Billy Graham: Which Master Will You Serve?

Billy Graham: Which Master Will You Serve?

Elijah was one of the greatest of all the prophets. He appeared suddenly, at the darkest hour in the history of Israel. He was rugged and strong—a craggy, disciplined, suntanned son of the desert. And the Scripture says that he stood for God against an entire generation, against all the powers that be. He had courage, faith, simplicity, discipline, prayer and zeal. He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:10).

Ahab was the king of Israel at the time, and he was one of the wickedest of all the kings. It is said that he did more evil than all the kings who preceded him. And he married a woman who was just as bad, or worse. Her name was Jezebel. She was a devout follower of Baal.

Baal worship carried with it all kinds of sex orgies, sensuality and human sacrifice. In fact, archaeologists have found clay pots in the temples of Baal with the remains of baby bones that were sacrificed to Baal. People would sacrifice their children to Baal, and Jezebel was determined that everybody in Israel would worship Baal instead of the true and the living God. But God was determined to wipe out Baal worship.

So on Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal—450 of them, and 400 of the prophets of the groves of Ashtaroth. He called them all together and said, “Let’s have a contest and see whose god is God. Take two bulls; cut them in pieces, put them on the altar and see if your god will answer by fire.” So the prophets of Baal called upon their god. They cried all day, but no answer came. (See 1 Kings 18:22-29.)

Then Elijah said, “All right, it’s my turn. Put the wood on. Repair the altar. Put the bullock on.” Then he said, “Make a trench around it and pour barrels of water on it.” They poured 12 barrels of water, and the altar was soaking wet.

Elijah called upon God, and the fire came and burned up the entire altar, including the water, the bullock—the whole thing. (See 1 Kings 18:30-38.)

And Elijah said to the crowd, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

Perhaps you are halting between two opinions today. You want to live your own life and follow your own “gods” and your own way instead of the way of the true and the living God, which is found in Jesus Christ.

Deep in their hearts, the people wanted the true God—but they also wanted the sensualities of the world. God will not allow that. You have to choose. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). You cannot serve God and sensuality. God will not allow you to have an altar to Him and an altar to Baal in your heart at the same time. It’s one or the other.

A famous actress once said: “I was the victim of the American dream. I had been brought up to believe that when I found success, I would automatically be happy. We were all taught that. Well, I got the success, I spent 21 years believing that as soon as all these wonderful things happened to me, my troubles would be vanished. But they weren’t—it got worse. And the American dream became one big disillusionment to me.”

You see, if you leave God out, if you leave Christ out, it’s a great disillusionment. And this idea of the pursuit of happiness—nowhere does God say that happiness is to be a goal in life. Our goal is to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Him, to reach maturity in Christ, to be conformed to His image—that’s our goal. And as we move along, we will pick up happiness here and there along the way. There are periods of great happiness, but there are also periods of challenge, and there are periods of near defeat because it’s a constant warfare. God doesn’t call us to a playground. He calls us to a spiritual battlefield, in which there will be pressures from Satan.

The pleasures of sin, the Scriptures teach, are only for a season, a short time. Then they leave a bitter taste in our mouth. Baal could not answer the deepest questions of the people’s lives. “Where did I come from?” He couldn’t answer that. “What’s the purpose of my life?” Baal couldn’t answer that. But God can answer it. Christ can answer it. “Where am I going?” Baal couldn’t answer that, but Christ can answer it. He can fill that cosmic void in your heart. Nothing else can fill it, only the person of Jesus Christ. And He can give you a brand-new life from today on, if you’re willing to accept the challenge of Christ, who loved you so much that He died on the cross and rose again—and is alive today, ready to come into your heart and into your life.

We all must make that choice. It’s a choice between two eternities, Heaven or hell.

“There is a way,” the Scripture says, “that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Notice, it seems right to you. But if you go that way, it’s going to end in death. That’s the reason Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The vast majority of people are on the broad road that leads to judgment, destruction and hell. Which road are you on?

It’s a choice between two masters. “No one can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). Who are the two masters? Self is one. Will your master be yourself, or Christ? Who sits in the driver’s seat of your life? When Christ comes in, you’ve got to move away from the controls and turn them over to Him. And if you’ll do it, there’ll be a vast change.

You’ll have to choose between two fathers. “You are of your father the devil,” Jesus said, “and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44). Think of it! Some people have the devil as their father, and they do the desires of their father, though they don’t realize it.

But how many are under the control of sin? Sin gives an order, and you obey. You can’t help it. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). But when you come to Christ and turn everything over to Him, the Scripture says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14).

Many people have gone to church all their lives, and they think that they’re ready to meet God, that they’re disciples of Christ, but they’re not. And they’re going to come to a terrible, rude awakening. They’re going to come and say, “But, Lord, we did this, we did that, we did the other thing,” and Jesus is going to say, “I never knew you. Depart from me” (Cf. Matthew 7:21-23).

You have to choose between two worlds. Right here on this Earth there are two worlds: a world dominated by evil, and a world dominated by Christ. And you have to choose. 

You have to live in this world, but you don’t have to be of it. You have to be willing to be different. You have to be willing to be laughed at, sneered at and made fun of. You have to be willing to take your stand for Christ where you work, where you live, where you study. Everyone must know that you’re of Christ. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

I’d rather be in His world, serving Him. And, you know, those of us who know Christ are marching to a different drumbeat. We are going against the tide, marching to the drumbeat of Heaven, against the oncoming flood of evil. That’s why it’s so important to pray and study the Scriptures daily.

Yes, we have to choose between two destinies, Heaven or hell. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Think of sitting there with the wrath of God abiding on you right now!

If you sense a longing for God, a desire to change and be a new person, that’s God speaking to your heart. And as you respond, He will give you the ability and the power to change, because He has to do the changing.

There’s a lonely arena where the greatest battle of life must be fought. And when you make that choice for Christ, it involves a price. It means that your whole life must change. There must be repentance. And repentance means to turn around, to change your way of living. 

And God demands an immediate decision. “How long will ye halt between two opinions?” Indecision in itself is a choice. If you decide that you’re going to wait till some other time, that’s a choice—away from God. And your heart gets harder. And the next time you have an opportunity to come to Christ, your heart may not be as ready as it is today. The Bible says, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

Make that commitment today. Make a choice between two masters, self and Christ. Do it right now. ©1979 BGEA

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. 

You Must Choose

Jesus is the only way to the Father, and the only One who can save your soul. What do you need to do? First, confess your sin and turn away from it. Second, receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, putting your faith in Him alone to save you. You can do that right now. He promises to live in you and transform your life. You can have a new life, a new beginning, if you will surrender to Christ.

You can pray a prayer like this:

“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sin. I want to turn from my sin. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe He died on the cross for my sin and You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”


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Photo: Russ Busby/©1979 BGEA

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