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We have been saved by grace through faith. The apostle Paul emphatically states, "a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16).
Justification is a legal standing with God based upon Christ's death and resurrection and our faith in Him. The word Paul uses (dikaioo), comes from Roman legal courts meaning to declare to be righteous, or to pronounce righteous. Therefore, justification is the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God who is Judge. It is the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous, who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let's suppose for a moment that I died tonight and stood before the Lord God who is the Supreme Judge of the Universe. No doubt He would ask me, "Wil Pounds, why should I let you into my heaven? You are a guilty sinner. How do you plead?"
My response would be, "I plead guilty, Your Honor."
My advocate, Jesus Christ, who is standing there beside me speaks up for me. He says, "Your Honor. It is true that Wil Pounds is a grievous sinner. He is guilty. However, Father, I died for him on the cross and rose from the dead. Wil Pounds has put his faith and trust in Me and all that I have done for Him on the Cross. He is a believer. I died for him, and he has accepted Me as his substitute."
The Lord God turns to me and says, "Is that true?"
I will respond to Him, "Yes sir! That is the truth. I am claiming the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me of all my sins. I have put my faith in Jesus to save me for all eternity. This is what You have promised in Your Word. Jesus said, 'For God so loved the world (and this includes Wil Pounds), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"
The Lord God responds: "Acquitted! By order of this court I demand that you be set free. The price has been paid by My Son."
Furthermore, I get to go home and live with the Judge!
Justification means that at the moment of salvation God sovereignly declares the believing sinner righteous in His sight. The believing sinner is declared to be righteous in His standing before God. From that moment on throughout life, through death, that sinner who has believed is now and forever right before God. God accepts him, and he stands acquitted of his sins.
A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified (Galatians 2:16).
"IS THERE AN ANSWER?"
An Address by DR. BILLY GRAHAM
Thursday, October 6th, 1955
CHAIRMAN: The President, Dr. C. C. Goldring.
DR. C. C. GOLDRING: It is particularly appropriate for the Empire Club of Canada to begin its 1955-56 season by having as its guest speaker a man who has been designated as "the most potent evangelist in American history".
Dr. Graham came to Toronto at the request of more than five hundred churches, and is conducting meetings which attract many thousands each day or evening. Tens of thousands of Canadians have followed the career of Dr. Billy Graham during recent years. During the years 1951-52-53, the Graham Crusade centred in seventeen major American cities, including Washington, Dallas, Seattle, and Detroit. During each of those years, approximately two and a half million persons attended the crusades. In 1954, Dr. Graham went to Europe and in England and Scotland conducted meetings which were attended by more than 3,100,000 people. Probably his largest single meeting took place at Wembley Stadium when there was an overflow throng of 120,000.
Following his crusade in Britain, he visited Europe and conducted meetings in six countries, having an attendance of some 80,000 on one occasion in Berlin.
From coast to coast many Canadians listen to Dr. Graham's radio broadcasts entitled "Hour of Decision", which is currently heard on more than 400 stations on this continent and approximately fifty foreign stations. He has also appealed to thousands by means of religious films, of which four have now been produced under his general direction.
It is a real pleasure to welcome Dr. Graham here today, and I extend to him, on your behalf, a warm welcome to the Empire Club of Canada.
MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, members of The Empire Club, and friends who are gathered here today, it is a great delight and privilege for me to be here. I am also grateful for the very generous remarks that have been made by your President, and I am reminded of an incident that happened to the Archbishop of Canterbury some years ago. He was scheduled to visit an orphanage. In preparing for the occasion, the head of the orphanage gathered all the children together and said, "Now, when the Archbishop comes, there is a certain protocol you must observe. The Archbishop of Canterbury is always addressed as either "My Lord" or "Your Grace", and that is the way you are to address him if he stops and talks to any one of you."
So the Archbishop came. When he stopped in front of one little boy, he asked, "Son, how old are you?"
The little boy, frightened, looked up and answered, "My God, I am ten."
Now after the introduction that I have had today and the statistics that have been quoted, I am not sure exactly what you think of me, but we have been looking forward to coming.
I heard a story the other day about a Texan who was playing jokes on another Texan-and when two Texans play jokes on each other, they are really jokes, for they carry to some extremes. It seems that this man had been doped by his friends-he had been given some sort of drug that put him to sleep. They had prepared a grave for him out in the cemetery; and so they put him in the coffin, carried him out to the cemetery and buried him in this grave-but they didn't cover it. The next morning when he awoke, he looked all around and saw that he was lying in a coffin. He looked up at the clear blue sky, then stood up in the grave and looked around at the other tombstones. All of a sudden he gave a shout: "Hallelujah! This is the resurrection morning, and a Texan is the first one up."
I am certain that The Empire Club has a certain amount of pride in the Commonwealth of Nations, and more particularly in the Commonwealth of Canada. It has been my privilege to be in many parts of the British Empire and recently to spend a great deal of time in the British Isles and to make many friends there.
