A Tribute to Billy Graham
Billy Graham impacted the world with the gospel of Christ in a tremendous way. Will God raise up another Billy Graham to impact our world once again? I am sure only heaven has the true records of how many people were changed by Billy Graham’s life, as was mine. I believe God used him like a John the Baptist, preparing people to receive Jesus before Jesus came into His ministry. Today we await the return of Christ and we need another move of the Spirit of God through a minister like Billy that will prepare people for Christ’s return.
So this brings us to the question, “Will God raise up another Billy Graham? Who will replace the influence he had on the world? Before answering this question, I think we must all understand where Billy Graham’s power and influence came from. What caused millions of people to respond to altar calls in huge stadiums over the years? The answer to this is: it was the work of the Holy Spirit working through Billy Graham. The Spirit of God moved on the hearts of people to respond to the message of the cross and the Bible. Billy Graham was simply following the command of Jesus in
Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Mark 16:20 “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”
God has always sent mighty men and women of God over the centuries to minister to people because He has always cared about the people in the world He created. He is still doing this today through the many evangelists, pastors, teachers, prophets and apostles in the earth (the five-fold ministry).
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
From the above scriptures we see it is God who works with His people who have responded to the call on their lives.
Billy Graham’s Life and Death
Evangelist Billy Graham died on February 21, 2018, at his home in Montreat, North Carolina of natural causes and is now home with Jesus. He was 99. Throughout his life, Billy Graham preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people who attended his more than 400 Crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books. Yet, he always deflected any credit to God: “If anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God’s doing, not mine, and He—not I—must get the credit.”
Born November 7, 1918, William Franklin “Billy” Graham Jr. grew up during the Depression and developed a work ethic helping his dad at his dairy farm. It would carry him through decades of ministry on six continents. Graham was a man of human frailty and had his faults as any other man, but he had great humility and integrity as his personal life never brought any shame on the name of Christ during his ministry spanning over decades, as his moral life was exemplary. No other Christian minister in our generation has had as many accolades bestowed upon him from the world and the church as this one man.
His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, was the daughter of missionaries in China. Billy always credited Ruth as his helpmate in the ministry and declared he could have not accomplished all he did without her. She indeed, will receive the same rewards as Billy in her supportive role. He had 3 daughters and 2 sons: Virginia “Gigi” Graham Leftwich, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth Graham, Franklin Graham, and Nelson Edman “Ned” Graham with 19 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren. His oldest son, Franklin, will continue to head the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as they continue to reach out to the world. The numerous accolades of Billy Graham cannot all be listed here, but he was known as America’s Pastor and the President’s Pastor. Graham was only the fourth person to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda before being buried by his wife’s side at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Billy Graham was a “Gift from God” to this Generation
He was an evangelist who preached the love of God toward all people and the simple gospel message of repentance and salvation through the cross of Christ. His endearing qualities were many and he was one of the most admired men of the last century. In my opinion he ranked with the past Bible giants like Abraham, Moses and David in the Old Testament and Peter, John and Paul in the New Testament.
Billy Graham was a gift from God to this world in this generation, and his life is a reflection of what God can do through any man or woman who is totally committed to the will of God. Billy was a great man because he served a great God!
How Billy Graham Impacted My Personal Life
The Spirit of God that operated in Billy’s life impacted my life in a profound way when I was in my early twenties. I was watching TV one evening, as my husband had gone to bed early. I somehow flipped the dial to a Billy Graham crusade that was taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I listened to the sermon and do not remember that so much, as when Rev. Graham gave the alter call and he said something like this, “I want to invite those of you who are watching by television to also give your heart to Christ and follow Him. Many of you claim to be Christians, but you only go to church occasionally at Christmas or Easter, you only pray when you are in trouble, you never witness to anyone and you are not reading your Bible. I am going to ask you to rededicate your life to Jesus and surrender to His will right now. Will you get down on your knees in front of the TV set and dedicate your life back to Christ right now and surrender to do His will along with these people here in the stadium that are coming tonight to surrender to Christ?”
I was immediately convicted of my sins and my lack of commitment to God, so I knelt down and said a prayer like this, “Lord, you know I am one of those Christians that Billy Graham just described, as I am not going to church, I am not praying like I should and I rarely read the Bible. Lord, I really want to do these things, but I need you to give me the power to lead the Christian life and I will do it. Please forgive me for my sins.”
I did not feel anything, but looking back, I realize, the Lord gave me the power of the Holy Spirit, just as I had asked. Because immediately, I had the desire to go wake up my husband and tell him to come and listen to Billy Graham, which I did. Then the next morning when I got up and went outside, I suddenly began to see and hear all the beauty in this world, the flowers, the trees, the sky and the song birds that were singing. I began to hear in my mind, scriptures that I had memorized in Sunday school. I began singing gospel songs that I had learned in my past as I was doing my house work.
I then went to visit a friend of mine who was married with two children and I told her that we both needed to go to church and she needed to take her children to Sunday school. Because I was born again in a Southern Baptist Church (thanks to my aunt who took me and my sister, as my parents were not Christians) I found a local Baptist church to go to. I then started attending every service which was Sunday morning and evening and visitation on Tuesday and Wednesday night services. Soon I was asked to teach the young women’s Sunday School class (which I felt totally unprepared to do), but through prayer and Bible study, the Lord helped me and gave me the gift of teaching and I then taught for the next nine years in that church. I will be ever grateful for Billy Graham’s ministry who got me back on track with God and God then eventually called me into the ministry.
