I want you to turn with me, if you will, to Luke’s gospel. Luke’s gospel, the fourth chapter, Luke’s Gospel, the fourth chapter, and tomorrow I want to speak to you on something that Mrs. Kennedy said. Mrs. Onassis said just before she died, she was talking to one of her friends and she said, you know, I would like to live it all over again. And I thought to myself, is it possible to start all over again?
Yes, and I’ll tell you how you can do it tomorrow night.
I want to preach on that subject tonight. I want to speak on a subject that was the cover of United States News and World Report on December the 20th. It has a picture of their concept of Jesus and it says, who was Jesus on you? Look at his words and deeds. And they have a long article in which they quote from various scholars who are telling us their views about Jesus Christ, who he was, what he did, how he did it, and so forth.
Now, tonight, I want you to turn with me again to Luke, the fourth chapter. Jesus had just been tempted in the wilderness. He had been tempted by the devil and the devil had tempted him. And it was a real temptation. It wasn’t just a put up thing. It was a real, genuine temptation. Three times the devil tempted Jesus and he overcame the devil. And he did it by just quoting scripture. He said it is written.
He didn’t argue with the devil. He didn’t debate with him when the temptation came, he just quoted scripture, that’s why it’s so important to learn as much scripture as you can, because when temptation comes, the way to make him run is to quote scripture, because the scripture is the soul of the spirit. And then after the temptation, we begin to read. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went to the church of the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.
Where do you go on Sunday? Says as his custom was, Jesus himself went to church. And there was delivered under him the book of the Prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written. That’s the sixth the first chapter of Isaiah. By the way, you want to look it up in the Old Testament and he’s quoting from the Old Testament. He says, The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he often ordered me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He had sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and said it liberated them that I bruised to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book and they gave it again to the Minister. He sat down and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him tonight. I want us to fasten our eyes on the person of Jesus Christ, not only who he was, but what he was and what he can do for you tonight.
When Mr. Youthen, once the secretary general of the United Nations, when he retired, they gave a big banquet for him and he stood up in front of that crowd of people that came from all over the world and world leaders that they were. And he said, everything I am have ever been or ever hope to be, I owe to Buddha.
He was not ashamed of his faith or his religion or Buddha who came from India. And Mr. Hawthorne was giving praise for what Buddha had done for him. He did it with courage. He was not ashamed of Buddha. How many of us would stand up about Jesus and say everything I am I hope to be all I ever have been owe to Jesus Christ? Or are we ashamed of Christ or are we timid about Christ when we have dinner with some people or perhaps were in school or in our office or we’re quiet about Christ?
He was proud to stand up and say that he was a Buddhist.
Are you proud to stand up and say I am a Christian? Who is this Jesus? What the Jesus claim. When a president gives his inaugural address, its purpose is to announce to his fellow Americans what he hopes to accomplish during his administration over the next four years. And here in Luke, the fourth chapter, Jesus gave his inauguration address. He gave six reasons why he came to earth from heaven. He said he had come first to preach the gospel to the poor.
The word gospel means good news. He meant those that were poor in spirit as well as those who were physically poor, he said. I’ve come to bring good news to them. A few weeks ago, I spoke to all the editors throughout the country. Not all of them, but members of the American Editors Association who were meeting in Washington, D.C. and I addressed them. And then during the question and answer period, we got to talking about good news and bad news on the front pages of our newspapers.
And one editor said. That many people write to him and say, tell us something good in your newspaper. There’s so much crime and so much war and all that other thing in the newspapers, we want to hear something good. People yearn for good news. Jesus had good news. He said, I’ve come to bring good news to you. I’ve come to tell you that I can help you solve your problems and heal your hurt. I’ve come to tell you that I can save your soul.
I can guarantee that when you die, you would go to heaven. Secondly, Jesus said, I’ve come to heal the broken hearted. How many broken hearted people there are here tonight, how many broken hearted that are watching on the television, how many broken hearted people in the hospitals? How many broken hearted people in Middle America? Tonight, my son will be here in a day or two. He’s just come from random, where he’s setting up ministries there to help to feed the people and to take doctors over to help.
That’s his ministry. And he’s goes from one crisis in the world to the other. And he’s in Rwanda now. And this is what he’s doing. And the stories that he tells about the suffering and the broken heartedness and families torn apart whole villages where people are killed. The Tutsis in the houses are fighting two tribes. But it’s more than just tribal warfare. It’s gone beyond that. People yearn for good news. He came to heal the broken hearted and third leg Jesus came to preach deliverance to the captives.
He meant people that were captured by habits and sins that are wrong. Many of you would like to break some of your bad habits, but you can’t do it.
He said, I can help you break any habit. You’ve got the wrong if you let me. Newspapers tell us about murders and rapes and assaults and robberies, everything is increasing every year, it seems, and we’re wondering what in the world are we going to do about it? And then the drug problem and the habits that people get into. And then fourthly, Jesus said he came to bring sight to the blind. And of course, we’ve seen people that are blind walking down the streets with their white names, trying to find their way and pick their way so they won’t get hurt.
And they’re blind, physically blind. But he was talking about the spiritually blind. And there are many of us that have the best physical vision that you could possibly have. But we are spiritually blind. We’re blind to it. God, we’re blind to the needs of our fellow man. We’re blind, told the homeless people we’re blind, told the suffering people we’re blind to people of another race and their needs and their and what we could do to go out of our way to help them and to love them.
And fifthly, Jesus said he came to set it deliberately. Those that are bruised, how many bruised people are here tonight? You’re bruised by a family disorientation. You’re bruised by disagreements in the family or in the business. Why aren’t your workplace or with your neighbors or your bruised? Because somebody said something bad about you or your bruised by jealousy. You’re bruised. He said, I’ve come to sit at liberty, those that are bruised and the eyes of all of them in the synagogue warned him, I want you to get your eyes on him tonight.
And there are several things I want you to see about Jesus. First, he is the creator of Christ. Now, we’ve had this great spaceship that’s gone out called Hubble, and it’s brought back to us visions of a universe that we hardly dare dream about. It’s so much bigger, so much beyond anything the scientist ever dreamed. Albert Einstein guessed it. He tried to put it into his formula. Many years ago, because his scientific mind had leaped out beyond anything, it said that this black hole existed and these other things existed, but they didn’t know how big that was.
Millions and millions of our sons could exist in it. It’s so big.
It’s trillions of light years away. Who can comprehend it? Who can even think about what science has uncovered? And yet the Bible says that Jesus created all the. That’s hard to comprehend and it’s hard for my little brain to take in that he is from everlasting joy, everlasting. He never had a beginning. He never has an end. And it says by him. All things created better in heaven and better in earth, visible and invisible, whether the thrones of the minions, the principalities or powers, all things were created by him and for him.
And he is before all things, and by him, all things considered.
That word consists means altogether this podium would explode. We’re not for that unknown, cohesive thing that science has not yet discovered what it is that holds it together.
And that certain something is Christ, the power of God, holding everything together so that we set our watches and our clocks by the stars and the moon in the sun, so accurate, so perfect. And God created it all. And Christ was God. And there are now billions of galaxies that we didn’t know existed. And then you look at another world through a telescope, a microscope, I take a walk every day where I live in the mountains of North Carolina.
I walk down the mountain and I walk back up the mountain because I’m supposed to take that type of exercise every day that I possibly can. And the only other exercise there let me take is to take some calisthenics and to take a swim and try to do it as often as I possibly can. And I walk every day and I pray every day. I walk down the mountain and I walk up the mountain. And as I walk down, it’s much easier.
And so I pray. I use that time to pray. I confess sins to God. I pray for a person that’s sick or I pray for a crusade that I’m going to hold while I pray for some book that I’m reading that God will help me to get the most out of that book. Whatever it is, I’m praying. But I think about those little insects. I told my wife the other day, I said, you know, I’ve gotten so that I even don’t step on those insects because I hate to see that little life snuffed out, because I know God put that insect there that aren’t all that spider or whatever it is.
And when you think about all the things that are in the sea, all the little fish, all the big fish, all the whales, everything, he created it all. You know, when they came back with some of those first reports from Hubble, one of the scientists said when he saw the pictures and saw some of the things that they were finding out, he said, makes you believe in God, doesn’t it? It certainly does. I don’t see how a person can disbelieve God when they see all of that because man could not do.
Jesus, Jesus was the creative Christ, but he’s also the compassionate Christ. The scripture says he went about doing good. Jesus never met a human need, that he didn’t attempt to help. He made the blind to see in the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear. He touched and cleansed the lepers.
We are living in a world that hurts. They can touch our hearts. He can bring a life back to what you thought was dead inside of you. Compassion is a word that is often used, but many people don’t know what it means. Compassion means that we suffer with the person in our minds. It means suffering with. It doesn’t mean that you’re just sorry they’re suffering. It means that you do something about it. You do what you can to help them.
As with mercy, compassion is complete only when actions to help accompany the feelings I heard about. I saw a cartoon where a man had fallen down a deep well and another man and tossed him a rope and the man in the well was saying Thanks for the rope, but it would help more if you would hold on to the other arm. God not only gives us the rope, but he holds the other end and he pulls us up. He’ll pull you out of that hole that you’re in and that thing that you can’t.
America has had a tremendous rise in recent years of violent crime and hunger, homelessness, injustice, the governor sitting here would tell you that even in a great affluent state like Ohio, you have these problems to contend with. And these problems come across the governor’s desk every day. And he just said to us that he couldn’t do his job without the help of God. And that’s true. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with a president of the United States and having put his head on a desk and weep audibly as he faced a terrible problem and we had prayer and thank God the problem had a solution.
But I believe God came into that room. And we have so many diseases, Jesus had compassion on the people with disease, the psychological diseases such as guilt and loneliness and fear and emptiness and the fear of death and despair. And many people have spiritual diseases, Nicodemus was a great leader, a religious leader, and he came to Jesus by night. And he wanted to talk to Jesus about spiritual things, and Jesus said, Nicodemus, you need to be born again.
You need the life of God in you to give you a new birth. And unless you have this new birth, you cannot see the kingdom of heaven. And Nicodemus said, well, how can a man be born when his old. Jesus said there’s a mystery to it. It’s like the wind that blows, you can see the evidence of it. You can’t reach out and grab it and study it under a microscope, but you see the effect.
And when Christ comes into your heart and you are born again, you see the effects, there’s a new love and a new joy and a new tenderness in your life that you haven’t had before. But he can also take the guilt of what? And you can also give the assurance if you died tonight, you’d go to heaven. And wherever you wherever you go in the world, you see hospitals that have been built by believers named after the apostles, many St.
Paul hospitals, St. Luke’s hospitals and so forth. He’s helped teach people to read and write, to counsel the depressed, the suicidal, the drug users, people with AIDS, the homeless, all of that Jesus wants us to become involved in. He had compassion.
He’s interested in all of those people and he loves them and he wants to help them if you’re letting. Jesus looked on the world. And the scripture says that he loved the world so much so that he was willing to die on the cross and shed his blood so that the world could be saved. And I look on the world today and I feel helpless as I look on the world scenes today and read the newspapers. How can I cope with it?
What more can I do? Jesus said, without me, you can do nothing but with me, you can change the world. And I believe that we Christians can change the world. You know, it’s interesting to me that when Jesus left the scene, when he died on the cross, when he rose from the dead, he had not healed all the people that were sick. He had not fed all the people that were hungry. And yet he said, I have finished the work which thou gave me to do.
But Jesus said the wheat and the tares are going to grow together. In other words, he said that evil is going to get worse and good is going to get better and they’re going to grow together. It looks like a paradox.
Then he said, then, shall the end come the end?
And the teachings of Jesus is the end of this age. And a new kingdom will be ushered in and we’ll live in a new world.
Jesus Christ is going to come back as the prince of peace. And then he was also the crucified Christ, the creative Christ. And the compassionate Christ and the crucified Christ, no one living today can imagine what the cross was. Death by crucifixion was a lingering death.
Which took sometimes hours and days before the victim died.
The mocking, the scoffing, the insults hurled at him and when they mocked him, he said, Don’t you know that I can pray to my father? And he can send. Sixty seventy two thousand angels to rescue me. Why didn’t he do it? Why did he stay on the cross? Why did he die? Not because his sin, he had broken the laws.
He wasn’t guilty of anything. He died in your place. He died in my place. Because the Bible teaches that you and I are sinners. We have broken God’s laws. I’ve broken the laws, the laws of God, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount. I haven’t lived up to the Sermon on the Mount and I haven’t kept all the commandments. And the scripture says, if you’ve ever broken one commandment, you’ve broken them all. So I’m guilty of all in the sight of God and so are you.
And the result of that. Breaking of the law is dead, not only natural death that we know all about when we see the tombstones and we see those crosses at Normandy, each one standing for a person that died, died so that we could have the freedoms that we have today. But they were people, too, and they have to stand before God as individuals. All the suffering and the shame and the disgrace and the dishonor that you and I deserve.
