Billy Graham’s Gospel Preaching Versus Today’s Gospel Conversation

It wasn’t that long ago that Billy Graham traveled to packed stadiums delivering the gospel. I saw one of his old broadcasts yesterday and was startled at how things have changed when it comes to telling people about the “good news”.

The first thing I noticed was that Graham actually preached. Today we have conversations- we talk, we don’t preach. Never mind that Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Graham must have believed Paul’s counsel to Timothy because he also brought rebuke from the pulpit. Today we bring encouragement and try not to be too judgmental.

But the big glaring elephant in the room was when Graham actually mentioned God’s wrath. Who does that today? Who dares to say that God might actually be angry about something? Now it’s written all over the pages of my bible, and it’s plain for anyone to see if they actually read it, but we’ve pretty much erased and rewritten history when it comes to God having any kind of wrath. Not only that but Graham actually took the time to give careful instruction and pointed out that in the original language, we are not just talking about God having a brief moment of wrath but in many places the scripture is actually saying that in some situations God’s wrath is in a continual process of being poured out!

“God’s not angry.” How many times have you heard that?

Well, the bible says He is. And furthermore, the fact that He hates sin and is angry about it doesn’t change the fact that He’s loving and full of mercy and grace.

So why are we so afraid to tell it like it is?

The differences between Billy Graham’s gospel message and today’s gospel message are glaring. Many churches today are offering nothing more than a pat “God loves you just as you are”. Repentance, wrath and sin are almost foreign concepts. But did God ever say that He loves us just as we are?

No. What the bible does say is this:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God does not say we are okay just as we are, in fact, His Word says we are sinners! His love for us drove Him to do something to get us out of the mess we were in.

Graham had it right, “Come to Jesus just as you are.” But coming to Christ just as we are was never supposed to mean staying that way. Graham preached repentance and made it plain that God hates sin. He offered grace and mercy to all who wanted to be saved from sin and have a new life in God by coming to Jesus Christ. This is the same message that was taught by the early church in the book of Acts. The whole point of preaching the gospel is to bring people to see the grace of God in Jesus Christ that they might be saved from God’s wrath. This gospel actually makes sense! We need to be saved from something- from our sin, from God’s wrath- and we need to be reconciled to God.

We desperately need to return to the Word of God. Watching Billy Graham today was a very sad indictment of just how far we have drifted from the gospel recorded in my bible. The watered down mess that we are giving people today will not save them and only offers people a false peace that they will be okay because “God loves them”. I write songs and sing about God’s love all the time because I also believe that God is love, but we need to have the whole gospel, not just part.

He does love us- He loves us enough to tell us the truth and to give us an escape from His wrath. He loved us enough to send His own Son into the world to take care of our sin. May God raise up men today who will preach the whole counsel of God!