Your Day of Decision
Billy Graham Message: Choose Today
January 11, 2012 - Joshua was one of the great military heroes of all time. He stood with his troops on the bank of the Jordan River and heard God say to him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5).
By Billy Graham
So Joshua crossed over and led Israel into the battle of Jericho. In the campaign that followed, the hostile tribes of Canaan were subdued. After the war was ended and the victory won, Joshua found that the people were in a declining state. They had become unthankful and were indulging in idolatry, worshiping the gods of the nations round about. Their character was deteriorating. The people had forgotten the God of Moses, who had sent the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to guide them through the wilderness. They had forgotten their deliverance from 400 years of bondage in Egypt.
Joshua learned that the problems of peace are sometimes more difficult than the problems of war. We are finding this to be true in our own time. We have shown that we have the brains to build thermonuclear missiles, but not the brains to control human nature.
The only one who can control human nature is God. We need to turn back to Him and to His church and to His Bible and to His Christ. In our present state we have more time for our television sets than we have for God. We have a saying, “I couldn’t care less,” that expresses the feelings of modern people quite well. So we drift along, until we drift into the judgment of Almighty God.
Joshua saw it coming in his day. He set his jaw and squared his shoulders, and his eyes flashed in his suntanned face. The old warrior who had fought on behalf of Israel, the man of God, the head of the tribes, called all of Israel together at Shechem and made a speech that has echoed around the world ever since.
In his message, Joshua reviewed the history of Israel. He reminded the people that their victories had come not as a result of their own might, not as a result of their military prowess, not because of their economic strength. Their victories had come as a result of the blessing and leadership of Almighty God. He took them all the way back to Mount Sinai, all the way back to Abraham himself. He told them that God was a holy and righteous God.
Joshua reminded Israel of their many sins and of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. Those commandments were an expression of the holiness of God. They were God’s law, which was given to be obeyed.
People ask me today, “What is sin?” Sin is breaking the commandments of God. But God not only judges the outward breaking of His law, He also judges the inward motivation of the heart that causes us even to think wrong.
The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Along with the people of Israel of that day, you must take your place and say, “I am guilty.” I must stand with them and say, “I, too, am guilty. I have broken God’s laws. I have broken His statutes. I have broken His precepts. I have refused to keep His commandments.”
In today’s courts of justice, a lawbreaker is brought before the judge and sentenced. When we come before the Judge of the universe with our guilt, we find ourselves sentenced to death. Every one of us is under the condemnation of God because we are guilty. We have broken His law.
Now, suppose you are sitting in the death house awaiting the carrying out of your sentence. You deserve it, and you know you deserve it. What you did, you did with your eyes open, and you are facing execution. But suppose someone comes and volunteers to take your place. And suppose the prison guard opens the door of your cell and escorts you into the warden’s office and there you are told, “You are free.” You find it hard to believe. “What do you mean, I am free?” And you are told, “Someone else took your punishment. Someone took your judgment. Someone has already died in your place, and you are free.”
I am glad to tell you that is just what has happened. On the cross of Calvary, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Jesus died on the cross in my place and in your place, and now we can be free. Now we can know we are going to Heaven, not on the basis of our good works, our morality, our decency or the money that we give. We are going to Heaven only on the merit of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our place on the cross and took the sentence of the law upon Himself, so that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
When I come to Heaven’s gate, and the Father asks me why I am there, I could say, “Well, I used to do a little work for you, Lord.”
His answer would be, “Depart from me, you evildoer. I never knew you.”
“But Lord, I cast out demons in your name.”
“Depart from me, you evildoer. I never knew you.”
“But you remember, Lord, I used to preach to people down there on earth. All that was good work, wasn’t it?”
“Depart from me, you evildoer. I never knew you.”
Then I would have to say, “O God, nothing in my hand I bring. I come with no goodness and no righteousness of my own. I come in the merit of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in my place and rose again.”
The gates swing open. The heavenly choir sings and I am ushered into the Kingdom of God. I tell you, nobody will be in Heaven who hasn’t come by the way of the cross. Nobody.
Joshua told the people of Israel that although outwardly some of them were followers of God in their habits, they were idolaters. What is idolatry? Idolatry is anything that comes between us and God. Joshua told his people that their nation would be destroyed if they persisted in idolatry, and their souls would suffer eternal death. He said, “You must make your decision today. You must decide whether you want to serve the idols of this life, or the living God.”
“Choose for yourselves this day,” said Joshua. It was Israel’s day of decision, Israel’s day to go solemnly on record for God or against Him. I can see Joshua standing erect, his long gray hair flashing in the sunlight while he declared magnificently, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Johsua 24:15). Joshua made it clear that even if all Israel were to turn its back on God, and he were the only one, his house was dedicated to the Lord.
What about you? Are you taking your stand with Joshua? No matter what the cost? I am asking you to choose this day whom you will serve. Will you follow Christ and love Him and obey Him? Or will you reject Him? Jesus said there are two roads, two ways of life: a broad road and a narrow one. The broad road may have a lot of pleasure connected with it, but the Bible says that the pleasures of sin last only “for a season.” A short time, and it is over. And at the end of the road is destruction and hell.
But Jesus said there is also another road, a narrow one. It is a road of sacrifice, self-denial, living for God, obeying Christ. At the end of it is eternal life.
Which road are you on? There are people who think they are on the right road but are on the wrong road. “There is a way that seems right to a man,” says the Scripture, “but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Joshua knew that he could not choose for the tribes of Israel. They had to make the choice themselves. Likewise, our families cannot choose Christ for us. Our friends can’t do it. Man is a social being, but there is an inner sanctuary within each one of us where we retire from all fellowship, comradeship and influence, a lonely arena where the greatest battle of our lives has to be fought alone. We have to make our own choice.
That choice involves a price. We have to acknowledge that we are sinners, and that’s humbling. Our old pride doesn’t like that; it rears up and says, “I’m not so bad.” But we have to acknowledge sin; more than that, we have to turn from it. We must burn our sinful bridges behind us and say, “I’m not going back and doing those things any more. I am quitting this and I am quitting that, and I am going to follow Christ from now on.”
You protest, “I can’t live that kind of life.” No, you can’t. But Jesus Christ sends His Holy Spirit to all those who receive Him, and the Holy Spirit will come to live in our hearts and give us power to live the Christian life.
Joshua demanded the decision that very day. The Bible teaches all the way through that the choice is an urgent one. Remember, indecision is in itself a choice. Neglect decides for the man who will not decide for himself. You wait long enough and the choice will already have been made. That is why the Bible says, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
On the rugged wave-beaten cliffs off the west coast of Scotland, a man was gathering the eggs of seabirds from their nests. He had let himself over the edge of the cliff by a rope to the ledge where the nests were. In a moment of carelessness he let the rope slip from his hand. He knew that the first swing of the rope back would be his only chance. If he hesitated, if he waited, he might never be saved. Gathering all of the powers of his body and mind, he waited for the rope to swing back. When it did, he jumped and was saved.
Today, as you read this, the rope is swinging toward you. Choose this day whom you will serve.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
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We need people like you to support us in prayer and giving each time we proclaim the Gospel. Please donate online today and play a part in reaching hurting people around the world with the love of Christ.