"Our Heavenly Father, we do not know how to pray as we would like. We cannot express openly the feeling of our heart, but we pray with all the earnestness and sincerity and compassion of our souls tonight. that Thou wilt speak to every mind and every heart in this place tonight. We pray that every child of God shall go from this place edified, strengthened, challenged, inspired and built up in the most holy faith. We pray that every unsaved shall come under such deep, pungent, mighty-God-thinking conviction that he or she will come to know the Savior before it could be and may be everlastingly and eternally too late. We pray now, dear God, in these next few moments that in what man shall say, he shall not spoil the beautiful flowers and lilies of Thine own precious inspired Word by the dirty, vicious low mean paint of man's word. May every word that is spoken come from Thy heart of love, and find lodging in these needy hearts of ours, to the glory and the 'honor and the praise of the , :Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, in whose name and for whose sake we most earnestly pray, Amen."
We deeply regret that Mr. Graham could not be with us tonight. After very careful consideration and much prayer he chose to go to the Foreign Mission Board Meeting at Richmond, Virginia, tonight to give a charge and challenge to these scores of young people, missionary volunteers, who shall be leaving to go to the far flung mission fronts of the earth. I am of the persuasion that God led him in that decision. I know you will be praying for him even now as he is speaking to those missionary volunteers. If they can go out to these needy mission fields around the world, On fire, for God, with a heart of name for evangelism and for Christ, then who knows, perhaps God has sent him there just for tonight. I know you will be remembering him in prayer.
I do not know of anything that is any more difficult than listening to a substitute or a disappointing speaker, unless it be the chore of having to speak to a disappointed audience.
I remember hearing some time ago of one speaker who was speaking and his voice didn't carry so well. A man kept jumping up in the back of the auditorium and he said, "Louder please, louder." Finally in desperation a man seated down near the front stood up and said, "Sir, can you not hear the speaker?" To which the man in the rear replied, "No, I can't hear him : at all." The man down front said, "Well sit down and thank God!"
I would like to urge you to be much in prayer for the remaining services of this crusade. If there is anything that we would like to emphasize, above many other things, it is the ministry of intercession on the part of God's people. I have been asked many times what I consider to be the secret of the success of these Billy Graham Crusades. Th e great crowds! The many persons who have made decisions for Jesus Christ! I have always replied with one answer, for there is but one answer - I believe it is the prayers of God's people across America and around the world. Thousands of prayers this very night are going up to the throne of God on behalf of the Charlotte crusade. Down in the Belgian Congo they are having all night prayer meetings, praying for this Crusade. Behind the Iron Curtain, Christians are praying for the Charlotte Crusade. They may not realize where Charlotte, N.C. is located, but they are praying for this crusade. More than a thousand prayer meetings out in Korea have been organized to pray for this Charlotte Crusade. So God hears and answers prayer.
Some of you here tonight have unsaved loved ones, members of your own immediate family perhaps. I want to challenge you In Christ's name to keep on praying for them. One of these days or one these nights in the providence of God they will come to Christ. God will hear and answer your prayers.
Will you turn quickly to the twelfth chapter of John and the twentieth verse: "And there were certain Greeks among them, that came up to worship at the feast. The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew; and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."
My text tonight is the portion of Scripture in the twenty-first verse that says: "Sir, we would see Jesus." Ladies and Gentlemen and especially young people tonight I want you to see Jesus Christ as you have never seen Him before. I want you to see Jesus Christ as He went around everlastingly doing good. He unsealed dumb lips. He .unstopped deaf ears. He opened blind eyes. He :mended broken hearts. He gave sick men health and dead men life. He caused lame men to walk and dirty men to be clean. Everything Jesus Christ ever did. He did it out of a heart of love and mercy and compassion and grace. Yet the very people that He loved are those who refused Him and those who turned Him down and those who nailed Him to a cross. I want you to see Jesus as He had just visited in the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus of Bethany. The next day on the way into the city of Jerusalem, great crowds gathered along the wayside and spread the palm leaves and shouted, ."Hosannah to the son of David. Hosannah 0 the King of Israel" Then these Greeks came to Philip and said, ."We want to see this man about whom the great crowds have been shouting. We want to see Jesus. We want to see this Jesus who has been teaching these great truths, who has been uttering these great problems, who has been performing these great miracles. We want to see this Jesus." I want you to see something tonight about this Jesus.
