few days ago I was in the beautiful city of Birmingham,
Alabama. It's called the "magic city" and I had
a wonderful time there. But it was difficult to fly into
from New York where I was speaking, so the publishers rented
a private plane. Our plane ran into the worst storm I've
ever been in, in my life. The airport was closed for two
hours, but when it opened it still was not safe to travel.
The last twenty minutes of that airplane flight was the
only time in my life that I thought the plane would crash.
I've had an experience close to that only once before -
in a Russian helicopter over the Great Wall of China. When
we arrived in Birmingham, many hours later, I called my
wife who was anxiously waiting to hear if I had arrived
safely. I said, "Well, I lived." As I told her
said, "Were you scared?"
said, "Not at all. Amazingly enough, not at all."
said, "Did you pray?"
said, "No, I didn't have to. I really felt I was in
replied, "Well, I prayed! I knew about the storm and
when I didn't hear from you, I prayed harder."
me there was not a bit of fear at the thought that maybe
in ten minutes I'd be gone. It was a wonderful feeling.
Amazing. I've never before faced what I thought was a possibility
of a fatal airline crash and I wasn't afraid!
that was an ultimate new refreshing test of my faith, it's fantastic. And I know many of you don't have
my faith, so my prayer today is, "O God, help me to
say something this morning that people will grasp and it
will do for them what my faith does for me.
is my Savior! He saves my soul.
So I don't worry about eternity.
saves my role in life so
I don't get self-centered on ego trips, but instead I'm
into service for Him.
Jesus saves me when I set my goal and make it. I can succeed
because, "I can do all thing
through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians
the thought I share with you today is that the greatest
journey of all happens when you do what the shepherds did
... hear God's message ... follow His invitation and ...
go ... look at what is in the manger.
greatest journey in life is when you accept an invitation
to meet Jesus Christ. That's what Christmas is all about!
Jesus Christ saves your soul
first thing that happens when you meet Jesus Christ is that
your soul will be saved! What does that mean? Well, all
major religions believe that the human being is immortal.
The soul is immortal. It is true of Judaism, Roman Catholicism,
the Muslim faith and it's true for Protestant Christians,
and it's probably true for other religions. The soul is
immortal! It is eternal. And it will either go eternally
to heaven or it will go to hell. That's what the major religions
I don't preach much about heaven or much about hell, but
I believe in the truth of the gospel. This week I was very
interested in reading Mohammed Ali's testimony in the December
Reader's Digest. Mohammed belongs to the Islam faith and
is a wonderful positive thinking member of his faith. I
respect him and we have exchanged letters. In his testimony
he said that in his faith, "you live one lifetime and
God keeps a record of all the bad things you do. And God
also keeps record of all the good you do. And when you die
God puts it all on a scale. If the good outweighs the bad,
you go to heaven. And if the bad outweighs the good, you
go to hell forever more."
the article quotes Mohammed saying, "You need to be
careful that you don't do the bad things." So he said,
"I carry matches with me. I think all men should carry
matches with them." He said, "When I see a girl
and I'm tempted, I pull out the matches. I light a match
and I put my finger over that flame."
think, do I want to feel that for eternity? When I can't
handle the pain anymore, I blow the match out and the temptation
have never discussed with Mohammed Ali the difference between
his faith and mine, but in the New Testament I read that
Jesus came to be our Savior. So to be saved means He pulls
you out of the bad and redeems you! Wow!
saved," I believe, "by
grace through faith, that not of ourselves, it is a gift
of God " (Ephesians 2:8)
wouldn't dare to add up all the good that I may be able
to do in my life and trust that it outweighs the bad because
the bad is also that which I have not done. But I'm saved by grace through faith! Jesus is my Savior. That's fantastic!
I don't know if I could live that good a life. I don't think
I could live a good enough life so that when I got to heaven
I could say to God, "You have to let me in, look at
my record, I'm a pretty good guy."
don't think it works that way. I think when you get to heaven
and you think you did enough good works to get in, I think
you might be disappointed. Because none of us discover our
full potential. None of us discover all the possibilities
and a lot of us sin by not believing, not trying, not giving
it all we've got. By grace we are saved. It is a gift of
is a wonderful Bible verse where Jesus says, "The
one who comes to Me, I will never cast out. (John
6:37) He did not say, "Anybody who comes to Me I'll
check the record. If it's good enough, I'll let them in.
If it's not, they're out."
invites each one of us, "Come
to ME. I'll never, never, never cast you out.
what the shepherds did. It's all you have to do. Come to
Christ and you'll save your soul.
2) Jesus Christ saves and redeems your role in life
it's not just the salvation of your immortal soul for eternity.
That's what is proclaimed in some churches. But this church
is different. We believe that Jesus Christ also saves us
in the role we are called to in our earthly life. Your lifestyle
changes when you come to Christ. Yes it does. Hundreds of
you could have that kind of testimony. I hear it all the
Schuller, you don't know what a difference Jesus Christ
made in my life. I started watching the Hour of Power. You
don't know what kind of a life I was living. I don't even
want to tell you, but I came to Christ and, wow, that changed
answer to our social problems all over the world is through
Friday night we had a wonderful dinner to salute Juan Carlos
Ortiz who has retired from our ministry. I first met him
in Luzon, Switzerland at a Billy Graham evangelism conference.
I was so impressed with him that a few years later I invited
him to come here to be our Hispanic minister on staff. I
invited him to use this Cathedral, the church, the gardens,
the grounds, the pipe organ to provide a beautiful church
service in the Spanish language on Sunday afternoons.
for the last ten years Juan Carlos was our Hispanic pastor
here and so nearly 1000 people filled the Arboretum in a
glorious tribute to him. One of the tributes to Juan Carlos
was an anecdote about Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos is from Argentina
and was preaching all over South America. In one place the
communists were moving very heavily into the village where
Juan Carlos was preaching. And the communist leaders came
to him saying, "You've got to stop preaching on Sunday
mornings unless you preach Marxism."
Juan Carlos replied, "I preach Christ."
said, "If you continue those messages about Christ,
we will kill you, your wife and your children."
Carlos said, "I need to have a few days to think about
that." So a few days later a meeting was set up with
about ten or eleven communists. As Juan Carlos faced them
alone, they asked, "Have you stopped preaching this
said, "No. I cannot."
the leader repeated, "Then we will execute you, your
wife and your children."
Juan Carlos said, "Well, then execute me here and now."
were preparing for that when one of the communists stood
up and said, "Wait a minute. I know this man. I know
how he has these meetings. And I remember one meeting in
a village where there was a poor man who had no shoes and
this man, Juan Carlos, took his shoes off his feet, gave
them to that man and preached barefoot. And I remember another
time where there was somebody who was very poor. And it
was chilly and cold and this person didn't have any warm
clothes and Juan Carlos said, 'Aren't you cold?' He said,
'Yes.' And Juan Carlos took his garment and put it on that
man. This man loves people. He does what we do. He helps
the poor. We must not kill him."
Juan Carlos continued his fantastic ministry and lived for
the big party this Friday night.
Christ saves your soul.
Christ saves and redeems your role in life
Christ saves you so you can set goals and succeed in the role God needs for you to accomplish.
What a difference that makes.
I was in Birmingham I preached in the 16th Street Baptist
Church. That's one of the famous churches of the world because
it was the church where white racists came and killed four
little black girls. It was a horrific hate crime.
when I came, they planned a special evening for me with
a wonderful church service. And their Boys Choir - known
as "The Magic City Boys Choir" sang. There were
about thirty boys. So good looking and all were wearing
tuxedos. Immediately after the church service, I was greeting
the people. And I was shocked when one of the choir members,
a little back boy in his tuxedo wanted to meet me, so I
asked, "Hey, what are you going to be when you grow
up?" And instantly he replied, "An engineer."
