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10/17/58 - "Temptation"







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 8-A of the October 18, 1958 issue of The Charlotte Observer (Saturday). It is a transcript of the sermon which Rev. Billy Graham had preached at the Charlotte Crusade the day before, the twenty-fourth sermon of the crusade. Attendance on October 17 was 10,750 and there were 352 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.



Temptation

All right, let us turn to the 7th chapter of Matthew's gospel. How many have your Bibles? Lift them up! Fine, many more Bibles tonight. The 7th chapter of Matthew, the 13th verse: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be [that] go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" [verses 13,14].

This passage follows directly what is known in Scripture as the golden rule. In this passage we are in the part of Christ's Sermon on the Mount. There are many people who say, "Well, I live by the Sermon on the Mount," and they forget this passage. This is a significant passage and the heart of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

Mahatma Gandhi once indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was a miniature Bible. Someone else has said that here is a Bible within a Bible. Here we find Christ talking to His disciples and to a great crowd of people that have gathered around the mountain. Jesus is there preaching to them. And when He is finished, the people said He taught "as one having authority" [Matthew 7:29].

Now this passage of Scripture has come down to us--this Sermon on the Mount, the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew--as one of the greatest pieces of literature, as one of the greatest parts of the ministry of Christ. In fact, here we find a summation of the teaching of Christ. Here we find an explanation of the Ten Commandments, what the Ten Commandments actually mean in the Sermon on the Mount.

Christ has been describing up to this point the character of Christians and the rules by which they are to walk. Now He explains the way of salvation. Christ taught there are two roads of life. He taught that there are two masters in life--self and Christ [see Matthew 6:24]. He taught that there are two destinies at the end of life--heaven and hell. And Christ divided men into two classes.

Now, we don't like that. Christ sees mankind traveling only two roads. There is no third. There is no alternative. We do not necessarily like this text because it commands the narrow way. Too often we have thought of narrowness as being bigoted, intolerant, and provincial. The fact is we do not admire narrow people, and we do not wish to be narrow ourselves. Yet, in the face of all this, we hear Christ say, "Enter the narrow gate."

Tonight I want us to look for a moment at these two roads--the broad road and the narrow road. I want you to ask yourself the question tonight: On which road am I? Which road of life am I traveling? Which master am I serving? Towards which destiny am I headed? Am I serving myself or am I serving God? Which master are you serving? Are you spending most of your time on yourself--that which is mine, me, I? Or do you give most of your time to the development of your soul and to the glory of God? Which is it?

Jesus said there are only two roads. And Jesus indicated that the two roads were widely separated, going in opposite directions; and you cannot straddle them. There are some people who think that they have one foot on the narrow road and one on the broad road and trying to straddle it. It cannot be done. You are either on one or the other. And those who are trying to straddle it are those actually on the broad road.

Now I want you to see first of all tonight the broad road. I want you to see first of all that it is a wide road. We can enter the wide gate and carry with us all our sins, selfishness, hate, and lust. It's the path of self-will and self-gratification. There are no restrictions on this road. The extremes of humanity are there.

I see on this broad road that is well lighted with all its honky-tonks, all its pleasures. I see the dope addicts. I see the drunks. I see the immoral. I see the synagogue blasters. I see those that are throwing dynamite sticks. I see those with all of their racial prejudice and all of their hate. I see those with their vile tempers. I see the dictators. I see the war makers. I see all of them on that road. I see the robbers that are robbing the banks. I see the cheaters. I see the liars. I see the adulterers on the broad road.

But, on the other hand, I see the moral and the decent and even thousands of church workers. Those are the ones who will come in the last day and say, "But, Lord, I cast out the demons in your name. Yea, Lord, I did wonderful work in your name. O Lord, I was a great person for you" [see Matthew 7:22]. Then He will say, "Depart from me, ye cursed; I never knew you" [see verse 23].

Because, you see, you served Him with your lips, but your heart was far from Him [see Matthew 15:8]. In outward profession you were a fine Christian, but inwardly your heart was never changed. You never really encountered Christ. You never really were born of the Spirit of God. Yes, the broad road is filled with those types of people. The Bible says that it is crowded. The Bible says many there be which go therein. The Bible says woe to the multitudes of many people. And many of us today are going along with the crowd; and we say, "Well, everybody else is doing it." Well, God doesn't judge you by others. You are judged according to God's law, and you are judged according to God's Son.

