost Bike. Sounds kinda spooky, doesn't it? Sounds like an episode of Scooby-Doo or something, right? No, it's not that. That was the Scooby-Doo imitation, forget it.
A while ago I was in a cab and I'm driving along and we passed a ghost bike on the side of the road. Do you know what a ghost bike is? It's when a bike has been painted white to commemorate the fact that a cyclist has been killed there. Lot of times you'll see them by the side of the road, bikes painted white. Sometimes there'll be flowers in front of them. So I noticed it. And I said to my cab driver, "Wow, look at that, a ghost bike". And he said, "Yeah, there's a lot of them along here. And in fact," he says, I know someone that was killed here not long ago, and they were a friend of mine". And I said, "That's just horrible". Well it turns out this cab driver's name is Tom. So I say to Tom the cab driver, "So Tom, what do you think happens after we die"? Tom says, "Well I think that we come back as another life form if we've lived a good life, it'll be a higher life form. If we've lived a bad life, it'll be a lower life form".
And on he went for a few moments and I listened. And then he said, "Well what do you think happens after we die"? Never ask a preacher that question if you don't want a sermon, right? I said, "Well Tom let me tell you. I believe that when we die, if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we'll go straight to heaven. And I believe one day heaven will come to earth and it'll be amazing, Tom". And Tom the cab driver says, You know what, I like your version of the afterlife better than mine". I said, "Hey Tom, this is not my version of the afterlife, this is what's in the Bible". And we think a lot about the afterlife. We wonder about it. We know it's coming eventually.
And I think even more so as we get older, the reality of death gets closer and stronger. You find yourself losing more friends. And as you get older, one day you may realize you have more friends in the afterlife than you have in this life. And by the way if that's the case, you probably need to start making some newer friends, okay. But I have XM Sirius radio in my car and so there's different stations you can listen to. There's 50s on five, 60s on six, 70s on seven, 80s on eight, 90s on nine, and so forth. And so I'll be listening to the music and I don't like one song, so I go to another, and then it dawned on me the other day, I've lived through all of these decades. I was born in the 50s. I remember the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s. Hey you know you're getting old when the 90s songs are called oldies now, right?
I mean I remember when I was a kid and I was like in the third grade, it seemed to last 10 years. But then as you get older, time seems to go by more quickly. And we start wondering what's gonna happen to me when I die? And you should ask that question by the way. Where do we go? What's it like on the other side? Others, many books that you can read today, some have even been made into films and people talk about their experiences in the afterlife and what they saw in heaven. And a lot of times you'll hear people say they went through a tunnel and saw a great light and felt a great peace. But here's the problem, I don't know if those people are telling me the truth. They might be making it up. I don't know but I'll tell you God has given us a book that tells us the truth about the afterlife and it's called the Bible and I have one right here. Everything you need to know about the afterlife is in this book. Everything you need to know about this life is in this book. Because God not only promises life after death, He promises life during life.
Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life," and that more abundantly or live it to its fullest. You know medical science seeks to add years to our life but only Christ can add life to your years. But what happens when we die? Well Jesus has answered that question. And that's what I wanna look at for a few moments. Let me ask a question, how many of you would like to go to heaven when you die? Raise up your hand if you wanna go to heaven when you die. Alright. How many of you believe you will go to heaven when you die? Raise up your hand. Well that's a lot of you. But it probably wasn't all of you. And I want you to join that first group and know for sure you're going to heaven. And you can know that with certainty and I'll tell you how in a few moments.
A number of years ago Billy Graham was holding a crusade in a small town and he wanted to send a letter and so he found a little boy there and said, "Young man can you tell me where the post office is"? And he said, "Sure Mister, it's over there, you turn right, you turn left, and there it is". And he said, "Thank you very much". And then Billy said, "I'm gonna be speaking in a stadium tonight and I'm gonna tell people how to go to heaven. Would you like to come and hear me"? And the little boy said, "No, that's okay, you don't even know the way to the post office, how would you know the way to heaven"?
