Billy Graham’s Legacy

Acts 6:1-7 (NLT)
1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” 5 Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. 7 So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

I think we all knew the day was coming. As he went well beyond his ninetieth birthday, I occasionally thought about how momentous his death would be. He was a man of sterling character and preached to more people than anyone who has ever lived. When I was perhaps twelve years old, my father was watching the Billy Graham telecast one evening. He told me I should listen because he didn’t preach like others. So, I stopped and I quickly learned he preached with an authority I hadn’t heard before.

Dr. Graham influenced my life. It was through a televised message on the subject of the existence of Hell that I accepted Christ as Savior. His books influenced me. It was through his books and sermons that I was introduced to the Second Coming of Christ and developed a lifelong interest in the topic.

There are some lessons that modern churches can learn from him. Looking at the church world today, we see how the organized church is in decline. I think that we can see principles that should be core values which would probably reverse the direction most churches are headed.

  1. Character matters. How many times did we hear him say, “The Bible says?” These were things he believed and how he lived. Authenticity really matters. For the Millennial generation, authenticity and genuineness is absolutely necessary in a church if they are to stick.
  2. Love matters. There were numerous times in honoring his life that people who knew him talked about how he loved people. Love caused him to deliver the Gospel to so many people in so many places. He didn’t judge sinners but loved them. In fact, whenever he tested a microphone before a service began, he quoted John 3:16 just in case the tech person might not know the Lord.
  3. Everyone deserves to hear the Gospel. He preached Jesus and the cross everywhere he could. What a lesson for us today? Every person and every child deserves to hear it. We must never assume someone else will give them the Good News.
  4. Keep it simple. The programs and ritual in churches become very complex and may not truly help fulfill the reason we exist, the Great Commission. Billy Graham kept it simple. It’s not a lot of ritual, but it’s the Gospel, or Good News. The only message that will transform people is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Another lesson might be that he kept on task and didn’t waver from it.
  5. Other things matter, but the thing that is by far most important is the mission of reaching out to people with the message of salvation. In so many cases, churches major on the minors. It’s the way of the early church in Acts 6. Yes be sure that physical needs are taken care of but we exist to reach the lost.
  6. Finally, his success also included logistical matters. The Billy Graham team had a very effective system of teams that they put in place that helped bring people to Jesus. Churches that thrive today have systems that help people serve on teams in areas where they are gifted.

Therefore we see that Dr. Billy Graham leaves a legacy that what really matters is to carry out the Great Commission.


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