By Tyson Thorne

February 27, 2017

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Last week the world was informed of the death of of Reverend Billy Graham. Born in 1918 and not only witnessed a century of human advancement, but spent the bulk of that time in ministry to our God. He became a believer in 1934 at a tent revival meeting led by Reverend Ham in Charlotte, North Carolina and a couple years later began attending Bible college. He was ordained by the Southern Baptist church in 1939. In 1943 he became the pastor of a church, and his life as a minister of the Word of God began. It would last another 75 years.

In 1949 Graham started his evangelistic ministry in Los Angeles, California by erecting circus tents in a parking lot. Intended to run for three weeks, it lasted eight so great was the need and response of the people. This singular event launched him into media attention, covered by all the major newspapers and national magazines. He would earn the title of America's Pastor, became the spiritual adviser of many presidents, lead hundreds of evangelistic meetings many of which were recorded and still air on television into the 21st century.

Billy Graham has met with every president since Truman. Bill Clinton remembers attending a Graham rally when he was just a kid and was impressed that there was no segregated seating during the event, and this was long before the civil rights movement. George W. Bush (Bush 43) credits Graham with helping him get over his addiction to alcohol; without such help he never would have been capable of running for President of the United States. I know it's easy to look at the impact one makes on leaders of history, but it is far more difficult to understand what changes Graham may have been a part of from the millions of lives he has touched through his rally's.

As interesting as his life was, you may read all about his development in other publications. I'd like to take a moment to discuss something that most of the media will ignore: Graham's attitude toward the Bible. While he became a follower of Jesus at the age of 16, he didn't accept the infallibility of the Scriptures until 7 years later while attending Wheaton College in Wheaton, Il. Why did it take so long? In his autobiography Graham recounts that he "had no doubts concerning the deity of Jesus Christ or the validity of the Gospel," but the Bible was another matter.

He attended several Bible colleges, nearly being expelled from two, but the more teaching he received about the Bible the more he became convinced that it was the inspired word of God. Fact's like those we've discussed before here at are what finally convinced him. Fact's like the Bible was written over one thousand years by many people of varying walks of life all in consistent agreement about the history and workings of God among man. This confidence would see him through about a quarter century of ministry before his faith in Scripture would be challenged again.

A good, non-believing friend challenged Graham saying, "Billy... People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple." Graham wrestled with many complications to his faith in the Bible. At that time the theory of evolution was a rising tide among the scientific and intellectual communities and his friends words only served to deepen his struggle. He knew that if he gave up on the Bible he would also be giving up on ministry. What helped him return to his acceptance of Scripture? A two part intervention he undertook on his own.

He started by reading the Bible. Every verse with a "thus sayeth the Lord". This consulting with the counsel of the holy led to a night alone in prayer:

"Dropping to my knees there in the woods, I opened the Bible at random on a tree stump in front of me. I could not read it in the shadowy moonlight, so I had no idea what text lay before me. […] I could only stutter into prayer. The exact wording of my prayer is beyond recall, but it must have echoed my thoughts: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.” I was trying to be on the level with God, but something remained unspoken. At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. “ Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word— by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts , and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.” When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears. I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions were answered, but a major bridge had been crossed. In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won."

After reading God's testimony about himself and spending time opening up to him in prayer, his faith was restored in a way that would last the rest of his life.

Billy Graham's death is a loss to all people of faith, but at that same time we need to understand that he was a man like any other. He had his struggles and doubts, but he overcame them in a way that few of us do and we would do well to follow his example.



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