In a career spanning some 55 years, Dr. Graham has preached the Gospel message to more than 215 million people in over 185 countries around the world. (This does not include the untold hundreds of millions who have watched him on television and/or heard him on the radio.) And most all of that preaching has focused on one basic message. According to his official web page:
An old preacher approached Billy Graham following the 1954 Harringay Arena Crusade in London. “I have come here every night” and listened to many different sermons, the minister told him, “and I have heard only one message.” It was a compliment, for he, like Billy Graham, knew that there is only one message that can bring real hope to a lost world.
Billy Graham’s message has never changed, and it never will. It is a simple message, but one that comes straight from God’s Word. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
The essence of the Gospel is encompassed in that one verse. Men and women, uniquely created in the image of God, nonetheless rebelled against Him in sin. Rather than give up on us, God in His mercy set about to redeem us. He did this by giving His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice on our behalf.
Why was the sacrificial death of Jesus on a cross necessary? Because God had told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that the price of their disobedience would be death. For thousands of years, He allowed for mankind’s atonement through the vicarious death of animal sacrifice. But these were only temporary measures at best. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son to die once and for all in order that our redemption might be complete.
And now, for those who have received his Son, there is no condemnation. Indeed, John 3:17-18 continues the thought and says: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Accordingly, God has created two places which will last for all eternity. The Bible calls them Heaven and Hell. The first is a wonderful place where the redeemed will dwell with God forever in perfect bliss. The second is a terrible place of punishment reserved for those who reject God and his Son.
I know which one will be my home, for I chosen to embrace Jesus Christ and to accept His grace and forgiveness. I hope you have as well. If not, please weigh this matter out carefully, for nothing short of eternity is at stake. And whether we are prepared or not, one thing is for certain: at some point, we will all take the giant step out of history and into eternity!
Charles Swindoll popularized an illustration that helps us to begin to comprehend what eternity is all about. He says, "Imagine a solid steel ball the size of the Earth. There is a sparrow that lives on Mars, and every 10,000 years, it flies to Earth and pecks it one time. Ten thousand years pass, and the sparrow pecks again. When the sparrow gets the size of a small BB, that would be considered the end of Day One of eternity."
I assure you that day one (and everyday thereafter) in eternity will be better spent in Heaven than in Hell. Why not prepare today for where you will be spending eternity?
I began this post with the world’s most recognizable Bible verse. Let me conclude with the words of the world’s most recognizable hymn. Consider especially the significance of the first and last stanzas.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine;
But God, Who called me here below, will be forever mine.
When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise, than when we've first begun.
1. Billy Graham story: http://www.billygrahamlibrary.org/PGView.aspx?pid=20
2. Chuck Swindoll story: This exists in various versions, having been used in different contexts down through the years. The printed version can be found in his book: The Tale of the Tardy Ox Cart (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998).
3. Amazing Grace Lyrics: http://www.hymnlyrics.org/mostpopularhymns/am