Rev Billy Graham, died 21 Feb 2018 aged 99 years.
Our home life changed forever in 1955 when I was a boy in Primary School. My mum went to Kelvin Hall in Glasgow to hear Billy Graham along with some ladies in the church who had the foresight to make the invitation. She had never heard him speak before, but when the ‘invitation’ was made to ‘get up out of your seat, and come to the front to accept Jesus as Saviour’ that’s exactly what she did. Mum was saved, converted, changed from the inside out and was never the same again. Dad had already been saved under the preaching ministry of the great Irish evangelist J P Nicholson. What a change in our house. It was now a Christian home, and as I look back, I see myself as being blessed to have had a Godly upbringing. I wonder what my life would have been like if Dad and Mum hadn’t got saved?
We don’t talk much about experiences like ‘being saved’, ‘repenting’, ‘getting converted’, or taking a public stand by walking to the altar at the front of the church to show you mean business with God. Somehow we have accepted the lie that these are old fashioned things and unnecessary. To a degree that’s true, after all these actions don’t save us, but they are a clear and unmistakable sign that we acknowledge our sin needs to be dealt with and we are doing something about it. It isn’t a secret after all, is it?
I fear that our churches and leaders are stepping back from these old fashioned ideas, in the hope and belief that people will make their own decisions in their own time, and at their own private place. Maybe so, but can we afford to drop the clear preaching of the convicting Word of God to salvation? Billy Graham was called by God and of that there can be no doubt. He took the Gospel Message round the world to princes and presidents, and in some folks’ eyes he was a celebrity, but he remained humble even after being God’s man in the pulpit who brought millions under the sound of the gospel and into the Kingdom. When his son, Franklin, asked what he wanted inscribed on his gravestone, after a moments thought he replied ‘just put Preacher’. What a testimony, and there are many households that were changed just like mine, when a mum and dad took the long walk to the front of the church or stadium, to accept Jesus as their Saviour. How simple, but how profound, even after 60 years.
In the eternal interests of our children and grandchildren, can we afford to keep using the lesser methods of psychology, pulpit conversations, the inoffensive homily, and epilogue, or should we return to the unapologetic preaching of the Word of God in convicting power to salvation that changes lives?
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:14 NKJV
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favourable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 NLT