John Hagee - Message for 65th Anniversary
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On this glorious and historic day, 65 years ago, I stood behind the sacred desk to preach the first sermon at the first assembly of God church in Houston, Texas. The sermon was titled "The place called Calvary". Luke 23:33 was the text. Read it if you have it: and when they crucified him, and the criminals, on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". The message of the cross then and now is the most important message in all of the Bible. Why? Because without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. If there's no remission of sin, no one is going to heaven. You have to have the blood atonement in your life before anything else. Let us pray together.
Our most gracious Heavenly Father: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: to the God of heaven, who has blessed me and protected me by his angels for 65 years, I give highest praise and endless glory. Thank you for your love, Father God. Thank you for your amazing grace. We love you, Lord of hosts, and praise you for your excellent greatness. And all of God's children said, amen.
You may be seated. As I said, the message of the cross yesterday, today, and forever is the message that brings terror to the prince of darkness and to every demon in hell. The blood of Jesus Christ will never lose its power. Satan is terrified of every Christian who understands the power of the blood. Without the precious blood of the Lamb of God that was shed at Calvary, there is no salvation, there is no healing, there is no hope of heaven, there is no peace on this earth, there is no forgiveness of sin. Without the blood, there is no protection from Satan who has the power to rob, to kill and destroy on this earth.
The scarlet stream of blood begins to flow at the gates of eden. It flows over the doorpost of every Jewish home in Egypt that conquered the death angel on that first Passover. It flows from the precious side of Jesus Christ, our redeemer, for your salvation and for mine. The message 65 years ago was the blood of Jesus. The message today is the message of the cross. The message until the moment we leave this earth is redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us be set free from the power of sin and Satan forever. And we are made to reign as kings and priests on this earth. We have authority through the blood of Jesus Christ. Give the Lord praise in the house!
To those of you who are here and to those of you who are watching by television across the nations of the world, I ask you if you do not know Jesus Christ, to seek him, to confess him today as Savior and Lord of your life, or you will never see the gates of heaven, never. The question is, that I'm often asked, "We know who you are in the pulpit. Can you tell us how did you go from goose creek to being a friend of prime ministers and presidents"? And a very simple answer, "I followed the chief shepherd, and he led me there".
On this historic day, let's take a snapshot of what the Lord has done. I have been blessed to personally preach the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ in America, to Canada, in Mexico, crusades in Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, England, the Bahama Islands, Nigeria, Germany, Italy, Israel: and by television, the nations of the world. In those 65 years, I have preached more than 10,000 sermons, holding the torch of truth, saying, "This is the way, walk in it". "Christ is the answer". It was the moment of a lifetime when I stood and preached to 1.5 million people in Nigeria where Dr. E.A. Adeboye is pastor over 23,880 churches in over 196 countries. Those are all real churches. Dr. Adeboye, pastor of the redeemed Christian church of God, is said by "Newsweek magazine," "One of the 50 most-powerful people in the world".
Dr. Adeboye flew from Nigeria to San Antonio just to pray for me following my heart surgery. God bless you, Dr. Adeboye. Derek Prince, for decades, he was a spiritual father to me. Derek Prince was a champion for Israel. I preached his memorial service in America. He is buried in Jerusalem, awaiting the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Rabbi Scheinberg, whose friendship was the driving force that helped birth the night to honor Israel and Christians united for Israel. He was my closest friend for decades. On one occasion when we were flying to Washington, D.C. for a Cufi national conference, I was reading "The wall street journal," and he pulled the paper down. He was sitting facing me. He said, "Pastor, I want to tell you something. I would take a bullet to save your life".
I was stunned by that response. But it was the quality of his friendship that made it possible for Christians united for Israel to eventually be born. I was honored to speak at his funeral. He is also buried in Jerusalem, awaiting the Messiah. Dr. W.A. Criswell, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who preached the dedication sermon for this church, his sermon was titled "The Old-Fashioned Way". And if you heard that sermon, it was a fantastic message. It was my pleasure to meet with Billy Graham in his crusades and in his home. Billy Graham was simply the greatest evangelist in the history of the world. I have met with American presidents on the behalf of Israel. And I want to tell you, right now America needs another president who will stand up for Israel.
David commands, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love you". My office is flooded with plaques, awards, and various forms of recognition from many sources. But the award that I cherish most is the award from the state of Israel. The state of Israel, on their 70th anniversary of statehood, put together an elite Cadbury of scholars, civic and national leaders to select 70 people on the face of the earth that "Strengthened Israel and its alliance with the United States". I was notified by Israel's ambassador that president Harry Truman was on that list. I was notified that Albert Einstein was on that list. And he said, "Pastor Hagee, your name is on that list also".
Now the plot thickens. I was not privileged to go to Washington to receive that award, because the week before, America's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, invited me to be in Jerusalem to pray the prayer of dedication over the U.S. embassy that was being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So I sent Matt and Kendal to Washington, D.C. To get the award from Israel while I was praying the prayer of dedication over the U.S. embassy in the City of Jerusalem, which was a historic prophetic moment. Ambassador David Friedman said, and I quote, "That prayer was one of the most outstanding prayers prayed in the history of modern day Israel". The crowd rose to their feet and they started literally yelling, "Israel lives"!