I want you to see something about his ancestral and family background. You know here in America there are a lot of families who like to trace their ancestral background over a period of perhaps several hundred years to the time when their Pilgrim forefathers came to these shores on the Mayflower.
For several years I lived down in Charleston, South Carolina, and, of course, I met some of the members of the o1d aristocracy of South Carolina and I listened to them bragging about their ancestral background. Many of them went all the way back to the Mayflower. In fact, I remember b ac k sometime ago when Mr, Graham and I were out in Korea, I met a young man, He was from Charleston, South Carolina, and I said,"Son, you must get awfully homesick for Charleston, dear old Charleston, do you not? They always told me if you got one good drink of that good creek water, you would never get over it." , "Well," he said, "Grady, as a matter of fact, I don't. You know they do the same thing out here as we did back in Charleston." I said "What's that?" He said, "They eat rice all day long and worship their ancestors. That's exactly what we did back home in Charleston"
Well, there are people who like to trace their ancestral background, But it does not make any difference what kind of family background you might have had, for the Bible teaches you still are in need of salvation, You still need a Savior. It has been most interesting during this crusade for Billy Graham and myself to come home and visit with friends and members of our own family, relatives that we have not seen in a long, long while. I remember back in those childhood days, even the early days of our Christian experience when I was invited to a little mission just a few miles out of the city. At that time it was just a little mission; it has since become a church. I had a date with a little telephone operator on that Sunday afternoon and I wanted to impress her very much with my sermon. I didn't think so much about pleasing the Lord; but I wanted to impress that young lady. So I stayed up all Saturday night and got down [Charles] Spurgeon and [T. DeWitt] Talmadge and [Dwight L.] Moody and all the rest of the great preachers. So I built myself a great sermon. I thought. Well, on Sunday afternoon I said, "Well, I'm making an impression, I believe." I felt like I was becoming very eloquent. I was skimming cream off the Milky Way. She sat there smiling and the people in that little mission seemed to be impressed. Then after the benediction I went to the back of the little mission. I was standing there shaking hands with these folks as they were leaving. when suddenly a very old stringy haired woman came up to me with a dress that looked like she had been running through a briar patch, and snuff was running down both sides of her face. She came up to me and said, "Well, Grady, let me ask you something. Is Walter Wilson your papa?" I said, "Yes, ma'am, Walter Wilson is my father." She said, "Is Smith Wilson your grandpapa." I said, "Yes ma'am, Smith Wilson is my grandfather." She said, "You mean old Smith Wilson who lived here?"; I said, "Yes ma'am Smith Wilson who lived here is my grandfather." She said, "Lord have mercy; me and you is first cousins." Well you can imagine about how long it took for me to get out of that little mission and get in my car and head for home.
But ladies and gentlemen, Jesus Christ on His human side alone could trace his ancestry back over nearly 2,000 years to the time of his father Abraham. Of course, on His divine side he was co-existent with God the Father. He was preexistent before creation. He was co-existent with God the Father.
In other words, .Jesus Christ lived way back yonder in dateless days when ages were the drift of foam on the mighty sea of time. In John the eighth chapter, the fifty-eighth verse Jesus Christ speaking says, "Verily, verily I say unto you before Abraham was I am." He is the great eternal. Yet he became a man; and by a strange, and supernatural way. That way was the virgin birth. Let me tell you tonight it makes a great deal of difference what you and I believe concerning the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
A man down in South Carolina said to me sometime ago. He said, "Grady Wilson, you are all right. It doesn't make any difference what a man believes. The all important thing is how a man lives." But I want to tell you tonight that this Holy Book teaches how you live is governed by how you believe. You cannot live until you have been born. You cannot live a spiritual life until you have had a spiritual birth and your spiritual birth Is determined by what you believe eoncernlng Jesus Christ, the son of God.
