Surviving in a World of Turmoil
July 1, 2003 - We live in a time when the world is in turmoil. Not in my lifetime have I ever seen so many problems. I think of the Middle East and the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The war in Iraq is partially finished. A frightening thing called SARS is coming from the East. Nobody knows how to stop it. We still face the AIDS epidemic, which my son Franklin has been fighting.
But God has intervened. The Bible says, "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, KJV).
A Message by Billy Graham
The Bible says that God is the Creator of everything. The stars—millions of them—are spread out across the Milky Way. And there are thousands of galaxies in addition to the Milky Way. Rick Husband, commander of the space shuttle Columbia, said, "I look out that window at what a beautiful creation God has made." Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (KJV). And Psalm 33:6 says, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (KJV).
But God is not only the Creator. As John 4:24 tells us, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (KJV). God is also unchanging. The Bible says, "For I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6, KJV). In all the centuries, in all the billions of years that might have been, God has not changed, even in the slightest. The Scripture says that "in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Cf. James 1:17). The Bible teaches that God is holy. He's absolutely righteous. The Bible says He is holy in all His works. God hates sin.
God also is the Judge. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27, KJV). The Bible also says, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14, KJV). All of us are going to die. In the next 60 or 70 years, almost everybody reading this article will be dead. Your soul, your spirit, will have gone into eternity. And you will someday stand before God to give an account.
But the Bible also teaches that God is a God of love. 1 John 4:8 says, "God is love" (KJV). And God said, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3, KJV). He loves you. Think of it now; just think of yourself. God loves you—no matter what you've done, where you've been, what the color of your skin is or what language you speak. God loves you. People ask, "What is the purpose of my existence?" The Bible teaches that God created us because He loves. He wanted people that He could love and that could return love to Him. He gave us the ability to love Him.
But in the Garden of Eden, the devil was there in the form of a serpent. He tempted Adam and Eve. God had said, "You can eat of all the trees, except one. If you eat from that tree, you'll die" (Cf. Genesis 2:16-17). If man had not touched that tree, he would have lived in paradise forever. But something went wrong; Adam and Eve listened to the devil. They ate the fruit that was forbidden, and sin and suffering entered the world.
I've been deeply moved reading newspaper tributes to the fallen over the past few months. As a nation, we have been grieving with the families of the young men and women in our coalition forces who have given their lives.
The troops returning from Iraq face struggles. In some families, the wife has been running everything for months. When the husband returns, sometimes the family has trouble adjusting to the new situation. I pray for them. It is my prayer that they will make peace with God.
Innocent people in Iraq are suffering from effects of Saddam Hussein's rule and from the war. People in the Midwest and in Texas are suffering from all the tornadoes that destroyed their homes and communities in May.
My own wife, Ruth, suffers with chronic pain each day. She is rarely able to leave her room. I often think of all the people who are suffering.
I saw a woman on television after one of those storms in Missouri. She said that she saw the tornado come. It destroyed her home. I'm sure that she didn't expect that. I'm sure that none of the people that were killed ever dreamed that it was their last day on earth.
Now the Bible teaches that God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son (Cf. John 3:16). Once one of my sons and I were walking along the path near our house, and I stepped on an anthill. A lot of ants were dying. We wondered what we could do to help them. We couldn't do anything. They were too little, and we were too big.
God looked upon us. We were so little. How could He help us? We were sinners. We'd broken His laws. We deserved judgment. We deserved death. What did He do?
God became a man. And as I wanted to become an ant to help those ants, God became a man to help us. God gave His only begotten Son. His motivation was love. We deserved it all—eternal death, spiritual death, separation from God, hell—because we were sinners by birth and by choice.
But Jesus went to the cross and took the death and the suffering that we deserved.
The Bible says, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6, KJV). That's the hope that I have that I'm going to heaven. I have hope because of the cross and because God raised Jesus from the dead. He's alive. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25, KJV). And Paul wrote, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9, KJV). But that's not the end of the story.
The end of the story is in the future: He has promised that He is coming back again. And He's going to bring peace to the world: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64, KJV).
I'm looking forward to that glorious day. Oh yes, I expect that I'm going to die. At my age, death is not too far into the future. I look forward to it with great anticipation. Ruth and I talk about it all the time. We're thrilled that we're going to see Jesus. He's going to come, and the dead that are in Christ will rise.
But what does God require of you, if you want to know that your sins are forgiven and that you're going to go to heaven?
First, you must repent. To repent means to confess to God that you have sinned. You must tell the Lord that you're sorry for your sin. In Acts 3:19, God commands all people everywhere to repent: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (KJV).
To repent also means that you must change your lifestyle. None of us can live the Christian life. I can't. I've tried. But you can change under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, who will come into your heart and will help you to live the Christian life. I have to have in my heart the work of the Holy Spirit, who has regenerated me and made me a new person inside and outside.
Second, you need faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is" (Hebrews 11:6, KJV). The Scripture says, "For by grace are ye saved" (Ephesians 2:8, KJV). In other words, you can't work for salvation. God's grace is unmerited favor. We don't deserve it. And faith is also a commitment. It's not just a one-time affair; it's forever.
The Bible says, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, KJV). In this computer age in which we live, I thought a cartoon in the paper put it very well. Someone wrote to a pastor, "What does 'God forgave you' mean?" He signed it, "Confused." The preacher wrote back, "It means all your files are deleted." And that's what God does. He deletes our files. They're totally erased, so that God can no longer see our sins because of Christ. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7, KJV). He erases the sins. He'll wipe the slate clean. You can start over again here and now.
Today, I'm asking you to do something that we've seen thousands of people do all over the world. I'm asking you to be sure that you know Christ and that you're ready for eternity. You may never again have an opportunity like this.