Billy Graham Center

10/8/58 - "The Unpardonable Sin"

Republished with permission from The Charlotte Observer. Copyright owned by The Charlotte Observer.

What follows is a transcript of the newspaper page above, which appeared on page 10-C of the October 9, 1958 issue of The Charlotte Observer (Thursday). It is a transcript of the sermon which Rev. Billy Graham had preached at the Charlotte Crusade the day before, the sixteenth sermon of the crusade. Attendance on October 8 was 12,000 and there were 375 inquirers. To read the actual newspaper page, click on any of the four quarters of the page above.

In the transcript that follows, any comments by the transcriber are in brackets []. Any asides by Rev. Graham are in parentheses (). The sermon title did not appear in the paper but is from material supplied by the BGEA. Only the actual sermon is transcribed below. Any introductory or concluding material included in the newspaper text is omitted.

The Unpardonable Sin

Now tonight I want you to turn with me to Acts, the lst chapter. The 1st chapter of the book of Acts and the 8th verse. How many have your Bibles? Lift them up. Fine! We are going to study the Bible tonight. We want to really look at the Scripture tonight. The 1st chapter of the book of Acts, the 8th verse:

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

There we have a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ talking to His disciples in those last moments before He is taken out of their sight in that glorious ascension back to God the Father, to take His position as an intercessor and as a great high priest. In this passage, He refers to the Holy Ghost. Those of you who have the King James Version, it is Holy Ghost. If you have the Revised Standard Version, it is Holy Spirit. It should be translated Holy Spirit because "ghost" is the old English word for "spirit."

I want to speak tonight on the Holy Spirit. I want to dwell especially on that sin which we call the unpardonable sin. Is there a sin that you can commit which God will not forgive? Is there a sin that you can commit for which there is no repentance and no forgiveness and no hope?

When you come to the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi, that is the age of God the Father. When you come to the gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--that is the age of God the Son. When you come to that period from the Acts of the apostles on to the present day, it is the age of God the Holy Spirit. Here we find the manifestation of the Trinity. God is one, and yet He is three--the great three in one.

You say, "Well, Billy, I do not understand that. Explain it to us." I cannot explain it to you because I do not understand it either. Neither does anyone else. None of us can understand the Trinity. Yet we do know that there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There are three persons in the Godhead.

I played golf today with Bishop Harmon of the Methodist church, and Dr. Jack Honeycutt[?], pastor of Hawthorne Lane Methodist--and modesty forbids me announcing who won the game. I win so seldom that when I do, I have to announce it.

Now the bishop was very interested in theology, and we had a theological study all the way around. Just before he would go to hit the ball, I would ask him another question. He would get his mind on it, and he could not hit the ball. I've worked that idea on Grady Wilson for a number of years, and it always works! Golf is a game of concentration.

Anyway, the bishop told me the most wonderful illustration today that I think I have ever heard on the Trinity. He said that he read one of the early church fathers who used this story, or this little illustration. He said it is like a spring. There is the stream, and there is the fountain. And he said all three are flowing--the spring, the stream, and the fountain. But he said it is all the same water. We look at God--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

We today in the church are not emphasizing the ministry and the work of the Holy Spirit enough. I believe that it is one of the greatest neglects in the church. I believe that the person and the work of the Holy Spirit ought to be taught and to be preached on today. I will give you the reason in a moment.

The apostle Paul said, "Now concerning matters pertaining to the Spirit, I would not have you ignorant" [see 1 Corinthians 12:1]. I believe it is impossible to understand the Bible or Christian living, the structure of the church, without understanding something of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

The Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person. He is not an agent; He is not an influence. He is God, and we are never to refer to the Holy Spirit as "it." I have heard many people refer to the Holy Spirit as "it." That is not scriptural; that is not correct, and it is a sin against the Holy Spirit. He is a person. He is just as much a person as God the Father, and just as much a person as God the Son.

Suppose I came home with you, and you showed me your little boy. And you related to me all his achievements in school--his gifts, and his abilities. And I said after your description of him, "Why, it certainly seems to be very clever." How would you feel if I called your boy "it"?

We do not call the Holy Spirit "it." He is not something. He is someone; He is a person. And the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. You cannot get away from the Holy Spirit. He sees all the hidden things. There is no darkness dark enough to keep the Holy Spirit from penetrating. There is no sin that you can commit but that the Holy Spirit sees. There is no motive in the darkest recesses of your soul but what the Holy Spirit knows. You might even go to hell; He is there. You might even ascend up in the skies, but He is there. He is everywhere.

