Tuesday, October 07, 2008

RECOVERING A REVERENCE FOR GOD IN EVANGELISM
..."the great judgment" by Billy Graham (1958)



My father worked with Billy in the early days and helped launch his ministry in radio around the country. This is the evangelist/Bible preacher I so appreciate. My friend, the late Stephen Olford, told me once of his early encounter with Billy before the Lord granted him a wider audience to preach to. He said that Billy's preaching was average, his understanding of biblical truths ordinary, and the results almost nonexistent. But they embarked together on a journey spiritually over the next several weeks of confession of and repentance of sin; and a concentrated study of God's Word and long seasons of prayer.

I will never forget what Dr. Olford then said to me,
"Steve, for reasons known only to heaven, the next time Billy preached the Holy Spirit was at work; people came and filled the churches; and before the end of the sermon could even be concluded, they were streaming down the aisles in repentance of their sins to receive and follow the Lord Jesus Christ."
How I treasured hearing this message this evening and I pray it will encourage your soul as well. Oh for THAT Dr. Graham to be duplicated once again in today's young men of God seeking to serve the Lord Jesus! There was never the mark in those crusades of the sooty ordure of the culturally driven preachers like there is today. On the contrary: the Word preached faithfully and the gospel presented clearly.

True biblical ministry is not defined by the times, but by the truth of God's Word. It was enough then... and it should be enough in ministry today as well.

Amen? Amen!

18 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

In 1975 I was living a wild life of drug dealing and promisuousness. Me and three of my friends began to plan a bank robbery, and since Rockefeller in New York had strengthened the laws about bank robbery and New Jersey had followed suit, we were not willing to go to jail for 20 years if caught.

We decided to kill the guard as we entered to avoid capture. Several weeks before we were to carry it out, I was involved in a violent street fight in which my finger was nearly bitten off. My aunt allowed me to recuperate at her house in Clifton, New Jersey.

Those were the days before television remotes, and so one night as I was eating in my room a Billy Graham special came on. I decided to finish my meal before I would change the channel, but as I finished my supper I could not turn the channel and I was glued to Billy Graham's words. He was preaching that Jesus was coming back to earth in judgment, and I had never heard that...ever.

Afeter several days of being dealt with by God's Spirit, I climbed the face of Garret Mountain at night overlooking the Manhattan skyline. That night, I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, He had died forme, and that He was the only way to eternal life. As I climbed down from the face of that mountain I was a changed man, and I began to drive my family crazy. (what else is new?)

I disagree substantively with some of Billy Graham's methods and theology, but I will always be grateful to God for using him to reach an incredible sinner like me who was not even seeking Him.

SJ Camp said...

Rick
WOW...

What a tremendous testimony of God's fathomless, outrageous grace in your life.

Thank you brother for sharing it with us here. To God be glory... great things He has done!

I also agree with you about Billy. I wish these past several years of his ministry were marked with the same passion and intensity for the Word of God in his preaching as we have seen on this video clip. I saw a video of him from the early seventies and he was preaching wrath, holiness, justice, repentance, grace, etc. like Whitefield of old.

Thanks again for sharing your testimony.

Grace and peace,
Steve
Col. 1:4-8

Rick Frueh said...

BTW Steve, those were the days when Evie Tournquist was considered cutting edge contemporary Christian music. :)

littlegal_66 said...

Rick--
Incredible. You should write a book, brother...what a story! SDG in the highest!
(Campi really summed it up with, "Wow.)

Steve--
"Outrageous grace"....I love that!!

Kurt Michaelson said...
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Kurt Michaelson said...

Very few pastors are willing to preach like this today, which itself is sad and a great disservice to the Great Commission.

After I had attended a School of Evangelism in 2006, at the Billy Graham Training Center, my life hasn't been the same.

I have been captivated by Reverend Graham's passion for souls in the sermons he has preached over the years, many of which have been very direct and convicting. So much of what he has preached 30, 40 or 50 years ago, still applies today.

Since attending the SOE at the BGTC, I have been able to have a greater burn in my heart for winning souls to Christ, through Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron's ministry, The Way of the Master.

This led me to read about people like Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, Moddy and Edwards, all of whom were unashamed to preach the whole counsel of God and they have greatly inspired me to likewise do the same.

If even half of the pastors in this country would preach with such passion and conviction like Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards, I think this country would experience a tremendous revival.

Only one person needs to be the spark to set off the inferno. I hope that I can contribute to that fire that burns in the hearts of men and women to see souls saved and the world won to Christ.

ewe cho said...

Amen and amen. God send us more ministers who are also willing to embark "together on a journey spiritually over the next several weeks of confession of and repentance of sin; and a concentrated study of God's Word and long seasons of prayer" so they too can stand in their pulpits and preach like this!
Obviously for Billy Graham something happened out of intense, sustained, confession, repentance, study and prayer. My daddy would have said he was "anointed" by God!

Eunice

Only Look said...

Incidentally...Anne seems to have the fire in her heart now.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

jen elslager said...

Rick, that is an amazing testimony. My husband was drawn to Christ from listening to Pat Robertson.