Most of us are aware, I think, that not only Great Britain but also the United States and the entire world are battling, as one United Nations delegate recently said, for our very survival. Economically, morally, politically, religiously and otherwise, we are battling against forces of materialism and humanism and communism that are beating at our gates from without and infiltrating from within. We are living in a period of world history that could either mean the beginning of a new day in history in which all mankind could be lifted to new economic levels and a new standard of living or we could be living in a day in which the entire world could be swept into destruction.
A German scientist recently said in Germany that it is now possible to depopulate the entire earth. That seems strange: that we must be afraid of weapons today. With the advance of science, with the lifting of economic conditions, with the parts of the world that have been illiterate learning to read and write and having advantages of educational, medical and social help that they have not had before, it seems strange that ours should be an age of fear.
Many people are asking, Why? They are asking: What is the solution to our many problems? Which way can we turn? Is there an answer?
Many people feel there is an answer in the United Nations. Others feel there is an answer in economic help to the under-privileged and in the Four Point Programme that President Truman outlined a few years ago. There are many people today with various answers. Everybody is having his say. And now, today, I want to have a say. I want to go back two thousand years to find the answer to the dilemmas and the problems that we face. The United States and Canada were founded by Godfearing men. Whether their faith was Catholic or Protestant they came to these shores believing in God. They had a Bible in their hand. They put into the very foundation of our government "In God We Trust." They believed in Almighty God. They had a strong faith in religious liberty and a strong faith in the Almighty. They believed in God and the Bible. They made the Bible the very basis of our way of life and of our government and of our laws.
But a few years ago we decided that we no longer needed this faith, we no longer needed the Bible, we no longer needed God; and about the turn of the century we saw something happen. We began to feel that in the scientific, economic and industrial advances we had made that somehow science and religion could not be brought together and that religion was something belonging to the archaic past, that it was a group of myths, something to be done away with-and we almost agreed with Lenin when he said it was the opiate of the people.
So we discarded religion. Particularly in intellectual circles, we discarded the supernaturalistic concept: we said we no longer believed in God, we no longer believed in the Bible. So we substituted other things: Reason, Rationalism, Mind Culture, Science Worship, Freudianism, Naturalism, Humanism, Behaviourism, Positivism, Materialism - all the other isms we substituted for religion.
As a result, what happened? We developed our minds and neglected our souls. We forgot that we are more than just bodies with animal passions, animal lusts and animal desires. Oh, yes, we have bodies with eyes and ears and nose and hands and feet. Every one has a body with certain appetites that need satisfying: hunger, sex, thirst, the desire to be with each other, - the herd instinct - all of these things are passions and desires and appetites of the body. So we set about to satisfy our bodies. Our minds also have certain desires to acquire knowledge, so we set about to fill our minds with knowledge. But we neglected a third, a very important part of the human anatomy: the soul. We starved our souls, spiritually, and our souls began to shrivel. We forgot that we had been created in the image of God and that we had living souls that also had appetites. These appetites could only be satisfied by a faith and a communion with God.
We made money; we acquired knowledge; we developed scientifically, until one day we found ourselves with hydrogen bombs in our hands without the ability to control them, and until Sir Winston Churchill said: "We have progressed scientifically and materially, but we have lagged far behind morally, and now our problems have gone beyond us." When Sir Winston asked on the floor of the House of Commons: "Is there an answer?" he sat down without answering the question, because I think even the world's greatest statesman wasn't sure that there was an answer.
We faced a dilemma: the problem of full heads but empty souls. We had departed from the idea of God. We had reared a whole generation by telling them we even doubted that there was a God. Certainly we didn't believe in accepting Him, following Him and serving Him; and morals, instead of being absolute, became relative. Instead of saying that certain things are right and certain things are wrong, and making it clearly white and black, we made it all a dull gray. We said that you could lie and cheat and be dishonest-and we called it "good business."
So our moral standard began to break down, and we began to see the symptoms of this moral breakdown in our society: it broke out into juvenile delinquency, racial hatreds, prejudice and bigotry. All the vast problems that we face today have come about because we have starved the souls of men. Men desire something more than bread to eat, and we remember the words of one of long ago who said: "Man shall not live by bread alone." We need more than bread, we need more than gadgets, ice boxes, automobiles and airplanes.
Why would a beautiful young movie star in Hollywood, at the age of twenty-nine, with a million dollars in the bank, a beautiful face, her name known all over the world, try to commit suicide?
Why would a Texas millionaire, with a hundred million dollars in oil reserves, bow his head the other day and say, "I am the most miserable man in Texas"?
I ask some of you here today . . . you have prestige, you have money; but you haven't found inward peace and happiness and security in your own life-why? You have everything to make a person happy, according to the textbooks, but you haven't found the inward peace you are looking for. Why? Because you have forgotten one thing: you have forgotten you are also a soul created in the image of Almighty God, and that soul, as Saint Augustine said long ago, is restless until it rests in God.
So we produced an age of frustration. Everybody is frustrated. There is nervous tension. I think if historians write up this age, they will call it the Vitamin Capsule Age. We are taking aspirin by the million. In the United States we are taking over three million sleeping tablets every month to go to sleep at night, and then we are taking dexedrine to wake us up in the morning. We have every type of tablet you can possibly think of.