Well you can know the way to heaven tonight because here's what Jesus says in John 14, Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house, there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, you may be also, and where I go you know and the way you know". And then he said, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, how can we know the way"? And Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father except through me". You see that verse? It's right on the front of the stage here, you see that? Let's say it out loud together. I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but through Me. Those are the words of Jesus. "Let not your hearts be troubled," that's what Jesus said.
Maybe you're afraid right now. We're living in super scary times. A threat of terrorism is real. There was just another terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain. We know it won't be long until there's even another one. And then we have North Korea threatening to send nuclear missiles at us. They threatened to hit us in Guam or here in the United States. In fact in the newspaper the other day, I saw an image created by the North Koreans that they're having posters around their country, and you could see that image on the screen. That's their vision for us. They wanna nuke us and they have the ability to do it. The Director of Homeland Security recently said, "If you knew what I knew, you'd never leave the house".
One expert said, "If you're a human being living in 2017 and you're not anxious, something is wrong with you". We're a nation filled with anxiety. In fact the web search for the word anxiety has gone up dramatically. It's doubled. I read about a podcast aimed at millennials called Generation Anxiety. And the man who does that podcast said, "So you've inherited the apocalypse, well the good news is you weren't crazy and it definitely is". Maybe that's why drug use is up. I just read the other day that those that are strung out in drugs and are using opioids and other intoxicants are far higher than it's been reported in the past because we're stressed out big time.
So the Generation Anxiety, Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled". A literal translation of that would be from the Lord, "Don't be agitated, disturbed, or thrown into confusion". Another way the word is translated is, "Don't let your heart shudder". Or another way to look at it, "Don't panic, it's organic". No, that's not there, I just threw that in. Seriously though, because we're living in the information age and we all carry around these crazy little phones now, everybody has them, we get information on demand. We get the information while it's happening in real time. In the old days you would have to wait for the morning paper, or you could turn on the radio, or you would watch the six o'clock news. Now, boom, you get notified of a terrorist attack. You're notified of some other problem. And it just makes us more stressed than ever.
More than 5.3 billion people have smartphones now. That's 70% of the world's population. I read a stat that said, "42% of Americans surveyed said they can't live without their cellphones. 2/3 of Americans sleep with their cellphones next to their bed". Have you ever left your house and forgotten your cellphone and, like, freaked out about it? Imagine if we treated our Bible like we treat our cellphone. Think about it. Imagine if we read our Bible as often as we look at our cellphone. You see people driving and they're swerving, you go, "Oh, it's a drunk driver". Then he get up close, no, it's a cellphone user, right. We don't even talk to each other anymore. We just stare blankly at those screens and just get more stressed out. I'll tell you how to get rid of all of your stress.
How many of you have a cellphone with you? Pull it out, let me see it if you have a cellphone. Pull it out, hold up your cellphone. Okay, put it on the ground and stomp on it. Go ahead. Stress gone. Don't literally do that, then send me the bill for it. I'm just trying to make a point. But you understand what I'm saying. So we're living in these crazy times. There's a lot of things that frighten us. But I have good news for you tonight. In a time of fake news, in a time of scary news, in a time of bad news, I have good news. God loves you and He sent His Son, Jesus Christ in a rescue mission to die on the cross for your sin. And arise again from the dead. And you can believe in Jesus and you can have peace in your heart. And you can have the guaranteed hope of heaven. Let not your heart be troubled. Well how can that happen? Jesus gives us three reasons. Three ways to not have troubled, agitated, frightened hearts.
Number one, believe what God says in His word. God has given us a book, B-I-B-L-E. It's an acronym, B-I-B-L-E, basic instructions before leaving earth. This is the user's manual of life. This is what you've been looking for. And if we'll just believe what God says in His word, it'll change everything for us. Let me ask you, do you believe in God? Jesus says, "Believe in Me". Do you believe in God? Everyone believes in something. Some believe in technology. Some believe politics will save us, God help you. Some believe religion will save you. I'm not here talking tonight about religion. I'm talking about a relationship with God. There's a big difference by the way.