Then the Bible teaches He is omniscient. That means all-knowing. First Corinthians 2:10 and 11, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." He is all-knowing. He knows the good things in your life. He knows the bad things in your life. He sees them, He knows them, He weighs them, He tries them.

He evaluates all the motives and thoughts and intents of your heart. In the book of Revelation, He is spoken of as having seven eyes [see 5:6], which is symbolic, indicating that nothing is hidden from His searching glance and His perfect knowledge.

The Bible also teaches that the Spirit is holy. He is referred to as holy over a hundred times. "Be ye holy, even as I am holy" is God's command [see Leviticus 19:2]. And it is the Holy Spirit who alone can impart divine holiness to us. There is no goodness, there is no holiness, there is no righteousness in us unless it be given us by the Holy Spirit. The Bible also teaches that where the Spirit is, there is liberty, there is freedom, there is power. [See Romans 8:1-15.]

The Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit has a work to do. He has been assigned by the Trinity a specialized work to do.

First, the Bible teaches that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts men of sin. Jesus said in John 16:8, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." You cannot come to Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved, you cannot be redeemed, you cannot get to heaven unless the Holy Spirit convinces you that you are a sinner. When the Gospel is preached, as I am preaching tonight, the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts. He speaks to you. He may make you feel uncomfortable.

I had a man by the name of Stuart Hamblen--a songwriter, a great giant of a fellow who weighs 230 pounds, all bone and muscle, the greatest bear hunter in California. He is a real cowboy, not a drugstore cowboy. He wrote that song a few months ago entitled "This Ole House." Remember that one? He has written many of the great popular songs.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes you squirm. It is the Holy Spirit who makes you feel terrible. He it is who makes you feel like a sinner. It is the Holy Spirit who makes you doubt--not to doubt your salvation, if you're saved, but to make you doubt if you really don't know Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who brings this doubt into our life, and we had better thank God for it. So if you are uncomfortable, if you do feel like a sinner, you had better thank God because that shows the Spirit of God is operating. And you had better come to Christ while He is speaking.

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives new life. The Holy Spirit will convict you. He will reprove you. He will use you. He will create that feeling within you that you ought to come. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. He brings you here. You must stand in all sincerity at the foot of the cross to repent of your sins and to receive Christ as your Savior. What happens? In that glorious moment, the Holy Spirit imparts to you God's own nature.

Now that is the reason I never worry about a person "holding out." Newspaper people are always asking me, and a lot of people ask the question--they have a right to--"Do the people last who come forward?" Those that have been born again of the Holy Spirit do last, because God gives them a new nature. They receive God's own life. You see, in your present position, the Bible says that sin has come between you and God, and you are cut off from God's life just like this leaf is cut off from that plant. All right, this leaf looks perfect. It has life now, but it has been cut off from the source of life. You come back tomorrow afternoon and it will be wilted; and you will come back two or three days from now and it will be dry and dead, though it looks perfect now.

You look perfect now. You look fine now, but you are separated from God. You are cut off from life. Sin has cut the connection between you and God. And that is the reason why many of you are miserable, frustrated, confused, filled with tension, fear, uncertainty. That is the reason why there is no happiness, no joy in your life--because you are cut off from God. Sin has cut the cord between you and God. You are separated from God, and the Bible says you are dead [see Ephesians 2:1]. Your soul is dead towards God.

The moment the Holy Spirit speaks to your dead soul, you hear His voice; but God has to help you to respond because you have no life within you to respond on your own. God helps you to respond, and God will help you even when you walk down the aisle to give your life to Christ. You take that first step, and God will help you to take that other step. When you do by faith receive Christ, immediately your life is grafted into God's own nature. You become a partaker of God's divine life; and the sap, the life of God, begins to flow through you. In the Bible that is called eternal life, God's own life flowing through you. That is the reason when your body dies, you really don't die. Your soul, your spirit, the real you, your personality, lives on. I am going to live as long as God lives, because I am a partaker of God's life. Now the person who does this work is the Holy Spirit. He is the one who performs that wonderful miracle.

The Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" [1 Corinthians 3:16]. Let us say, after you have come to Christ--you have been made a partaker of God's life; God lives in you--all right, the Holy Spirit immediately takes up residence in your heart. He lives there. So that tomorrow you go out to face the temptations, the devil, the old gang who are going to laugh--some of them. They are going to doubt. They are going to be skeptical of this change in your life, of this new relationship in your life, or that living inside of you is the Holy Spirit. He gives you the power, He gives you strength, He gives you courage. He gives you boldness to live the Christian life. You do not live the Christian life by yourself. If you are trying to live the Christian life without depending on the Holy Spirit, I can tell you right now that you are a miserable flop. You are a failure; you are a wash-out. The Holy Spirit lives in you.

