by Rick Pidcock
Last night, I had the priviledge of attending a Franklin Graham Festival in Baltimore, MD with my brother-in-law and a friend of his. It was an amazing evening of great music and clear Christ-centered preaching that was much needed in this city.
I know that the very mention of the son of Billy Graham will cause some of my readers to cringe. And I understand that there have been decisions about ecclesiastical associations made by Billy Graham that would cause some concern. However, the purpose of this article is to comment on what happened last night, not to try to hash out the many issues involved in the “Fundamentalist vs. New Evangelical Wars.”
I did take a few pictures. However, my computer is not allowing me to upload them at this time. So I will just load them later when I get it figured out.
The evening ceremonies began with the gospel singing of Wintley Phipps, a powerful baritone who sang a few negro spirituals as well as an amazing rendition of “It Is Well” and “Amazing Grace.”
Then after a few announcements and an opening prayer, country music artist Randy Travis sang a number of southern gospel songs, as well as a few of his own, including his #1 hit “Three Wooden Crosses.”
Following the offering, we were led in a time of corporate worship by Tommy Walker and the Tommy Coomes Band. We sang two contemporary songs, as well as “To God Be the Glory.”
Finally, around 8:30, Franklin Graham approached the pulpit for his message. He began by talking about the chaos in the world that is a direct result of sin. And then he referred to a story in the local newspaper about a neighborhood that has been experiencing an unusual amount of crime lately. A woman was quoted in the article saying, “It makes your heart hurt.”
Franklin then had us turn to Genesis 6, where God’s heart was hurt and grieving because of the continual evil of mankind. He said that because God is a holy God, He had to send a judgment. And because God is still a holy God, He is going to one day send another judgment. However, this time, he said that the judgment would not be a flood, but an eternal lake of fire.
He then told us that the only way to escape this judgment is to be in a right standing with God. We have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. And in order to be accepted by God, we must perfectly meet the righteous standard of the law.
Franklin went on to explain the ten commandments in order to show how we are all sinners who have failed to meet God’s standard. He said that if we were to obey every command, except for just one, then we would be guilty as if we had broken them all. And because we have broken God’s law, the penalty is death.
Then, he told us that because God is a loving God, He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to pay the price so that we can be made righteous by faith. He explained that salvation does not come by works, but by faith alone in Christ alone. Franklin said, “Some people say that there are many ways to God. But that is not true. There will be people from every nation in heaven. But only those who accept Christ by faith will be accepted.”
He said, “Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. Alot of people go to church thinking that going to church is going to get them into heaven. Religion isn’t going to save you. The only way is through Jesus, and to invite Him into your heart, to confess your sins to Him, to turn. That’s right. If you come to faith in Christ tonight, it’s going to cost you something. You’ve got to be willing to leave the sinful life, and turn your back on it. If you come tonight, you’ve got to be willing to accept and receive Jesus Christ by faith.”
During the invitation, many people came forward to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Overall, the evening was very well thought out and put together. The message of the gospel was clear from the very first opening welcome, all the way through to the invitation.
I especially appreciated to use of local culture in sharing the gospel. They showed a video of Baltimore Raven’s kicker Matt Stover sharing his salvation testimony. And they also incorporated a number of local stories in order to illustrate the need of the gospel.
Whatever your thoughts are on Billy Graham, his son Franklin delivered one of the clearest messages of the gospel I have ever heard. God most definitely chose to use him last evening to be the messenger by which the kingdom of God was proclaimed to and advanced in the hearts of those whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world. And for that, we should all rejoice.