I read an article the other day that said millennials are turning from organized religion. The article had the headline, "Millennials have lost their faith and are replacing it with pizza, push-ups, and profound digital connections". And this article pointed out that instead of going to church, a lot of millennials go to the gym. They do yoga. Very popular. And I've never really gotten into yoga myself but I heard this the other day, I'm not making this up, the new thing with yoga now is yoga with goats. You think I'm kidding, don't you? Yoga with goats. Some person told me, "I'm doing yoga with goats tonight". And I thought she was joking. "Yeah, right. No, I am. Seriously? How does that work? Well we sit around in the yoga position and the goats walk all over us. Awesome, don't they kinda poop on you a little bit? Yeah, but it's just yoga with goats. It relaxes you".
That's weird, okay. Google it later, it's there. So some of you do exercise. "I'll go to the gym. I'll work out at the First Church of the Perfect Physique, you know, that's my religion". Others are not going to church and they go get pizza with their friends. A couple guys that were interviewed said, "Yeah, we call it church, and we have profound conversations over pizza". And then Mark Zuckerberg recently said that social media can replace religion. He said that Facebook is filling the void left by organized religion. Really? People, these folks that follow you are not your friends, okay. You need to get some real friends. They might be little robots sending you messages anyway. But you know you're not gonna have a real connection that way.
In fact one girl who was very popular in social media had a huge following on Instagram. Her name was Essena O'Neill. She was able to monetize it and do very well in it. She said, "I was surrounded by all this wealth, and all this fame, and all this power, yet they were all miserable, and I was never more miserable". So she went offline, she disconnected. So look here's my question for you and unless they, is pizza gonna save you? Is Facebook gonna save you? Are video games gonna save you? Is yoga with goats gonna save you? No way. Only Jesus can save you. There's a big difference. I have a better thing to take the place of organized religion. Not Facebook, not social media, not meals with friends. Jesus Christ. It's a relationship.
Last night I said I'm not a religious person. I don't wanna become a religious person. I am a Jesus person. For me it's all about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And I hope you'll become one too. I hope you'll become one too. I mean let's just say for the sake of an analogy, God forbid, that North Korea fired some nuclear missiles at us. Well we have our defense system. Well I don't think we could guarantee we could stop all of them. What would you do? A missile is coming at the United States. What would you do? Oh let's go get a pizza. Let's play a video game. I'll tell what you'll do. You would call out to God.
That's what you'd do. If you have half a brain, you would. Because deep down inside us, I think most of us know where to turn in times of crises. I hope you'll do that. Because Christ can change the whole course of your life. I received a letter from a man named Richard who grew up in an alcoholic home. He was so despondent, he himself became a drug addict. And then he decided to kill himself. But someone brought him to a Harvest Crusade. And he gave his life to Jesus and he was transformed. Well then this individual went and found his 80-year-old father-in-law and said, "Hey, the Harvest Crusade is on television, let's watch it together". And his 80-year-old father-in-law gave his life to Jesus.
The next day Richard took his nephew and his wife to a crusade we were holding. They had small children with them and they were on the verge of a divorce and they committed their life to the Lord and recommitted their life to their marriage. Look how God saved all those people. A drug addict, an 80 year-old-man, a young couple on the verge of divorce. Christ is for everybody. Everybody needs Jesus. Young people need Jesus. Middle-aged people need Jesus. Older people need Jesus. We all need Him. Jesus is just saying, "Believe in Me".
Number two, here's why you don't have to have a heart that's shuddering tonight, if you're a Christian, you're going to heaven. How good is that? If you're a Christian, you're going to heaven. Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions". Then He also says, "I go to prepare a place for you". Listen to this, heaven is a real place for real people to do real things. The afterlife is just as real as this life. And the afterlife goes on forever. So the best things you have in this life, the greatest joys of this life are just glimpses of greater things that come on the other side in the presence of God.