Have you believed in Christ as your personal Savior! If riot, then you haven't been born again. If you have looked upon Jesus Christ merely as a good man, as a great teacher thaf is not enough. If you have looked upon Him as a good influence on history, this not enough. You must receive and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of . God. It makes a difference what you believe.
I want you to see Jesus Christ tonight in His birth as the ruler of the vast universal worlds, planets, sun and stars. We are told that "He came unto His own; His own received Him not;" [John 1:11] His own mocked Him and beat Him. slapped Him, spat in His face and plucked out His beard. But though His own did not receive Him, the angel of God leaped over the bottoms of Heaven came down through uncrowded skies to herald the good news, the glad tidings concerning His humble birth. To the few shepherds w h o were keeping watch over their flocks by night on the green hills of Bethlehem the angel said, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be unto all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. This shall be a sign unto you. You shall find this babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger . And suddenly there .was a whole multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest on earth peace and goodwill toward men.' " [Luke 2: 10-13] Then God placed the guiding star in the sky and the wise men from the Orient came and followed that star to the place where the young Christ child lay. When they found Him, they fell down and worshiped Him and presented Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. [Matthew 2:1-12]
I want you to see Him in His youth. As a 12-year-old boy he stood in the midst of Jewish doctors and revealed Himself to them as the very wisdom of God Incarnate. [Luke 2:46-47] He was enthusiastic about His Heavenly Father's business.
Some of the fondest memories I have of those early days in Charlotte with Billy Graham was the fact that he was so enthusiastic about Christ. There were times when he was timid and shy and bashful and backward, but he was on fire for God and in love with Jesus Christ. In spite of some of that timidity and shyness he wanted the world to know he had fallen in love with Jesus Christ. I remember how we left the city of Charlotte going down to Lancaster and all the way over to Myrtle Beach. We were selling Fuller Brushes. Into every home he went not primarily to sell Fuller Brushes, but to tell them about Christ, to tell them that in his heart he had fallen in love with the Savior. Selling brushes was a sort of side line. The main thing was his enthusiasm for Christ and letting people know he had been born again. There were times however when some of that enthusiasm got a little the best of him. I remember we were over here, not too far from this Coliseum in a service station w h e n the man was changing a tire on Billy's father's car. He missed the tire, hit his thumb and he took God's name in vain, Billy said, "You stop that." The man grabbed the tire tool and raising it, he said, "This is a free country and I can say what I please." Then Billy said, "I'm a Christian, I love Jesus Christ and you have taken my Savior's name in vain." But still the man raised the tire tool a little higher and he was about ready to come down when Billy Graham said, "My dad does all his dairy truck business here and if you don't put that thing down, I'll tell my dad to take his trucks to another service station." He used the better part of wisdom I think on that occasion. Well, that was some of the experiences of the enthusiasm of Billy Graham back in those early days.
I want you to see Jesus Christ tonight in His. incarnation. Sometime ago when Billy and I were students at Wheaton College in Wheaton. Illinois, we were discussing one day with some of our fellow students the cardinal doctrines of the word of God, the great doctrines upon which our Christian faith has been built. Suddenly it occurred to me that upon the great doctrine of the divinity of Christ, the deity of the Son of God depended on the authenticity and the trustworthiness of this Bible In Its entirety. I suddenly realized that it Jesus Christ were not the Son of God, that He himself claimed to be, that this book claimed Him to be, He was not worthy of the smallest amount of my time and of the smallest degree of my consideration. But, ladies and gentlemen, He was the Son of God, He is the Son of God. He forever more shall be the Son of God. He can never in time return to be anything or anyone else. Jesus Christ is God's Son who came to save lost sinners from their sins.