You say, "But, Billy, I do not see Him." Take Him by faith. He lives in you. And it is the Holy Spirit who produces the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, longsuffering, meekness. These are the fruit of the Spirit. [See Galatians 5:22,23.] You cannot love that old cantankerous husband of yours except by the Holy Spirit. You say, "Well, Billy, I am married and my love is dead. We're still living together, but we do not love each other." You give your life to Jesus Christ, and He will give you a depth to your love and a new dimension to your love that you never knew existed before. You will love him far more than on the day you went to the marriage altar. I have seen it happen a thousand times.

As regards joy, well, you say, "I don't have any joy; I just don't have any." Give your life to Christ. Let the Holy Spirit produce the fruit of joy in your life.

Peace. Why, let all the atomic bombs in all the stockpiles fall. Let the world tumble around you. Thank God, in the midst of it all there is quiet, inward peace.

The pope is nearing death tonight, holding a crucifix and a rosary. He will probably go down in history as one of the greatest of popes. Now, when you come to that moment of death, as surely you will, God will give you peace, peace that the world does not know anything about. You will not go out into eternity screaming.

When bereavement strikes in your home, as it surely will, your father or your mother will be cut down. Or your wife or your husband will be taken suddenly. Immediately you are shattered, but you don't start screaming hysterically. There is an inward peace.

There may be tears, but through the tears there will be peace and joy. You could not face these things in your life alone, but now you are not alone for the Holy Spirit lives inside. Yes, He is the Holy Spirit.

There is another thing about the Holy Spirit which I want you to recognize. The Holy Spirit magnifies, glorifies, and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit came to exalt Christ, to look at Christ, to point to Christ, to point to the Christ who died for our sins on the cross. [See John 16:13,14.] He is the Christ who shed His blood for our sins, the Christ who rose again for our justifi-

cation, the Christ who is coming back again. Yes, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible also teaches that this wonderful person--this sensitive person, this glorious person, this magnificent person, this third person of the Trinity--can be sinned against. The Bible says you can sin against the Holy Spirit. [See Matthew 12:31,32.] And the most grievous and tragic sins that men can commit are the sins that you commit against the Holy Spirit. There are hundreds here tonight who are guilty of sins against the Holy Spirit.

First, the Bible teaches you can anger the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, "How oft did they [rebel] . . . and grieve him in the desert!" [Psalm 78:40]. The translation of the Septuagint reads, "They disobeyed and made angry the Spirit of God." First Samuel 11:6 says, "The Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly." The Holy Spirit made possible the anger that Saul manifested against unrighteousness. Isaiah 63:10, "They rebelled, and [grieved] his Holy Spirit: [and] he turned [and became] their enemy, and . . . fought against them." The word "grieve" here means to make angry. I would urge every one of you to be very careful lest you arouse the wrath of the Spirit.

How do we arouse the wrath of the Spirit? By disobeying Him. By jealousy we grieve the Holy Spirit. We make Him angry by pride, egotism, selfishness, neglect of doing the things we know we ought to do, factions in the church, striving in the church, bickering in the church, slander--all of these things grieve the Holy Spirit. And tonight if you have jealousy in your heart against someone else, you are grieving the Holy Spirit. If you have pride instead of humility, you are grieving the Spirit. [See Ephesians 4:30-32.]

There are all types of pride. There is intellectual pride. A man may have intellectual capacity, and might have had years of training. He becomes an intellectual snob. I met a man not long ago--I will not call his name, but he is in this state. I consider him to be an intellectual snob. He is always talking about how much he knows. I have found that a true intellectual does not talk about how much he knows. He is courteous. He is gracious. He is sympathetic. He is understanding. He comes down to the level of some of us poor people who do not have much learning.

We can have pride of family that is wrong, looking down our noses at everybody else. Pride will keep more people out of the kingdom of heaven than any other sin.

We can have racial pride. We can think we are better than any other race, that we are God's pets. Well, I want to tell you that there is no such thing as a pet in God's sight. [See Acts 10:34.]

We can have national pride. We think we Americans are God's chosen people. I want to tell you we are not. We are not any more chosen of God than the Russians or the Chinese. The president of the United Nations, Mr. Malik, recently said--and was quoted in one of our magazines--"If I judged you entirely on the basis of your soldiers, and the things I see in America, and your movies, and your television, and all the rest, I would be impressed more by the Russians."

"But," he said, "you Americans have something to give to the world, and you are not giving it to the world. You have a spiritual heritage. You have the moral strength. You have a belief in God, and that is the thing you ought to be emphasizing." That came to us from the president of the United Nations.

