The Last Laugh
You will find the first text for tonight in Ecclesiastes 7:6. “For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.”
How useless is the crackling of a thorn in the fire—just a little bit of a noise and out it flies.
Now, what is a fool? God surely does not refer so often in the Scriptures to a fool and mean what we mean by a fool. Usually when you talk to people from God’s Word about being a fool they say to themselves: “Well, I have pretty good sense—I am not what the Lord is talking about.”
God isn’t making fun of idiots when He is talking about fools. When God talks about an idiot He talks about an idiot. God has two classes of people in the world—wise men and fools. It is the wise man who recognizes God in everything that He does, and finds God. And the man who does not know God, and who sits aside and is content with his own philosophies, content with his own theory, content with his own deduction, and does not seek God, that man is called in the Bible a fool. The man who does not think through; the man who does not pray through; the man who does not go through until he finds God, this man is a foolish man in the eyes of God.
God says “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” Now God certainly would not take His time to discuss what an idiot does. God is not making fun of some poor, driveling idiot with his tongue hanging out, who is not responsible in his brain. That man is a subject of pity for God. But God is talking about men and women in this audience tonight who have left God out of their lives; left God out of their reckoning. “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”
A New Class
We have a different class of fools today, friends. We have the kind who say the God of the Bible is not God. God—the only God who has ever been revealed, the living God—is Father, Son and Holy Ghost—Three in One and One in Three.
Listen to me: Outside of the character of Jesus Christ there is no revelation of the character of God. If Jesus Christ tonight is not the Son of God, then I defy any philosopher by any sort of theory or philosophy to give me a clear outline of the character of God. You cannot find it in the world; it is an enigma; and unless God had made His revelation in Jesus we would not know that God is love. We would not understand for a moment that God is gracious, that God is merciful, tender and patient.
Men are even looking at the events happening around the world today and, because of them, trying to philosophize and say there is not a God. One of the great thinkers of Europe has put into the newspapers a copy of some of his writings, and into the magazines in our country, that if there was a God in heaven He would not allow a war like the one over there to continue.
Now we have lots of men today who are talking about God, but they do not know what they are talking about. There is only one God, my friend, that has ever been revealed, and that is the God of the Bible; and you cannot talk about Him outside of His revelation. The Bible’s God is made up of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and Jesus is the second person of that adorable Trinity. He was manifest in the flesh; He came from the bosom of God, and God said to the world: “This is my beloved Son—hear ye Him. This is my only begotten Son.”
The record says that the Holy Ghost came upon Mary and overshadowed her with His presence, and he said to her: “That holy thing—that shall be born of you shall be the Son of the Highest.” He never had Joseph for a father. The Father of Jesus Christ was the God of high heaven.
Somebody says: “It does not make much difference about the virgin birth.”
It makes all the difference in the world.
Listen to me: If Joseph was Jesus Christ’s father, then Jesus Christ had to suffer for His own sin; had a personality that was sinful. My father, with tears running down his cheeks took me in his arms and, looking up to God, prayed one day when my temper had come to the breaking point, and said: “Oh, God, don’t let this temper of mine ruin this poor boy’s life, because I have had it and passed it on to him.” And if Joseph had been Jesus’ father the human rage and wrath of Joseph would have been in Jesus to slap one of His disciples’ face. No, my friend; He always had a personality. He was always with the Father. He was with Him in glory and in the beginning. God let Him come down here and Mary wrapped around Him a humanity like yours and like mine; but inside of it, thank God, He lived holy and spotless and pure through all those days, and offered Himself unto God a spotless lamb, without blemish.
The Son of God
God’s revelation of Himself is His Son, walking on the waves, stilling the winds, telling them to be calm. God’s revelation of Himself is Jesus Christ walking up to the tomb and saying to Lazarus “Come forth.” That is the revelation of God.