You may be the only one going the narrow road, but Jesus demanded that we enter the narrow gate and walk down a rock-strewn narrow road. Yes, you may be alone. Noah stood alone in his generation [see Genesis 6:8]. Joseph stood alone in his generation [see Genesis 39]. Daniel stood alone while the majority went the other way [see Daniel 1:8]. Any man who has ever been used by God in history at times has had to stand alone, and to live for God today in business sometimes is a lonely road. To live for God on the high school campus many times is a lonely road. To live for God on the university campus is often a lonely road. Because the Bible says that the great crowd of people, the masses of humanity, are going the broad road.

The Bible indicates that the true Christian is a nonconformist. He does not conform to the things around about him, the world around about him. The Bible says, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" [Romans 12:2]. The Bible says that we should not be conformed to this world. In order to follow Christ we must sometimes stand alone, but the Bible says that the road that leads to destruction is crowded.

The Bible also indicates that it is a deceptive road. The Bible says "There is a way [that] seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof [is] the [way] of death" [Proverbs 14:12].

There are a lot of people who say, "Well, Billy, if you are sincere, doesn't that get you to heaven?" No. You can be sincere, but that in itself will not get you to heaven. I saw a man pick up a football once and run sixty-five yards. He had the most sincere look on his face of any man I ever saw, but he ran the wrong way and lost the game. He was sincere, but he was wrong. You can be sincere and wrong. There are many people today who are sincere in their religion. They are sincere in all of these things but wrong.

Because Jesus Christ demanded that we enter a narrow gate. He demanded that we repent of sin, that we come by way of the cross, and that we allow the blood of the cross to sprinkle our hearts clean of sin. Many of us, because of our ego and selfishness, do not like that.

There are others who say, "If you follow your conscience, isn't that all right?" Yes! But you never really follow your conscience, for your conscience has become deadened and hardened and dulled. Your conscience is no longer a safe guide.

Say, when you were a boy and you told a lie, your conscience bothered you. Now you can look somebody straight in the face and never bat an eyelash. Your conscience does not bother you. There was a time if you had a lustful thought, it bothered your conscience, for your conscience was very sensitive. Now you can go all the way and your conscience does not bother you at all. Your conscience has become hard, it has become dead, and your conscience is no longer a safe guide. The Holy Spirit has a difficult time using your conscience to convict you of sin.

So, if your conscience is speaking to you tonight, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about your sins, you had better thank God and you had better come to God now while the Holy Spirit is speaking.

There are others who say that you can get to heaven if you just do good and treat your neighbor right all the rest of your life. No! The Bible says all of our good works are filthy rags in God's sight [see Isaiah 64:6]. You cannot work your way to heaven. You are not saved by works. You may come here in town and build a beautiful church. You may give thousands of dollars to the church. You may build a big institution. You may do many great things, but that does not get you to heaven. The Bible says, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" [Ephesians 2:8,9]. We cannot get to heaven by our works.

The Bible indicates that not only is it a deceptive road, but it is a restless and a disappointing way. That is the reason we have so many psychological problems today among people. That is the reason the psychiatrists are going to each other for help now. It is because on the broad road there is a restlessness and a tension and a frustration. There is very little hope and assurance and security on the broad road. A man may have economic security, financial security, but down deep in his heart he is not sure. There is a shadow over his life. He is facing death. He is facing suffering. He is facing adversity.

And something else happens, and then there is that tension. It may be the tension of everyday living, or there may be irritation in the family. There may be fighting and bickering in the family. It may be that your husband is unfaithful, or you are unfaithful to your husband. Whatever the trouble may be, it is a restless life. There is no real happiness and joy and security and quietness of soul.

What a wonderful thing it is to have peace. I saw a picture one time of a bird, and underneath the picture it said, "Peace." Now here was a strange thing. A storm was raging out here at Cape Hatteras. The storm was raging, the lightning was flashing, the wind was blowing, the sea was crashing against the rocks. And under the ledge of the rocks there was a little bird with its head under its wing, asleep. That is peace. And I want to tell you if the storms are raging tonight, if the world seems to be blowing apart, if your little world seems to be sinking, if your little world is giving way and you cannot understand yourself and you cannot understand the world around about you, yet in the midst of all this Christ can give you peace.

