40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
In light of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s recent birthday and the upcoming national holiday named after him, I would like to preach a message originally delivered by King at Detroit’s Second Baptist Church in 1954 and originally titled “Rediscovering Lost Values” which I am taking the liberty to retitle it, A Message for President Trump, President Obama, Pastors, and People from the Grave of the Prophet Martin Luther King Jr. Adapted from His Message Titled “Rediscovering Lost Values”, Subtitled “This is a Moral Universe”.
I want you to think with me this morning from the subject: rediscovering lost values. Rediscovering lost values. There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don’t think we have to look too far to see that. I’m sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world’s ills, many things come to mind.
We begin to wonder if it is due to the fact that we don’t know enough. But it can’t be that. Because in terms of accumulated knowledge we know more today than men have known in any period of human history. We have the facts at our disposal. We know more about mathematics, about science, about social science, and philosophy, than we’ve ever known in any period of the world’s history. So it can’t be because we don’t know enough.
And then we wonder if it is due to the fact that our scientific genius lags behind. That is, if we have not made enough progress scientifically. Well then, it can’t be that. For our scientific progress over the past years has been amazing. Man through his scientific genius has been able to warp distance and place time in chains, so that today it’s possible to eat breakfast in New York City and supper in London, England. Back in about 1753 it took a letter three days to go from New York City to Washington, and today you can go from here to China in less time than that. It can’t be because man is stagnant in his scientific progress. Man’s scientific genius has been amazing.
I think we have to look much deeper than that if we are to find the real cause of man’s problems and the real cause of the world’s ills today. If we are to really find it I think we will have to look in the hearts and souls of men.
The trouble isn’t so much that we don’t know enough, but it’s because we aren’t good enough. The trouble isn’t so much that our scientific genius lags behind, but our moral genius lags behind. The great problem facing modern man is that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood. And the great danger facing us today is not so much the atomic bomb that was created by physical science. Not so much that atomic bomb that you can put in an aeroplane and drop on the heads of hundreds and thousands of people—as dangerous as that is. But the real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness. That’s the atomic bomb that we’ve got to fear today. The problem is with the men. Within the heart and the souls of men. That is the real basis of our problem.
My friends, all I’m trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it. The only way we can do it is to go back, and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind.
Our situation in the world today reminds me of a very popular situation that took place in the life of Jesus. It is found over in the second chapter of Luke’s gospel. The story is very familiar, very popular, we all know it. You remember when Jesus was about twelve years old, there was the custom of the feast. Jesus’ parents took him up to Jerusalem. That was an annual occasion, the feast of the Passover, and they went up to Jerusalem and they took Jesus along with them. And they were there a few days, and then after being there they decided to go back home, to Nazareth. And they started out, and I guess as it was the tradition in those days, the father probably traveled in front, and then the mother and the children behind. You see they didn’t have the modern conveniences that we have today. They didn’t have automobiles and subways and buses. They walked and traveled on donkeys and camels and what have you. So they traveled very slow, but it was usually the tradition for the father to lead the way.
And they left Jerusalem going on back to Nazareth, and I imagine they walked a little while and they didn’t look back to see if everybody was there. But then the Scripture says, they went about a day’s journey and they stopped, I imagine to check up, to see if everything was all right, and they discovered that something mighty precious was missing. They discovered that Jesus wasn’t with them. Jesus wasn’t in the midst. And so they paused there, and, looked and they didn’t see him around, and they went on, and, and started looking among the kinsfolk, and they went on back to Jerusalem and found him there, in the temple with the doctors of the law.
Now, the real thing that is to be seen here is this, that the parents of Jesus realized that they had left and that they had lost a mighty precious value. They had sense enough to know that before they could go forward to Nazareth, they had to go backward to Jerusalem to rediscover this value. They knew that. They knew that they couldn’t go home to Nazareth until they went back to Jerusalem.
Sometimes, you know, it’s necessary to go backward in order to go forward. That’s an analogy of life. I remember the other day I was driving out of New York City into Boston, and I stopped off in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to visit some friends. And I went out of New York on a highway that is known as the Merritt Parkway, it leads into Boston, a very fine parkway. And I stopped in Bridgeport, and after being there for two or three hours, I decided to go on to Boston, and I wanted to get back on the Merritt Parkway. And I went out thinking that I was going toward the Merritt Parkway. I started out, and I rode, and I kept riding, and I looked up and I saw a sign saying two miles to a little town that I knew I was to bypass—I wasn’t to pass through that particular town. So, I thought I was on the wrong road. I stopped and I asked a gentleman on the road which way would I get to the Merritt Parkway. And he said, the Merritt Parkway is about twelve or fifteen miles back that way. You’ve got to turn around and go back to the Merritt Parkway, you are out of the way now. In other words, before I could go forward to Boston, I had to go back about twelve or fifteen miles to get to the Merritt Parkway. May it not be that modern man has gotten on the wrong highway? And if he is to go forward to the city of salvation, he’s got to go back and get on the right parkway.
And so that was the thing that Jesus’ parents realized, that they had to go back and find this mighty precious value that they had left behind, in order to go forward. They realized that. And so they went back to Jerusalem and discovered Jesus, rediscovered him so to speak, in order to go forward to Nazareth.
