Friday, March 02, 2018

Billy's Last Message

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Today, a memorial service is being held to honor Billy Graham.

In doing so millions around the world will also honor and celebrate the message of his life.

Billy's last message to America and the world included this:

"Our country's in great need of a spiritual awakening. There have been times that I've wept as I've gone from city to city, and I've seen how far people have wandered from God... I know many people will react to this message, but it is the truth. And with all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth. God loves you, and He's willing to forgive you of all your sins. The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it is a confrontation that all of us must face."

His last message has been preserved on video.

Wednesday and Thursday of this week Billy Graham's body Lay in Honor in our nation's Capitol. Today it has been removed, a memorial service is being held. Billy's life and ministry will be honored and his body will be laid to rest beside his wife Ruth on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina.

Billy once said, "When you hear Billy Graham is dead, don't believe it. I'll be more alive than I've ever been."

Indeed. He is with the Lord.

While Billy is very much alive and with the Lord, we're left to mourn and remember---and celebrate.

Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council and longtime friend of Billy Graham, said this week, "Billy arrived on the scene at a time when the world was looking for solutions---and this young, wiry, son of a dairy farmer had the ultimate one: Jesus Christ."

Tony says, "I once asked Franklin why his father didn't often speak to the cultural issues like he did. Franklin's response was simple: he didn't need to. In the 1950s, when Billy Graham was rising to prominence, Americans had just modified the Pledge of Allegiance to include 'one nation, under God.' It was the same time as our national motto, 'In God we trust', was adopted and prayer was welcome in our schools. Today, that same God isn't welcome in our classrooms---not even in the form of posters with our national motto."

No question, times and things have changed. But the message has not.

I'm reminded of the Apostle Paul's last message. We know it as II Timothy in the New Testament.

Paul was put to death under the reign of Nero for preaching the gospel---probably in the Spring of 68 AD.

His last message? Carry on!

He emphasized the great apostasy of his times and of a time to come. He spoke of social corruptions that would come in the latter times of the church. And said he knew the gospel was confrontational, but he wasn't ashamed of it. Although his tone was more mellow than when he was young---he spoke with certainty:

  • (1:1) "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
  • (3:5) He spoke of those "having a form of godliness, but denying it's power" telling us to turn away from them.
  • (3:7) He spoke of those who are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth."
  • (4:2) He said, "Be ready to share the gospel message in all seasons." Not just when its convenient or "safe."
  • ( 4:2) And "Convince, rebuke, exhort with long suffering and teaching", because, "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine..."
  • (4:5) "Be watchful in all things...fulfill your ministry...."
  • (4:7) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Billy Graham was not called by God to write the Inspired Scripture. Rather he was called to proclaim it to the world. He too, has fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.

His last message was from the recliner in his home on a recent birthday. It was preserved on video.

This is the 8-minute video. Please watch it.

In it, he reminds us "the cross is offensive because its confrontational, and people don't want to be confronted by the Truth."

Billy says, "The cross demands, not suggests, a new lifestyle," and "there is no other way to salvation except through the cross of Jesus Christ."

"And," he says, "I want to leave you with the whole truth."

"Be courageous," he has said. "Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."

As Paul told Christians to "carry on," Billy has also encouraged us to carry on.

And we will. And we will do so with a stiffer spine.

Be Courageous. Be Bold. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.