An enduring message

At 95, Billy Graham still stresses need for spiritual awakening

  • Follow Editorials

Perhaps no Christian leader other than the pope has had more prominence in American culture in the 20th century and beyond than Billy Graham, who celebrated his 95th birthday last week.

Over the course of 60 years, Graham has spoken to 285 million people in 185 countries and on radio and television to millions more.

Graham’s popularity dovetailed with a new religious consciousness in post-World War II America. In the 1950s, church attendance swelled, and people swarmed to Graham’s crusades, where hundreds of thousands responded to his invitation to accept salvation. One such appearance was at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, where he spoke in 1967 in celebration of First Baptist Church’s 150th anniversary.

Although he now remains largely confined to his home in North Carolina, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992, Graham continues to speak out.

“Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening,” he says in The Cross, a video released by his ministry on his birthday as part of his My Hope America series. “There’ve 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.”

But Graham’s message has been and remains positive. It is profoundly simple, delivered in his distinctive North Carolina accent with clarity, boldness and conviction: God loves you, despite your rebellion and rejection of him; that same love led to his son’s agonizing death on a cross in atonement for your sins; all you have to do is accept that, acknowledge your sinfulness and, with God’s help, change your life.

That cross, Graham says, is “not the cross hanging on the wall or around someone’s neck.” The cross of Jesus, he says, is an offense because it confronts us and demands that we acknowledge our own sin and vow to change.

“There are many things about the cross and about salvation that I do not understand,” he has said, “and I’m not told that I have to understand it all. I’m told that I’m to believe. And anybody can believe.”

That has been the ordained Southern Baptist minister’s core message since he began preaching in the late 1940s, a few years after his graduation from Wheaton College in Illinois.

In 1949 a group of Los Angeles businessmen invited him to preach a three-week revival in that city. As the revival neared its end and attendance began to dwindle, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst attended one of Graham’s meetings. Moved by the evangelist’s words, Hearst ordered his newspapers to cover all of Graham’s meetings. The Los Angeles revival lasted another five weeks.

National and international acclaim followed, reinforced by television and by Graham’s association with American presidents and other world leaders. As his fame spread, he took up Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

“As I look back over my life, it’s full of surprises,” Graham said in his recent video. “When I began preaching many years ago it was not with any thought that I’d be preaching to large audiences.

“God has done this.”

Billy Graham’s voice may be softened by age and infirmity, but his words still carry the power of the Christian message.

Comments (99) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
InChristLove
22493
Points
InChristLove 11/16/13 - 07:36 am
6
0
An amazing humble man and

An amazing humble man and most assuredly when it's time for Mr. Graham to go home, God will say "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

TrukinRanger
2664
Points
TrukinRanger 11/16/13 - 08:38 am
0
0
another human treated like a
Unpublished

another human treated like a false prophet.

KasparHauser
404
Points
KasparHauser 11/16/13 - 08:44 am
0
0
An amazing religous bigot and
Unpublished

An amazing religious bigot, and most assuredly when it's time for Mr. Graham to leave us all, the vast majority of the World's population will say something like "Did you know my son just bought an apartment in Shanghai!" Very few know what Kool-Aid is, and even fewer have drunk Graham's favorite flavor.

carcraft
55787
Points
carcraft 11/16/13 - 08:52 am
5
0
Amen!

Amen!

Riverman1
171689
Points
Riverman1 11/16/13 - 09:16 am
6
0
Southern Baptist

As a Southern Baptist he was my Pope growing up. No offense intended to Catholics, but I figured Billy Graham talked and looked like the way God must be.

david jennings
651
Points
david jennings 11/16/13 - 09:28 am
8
0
His daughter also

I attended the revival at JBA Sept. 2012 hardly able to walk. A young Angel prayed for my knees and I can truly testify, I have been back at work now going on two years and am not in pain. I thank God everyday every step. My life is far from what it was before.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 11/16/13 - 09:36 am
0
0
sad
Unpublished

EEL it must truly be sad to be you....I am sorry.

seenitB4
174266
Points
seenitB4 11/16/13 - 09:45 am
5
1
He can thank Hearst

As the revival neared its end and attendance began to dwindle, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst attended one of Graham’s meetings. Moved by the evangelist’s words, Hearst ordered his newspapers to cover all of Graham’s meetings.