This is an age of selfishness, an age of fear. Look at the titles of the best sellers: The Decline of the West, The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, Civilization on Trial, The End of Our Time, The Crisis of Our Age, The Crisis of Civilization, The Annihilation of Man, The Abolition of Man.
Professor Albert Webber has said: "We are now at the end of history, and we know it."
William Voght, in his Road to Survival, says: "The day of judgment is at hand."
Pessimistic titles! We missed it somewhere. Where did we miss it? We have accepted alternatives to religion and all around us we view the ruins of the secular state offered to humanity as a substitute for religion.
Five years ago, before Mr. Eisenhower's inauguration as President, I had the privilege of being invited to the Commodore Hotel in New York City. I came in, and there sat the man who was to be President of the United States. He got up and greeted me and then went to the window for a full minute. When he turned around, he said: "Billy, do you know why I believe I have been elected President?"
I said, "I think I know several reasons, Sir."
He said: "I think one of them is to help lead America in a religious revival which we must have."
Some time ago it was my privilege to spend forty minutes alone with Sir Winston Churchill when he was Prime Minister at his office at Number 10 Downing Street. In the midst of that conversation he made this statement: "We must have a religious renaissance."
Arnold Toynbee, the great British historian, has said that only a revival of Christianity can save us.
If this is true - and the President has said it, the Prime Minister has said it, the Historian has said it, the scientists are saying it, then I say to you today that you and I, as ordinary citizens, had better be about it! It is the only way out of our dilemma. If the only way for the survival of our boys and girls, the next generation, is a religious revival, we had better be about it in every way we can.
But there is another reason, and that is that you and I have everlasting souls that are accountable to Almighty God. If you are to find peace for the rest of the days of your life, and peace in those last moments and in that hour when you shall stand before your Maker, you had better do something about it!
There was a Man-He wasn't an ordinary man, He was different from any man who ever lived-who came along two thousand years ago and said: "I have an answer." He gave to us in the Sermon on the Mount the greatest moral and social document the world has ever known, but we have never been able to live up to it. Oh, we have tried, but we have failed Why? Because we find no strength within ourselves to live up to it. Everyone has tried to live up to the Sermon on the Mount at some period in his life, but failed. You have no strength, you are not man enough, because when you want to do good, you do bad, and there is something that seems to pull you down all the time and makes you do the things you really don't want to do.
What is it? What is the answer? We forgot one thing this Man said. He was born a man, but He was the God-Man, walking in human flesh; and He said this: "Ye must be born again." What did He mean by this? That is a strange statement. He said it to an educated man, to an intellectual. He said it to a great leader. He said to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again." He said that human nature must have a renaissance, a turn-about, it must be changed.
You find lying, cheating, bigotry, greed, hatred and immorality wherever you go. Go to India, go to China . . I defy you to go any place in the world where you don't find these things. It is a disease of human nature, and the Bible calls it sin. Jesus Christ said that a man must be born again, he must have a change of human nature, he must be transformed. And Jesus said that He could do it.
You say, "Well, Billy, that is too simple." I know it sounds simple, and it also sounds illogical, and it may not be very academic.
Nicodemus asked Jesus: "How can these things be?" Jesus answered: Marvel not, Nicodemus, you will never understand it. And then the word that followed is faith. "Faith" is used ninety-two times in one book of the Bible alone. And by faith, the Bible promises, if we receive Christ into our hearts as Saviour, Lord and Master, we can have our lives changed and transformed.
When I first heard that I; laughed, as some of you are smiling inside now, although I knew that human nature needed a transformation. The necessity of the re-birth was taught by Wesley and Whitefield, and it led Britain into a religious revival that saved Britain from a bloody revolution such as France was having-almost all historians agree to that. It was an old word that John Whitefield and John Wesley used over and over again: "Ye must be born again." What was meant by that? I laughed at it-I said it couldn't happen.
Then one day I said: I am going to give it a trial. So one night, without emotion (it is not an emotional experience, though it can be), very calmly and very quietly I said: All right, God, I am going to give You a trial. I am going to do what You said to do. I am going to tell You I am willing. I don't have the strength, but I am willing to turn from my, sins, and I am really ready to open my heart to You.
When I did that, something happened in my life. I can't explain it to you, I can't analyze it, I can't put it in a test tube. But I will give you one illustration. I come from the part of the country where men look with bias on those who have different coloured skins than they have, and there is discrimination. When I received Christ, I began to look through different eyes at men of different races, and the colour was gone. There was one of God's creatures, no matter what colour skin or shape of nose he had, and the racial prejudice was gone. I began to love instead of to be prejudiced. My life was changed. It didn't become perfect, and it is not perfect today, but I realized I had a new strength, a new power and a new dynamic for living that gave me the ability to say "No" to temptations that normally come. I had found a new resource.
It wasn't the type of religion that gives one a long face and droopy shoulders. It put a smile on my face, it gave me a spring in my step, a joy in my soul, and the happiness and the peace I longed and looked for.