Sometimes people have this really weird spacey view of heaven, we're just like floating around in clouds, playing harps, taking really long naps. By the way that might sound appealing to some people. It doesn't sound appealing to me. I like to do stuff. I like action. And heaven's full of action. It's full of activities. It's full of things to do. Think of the purest joy you've ever experienced on earth, multiply it a thousand times and you get a fleeting glimpse of heaven's euphoria. You might ask, "Well what happens to a Christian when they die"? They go straight to heaven. The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Just right in heaven. It's such a great thing. The moment you take your last breath on earth, you take your first breath in heaven.
That is only the hope for the Christian. Because listen to this, heaven is a prepared place for a prepared person. The non-believer. The man or the woman who has not put their faith in Christ does not have this hope of heaven. Now you may say, "Well I believe I'll go there". Well you can believe it all you want but there's only one way to get to heaven, and that's through Jesus Christ. God has dropped one lifeline from heaven and it's Christ. And He's offering it to you tonight. Jesus says, "In my Father's house are many mansions". Now that might be talking about real homes we'll live in, I don't know. Or it might be talking about new bodies 'coz God's gonna give us new bodies which is awesome. We'll still be us but we'll be erratically upgraded version of us. The Bible says this mortality, this body, we'll put on immortality. And that's great to know 'coz as you get older, you're looking forward to that a little bit more.
And I wonder sometimes in heaven if maybe we'll all be bald, I don't know. Maybe that's the glorified state, being bald. Hair is part of the curse, I'm not sure, I don't think so. But there's one advantage of being bald, bald men always know when it's raining first. It's true. I'd be walking with my wife and you saw my beautiful wife, Cathy, we've been married 43 years. Can you believe it? Now I was corrected at breakfast today. The last two nights I said 42 years. She said we've been married 43 years. Oops, okay. So correct that. My wife has this beautiful thick hair. And when we're walking down the street and I'll say, "Cathy, it's raining". She'll say, "No, it isn't". I'll say, "Cathy you won't even know for like an hour, your hair's so thick. I felt eight drops right here, okay". But we're gonna get that new body given to us by God.
Heaven is gonna be so amazing and it's a hope of the follower of Jesus. So why should my heart not be filled with anxiety? Number one, I need to believe God's word. It's filled with promises. It tells you how to live. It tells you what right and wrong are. And best of all it tells you how to get to heaven. Start there. Number two, if you've put your faith in Christ, you can know with certainty, you'll go to heaven. Now here's the third reason you don't have to be stressed out tonight. Jesus Christ is coming back again to this earth. It's true. Jesus said in verse three of John 14, "I will come again. I'll come again". And He's made that promise that He will return again. And all the things that we see happening in our world right now are signs of the times.
The conflict in the Middle East, the sign of the times. Terrorism here and around the world, a sign of the times. The threats of North Korea, a sign of the time. You'll say how so? The Bible says that in the last days men would be filled with fear and there would be no way out. We have the ability to blow ourselves up now, to destroy humanity. So these are signs telling us. Jesus said when you see these things begin to happen, look up for your redemption is drawing near. He's coming back again. I love this because He's laying this out to us disciples. And Jesus says, "And where I go you know, and the way you know". You know it sort of reminds me of when I was in school. I never did well in math by the way. I was horrible at math. And I remember when the teacher would do some complex equation on the blackboard and then the teacher would turn to the class and say, "Do you all understand"? And everyone would nod, "Yes we understand". And many of us did not especially me. I think it was that way with Jesus and the disciples sometimes. He'd say things and they'd just nod their head, "Man, that is so deep, we love that".