Then the Bible says that the Holy Spirit can be lied against. Acts 5:4, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." You talk about Ananias and Sapphira, and they did not utter a lie; they acted a lie. They pretended to be what they were not.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit can be tempted. "How is it," says Acts 5:9, "that [you] have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" We tempt God many times by the way we live, and the way we put off coming to Christ.

Somebody said the other day that if you want to quit smoking, carry wet matches. That will help you to quit. Avoid the things that you want to quit. Just avoid them; leave them alone. We tempt God by putting ourselves in the way of sin. We tempt God when we come to a meeting like this, and then keep putting off coming to Christ.

One day I heard about an old eagle that had landed on an iceberg floating down Niagara River. While he was floating along on Niagara River, he was eating the carcass of a sheep. Somebody yelled, "Old eagle, watch out! You are going to go over the falls. You are going to be killed." The old eagle put his head proudly up into the air as though to say, "These great wings of mine have carried me over mountains in the past." So he kept just floating along. Finally, at the last moment, just as the iceberg was going over, the old eagle, gorging himself, filling himself, looked at his great wings. But his feet had become frozen into the ice, and he could not leap. He went screaming over the falls to his death.

There are some of you who are gorging yourselves. You say, "Well, I want to go to heaven. I want to give my life to God. But I want to have a good time, just a little bit more of the world." You have got your plans laid; and you are filling yourself, just all for self. One of these days you are going to wake up and realize that it is too late. You will scream for repentance, but you have tempted God too long.

If you want to read that, turn over to Proverbs, the lst chapter; and I am going to read it to you, what God says right there. The lst chapter of Proverbs--here is what it says--the 24th verse, "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh" [verses 24-26]. God says, "There will come a day when you will seek me, but you will not find me. There will come a day when you will call on me, but I will not answer" [see verse 28]. You tempted God too long.

Then, fourthly, the Bible says the Holy Spirit can be resisted. Acts 7:51, "Ye do always resist the Holy [Spirit]: as your fathers did."

I tell you, it is a solemn thing to resist the Holy Spirit. You detect His voice tonight, and yet you deliberately refuse or you deliberately put off. In other words, when the Holy Spirit seeks to direct your mind to your need of Christ, you may stiffen your neck, harden your heart, and reject or neglect all the urgings of the Spirit of God, refusing to let the Spirit enable you to believe on Christ as Savior. That is a dangerous sin. And probably the most dangerous sin a man can commit is to resist the wooing of the Holy Spirit. God says"You have become a taster of the Holy Spirit" [see Hebrews 6:4-6].

Down in Brazil they have what they call coffee tasters. There are small cups, and there are coffee tasters who taste it and spit it out. Others drink coffee because they like it, and it is good for them. These coffee tasters never swallow it because of the effect it will have on their bodies.

So there are men who have tasted of salvation but have never swallowed. They have tasted of the Holy Spirit, they have come to a meeting like this, they have gone to church. They have tasted; they have sampled. But they have not really committed themselves to Christ and have not really had an encounter with the living God. The Bible says, "If they continue, they become guilty of crucifying the Son of God afresh" [see Hebrews 6:6], and "there remaineth no more sacrifice of sin for them" [see 10:26].

Did you know that it is a terrible sin against God to have Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, to shed His blood for our sins, and for you to treat it lightly? God says you will have to come to the foot of that cross if you are ever to get to heaven. You have got to come in humility; you have got to come in repentance.

How we grieve the Holy Spirit, how we resist the Holy Spirit when we say to God, "No, God, I am not going to come your way. I am not going to come by the way of the blood. I do not like blood. I am not going to come your way. I am going to go my way. I've got my own road to heaven, and my own road is this way. I'm going to try and live as good a life as I can. I'm going to give away as much money as I can. I'm going to work as hard as I can for good causes. And I believe somehow, God, you're going to get me to heaven." This is resisting the Spirit of God. You are going your own way, living your own life, doing it your way.

That is exactly what happened to Cain. Cain and Abel came to God. And Abel said, "I am coming God's way." And he came by the way of the cross, by the way of sacrifice. But Cain said, "No, I am not going to come that way." And he brought his fruits and vegetables. He brought a wonderful sacrifice to God, but it was not God's way. It was not by way of obedience to the cross, so Cain was rejected. Cain was lost because he did not come God's way. He resisted the Holy Spirit. He resisted God's way. [See Genesis 4:3-5.]

