All My Friends Are Dead
Dedication to Dr. J. Harold Smith who has motivated my life more than any other man to preach the Word of God without fear or favor to man. In 1951 I heard Dr. Smith preach on the unpardonable sin. I have heard him preach hundreds of times. Much of the content of this message came from this famous preacher. It is my opinion that J. Harold Smith is the greatest preacher living and he has influenced more preachers than any man since Charles H. Spurgeon.
“Dr. Gage and I grew up together on the tough. dangerous, drug soaked streets of Houston. Texas. We have been close friends for over thirty years. Barbara, his lovely wife and I were in school together. His second son is named after me. Freddie led me to Christ. The tragic end of each life recorded in All My Friends Are Dead is true. These young men were friends of mine. Freddie Gage has probably preached to more underworld personalities than any preacher in America, I have seen him bail them out of jail, keep them in his home, feed, clothe, and go to court with them. I have also seen him pray, plead, and weep with them. I have been with him when he has walked into grief stricken homes to bear the sad news of the senseless drug death or prostitution murder or shotgun slaughter of a son or daughter. He has stood before huge cross sections of dissipated, drug controlled audiences at funerals to make a final plea for them to give their lives to Christ.
If I had not attended a Freddie Gage Church revival on August 7, 1952, it is very likely that my story might be among those recorded in, All My Friends Are Dead. The book is powerful and honest, It is destined to become one of the great “life changing” books of this decade. I pray it will get into the hands of every inmate, drug user, prostitute and teenager in America. All My Friends Are Dead should. by all means, be read by every parent. The stories are history, but still being lived out daily in cities across this country. In the concrete jungles of large metropolitan areas, in quiet, sophisticated urban communities embryos of these tragedies are alive. The only possibility for a changed life is Jesus Christ. From experience I have learned that for a life to turn around there must be an internal change. People will not change from the outside in, only from the inside out. Values, priorities, goals, attitudes all must change before there can be a change in lifestyle. Only Christ can perform the miracle of internal transformation.
This is the message Freddie Gage has preached in churches, football stadiums, under tents, in open air meetings, prisons, and jails. This is the message of All My Friends Are Dead — Only Christ can change the human heart. Time can run out! A person’s ticket can be punched! However, while there is life, there is hope of new life in Christ!”
“On Sunday when Freddie Gage preached his sermon, All My Friends Are Dead I feel we had the greatest single service ever for First Southern. The joy, love, and conviction I felt in that service is the kind of spirit that will continue to make us grow in quality and in quantity. Freddie Gage has maintained the integrity of his calling. He lives what he preaches. I know of no one more sold out to bring men to Jesus than Freddie Gage. I am thankful always for his life. He has been a blessing and enrichment to my ministry.”
Dr. Bailey Smith
Former Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church
Del City, Oklahoma
Open Your Heart
Have you ever stopped to count the cost that must be paid to follow Jesus? Have you ever stopped to count the cost if you don’t follow Him? The strongest conviction I have when I preach is the tragic truth that there will be some who will wait too long to commit their lives to Christ- they will cross God’s deadline. One day their names will appear in the obituary column, sooner than anyone expected, and they will have missed heaven because they chose not to get right with God when they had the chance. They will have committed the unpardonable sin. This may be YOUR last chance to be saved! This may be your last word! There may be no tomorrow for you! Yet, I believe with all my heart God has given you the opportunity to read the following words. Someone somewhere has been praying for you, and this is your chance to get right with God.
Will you just take a moment before you read any further and pray with me?
God, I realize it is not by might, nor by power, that people are made aware of their need for You. It is only by Your Holy Spirit. Please speak to my heart and draw me closer to Christ. Please don’t let anyone cross YOUR deadline and refuse to commit his life to Jesus. Please stir their hearts. Their lives can be changed by your Holy Spirit within them. Please save them in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:30,
“He that is not with Me is against Me.”
There is no middle ground with Jesus. You are either for Him, or you are against Him. You either accept Him, or you reject Him. You confess Him, or you deny Him. You take a stand for Him, or you take a stand against Him. There is no middle ground with Christ. As you read this message, you will either choose to follow Jesus, or you will choose to follow the devil.
There is no other choice. Matthew 12:30-32 says:
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
When I was saved. Christ changed my life. The night I was born again God put a burning desire in my heart to see my friends and family won to the Lord. I took a Bible, and I wrote in the front of it 300 names of my friends, acquaintances, family members and some police officers I knew. I have preached the gospel to all 300 without exception. I have either shared one-to-one in prisons, or the streets, in psychiatric wards, at funerals, or in crusade meetings. I can truthfully say there is no blood on my hands for any person I knew on the streets of Houston. Texas, I tried to lead every one of my friends and family members to Christ. Man, when God saves you, He doesn’t expect you to forsake your friends. He expects you to introduce them to Jesus. One of the police officers I knew was Lieutenant Brackenridge Porter, known on the streets as ”B” Porter. He used to say I would die with a knife in my back or by an overdose of drugs by the age of 21. But because of Jesus, his prophecy backfired. I had the privilege of leading “B” Porter to Jesus Christ, along with the other members of his family. Today he is one of my closest friends – a brother in the Lord. I have only one desire in mind with regard to this book and that is to awaken you to the terrible fate that awaits everyone who, rejects Christ. May this be a message of warning, urging you not to take that final step across God’s deadline. Please stop and consider! Jesus said in Matthew 16:26.