On the broad road with all of its so-called happiness, there is a restlessness, there is frustration. There are many of you tonight, and you have an emptiness in your soul. You are not really happy. You don't really have peace. You don't really have joy. Something comes into your life like the death of your father, the death of your mother, the death of a loved one; and it shakes you from center to circumference. You are shaken. You cannot take it. Your anchor is gone. Your God is tumbled, and this leads many times to mental problems. We are told that over sixty percent of all the mental problems in our mental institutions relate to this very point. It is a religious problem, a spiritual problem. They have put their faith, their confidence, in something besides Christ. Give your life to Christ tonight. The broad road is a restless road.

And, lastly, the broad road is a fatal road. Jesus said it leads to destruction. The Bible says, "The way of the ungodly shall perish" [Psalm 1:6]. The road of the ungodly leads to destruction.

You keep on the way you are going. Now when you come to the fork of the road--and here is the broad road and here is the narrow road--you can make up your mind which one you are going. God is not going to push you down the narrow road. He is not going to grab you by the neck and make you go the narrow road. It is a choice which you have to make. When God created you, He gave you the ability to choose. He made you a free moral agent. And if you are on the broad road tonight, it is your own fault. Don't blame it on your friends. Don't blame it on God. You have nobody to blame but yourself.

If you end up in hell, you will never be able to blame your wife. You won't be able to blame your husband. You won't be able to blame your parents. You won't be able to blame your friends. You will only be able to blame yourself because this is a decision that you, and you alone, have made or will make. When you stand at the crossroads of life, you make your own decision. The moment you reached the age of accountability you could have chosen the narrow road. You can still choose the narrow road. It is not too late for anybody in this audience tonight to turn around and leave the broad road and start the narrow road. You can do it tonight, right now.

You say, "Billy, it is too late. I am an old man. I am an old woman. I have lived this way too long. I am too set in my ways. I am in a rut. I could not get out of it. I could not break the habit of a generation." Yes, you can! Not in your own strength but by the strength of Christ. The Holy Spirit comes in. He gives you the strength.

Now look at the narrow road. Jesus said it is a narrow gate. We come to that gate, that white, beautiful, shining gate. But it is narrow; and Jesus warned us that only a few get in through that gate, only a few. Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" [John 10:9]. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh [to] the Father, but by me" [John 14:6].

First, I want you to see it is a narrow and limited gate. We do not like to talk about narrowness. I meet a lot of people who say that religion should not be narrow, that Christianity should not be narrow. Suppose they said that about mathematics. Well, isn't it narrow to believe that two plus two is four? Let's be broad-minded and modern. Let's bring it up to date, and say two plus two equals five. That's more modern. Suppose the architect that designed this building said, "Well, why go according to blueprints? Why should not everyone build just as he wants? Let everyone go his own way and build the building." What kind of a mess would you have here? The roof and the whole building would have blown away when the storm came. No, they had a narrow set of plans. They had some plans that were very narrow and very accurate and very precise, and the builders went according to what the architect had drawn. They followed a narrow plan.

Suppose I am going to Asheville tonight. And I say, "Well, I have a nice automobile. I'll just go any old way. I'll be broad-minded." So I just start across the country. No, I follow a narrow road all the way to Asheville. Well, why am I not broad-minded? No, there are some things that are narrow.

I remember when coming back from Korea, and Cliff Barrows and I were in a big C--I've forgotten what kind of plane it was. The army had let us have this big plane. We had four motors on the plane, and we took off from Korea. We were going into a snowstorm, and the captain came back and asked Cliff if he wanted to fly the plane. Cliff got up there and we all began to pray, and Cliff held this big old plane going through this storm. And I remember when we got over Tokyo four or five hours later, the captain said, "Would you like to come up front, Mr. Graham?" I went up and sat down. And he said, "We are going to have an interesting approach because it is almost zero-zero. We are going to come down on ground control approach, and you will find it interesting." I said, "Well, I surely will."

I put the earphones on and listened to them. Now the man on the ground was going to talk us down. We couldn't see a thing--nothing but clouds. He would say to the captain, "Come a half a degree to the left, a degree to the right. Descend to 4,000 feet; you are 10 miles from touchdown. Descend to 1,000 feet," and so forth and so on, until we got down to 500 feet. "Descend to 500 feet; a degree to the left, a half a degree to the right. You are a little off course; put it back a little to the right. Descend to 250 feet." Why, that was almost on the ground! "You are 1,000 yards from touchdown." We couldn't see a thing. Anyway, we eventually got down. And do you know what I was glad about? I was glad that that boy in the tower and the pilot were narrow-minded!

