All of my life I have heard of Billy Graham. I have heard him speak on television, on the radio and I have read portions of his writings. I have even met his converts. He has all the while been affixed to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever others have spoken of him it has been either with great admiration or with some measure of contempt. Of admiration because of his simple yet profound declaration of the Gospel around the world, and that with all of his energy and for all of his life. With contempt, because of his questionable associations with Popes and papists, Presidents and potentates. It seems as if Billy’s “big tent” of connections may have softened his judgment or possibly even, his gospel. Whether that accusation is true or not, his impact and renown around the earth cannot be questioned and his entrance into heaven on the faith in Jesus Christ must be sure. Surely, Christ has embraced him, as have the saints? Surely, the angels have smiled or sang or rejoiced today? For my part, I believe him to be a genuine preacher, and altogether “saved by grace”. The bigger question remains, “What now, Billy Graham?”
Billy Graham was used greatly by God to preach the Gospel of Salvation to the world in the 20th and 21st century. He used the means of jet travel, broadcasting, and post World War Two diplomacy to gain entry into nearly every nation, culture, and language. That his heritage was American and Baptist cannot be ignored as without providence. That such success in the evangelistic endeavor befell him is truly amazing. That his long life, and gentility were a mark of the effects of such Gospel use are an unmistakable declaration of God’s love for him and for us. That his daughter, Anne, and his son, Franklin, reflects such gospel life and light are a continued legacy for which we must be thankful. Their frankness, boldness, and clarity regarding the Gospel of Jesus and their willingness to stand against the darkness within our culture today indeed clarify much of what might be questioned about Billy’s “softness”. Did not Moses make mistakes? Did not David and Paul? The Scripture does not leave out their human sinfulness, neither was Billy Graham without marked times of frailty or say . . . pressure, wariness, and halt. He never seemed to be defensive at said accusations, but did continue on. He has shared with us his life, character, success, doubts, frailty, wife, children, and most importantly humble authenticity. “What now, Billy Graham?” The answer is blessed rest.
It must also be imagined that Billy Graham is now receiving his reward. The heaven he believed in, preached, and promised is indeed now his. It must be beyond his every sermon and writing. What was only imagined and shared is now fully realized. The glorious person of God in Christ Jesus is now realized! The radiance of holiness and light are now felt. There are now no accusations, no burden of ministry, no effects of age, no shamed moments of “what more could I have done?” Every crown of reward, and they could be myriad, is being joyfully and exuberantly cast at Jesus’ feet. Can you hear Billy’s Carolina drawl shouting, “glory, glory, glory!” with each cast crown representing every last lost soul come to repentance and faith in the Cross of Christ? Until he stands empty-handed, but glad still because now he holds no work or deed for his eternity, but only the grace of God for his forever entrance and everlasting life. “What now Billy Graham?” I can almost hear him answer, . . .
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16.
Now that we live in a post-Billy Graham America, I wonder, what’s next?