Hearst put him on the map--made him famous...without that written word we wouldn't know who Billy Graham was.....the power of free advertising....amazing what words can do.

Riverman1
171689
Points
Riverman1 11/16/13 - 09:53 am
5
0
Interesting story, SeenIt.

Interesting story, SeenIt. Interesting experience, David Jennings.

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 10:09 am
6
4
David Jennings, I had a

David Jennings, I had a similar experience. Once I misplaced my car keys, so I asked God to remove his focus from this child in the Sudan and help me find my keys and I found them seconds later. They were in the exact location where I left them.
http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 10:17 am
0
2
D

D

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 10:16 am
0
2
D

D

deestafford
78018
Points
deestafford 11/16/13 - 10:19 am
6
0
When I was stationed at Ft Jackson, SC in 1986 or 1987 I had

the privilege of participating in one of Billy Graham's Crusades that was held at the Williams-Brice Football Stadium. Even though there was a light rain falling that night the stadium was full. God has bless this man with the ability to bring His Word to 100's of millions and millions will go to heaven because of the salvation brought to them through Billy Graham.
As far as his distracters are concerned...even Christ had those who sniped at him. It is said one is known by whom his enemies are.

Thank God for Billy Graham.

Riverman1
171689
Points
Riverman1 11/16/13 - 10:57 am
7
0
EEL, yuk, yuk, yuk.

EEL, yuk, yuk, yuk. We can all make jokes about any religion there is. The enlightened, no matter their beliefs, may see beyond the belly laughs and appreciate the good and livable tenets religion provides that enhances society.

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 11:01 am
1
6
EEL, I just wish that Mr.

EEL,
I just wish that Mr. Graham would have asked God to spare those poor people in the Philippines. Oh wait a minute--never mind. My Christian friends tell me that god caused the typhoon in the first place.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 11:16 am
5
1
Opportunist aren't all bad

Opportunist aren't all bad though right? Obama is opportunist to the nth degree. So he's bad too, right? God blesses people with wealth-David, Solomon, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, etc. It doesn't mean they are crooks, or it is ill-gotten goods, it means they were blessed. Good golly bad cases of mindblindness. Obama has increased his wealth over 400% while in office so I know EEL will equally demonize Obama for being an opportunistic crook too.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 11:24 am
5
1
Religion has nothing to do

Religion has nothing to do with bank accounts. Obama claims to be a "christian" and he is a very wealthy man. That is just a silly, naive, or ignorant relationship. The bible doesn't speak ill of wealth-just those who worship it-you can't serve two masters. I guess you neglected to mention Graham has "shared " his wealth and is also philanthropic. This is like the false argument that no Dem is a christian.

justthefacts
50625
Points
justthefacts 11/16/13 - 11:27 am
3
0
Bizkit-so I know EEL will equally demonize Obama

You are way to much of an optimist.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 11:30 am
6
1
EEl another false argument.

EEl another false argument. The typical pastor in the US makes around 87K a year-far from wealthy. Your wealth envy is showing. Religion isn't the way to wealth-politics is as once in office lifetime benefits and wealth. So he made it as community organizer and president are you going to demonize him for getting rich at the expense of others. Or continue your hypocritical rant.

justthefacts
50625
Points
justthefacts 11/16/13 - 11:39 am
3
1
EEL

LOL, no problem. He provides lot of material.