“For what is a man profited. if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The Unpardonable Sin
Jesus said that there is a sin which is unpardonable: but what is it? On death row at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Texas is a man who is waiting to die.* He had the gospel shared with him many times. In fact, he is listed as a member of a Baptist church in Houston. But several years ago on Halloween night, he put potassium cyanide in some candy and poisoned his nine-year-old son. The story made the headlines of major newspapers. All the television stations in Houston came to a stop when the news directors announced. “There is a maniac loose in the city of Houston.
Note: All stories are documented in the files of the Houston Police Department.
Bring your children in off the streets
In the wee hours of the morning the boy died from having convulsions, Reportedly, his father said at the hospital. “I’ll spend the rest of my life tracking down the murderer.”
A few days later the entire city of Houston was shocked when the mayor and the chief of police called a newscast to announce that the father had been indicted for the murder of his son.
On death row the inmates call him “the candy man.” He is hated. But “the candy man” did not commit the unpardonable sin. What he did was a horrible crime, but murder is not the unpardonable sin.In another part of Houston, there was a 23-year-old man named Johnny Garrison, who robbed a liquor store. Johnny was a friend of mine. Johnny went into the liquor store and when the manager who was confined to a wheelchair grabbed a pistol, Johnny shot him to death. I visited Johnny many times on death row, and I preached his funeral after his life was snuffed out. But, listen, murder is not the unpardonable sin. I have preached to thousands of people who are in far worse shape than some murderers I have met. Why? Because their sins helped murder the Son of God, Jesus Christ. They helped nail Him to the cross.
If the unpardonable sin isn’t murder, what is it? Is it adultery? In New Orleans, Louisiana, several years ago I was preaching and a young woman came forward during the middle of my sermon, She fell at the altar and began to scream. “God won’t forgive me! God won’t forgive me!!”I noticed that her hair was bleached and she had needle tracks down her arms. She was a junkie. Two women counselors came and began to pray with her, but she kept saying, “I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” I slipped down from the platform and knelt beside her. “I’m a prostitute,” she said, “I sell my body in order to get a fix. My father asked me to come hear you preach tonight Can you help me?”
Her father later told me his daughter had been on drugs since she was 17 and had become a prostitute to support her habit. He had sent her a book I wrote, called Pulpit In The Shadows. I had appeared on a talk show that day and she recognized me as the author of the book. So, she had called a cab to bring her to the Central Baptist Church where she now knelt at the altar a broken woman.
We told her, “You haven’t committed the unpardonable sin.” But she said, “You don’t understand. I’ve murdered three innocent unborn babies.”“God will forgive you,” I insisted. “He will change your life. Jesus Christ will set you free.”
Tragically, we never convinced her. She left the church without Christ in her heart. A few weeks later we received a newspaper clipping which said she had gone to a third-rate motel, taken a pistol, put it to her head, and blown her brains out.
Her father was a millionaire, but it just wasn’t enough to keep her satisfied. Sin! It always thrills at first, and then it kills. It fascinates, and then it assassinates.
It’s the one game you can never win, the sin game.
In New York City, I preached one night, and down the aisle came a young man who knelt at the altar, Bible in hand. He motioned for me to come talk with him, so I did. As I knelt beside him, he said, “God won’t forgive me, I’m a homosexual, a sex pervert. God can’t save me. I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” I told him, “God can make you a new creature.” Listen, there will be no homosexuals in heaven, but I’ve seen homosexuals completely transformed by Jesus Christ. God changed their lives. Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. It isn’t murder, or adultery, or prostitution. But what is it then? It is not gambling. A friend of mine in Houston lost his entire fortune through gambling. Ten years ago he was a multi-millionaire. Today he is bankrupt because of his gambling, but the unpardonable sin is not gambling.
Jesus declared that there is a sin you can commit for which you can never be forgiven. He said it is possible to commit a sin that cannot be pardoned in this world or in the world to come. The mere thought makes me shudder! It makes cold sweat break out on my body! It brings before my vision screaming, damned men and women. I can see their horrified faces and the hopeless condition of their souls. I can see something of what Jesus meant when He said, “They shall never be forgiven.”
