Undying influence: Reflections on Billy Graham’s influence

Dr. Graham's undying influence will continue to live on.

Mark Finley, DDiv, evangelist, serves as an assistant to the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

I first heard Billy Graham preach in Boston in October 1964 when I was a freshman theology student. I was deeply impressed with the simplicity of his biblical message and the profound impact it had on his audience.

Conservative New Englanders are skeptical of appeals that play on the emotions and can readily detect hypocrisy or showmanship. The hundreds who responded to Billy’s altar call that evening sensed a sincerity, genuine-ness, and commitment to the living Christ that touched them deeply. Here was a man with the message of Jesus that touched hearts and changed lives.

In an age when a significant number of public evangelists faced challenges in moral and ethical areas, Billy Graham was above reproach. A man of sterling integrity, uncharacteristic humility, moral purity, and unwavering commitment to his Lord and family, he became a model for tens of thousands of young preachers.

Early in his ministry, he and a few close confidants met in Modesto, California. They made a lifelong commitment to hold one another accountable. In this so-called “Modesto Manifesto” each man pledged to never be alone with any woman other than his wife and to be transparent in all his financial dealings.

Billy Graham’s ethical integrity, open transparency, and genuine sincerity are among the hallmarks of his 99 years. Although we never met, his influence on my own life was significant.

Here are three specific ways Billy Graham influenced me: First, I sensed early in my own ministry that the pro-claimed Word has little value if it is not the lived Word. Preachers may draw large crowds, but if their lives do not reflect the gospel they preach, their words will have little impact on their audiences. Second, I was impressed by Billy Graham’s preaching with the simplicity of the gospel. As a preacher sharing the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6–12), I am constantly reminded that the essence of the prophetic message is to lift up Jesus. Third, Billy Graham was not afraid to make appeals. There was a sense of urgency in his preaching. He made powerful appeals, calling people to a decision. In a secular culture, he still believed in the importance of confronting people with the life-and-death message of Scripture.

On a significant number of occasions, individuals who attended his evangelistic meetings and accepted Christ came to my prophetic presentations seeking still more truth. Early in my ministry, I distinctly recall visiting with a woman who was longing for an even deeper understanding of God’s Word. She explained that she had made her commitment to Christ while watching Billy Graham preach on television.

There are countless others rejoicing in the truth of Scripture who had their first flush of faith when they heard Billy Graham preach. He led them to Christ, and Jesus took them on a journey of discovery in Scripture from there. I am reminded of John’s poignant words in the Bible’s last book, Revelation, “‘“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’

“ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’ ” (Rev. 14:13, NKJV).

Although Pastor Graham rests in Jesus, this powerful preacher’s undying influence still lives on.

[Mark A. Finley, Adventist Review]

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Mark Finley, DDiv, evangelist, serves as an assistant to the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

May 2018

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

No more sparklers!

Are we, as clergy, playing with sparklers when it comes to preaching? Do we realize the potential gospel dynamite available in bringing about transformed lives?

Billy Graham: A man of courage and grace

Billy Graham’s example of courage and grace is a reminder to all of us to live up to all the truth we know from the Holy Word of God and proclaim God’s eternal truth.

Precious memories of Billy Graham

Billy Graham was a bright light for Christ in a dark, foreboding world.

Falling into a black hole

She got the worst possible news. Read how one pastor coped with the untimely death of her husband.

Cracking the Cornelius code—part 2 1

It’s been an exciting trip. But are we now ready to journey into the heart of God as He leads us to those He wants us to serve.

Five disciplines of highly effective pastors

Ministry need not be trial and error. What do pastors have in common when it comes to success? Take a look!

Stand up, speak up, shut up: Lessons from a picketing prophet

Habakkuk is packed with a dynamic both challenging and contemporary: being active on behalf of the community, while being still and knowing He is God.

The lighthouse

Inspiring testimonies from our continuing revival and reformation series.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever

I recommend this book for anyone interested in working more effectively with others.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - SermonView - Medium Rect (300x250)

Recent issues

See All