I have seen men of every walk of life try it. I have seen lords and ladies and royalty, I have seen congressmen and senators, I have seen university professors give their lives to Christ. It has happened right here in Toronto in the last few days. One of your professors at the University of Toronto shook my hand last night and said: "Billy, for the last five days I have been living! I didn't know what living was. I would have laughed at this whole thing two weeks ago, but my life is different. I can't explain it. Some of my friends laugh at me, but my life is different."
Why? Because you are a soul, as well as a body and a mind, you will never find an inward joy, peace, forgiveness and sense of security with God until your soul has been satisfied; and your soul cannot be satisfied apart from God.
Now, how would that affect world affairs, you ask. This is an Empire Club . . . we are interested in discussing political and economic affairs. How can that solve the problems of the world?
Let me ask you this: Do you see any solution during the next hundred years to the problems we face the way we are going? How many of you would agree with me when I tell you that as long as men lie and hate and cheat, as long as there is prejudice and greed in the world, there is the possibility that at X point, somewhere out there, some madman will push a button and make the whole world his funeral pyre? Don't you think Hitler would have done it in his last days if he had had the power?
All right. Suppose we could give the whole world an injection of love instead of hate, suppose we could find a serum we could give the human race that would change them over night . . . do you know any serum like that? It is certainly not education alone, because it was the educated in the civilized nations who fought it out in the last war-it wasn't the primitive nations.
Do you know any answer? The answer I am giving today you may not accept-that is your privilege. It is one answer. I believe it is the answer: that human nature can be transformed. Your life can be transformed. If enough people receive Christ and have their lives transformed by His power, I believe it would make an impact on world affairs.
I am not in favour of war, but neither am I in favour of appeasement. I am in favour of a third force that is very rarely mentioned: I am in favour of gathering such a spiritual and moral force in the world that it will make its weight felt in the affairs of men, that we will have such a religious renaissance in the Western World-and in the whole world, for that matter-that we will demand of our leaders "peace in our time". I believe it can be done. I believe there are many evidences that it is happening in Great Britain, it is happening in Germany, it is happening in the United States, and I believe it is happening in Canada, because men today are beginning to turn back to God, back to the church and back to the Bible. I believe it is the only road out of the confusion and bewilderment that we face today.
There is a picture of a chess game hanging in Paris. On one side of the painting is the Devil, and on the other side is a lad about sixteen years of age. They are playing chess. The Devil has a leering, triumphant expression on his face. He has just licked this boy at chess, and the boy is sitting there with his head bowed and big tears trickling down his cheeks. The Devil has just won in the game of life over this lad. He has no strength, he has no way out, and he has given up. The title of the picture is "Check Mate". He had him.
A famous chess player came through one day. He looked at the painting. He felt sorry for the boy and he hated the looks of the Devil. He began to study the board where the men were placed, and all of a sudden he shouted: "Son, I have found a move, one move . . . if you will make that move you can lick the Devil." He forgot himself, he forgot it was a painting-he was so engrossed in it.
We see all the men of chess in the game of life there, and in some of our lives it seems the Devil has almost got us. We look at the whole world picture ... it seems dark at times with its little bright intervals, but by and large the basic issues have not changed, in spite of the recent smiles on both sides of the Iron Curtain. We see the shadow of the hydrogen bomb and all the vast and terrible weapons being created behind scientific laboratories, and, as we look into the future of the next two or three generations, it seems that we are almost ready to say "Check Mate."
But I believe there is One looking down from above who looks upon the board and says to you and me: There is a move, there is one move that you can make, and you can win! That move is toward Jesus Christ. You can make that move today in your own souls. Quelle: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=2070
Christ's Answer to the World
by: Billy Graham
Now, today I will turn to the 17th chapter of the book of Acts, beginning at verse 30. Beginning tomorrow evening I am going to ask how many have brought their Bibles. I want everybody to bring a Bible. Now, I'm not a Bibliographist [sic]. I am not asking you to worship with the Bible. I don't use the Bible as a fetish. But I believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word, and in this book we find God's message for us today. I want you to get in the habit of carrying your Bible, reading your Bible, searching the Scriptures with me.
I am not here night after night to put on a show. We are not here to put on an entertainment. We are here to tell you what the Bible has to say. What does the Bible have to say about your problems? What does the Bible have to say about the problems we're facing in the world in which we live today? Night after night, I'm going to ask you to bring your Bibles.
Now you may have just a little Testament; you might not have a Bible at all. Go downtown and get a Bible. If you don't have the money to get a Bible, Beverly Shea will lend you the money. But get a Bible. Bring your Bibles to the services every evening.
In New York, a lot of people brought great big family Bibles that they could hardly carry. Whatever kind of Bible you have, bring it. We're here to study the Bible and see what the Bible has to say. Everybody has a Bible, but very few people know what the Bible says. We don't know what the Bible says; we don't read its pages. The Bible is an uninteresting closed book. I want us to open the Bible together and see what the message of this book is for the day in which we live. The 17th chapter of the book of Acts:
"But now God commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in . . . which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him and believed" [verses 30-34].
Here we have a picture of the apostle Paul. He is going throughout the Mediterranean world proclaiming the good news to people in frustration, fear, and sin. And the apostle Paul is preaching Christ to the people, and now he comes to Athens.
