Billy Graham has passed on to see the Savior he faithfully served and spoke of for so many years. I don’t believe any evangelist has had the same impact, but I pray God will raise up another. What would that require? One word: integrity.
Billy Graham was never involved in a scandal. Every time I ever heard him speak, it was of Jesus, who died and rose to save us from our sin. I watched Billy Graham preach the funeral of Richard Nixon. Seated in front of him were five living presidents, all of whom he knew and most of whom he had counseled. Billy Graham preached the Gospel, not politics, not personal opinion, not a people pleasing eulogy, just Jesus. That’s what it will take to bring about a revival in this tragically bent and backslidden nation of ours. May God raise up another Billy Graham.
When I was a young teenager I was hurting, lost and had little hope. I had been exposed to the Gospel, and that is likely due to earlier influence from Billy Graham on the culture in which I was raised. If I were growing up today, that influence would be absent. However, it took more than a generalized cultural exposure to Jesus to save me from my sin and self. I needed to hear the Gospel, clearly and plainly proclaimed.
I was watching television in my bedroom, must have been 13 or 14 years old. Billy Graham was on, preaching one of his many crusades. At the end of the message he gave the invitation to make a decision to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He invited people in the stadium where he stood to join him by coming from their seats to the stage. However, on this night Billy Graham did something else, which I don’t remember seeing him do on other occasions when I watched his crusades. What he asked was directed to those of us watching the telecast, and it seems a little silly, but my willingness to join his invitation demonstrates just how much I wanted Jesus in my life. Billy Graham said (something to the effect of), “If you’re watching the telecast from home and would like to put your faith in Jesus, why don’t you get up and place your hand on the television as you pray with me.” I knelt in front of my TV, placed my hand on the screen, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with Billy Graham. I remember it clearly.
During this time I was also exposed to the preaching of Richard Jackson of the North Phoenix Baptist Church. That too was on television. I prayed the prayer with Pastor Jackson on numerous occasions and eventually went to his church and publicly committed my life to Jesus Christ. The public commitment, walking the aisle, going down to the front like all those people did at the Billy Graham crusade, that was important. Jesus said, “If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father in heaven, but if you deny me, I will deny you” (Matthew 10:31-32). That was the final step in the process of my decision to believe in Christ. I took it on Easter Sunday, 40 years ago, and I’ve never gone back.
“I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back, no turning back.”
It all started when I heard the Gospel plainly preached by Billy Graham. Simply stated, this is that Gospel. Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life that you and I are supposed to but don’t, then died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and prove God’s love. Then Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, and now he offers the gift of eternal life to anyone who will decide to put faith in him. Realize, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23 & 6:23a). We see evidence of this in our own lives and all around us today. Jesus came to offer life. In fact, he promised: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to offer a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). So, even though sin brings death, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Do you want that gift? Will you put your trust in Jesus who died and rose to offer it? “that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from death and eternal separation from God and love and life in hell. All you have to do is believe. Call out to Jesus. “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Will you make the decision today to believe in Jesus? Speak to him in prayer right now. You can say something like this:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I am a sinful person, and I need you to forgive me and save me.
I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose from the dead.
I open my heart and accept you as my Savior.
Jesus Christ, you are Lord. Take charge of my life right now.
Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me. Thank you for sending your servant. Please send another to this generation. Send revival. We need it desperately. We need to return to you.