God got ahold of his life and he was never the same. God lit a spark in his soul, and his whole life blazed with passion for God because he knew his home wasn’t here. As he constantly said, “My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”
He spoke to millions. Counseled US presidents. Befriended world leaders.
And always his focus remained the same: the Good News. He reminded us that God is loving, we are sinful, but Jesus is the answer. There’s a new life ahead where the Holy Spirit empowers us.
He was a voice of hope to the searching, the wondering, the distracted, and the lost. He kept pointing us back to the cross and reminding us that the gospel is so simple, yet simultaneously profound.
On the morning of February 21, 2018, at 99 years old, Billy Graham took his last breath, and I was reminded of another of his quotes: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
He taught us that death is certain, something to look forward to with patience as we live life with confidence.
Billy Graham is no longer with us. Yet his legacy lives on.
Billy Graham lived out six principles. Apply them and you will see change in your life.
1. Live like the Good News is the best news ever.
In his own words, “The greatest news that has ever flashed from heaven to earth is that Christ the Lord is risen.” And he lived like it.
Why else would a preacher live most of his life on the road? Why else would he spend weeks, even months, away from the family he loved as he preached across the nation and around the world? It’s because he saw how God changes hearts, how God restores hope and changes us from the inside out. He does not leave us the same!
A realization of how good the Gospel is engenders surrender in our hearts. Joyful, reckless, holy surrender. It’s simple: God wants a relationship with us and we can become friends of God.
The Good News offers delightful, everlasting hope. It breathes life into our hearts and lives and graces the weary with courage to face both trials and triumphs. To quote Ravi Zacharias, the gospel clarifies our origin, defines our meaning, molds our morality, and shapes our destiny.
2. Share the Good News.
The Good News gripped Billy Graham’s heart. He realized just how good God’s love is. And so he just couldn’t keep quiet, he couldn’t sit back and do nothing about it. Billy Graham kept the message simple: he kept bringing people back to the cross by showing them hope and pointing them to the only One who can save.
He gave up his life to tell others how great our God is just and merciful, and how His love is so real, tangible, and transformational.
3. Choose integrity.
Early on, Billy Graham set up guardrails. He realized that he could fall, so he set parameters to prevent succumbing to weakness in time of temptation.He would not be in a room with another woman—except his wife—alone. He wouldn’t even ride an elevator with another woman alone.
These safeguards held him accountable. They kept him above reproach and protected him from financial or sex scandals. He did everything in his power to live honorably. And God calls us to do the same.
4. Live with humble boldness.
Billy Graham was bold. In fact, he was unashamedly bold for God. He called out to thousands inviting them to put their trust in God. He spoke God’s words with passion.
At the same time, he was very humble. He always turned the praise of men back to God. He wouldn’t take the accolades, but — with humility — he pointed people back to God.
We as a generation must step forward with boldness. Boldness which comes from our relationship with the Creator of the universe. Even so, it is paramount that we live with humility. If we are bold and haughty, others will be repulsed by our message. But if we are humbly bold and boldly humble, then people will be eager to hear more.
5. Pray intensely.
“If there will be tears shed in heaven, they will be over the fact that we prayed so little,” Billy Graham once said.
If our generation is to be known for one thing, let us be known as a generation on our faces in prayer. Let us be prayer warriors. If we fight, then let it be in prayer. If we persevere, let it be in crying out to God to touch hearts with his love.
Let us never give up on prayer. For when we pray, God works.
6. God will sustain us as we live for him.
Billy Graham was active in the ministry for decades. Yet his staying power was not his own. He depended upon God, who carried him with strength. And God used him powerfully even in old age.
As we live fully for Him, he will give us the power to do what he calls.
What was it that made people come by the tens of thousands to hear of hope, of Jesus, of redemption? How is it that today we fill stadiums with screaming sports fans, yet can’t get our neighbors to come to church?
What made the people come to hear the gospel amidst their busy lives? How were the stadiums filled? How did God breath so powerfully through one man?
It was the humble surrender of one man.
It was the passion of new life.
It was the Good News.
It was the love of God.
It was Jesus.
It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
And our God can do it again. When we are surrendered and treasure HIM above all else, he will do it again. When we live within the reality that the Good News is the best ever, we will share the Good News because it’s so good. Whenever we live with integrity, with humble boldness, and when we pray desperately, God will sustain us.
If the message of Life packed stadiums then, filled aisles with broken sinners aware of their need for Jesus, if God breathed through his servant Billy because he was surrendered and humble, then he can do it again.
So, go. Live the gospel. Love Jesus. And love your neighbor.