In New York City when we were there, we had nearly three thousand students from New York University and Columbia University to come down those aisles and give their lives to Christ. We had many faculty members, many people with Ph.D.s. There were Ph.D.s in science and psychology and other fields. They came and stood side by side with people who came from the laboring people of the garment district. You have all got to come the same way. It is through the same door, through Jesus Christ [see John 10:9]. I have seen the governors of two states get off the platform and make their way down and stand with the people coming to Jesus Christ. One afternoon, in one city, I saw a United States senator get up out of his seat and come and stand with the people. He said, "I would rather know Jesus Christ than to be senator, if that is what it costs."

It may cost you something. It will cost you something. You will have to pay the price. The biggest price you will have to pay is humility. When you are willing to renounce everything and say, "I want God more than I want my business; I want God more than I want my social standing; I want God more than I want friendship; I want God more than anything, and I am coming to Jesus Christ"--when you do that, then God receives you.

Then, lastly, you can blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto [them]" [Matthew 12:31].

What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? I believe that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when we reject the Spirit of God. We reject Christ over a period of time until our hearts become so hardened that we no longer know good from evil. The Bible says that "God gave them [up] to a reprobate mind" [Romans 1:28]. Three times in Romans, the 1st chapter, Paul says that God gave them up [see verses 24,26,28]. God said concerning Ephraim, "Ephraim is joined to [his] idols: let him alone" [Hosea 4:17].

Oh, you will live out your life. You will live, maybe a successful life, for a short time. But may God have mercy upon the men that God has left alone. Your heart becomes so hard and it becomes so callous--until you no longer know the difference between good and evil. You begin to ascribe to the devil even the works of God.

So the unpardonable sin is not a specific sin. The unpardonable sin is an attitude of the heart. It is an attitude of resistance and rejection of Christ. It is a final rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

We have a man in South Carolina--Tom McMahan[?] is here tonight--who is the religious editor of the Columbia State [major newspaper in South Carolina]. I do not know whether he remembers this incident or not. But Cliff Barrows and I were in a hotel room in Florence, South Carolina--or Sumter, South Carolina--eight years ago. A leading lawyer of that city came in to see me. He said, "Billy, I've got to see you." He came in and shook my hand and said, "Mr. Graham, I want to give my life to Jesus Christ. I want to be converted, but I can't." He was seventy years of age. I said, "Why, sir, you certainly can." And I took out the Bible, and I showed him every Scripture. He said, "No, it is no use. When I go through that door, you will see a man going to hell." He said, "I have rejected God for sixty years." He said, "I'm lost, and there's no hope." That man felt that he had gone too far.

But I want to tell you this, for fear that some of you may think you have gone too far. The very fact that you are here tonight indicates that you have not. The very fact that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you indicates that He has given you another chance, another moment, another hour to come to Christ.

If I were you, I would run down here. You could not drag me out of this place if I did not know Jesus Christ. I would settle this thing tonight. I would make sure that I was ready to meet God. I would be certain that I am saved. I would be sure that my sins were forgiven. I would know that I had had an encounter with Christ. I would make certain of it. I would go out of here determined that from this moment on I am going to live a life to glorify God. I am going to put His interests first. I am going to get into the church with everything I have got. I am going to ask you to do just that right now.

In the evangelistic crusade that I was converted in, there was a man. He had a business, and he cursed the crusade continually. He said, "I don't believe in it. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in Christ." He came to the meeting one night out of curiosity, and went out and cursed on the outside. On Saturday he was shaving. And his wife called him and said, "Honey, come in here." He went in, and the little baby was sick. They took the little baby to the hospital, and in twenty-four hours the baby was dead. God spoke to that man, and he rejected God. The next Saturday morning, he was shaving. His wife called to him and said, "Honey, I don't feel very well." To make a long story short, within twenty-four hours his wife had died. The next Saturday morning this man keeled over and died. I am not going to try to explain that. I only know it happened to someone I knew.

I know this, however, that God says, "He that hardeneth his neck, being often reproved, shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy" [see Proverbs 29:1]. It is a dangerous thing to hear the Gospel--it is a dangerous thing to be called by God--and then refuse.

I am going to ask you tonight to yield to Christ, and come and give your life to Him. And say tonight, "I don't care what the cost is, I am coming to Jesus." I want to tell you, this is the most crucial and the most important sermon that I have preached yet. And I am preaching from the bottom of my heart. I would not come to Charlotte and tell my friends and neighbors something that I did not believe with all my heart.

I do not understand the serious workings of the Holy Spirit. I only know that it is a dangerous thing to resist Him. And He has spoken to many of you when you know that you need Christ. I am going to ask you by the hundreds to get up out of your seat right now and come and quietly stand right here in front. And say by coming that you are giving yur life to Christ.

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