Billy Graham: I Want it Now

I once saw a big ad in the newspaper that said, “I want it now.” What it meant was that you get it now and pay for it later. That’s the way most of us buy things these days. We’re living in a period that I think may go down in history as “the instant civilization.”

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Instant coffee. Instant soup, instant meals in microwave ovens—everything is instant. We don’t want to work for it. We don’t want to wait for it. We don’t want to do it God’s way. We want it now. 

This is what Esau said. He came in from the field, and he was hungry. He saw his brother with some stew, and he said, “I want some of that.” His brother, Jacob, said, “If you’ll give me your birthright, I’ll give you some stew” (see Genesis 25:29-34). 

Now the birthright meant everything. But Esau was so hungry that he sold his birthright to his brother in order to “get it now.”

Once, when Israel was at war, David didn’t go and lead the battle as he normally did. He stayed at home. While he was in his palace, he looked across and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. And he said, “I want her; I want her now.” She was another man’s wife. 

David was a man after God’s own heart—a man of God. And yet he had her husband killed. He was guilty of murder and adultery. He tried to cover it up, until Nathan the prophet went to him and said, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). Then David began to confess and to repent. But he never really recovered his stature again. Something was lacking in his life from that moment on.

David’s son Absalom said the same thing. He said, “I don’t want to wait for my father to die, when I may have a chance of inheriting the throne. I want to be king now.” So he led a rebellion against his father.

In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, there was a father with two sons. And the younger lad knew he had an inheritance coming. About a third of his father’s estate would go to him, and two-thirds to his older brother. He didn’t like it on the farm, so he asked for his inheritance. He said, “I want it now.” 

And he got it. He spent it on riotous living, and he ended up in a pigpen, empty and disillusioned. All of his friends had left him. 

You see, the devil also pays wages. Serve the devil, and he’ll pay you. He’ll hold out to you the most beautiful promises you have ever heard. Satan’s offer is always clothed in the most beautiful, sparkling wrapping. But he is a liar and the father of lies, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

And the devil may be lying to you right now. He’s whispering in your ear. He’s telling you that his way is better than God’s way. But so many people, with seemingly everything to live for, die disillusioned and despairing, fearful and bitter. Satan promises the world; but he gives an empty heart, an empty and lost soul. And you end up in judgment and hell as the result. 

Many people seek instant pleasure instead of true happiness. A famous movie star said in a television interview, “You know, I only wanted to find a little bit of happiness. And I’d find a little of it here and there, but not much.” 

One of the world’s great ballet dancers, at the end of an interview, looked down and said, “You know, I’m really searching for my spiritual self. I really don’t know who I am.” 

Do you know who you are? Have you found your spiritual self? Do you have such a relationship with Jesus Christ that there’s a joy and a peace and a happiness in your life, and forgiveness of sin and a knowledge that if you died at this moment, you would go to Heaven? Do you know that? If you don’t know that, you can make sure today. 

You say, “Well, I’m a member of the church. I’ve been confirmed.” But down deep in your heart, you know that Christ is not your Lord and Savior. Because Lord and Savior must go together. Lord means king. It means that Jesus is on the throne of your life, in every area of your life. 

Billy Graham preaches in South Bend, Indiana, in 1977, where this message was first delivered. Photo by Russ Busby/©1977 BGEA

 Do you know who you really are? You’re made in the image of God. You were made to glorify God. You were made for God, and without God there’s an empty place in your life. That could be filled right now, simply by surrendering to Jesus Christ. 

In 2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4, Paul said, “In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” We’re searching for pleasure, for happiness, for kicks, and we get them temporarily. But then comes the morning after. And the kick has a kickback. 

On the other hand, the psalmist said, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Not the pleasure of a moment, but forever. 

The only people I know anywhere who really have complete pleasure and happiness and joy are those who know Jesus Christ. Oh, there could be tears and problems and difficulties. It’s not easy to be a Christian. But when the Holy Spirit takes full control of you, it becomes the most exciting, the most thrilling, the most challenging, the most adventuresome life in the world. 

People today also seek instant sex instead of true love. They say, “I want it now. I’m not willing to wait for true love.” They have erotic love, but agapé love—God’s love—they don’t know anything about. Come to Christ and find true love. 

And they seek instant wealth instead of true treasures. We’re living in the most affluent society the world has ever known. When I come back to America from abroad, I can’t believe the wealth in this country. Many people who are poor around the world are saying, “I want it, and I want it now.” I try to tell them that all of America’s wealth hasn’t made us a happy nation. It hasn’t solved our problems. Because true wealth is spiritual wealth. Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24-25).

Oh, a rich person can get to Heaven. There’s nothing wrong with being rich if you got it honestly, and if you’re a good steward, and if you share it. But some want to get it—and get it now. And so they are lying and cheating and stealing.

“He who trusts in his riches will fall,” the Scripture says (Proverbs 11:28). I’ve never seen a funeral in which, behind the hearse, there was a U-Haul trailer going out to the graveyard. You can’t take it with you. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). 

Do you have treasures in Heaven? What’s your bank account like in Heaven? If you’ve got a big bank account in hell, you had better change banks. I’m serious. You can’t take it with you. You leave it all behind. And the only thing that counts is your relationship with Jesus Christ.

God said through Isaiah, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take all of your scarlet sins today and have them as white as snow? Jesus can do it. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The greatest word in all the world is forgiveness. Are you forgiven? Are you sure of it? Are you certain that God has forgiven you? Well, that’s why Christ died on the cross; and that’s why He rose again—so that you might be forgiven.

The Bible says, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Come to Jesus now. 

When I was preaching a few months ago, there were two 18-year-old boys in the audience. And when I gave the appeal, they turned to each other and said, “Shall we go?” One said, “Yes,” and the other said, “No.” They talked a little bit, and they both decided to accept Christ. A few weeks later, they were flying an airplane. They got caught in a storm in the mountains. The plane crashed, and they both went into the presence of Christ. What if they had said “No”? What if they had put it off? I’ll see those two boys in Heaven because one night they came to Christ.

Now is your moment—right this instant. Do I believe in instant salvation? I certainly do. Open your heart to Christ right now. Say “Yes” to Him. ©1977 BGEA

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

Salvation—You Can Have it Now

Don’t waste your life looking for the world’s brand of instant pleasure or wealth or anything else. Come to Jesus Christ and find joy forevermore. 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/©1977 BGEA