So Jesus says, "I go and prepare a place for you, and where I go you do not know," and then they're looking at Him, like, "Okay," and then finally one guy is bold enough to say what he's really thinking, "Lord, we have no idea what You're talking about, we don't know where You're going, and we don't know the way". And that prompted Jesus to say, and his name was Thomas by the way, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father but by Me". That's it. Listen, all roads lead to God but only one road leads to heaven. Now some of you are saying, "Wait Greg, did you mean to say that"? Oh, yeah. All roads lead to God. All roads. No matter what religion you choose. Hey you don't even have to have a religion. If you're an atheist, your road will lead you to God. One day when we die, we'll all stand before God, the Bible says that. The Bible says every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. You'll stand before God but only one road leads to heaven and it's a road through Jesus Christ because of His blood that was shed for us. That's why you need to believe in Him.
You might say, "Well Greg, if all roads lead to God, then I'll get to God and I'll work it out with the Man upstairs". No, I'm sorry, you won't. There are no chances after death. Thousands before but none after. You decide here in this earth where you will spend eternity. And will you stand before God on that final day? If you've rejected His offer of forgiveness through Jesus, the Father will firmly but sadly say to you, "Depart, I never knew you". You say no, if I do enough good works, God will let me into heaven. Where did you get that from?
Even my little six-year-old granddaughter Ally knows that's not true. Because Alley came up to me the other day and she said, "Papa," that's what she calls me, six-year-old Ally says, "Papa, I'm a Christian now". And I said, "Really? Ally, well, how did that happen"? She said, "Well, I asked Jesus into my heart". And I said, "Well, Ally, that's wonderful". I said, "Tel me what happened". She said, "Well my dad told me being a good person was not enough to get me to heaven and he told me I needed to be forgiven". And I said, "Well, Ally, how can you be forgiven"? She said, "You have to say to God, God will you forgive me"? in her cute little six-year-old voice, "And He forgave me Papa". Guess what? Ally Laurie, age six, is right. To get to heaven you need to be forgiven. Have you been forgiven of your sin? That's the only way to get there.
There's a lot of adults that don't know that. So, yes, He has your cure for heart trouble tonight. Listen to this, you don't go to heaven to find Christ. You go to Christ to find heaven. And I'm gonna tell you how to do that. Tomorrow we're having a solar eclipse. I think you're probably aware of that. I even ordered some little glasses to wear on Amazon. I hope they work. They look like those little 3D glasses, right, little cardboard glasses. It's gonna be a solar eclipse that's gonna be visible across the entire nation. Now some have said that this is a prophetic sign. Some say the solar eclipse will bring the judgment of God. I don't personally attach any prophetic significance to the solar eclipse.
I think there's plenty of other signs of the times we can look to. But just for the sake of a point, let me say this. Let's just say that was true. Let's just say that tomorrow when the solar eclipse happen, God's judgment was coming and that was the end of the world. Well what do you think most of us would do if we knew that was actually true? Well I think most of us would turn to God immediately. Well, listen, I don't think the solar eclipse is gonna bring the end of the world, but I'll tell you this, tomorrow is gonna be the end of the world for someone, it'll be the end of their world. Someone's name is gonna end up in that obituary column. Someone is gonna pass from this life to the afterlife. We don't know when that's gonna happen. That's why we wanna be ready to meet our God right now. That's why you wanna get this resolved tonight.
So you can be sure that you're ready to meet Christ because as I said heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Are you prepared for eternity? Let's say I wanted to fly to New York City, well I can't just go down to John Wayne Airport or LAX and just board a plane and take my seat. No, I have to first buy a fare, and then I have to arrive at the airport, like, eight hours early, and go through security, and go through all the rigmarole you have to go through, then I take my assigned seat, and then the guy in front of me must recline the entire flight, right. I always get behind that guy, I don't know why. But there's things you have to do to board that flight. One day a flight in effect is gonna leave for heaven. Have you got your ticket? You say, "Well, how much does it cost"? You can't afford it.