Let me take you to my early history. I was born April 12, 1940, in goose creek, Texas, because that's the closest hospital to channelview. The second son of pastor Bythel and Vada Hagee, who were the founding fathers of the first assembly of God church in channelview, Texas. That church still stands today on Sheldon road and first street. I lived in channelview for 12 years where life consisted of church, church, and church. World War II started when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the righteous mind of America exploded. I didn't know who Hitler was, but I knew my mother hated him and he was in serious trouble. So they took my picture in the backyard. I'm in full military uniform here with a Wooden rifle strung across my body, hunting for Nazis in the backyard.
In June of 1952, our lives changed drastically when my father announced he was resigning as pastor: and that we were going into evangelism. What was that like? We would go from church to church holding revivals that lasted at least two weeks. We moved our clothes and musical instruments out of our house into a 33-foot mobile home. We left our friends and what had been heaven on earth behind. We were a musical family at my mother's eternal persistence. She would bring a musical instrument home and say, "Learn to play this". There were no lessons. You just learned to play that. I learned to play the steel guitar, didn't like it a bit. I swapped it out for a saxophone and I listened on the back porch with that saxophone to the conservation hall out of New Orleans, and I learned to play the saxophone that way.
Mercifully, it all ended after six months in the month of December when my father accepted the call to be the pastor of the first assembly of God church in Houston. We're now in December 1952. Hallelujah. Houston was heaven on earth. I enrolled in George Washington junior school. It was heaven on this earth. The first semester in middle school, I learned there was something called little league baseball. They don't have that in the country. We were city champs. That was wonderful. It was at George Washington that by the sovereignty of God, I met coach Herman Goldberg. We became closer than I was even to my own father. Herman Goldberg was a conservative Jew. He was a gracious and loving man.
And here I came to know and love the Jewish people. Under coach Goldberg's guidance, I became a four-sport letterman. I was in the national honor society. I was voted the best dressed by my classmates and the most likely to succeed. At graduation, I was the winner of the American legion award given by a vote of the teachers to the most outstanding graduating boy and girl in that graduating class. Coach Goldberg stayed in my life for the rest of his life. He came to San Antonio to visit Diana and I in our home. He went to church with us. He made a statement after church one night. He said, "John, it's a shame that Christians and Jews can't get along together". That was a statement that began a process that changed my life.
In 1982, we had a night to honor Israel in Houston, Texas, and I invited coach Goldberg to sit on the platform as my honored guest. I gave him a trophy that you needed a wheelbarrow to get on and off that stage. Why? Because we didn't win any trophies at Washington. But for lots of reasons, he deserved that trophy. He was a part of my life until he died. When he was sick in the hospital in Houston, I would fly to Houston once a week to see him. Back to 1953, '54, '55, the second feature of my stay at George Washington. Right across the street, was an orphanage. I went to school with children that never knew their mother and their father. I went to school with students whose parents abandoned them. It was here that I saw life through the eyes of an orphan. It put a fire in my belly that drove me years later to build, with your help and God's help, the sanctuary of hope.
Today, babies are being born, not sacrificed in an abortion mill. They're being born, and their young mothers are given the opportunity to have a beautiful life. Thank you, Cornerstone Church and TV partners for making this happen with God's help. In God's tomorrow, you're going to meet those precious children, and you will know, and they will know that you were the ones that made that possible. When TV first came out, it went from 6 o'clock to 10 or 11 o'clock. Friday night, they had a program called "West point". It carried the stories of general Douglas MacArthur, Eisenhower, George Patton. And I loved that telecast. I told my mother, "I want to go to west point". She said, "You can't possibly go to west point". I said, "Watch me".
I went through a tedious ordeal to get that application. Filled it out with all of its ramifications, including a letter from the U.S. Senator recommending me. It came to pass that senator Lyndon Baines Johnson gave me a letter of support. I was to report to west point in June of 1958. Mother originated a prayer group who met in secret. She told her prayer group, "If John leaves Houston without the Lord, he will never darken the door of a church again for the rest of his life". And she was dead right. Eight weeks later, our church was having one of those eternal revivals. We were in the fourth week. I sat on the back row doing my homework close to the door where as soon as the preacher shut up, I could go through the door and go home.