In Genesis 6:3 God said,
“My spirit shall not always strive with man.”
I have looked into the faces of hundreds who thought they had stepped over God’s deadline. On each one was an unforgettable look of agony, despondency, utter helplessness and distress. It is the most tragic sight I can ever imagine seeing, and I’ve seen hundreds doomed by the unpardonable sin. We call things unpardonable because we judge them from the human standpoint.
These same things, when looked at through God’s eyes of infinite mercy and love, are not unpardonable at all. They fall well within the great scope of His mercy and grace. But there comes a time when God says, I’ve had enough.
God is a God of love, and He is a God of patience. The apostle Paul spoke of a man that God had given up. Felix, Festus, and Agrippa all stepped across God’s deadline. In the first chapter of Romans, we find these words repeated three times: And God gave them up…and God gave them up…and God gave them up. Could these verses be clearer?
One of the first revival meetings I ever preached was at the Faith Memorial Baptist Church in Houston. I had been saved only five months. I remember walking onto the platform to preach and seeing how people had filled the building. Some had come to the church as early as 5:30 p.m.; and still there were people who could not get into the auditorium. When I walked into that service, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit. I sat down and said to the pastor, Look, there is one of my friends. His name was Donnie Patton, and sitting next to him was a young girl named Patricia, whom we called Pattie. I noticed in the balcony there were other friends of mine from the streets. They had come to hear me preach. I preached my heart out that night.
When the invitation was given. I walked to the back of the building and took hold of Donnie’s hand. He was shaking because of the tremendous conviction he felt from God. I said. Donnie, man, give your heart to Jesus. But he kept holding onto the back of the seat and simply said, I’m not ready. I looked over at Pattie and asked, Will you give your heart to Jesus? She said, I will if Donnie will. But Donnie just said, Man, I’m not ready.
How many times have I heard the words, I’m not ready?
Probably thousands. How many times have you said them? Listen. the truth is that we have to be ready to meet God: we have no choice. I was staying the night in the home of a high school principal. I told him Donnie had been in the service. He said. Yes. I know. I tried to reach him for Jesus, I continued, but he kept saying he wasn’t ready. Years before the principal had expelled Donnie from campus for stabbing a young man over drugs.
The next morning I spoke at two schools but all I could think of was my friend. Donnie. I asked the pastor to take me to Donnie’s house after lunch. That afternoon I walked up the steps and knocked on the door. Mrs. Patton came to the door, crying. Oh. Freddie, come in. she said as she threw her arms around me. Across the room I saw Donnie’s grandmother, she was crying, too.Where’s Donnie? I asked.”He’s in the bathroom, doing dope. his mother answered, motioning me inside.
I walked straight to the bathroom. I saw Donnie sitting with a syringe, hypodermic needle, burnt spoon, and bottle of paregoric. He had boiled the paregoric down and was shooting up morphine from it.
Donnie, man, there’s a better way. I said. Listen, you don’t have to do this. You can be a new creature in Jesus. You can be a new man!
He rolled his sleeve down, and I noticed blood dripping down his arm. He put up the syringe and came in and sat on the couch in the living room. As I knelt on my knees and looked into his face, I took my Bible and read, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Tears streamed down my cheeks, I said, Donnie, you need God, He looked at me and said. I’m coming to the church meeting tonight, I’ve got over 40 people committed to come with me, but I’m not ready to turn my life over to God yet. He had been running drugs illegally for some time and fully believed he was trapped. He thought there was no way out for him. That night Donnie was true to his word. He brought about 40 young people with him, including the 23-year-oId daughter of a prominent law enforcement officer. She was a drug addict. I preached with everything I had that night. Many of the young people came to Christ. including one young man who is now pastoring a Baptist church in Houston. After the sermon, I walked back to Donnie once again and grabbed his hand, but he just said, I’m not ready.I could really feel the power of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon that service. But Donnie stayed in his seat and said, I’m not ready, I’m not ready He left the service without Christ. The pastor baptized 144 people following that revival, but Donnie wasn’t among them.
I closed that meeting on Sunday afternoon and flew to Waco, Texas. to begin another revival at the Emmanuel Baptist Church. That night a young man, an All-American from Baylor University, got right with God. Another man, who is a well-known evangelist today recommitted his life to God. But somehow, my mind was not on the meeting. All I could think about were my friends in Houston, especially Donnie Patton.
On Tuesday morning, the pastor told me I had an emergency telephone call from Houston. At the other end of the line Mrs. Patton was crying. Donnie was found at 4:00 this morning by my brother in the city park. she said. He was slumped over the steering wheel of an automobile dead!
The front page of the Houston Chronicle read: Son Dies …Mom Morns …Pusher Goes Free. Mrs. Patton asked if I would preach Donnie’s funeral; so I flew back to Houston. It was a very sad time, but I was able to lead 22 of his friends to Jesus as we stood around his coffin. One young man who served as a pallbearer was named Tracy Reid. As he walked away, he took his hand off the coffin, turned and said to me. Hey. Man, when I get it, come and preach my funeral. It was no joke: he was serious.
Following the service many of Donnie’s friends got on their knees and asked Jesus to save them, right inside the tent at the cemetery. Some of them are preaching today, and most of them were drug addicts. But Tracy stood out in that cemetery and wept over the loss of his friend.
Ready Or Not?
Two weeks later I went to the Norhill Baptist Church in Houston. As I looked out into the audience, I saw Tracy Reid with a young girl named Jenny Winn, who had also been one of my friends. Sitting on the other side of Tracy was his attorney, a prominent Houston lawyer. Again. I preached with everything I knew. At the invitation the pastor was counseling some people who had responded to God’s call. I told him one of my friends was in the back of the church and asked if he would go talk with him about Jesus. As I watched him share the gospel with Tracy. I could see Tracy shaking his head and saying. “I’m not ready!” At the conclusion of the service I took Tracy. Jenny and the attorney into a room where I shared the Bible until 2:00 o’clock that afternoon, But all the while Tracy kept saying, “I’m not ready, man. I’m just not ready!”
Tracy was a panderer (pimp) into drugs and Jenny was a prostitute. Over and over he said, “Not today! Not today! I’m not ready!” Have you ever said those words to God, the Creator of the universe: God, who spoke the world into existence, who put the sun and the moon and the stars into the sky; God who gives you air to breathe, who at this very moment is giving you life; Have you ever told this great God, “I’m not ready?” The very fact that your heart is pumping blood is only because of God’s mercies.
Maybe, like Tracy, you have told God you aren’t ready yet. Maybe you’ve said something like this: “God, when I’ve done my thing, when I’ve sown my wild oats, then I’ll be saved.” But my friend, it doesn’t work that way. You can come to God only when the Holy Spirit draws you.
The Bible says in John 6:44,
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.”
A few days later Tracy Reid walked across the lot of the Sanders Ford Company on the Gulf Freeway to Galveston, A young man named Fred Dunlap jumped out of a pickup truck with a sawed off shotgun and shot Tracy in the back of the head. He literally blew his head off. Fred Dunlap is now serving a life sentence in the Huntsville State Penitentiary.
I preached Tracy’s funeral – I kept the promise I’d made to him. The headlines of the Houston Press told the tragic story of Tracy Reid, and I kept hearing him say, “I’m just not ready yet.” Another man by the name of Benny Lyles attended Tracy’s funeral. Benny and I went to school together as kids. I begged Benny to give his heart and life to Christ. In a high school auditorium in Texas City I was preaching and my heart became so burdened.
That night a reporter from the Galveston Daily had come to the service to interview me, but I had forgotten all about it. I was supposed to speak to the young people in a special service at the First Baptist Church: but I forgot about that, too. All I could think about was my friend, Benny Lyles. I wanted to win him to Jesus. I tried so hard to win him to the Lord. I gave him a new Bible and wrote in the front: “The Bible will keep you away from sin, or sin will keep you away from the Bible.” I had heard an evangelist say that, and I firmly believe it.
Benny told me. “I’m coming back Saturday night to hear you tell your life story.” When he went home he told his mother, who was a member of the Calvary Baptist Church in Houston, ”Saturday night I want you to go to Texas City with me, I want to hear Freddie Gage. He’s going to tell his life story.” His mother was thrilled. Benny got their family Bible and they read it together.
He had been in all kinds of trouble with drugs. He was a pimp and had lived in sin for years. Now his mother thought there was hope for the first time. She told the people in her church that Benny was going to the revival meeting. She called the pastor and asked him to pray that God would speak to Benny’s heart.
Saturday night came and Benny’s mother waited for him to show up. She waited and waited. Then the news came that her son had been found in a lounge. Benny had pulled a switchblade on a young man and stabbed him. The bartender went to the cash register, got his pistol and shot Benny three times in the head, when Benny lunged for him with the switchblade. Benny dropped to the floor. He died in a puddle of blood. Now it was too late for Benny. Galatians 6:7 says,
“Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
I preached Benny’s funeral with the help of a young evangelist named James Robison. A lady sang, “If I Could Live My Life Over,” and I felt totally broken. I had known Benny for years, but now he was gone. I firmly believe he waited too long and stepped across God’s deadline. I believe God gave him up to sin-and finally He took Benny’s life.
Tracy’s friend, Jenny Winn, died a few weeks later in a car wreck near Galveston. She was the same young lady who said, ”I’ll go if Tracy goes.” She flipped a Corvette over and had the right side of her face totally torn off. She had been high on Quaaludes and booze. When I arrived. I asked the funeral director if I could see Jenny. He opened the coffin lid, and I saw that her hair was pulled out over her face. The entire right side of her face was completely gone. Jenny had been one of the most beautiful girls I had ever known. Her appearance was so bad after the wreck that the coffin remained closed during the funeral. A joint, a few quaaludes and booze took her life.
You can’t beat the sin game. The Bible says in Romans 6:23,
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And again in Ezekiel 18:4 the Bible says,
“The soul who sins will die.”
I will never forget Jenny’s little nine-year-old daughter asking me at the cemetery. “Freddie. did my mommy go to heaven?” Some of you are going to have friends and family who ask that same question concerning you did you go to heaven?
Come To Jesus
Dear friend, the only way you will ever go to heaven is to come by way of the cross. You have to come to Christ. You have to come to that “fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.” Who are you to tell God you’re not ready to commit your life to Him?
There are some of you whom God has been calling because of a praying mother or a praying friend. He’s been calling you through a Christian at the office where you work. He has been calling you through your pastor. He’s been calling you through the gospel preachers on television. He has been calling you through some great church. He has been calling you from your sick bed, from the hospital, from an automobile wreck, or from a motorcycle accident. He’s been calling you while you watched Billy Graham one night in a hotel room. He’s been calling you through a Gideon Bible or through the gospel tract. He’s been calling you through a sermon you heard on the radio. There is hardly a person in this society who hasn’t had an opportunity at some time to be saved.
Remember the passage in Proverbs 1 :24-29:
“Because I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof I also will laugh at your calamity: I will mock when your fear cometh: When your fear cometh as desolation and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer: they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me. For they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
The Bible says there is a deadline. I understand that if you take a piece of clay and keep working with it, eventually it just becomes hard and unmanageable. Are you like that-hardened to the gospel? I’m told after a man reaches the age of thirty, he has one chance in a thousand to come to Christ; somehow it doesn’t seem that important any more.
Recently in Indianapolis, Indiana, a lady who was 1OO years old was saved in a crusade where I was preaching. She was an exception. God has let me see half a million people walk the aisles to make some kind of decision for God, and a quarter of a million people accept Jesus into their hearts. But I’ve seen only a few people with gray hair come forward.
For some of you, there was a time when you went to church and sobbed openly over your soul; but nothing moves you any more. Some of you can’t even cry at a funeral. There are some of you that God is speaking to for the last time. If you don’t give Him your life now, you will never be saved. You may be a church member somewhere, but that doesn’t matter! The new birth is a matter of surrendering your heart, mind and body completely to God. We recently had a revival meeting in our church where Bailey Smith preached. Two Baptist preachers were saved in that meeting. Over 200 church members were saved. Deacons were saved. Church leaders were saved. One evangelist was saved. Do you know for sure you are saved? You can commit the unpardonable sin of rejecting Christ just as easily while singing in the church choir as you can while sitting on a bar stool. You may be the most faithful member of your church and still be on your way to hell, because you never gave your heart to the Lord, I believe the night God spoke to me. He spoke for the last time. I believe there would have been no tomorrow for me if I hadn’t accepted Jesus that night.
Three times God told Jeremiah not to pray for certain people because there was no hope for them. Concerning Ephraim, He said. “Ephraim is joined to idols,” God gave him up to his own sin.
Do you love the idols of this world more than you love God?
Suppose God should say, “Leave that person alone, conscience. Leave him alone, Holy Spirit. He’s not going to repent and turn to Me.” Do you know what is keeping you from God right now? It isn’t the hypocrite you see in the church; its sin. Do you know what’s keeping some of you teenagers from getting right with God? It’s your own lust. It’s fornication and adultery, immorality, promiscuous sex. You love sex more than you love Jesus Christ. You love booze more than you love Jesus. And if you continue, one of these days God is going to say, “You joined yourself to passion, to lust, to sin!“ Some of you are saying after I have done my thing I will become a Christian. It doesn’t work that way. You only come when God speaks or you never come. John 6:44,
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”
“Therefore they could not believe.” They had sinned away their day of grace.
There are many of you who have made promise after promise to God, but actually all you have done is lie to God. In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira lied and God killed them on the spot. In 1 Cor.5:5, Paul said.
“Deliver such a one over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh.”
In 1 John 5:16. it says.
“There is a sin unto death.”
And Hosea 13:9 states.
“Thou hast destroyed thyself.”
That is exactly what some of you are doing. If we could show on a screen what some of you teenagers have done in the last three Saturday nights in the back of your cars, you would be ashamed. And some of you even carry a Bible under your arm. But in reality, all you have become are religious con artists. You don’t have to live that way.
Don’t let religion keep you from a relationship with the Savior. Don’t use the church. Get right with God now! Some of you reading this may be standing in the way of other people who want to get right with God. If you would commit your life to Him, many others would give their hearts to Jesus, too! The whole church could come and square things with Almighty God if you were willing to come first.