You say, "Grady, what do you mean by that word, "incarnation?" It is a very simple word, indeed. It simply means, "in the flesh." We get our English word "Carnival" from the same Greek origin, "Carnis", in the flesh. When we talk about the , Incarnation we mean the great eternal God who built the universe. The God who piled the mountains up, scooped out.. the valleys and filled the seas. The God who picked a little handful of dust and breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life and caused man to become a living soul. The God of Creation became a man. He didn't cease to be God, He became the God man. As I go through the Gospels and find here those things that bear unmistakable testimony to the truth of the deity of Jesus Christ and at the same time His perfect humanity, I am thrilled beyond measure. He went to a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee [John 2: 1-12]. He mingled with the guests. He rejoiced with those who rejoiced, He wept with those who wept. Now to my mind His presence at that feast of joy shows His perfect humanity and yet on that occasion we are told He changed the water into wine. He displayed His omnipotence and therefore manufactured His glory as the glory of God. He was a man but He was a God man. As a tired and thirsty traveler. He sat down on the curbing of Jacob's well in Samaria, a perfect picture of humanity. Tired and thirsty, He wanted a drink of water, but a few moments later He began to reveal His omniscience, His knowledge of all things, by telling the Samaritan woman the secret sins she had hidden way down deep in her heart. [John 4:1-41] He was God. He was a God man, Wearied by the many toils and labors of a busy day, He fell asleep in the rear of the boat. A great storm arose. His disciples came to Him and said, "Master, we perish, do you not care." [Mark 4:35-41]
Of course He cared. He cares about every problem you face in your daily life. I don't know what your problem may be tonight, but Jesus Christ cares. I do not know what storms may be in your life tonight, but Jesus Christ cares. It may be a marital storm, It may be a family problem. It may be a financial problem. It may be a physical problem you cannot share with your nearest and dearest friend, but I want to tell you tonight Jesus. Christ cares. Jesus Christ is concerned and Jesus Christ has an answer. Jesus Christ arose and rebuked the winds and waves and said, "Peace be unto thee". And those mighty storm swept waves began to stagger like drunken men until all about that ship was a perfect calm. Those men on board that ship recognized the fact that Jesus Christ was more than just a good man, more than just another seaman aboard, more than just a mere passenger. They said, "He must be the Son of God. Even the winds and the waves obey His command."
As he approached the grave of Lazarus we are told Jesus wept.[John 11:35] Can you not see in your imagination the Son of God weeping by the grave of friend. But that's not the end of the story.
There are some people who decry evangelistic crusades like this one because they say they appeal to the emotional side of man. The same crowd that has so much to say against evangelism and against the church and against revivals because they appeal to the emotional side of man will go to a football game and throw their hats up in the air, and cheer, and shout and holler until their voices are gone.
Jesus Christ was emotional. He wept at the grave of a friend. Shortly after we see Him weeping by the grave of . Lazarus he stepped forward and he said, "Lazarus Come forth." . And that white clad figure rose and came out of the grave. [John 11: 38-44] He who had been dead was made alive again by the command of Jesus Christ. Why? Because He was the resurrection and the life. He said, "He who believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall live." [John 11:25]
He spent a lonely night in prayer out on the side of a mountain. [Matthew 14:23] How do you suppose He got to that place of prayer? By climbing there, of course, as anyone would get there. When he got there he was all perfect humanity. Yet we are told that in the fourth watch he left that place of prayer upon the side of the mountain and came back to His disciples. He walked upon the waves of the sea, as you and I walk upon pavement. [Matthew 14: 35-33] Why? He was the Son of God. How long has it been since you spent an all night in prayer? The greatest experiences that have come into my Christian life have come after all night prayer meetings. Cliff Barrows and Beverly Shea will tell you the greatest victories we've had in our crusades across America and around the world have come after these ministers have called all night prayer meetings.
One of the most pitiable pictures to be found anywhere in the Bible is the picture Our Lord Jesus witnessed a when He came down f r o m that mountain of transfiguration, that mountain of glory. ,e He found His disciples there arguing among themselves. They had tried in vain to cast out an unclean spirit. They said, "Master, we tried to cast the devil Gut of this man but we couldn't do it. Why couldn't we do it?" Have you heard a church member say, "I tried to do something for the Lord but I couldn't do 1t? I failed." Jesus Christ gave them an answer that I want you to get tonight. He said, "This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." [Matthew 17:14-21] Ladies and gentleman, as the Son of God said, there is no substitute for prayer and fasting and I say to you tonight, in all God's universe, there is no substitute for prayer and fasting.