On the last week, the last Sunday night of January 1958, I went forward and I prayed this simple prayer: "Lord, you know I want to go to west point. If you have other plans for my life, take that desire away. Amen". There was no chest pounding. There was, I got right to the point. Listen. The desire to go to west point did not leave, but the will to do God's will became greater than my will. And that was a major miracle thanks to my mother's prayers. Ten days later, I enrolled in what today is known as southwestern assemblies of God university to prepare for the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My life began to expand and explode exponentially and quickly. I preached my first sermon, March 1958. My final year, I was voted the president of my class. And I averaged preaching two to three times a week while going to school. After southwestern, I went into evangelism from '60 to '62. In January of 1962, I enrolled in Trinity university to expand my knowledge base. I knew nothing about the secular world. I want you to hear that. I knew nothing about the secular world. I tried out for and received a full football scholarship. Trinity university was a life changer for me. It was very beneficial. It expanded my horizons. Previously, I had made high Marks in every school I'd ever gone to effortlessly. At Trinity, I had to study two hours a night to get ready for class the next day.
When I became a pastor, I put those hours of preparations into sermons. And those sermons were the foundations of the 45 books that I have written, four of which made "The New York Times" best-seller list. I also wrote two novels based on Bible history that were best sellers. Those books have produced a level of prosperity that I never believed would ever be possible. I graduated from Trinity university in 1964 and coached football for one year. We won the championship at Nimitz school here in San Antonio. I enrolled in north Texas state university, received my master's degree at the end of that course of study in 1966.
At that point in time, two couples came to Dallas and asked me, would I be interested in starting a new church in San Antonio. I said, "Do you have a building"? They said, "No". I said, "Do you have funding"? They said, "No". I said, "Do you have a congregation"? They said, "No". I said, "Man, this looks like a great opportunity". I had a long talk with Jesus about whether I should come to this city. The major pastors that I knew said, "Look: that's a Catholic town. You'll be down there 25 years. You won't get 200 people together". But I felt the tug to come here. We started the first church in San Antonio, December 1966. We called it "The Trinity church".
We had our first meeting in a home in Hollywood park less than a mile from where we are right now. We eventually met at a prayer chapel in Trinity university while we were building our first church on Nacogdoches road. And I mean a group of eight men in our church with a preacher built that church. It took us a year. In the second church at Windcrest, Derek Prince came. "The New York Times" came. Andre crouch and his disciples, "The blood will never lose its power".
How many of you've ever heard him sing that song? Brother, they sang it that night until the paint rolled up on the sides of the wall. The third church at castle hills on loop 410, 1975, 1987. It was here that I married the love of my life, Diana, who is now the first lady of Cornerstone Church. Baby, will you stand up? The greatest treasure of my life is my five children and thirteen grandchildren. I get to see them every week when I come to church. That makes every Sunday a super bowl Sunday for the Hagee family. The third church, we didn't no more get it built than I got a visit from the chief of police of castle hills. He said, "You're going to have to shorten your sermons. There are so many people leaving your church after the service that you have a traffic jam".
I started looking for new property. I found it. I didn't tell anybody, but I found it. And I made arrangements to lock it down. This is where we started our television ministry. I went to the board and said, "What about it? We're supposed to reach the world and the only way to do that is with television". And the church said, "We cannot build it. We've just finished building this church. You do it". And I talked to Diana about it. So we sold our little farm in poth, and we invested so that we could build a small TV studio, and bought three television cameras.
Now get this picture in your mind. This was a leap of faith. We had all of this built and no way to transmit the signal. People were saying awful things about my mentality. At that point in time, but the providence of God, the president of a major cable company came to San Antonio, trying to get the franchise from city hall to telecast in San Antonio. I was very instrumental in getting that franchise for that man, and I received a contract to telecast to San Antonio for 24/7 absolutely free. Think about that. We were instantly connected to tbn for national television coverage. It was a miracle that only God could have put together. Listen. That contract saved our church millions of dollars in television time. God gave it to us for nothing.
One Sunday night, we were watching a movie, "Apples of gold". I told Diana, "We're going to Israel". The next morning, I started chasing people in New York to take us. When I was praying at the Western Wall, I turned and I looked, and I saw a Jewish man. He was rocking back and forth, kissing the Bible. And I felt the Lord say to me, "That man's your spiritual brother, and you don't know anything about him, and he's afraid of you. I want you to do everything in your power that I give you in the future to bring Christians and Jewish people together," and a night to honor Israel was born. Rabbi Scheinberg helped me greatly. When we were at the auditorium, I spoke, he prayed, they sang. A night to honor Israel was built. The idea spread across America because of television.
In 2006, Christians united for Israel was born. I invited 400 pastors from the major churches in America to come here. I told them, "We need to build a national organization powerful enough to intercede for Israel". The miracle of miracles, all 400 of them came. We put together what is now known Christians united for Israel. Right now, we have almost 12 million people in this national organization defending the state of Israel.
Why do you have Cornerstone as the name of what your church? Because in 1 Peter 2:7, it says, "Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone". That's why. In 2018, we accomplished here something that is very seldom accomplished in churches in America or the world, generational succession. I passed the torch of leadership to pastor Matt. He is doing a magnificent job as administrator and preacher. Remain standing. It is my belief that the rapture of the church is imminent. But if God tarries another 40 years, we're ready. If there was ever a time for the church to put a full-court press on to win the lost, it's now. So let us give the Lord a praise celebration, as we end this service.