DR. D. JAMES KENNEDY: TRUTHS
With Bill and Janae Cooksey
Taken From "Cooksey's
American Carousel Radio Classics"
TWELVE MEN WITH A PASTOR'S HEART
JANAE: Bill, so you have the phone number to Dr. Kennedy's office ready?
BILL: I sure do. His secretary, Mary Anne, and I have been planning this interview for a long time. His schedule is so packed, it was hard to lock up a date and time.
JANAE: Well, give the number to Rich in the control room. We certainly don't want to be late contacting him.
Bill: I've got it written down right here. Let me just run in there and give it to Rich. You go ahead and check the mikes and your headset. I'll be right back.
JANAE: Alright! But hurry up. We're running behind time. Now where does this plug fit into this Shure mixer? Why do we have to hook this equipment up everytime we do these interviews?
BILL: Okay, Janae, I'm back. Sit down and double check your notes. Make sure we have everything in order so we don't sound off base.
JANAE: I'll use the introduction I've written down in these notes. But, who in this world is not going to know Dr. D. James Kennedy? He's the elegant Pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. I mean, his radio program, "Truths That Transform", is on hundreds of stations daily. Surely everybody has seen his weekly church service on Trinity Broadcasting as well as other cable networks and local TV stations. His books almost line a whole shelf in the Christian bookstores. And he's.....
BILL: Wait a minute! Are you going to leave out the fact that Dr. Kennedy was the vessel God used to put together the "Evangelism Explosion" program that has been a crucial tool in winning millions to Christ around the Globe?
JANAE: I was coming to that. But first, tell me what you said to his secretary that touched his heart enough to give us 20 minutes of his valuable time.
BILL: You know, I just asked Mary Anne if he'd be willing to give his own personal testimony and lead in a sinner's prayer. And she said that she knew that he would love to. Then we just had to set up the first open time slot he had available.
JANAE: Well, we don't normally come in to record in the middle of Friday afternoon.
BILL: But for D. James Kennedy, I told Mary Anne we'd be here at the studio.
JANAE: Put on your headset, Sweetheart, and adjust the sound levels. OW!!! Turn it down! I'd like to be able to keep my hearing through the interview, please.
BILL: Hey, Rich is giving me a hand cue from the control room. It looks like he's got our party on the line.
JANAE: What? I can't hear him through the earphones. Are you sure you turned up the right knobs?
RICH: Bill...Janae...Are you guys ready? I've got Dr. Kennedy standing by on the studio line. Hang on and I'll punch him through the board so all three of you can hear each other.
BILL: Go ahead, Rich. We're ready anytime. Go ahead and slate it.
RICH: Okay. Stand by.
JANAE: Bill, are you sure this headset is working?
BILL: Shhhhh! Be quiet. Rich is ready to start.
RICH: Cooksey's American Carousel interview with Dr. D. James Kennedy begins in three...two...one.
COOKSEY: Dr. Kennedy, how is everything down in sunny Florida?
KENNEDY: It is quite sunny, thank you.
COOKSEY: No rain today, huh?
KENNEDY: Well, as a matter of fact, we've had a few cloudy, rainy days here lately. But it's usually pretty sunny.
COOKSEY: Well, I was born down in Key West. And I lived in Florida a long time. I know you can have a rain shower and the sun comes out in the next ten minutes.
KENNEDY: And now, you're up in Northern California.
COOKSEY: Yes, we are. And it doesn't rain that much here. You know, Dr. Kennedy, you have such a wonderful ministry and we watch you on TBN. And I'm sure everyone who's listening to our program today knows who D. James Kennedy is. And I want to ask you something. How do you stay so up on defending the Faith against all these humanists?
KENNEDY: Well, it can be a challenge. There's no doubt about that. They seem to never rest in their attacks on it. And I think we've got to be equally vigilant in trying to resist and defend against those attacks. And, of course, go on the offensive with the Gospel . That's what we basically try to do.
COOKSEY: I was listening the other day to one of your radio broadcasts as you were giving some of the details about how this Humanist Movement started...and the part that Darwin played in his unending efforts to add fat to the fire with his book.
