American evangelist Billy Graham died on Wednesday 21 February at the age of 99.
Ever since I came to know Christ at the age of nine, Billy Graham has held a special place in my heart, as he has in the hearts of millions of others all over the globe who believe the Bible and love his clear, powerful preaching of the good news of the gospel. My special ‘link’ with him is the fact that I was born on his 30th birthday, 7 November. Ever since I discovered this, I would remember him with joy and thanksgiving on my birthday. What a remarkable servant of God he has been.
Over the years of his ministry, he preached the gospel to an estimated 215 million people, in 400 evangelistic crusades in 185 countries on 6 continents! Wow!
At the beginning of his ministry, Billy Graham experienced what he called “a crisis of faith”. At a student conference in August 1949, in the San Bernardino mountains of California, his faith in the Bible was put to the test. Charles Templeton had asked questions about the Bible’s truthfulness that Billy could not answer. He went out in the forest and wandered up the mountain, praying as he walked: “Lord, what shall I do? What shall be the direction of my life?”
He saw that intellect alone could not resolve the question of the authority of Scripture. You must go beyond intellect. He thought of the faith used constantly in daily life: he did not know how a train or plane or car worked, but he rode them . . . Was it only in things of the spirit that such faith was wrong?
“So I went back and I got my Bible, and I went out in the moonlight. I got to a stump and put the Bible on the stump, and I knelt down, and I said, ‘Oh, God; I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions Chuck and some of the other people are raising, but I accept this book by faith as the Word of God.’”
That was a defining moment in the life and ministry of Billy Graham, and from then on, he confidently held out the word of life to millions through his preaching.
I am persuaded that unless we believe that the whole Bible is indeed the word of God we will not “hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:16) to people where we live, work, and play.
Our Mission at RUC to CALL, EQUIP, and SEND disciples for the glory of God is rooted in our conviction that the Bible is the Word of God, and that Jesus’ words are true: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
It is my prayer that our new sermon series, MADE FOR THIS (Finding your place in God’s mission), will strengthen our grip on the gospel and sharpen our skills in holding it out to others.