SEPT .,1958,Billy Graham lays it all out…

It is a transcript of the sermon which  Billy Graham preached at the Charlotte Crusade. September 21 –  1958

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

One Response to “SEPT .,1958,Billy Graham lays it all out…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: