Billy Graham’s influence has been far and wide. For over 60 years, he led crusades, wrote books, spoke on college campuses, was a chaplain to Presidents, and impacted other world leaders. When you look at all he did it is nothing short of overwhelming. However, Billy Graham was non-assuming and was, in fact, the antithesis of pride and arrogance. He remained humble and simple both in what he said and what he did. God used him in amazing ways of which he could never have dreamed.
Unlike many who let fame change them, he never did. His message was the simple message of faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Gospel. His appeals were almost redundant as he urged people to give their lives to Christ. He always magnified God and His Word and proclaimed the necessity of being “born again.” He could meet with Presidents and other world leaders, speak to scholars on college campuses, or to packed stadiums and he was still just a humble farm boy from North Carolina.
Billy Graham’s legacy, in many regards, is not about what he did, but in the reality of what God can accomplish through one who truly yields their life to Him. So many times we use the language of “I’ve given my life to Jesus,” but in reality all we mean by that is that we have had a religious experience and/or “gotten saved.” We do not really think through the potential consequences of what it does/would mean to actually give our life (our whole life) to the Lord. People tend to give God something yet claim they have given Him all. God knows the difference and even people themselves realize the difference over the course of time.
We can celebrate Billy Graham’s life, his ministry, his devotion, his consistency, or any number of things and we are not wrong to do so. However, the greatest cause for celebration is that most of what was available to him is also available to us. Let me illustrate by asking a question. Do we celebrate today what Billy Graham did for God, or do we celebrate what God did through Billy Graham? I believe the latter is the better question. Remember the words of Scripture, Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Billy Graham grew up in a rural setting and he understood farm life and farm work. He never forgot that he was a farmer out there preparing soil, planting seed, cultivating, fertilizing, and watering. It was God who gave the increase but Billy Graham got the joy of being a part of the harvest. Every Christian is afforded that same opportunity to do the work of the Lord. Even though salvation is a sovereign work of the Lord, He graciously allows us to have a special part in this process and experience the overwhelming joy of seeing sinners come to repentance and faith in Him.
Will there ever be another Billy Graham? The simple answer is no. He was one of a kind and God had a special, one-of-a-kind ministry for him to fulfill. There will be, and already are, others who will do some of the things that he did, but there will never be anyone like him. He was a specially appointed prophetic voice for the mid-twentieth through the early twenty-first century. The power of his prophetic voice and pulpit and scope of his influence literally point to the end of days. I speculate that even his passing somehow figures into the plans God has in store for the world.
Billy Graham never claimed to speak for anyone other than God. His voice thundered with the age old truths of the Gospel. All that he ever did for good started with a simple faith and trust in God and His Word. When he was a young man in the 1930s he experienced a crisis of faith and retreated into the woods by himself and wrestled with God. Coming out of that time he determined that mere intellect alone could not bring a person to Christ but it must be accompanied by faith. Faith being “The promise of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)
We mourn his passing, but it is hard to feel sorry for anyone who is now in the presence of Jesus. We do not long for him to come back to this dark world, but we long to go where he has now gone and to hear the Savior say “Well done.”
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor