This issue of Decision focuses on God’s work in China, the world’s most populous nation. The Graham family has a generations-long relationship with China, and Franklin Graham recently conducted a Festival in Hong Kong. The following is a sermon Billy Graham preached at Pure Heart Church, in Shanghai, China, April 24, 1988.
The mighty God of the universe calls Himself I AM. In Exodus 3:14, the Bible says, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM” (KJV). Moses had said, “When I go down to Egypt and the people ask me who sent me, what shall I tell them” (Cf. Exodus 3:13). God said, “You tell them that I AM sent you.”
Jesus completed the statement that was given to Moses. Seven times in the Gospel of John He uses the expression, “I am.” First He said, “I am the bread of life.He who comes to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35).
In China I know you have a lot of rice, but you also have bread. Without bread or rice, a meal would not seem like a meal. Jesus fed the physically hungry. But Jesus’ greatest concern was for people with spiritual hunger.
A doctor in America said some time ago that more people die of loneliness and guilt and depression and insecurity and heart hunger than die of physical starvation. Bread in the Bible is the symbol of spiritual life. People all over the world are the same; they have an inborn hunger for something, and that something is Christ. People cannot be satisfied with anything less than Christ. Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Cf. John 6:33). “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).
How do you receive this living bread? In America in years past, we had a terrible disease called polio. It left people crippled for life. Many people died from it. Then a vaccine was discovered, and polio was almost wiped out. When I took a vaccination for polio, they gave me a little white wafer. They put a little bit of medicine on it, and I ate it and swallowed it. That was the vaccination. It seemed so simple, such a painless act.
To receive Christ into your heart seems so simple. You just open your heart and say, “Lord Jesus, come in. I’m willing to turn from my sins and receive You as my Lord and Savior.” Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35). This bread satisfies the inner longings and hungers of the human heart. Have you taken of that bread? You must repent of your sins, change your mind, turn your back on sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Second, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Scientists say they do not know what light is. We know the effects of the sun, but we don’t exactly know all about it. We know that no plant or animal or human life on this earth can live without light.
God put the sun a precise distance from the earth. If the sun were a few kilometers closer to us, we would all be burned up. If it were farther from us, we would freeze to death.
What the sun is to the earth, Jesus Christ is to the human heart. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve seen the light of thousands of Christian hospitals and Christian educational institutions; I see this light shining across the world, extending our Christian hand of compassion to a needy world. But more than helping the body, I see it coming into the souls of people. You have a body. But the Bible also says you have a soul, a spirit living inside of you. When you die, your body goes to the grave. But the spirit, the real you, lives on forever. Jesus said if you come to Him, you will live with Him.
In America many people are stumbling like blind people, going through life searching for something that they don’t have. Oh, they have money. They have television sets. They may have an automobile. They have all those things, but they’re not happy. Peace is not in their heart. Why? Because they don’t know Christ. Jesus Christ is the One that brings peace in our hearts. He turns His light on in our hearts.
Third, Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9). Every building I’ve ever been in has an entrance somewhere. The Kingdom of God also has an entrance. It is Jesus Christ. Jesus was probably familiar with doors because He was the son of a carpenter. He had probably made many doors. Now, a building may have many doors. But God has only one door to His Kingdom, and that door is Jesus Christ.
Fourth, Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). It was close to the time when He was to die, and He was having a last meal with His disciples. He said some wonderful things to them. He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (John 15:5).
When you receive Christ, He gives you the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit produces fruit in your life. What kind of fruit? Love. He gives you supernatural power to love even people you don’t like. Joy is another fruit. Joy in the midst of all kinds of problems and suffering. There’s peace. You have peace in your heart. And then you have patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control. These are produced by the Holy Spirit. And you can live that kind of life with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Fifth, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Sheep could not exist without a shepherd. The wolves and the wild dogs and the thieves would get them. And they would wander off, because sheep cannot see very far. The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Man is like sheep. We wander around blind; we get lost. We’re lost from God. We’ve strayed from God.
My family and I live in a mountain log cabin in the southern part of the United States. We have a lawn and a pasture, so we decided we were going to get three sheep to help chew the grass. We put up a fence, hoping they wouldn’t get lost, but sometimes they got out and couldn’t find their way back.
Jesus tells a story of a lost sheep. This farmer had 99 sheep that were safe, but one had wandered away. He was lost. So this shepherd decided that he was going to go after the one lost sheep. After much searching, he found the sheep. And he called all of his friends together, and they rejoiced because he had found the sheep (Luke 15:4-6).
Are you that one lost sheep? Jesus Christ would have died on the cross if no one had been lost but you. God loves you and He’s searching for you.
The shepherd lives with his sheep. He gives them food and protection and security. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Whatever happens, however sick you may get–you may lose a child, you may lose a father or a mother–Jesus is with you. You’re the sheep; He’s the shepherd. He loves you, and He gave His life for you. When He died on the cross, God took all of our sins and laid them on Him.
Sixth, Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He offers us eternal life. One day one of Jesus’ friends died, and Jesus raised him from the dead. He said to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus came out of the grave (John 11:11-44). This is an example of what Jesus can do for us spiritually. We can become new creatures. Jesus said we can be born again, and we don’t have to enter our mother’s womb to be born again (John 3:3-7). We are born again spiritually. That could happen to you. It could start tonight.
Seventh, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In John 6:44, He says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” This is how we come to God. The Holy Spirit will use an incident in your life to speak to you. It may be when you’re quietly meditating or thinking. Or it may be when you’re walking down the street with thousands of people. In the midst of all those people God can speak to you. He uses the Holy Spirit to convict people of their need of God. He draws us. He urges us to receive His Son, Jesus Christ, as the fulfillment of our life, the One who can forgive our sins, the One who can give us eternal life. Will you make that commitment?