KENNEDY: Well, of course, Darwin published his "Origin of Species" in 1859. And the next forty years of the last century, it really became dominant in capturing the field. It overwhelmed the opposition. We have seen that for the past century or more that virtually every anti-Christian "ism" that has come along...and whether we're talking about Fascism or Nazism or Communism or Humanism or Atheism or whatever "ism" we may be talking about...they have all found a quasi, scientific foundation in Evolution. In fact, many people may not realize that Karl Marx who wrote "Das Capitale" wanted to dedicate the book to Darwin who had provided a scientific foundation for Communism. Darwin's more conservative wife, however, urged him to decline the so called honor. So he didn't do it. But Evolution has been the bedrock foundation of every anti-Christian, ungodly "ism" of the past century and a half.
COOKSEY: You know, it's almost like a distraction from our focusing on the Gospel. When it could be focused on Jesus, the enemy comes along and tries to throw this out here to keep your mind off the real issue. Am I right?
KENNEDY: You're right. And
therefore, as I said a moment ago, it is
important that we not only defend, but we
also go on the offensive with the
Gospel. Of course, in the Bible Paul
said we should be ready to give an answer to
every man that asks us. Also, we
should take the Sword of the Spirit.
We should take the Shield of Faith. We
should be able to go on the offensive and
the defense. We should be ready to
give an answer to every man. So both
are essential, which are Evangelism and
Apologetics. Which ,of course, does
not mean apologizing for the Faith but
defending it. "Apologia" in Greek
means "a formal defense or
justification". Both things are
necessary. We can't ignore either
one. I'm happy to say that "Evangelism
Explosion" is a ministry that I started here
34 years ago. We just had a great
celebration with representatives from all
over the world. "EE" became the first
ministry in history to reach every single
nation on earth. And now it is
operational in every nation on this
planet. Christians are not only
learning to evangelize, but they are
equipping others to do the same.
They're multiplying everywhere. And I
think that's a very hopeful portent of the
COOKSEY: What's so interesting is that you're own secretary, Mary Anne Bunker, got saved through this program. She was sharing that with me.
KENNEDY: Yes, she did. That was about 35 years ago.
COOKSEY: How did God move upon you to put this "Evangelism Explosion " program together?
KENNEDY: Well, I graduated from seminary. I was going to go to the Belgian Congo as a missionary, but the Board turned me down for health reasons. So I ended up in Fort Lauderdale starting a new church, Coral Ridge Presbyterian. I got up and preached. Then I tried to go out and talk to people and I found I had never learned how to do personal evangelism in seminary as most ministers haven't. It wasn't until I got an invitation to come up to a church in Atlanta and preach for a week, when the minister took me out with him everyday. And I observed and learned how to overcome my fear. And, how to share the Gospel graciously and effectively with others. Then, I came back and began to work on putting something together to train others which he hadn't done. And "EE" finally emerged out of that.
COOKSEY: Well, you know, I've met several people who've gone through the program and they came out like a "house afire". They're more than excited. They have something to use with tools they can now apply in winning souls to Christ.
KENNEDY: We talk about them all being soldiers in the army of Christ. But we send our soldiers out to battle without a sword. And if the enemy all have swords and you don't have anything but your empty fists, you're not going to want to get out and fight.
COOKSEY: You know, when you get saved. I mean, when you really get saved and you're on fire. You don't want to talk about anything but Jesus. You just live for a chance to tell folks about what He's done in your life. And it becomes discouraging to a person who is not being fed or doesn't have the proper tools. They go out on the street corner and start telling folks about Jesus. About a week later, they're in the house whispering the name, "Jesus". Thank goodness, they can go to churches all over the world now to take this course on evangelism. But let me ask you this question. How did you first find the Lord in your own life? I've personally heard your testimony before and I found it extremely interesting. Could you please share with us that first experience when you gave your heart to Jesus?
KENNEDY: I'll be delighted to do that. I was about 24 years old. And though I had joined the church as a child, I had quit going to church about ten years before that. And, I guess today they'd call me a swinging single. I didn't realize that I was swinging that much at the time. But, I ended up managing an Arthur Murray dancing studio. I was an instructor.
COOKSEY: What city was this in?
KENNEDY: Tampa, Florida.
> COOKSEY: Out on Dale Mabry, I know.
KENNEDY: Oh, you know Tampa?
COOKSEY: I worked out there on that street as an entertainer a long time ago.
KENNEDY: Really, how about that!
