June 25, 2024

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June 25, 2024

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‘God Forbid That I Should Glory’: Billy Graham Was About Jesus — First And Last

Hal Lindsey

My friend Billy Graham preached in person to more than 210 million people in 185 countries. If you add in television, radio, film, newspapers, magazines, and other media, the numbers go into the stratosphere — into the billions, but we can only guess at how many billion. Most remarkably, over three million people responded to Billy’s invitation to receive Christ as personal Savior.

In addition to his achievements as a minister, Billy led an exemplary life. He is an easy man to praise, but he wasn’t as easy to praise in person. Even at events meant to honor him, he was known to stop the proceedings and interject something along the lines of, “I’m hearing too much about Billy and not enough about Jesus.”

I was thinking of this when I heard about his statue going up inside the United States Capitol Building. It is appropriate that the US Congress and Billy’s home state of North Carolina have chosen to honor him in the National Statuary Hall Collection. But personal honors were not Billy’s thing. His life was (and continues now elsewhere to be) characterized by its Christ-centeredness. Billy Graham was about Jesus — first and last. 

It is appropriate, then, that the statue reflects more than just the image of a man. It presents him in the context of his high calling. In it, Billy stands preaching with an open Bible in one hand as the other points to a passage in that Bible — Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

The statue stands on a pedestal of pink granite quarried in Salisbury, North Carolina. The front of the pedestal identifies Billy and his state. Carved into the left side are the words spoken at so many Billy Graham Crusades — John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Carved into the right side of the pedestal are the words of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

They could not have chosen words that better illustrate the message Billy so faithfully preached. While both scriptures are familiar to most Christians, I pray that we never see them as common, trite, or worn out. These, dear friends, are the words of eternal life. They depict death’s defeat, the redemption of the world, and that of every individual who trusts his or her life to Christ.

I heard about a young minister preaching his first sermon in a main service at a large church. He chose John 3:16 as his text. Though perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, we rarely hear sermons on it. Maybe some see it as “old hat.” The young preacher preached a clear and concise Gospel message. His insights were not new. He did not speak of the latest thing on the theological circuit. The uninformed might call the sermon “ordinary.” It was anything but!

After the young preacher completed the message, the pastor took the pulpit and said, “Just keep telling the old, old story.”

Today, planet earth stands in dire peril. World leaders face global wars and civil wars. Economies perilously skate along the edge of doom. Children have been taught to rebel against even the most basic notions of decency. In such a situation, what can we do? As Christians in this world, how do we answer?

We must do as Billy did. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul told the young Timothy, “Preach the word.” Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Preach the gospel.” It is not our job to convert people. That’s up to the Holy Spirit. It is our job to faithfully spread God’s word. And a powerful Word it is! In Acts 17:6, even their enemies said that those who preached it, “turned the world upside down.” Do you want to change the world? Then be faithful to the Word. Keep telling the old, old story. 


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Hal Lindsey

My friend Billy Graham preached in person to more than 210 million people in 185 countries. If you add in television, radio, film, newspapers, magazines, and other media, the numbers go into the stratosphere — into the billions, but we can only guess at how many billion. Most remarkably, over three million people responded to Billy’s invitation to receive Christ as personal Savior.

In addition to his achievements as a minister, Billy led an exemplary life. He is an easy man to praise, but he wasn’t as easy to praise in person. Even at events meant to honor him, he was known to stop the proceedings and interject something along the lines of, “I’m hearing too much about Billy and not enough about Jesus.”

I was thinking of this when I heard about his statue going up inside the United States Capitol Building. It is appropriate that the US Congress and Billy’s home state of North Carolina have chosen to honor him in the National Statuary Hall Collection. But personal honors were not Billy’s thing. His life was (and continues now elsewhere to be) characterized by its Christ-centeredness. Billy Graham was about Jesus — first and last. 

It is appropriate, then, that the statue reflects more than just the image of a man. It presents him in the context of his high calling. In it, Billy stands preaching with an open Bible in one hand as the other points to a passage in that Bible — Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

The statue stands on a pedestal of pink granite quarried in Salisbury, North Carolina. The front of the pedestal identifies Billy and his state. Carved into the left side are the words spoken at so many Billy Graham Crusades — John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Carved into the right side of the pedestal are the words of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

They could not have chosen words that better illustrate the message Billy so faithfully preached. While both scriptures are familiar to most Christians, I pray that we never see them as common, trite, or worn out. These, dear friends, are the words of eternal life. They depict death’s defeat, the redemption of the world, and that of every individual who trusts his or her life to Christ.

I heard about a young minister preaching his first sermon in a main service at a large church. He chose John 3:16 as his text. Though perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, we rarely hear sermons on it. Maybe some see it as “old hat.” The young preacher preached a clear and concise Gospel message. His insights were not new. He did not speak of the latest thing on the theological circuit. The uninformed might call the sermon “ordinary.” It was anything but!

After the young preacher completed the message, the pastor took the pulpit and said, “Just keep telling the old, old story.”

Today, planet earth stands in dire peril. World leaders face global wars and civil wars. Economies perilously skate along the edge of doom. Children have been taught to rebel against even the most basic notions of decency. In such a situation, what can we do? As Christians in this world, how do we answer?

We must do as Billy did. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul told the young Timothy, “Preach the word.” Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Preach the gospel.” It is not our job to convert people. That’s up to the Holy Spirit. It is our job to faithfully spread God’s word. And a powerful Word it is! In Acts 17:6, even their enemies said that those who preached it, “turned the world upside down.” Do you want to change the world? Then be faithful to the Word. Keep telling the old, old story.