At a large church in Houston a young girl named Cynthia handed me a note from the choir. It read. “Freddie, my brother is in the service tonight, He’s a friend of yours. He has come to hear you preach.”
I preached about hell that night, and when the invitation was given I spotted Jack Long in the back. There were two more of my friends there, also. One was Fred Chambless, and the other boy was Bobby Southerland. I walked to the back of the auditorium and put my arms around them as they shook under God’s conviction. I said. “Man. give your heart to Jesus.” But Fred shook his head and muttered, “I’m not ready.”
I looked over at Bobby and said. “Will you give your heart to God?” But he said, “Not tonight, not tonight, but I’ll be back.” I slipped out the side door of the church and met them. It had been sleeting and it was a very cold night. Fred was driving a brand new hardtop Oldsmobile. I got in the front seat and asked where they were going. They told me they were headed for Austin. I knew immediately who they were going to see and said, “Man. you don’t want to go.” I begged them to stay, but they wouldn’t listen.” I was the last person to leave that church parking lot, and when they drove off, something inside me said, “That’s it. You’re never going to see them again. Fred and Bobby just stepped across the deadline.” It broke my heart.
Well, they went to Austin all right and lived three nights in sin. But as they were coming back on Saturday night, they came to a curve in the road. They were doing about 80 to 100 miles per hour. A lady testified at the inquest that they were driving on the wrong side of the highway. They missed the curve right outside of Austin and hit a big oak tree. Fred was thrown from the car and ripped apart. Bobby was pinned in the wreckage. Pinned in the wreckage, his mind blown on drugs and alcohol. It took five and a half hours to get him out of that car.
I preached both of their funerals, closed coffins, one on the right and one on the left.
As I stood to preach. John’s mother came and fell on the coffin, knocking off the roses. She began to scream. “My baby’s in hell! My baby’s in hell! I wanted to tell her, “He didn’t have to go to hell, Mrs. Southerland, he chose to go to hell. He chose sin, sex, drugs, and alcohol. He chose to go with the devil instead of Jesus.”
Later, I was preaching near Houston at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena, and one of my friends named Joey came. We had grown up together. Every night for eight nights Joey sat in the balcony of the church. For three straight nights I walked to that balcony and told him about Jesus. After the service one night, I took him over to the pastor’s house, and together we tried to lead him to the Lord. He was only 26 years old, but already he was driving a new Cadillac and had great looking alligator shoes and fancy clothes.
I begged him to give his life to God. After the service Joey went by to see his mother and told her. “I’m going to get religion.” But he didn’t understand that he didn’t need religion. He needed to give his life to Jesus. He already had religion: he belonged to a Catholic church.
The last night of the crusade we saw over 200 people saved in one service alone. Joey stood in the back, sobbing. My wife went back there and pleaded with him to give his life to God. She said that he had a Bible in his hand. He almost tore it up from being under such conviction. She said that sweat poured from him. A local pastor and I stood before a judge in Houston a few weeks later. He was about to send Joey to the penitentiary. The pastor knew the judge and helped convince him to put Joey on ten years’ probation instead. Joey made a lot of promises during that time, but he never gave his heart to Jesus. A few weeks later he stole an automobile and left Galveston with four other young people, all spaced out on drugs and alcohol.
Joey was my friend. He had told his mother, “I know Freddie Loves Jesus. He’s for real,” She had replied. “Joey, why don’t you go talk to him then?” But instead he left Galveston in a stolen car. He was going about 100 miles per hour when he hit an embankment and was thrown through the windshield of the car. He ended up 40 feet away, in a ditch. He and his four friends were killed instantly. I preached three of the funerals and another Houston pastor preached the other two. I believe God had spoken to Joey and his friends for the last time.
I know 47 tragic stories of people, family and friends of mine, who committed the unpardonable sin. They all stepped across God’s deadline.
I tried to reach my 24-year-old cousin. Dean, for God. He was hooked on drugs and was a compulsive thief. He stole everything he could get his hands on just so he could pawn it later. I called a well-known preacher once and said, “Sir. I have a relative who is hooked on drugs. I’ve carried him allover the country and preached to him constantly. I took him to hear Billy Graham every night in the Astrodome. Every night! But he would always say, ‘I’m not ready..’ Listen. I believe he would come to your church, and if you would give him a job, maybe your men could pray him to God.”
Well, my cousin did go to that church, and they gave him a job. The men there began to pray with him and tried to help him. But he just used that church. He conned them out of money again and again. Finally he moved back to Houston. Late one night my uncle called and said. “Freddie, Dean is dead. They found him less than an hour ago. Someone pitched him out of a fast-moving car at the Houston waterfront. They just tossed him out. Apparently, he had overdosed on drugs, and the pushers and addicts just threw his body out. He hit the pavement and then the curb. Freddie, his body was scattered allover the highway.”
