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This past weekend while in Wheaton, Illinois, performing a wedding for a friend of ours, Cheryl and I had the opportunity to visit Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Center. Walking through the museum, which gives a historical overview of evangelism in America from colonial times up to the present, I was reminded above everything else of how powerful one life fully given over to Christ can be. That message came through so strongly as we followed the museum’s steps through the life and ministry of Billy Graham.

I’ve always had the highest respect for Dr. Graham, and I remember being greatly impacted when I read his autobiography, Just As I Am, some years ago. But while going through the museum and seeing the newspaper articles, pictures, and video clips from Billy’s crusades, interviews, and other activities, something struck me that I don’t want to soon forget. And that was this: pure and simple faith in Christ, an unswerving confidence in the truth of the Bible, and a genuine love for one’s fellow man is the surest way to impact the world for good. From my point of view that’s who Billy Graham is and what he’s done; and if there’s a man whose life I would hope to imitate in some small measure, it would be his. Here are a few thoughts I took away from my visit to the Billy Graham Center: 

Pure and Simple Faith in Christ

It is clear from Billy’s life and ministry that he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and that all men must be born again through receiving Christ personally. He has proclaimed the gospel to more people than any other man in history, and his message has always been clear, concise, and simple enough for a child to grasp. Billy has been masterful at keeping it pure and simple: God loves you, Jesus died and rose again, you must be born again.

Unswerving Confidence in the Truth of the Bible

Having no doubt heard every imaginable argument against the veracity of the Bible, Billy has faithfully held to the conviction that the Bible is the Word of God. His preaching is, for the most part, a simple exposition of a text of the Bible along with illustrations from life. He has not so much engaged in defending the Scriptures, as just setting them forth and letting them defend themselves. He seems to have the same conviction as Charles Spurgeon, who when asked why he didn’t do more along the lines of defending the Scriptures, likened that to being about as necessary as defending a lion. I love to listen to Billy who, both in his preaching and when being interviewed, without apology shares with absolute conviction the plain statements of Scripture, fully confident in the power of the Word of God to convict and convince. In the many different interviews I’ve watched over the years, Billy never attempted to be clever or sophisticated, but with winsomeness and candor spoke the truth in love. I believe we can learn much from his example of a man who truly believes the Bible is God’s Word, and in a very natural way communicates that belief to others.

A Genuine Love for His Fellow Man

In considering the breadth and the impact of Billy’s ministry, much is due, I believe, to his genuine love for people. Walking through the exhibits in the museum and looking at all the photos, magazine and newspaper articles, and film clips of the different places he’s been and the people he’s met, it’s truly astounding.

He has touched people from all races, nations, classes, and even religions. He has been the friend and confidant of world leaders, religious leaders, and celebrities of all sorts, but has also always been there to give a listening ear, a kind word, or a helping hand to the world’s most humble and ordinary people. In the museum there are several pictures of him with various world leaders, pictures in palaces and presidential mansions, but also pictures with inmates in prisons, among gang leaders in the inner city, and among the poor and destitute around the globe. It seems that Billy, like Jesus, was willing to go wherever he was invited and to speak to whoever would listen, whether small or great. I loved this one picture of Billy and Ruth sitting in their rocking chairs on their front porch across from Muhammad Ali, who no doubt heard the gospel on that occasion. I think in his graciousness and acceptance of people, Billy most exemplifies Jesus. He has sought to welcome and embrace Christians of all stripes, and has even demonstrated love, kindness, and understanding with people of other faiths and no faith. In all of these ways Billy has been an extraordinary example of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, his has been a unique calling, yet we all have our own unique callings in our service to Christ. Billy has been faithful to his calling; let us be faithful to ours.

As we left the museum that day I turned to Cheryl and said, “If all Christians were like Billy Graham, the world would be a different place.” She agreed.

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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