He bore for you the scripture says he was made a curse for you. The sin that you and I committed, he took on the cross. He became guilty of your sins and mine. He became guilty of murder, of adultery. He had never committed a sin. And you can imagine what it must have meant to have that on him, for he has made him to be sin for us, whom, you know, sin. But we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Because of the cross, God offers forgiveness to you. He offers to play you before him as though you had never committed a sin. Yes, there’s going to be a judgment. God is a god of love and mercy, but he’s also a god of judgment. There’s going to be a great judgment day in which you’re going to stand before God some day and give an account of your life here and now. How are you going to stand? Life is so short.
Somebody asked me what was the greatest surprise of my life. I said the brevity of life. I didn’t dream that life was so quick. It seems like only yesterday. But I was just a boy and here all these years of past. And it passes so quick and the older you get, I want to tell you something, the older you get, the faster it goes, I can tell you that. You think that you have plenty of time?
No, you don’t. You don’t know when your moment is going to come, when you have to stand before God and the sin that God cannot forgive. Think of it. He cannot forgive this sin. He cannot forgive the sin of you are turning Jesus Christ down. If you say no to Christ, he can’t forgive it because he’s made that as the road to heaven, by the way, of the cross. The man and the woman who does not flee to the cross to accept the shelter that God offers is doomed.
He’s also the conquering Christ.
That means that he rose again. He didn’t stay on the cross. He rose again. And tonight he’s alive. He’s a living Christ. He’s a living price, and I don’t offer you a dead Christ on the cross for your Christ who’s alive and who is someday going to be king of kings and Lord of Lords. He said, I am the resurrection and the life, and he had believed in me very well. Did you actually live his resurrection, as mentioned more than a hundred times in the New Testament is the contemporary Christ is the one that can transform you and change you.
And people can stand up all over the stadium and say, yes, Christ changed me. Christ came into my heart. And then lastly, he’s the coming Christ. Jesus said, I will come again. When Aristotle Onassis was dying, the one that married Mrs. Kennedy, he was dying and they spent everything, they offered all the money in the world to the doctors to save him. They brought doctors from everywhere, but they couldn’t save him. He died, the scripture says, in such an hour, as you think, not the son of man coming, but he comes with clouds and everything shall seem and the whole world.
You can sense it. I can sense it. The whole world seems to be reaching some sort of a climax. And that climax is Christ. And he’s going to sit on the throne and he’s going to read. Now, what do you have to do? There are three things that you must do and you should do it tonight, don’t wait because you may never have another moment like this as long as you live. The first thing you must do is repent.
Can either phone be converted that your sins may be blotted out, the scripture says God come in command of all men everywhere to repent. Repentance means that you say, I’m sorry, I’ve since I’m willing to turn for my sins, I’m willing to go in a new direction. If you will help me, Lord, I can’t repent by myself, but with your help. And then the second thing is you must have faith to believe in Christ. Get your eyes on him.
Don’t trust in your own religious background or your own good works. Say to God, oh, God, I know that I have sinned. You may be a leader in the church, you may be a minister in the church. You may be a bishop in the church. I’ve had bishops come to me in private and tell me that they’re not certain that they’re ready to meet God and they want me to profile. I had the head of a great church a few years ago, called me to his bedside when he was dying and I prayed with him.
You can be in the church, a leader in the church, and still not certain that, you know, Christ, you can know him before you leave here, you can know that your sins are forgiven. You can know that if you died tonight, you’d go to heaven. I’m going to ask you to make that kind of a commitment. You’re not here tonight by accident. You’re here because in the providence of God, he arranged for you to be here to hear of what the gospel is.
Tonight, I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat. This we’ve seen thousands of people do on every continent. I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come and stand in front of the platform here. There’s plenty of room. And after you’ve all come, I’m going to say a word to you, have a prayer with you, give you some literature and an audio cassette that you can take with you that explains how to live the Christian life and how how to follow Christ.
If you’re with friends or relatives, they’ll wait on you and you say, but Billy boy, do I have to come forward like that in front of all these people. Jesus said that if you’re not willing to acknowledge me before men, I’ll not acknowledge you before my father, which is in heaven. There’s something about coming forward. There’s something about coming forward and standing here and making that commitment public that God honors, and you will sense the peace and the joy in your own heart.
And if you come from that balcony up there, it’s going to take you an extra minute. So start now. Right now from all around and all down here, you might have been in the choir. You might be a leader in the church. You might have been baptized, you might have been confirmed. I don’t know. But you need Christ. You’re not certain how you stand before God. Come and make sure tonight we’re going to wait on your next call and him for.
And everyone else being prayer. You can come and bring your friends with you. You say, but it’s so long down there, I may get lost. No, you won’t. There are people here that’ll help you.