And while I was there, I went to a studio party one night and got home about four o'clock. And I set my alarm clock, I think, for noon the next day. Because, I didn't know of anything worth getting up for any earlier on Sunday morning. So, my alarm clock radio came on faithfully the next morning. But instead of being music as it was at four o'clock, it was a minister. And it was Donald Gray Barnhouse. That should be a name you remember. He was a well known preacher from a very well known Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia about forty years ago. In fact, he was on the ABC radio network. And he was very popular in those days. Though, I'd never heard of him, of course. I was sound asleep when I heard a voice. Now Donald Gray Barnhouse had an imperious voice that you would listen to. Right in the midst of my sleep, I heard a voice say, "Young man, if you were to die tonight and stand before Almighty God. If He were to say to you , 'What right do you have to enter into My Heaven?' What would you say?" Well, I thought somebody was in my apartment. In horror, I Iooked around but nobody was there. Then I realized that my radio had gone on...the radio alarm clock. And then I thought about what this man had just said. And I'd never heard such a question before. Though I hadn't been to church in years, I realized that was a very important question. And I ought to know the answer to that. So, I said to myself, "What would I say?" And I thought, "Let's see, I've tried to live a good life. And I've kept the Ten Commandments and I've followed the Golden Rule." Then Barnhouse, it turns out was asking that question to an Air Force lieutenant. Then he said that the lieutenant said to him that he had lived by the Ten Commandments and done the best he could and followed the Golden Rule. And I said to myself, "Ha! I haven't been to church in a decade and I got it right." And then he said what he said to the lieutenant. And, of course, through the lieutenant to me he said, "Young man, if you had had the audacity to say such a thing as that to the all Holy God that knows you're every thought and deed, He would have instantly plunged you into the lake of fire!" Well, he had my attention then. I got up and sat on the edge of the bed and with my chin hanging open I listened and I heard the Good News...that Salvation was not earned or merited or deserved, but it was a free gift. That it was purchased by the excruciating agony of Christ who paid an atoning death on the cross, suffered for our sins and purchased Eternal Life. And all of those that would repent of their sins and trust in Him would be freely forgiven and given a place in Heaven. I could hardly believe that such a thing was true. It was obviously too good to be true. So I went out the next day to began a theological investigation. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen a tango dancer do a theological investigation. But it's a sight to behold. I went to one of these curbside magazine-newspaper stands. You don't see those around anymore. It was not a drugstore. This was out on a curb. And I asked this very theologically precise question. I said, "Do you have any religious books?" I tremble when I think of what I might have become today. And he said, "Well, yeah. I've got one." I said, "I'll take it. What is it?" It turned out to be "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
COOKSEY: Oh, Amen! How wonderful! God set you up for that.
KENNEDY: I got home from work every
night about eleven o'clock. And I read
a portion of that book. I even stayed
home on Saturday night and finished
it. When I got through, I was smitten
in my heart. I slipped out of that
easy chair on to my knees with tears
dripping off my cheeks. And I remember
pounding on the floor with my fists and
saying, "Oh, God, I
didn't know! I am sorry. I am
sorry." Nobody told me what the
sinner's prayer or any of that was.
But God looked at my heart. And He saw
an humble and contrite heart. I got up
from that prayer a changed man. I did
not know one single Christian. If I'd
ever met one, he was much more of a secret
agent than an ambassador for Christ.
And not one of them ever blew his cover in
my face. So, I thought, well, there's
this minister in Philadelphia and
myself. Apparently, we're the only two
Christians left. But, I started going
back to church and I found that there were
many more. And every day with Christ
has been better and that was over 40 years
ago. You know, it's interesting I had
a big, fat friend who told me, "Now, Jim,
don't go overboard. Six months from
now you will have forgotten all about
this." Well, he was sort of
right. It's been 40 years, and the
fact of the matter is, I've forgotten his
name. But, I still remember Christ and
love Him more and more.
COOKSEY: Dr. Kennedy, that's such a testimony. I heard it the first time on the radio some years back. And it messed my mind up, because you mentioned Tampa. And that brought back memories of my days as an entertainer there on the Florida Gulf Coast. During that time, I also was far from the Lord. But, sometimes, people don't realize the importance of radio. You know, God used the faithful ministry of Brother Barnhouse to speak to you on that Sunday morning. That touched your life and so many wonderful things have happened in your own ministry like the worldwide effects of the Evangelism Explosion program. But first, He gave "YOU" a seeking heart.