Athens was the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world. It was the city of Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus. If you take all the universities of America and roll them into one, you have what Athens was to the intellectual world of that day. As in this day, in the midst of intellectual achievements and scientific advances, there existed both confusion and frustration. Greece at that time was under the iron heel of Rome, and the whole world was longing for freedom. They were searching for an answer.
And things haven't changed very much in two thousand years. The world is still searching for an answer. Much of the world is still in slavery. Today Charlotte is considered in the Carolinas one of our intellectual cities. It is considered a city of church-going people. It is considered a religious city. This city is considered an educational center.
The Scriptures say that Paul became spurred on by what he saw. I think the world of our day is also crying for help, as the people in that day were crying for help. The philosophical world is saying, "Come and help us" to the church.
Jean Sartre, who is one of the leaders in modern existentialism, has said, "If you don't believe in God, that's all right. I don't believe in God. But," he said, "believe in something, because man is so philosophically constituted that he needs something to believe in."
So the world of philosophy today for the first time in centuries is crying out to the church, "Help us, give us an answer, we are confused."
The economic world is crying out. Look at India. In India today there are nearly 400 million people – in 1957 (1100 million people – 2007- ed) , increasing at the rate of 5 million a year. Just the problem of population increase alone is bringing about economic pressures that could bring about revolution and trouble in the world to come. Japan has a population of 93 million living on a land area the size of the state of California, increasing at the rate of 1 million a year. China is increasing at the rate of 9 million a year. In twenty-five years, one out of every five babies born in the world will be a Chinese.
The scientific world is crying out, "Help us." Life magazine said not long ago there is a crisis in science. The faster the universe expands, the greater are the areas of ignorance it seems to open. Science has created Frankenstein monsters and doubts its moral ability to control them. We have hydrogen bombs that are ready to be unleashed upon the world.
We are seeing a hardening American attitude. We are seeing verbal blasts back and forth between Russia and America. How long it will only be in the talking phase we do not know, but we do know that our scientists and military leaders are warning that we could be in a nuclear war at any time that could wipe out 60 million Americans in the first few hours.
The political world is crying for help. Communism and democracy, the East and the West, are at each other's throats with two diametrically opposed political ideologies. And the whole political world is saying, "Help us."
A European leader said a few weeks ago, "If the devil could offer a panacea, I would follow the devil." The world is becoming desperate, the world wants an answer, and the world wants an answer quickly.
Thank God that Martin Luther King, who was stabbed last night in New York, was not stabbed by a white person. If he had been, we might have seen a racial war in New York with blood flowing down the street.
Our problems and our tensions are so complicated. No one has the answer. What is the answer? Many people are crying for answers to these problems. The moral problem, mental breakdowns, and other problems arise.
A new word has entered our vocabulary called "escapism." We Americans are trying to escape from reality. We are taking dope, drink, tranquilizing pills, entertainment, and intent upon soul-forgetfulness. People flee from themselves to become lost in the clouds.
And the heroes of modern pictures and films are spiritually homeless. Look at the television programs. How many deal with psychological cases? Every time you look at Gunsmoke [a televsion Western of the time] it sets a psychological problem dressed in western clothes. And I read the other day that the psychiatrists are now going to each other for help.
Edward [Edwin] Arlington Robinson says, "I cannot find my way. There is no star."
Winston Churchill threw up his hands some time ago and said, "Our problems are beyond us."
Paul looked at the confusion of his day in Athens. And the Bible says that Paul was disturbed by what he saw and felt. Ladies and gentlemen, on this warm September afternoon in 1958 I am disturbed by what I see and what I feel. We stand on the brink of catastrophe. Mr. Nehru, speaking to the Indian Parliament, recently said, "We stand on the brink of hell."
Our leaders are warning us, but we have become dead. Our minds are blinded, our wills are paralyzed, and our consciences dulled.
We are so taken up with our money-making, so taken up with the amusements and places and comforts of modern American life, that we don't realize that the forces of evil are closing in round about us. Unless we can turn to God and have His help, we are done for as a nation and as a people.
I do not think that the Charlotte crusade ought to be "another crusade." I do not think it ought to be a crusade kept in the history of the crusades of our team. I think it ought to be something different. I think it ought to be the beginning of a revival throughout the South that can sweep the nation. I think it ought to be something that will set an example to the world and say to the world, "We have an answer. We can solve our problems at the foot of the cross as a community, and we have found an answer to our individual needs in Jesus Christ."
While Paul was disturbed by all this, some of the philosophers came and said, "Paul, we've been listening to you talk. We'd like to hear more of it. How about going up to Mars Hill and giving a lecture?" [See Acts 17:18,19.] And so Paul did. He went up to Mars Hill, and there he preached his famous sermon on Mars Hill. Some people have said that this sermon was a great failure in Paul's life. Some people said that Paul, in preaching this sermon, did not get any results, never founded a great church in Athens, and he never had any persecution and never had any opposition in Athens.