I preached my cousin’s funeral, His little boy cried all the way to the cemetery and all the way home. He kept saying. “My daddy went to hell!” That boy later developed emotional problems because of that experience.
But the tragic truth in all of this is that my cousin chose to go to hell.
God Loves You
Some of you. who are reading this. are choosing to go to hell, and one day God is going to say. “That’s enough.” If that time should come, it will only be because you kept turning your back on God, not because He didn’t love you or reach out to you.
My grandfather helped raise me when I was growing up. My parents were divorced when I was five and until was seventeen. I lived with my grandfather. I practically worshipped him. I called him Big Fred. He owned a beer tavern in Houston called Fred’s Place. It was actually a dive.
When I got saved, I led many people in his tavern to Jesus, including my grandmother. In fact, I baptized her. I also won my mother to the Lord, and my stepfather. I led all three of my half-sisters to Christ, twenty-eight members of my family in all.
We used to go to Big Fred’s bar and tell the customers about Jesus night and day, but we never could convince my grandfather to give his heart to the Lord. We sent many dedicated Christians to see him. We sent evangelists and preachers. I wrote him letters. I called him on the phone late at night, burdened for his soul, but he wouldn’t talk to me. We gave him a Bible. We gave him tracts. We tried to get him to watch gospel television shows, but he never tuned in. We tried to get him to listen to Christian radio programs, but he wouldn’t, not even when I was on a radio program myself. The Lord allowed me to preach over 200 revival meetings in South Texas, but big Fred never came, not one time. I couldn’t understand it.
I was preaching in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when my wife called and said, “Freddie, Big Fred has had a stroke and is dying.” 1 had several places where I was supposed to speak the next day, but I knew I had to get back to Houston as soon as possible. “My grandfather is dying and going to hell,” I told the preacher.
“I’ve got to go back before it’s too late.”
When I arrived in Houston my wife took me straight to the hospital. I got off the elevator on the fifth floor and heard my grand-father screaming, “The devil’s coming! The devil’s coming.” Out in the hall doctors were talking with members of the family.
“Freddie, he’s only got a few hours to live, I wouldn’t disturb him,” one doctor told me.
“But he’s going to die and go to hell,” I said, “May I talk to him by myself?”
The atmosphere was so oppressive in that room. It felt like the devil himself was there. As my grandfather screamed, I began to quote scriptures about the blood of Jesus. All of a sudden, he became totally alert and started to calm down. “Big Fred: I said. “what has kept you from Jesus all these years? I’ve got to know.”
He looked at me and replied. “Many years ago when I lived in Omaha, Nebraska, a preacher came and preached for six weeks in the Tabernacle. I was running liquor illegally in those days, and for six weeks I felt God drawing me to Him, but I always said, “I’m not ready to give God my life yet, there’s too much I want to do.”
My grandfather had heard a lot of preaching and he knew the Bible. He could always quote scriptures, but he wasn’t interested in getting saved. He told me that on the last night of the meeting as he walked out he felt the Holy Spirit leave him. “I turned my back on God for the last time, I knew He was leaving me alone after that.” he said.
Five hours later I watched my grandfather die one of the most horrible deaths I have ever witnessed. 1 watched him die without God and slip into hell for all eternity. I knew he had chosen to go to hell. What a needless tragedy!
Today Is The Day
The man who introduced me to my wife was named Sonny. We had grown up on the streets together and were inseparable. He was both handsome and dynamic. When I got saved I wanted to see Sonny saved too. My conversion made all the Houston newspapers, and told of my efforts to lead others to Jesus.
Sonny and I were close friends. and I wanted him to get saved like I had. His father was a Houston detective, but Sonny had been arrested 22 times. I talked to him about God every chance 1 got. One day I took him with me on a plane to Texarkana and thought.
“Sonny’s going to get saved, and he’s going to join my team,” I just knew he was going to give his life to Jesus, but he didn’t, He only cried and said. “I’m not ready yet.”
He came for eight nights to hear me preach, but he never gave his heart to the Lord.
Later 34 Baptist churches sponsored a tent crusade which was attended by 3,000 to 4,000 people every night. One night a pastor told me that Sonny was in the audience somewhere in the back. I spotted him and preached my heart out, hoping and praying he would accept Christ. His wife had divorced him and taken their two precious little girls with her. Now Sonny was totally alone.
I walked to the back of that tent, grabbed his hand and said, “Sonny, this is it. Man. God’s told me if you don’t get right with Him tonight, you’re never going to do it.” I stood there and begged him to get right with God.