Now that’s what we’ve got to do in our world today. We’ve left a lot of precious values behind; we’ve lost a lot of precious values. And if we are to go forward, if we are to make this a better world in which to live, we’ve got to go back. We’ve got to rediscover these precious values that we’ve left behind.
I want to deal with one or two of these mighty precious values that we’ve left behind, that if we’re to go forward and to make this a better world, we must rediscover.
The first is this—the first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this—that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe, just as abiding as the physical laws. I’m not so sure we all believe that. We never doubt that there are physical laws of the universe that we must obey. We never doubt that. And so we just don’t jump out of airplanes or jump off of high buildings for the fun of it—we don’t do that. Because we unconsciously know that there is a final law of gravitation, and if you disobey it you’ll suffer the consequences—we know that. Even if we don’t know it in its Newtonian formulation, we know it intuitively, and so we just don’t jump off the highest building in Detroit for the fun of it—we don’t do that. Because we know that there is a law of gravitation which is final in the universe. If we disobey it, we’ll suffer the consequences.
But I’m not so sure if we know that there are moral laws, just as abiding as the physical laws. I’m not so sure about that. I’m not so sure we really believe that there is a law of love in this universe, and that if you disobey it you’ll suffer the consequences. I’m not so sure if we really believe that. Now, at least two things convince me that we don’t believe that, that we have strayed away from the principle that this is a moral universe.
The first thing is that we have adopted in the modern world a sort of a relativistic ethic. Now, I’m not trying to use a big word here. I’m trying to say something very concrete. And that is that we have accepted the attitude that right and wrong are merely relative to our times and feelings.
Most people can’t stand up for their convictions because the majority of people might not be doing it. See, everybody’s not doing it, so it must be wrong. And, and since everybody is doing it, it must be right. So a sort of numerical interpretation of what’s right.
But I’m here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong! It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China! It was wrong in two thousand B.C., and it’s wrong in nineteen fifty-four A.D.! It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong! It’s wrong to throw our lives away in riotous living. No matter if everybody in Detroit is doing it. It’s wrong! It always will be wrong! And it always has been wrong. It’s wrong in every age, and it’s wrong in every nation. Some things are right and some things are wrong, no matter if everybody is doing the contrary. Some things in this universe are absolute. The God of the universe has made it so. And so long as we adopt this relative attitude toward right and wrong, we’re revolting against the very laws of God himself. “Following Dr. King’s thinking in this message and most importantly the Word of God, some things are right and some things are wrong and these things have always been right and they have always been wrong. For example, lying is wrong. If President Trump lies, lying is still wrong whether you support him or not. Lying has always been wrong, is wrong now, and always will be wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Even though President Obama supports homosexuality, promoted it while he was president, caused the state to sanction it, it is still wrong. Homosexuality always has been wrong, is wrong now, and always will be wrong. Adultery is wrong. If a pastor, preacher, priest, or prophet does it, it is still wrong. Adultery has always been wrong, is wrong now, and always will be wrong. This is a moral universe. When we violate God’s moral law, we suffer the consequences as a world, as a country, as a city, and as a citizen, and yes, even as the church.” Last paragraph added by Daniel Whyte III.
Now that isn’t the only thing that convinces me that we’ve strayed away from this attitude, this principle. The other thing is that we have adopted a sort of pragmatic test for right and wrong—whatever works is right. If it works, it’s all right. Nothing is wrong but that which does not work. If you don’t get caught, it’s right. That’s the attitude, isn’t it? It’s all right to disobey the Ten Commandments, but just don’t disobey the Eleventh, Thou shall not get caught. That’s the attitude. That’s the prevailing attitude in our culture. No matter what you do, just do it with a bit of finesse. You know, a sort of attitude of the survival of the slickest. Not the Darwinian survival of the fittest, but the survival of the slickest— whoever can be the slickest is the one who’s right. It’s all right to lie, but lie with dignity. It’s all right to steal and to rob and extort, but do it with a bit of finesse. It’s even all right to hate, but just dress your hate up in the garments of love and make it appear that you are loving when you are actually hating. Just get by! That’s the thing that’s right according to this new ethic.
My friends, that attitude is destroying the soul of our country and culture! It’s destroying our nation! The thing that we need in the world today, is a group of men and women who will stand up for right and be opposed to wrong, wherever it is. A group of people who have come to see that some things are wrong, whether they’re caught or not. Some things are right, whether nobody sees you doing them or not.
All I’m trying to say is, our world hinges on moral foundations. God has made it so! God has made the universe to be based on a moral law. So long as man disobeys it he is revolting against God and he will suffer the consequences. That’s what we need in the world today—people who will stand for right and goodness. It’s not enough to know the intricacies of zoology and biology. But we must know the intricacies of law. It is not enough to know that two and two makes four. But we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines. But we’ve got to know the simple disciplines, of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves, by the misuse of our own powers.
This universe hinges on moral foundations. There is something in this universe that justifies Thomas Carlyle in saying, “No lie can live forever.”
There is something in this universe that justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.”
There is something in this universe that justifies James Russell Lowell in saying,
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
With that scaffold sways the future.
Behind the dim unknown stands God,
Within the shadow keeping watch above his own.
There is something in this universe that justifies the biblical writer in saying, “You shall reap what you sow.”
This is a law-abiding universe. This is a moral universe. It hinges on moral foundations. If we are to make of this a better world, we’ve got to go back and rediscover that precious value that we’ve left behind.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.