Listen to me: If you cut out the virgin birth you make me the worshipper of a man who had an illegitimate birth. Do you mean to tell me that a holy God will stamp with miraculous power from on high, set His seal and ask men to worship and bow down before the feet of an illegitimate child? Do you mean that it makes no difference if I am asked to worship one who came into the world from a direct act of sin? Do you mean to tell me that the virgin birth means nothing? Do you mean to tell me that a holy God is going to stamp that kind of thing when God cursed people just because of sin? I tell you, my friends, the men today going out of theological institutions and calling themselves ministers, who are saying these things, are the most traitorous lot the world has ever known. They say “it makes no difference.” It makes all the difference in the world.If Jesus was not holy and spotless and without sin then He could not die for my sin.
But, thank God, I have a Christ tonight who is the second person of the Trinity. Thank God, we are talking about things that are real. You are facing death tonight. You are facing hell. If you do not get your mind straightened up on this subject you will go on in the dark. “He that believeth on the Son hath life, and he that believeth not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God abideth in him.”
“The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” God has said: “This is my Son.” Let me ask you something: Whose opinion are you going to take tonight—man’s opinion or God’s opinion? God says “This is my Son,” and all the record is clean and without spot and without blemish—a straightforward fact from God. Jesus is God’s revelation, that second person of the Trinity. Then God capped the climax by raising Him from the dead, set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, and established a throne of grace where you may come gladly and freely!
Show me in this book one place where Jesus Christ ever for a moment admits sin. He says “which of you convinceth me of sin”; again, “The Prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in me.” No weakness there, no sin there—the spotless Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. These disciples who walked with Him suffered the loss of all things for the proposition that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. They knew what they were talking about. They had eaten with Him, they had slept with Him, they had walked with Him. They all witnessed to the fact that He was the Son of God.
Get a Verdict
I might stand here tonight and bring through that door His enemies—the men who put Him to death—and put every one of them on the witness stand—not call a single friend, but only His enemies—and as a lawyer I would get a verdict from any just jury on their God. I might call Pilate—Pilate, who said before the multitudes: “I wash my hands of the blood of this just man.” Pilate would have to say: “I did not find a bit of fault in Him, but, to tell you the truth, I was scared and didn’t dare face those folks.” But, oh, Pilate tonight would give the world if he just had that to do over again!
Listen: You are sitting tonight in indecision. It is either Christ and heaven for you, or hell and darkness forever. You cannot laugh like a fool at God and have the last laugh. You cannot laugh at God’s plan and God’s revelation and God’s way of light for you after you have gotten a body, soul and spirit from God. Hear me tonight: You must answer to God for the light that comes to you streaming from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You must make some effort to get Jesus Christ into your heart.
I might bring that bunch of soldiers, who crucified Him, and line them up and ask them for their evidence. This one would say: “Folks, listen: I believe this man was the Son of God. I nailed the nails into His hands.”
“Did He pull away?”
“No. The thieves would turn from side to side, would curse me and try to get away; but He didn’t.”
“What was wrong with Him?”
“His poor face did not look like a human being’s, it was so marred.”
“What was the last thing that He said?”
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“Then what happened?”
“Why, it was dark everywhere.”
“Then what did you say?”
“Every last one of us said: ‘SURELY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD—SURELY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD.’ And we got away as quickly as we could.”
“Then by your own testimony you thought He was the Son of God?”
“Yes sir. We never crucified one like Him.”
Friend, hear me: Do you really realize what an awful thing it is for you to fool and question that Jesus was the Son of God? God has made His revelation to this world of His character and Himself and His wrath against sin and atonement for sin through His blessed Son, and asks you to accept that Son. God help you to line up with Jesus Christ tonight!
Some of you are hiding behind your church membership. You are a cowardly crowd and you know it. Why don’t you come out and tell God you are a sinner and get saved on the merits of His precious blood? Why don’t you stand on the revelation of Jesus and His work on the cross for you instead of some kind of a thing you belong to? Do I believe in church membership? Sure. But I believe in church membership that is made up of a group of saved men and women, who have accepted Jesus and quit sin and want to get together and let the world know about Him.