It shocked me because I ask that of children everywhere,
"What are you going to be when you grow up?" And
if they say, "I don't know," then I say, "Maybe
you can be a preacher like me."
here in Birmingham, at this church that suffered such a
horrific crime, instantly this boy knew. His eyes were so
sharp, so bright and so sparkling. He's obviously going
to succeed. No doubt about it.
another little boy, in his tuxedo, came to me and I asked
the same question of him, "Hi, what are you going to
be when you grow up?" He said, "I'm going to be
a lawyer." He knew immediately. He didn't say, "Well,
maybe this, maybe that." No. He knew immediately.
shocked me to hear one boy after another from that Boys
Choir answer immediately, "I'm going to be a doctor."
"I'm going to be a dentist." "Why are you
going to be a dentist?" "I'm very interested in
the mouth." That was his answer. It's phenomenal!
were Christian boys in their Baptist church choir. Jesus
Christ is their Savior. Yes, Jesus Christ makes a difference
in the kind of goals you set. And when you set impossible
goals, Jesus Christ saves you from fatigue and low achievement.
Paul summed it up,
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
with Christ as your Savior, your soul's in heaven forever.
Your role in life turns from being selfish, greedy and egotistical
to unselfishly carrying for people. And you set a higher
goal. You dare to think big. Wow.
I was writing my book, My Journey. I remembered stories that I'd forgotten.
One was when I was just a student in seminary. I remember
how I was assigned to a little tiny church in Muskegon,
Michigan. I was told to start a brand new church there.
As I preached those first services I stood outdoors to shake
hands with people as they arrived. There were about 50-60
people and children who came. The children would go downstairs
to Sunday School. One little boy about five stood outside
but he didn't come to the church door. Finally I said to
him, "Come in." And I'll never forget the tears
in his eyes. He said, "Mister I can't come in."
said, "Of course you can. Anybody can come in."
said, "I can't come in. I ain't got no money."
thought he was thinking about maybe an offering in Sunday
School so reaching in my pocket I got out a nickel, I said,
"Here's a nickel for you."
thanks." He broke into a smile, came up, grabbed the
nickel and walked in.
I was preaching to the congregation upstairs, he was in
Sunday School in the basement of that little church. After
the service ended I went down to the basement to take my
robe off. A curtain separated my room from the children's
Sunday School room. Suddenly that curtain parted and there
was that little boy, with his head sticking through. And
he said, "Hey Mister, come here."
thought, I don't have another nickel. But I went to him
and he was grinning from ear to ear. Then he stuck his hand
out and opening it, he said, "Hey mister, here's your
nickel back. I didn't have to pay to get in after all."
of you are going to come to stand before Jesus in that day
in which there's no sunset and no dawning, and you'll find
out you didn't have to pay to get in after all because once
you came to Jesus. The greatest
journey in the world is when you accept an invitation from
God to come and meet Jesus.
your journey at today? What is your security? Are you afraid?
If you are in a place like Schuller was and you thought
the plane was going to crash, would you be afraid? You don't
have to be. I can take care of that right here and now.
Forever. Everyone can simply come to Jesus Christ. Whatever
way you can and say, "I want to be one of your followers,
Jesus. I want You to be my Savior. Save my soul and save
my role to serve others. Save my goals by helping me to
think bigger than ever before.
paid it all. Now, come. Just come right now and come to
Jesus Christ. Find Him in the Bible. Find Jesus Christ living
in people who will tell you what He's done for them. And
when you meet Jesus Christ, I must tell you, you won't find
a babe in a manger. You'll find a handsome young man on
is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Savior
who is Jesus Christ, the Lord."
you, God. Thank you, Jesus Christ, for saving my immortal
soul. By grace, by love, with Your forgiveness, simply because
You love me. Oh what a difference You make in life, Jesus
Christ. You give me assurance that I never need to live
in fear, guilt, jealousy, hatred or anger. You save me from
all of that. Thank you, Jesus. As Savior, you stand with
Your arms open to embrace me. You hug me as I come to You.
I trust Your promise: "The
one who comes to Me I will never cast out."
Hallelujah. This is the day of salvation. Thank You, Jesus