Have you ever spent an all night in prayer? Our Lord Jesus often went out int0 some mountain place, a solitary a place, and spent all night in r. prayer. He arose a great while before day in order to go out into some solitary place in order to pray. If the Holy, Righteous Son of God should spend much time d in prayer and to pray all night on occasions, how much more you and I, poor creatures that we are tonight, need to spend much time in prayer. There is no short cut to real power for God, no shortcut to revival. We have to become men and women of prayer. If you want to be a soul winner you will have to be a man e or woman of prayer. Young people; hear me tonight: The hardest problem that I has ever confronted the world y of unbelief and infidelity is to It count for Jesus Christ the Son of God.
I wish I had time tonight to talk about the Cross and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. How can you hear tonight the t story of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the suffering and the death of the crucifixion of Jesus and then turn Him down. How any man, who has a real man's heart, can hear the story of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and then turn Him down. I don't understand. How can any woman who has the capacity of a mother's love hear the story of the Savior's love and then reject it? It is the greatest moral monstrosity this whole universe has ever known. I don't understand it. It is a mystery, the depths of which, I cannot understand.
Years ago in a western town a young couple were to be married within just a matter of days. The young man . was standing on the street corner downtown a n d he heard the piercing screams and cries of a young lady in distress. He looked down the street and he saw this team of run away horses dashing madly, wildly down the street. In the carriage drawn by those horses, he recognized his bride to be. At the risk of his own life - forgetting himself - he darted out in front of those horses, and brought them to a halt. But in stopping those horses he was trampled to a bloody pulp beneath their heavy feet. Climbing down out of the carriage his bride to be came and knelt over him. She brushed the blood from his brow and with the last bit of breath he said, he whispered "Darling, I loved you, didn't I? Haven't I proved it? I loved you, didn't I." And with that he was gone.
It seems to me tonight that over a period of nearly 2,000 years from Calvary's rugged Cross, I hear similar words from the lips of a dying Savior; "Grady Wilson, 1 loved you, didn't I? Have I not proved it? I have given My life. I have shed My blood. It's finished now. It's finished." He must pe the Son of God.
So hear me tonight, ladies and gentlemen and young people. Men do not go to hell for lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultery and fornication and a thousand and one other gross sins. Men go to Hell because they believe not on Jesus, the Bible says, Men do not go to Hell because they have sinned. Men sin because they are on their way to Hell and they are on their way to Hell because of unbelief.
The one sin that will separate a man or woman, boy or girl from God and Christ is the sin of unbelief. On the other hand, the only thing that will save you is faith in Christ. You can join every church in North and South Carolina but that will never save you, You can be baptized a thousand times but that will never save you.
You must be born again by faith in Jesus Christ. Have you been born again? Are you sure? Are you certain tonight? Do you know it beyond every shadow or doubt?
The Bible teaches that one of these days one of these nights, the sky will roll back like a mighty scroll. The trumpet of God shall sound. The dead in Christ shall rise first and we which are alive and remain will be called up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Then every unconverted man will stand before the white throne judgment bar of God to give an account for every deed done in the body. The glorious part about it is that "There is therefore now no judgment to those who are in Christ Jesus." [Romans 8:1] The Bible says there is therefore no condemnation, no judgement to those who are in Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ on the Cross took your judgment and my judgment. He died for your sins and my sins on the Cross.
But if you are not a Christian tonight, one of these days or one of these nights you will stand before that judgment bar of God and you will be judged for everything done in the body. You have no lease on life. Job 36:18 says, "Because there is wrath, beware lest God take thee away with His stroke, then a great ransom cannot deliver thee."
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, may I warn you. .. when God Almighty raises a red flag of warning you had better heed. When God's siren goes off you had better listen. When God says, "Beware," you and I had better beware.