KENNEDY: Well, He gave it to me, because I certainly wasn't seeking anything. I've often said that I was one of those described in the verse of the Bible which says, "I will be found of them that sought me not." I didn't go to Philadelphia to talk to that preacher. He came right into.....I mean, the Spirit of God came right into my bedroom, turned on the radio and shook me awake....and said, "Sit up, Stupid, and listen." I literally wasn't seeking anything.
COOKSEY: Except when you went out to get that book. You see, it couldn't have been a different book that was placed in your hands. It was Divine Appointment.
KENNEDY: The Providence there was, you know,...obvious. As I say, "I tremble to think, apart from His Providence, I could have been given a book about the Bahai or the Moonies or the Jehovah Witnesses or who knows what."
COOKSEY: Dr. Kennedy, I know there's someone special listening in one of the many parts of America that this interview is playing. And they've heard that testimony of how God met you at your point of need. Just like you put yourself in the position of the young man Dr. Barnhouse was addressing on his program, would you please share that same message that touched your heart? And would you just lead our listeners in an invitation prayer? Because with your own salvation story, you've already set it up. I know there are people out there who are saying, "That's me he's talking about." Yet, it's your own testimony. Would you just take a moment and lead someone into the Kingdom?
KENNEDY: I would be more than delighted to do so. And I do pray that the Spirit of God will be drawing from all over the area that hear your broadcast right now. So, Dear Friend, whoever you are...wherever you are. Whether you're in a nursing home...in a prison or a jail...and maybe you're home drunk. Maybe you're out of a job. Maybe your family has broken up. Maybe you're sick. Maybe you're dying...whatever your situation. Maybe you're like I was on top of the world with everything going your way...and no real problems. And then realize that "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" And I would just ask you to ponder that question that was asked of me. "What right do you have to enter into God's Heaven?" Why should He let you in? You'll see there are only two answers to that. Either everyone in the world is trusting in himself...in the big "I". I do this. I do that. I do the other. Or else, you're trusting in the Cross...in the Atoning Death of Jesus Christ. If you've been trusting in yourself, you don't know what's going to happen to you when you die. You can't know. Because you'll never know that you're good enough for the simple reason that you're not. For all have sinned and come short of His Glory. But, God loves us not because of what we are, but in spite of what we are. Not because of what we've done, but in spite of what we've done. And because of what He's done for us upon that Cross. If you'd like to invite Him into your life to accept Him as Savior and Lord, I would urge you to bow your heart, your head and even your knee. And pray this prayer right now. "Lord Jesus, I realize now that what You endured upon that Cross was done for me. All of that pain...all of that agony...all of that anguish You experienced to pay for my sins...the sins that I deserved to pay for. Right now I ask You to come into my life. Wash me with Your Precious Blood and make me whiter than snow. I acknowledge my sin and my guilt and my unworthiness to stand before you. I repent of those sins. And I invite You to be my Savior and Lord. From this day forward, oh, Christ, I will trust in Your Cross and in that alone. I thank You for the Promised Gift of Eternal Life. And that Your Promise also is that I will never perish. For that I give You my praise now and will do so forever more. Amen."
KENNEDY: And I might say to that dear person who prayed that prayer, "Open your Bible and begin to read. Start with the Gospel of John. Pray that God will speak to you out of it. Then read the rest of the New Testament and God will bless your life."
COOKSEY: He certainly will. Dr.
Kennedy, you've surely blessed us
today. I know someone got saved.
Just like you heard that radio broadcast,
there's someone out there who got saved
also. And it never fails. I know
KENNEDY: I trust that many have.
COOKSEY: Thank you for joining us today and giving of your precious time. I know that you're really busy down at Coral Ridge in Fort Lauderdale. It's really happening! We see you on TBN. We just see you all over the place. But you know what? I see Jesus in your heart as you speak and that's all that matters. That's what changes this world.
KENNEDY: Amen! Well, you all keep up the good work you're doing.
COOKSEY: We're going to be praying for you.
KENNEDY: Thank you.
COOKSEY: Thank you, now. Bye-bye!