They Want Followers
The fool laughs at God and says, There is no such God. And it is not a bunch of idiots—no, it is a bunch of high-brows today who are saying that, a bunch of little fools who want men to follow them along the path that leads to hell through their philosophy.
Oh, take Him tonight as your Saviour; take Him as your Lord; take Him as your sin-bearer; take Him as your life; take Him as the conqueror of death; take Him as your scepter-bearer hereafter, for He is King of kings and Lord of lords! It is no wonder that Paul cried out: I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
To run this universe and this world somebody must sit on the throne and never move from it; and you cannot find any place in the Bible where God moves from His throne; where God gets up and stands to meet anybody—the Father. He does not move out; He is never sent on a journey. But Jesus goes out from the bosom of the Father. What is spoken of in the Old Testament as Jehovah is Jesus in the New Testament; Jesus Christ, the Lord of hosts. There is only one place in the Bible that makes any reference to God ever moving, and that is where Jesus says: “The Father and I will come and make our abode with you.” And this He said of the Holy Spirit, to abide in our hearts. Jesus He sends to the world as His revelation and you will never know anything about God until you see Jesus Christ.
Like Denying Your Mother
The very eyes with which men are reading their books tonight, the very light and the illumination of their mentality, has come because Jesus Christ came into this world; and by the very light of God shining in men’s hearts they are turning around and saying there is not any such thing. It is just as if I were to have Mr. Edison here tonight, and by the light of this very bulb that Mr. Edison has made, reading this little book of instructions telling me how it was brought about, and as I read the description by this very light of his I turned around to him and said: “I don’t believe it.” No wonder God says that the foolhath said in his heart there is no God.
The very refinement of men has been brought about because God has set a standard, because holy men of old have written this book and given the revelation; and now here are a group of men who by the very light of this book turn around and say to Christ: I don’t believe you.
What of the Picture?
Some of you are reading their books; some of you are grabbing at the things they write in the magazines. You have thrown hell out. Let me show you a picture tonight and ask you if God threw hell out: Jesus Christ down yonder in the garden, Jesus who walked on the sea, who fed the multitude; and the blood is running out of His head in great drops of sweat. What is He doing? What is He praying for? He is saying: “Oh, Father—Oh God—if there be any other way let this cup of death pass from me!” Why? He called Lazarus back from the dead; the very accusation at the Cross was this: “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” This was the taunt of His enemies. At last they admit, boldly, frankly, openly, that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead! A bunch of liars and traitors and fools by their own heated argument and railing against Him admit He raised others from the dead! “He saved others—Himself He cannot save.” Why? Because He was dying to pay the penalty of sin and let you into God’s presence.
Do you mean to tell me if there was not a hell, if men were not perishing and it was not an awful thing to die, without Christ in the world, that Christ, the Son of God, would have been on His knees out there in the garden, sweating drops of blood and crying to God: “If there be any other way, allow this cup to pass from me?”
Deal on God’s Basis
You had better cry out tonight, “Oh God, forgive me—I have been a fool, I have been a fool.” Bless God for the day that happened in my life. I am ashamed to think that I ever had a doubt in this poor old numb-skull of mine, but bless God, every one is gone because I admitted my sin. He will take the blessed work of that cross and wash your filthy sins away, and break the habits of your life, and come in and live in your heart; come in and dwell with you, praise God!
Oh, the wonderful Trinity of God! The Holy Spirit in this room right now, helping me to preach, helping you to listen, trying His best to get your heart. See the need of the Trinity—Jesus has done all the positive work; lived the life, died the death, broken open the grave; been raised from the dead and sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for you and for me. What does the Holy Spirit do? He is the business agent. He is the salesman, and He goes around over this audience tonight—something I could not do, something no man could do—and He talks to your heart.
Drinking Poison and Laugh
This wonderful Trinity is God—and the fool hath said in His heart there is no God. The fool today is denying the deity of Jesus. The fool is saying “No” to the Holy Spirit. Man, woman, you in God’s eyes are a fool tonight if you are turning away from Jesus. You may be wise as far as this world is concerned, but to God you are a fool.