Here's the good news, Jesus bought your ticket for the afterlife when He died on the cross for your sin. He's got it for you. He has your ticket and guess what? You're flying first class. You say, "Well, where do I get it? Where do I get it"? Years ago I was speaking at one of our crusades and my granddaughter Stella who was just a little girl then, maybe around two, was here, and I started talking about this ticket as an analogy, and she had one of the little flyers they give you when you came in, and she held it up and yelled to me from the crowd, "I have my ticket Papa, I have my ticket". Well it's not the flyer we gave you. Here's what it is, if you wanna know you'll go to heaven when you die, you have to admit you're a sinner. Some of us choke on that.
You say, "Well, Greg, say that to some of these people, but I'm not a sinner, I'm a good person". Hey I don't even differ with you. You may be a good person relatively speaking, but let me be blunt with you, no matter how good you are, you're not good enough. You're not good enough to get to heaven because actually you've sinned and I've sinned and we've all sinned and broken God's commandment, and all the good works in the world won't change that. And we think, "Well if I do more good works than bad works, He gotta let me into heaven". Where did that come from? And besides let's just say it were true for the sake of a point. Your good works don't outweigh your bad works. They just don't because there's those sinful thoughts. There's those wrong things that you've done. There are far more of those than the good things you've done. But it's not about good works and bad works, it's about Jesus. And that final day when you stand before God, He's gonna say, "What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ"?
Jesus is the way that you get to heaven. And first you must admit you're a sinner. Then you must recognize that Jesus Christ the Son of God died on the cross for you. You say, "Well what difference does it make if Christ died on the cross or not? That was 2,000 years ago". Yeah it was. But Jesus was fully God and fully man and He walked this earth and He lived our life and He breathe our air, and then He died our death. He died in our place. Jesus came to pay a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. He died for you. He bled for you. For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, and whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. But then Christ rose from the dead three days later. And that's so we don't have to be afraid of death because Christ rose. One day we'll rise, we'll live forever. Death died when Christ rose. He did that for you because He loves you.
So you must realize you're a sinner, recognize Christ died for you, and then thirdly, you need to repent of your sin. It's not enough to just believe that a guy named Jesus lived and died 2,000 years ago in Israel. You have to say God I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from that sin, I make a break with that sin. And then you must receive Christ into your life. Being a Christian is having Jesus come and take residence in your heart. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and I knock, and if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I will come in". Right now He's knocking at the door of your heart. He's saying, "Let Me in". But only you can open that door. I can't open it for you. The person who brought you here tonight can't open it for you. You must say Lord I'm sorry for my sin, come into my life. You must receive Christ.
The Bible says, "For as many as who received Him, He gave them the power to become Sons of God". And then you must do it publicly. That's why I'm gonna ask you to do what thousands of people have done the last two nights here at Angel Stadium. They got up out of their seats, they walked down on that field, and they made a public stand to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "If you will acknowledge Me before people, I'll acknowledge you before my Father and the angels in heaven". But He also said, "If you deny me before people, I'll deny you before the Father and the angels". That's why in a moment I'm gonna ask you to get up out of your seat and walk down to this field behind the platform and say, "I need Jesus and I don't care who sees 'coz this is my night to get right with God".
And then lastly you must do it now. Do it now. The Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation". Tonight is your night. Quite honestly you may never have another opportunity like this tonight to come to Jesus so please don't put this off. Don't procrastinate. This is your moment. And you will not regret this decision that you are about to make. So in a moment I'm gonna pray and I'm going to extend this invitation for every one of you to come that want your sin forgiven, every one of you that wanna be sure you'll go to heaven when you die, every one of you that wanna fill that big old hole in your heart, it can happen tonight. Jesus Christ is only a prayer away. Hope has a name and it's Jesus. And He's here for you right here right now.
Let's all pray together. Now Father I pray for every person in this stadium and every person watching on a screen wherever that might be, or listening on the radio, wherever they are, Lord if they don't know You, help this to be the moment they come to You. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict and convince people of their need for Christ. Lord help them to believe in You now. We commit them to you and we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.