They will come

Just as I am though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt

Fightings and fears within, without

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871 

th-12

Billy Graham, 1918 – 2018

All I need is to hear the opening lines of “Just As I Am” sung by a Billy Graham Crusade Choir — or by any choir, for that matter — actually, all I need is to imagine a choir singing those opening lines — “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me” — and I dissolve into tears. In my heart, I want to stand up and go forward — wherever forward is, doesn’t matter — I want to go up. I’m being pulled, and I want to follow the pull. I want to get up and go, no matter that I’ve gone before, maybe many times over. I first got up and went forward when I was eight-years-old. I wasn’t even at a crusade, I was in our church after seeing a Billy Graham film. Billy Graham films almost always ended at a crusade with Billy speaking and the choir singing and people streaming forward at the invitation. That remains to be my clearest picture of Billy Graham — standing alone on a platform, arms folded, Bible tucked under one arm, and face down, praying, while the choir sings and people come. They come, and they come, and they keep on coming.

Billy Graham was the invitation. Though he spoke well, and his arguments were sound, and the gospel was clear, and he was meticulous about his sermons, he hardly needed to speak. When I went forward, it wasn’t because of anything he said; it was because I had to. I had no choice. It was the invitation of God to a generation. It didn’t really matter that it was Billy Graham. Someone had to do it and God chose Billy. He would be the first to tell you that. It was all God.

In creation, it says the Spirit moved upon the surface of the waters. Watch any one of the videos of crusades and you will see the Spirit of God moving on the surface of the stadium and people flowing forward like water.

Billy’s gone now and so has his method of evangelism. It will take many different forms now to reach a highly diverse and specialized world. It will take many Billy Grahams including you and me, and younger women and men like Chandler for their specific peers. It will take Internet efforts like the Catch to reach across cultural barriers and divides, but always the same message — the Gospel of Welcome, Grace Turned Outward. God still has the welcome mat out. As long as there is life, there will be the invitation.

It’s been estimated that over 3 million people have come forward to receive Christ at Billy Graham crusades throughout his lifetime. Think about what that says about the loving heart of God.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive, 

wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; 

because thy promise I believe, 

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

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8 Responses to They will come

  1. “I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment, ‘Lord, remember me.'”
    ~ Billy Graham

  2. Mark D Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John, I too responded to the Fanny Crosby song: “Just As I Am” Not 4 Salvation, yet while visiting the Holy Land in St. Anne’s Church (where it’s believe to be near the spot where the Lord healed the man who could not walk and waited for the Spirit to move the water, so he could be healed ) And while in this more than one hundred yrs old Church and the acoustics were so good while standing on one end of it, you could hear from the other end another. With no amplification! Then the Church group I was with started singing “Just As I Am” almost instantly before reaching the Chores, the Spirit of God touched my heart and I could no-longer sing and just bowed my head and cried like a lill boy… It’s kind of funny too, as I’m typing this out I can hardly stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks… 🙂

    RIP Billy Graham ❤

  3. Carole Oglesbee says:

    Ya’ know, I kinda thought Dr Graham was going to wait for the Lord’s return to go Home. My first thought upon hearing he had passed was of Phil 1:21 – to live is Christ and to die is gain. Dr Graham certainly lived for Christ, and I imagine he is STILL laying crowns at the Lord’s feet now. Can you imagine his Homecoming? Met by Christ and Ruth Bell, and thousands upon thousands of souls in Heaven now because Billy was obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit. I am sad for the world, but elated for Dr. Graham.

  4. Gary says:

    Throughout my entire life there has been one voice that I have heard, that when I heard that voice, I knew it was the voice of Billy Graham. I knew I was hearing the Gospel. It was coming from someone who truly was a Temple of the Living God. One day when the Trumpet Sounds, whether I am awaken from Sleep to a New Dawn or standing and witnessing our Lord Jesus’ returns. I will be so thankful that I heard the Gospel of Welcome, pardoned, cleansed and relieved.

  5. Sandie says:

    When I heard the news of Billy Graham’s passing yesterday, I knew a chapter in the life of the church had ended. You’re right John, in that we have to find new ways to share the Gospel for the chapter we are living now. None of us (or hardly many) will deliver the message to thousands at a time – whether in an arena, via TV or radio.
    Rather, it will be the smile and thanks to a harried cashier, holding the door for a mom whose arms are full of kids and grocery bags, thanking a vet or a first-responder for laying their lives on the line for us, giving Christmas gifts to the neighborhood kids, having a music jam session around a campfire…..learning how to ‘walk’ with people. “They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love.”
    Billy was called the pastor to Presidents…how I wish he had been young enough to minister in the current climate and situation. But that is our job now, and it starts in our homes and communities…it starts wherever we are at any given time.

  6. Lisa in Sunland says:

    “Just As I Am” makes me want to “go forward” also. It was what the choir was singing when I did just that in a Southern Baptist church MANY years ago. Blessings on ya!

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