One of the things that disturbs me here is the devil is too quiet. I hope he'll get stirred up somewhere. Because when he is quiet I know he is getting ready to kick us from behind somewhere, while we are not looking.
Every successful work of God must have opposition.
If it doesn't have opposition, there is something wrong with it. Everywhere Paul went he stirred up opposition. Trouble came, and trouble always follows the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, because Satan doesn't like it.
The forces of evil do not like the searchlight pointed in their direction, because "men loved darkness . . . because their deeds [are] evil" [John 3:19].
That day Paul had a great audience out before him in Athens as we have here today. The Athenians had hundreds of different gods and religions. And Charlotte is a very religious city. I'm told that there is one church in this city to every four hundred people, and I do not believe that is equaled anywhere in the world. Not even Edinburgh, Scotland, has as many churches per capita. You are to be congratulated. Thank God.
And, yet, in this city you have one of the highest crime rates in America. What's wrong? Why doesn't it balance out? It may be that we need a revival within our churches. There are thousands of people today who have their name on a church roll that I do not believe have ever made a true commitment to Jesus Christ. Thousands of people who have been named in the church, who go to church once in awhile--if it's not too inconvenient. And they sit for an hour, and they give God one hour. And they say, "O God, how lucky you are to get me for one hour a week." And the rest of the week they live for the devil and live for themselves, and they claim to be Christians. I tell you, in God's sight those people are not Christians. A Christian is a person in whom Christ dwells, and a Christian is a person who lives Christ twenty-four hours a day.
Paul was preaching to a very religious people. Now the Epicureans were there. The Epicureans were a very strange lot of people, and yet they were not so strange--because there are Epicureans here today. The Epicureans are the people who believe that happiness is the goal of life. Eat, drink, be merry, have a good time. Enjoy yourself, be religious, but don't go too far in religion. Have a good time. They spent more time in front of their television sets than they did reading the Bible, if they had television sets in that day. They spent more time reading the newspapers than they did the Bible. They spent more time in the theater than they did in the church. They go to a double feature at a drive-in theater and sit for four hours and think it's too short. They go to church and listen to a twenty-minute sermon and think it's too long. And to some people, because Sunday is a different day and because you do go to church, you can't wait until Monday when business starts again.
I was just reading the life of Robert Murray McCheyne, that great menace to the church of Scotland a hundred years ago. Robert Murray McCheyne, in preaching on the Sabbath day said, "Scotland will be lost if she loses her belief in keeping the Lord's day totally unto God."
We've lost all concept of God's day.
And I want to tell you people who are counting on getting to heaven: Heaven is going to be one long eternal Sabbath day. And in hell there will be no Sabbath days.
There are a lot of you who, if you got to heaven, heaven would be hell for you, because you don't like the Sabbath. And you don't like to keep the Lord's day in the Lord's way. I believe that we need to get old-fashioned in keeping the Lord's day.
And so the audience was there. The Epicureans said, "Have a good time." Everybody is saying that today. Why, in some of our dairy barns today, they even have the radio going so that the cows can dance a tune while they're giving the milk. Everybody has to be entertained. The radio has to blare, the television has to be on, a magazine has to be in one hand and chewing gum in the mouth with a few aspirins thrown in between. And we say we're having a good time. What a society of people we are. No wonder we are told about deterioration today.
I wish every one of you could have read about two weeks ago the front-page editorial in the morning newspaper in Philadelphia, about the need for return to discipline in our lives and keeping of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
The Stoics were also there in Paul's audience that day. Now the Stoics were proud and self-righteous. They were the intellectual snobs. They didn't need God. They didn't need a personal experience with Christ. They were self-righteous. And I tell you that we are in danger of being like the Pharisees of old. The most scathing denunciation that Jesus had was against the Pharisees and their self-righteousness. The sins that God hates the most are the sins of pride and self-righteousness. The Bible concludes that we are all sinners.
Paul stood up to that crowd to preach his sermon. And the first thing that Paul said was this: "There is one God." He said, "I saw an inscription coming up this mountain that said, 'To the unknown God.' Oh, I perceive that you are religious people. You believe in some sort of God, but you don't know Him." [See Acts 17:22.]
And there are many of us today that believe in God, but we really don't know Him. When we wake up in the morning, His presence does not instill our room. When we go to bed at night, our last thought is not on Him. When we go to pray, we spend so little time, and we get no answers to our prayers. And God means so little to us. We go to church because it's the traditional thing and social thing. We don't go because we really love Christ. We've never had a true experience with Him until He fills our lives.
Paul said, "I want to tell you about this God" [verse 23]. Yet, we are becoming conscious of God today. The Bible tells us that God is creator and preserver of the universe [see Genesis 1:1]. But the Bible says, "God is a Spirit" [John 4:24]. The Bible says God is unchanging. The Bible says that God does not change one iota. He doesn't change the batting of an eyelash. [See Malachi 3:6.] God is the same yesterday, today, and forever [see Hebrews 13:8].
We have an idea in this country that God is changed to accommodate Himself for Americans.