There are several strokes by which God can take from you your power of decision and choice for Jesus Christ. First there is the withdrawal of your reasoning power. Did you ever think about it? "Oh," you say, "well, I am sure that God will take care of those who are not in their right mind." But wait a minute. suppose because of a life of sin, suppose because of a life of sinful thoughts you have deprived yourself of your reasoning power, do you think that God will spare you? The Bible says that sin darkens the understanding. [Ephesians 4:18] Sin beclouds the intellect. Sin darkens the understanding of man. And the Bible indicates that it you die in a state of unbelief, even though you might have lost your reasoning power, when you had it within your power to receive Jesus Christ...it is everlastingly too late for you.
Then there is the withdrawal of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Years ago when I was pastor down in Charleston, South Carolina, I talked to a man outside of our church one afternoon, I said, "What about it?" He said, "No, not now, some other time," Sometime later he , went to the hospital, I sat on the side of his bed. I pled with him to get right with God. Tears welled up in the corners of his eyes and he said, "Mr. Wilson, you are right, I ought to be a Christian. ..my wife is right, I ought to become a Christian. ..the j people over at the church are right...I ought to get right with God, I ought to be a Christian. But," he said, "Not now, some other time." Two weeks later I went back again. This time there were no tears. Still a little ray of conviction. He shrugged his shoulders and he said, "Mr, Wilson. you're right I ought to be a Christian, my wife is right. .. I ought to be a Christian, people over at the church are right ...I ought to be a Christian. but he said, not now, some other time," A week or two later I went back to see him and this time there was a smile, He said. "Yes you're right, My wife is right. the people of the Church are right. I ought to be a Christian. But," he said, "not now, some other time." And I could see that spirit of conviction was gradually and slowly wearing off. After our campaign in Columbia, South Carolina. I went to Charleston, and I saw that man again. Late in the afternoon he turned towards the direction of the setting of the sun, He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Mr. Wilson, it's too late now. I have done the wrong thing too long," I trembled from head to foot. I could not keep the tears back. I said, "My God, could It be that here is a man who has crossed the deadline?" Here's a man who has gone beyond redemption point.
Years ago there was a man by the name of Webb who was the first man to swim across the choppy waters of the English Channel, He reached the shores of France, His fame spread allover Europe. And after a few years had passed by, his popularity began to die down and popularity does not really satisfy. Popularity floats over like a bubble on an ever-rolling mountain stream. It passes away like a morning cloud. It leaves one like a dream at the break of day and it )s soon gone and forgotten and bursts like a bubble in mid-air. Mr. Webb was not happy. He heard of a place above Niagara Falls beyond which no swimmer had been able to go and survive. He said those Americans, those Canadians don't really know how to swim. He said, "I'll go over there and show them how one can really swim," So he announced the hour he was going to plunge into the choppy, churning water above Niagara Falls. A crowd stood on the Canadian side, another crowd on the American side. Some looking through their field glass saw Mr. Webb as he plunged into the foaming, churning rapids and with the! beautiful strokes of a graceful swimmer, he swam out and out and out until he reached that treacherous spot. Then suddenly one arm went up and down and Mr, Webb went over Niagara Falls to a watery grave. They put a marker nearby, they called it "Beyond Redemption Point."
If you are not a Christian tonight, I beg of you, don't you leave until you open your heart to Jesus Christ, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near." [Zephaniah 2:3, Isaiah 55:6] God says it. If you are not a Christian tonight; don't you leave here without Jesus Christ.
We are going to ask those of you who are not sure that you have Christ, You may be a church member somewhere. You say, "Well, I think so. I hope so, I guess so. Maybe so. Perhaps so, but I do not know." I want you to be sure about this thing. We are going to ask you to get up out of your places and come down one of these aisles and stand with us here for a few moments. We want to have a word of prayer with you and give you two or three verses of scripture and some literature.
Others of you have grown cold and indifferent and you are out of fellowship with Christ. You need to come and renew your vows of love and loyalty and allegiance to Christ. This may be the night for which you have been born, don't you miss it tonight