Sermon Illustrations

Last week, as part of their study of WWII, we watched, The Longest Day, a classic film with dozens of famous actors, including John Wayne.

Much of the action centers on the allies efforts to take Omaha Beach. The Germans had every tactical advantage and hundreds of men were killed by machine gun fire. Eventually, however, cigar-chomping General Robert Mitchum develops a plan for success. A large concrete wall protecting a valley will be destroyed by dynamite and the men will pour through this one area and take control.

As he prepares his men to implement this plan, Mitchum gives a great speech, the culmination of which is: “I don’t care if you are injured; I do not want to know if you are hurt. There is only one condition for remaining on the beach and not following my orders—if you are already dead.”

And sure enough, after the bomb rips away the barrier, Mitchum stands and gives the signal, and troops pour through by the tens of thousands, overrunning the German defenses.

But some men did not rise from the sand and charge. Why not? Because they were dead. And why did tens of thousands get up and risk their lives for the cause? Because they heard the voice of the General. The General did not make them alive; but those who were alive, heard and attacked.

In John 6, Jesus explains (without embarrassment or uncertainty) the doctrine of election: “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” And, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” Why can none come to Jesus unless the Father draws? Because the dead cannot hear the voice of the General.

The Bible claims that the promises of its Gospel are the sweetest and most appealing every uttered. They are words of life, assurances of forgiveness, guarantees of a clean conscience, treats for the soul. If that is true, then why does not everyone respond in faith? Because not all are alive.

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