Here is a man who is building a house; he is thirsty and I come along with a little bottle of poison in my hand. I say to him: “What are you doing there?”
“I am building a house.”
“Are you thirsty?”
“Yes, I’m thirsty, and I’m hungry.”
I say, “Here is some poison—will you drink that?”
He says: “What do I care? I am a sport—I’ll take a chance.” And he drinks the poison. He is a fool; it is foolish, almost, to tell it; but I could not make it more foolish than the man who will sap up and drink in death—death for all eternity, when God has told him what it is in advance: “The wages of sin is death.” There isn’t a bigger fool on Earth than the man who comes in here night after night and hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and will not accept it.
She Sees the Wages
Many a poor fool has taken poison, and dared to do it. I went into a hospital in the city of Pittsburgh, to see a young girl who had heard a great deal about the Gospel and had taken poison in her wickedness. A faithful Christian worker had tried her best to get that girl to give up sin; she was a flirt of the worst type, pretty, and with a horrible capacity for liquor. The worker would talk to her about death, and she would laugh and say: “Oh, I have taken many a chance; I will take another.” And she took a chance on poison. I never will forget the sight as long as I live; I never, if I can possibly help it, want to see a scene like the one in that room. She thought death was a little thing she could play with; she thought poison was another one of the little romances. But now she was crying: “Oh, I have gone through a thousand hells, and in the next ten minutes I will have to go out into the black darkness and hell!”
Oh, let me wake you up tonight to the fact that the wages of sin is death—dark, awful, death. We have come to look at death as a pretty coffin where you put the flowers over it. There is nothing to that. What about the soul that has left that body?
Scare You In
God help you to get your bearings tonight. Don’t be a fool. Somebody says: “Mr. Rader, are you just trying to scare me into salvation?” Say, if I could I would throw you in head first, feet first, a piece at a time, any way I could get you in. I tell you, that as I look back into that awful whirlpool of sin, I will stand and plead with men as long as I have life and breath, to keep them from going into death without Jesus. I tell you, I have heard too much of this namby-pamby lolly-pop smoothing over hell; you can get out and say “Rader is preaching about hell, and it’s all myth.” But death stands there, my friends, and as long as it is there with all of its horrors, thank God Jesus is right on the other side and I’m showing hell and offering Jesus. You must remember, my friends, that it isn’t the preaching of hell that saves you, but maybe a little preaching of it will wake you up to the fact that Jesus saves.
Oh, there are people today playing with fire, but fire is in the world and still does its business. There are fellows who laugh at a gun. I remember out on the ranch out West one of the fellows took out an old shotgun to clean it, and he stuck the muzzle at another fellow and said to him: “Look down there.” And the boss stepped up from behind and grabbed that gun out of his hand and gave him a slap that sent him clear across the room, and said: “No man who ever works for me will ever stick a gun in anybody’s face. Don’t you know it is always an empty gun that kills somebody?”
Taking a Chance
There are lots of fools looking down gun barrels yet; and every day the paper tells about somebody monkeying with a gun. My friend, if you are monkeying with hell tonight, I beg of you in God’s name to let go that quick tonight, and come to Jesus. You have a right to come. God loves you—“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus Christ has broken the power of the devil and of death and all He asks of you is to take Him, and He will prove it to you. Can you have the “last laugh” do you think, if you die without Jesus?
The fool says: “Come, let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Oh, how the world is going mad over eating—restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, dance place and eat—fool around—thousands for dining rooms. The world is going crazy over it; it is a sign of our times. Is anything wrong with eating? No. Here is the trouble.
Suppose we have a great big factory down here, and a great big steam boiler, and every day we have a coal wagon come into the factory and shovel in several tons of coal and burn it. And we go into the factory and the wheels are not running; nothing is turned out. Pretty big fools, aren’t we? The factory ought to be turning out some production. What are you turning out with that great big life of yours on the food you are taking in? We who own that factory and put our money in it will say, “It is doing nothing but burning up coal—why do we have to be taxed for that kind of proposition?” Why, in any kind of justice, hasn’t God closed you down long ago? You have been an enemy to God, eating and drinking His products and rebelling against Him. You may have lived pretty well as far as society is concerned, but why should God keep that thing of your life pumping? Why should He dump life into you and keep you going, as you sit there breathing in His air and using the heart He gave you, and you are saying: “I will not go down that aisle and bow down to Jesus Christ.” What right have you to expect any mercy from God?
God has given you the chance to accept it. Oh no, let’s eat. What is the use of eating unless we can glorify God through our bodies? Let’s drink—but not that we may go out and work the works of God. We are only after the thrill these days—the effect that is like the effect of booze. We don’t care whether we get it in a moving picture, or in reading a novel or seeing a show or eating, but we are after some kind of dope that will thrill us. But what does all this thrill mean? Is it moving you toward God? Is it bringing you a knowledge of God? No—it is booze; it is only making of you a drunken fool as you reel along in your amusement-mad life today, seeing things but never seeing Jesus Christ.
What will end it? Praise God, one good look at Jesus! Walk down that aisle and take Him as your Saviour—let all those things go, and you will move right along up unto God; then every time God talks to you and thrills your soul, He will put more character in you, and your life won’t encumber the ground any more, but you will be a blessing to those that cross your path.
President Wilson has a right to send a man as his ambassador to the city of Chicago, and we would have to hear him for Mr. Wilson’s sake, or we would be disloyal to the government. And Almighty God has a right to send His representative. If you turn Jesus Christ down, you are a rebel to God.
It is sin that keeps you from Jesus. It is your own desire to get some sinful pleasure out of life—“eat, drink and be merry.” Oh, how mad we are over the “merry” part these days. What is it we are laughing about? What is it that people are laughing at mostly in shows today? The whole show business is based on one proposition—what? To play on the passions of men and women. Oh, they don’t say anything rotten in most of them. They don’t get that raw. They cover it artistically. They love the triangle, that puts another man in between a wife and husband, and then see how it is worked out.
All you have to do is to look at the young womanhood and young manhood of today and see what your theaters have done with their thrills and false conceptions of life. Take the average young fellow who goes to work for a business man today; the hardest thing that man has to do is to get him to have sense about the stable things of life; he is accustomed to a false conception of life, everything is a dream to him; his eyes have been on the things that only roused his passion and his romance; there was nothing there that was stable.
You put things before the people that are worthwhile and what do they do? They turn it down. The managers say “We have to get the thing that pays.” Why are they taking the men out of the shows and putting in mostly young women? And once in a while a good thing is thrown in—what for? To keep some of the new fish going that might be shocked, and get them spoiled little by little until they will take anything. Oh, the devil knows how to bring them in.
Yes, they are laughing tonight in thousands and thousands of show houses—they are laughing—but what are they laughing at? Death is right there. Death is right around them. Tomorrow they will be gone. Thousands of them will pass tonight. And laughing, they go on their way. Oh, God help you, friend—wake up! “Eat, drink and be merry” and what will you find? Unless the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me, I have no cause to be merry; but thank God, I can laugh now; the danger is over. I am clean and free before God through the work of Christ. I see Him the victor of death for me and I can “Laugh Last.”
Laugh at a Funeral
What fools, to laugh at a funeral! Did you ever think that this whole life is a funeral? Would you giggle and laugh tonight if I were preaching a funeral sermon here tonight for a man lying in his coffin? Yet we go about as if life was a merry whirlpool. It is not. Death is at the end of it. Hell is at the end of it. The wages of sin is death—BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH CHRIST JESUS, and “to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God!” Then you can laugh at death. It is conquered. Then you have a nice kind of laugh. Why? It is the last laugh. God Himself laughs with you, and the angels laugh and rejoice around the throne. Why? Because death is vanquished and swallowed up in victory. Jesus is victory, the light, the way. God help you to see life in Christ Jesus tonight. Surely you would be a fool to refuse.