He smiled but I noticed he was bent over the chair. I asked. “What’s the matter?” He told me after the service he had just gotten out of the hospital. It took 168 stitches to sew up a stab wound he had received in a nightclub brawl. “Sonny, man, what is God going to have to do?” I asked. We talked until 4:00 that morning, but all he said was. “I’ll be back. I’m coming Sunday morning.”
That Friday night, immediately after midnight, I received a telephone call. It was his sister, Marjorie. She was crying. “Freddie. Sonny’s been shot. He’s dying, and he’s calling for you: she said. He had five bullet holes in him. He had been driving a new Cadillac, and had twenty-nine $100 bills stuffed in his front pocket. He had been a pander and thought he had everything he ever wanted.
When I got to the hospital. detectives. news reporters and television cameras were there. I walked into the room and saw his mother. The doctors were pumping blood into his body, He was barely conscious.
“Sonny, you’re going to live!” his mother kept saying. “You’re going to be a preacher.” But Sonny just looked at me and said. “Man, if you play, you pay. If you try acid and smack, you never come back. If you play, you pay.” I will never forget it. He was in terrible pain when he said. “Freddie, God gave me up, I committed the unpardonable sin.” I preached Sonny’s funeral at a local Baptist Church. God had indeed given him up.
The Bible says in Luke 12:20,
“But God said unto him. Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Psalm 95:7-8 says, “…today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart.”
Proverbs 27:1 says,
“Boast not thyself in tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.”
Joshua 24: 15 says,
“…choose you this day whom ye will serve.”
Hebrews 2:3 says,
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation….”
Hebrews 10:26 says,
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.”
James 1 :4,
“Life is like a vapor.”
There is a line unseen by us, that crosses everyone’s path. It is the hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath. To cross that line is to die, for as Romans 6:23 says.
“The wages of sin is death.”
Friend. I must warn you that you may never hear the voice of God again if you say “no” to Him today. There are men and women and young people to whom God is speaking for the last time. My prayer for you is that you don’t make excuses and lie to God. I would rather you get up and run away than to play games with Him. I would rather you spit in my face than to lie to God. Don’t lie to Him!!
Some of you can truly say. “Freddie. I’m positive I’m saved. God changed my life. I love Jesus with all my heart. I love lost souls, and I’m sharing the gospel with someone every day. I’m reading my Bible every day. I’m praying. Even those who know me best know I belong to Jesus Christ. God changed my life, and I’m headed for heaven. I know I’ll never commit the unpardonable sin. I know God will never give me up.”
On the other hand, some will say. “Freddie, I’ve never really been saved.” Maybe you’re a member of a church, maybe one of its leading members. Maybe you sing in the choir. But down deep in your soul you know that if you were to die tonight or get killed on the way home in a car wreck, or if cancer began eating away at your body, you would not go to heaven to be with Jesus. You know that!
You might say, “Freddie, I’ve never really been saved. I don’t want to commit the unpardonable sin. I don’t want God to give me up. Show me how to pray to be saved.” If God is speaking to your heart right now, pray these words out loud:
Dear Lord Jesus. I know I am a sinner, and right now I ask You to forgive me. I know You died for my sins; and I invite You into my heart to be my Savior and Lord. I willingly turn from my sin and give my life to you.
Thank you, God, for saving me. Amen.
About Freddie Gage
Jim Cox, of the Fort Worth Star Telegram states: “Evangelist Freddie Gage has become a legend in his own time:’ Saved as a teenager in a Houston slum neighborhood. Freddie was called to preach before entering college. By the age of 25 he was preaching some of the most successful evangelistic crusades in Southern Baptist churches in history, breaking all attendance records. No other church evangelist of the Southern Baptist Convention received such extensive coverage by both the Baptist and National press during the 1950’s and 1960’5. Freddie attended Decatur Baptist College and Baylor University and received an Honorary Doctor’s Degree in Human Letters from California Theological Seminary. Within a few years this man was being acclaimed as an authority on youth problems and had great acceptance as a speaker in public schools. He spoke to more than two million young people in over one thousand school assembly programs.
In 40 years as a Southern Baptist evangelist, Freddie Gage has conducted more than 1350 revival crusades in churches across America. Of these, 200 have been area-wide, city-wide crusades with the participation of over 10,000 churches. He has preached face to face to over ten million and to untold millions by radio and television. He has spoken in more than 3,000 schools, 300 prisons and jails, to 500 civic organizations, and 400 radio and television talk shows.
More than 1,000,000 have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ as a result of his God-given ministry. Many have become full-time evangelists, pastors, and missionaries as a result of Dr. Gage’s ministry. Freddie and Barbara Gage have four sons who are all ordained Southern Baptist ministers.
Freddie is the author of seven books; one of them, Pulpit in the Shadows, was a religious best seller, 1,000,000 copies (with Stan Redding of the Houston Chronicle) Prentice-Hall Publishing Company, hardback, Zondervan Publishing Company, paperback.