Friday, November 8, 2013

The Offensive Billy Graham

For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone--except God. Billy Graham

Before we can see the cross as something done for us, we need to see the cross as something done by us. John R. W. Stott

I just watched Billy Graham's final message--twice. His family is saying it is probably the last time we will hear from the ninety-five year old evangelist. I was caught off guard from the moment the camera pulled him into frame. The sight of his aged visage caused my eyes to blur with tears. There he sat, his white hair swept back, his deep set blue eyes fading, but still striking. As he made his points his gesturing hands trembled slightly. When he spoke his voice no longer rang with that perfect pitch and pleasant drawl that garnered the attention of saints and sinners alike for decades. Presidents and kings, rich and poor, young and old, powerful and weak gave Billy their ear. Tens of thousands came to Christ through his crusades.

Both of my sons, even as little boys, found him compelling. He was an impassioned and polished communicator, but never came across as slick, pretentious, or manipulating. All these years later his message remains as clear and true as the blast of a trumpet--all these years later he continues to use Biblical words and phrases of days gone by: hell, death, lust, pride, sin, repentance, confession, and other such confrontational words. With humility and authority, yet without apology, he declared that our country is in a spiritual, economical, and physical downward spiral. We need a Savior, because we are sinners. We have offended God. God is our only hope. God loves us. God offers forgiveness. God is merciful. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus is the only way. We must turn to Jesus. We can--and need to--be saved. God longs to deliver us. Billy was wonderfully offensive, because the message of the Cross is offensive.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon and out of date, I ask the question: If we listened to one hundred sermons in one hundred churches today would we hear such a message?

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