We have an idea that we Americans are God's chosen people, that God loves us more than any other people,
and that we are God's blessed. I tell you that God doesn't love us any more than He does the Russians. He doesn't love us any more than He does the Chinese. He doesn't love us any more than He does the Africans. God doesn't love us any more than any other people. There is no changing with God, and there is no partiality with God.
The Bible says God is righteous [see Psalm 145:17]. And there are a lot of you who can't understand the Old Testament when you read it. You know why? Because the Old Testament is teaching one thing: The Old Testament is teaching the holiness and the righteousness of God. You'll never understand it until you understand that God was teaching that He is a holy God. And no sin can come into God's presence because He's holy [see Habakkuk 1:13]. God is a holy and righteous God. And the Bible says that God will judge the world [see Acts 17:31].
We have an idea today that God is like a Santa Claus, sitting on a cloud somewhere with a harp in His hand, forgiving everybody. God is not like that at all. God is a God of judgment. He is the God of righteousness and holiness, and the Bible says here that He will not wink at sin [see Acts 17:30,31]. You think that you can get away with your lying. I'll tell you, you cannot. You think you can get away with your cheating. I tell you, you cannot. You think you can get away with your adultery, your jealousy, your sins, and the lust in your heart, and the evil thoughts that you have, and the evil moments that you have. I tell you, God says we shall be judged.
The Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23].
I am a sinner and you are a sinner. Every one of us is a sinner in God's sight.
But the Bible also tells us that God is a God of love.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life" [John 3:16].
The Bible tells us God commended His love to us and that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" [Romans 5:8].
The Bible tells us that because God is love, He created man. Why did God create us in the first place? He put us here and He created us because He is love and He wanted to have an object to love; and so He created the human race. We were perfect, and we had fellowship with God. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day. They were friends. God and man were friends. They walked together, they talked together, they planned together. But then one day something happened, because when God created you, He gave you the ability to choose between right and wrong. He gave you the ability to choose whether you would follow God and serve God, or whether you would live your own life and build your own life apart from God. When man came to that great decisive moment in his life, he turned away from God and decided that he could build his own life without God. And he broke his covenant with God; he broke his relationship with God; he sinned against God. [See Genesis 2,3.]
And that's the reason we have war today. That's the reason we have racial tension today. That's the reason we have all these problems in the world today. It is because the hearts of men are sinful. We are away from God. And that's the reason you have the problems in your personal life that you can't solve. That's the reason there are things within your own heart that you don't understand.
God, looking down from heaven one day, saw this earth in its turmoil and strife and sinfulness, saw us in our lost condition, saw us in our sins. And the Bible says that God said, "I love you. I love you. I love you. I want to save you."
But how could God? He fills all of space. He is the mighty God of creation that flung those billions of stars out into space. So God did something that astounded the universe. God became a man. That's who Jesus Christ was. He was God. And when I see Jesus making the blind to see, I see God. When I see Jesus feeding the five thousand, I see God interested in the hunger and the desires of men. When I see Jesus dying on the cross,
I see God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. I see the nails in His hands. I see the spike in His feet. I see the crown of thorns on His brow. I hear Him say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" [see Matthew 27:46]. In that terrible moment, Jesus was separated from God in a mysterious way that none of us understood. And now God said, "This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased. Believe in Him. Receive Him. And I will save you." [See Matthew 17:5.]
But Jesus didn't stay on the cross. They put Him in the tomb, and on the third day He rose again. And I do not offer you this afternoon a dead Christ. I offer you a risen Christ, a Christ that is at the right hand of God the Father, and who is some day going to come to judge the quick and the dead [see Acts 10:41,42]. I offer you a triumphant Christ who is going to win.
A lot of people say, "Do you think communism is going to win the world?" They might win it temporarily, but it will only be temporarily. Because the Bible says that Jesus Christ is going to establish His kingdom, and the church shall some day triumph. Some day those of us who know Christ shall reign with Him [see Revelation 5:10]. God within Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself [see
2 Corinthians 5:19]. But God said, "I gave my Son to die."
Now there are three things you have to do to get to heaven and have your sins forgiven; if you're to have Christ in your life, and if you're to have a new life and a transformed nature, if you're to have your sins forgiven. If you're to go to heaven, you're going to have to do three things. I've studied this Bible for twenty years, and I do not believe any man or woman will get to heaven who hasn't done these three things. I don't care who you are. You may be a Sunday school teacher, you may be a deacon, an elder, or a steward. I don't care who you are. If you haven't done these three things, I do not believe you can get to heaven.
First, you must repent of your sins.
The Scripture says in this passage, "God. . .commandeth all men every where to repent" [Acts 17:30]. That's not a command from me. I didn't say it. I want to ask you tonight, or this afternoon, have you repented? Has there been a time in your life when you repented? You might have been confirmed, you might have been baptized; and you might be born again in your heart, but you're not sure of it. You're not certain of it. You're not sure that there has ever been a moment when you really repented of your sins and renounced them. You can do it today.
"What do you mean by repentance?" I mean that you ac-
knowledge to God that you have sinned, and that you are willing to turn from your sins. Notice I said willing. You may not have the strength to turn from your sins, but by faith you are willing to turn if God will give you the strength. You say, "Billy, there are things in my life that are wrong, but I cannot give them up. I've tried. I just can't do it." If you are willing, God will give you the strength to give them up and turn from them.