Why Did God Use Billy Graham?
Although we cannot fully know why God chose to use Billy Graham (or any other man or woman of God for that matter) the scripture does give us some of the reasons God calls and uses people in the ministry. Here is a partial list:
- Those who are surrendered to God’s will: They completely give up their will and their plans and choose to do whatever the Lord would have them to do, no matter what that assignment might be and no matter what they are asked to give up. They fully surrender to doing God’s will. I believe this is one of the main reasons God picks certain people. We can never clearly hear God unless we have an intimate relationship with Him. Hearing God is all about proximity. It is all about being close to God. God does not need our ability, but our availability. He will enable us for the work He wants us to do. God is looking for our total surrender, as Billy Graham did.
- Those with humble hearts: They have humbled themselves before God realizing that they can do nothing in themselves, unless the Lord empowers them to do so. They know that no matter how weak they might be, the Lord is their strength. They know that God is the one who will sustain them in this life in every area of their lives, as Billy Graham was.
- Those who have a life of prayer: They are men and women of prayer, as it is the prayer in their lives that empower them to do the works of God. Little prayer equals little power. I believe the first calling of any minister is the call to intercessory prayer. All through the New Testament we read of the disciplined prayer life of Jesus and His disciples, as Billy Graham had.
- Those who love God and man. They love God first and then receive His love for the people they are sent to minister to. They demonstrate God’s love to people in their lives and actions. They lay down their lives for others, as Billy Graham did.
- Those who keep their hearts right before God. David is an example of this in the Old Testament. When they failed God or sinned, they were quick to repent and to ask the Lord to cleanse them of all unrighteousness in their hearts. Having a pure heart toward God and obeying His Word are things that God looks for in those He calls, as Billy Graham did.
- Those who read and love the Bible. God uses people who have a love for God’s Word, the Bible, and will read and study it to become a workman that is not ashamed. They will also desire to be conformed to the Word of God and seek God to understand His Word and apply it to their lives, as Billy Graham did.
Who Will be the Next Billy Graham?
I do not believe God is going to raise up another single person like Billy Graham to come forth at this time, as Billy had a unique call in his day. But, from looking at scripture, I believe God plans to use a many-membered company of believers who will bring forth a mighty move of God right before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ back to this earth. Each of these ministers will have a supernatural anointing, that will prepare the people on the earth for our Lord’s return. This company of saints will be anointed with power to demonstrate the Kingdom of God in the earth, even as Billy Graham was anointed to present the gospel message of salvation to the world. Jesus said in Matthew 24:
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
For years, we have read this scripture to mean the gospel would be preached in all the world and then the end would come and have therefore made evangelism a priority and this was good. However, I believe a greater thing is going to happen than just preaching the “gospel” to the world, as I believe God is going to use a company of people who will demonstrate the “gospel of the Kingdom” to the world before He returns. What does this mean? Any kingdom has a king and every king has power. I believe the Lord is going to demonstrate His power in the earth in a mighty way through His overcomers. I believe He is going to use a group of people He is currently preparing for this work who will demonstrate the power of God to the world. This power will be demonstrated in miracles, healings and the supernatural works of God like the ones that are recorded in the Bible – supernatural things like raising the dead, multiplying food and furnishing other needed provisions during these times of trouble. The Bible says that His people will do greater works than Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
Now this has already begun in a small way, but I believe before the coming of the Lord we are going to see a mighty company of believers who will not limit God and will be used to demonstrate the “gospel of the Kingdom.”
Who Will These People Be?
Since God is no respecter of persons, and He has a plan for every person in this world, and His desire is that each of us fulfill that plan for our lives; He will use those who totally surrender to His plans, as He is no respecter of people. These will be people who are totally surrendered to the will of God like Billy Graham was. Billy Graham has gone to his rewards, but we await ours. Remember, we each receive our rewards for our obedience to do the will of God. Billy Graham receives the rewards for what he has done and his rewards will be no greater than any of ours if we do the will of God and complete what He has called us each to do.
Acts 10:34-35: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”
So who are these people God will use right before His return? Many people in the body of Christ are talking about this company of believers now. They are being described in different terms, but are the same many membered company of believers. Some of the names used to describe them in the Bible are:
- The Bride of Christ
- The Remnant
- The Overcomers
- The Forerunners
- The Manchild
God is now calling and preparing this company of believers because the days are getting darker and darker and sin is abounding. God is going to send many “Billy Grahams” forth in this gloomy time to offset the darkness in the world with His light and power. Will you commit to do the will of God so you will have a part in this next move of God in the earth? Jesus is coming back to earth very soon and He wants us to be ready personally and to be used of God to reach out in our individual spheres of influence so that many will be saved before the day of the Lord comes on the earth with His return. Billy Graham did his part and is now in heaven enjoying the presence of God. Will you yield to the Holy Spirit to do yours in this hour of darkness? Jesus told us to “watch and pray.” Read the entire book of Joel as it prophetically describes the time that is just ahead of us. Here are some excerpts:
1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Billy Graham paved the way for our day, now we must rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit and do our part to pave the way for the coming of Jesus back to this earth! First you must surrender to God and then He will show you what part you are to accomplish in the next move of God in the earth.
Billy Graham is buried at the Billy Graham Library next to his wife, Ruth.