Who Was Billy Graham?

Billy Graham was an evangelist at revival meetings, and on radio and television for over 40 years.

Religious figure and Christian evangelist Billy Graham was preaching at an L.A. revival and was a guest on Stuart Hamblen’s radio show in 1949. The publicity made Graham a superstar and he began broadcasting his sermons globally. Though detractors criticized Graham for being too liberal, one Time reporter dubbed him “the Pope of Protestant America.” Graham retired in 2005 and later died at his North Carolina home on February 21, 2018, at age 99.

Early Life

William Franklin Graham, Jr. was born on November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to parents William and Morrow Graham. Graham was the first of four children raised on the family’s dairy farm in Charlotte. In hindsight, there was little indication that Graham would one day preach the Christian gospel to as many as 215 million people in live audiences over 185 countries. Graham has been credited with preaching to more individuals than anyone else in history, not counting the additional millions he has addressed through radio, television and the written word.

While Graham’s parents were strict Calvinists, it would be an unfamiliar traveling evangelist who would set Graham on a profound spiritual path. At the age of 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by evangelist Mordecai Ham. Despite the fact that Graham was a well-behaved adolescent, Ham’s sermons on sin spoke to young Graham. After high school, Graham moved to Tennessee to enroll in the conservative Christian school, Bob Jones College. However, he felt disconnected from the school’s rigid doctrine and soon transferred to the Florida Bible Institute. While in Florida, Graham joined a Southern Baptist Convention church, where he was ordained in 1939.

After graduating from the Florida Bible Institute with a bachelor’s in theology, Graham moved to Illinois and enrolled at Wheaton College for further spiritual training. He also met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell, at this time. Bell was the daughter of a missionary and lived with her family in China until she turned 17. After graduating with a bachelor’s in anthropology, Graham and Bell were married on August 13, 1943. They would eventually raise five children together.

Superstar Preacher

Graham briefly pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before leaving to join Youth for Christ, an evangelical missionary group that spoke to returning servicemen and young people about God. In 1947, Graham became president of Northwestern Schools, a group of Christian schools in Minnesota. In 1948, he resigned from Youth for Christ and focused on Northwestern Schools until 1952, when he resigned to concentrate on preaching.

It did not take long for people to identify with Graham’s charismatic and heartfelt gospel sermons. In 1949, a group called “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” invited Graham to preach at their L.A. revival. When radio personality Stuart Hamblen had Graham on his radio show, word of the revival spread. The publicity filled Graham’s tents and extended the revival for an additional five weeks. At the urging of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, papers around the nation covered Graham’s revival meetings closely.

As a consequence, Graham became a Christian superstar. Sociologically it is believed that Graham’s success was directly related to the cultural climate of post-WWII America. Graham spoke out against the evils of Communism—one of the biggest fears threatening the American consciousness. In a 1954 interview, Graham stated, “Either communism must die, or Christianity must die, because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ.” With the advent of nuclear weapons and the demonstrated fragility of life, people turned to spirituality for comfort, and Graham illuminated their path.

Thus, Graham helped bind together a vulnerable nation through a religious revival. By glazing over the finer details of Christianity and focusing on more moderate doctrines, Graham made evangelism enticing, non-threatening, even easy — and the media made his messages accessible to the masses.

Televangelist

To expand and maintain a professional ministry, Graham and his colleagues eventually incorporated the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham began broadcasting his sermons over the radio during a Christian show called Songs in the Night. Once a week he also hosted a program called The Hour of Decision, a program ABC initially transmitted to 150 stations before reaching its peak of 1,200 stations across America.

Eventually, this program was converted into a television show which ran for three years. The success of Graham’s radio and television programs speak to his role as a Christian media visionary. Graham used the media as a means for spreading the gospel of Christ, allowing him to access millions of people around the globe.

With Graham’s success, BGEA opened numerous international offices and started publishing periodicals, records, tapes, films and books. BGEA also accepted invitations from religious figures around the world to hold evangelical “crusades.” Scouts would be sent to these cities to reserve a venue, organize volunteer choirs and arrange speakers. At the end of these events, audience members would be invited to commit to Christ and meet with volunteer counselors.

Pentecost 2

Acts 2; 1-4

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Image result for pentecost

Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost (the start of the Christian Church) and the above passage of scripture has to be one of my favourites I must admit. The way the Holy Spirit fills the house and what happened to each of them must of been awesome.

1.
Spirit divine, come as of old
With healing in thy train;
Come, as thou did’st, to sanctify;
Let naught of sin remain.

Chorus
Come, great Spirit, come,
Make each heart thy home;
Enter every longing soul;
Come, great Spirit, come.

2.
Spirit divine, purge thou our hearts
Make us to understand
Thy blessed will concerning us,
And teach us love’s command.

3.
Spirit divine, cleanse thou our souls
With Pentecostal flood;
Breathe into us the life that shows
The Father-love of God.

Hearing the Message

Romans 10 New International Version

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of alland richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]Image result for Sermons

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”[i]

19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,

“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
    I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”[j]

20 And Isaiah boldly says,

“I was found by those who did not seek me;
    I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”[k]

21 But concerning Israel he says,

“All day long I have held out my hands
    to a disobedient and obstinate people.”[