Amazing, I know. :)

donsands said...

I'm one who loves Billy Graham. I went to see him in Philly, and New York, at his crusades, way back when. It was very edifying each time.
He also was the main speaker at my son-in-law's graduation at Liberty, the same year his grandson graduated.

And yet Billy Graham was weak in some theology, and I believe because he had such love for people, that he thought God loved all people the way he did. He was very close to being ecumenical, for he embraced Catholicism, and yet he did separate himself from it as well.

He believed in the doctrine of "inclusion"; that God can save people without Christ.

He is a dear brother, and a name that God made great, for His glory, and the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Like Rick says, I disagree with this wonderful man, and yet thank God for him.

eric opsahl said...

Campo,
This isn’t meant to be published. While Graham’s early years are characterized by faithful teaching, I’m wondering if how he finishes the race is what really matters. If after being “saved” a man shows much zeal for the Gospel, but after persecution rejects Christ, we don’t praise that man for his zeal. Rather we apply the scripture:

Matt:16 "And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

I suspect the main lesson we should learn from Graham is what happens when we abandon the truths of God’s word. Should the fact that he did much worthy work in his early years overshadow how he has finished the race?

As a teacher, he has a huge responsibility to be faithful to the Word. That lack of faithfulness is well documented, which some have already included in their responses.
Eric

Carla said...

Rick,

I read your comment twice and just sat here thinking "wow". God's grace is simply and beautifully amazing. Thanks for sharing that here.

Mark said...

I agree with brother Eric. We are to look at Graham's life as a warning against compromise. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

Graham's compromise, unholy alliances and unbiblical methods are bearing much bad fruit in evangelicalism today. Francis Schaeffer warned in an address in 1974 at the International Congress on World Evangelization that "Nowhere is practicing the truth more important than in the area of religious cooperation. If I say that Christianity is really eternal truth, and the liberal theologian is wrong -- so wrong that he is teaching that which is contrary to the Word of God -- and then on any basis (including for the sake of evangelism) I am willing publicly to act as though that man's religious position is the same as my own, I have destroyed the practice of truth which my generation can expect from me and which it will demand of me if I am to have credibility."

Evangelicals have destroyed the practice of truth and therefore have lost credibility. "The end justifies the means" is what runs the evangelical mega-church movement. Where did they get this idea? Graham was applying it to evangelism many years before and setting the stage for what we see today.
Mark

Only Look said...

Donsands,

Good thoughts on Billy. You said:

>And yet Billy Graham was weak in some theology, and I believe because he had such love for people, that he thought God loved all people the way he did.<

I believe God loves people more than Billy does as he loved the Rich Young Ruler who turned away from Him. Still, God cannot sacrifice His glory he manifested in His Son and in that hour at the cross. To do so would be to hate people and not give them what they truly need. So Billy does not love people as much as God does. God loves them more and that is why Billy's wider gate theory is such a harmful doctrine that will harm many people that God loves more than Billy does.

I will never understand how even in that day he preached back in the 50's he was still working with Rome and not listening to men that were concerned even then.

It is heartbreaking, and that Billy said that he preached the same gospel Rome does once and called the Pope an evangelist. Truly judgment day will be a day of reckoning for all of this. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work in our lives and His ways are mysterious, but in the end we must all Only Look To Christ.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

donsands said...

"So Billy does not love people as much as God does."

I agree. The love of God for His elect is beyond comprehension.

I don't believe Billy ever thought of God's hatred for sinners as well.

He taught on Jesus' words: "..fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell", that the "him' here was the devil, and not God.

Billy couldn't see God destroying souls in hell.

So when I say Billy thought God loved people as he did. Billy was thinking he was loving people as God does, but never understood God's wrath, and justice against sinners.
I'm not really clear. But I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

At the same time, this servant of the Lord was used mightily by God. His integrity and love for Christ and his family shone bright for the Father in heaven.

Only Look said...
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Only Look said...

I agree that God hates the sinful nature, but he still loves those he hates as well, like the un-elect Rich Young Ruler and Paul loving those of Israel according to the flesh, wishing he could be accursed instead of them or Jesus weeping and wanting Israel to come to Him so He could take them under His wings. It is hard to know the mind of God so we have to take both testimonies as true and accept that God loves in ways we don't understand. Truly God's love is not fully understood in the blueprint.
If we try to understand God's love, then we may find ourselves blessing someone who is misleading millions away from the strait Gait in telling them that life can be found outside of the only way it can be found in Christ alone at the cross.

I pretty Scary thing that both Dr Shuler and Billy Graham have theorized by trying to understand election as well.


Grace upon grace,

Denise said...

I wouldn't use Billy Graham as an example of proclaiming the gospel. He has been inter-faith for years and in the last decade has held to universalism. He preaches Arminian theology which has no place in Scripture.

I would suggest a look at a few links to consider:

http://christianresearchnetwork.com/?p=4397

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/BibleStudyAndTheology/Perspectives/ANS_PopeGrahamCaviezel.aspx

http://www.challies.com/media/graham_crusade.gif

http://www.freepres.org/pamphlet_details.asp?graham_facts