Suppose the pilot had said, "Well, I'll just be broad-minded about this. I'll just come in any way I please." Why, when we got within a hundred feet of the ground, we barely saw the runway right in front of us! We landed on a narrow strip, following narrow rules.

And I want to tell you, if you want to make a landing in Jerusalem you must go the narrow way. If God has made narrow rules in the laws of nature and narrow rules in the laws of medicine and narrow rules in the laws of mathematics, how much more narrow are the laws which take us to heaven. I want to tell you there are a lot of you who have an idea that you can be broad-minded about it and just skip into heaven. I want to tell you, you cannot.

It's narrow, first of all, because it is the way of truth. Truth is always narrow. Secondly, it is a way of holiness; and holiness and righteousness are always narrow. Thirdly, it's a way of love. I am true to my wife. I love my wife. I do not think about other women. I am not attracted by other women. You say, "Well, that's mighty narrow in this age, isn't it? Be loyal to one wife, true to your wife, love your wife. Isn't that narrow?" Yes, but it is the way of happiness. It's the way of joy. It's the way of peace. It's the way of success. Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the narrow gate."

I want to ask you tonight if you have entered the narrow gate. Are you on the narrow road? Which road are you traveling tonight?

Then Jesus said, "This road is not only narrow, but it leads to life." Jesus meant life here and now, as well as life to come. He said it will lead to life with a capital L, life with joy and peace and love. There are hundreds of you who need peace tonight. There is an emptiness in your life. There is something in your life that you have been searching for, and you have really never found it. You can find it tonight.

Then the life to come Jesus also had in mind. The Bible teaches that there is a life to come, and it is a long life because it is eternal life. It is forever. The Bible says, "One day . . . with the Lord [is] a thousand years, and a thousand years [is] one day," [2 Peter 3:8]. And in God's reckoning, we only live a few minutes.

Someone has said that if a little bird came to this planet, picked up one grain of sand, took a hundred years to go to the planet Mars and a hundred years back, by the time he had picked up the whole earth, grain by grain, it would only be breakfast time in eternity. That is how long it is. Every choice you make every day--there is an eternal issue at stake.

By faith we are to put our hand in the hand of Christ and walk down the narrow road with Him. He is the only hope. He is the only light in the midst of this darkness around about us. I tell you, give your life to Christ tonight and let Him give you a new nature, and let Him replace hope for this doubt that is in your heart.

And then, last of all, Christ said, "Few there be that find it." He said only a few are going to find it. Do you know any community where the majority of the people really know Christ? I don't. It is always the minority. You take the average church today. We have what we call a "church within a church." There are the few within the church who are really dedicated, really yielded to Christ, really walking down the narrow road, who are really doing the work in the church.

The vast majority in the church are just coasting along. They just come on Sunday mornings like they would to any other club and sit. They really do not have an active part in the work of God. They do not really live the Christian life. They serve God with their lips. They believe in God. They say they believe in Christ, but they do not allow Christ to interfere in their lives. They do not allow Christ to interfere in their prejudices. They do not allow Christ to interfere in their pleasures. They do not allow Christ to interfere with their pocketbooks. A person told me yesterday--she said, "By the time I get through all of my work, I just don't have time to pray, don't have time for God." How many of us are like that? Yes, Jesus said, "Few there be that find it."

Some don't find it because they just don't care. There are a lot of people here tonight. Somebody brought you. You came out of curiosity. You read about it in the paper. You have been interested, but you don't care about your soul. You are just not interested.

Then there are others who really care, but they neglect it. They put it off. They know that they ought to give their lives to Christ. They know they ought to enter the narrow gate. They know they ought to be on the narrow road. But they have put it off, day after day, month after month, year after year, until after a while it is too late because they have hardened their hearts. They have no disposition to come to Christ. The Bible says that there will come a day when they will seek God, and they will not find Him. There will come a day when they will call upon God, but He will not answer. [See Proverbs 1:28.]

And there are many of you like that--just neglecting, just putting off. You mean someday to come to Jesus Christ. You mean to have this encounter with Christ. You really meant during this crusade to come forward. And here it is almost the end of the crusade and you haven't come yet.

