"Do you know that the world evangelists are all dead? All except Dr. Billy Graham. D.L. Moody has gone; R.A. Torrey is no more; J Wilbur Chapman has passed; Billy Sunday has finished his work and now my very dear and personal friend, the world-famous Gypsy Smith, has also gone on and, sad to say, there are very few on the horizon capable of filling the shoes of those whose names are household words throughout the world." -The Passion for Souls, Oswald J. Smith, 1950
Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, a good man, faithfully reminded us year in and year out, for decades, that most individuals experience a single Hour of Decision in their lifetimes. Some, more. Others never grasp at their personal opportunity to repent and believe the Gospel, to choose life over death for eternity. Graham's delivery and his life as a whole was not flashy. Nor was it boastful. His forever message: "We're all sinners. Our good deeds and best intentions will never be sufficient to our needs. And everyone 'within the sound of my voice' needs to rely on Jesus for his or her salvation."
To be clear, The Reverend Billy Graham did not always simply "state" such. Sometimes he preached such. Really preached it. Most of the time he spoke and counselled like any of us will when in a group or a one-on-one encounter. But occasionally he stood behind a pulpit to "preach the Gospel." That's likely how most of us will reflect back on his life. We will remember the arenas, the tens of thousands walking or driving in rich and poor countries alike to hear him, and the countless lost souls responding to the verses of Just As I Am, Without One Plea while drawing close to prayer and counseling in their appointed hour of decision.
Billy has his detractors. Including those that label his preaching foolishness. An unintended consequence of lobbing this silly volley at Billy is its similarity to honoring Trump supporters by calling them Deplorables. "Who would have thunk?" St. Paul rightfully, dutifully, enthusiastically called his own preaching foolishness.
Pridefully he did so. Not so much because preaching for him was in and of itself a fool's act. But because Paul had questioned within himself, "How loud will I have to scream, yell, rant, and rave to get this crowd's attention? How long will it take to impress upon these people the importance of this one hour? Their most important, pressing hour. Will it take two? Four? Six hours? It means little to me. I have all day and all night." It's much like the one big question every comedian asks himself at least once or twice over a lifetime, "Now that I've told the joke, must I also explain it?" That was Paul's and Billy's dilemma. How to explain the ridiculously obvious without sounding or looking silly. (Or the dilemma of how to spell dilemna.)
And the obvious was. The obvious message that required the hooplah of preaching was: "We're all sinners in need of God's grace, of a savior." But the obvious for many is not so obvious for many others. Incredulity steps in the way. Life experiences also. People influential in life: peers, seniors, parents, siblings step in. Consequentially, after life happened, for so many of us, "His light lit up our darkness and our darkness didn't go away." -John 1:5 (TTP)
Let's try, momentarily, to picture two very dark rooms. The light switches are both off. There are no windows for entrance of person or light. And the doors into each of the rooms are shut tight. One of the rooms is completely empty. The other room is full of tables, chairs, lamp stands, and inexplicable clutter. Let's note, with great certitude, when the light switches in both rooms are turned on; the empty room will be wholly filled with light, "not a smidgen" of darkness remaining. Contrarily the room full of furniture and clutter will be possessed of "shadows of darkness."
Such is the state of the world: replete with empty room and full room people. The glaring attribute of an "empty room" is his basic, rudimentary belief that God exists. Or even that god exists. In contrast a "full room" has lost his early intuition that everything around him was made, that he owes a maker reverence and gratitude.
From this world of men, not of this world, God crafted, then called Billy Graham to carry the Gospel to crowds full of mostly "full men." To them he proclaimed the Gospel in the most effective way "full men" are ready and willing to receive it. He preached it. And he preached it again....
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About The Pundit
This retired window washer now provides instruction on the benefits and perils of time travel through focusing an allegorical lens on the present.