Column: Billy Graham opens his eyes in the presence of Jesus Christ

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No one in history has spread the Gospel farther

By Dr. Steve Stewart

There are times and occasions so explosive with meaning that it is difficult to find the right words to say. The death of Billy Graham is without doubt one of those occasions.
Our English language has no words to convey the feelings, the emotions, the grief as well as the joy that this news brings to our hearts and minds.
I cannot claim to have had a personal relationship with Mr. Graham, even though my wife and I did have the tremendous privilege of meeting him and speaking with him on a couple of occasions.
One was at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, and the other was at a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association crusade in Charlotte. I am so thankful that we were able to meet him personally, but that is not the topic of this article.
Billy Graham has impacted and influenced more lives than could ever be counted. Having preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in more than 180 countries, and to countless millions of individuals, his far-reaching ministries have certainly reached more with the message of salvation than any other human in all of church history.
From such meager beginnings, no one would have ever thought that the young Billy Graham would ever become the spiritual giant that history now reveals.
God gave Mr. Graham an audience with everyone from the lowliest, poverty-stricken individual to the courts of presidents and kings. However, he never let his audience influence his message.
To some, his message was quite simple. If you listened closely to his sermons – which so many have done – you would notice a clear pattern. He would take a passage of Scripture, give clear explanation of the text, and then go straight to Jesus Christ.
His messages were not deep in theology. He very seldom focused on doctrinal issues that faced the church. He did not try to answer all the burning questions of societal ills. He just preached Jesus.
In a very real sense, we could say that he followed in the footsteps of the great Apostle Paul, who stated on one occasion, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” And on still another occasion Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
To all who have observed Billy Graham through the years of his ministry, we would all have to say that he, as Paul, knew nothing more than Jesus Christ and him crucified. And now, he can also say “to die is gain.”
The psalmist exclaimed, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Certainly, the death of Billy Graham was precious in the sight of the Lord.
There is a beautiful picture in the book of Acts concerning the death of Stephen, the first martyr for the Christian faith. As he was being put to death by a riotous mob, Stephen gazed into the heavens and saw Jesus, standing at the right hand of God. It was as if Jesus stood to honor this man who was literally laying down his life for his Lord, Jesus.
I imagine that perhaps Mr. Graham received such a welcome as he closed his eyes in death and opened them in the presence of his Lord.
We see him as he goes, and we say, “Well done, faithful servant of the Lord. Farewell.”
God looks at him as he comes, and says, “Well, done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”

Dr. Steve Stewart is pastor of New Horizon Community Church in Lancaster.