Last night we had over a thousand that came forward to give themselves to Christ, and many of them had been putting it off until last night. You can come tonight and give your life to Christ. You can come tonight and start through the narrow gate. Because, you see, it starts with a gate. You enter the gate, and then there is the life to live. Now I am not asking you to walk down the narrow road tonight. I am asking you to just enter the gate. Then when you enter the gate, do you know what I think? I think the road becomes broad. In fact, Jesus does not say anything about a narrow road. He says a narrow gate. You come to the cross to receive Christ, and you get up from the cross and you find that you have got a new resurrected life. A whole glorious new world opens up that you did not even know existed.

There is a world of sound which most of you did not know existed. You know that chapter in the Bible where it says the walls of Jericho fell down. A trumpeter walked around the walls. Seven days, seven times a day, they would walk around just blowing their trumpets. All these soldiers and the military command at Jericho laughed and laughed. They had never seen such craziness. But one day the walls fell down. You know what we believe happened there? Science has now demonstrated that a certain sound can push any wall over. That sound can become so powerful at certain times that it can knock a wall down. Those trumpets were at such a pitch, under the direction of God, that the sound vibration tore the walls of Jericho down. That's a world we did not even know anything about. [See Joshua 6.]

For example, the sound waves that are going through the air, and because we have a radio receiver we can pick them up. We did not even know anything about that a few years ago. If you had told my grandfather that you could get a picture out of air, he would have laughed and laughed. He would have thought you had really gone off your rocker. He would have thought you were crazy. Because, you see, that was a world we did not know anything about.

All right, a spiritual world opens up. And I am here to tell you have experienced it. Thousands here have experienced it. A new world, a brand-new dimension, a new area of living that you did not know anything about. And it can be yours tonight! How? Jesus said enter in. He indicated that you must do it yourself. Strive to enter in at the straight gate.

Jesus said strive. I know that salvation is by grace through faith, but Jesus used words: "come," "repent," "believe," "labor," "ask," "seek," "knock," "strive." He said, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence" [Matthew 11:12]. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter . . . the kingdom of heaven" [Matthew 7:21]. It's those that take it by violence, those that are willing to pay the price of self-denial and cross-bearing.

We strive for an education, we strive in our business, we strive in athletics. We strive in everything, but in matters of Christ we never strive. We rarely pray, we rarely read the Bible, we rarely go to church. We never deny ourselves anything. Jesus said, "If a man is not willing to deny himself and take up the cross, he cannot be my follower" [see Matthew 16:24]. Jesus demanded that we strive. I am asking you to walk through that gate tonight.

Has there been a moment, an hour, in your heart when you really received Jesus Christ as your Savior, when you really entered the narrow gate? Which road are you on--the broad road that leads to destruction, or the narrow road that leads to eternal life? Which is it tonight? I am asking you to change roads. If you don't know which road you are on, that is a pretty good idea that you are on the broad road. Change roads, or make sure you are on the right road.

You have been on the highway before--when you went down the road you thought was right, but you were not sure. You thought maybe you ought to have turned off at that last crossroad, so you went back and checked the signs. I am going to ask some of you tonight to come forward and check the signs. You may be on the right road, but you are not sure, you are not certain. Let us go back to the fork. Let us go back to this cross. Let us go back to Christ and check and see if we are right, and start again and be sure we are right with assurance in our hearts. Then, if you are on the wrong road and you know it, anybody who is going on a wrong road ought to be willing to turn around and be on the right road.

Gene Worth[?] is the editor of the morning newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. And he took us to Vicksburg one day, and we came to a bridge. He said, "Do you know what happened here about twenty-five years ago? There came a flash flood because of a rainstorm. A man came up to that bridge, and it had washed away. He did not see it in the rain, and he went over. He escaped from his car and went back to flag down other cars. Eighteen cars that night plunged in that river. They refused to stop when he flagged them down."

I am telling you the bridge is washed out on the road you are on. The river is swirling. It is going to claim your life here and now and the life to come, unless you turn back. I am standing here tonight with a red flag saying, "Stop, look, and listen! Turn around. Change." I'm asking you to do it right now. I'm asking you men and women and young people to get up out of your seat right now, and come and stand here quietly and reverently. And say tonight, "I'm going to check the signs. I'm going to make sure that I'm going through the narrow gate. I'm coming to give my life to Christ tonight."


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