“Billy Graham is dead.” Those were the words that hit me in the face like slabs of electric guitar chords early Wednesday morning. The newspeople didn’t say, “Billy Graham has passed” or “Rev. Billy Graham died in his sleep.” No. It was brutal. It was blunt. It was shocking and those were words spoken that I will always remember. I’m going to assume that if you are reading this column, then you looked at Rev. Billy Graham’s ministry with approval and with support for what he did and what his family continues to do throughout the world. You know that his son, Franklin, is continuing to preach and heads up numerous relief organizations that help people all over the world. His daughter, Ann Graham Lotz is a well-known speaker and writer and his grandson also preaches. Several of his family members work for the BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).
My very first experience with the Billy Graham Crusades was back in 1964 when he came to Columbus. My grandmother took me to see him. It was just the two of us that night, but I believe it was there, that the spark to preach was lit. I could not believe someone could speak so boldly about being a Christian. We were taught there were two things you never talked about outside of the home: religion and politics. (Apparently that still applies today because if you want to get things stirred up just bring up either topic.)
I didn’t go down to the altar when he gave the invitation. But I remember as though it were yesterday the number of people that did. I didn’t even ask my grandma about it because I was being raised in a religious home and I thought that if anyone was going to Heaven, I would. I was neither “too good” nor was I “too bad” for a loving God to not allow me into Heaven or send me to hell. I lived with that believe for the next 11 years. “If anyone is going to Heaven, I am.” And I paid very little attention to that topic until 1975 when a local pastor told me that in order to go to Heaven, a person had to be born again. That was all new to me because I had been baptized as an infant, confirmed as a member of the church because of three years of Catechism, and our family even had the preacher over for Sunday dinner about four or five times a year. Certainly, I was on my way to Heaven.
Fortunately for me, this pastor took the time to show me what God’s Word said about going to Heaven and who would be going. I made the decision right then to be “born again” and I accepted the free gift of eternal life by accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior. I can show you the place where it happened. I know that I am going to Heaven and you can too. (Please see: Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10:13; and I. John 5:13.)
And let me set those newpeople straight. Billy Graham is not dead. He is now alive more than ever. He accepted Jesus as his Savior, made Jesus his Lord and for a lifetime, Rev. Graham served the Lord with every fiber in his body. He is alive and he is alive for evermore. He has heard the words, “Well done good and faithful Servant.” He has been reunited with his wife and other family members and he has seen Jesus face to face. No friend, he is not dead. He has taken his first breath in a place that has been prepared for those who will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and not trust in their own works to get them to Heaven. And if he could, Rev. Graham would say this to you today, “God loves you. Jesus died for you. Accept the free gift of eternal life and live forever in Heaven with the Lord!” Rev. Graham, you have run the race. You have fought the good fight. You have finished your course. Well done. Well done.
And that is Something to Think About for this week.
If you are on Facebook, you can watch our service live on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. Simply like our Facebook page at Crossroadslondon and watch.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 2343 U.S. Route 42, London, one mile west of Kirkwood Cemetery. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at email@example.com or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.
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