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 11:40 am
4
4
"I've had miracles in my

"I've had miracles in my life. I feel sorry for you." Got an early-season chill reading that.
In a book I once read of the nearly weekly occurrence 2,000 years back of Jerusalem's dead popping fresh out of their burial tombs.
No religious person I know ever prays for a real miracle. Like Jonas Salk coming back. Or Ben Franklin. Or a Cub World Series winner.
Even the privately deluded don't want to become public dodos.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 11:40 am
6
3
I am amazed at your insights

I am amazed at your insights into Graham's motivations in life. Don't conflate your mental machinations with reality. Where did you get the crystal ball or aluminum foil hat? I know there are millions of lives this man has touched and they would disagree with your opinion.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 11:45 am
6
3
I get it. Some people have

I get it. Some people have faiths and a minority don't. Christians don't beat up atheist-just try to share the good news. Yeah I know many get in your face and I find that offensive too. But atheist hate, demonize, and ridicule this freedom of religions so many enjoy. I can demonize atheist, ridicule their intellect, etc. and play the same game. You wanna go at it? I can play the ad hominem game very well.

KSL
255313
Points
KSL 11/16/13 - 12:17 pm
3
2
My money is on Biz.

My money is on Biz.

dahreese
5110
Points
dahreese 11/16/13 - 12:52 pm
2
4
Why does any mature thinking
Unpublished

Why does any mature thinking person, anywhere, need a religion of any sort to have a spiritual nature?

A fully spiritual nature does not need Jesus, Buddha, Allah or an intercessor of any sort.

The fact is to discard established religions and to find your own way and not be a 'disciple' is to be fully human; is to be fully spiritual.

Think about it.

InChristLove
22493
Points
InChristLove 11/16/13 - 01:38 pm
4
1
dahreese "Why does any mature

dahreese "Why does any mature thinking person, anywhere, need a religion of any sort to have a spiritual nature?

We don't, the question is, is your spiritual nature righteous or sinful. If you wan to have a spiritual relationship then there is no other way except for through Jesus. Religion is nothing more than a set of doctrine that like believers follow.

GiantsAllDay
25221
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/13 - 02:08 pm
1
4
EEL, You just don't get it,

EEL,
You just don't get it, do you? Because certain people were born in the 20th century, in North America, in the southeastern United States, means by default, that god loves them above and beyond anyone else in the whole world. Because of this, their holy scriptures are the only authorized word of god. End of discussion.

Bizkit
64024
Points
Bizkit 11/16/13 - 02:35 pm
4
1
I think Dahreese has it

I think Dahreese has it correct. It's like life insurance too and one size don't fit all. I have no problems with muslims, jews, hindus, buddhist, agnostics, or atheist-most are fun loving people. I don't feel the need to denigrate anyone to feel better about myself. I tried and chose many paths before I found a liking to Christianity. It works for me. When I was an atheist I could have cared less about any religion, spirituality, haunts, etc. =it didn't impact me and I thought well they can have their "opium". We live in a strange universe where even time appears a delusion by quantum entanglement views. I think we all find and pick a delusion that makes us happy is likely the "reality" of all our choices objectively. I may disagree with people but I'm not going to beat them up over it-thank christianity for that. It helped me with depression and major anger management issues that traditional therapies didn't help. If it were medical marijuana that gave me the same effect would that make you happier?

InChristLove
22493
Points
InChristLove 11/16/13 - 02:49 pm
4
1
EEL, why did you ask the

EEL, why did you ask the question when you already know the answer. No one says you have to believe, that is your choice. You don't hear me on this blog making fun of your belief. Why not extend the same courtesy? Why has everyone been so quiet for over a week now on AC but let them post an article about a man of God and WOW, they come out of the woodwork to bash and degrade Christianity. Lets see just how low we can go with our comments to spread the hate towards Christians.

After reading a few comments this morning it made me angry. Then I prayed about it and it's not my battle to wage. You either accept Christ or you don't. Some people are just naturally ugly I suppose.

teaparty
11319
Points
teaparty 11/16/13 - 02:47 pm
4
2
eel said, "Sorry, Biz, but
Unpublished

eel said, "Sorry, Biz, but Graham is very far from your "typical pastor."
eel, I will take the Rev. Graham over the likes of Rev. Sharpen and the Rev. Jackson. I guess Sharpen and Jackson are your "typical pastors".

Back to Top
 
loading...
Search Augusta jobs