From boyhood, Billy Graham has been one of my spiritual heroes. Years before I even thought of being a pastor, I admired his clear, uncompromising, and simple presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowing that our enemy, Satan, wants immediately to take away the Word (Mark 4:15), Billy Graham preached for a decision.
The Gospel came through Billy Graham “not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Even his skeptics could not deny that he not only believed the message, he had been personally transformed by it. He passionately wanted to tell the whole world of God’s love and of the way of salvation found in Christ alone.
When I came to Charlotte 12 years ago, I was honored to get to know many of the BGEA staff, and also to speak at their staff devotions, and at the Cove. When Cliff and Ann Barrows became members of Calvary, Gudny and I had the privilege of visiting them in their home and hearing the inside stories of the Billy Graham crusades from Cliff Barrows.
Attending the funeral last Friday was an incredible privilege. There under the “canvas cathedral” we sang some of the great hymns of the faith, heard the musicians, listened to the Word of God, and heard moving tributes from all of Billy’s children. As well as honoring his father, Franklin reminded everyone of the necessity of receiving Christ as personal Savior. “My father preached on heaven, told millions how to find heaven, wrote a book on heaven, and now he is in heaven.” And he is in heaven not because he is Billy Graham, but as a teenager he had personally placed his faith in the Lord Jesus.
“In his heart he would have been quite happy as the pastor of some little church up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he loved to walk and talk with God. He did not need the global adulation or his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. All he needed was Jesus Christ. But God had mysteriously planned his life otherwise. And he trusted that, sinner though he was, the Holy Spirit would testify to his faithfulness; and that after all his travelling he would have the assurance of Heaven, truly home” (Economist, March 3, 2018).
As someone also called to preach Christ, I have renewed my dedication to my Savior. With His strength and in His grace I seek to continue to preach with accuracy, with clarity, with passion “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”