Secondly, you must receive Christ by faith;
An act of receiving Christ to die for you. Now that is a definite act. It may be unconscious, or it may be conscious. It may be a quiet moment; it may be a decisive, climactic moment as it was in the life of Paul. But if you're not sure by faith you've received Christ, you'd better do it today.
There are three little men who live inside us all--our intellect, our emotions, and our will. Intellectually, thousands of you believe in Christ. I doubt if there is anyone here who doesn't believe in Christ. You believe in Him with your minds. In fact, the Bible says the devil believes. And the devil does more than you do, because he trembles when he believes the Bible [see James 2:19]. But that's not enough. You may have some emotion in your religion. You may have had an emotional experience at some time, but you never have really received Christ. You must by faith receive Him, because it is an act of your will. You say, "I will trust Him, I will follow."
You know why I ask people to come forward in our meeting to receive Christ? Because all the way through the Scriptures, I learned that God wanted people to do something as a testimonial of their faith. When Jesus healed the man with the withered arm, He could have said, "Be healed," and he would have been healed. But He didn't do it. He said, "Stretch it forth," and the man stretched it forth. Now he had tried to stretch it forth many times, but he couldn't. But at the behest of Jesus, he did stretch it forth and it was healed. [See Matthew 12:10-13.] Jesus wanted him to do something. I am asking you to come today to give your life to Christ, to do something, to receive Christ who trusts you.
The third thing you must do: You must obey Christ.
You must be willing to follow Him and serve Him from this moment on. Follow and serve Him. It means self-denial, it means cross-bearing, it means obedience. It means that you are going to burn all of your bridges behind you and follow Christ, no matter what it costs. It means you go back to your business and back to your home and live Christ, no matter what it costs. It means you are going to renew your vows to the church. It means you are going to be faithful and loyal to your church as never before. You are going to start tithing to the church.
It means you are going to start praying in your home. It means you are going to start living for Christ, no matter what the costs, from this moment on. That's what it means. And if you are not willing to do that, don't come to Jesus Christ. He will not accept you just part of the way. You must be willing to go all the way.
When Paul had finished his sermon he stopped. And when the invitation was given that day, three things took place that are going to take place here this afternoon. One, there was derision. Some of them laughed at him and mocked him [see Acts 17:32]. They didn't mock him out loud; just quietly and sighed, "Well, that's not for me."
Somebody said I had come to Charlotte to try to get everybody in the Baptist church. I heard about a fellow with a cat some time ago. He was trying to sell a little kitten. He was taking it up and down the street. And he said, "This is a Baptist kitten, a Baptist kitten for sale." And he couldn't sell it. The next day he came around, he said, "It's a Methodist kitten." The man said, "Why, these are the same kittens as yesterday. Why do you call them Methodist kittens?" "Well, today they've got their eyes open."
You may be a Baptist, a Presbyterian, or Methodist, or Episcopal, or Moravian, or a Lutheran, or a Catholic, or Jew. But if you have never really had a vital encounter with Jesus Christ, you make sure today.
Secondly, there were some who said, "We will hear again of this matter" [see verse 32]. They put it off. Governor Felix said to Paul, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" [Acts 24:25]. I want to tell you, this is a dangerous action because you may never hear anyone present the Gospel again. Some of the philosophers were never able to climb Mars Hill again.
The Bible says,
"He that hardeneth his heart, being often reproved, shall suddenly be cut off and not without remedy" [see Proverbs 29:1].
You never know. To some of you who go out on the slick highways this afternoon, this may be the last sermon you will ever hear. In every crusade we have ever conducted anywhere, there have been people who have come to the meeting in good health and never came back because they were dead in the next few hours through an accident, or a heart attack, or something else.
We never know when our moment is coming. Maybe God spoke to you this afternoon, and your heart is in danger of being hardened. Some of you are older people; some of you are younger people. The Bible says once you hear the Gospel and do nothing about it, you are in danger of being hardening your heart.
But, last of all, there were some that made a decision [see Acts 17:34]. They received Christ and went their way rejoicing. I am going to ask you today to receive Him. I am not asking you this afternoon to join some special church. I'm asking you today to give your life to Christ.
You may be a member of a choir. I don't know who you are or what you are, but you want to give your life to Christ on this opening Sunday afternoon. I'm going to ask you to do a hard thing, because coming to Christ is not easy. So many people have made it too easy. Jesus went to the cross and died in your place. Certainly, you can come a few steps from where you are sitting and stand here, quietly and reverently, and with bowed head. And say, "I need God; I need Christ. I want to be forgiven of my sins. I want a new life, and I want to start a new direction today."
You may be a rich man;
you may be a poor man.
You may be a man of great intellectual capacities,
and you have to come by faith.
Because you'll never understand it all intellectually.
If you want to…… come to the cross and give your life to Christ,
I'm going to ask you to come. If you are with friends and relatives, they'll wait on you. There's plenty of time and I'm going to ask not a person to leave the Coliseum.
By Billy Graham