It seems appropriate that Billy Graham passed away during the Olympics. After all he had run a good race, had run with endurance and had fought the good fight! Now, he could receive the accolades due him, not a gold medal, but a crown of glory and Jesus welcoming him into Heaven with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
I want to hear those words some day myself. There are days I forget that we are all just “travellers” in this world, just passing through until we are ushered into eternity. We will all receive our just reward at the end of our earthly lives. For those who believe in Jesus through faith, our heavenly reward awaits us, to those who reject Him, eternal separation from God will result. Billy Graham understood that message and his mission was to ensure that he boldly proclaimed the Gospel so that “none should perish”. (2 Peter 3:9)
Graham wrote concerning Judgment Day, “The Bible says there will be only one question on that day – what did you do with Jesus? You don’t go to hell for drinking liquor, you don’t go to hell for using profanity – you go to hell for rejecting Christ!”
From “The Faithful Christian.”
It is the sin of unbelief that Jesus speaks about in John 8: 21-24. To reject that Jesus is the Son of God, condemns a person to hell. We don’t like to talk about the consequences of rejecting Jesus in our overly tolerant, feel good society. We want to believe that ALL good people will go to Heaven as if they have somehow earned that right. Graham didn’t mince words.
“Heaven is real and hell is real, and eternity is but a breath away.”
“Why is it that the cross has become the symbol of Christianity? It is because at the cross Jesus purchased our redemption and provided a righteousness which we could not ourselves earn.”
Graham knew that there would come a time of judgment for all of us.
“Hundreds of passages point to a time of judgment for every person who has ever lived—none will escape. If you took all the references to judgment out of the Bible, you would have little Bible left.
God has offered His love and mercy and forgiveness to men. From the cross, God has said to the whole world, “I love you.” However, when that love is deliberately rejected, the only alternative is judgment…
Here is the judgment toward which every person outside of Christ is headed. God has already set the date. All people, of all races and nationalities, both past and present, will be there. You may make and break appointments in this life, but this is one appointment you are going to keep.
In “that day” the books will be opened, the Bible says. Those who have not accepted Christ—whether they were rich or poor, titled or common, old or young, healthy or ill, sound of body or crippled, famous or obscure—will be revealed for all to see. What a terrifying moment for millions when the books are opened at the judgment!
This is the day that Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Even people who did the work of the Lord will be included. They were busy in the church. They did many wonderful works. But Jesus Himself will say, “I never knew you.” What a dreadful thing! They thought their own good works would save them. It should sober us to realize that some day Jesus Christ will be Judge. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).” (The Justice of God – Billy Graham)
It is an urgent message. It is a message that people openly criticize and condemn. Their humanistic sensibilities will not allow them to believe that to reject Jesus Christ, is to ultimately condemn “good” people to hell. Christians are vilified for saying it. Many can’t believe that a God of “love” is capable of judging people so harshly. However, Graham understood he could not withhold the truth from his audiences even if it made them angry or offended. He asked in every one of his crusades, “Are you prepared to meet God at the judgment? Because, you see, we don’t have very much longer to live.”
He knew time was short. Those who die in their sin of unbelief are lost for eternity. It is the harshness of this reality that should drive all Christians to share their faith so that their family, friends and neighbours may hear and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. We don’t want them to be separated from the love of God!
I have been challenged recently to be more bold in sharing my faith online and in person. James McDonald describes what it means to be Biblically bold for Christ:
“Biblical boldness for Christ is a fountain that bursts forth from a satisfied soul. Even when facing the authorities, Peter overflows with the Gospel, referring to Jesus seven times in Acts 4:10-12 concluding with, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Boldness springs from something that is happening deep inside. Jesus Christ has changed my life. Everything that I was looking for and longing for, I found in Him. I have the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. I have a peace that passes understanding. I have a love for people whom I should hate. I have joy and a strength I knew nothing about, so how could I not try to tell others that they can have it, too? That is boldness!”
Dr. Graham had that Biblical boldness for Christ. His voice is silenced now, but not his legacy. I pray that we can continue the work Graham spent his entire life devoted to: boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.