Billy Graham: Not in Heaven Because He Preached to the Crowds

Billy Graham: Not in Heaven Because He Preached to the Crowds

After watching the funeral of Billy Graham this week, I discovered his final column where Billy states: “By the time you read this, I will be in heaven.” I don’t think there is a doubt in anyone’s mind that Billy Graham is in heaven. Why are we all agreed that he is in heaven? We might answer, with all the good he has done through his preaching to millions, you know he is going to be in heaven. After all he was “America’s Pastor” and the world’s best known evangelist, so he is a obviously in heaven.

F82EB9F9-DBF9-4EBC-9A4A-C6ADF24A9A53What’s interesting is the reason Billy Graham gives for his entrance into heaven. He states, “But I won’t be in heaven because I preached to the crowds or because I have tried to live a good life.” It is only his faith in Jesus Christ that gave him the  confidence of heaven. If Billy Graham will “be in heaven for one reason,” our hope of going to heaven is because of  the very same reason.

Randy Alcorn says this:

Many mistakenly believe that heaven is our reward for doing good things. This is absolutely not the case. Our presence in heaven is in no sense a reward for our works, but a gift freely given by God in response to faith.

Well, what about the millions that Billy Graham preached to and the lives who came to Christ because of his preaching? Doesn’t that account for anything? The answer can be found in Eph. 2:9, which Billy clearly understood: “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (NLT). In other words, what you believe is the key to entering heaven, not what you do.  That is a good thing because if it is based on our efforts then most of us would have a difficult challenge ahead, especially if we compare ourselves to the accomplishments of someone like Graham.

However, we can’t stop reading there because immediately after saying salvation is “not by works,” the next verse clarifies that our works matter a great deal.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.

Even though salvation is not through our works, we are actually created to do good works. A lifetime of good works was actually prepared in advance by God for us to do. A few years ago I did a study using a book by Bruce Wilkinson called “A Life God Rewards” which explained how Jesus taught the promise of reward in heaven.

“He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27)

“You will have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21).

“You will be blessed … for you shall be repaid at the resurrection” (Luke 14:14).

This certainly suggests that God is keeping track of what we do for Him every day. Wilkinson speaks of two keys: The first is belief that unlocks the door to eternal life and determines where we spend eternity. The second is our behaviour which unlocks the door to reward and determines how we will spend eternity.

The reality is we have the same hope of heaven that Billy Graham had because it is simply through faith that we enter heaven, which is really the foundation. At the end of Wilkinson’s book, there are several quotes from well-known theologians and preachers, of which is Billy Graham.

“The believer has his foundation in Jesus Christ. Now we are to build upon this foundation, and the work we have done must stand the ultimate test; the final exams come at the Judgment Seat of Christ when we receive our rewards.” –  Billy Graham

Are we living and working everyday with an eternal perspective? Will our good deeds, acts of kindness (works) pass the ultimate test?

 

42 – It’s Not Just About You!

200px-JrobinsonOn a recent flight back to Newfoundland, I  watched a movie called “42” which is the story of Jackie Robinson (#42), best known for becoming the first black major-league baseball player of the modern era.  Manager, Branch Rickey intentionally searched for a black player and the story unfolds. As I watched, I could sense the excitement that Robinson must have felt, being the first black chosen to be in the major leagues.

He was a talented athlete but is that the only reason Rickey selected him? I became very intrigued as the movie progressed because it really demonstrated that the choice was also because of his ability to turn the other cheek.  Sure, it was about winning, so the team needed talented players, but actually,  it was more about bringing change in the sport and influencing a nation.
The Brooklyn Dodgers were scheduled to play in Philadelphia, (ironically the city of brotherly love).  However, the home team refused to play simply because Jackie Robinson was on the team. The two managers exchanged words:

“You cannot bring that boy down here with the rest of your team.”

Rickey responded, “Why is that?”

“We are just not ready for that sort of thing in Philadelphia. I’d like to know what it is you are trying to prove!”

Rickey responded with an odd question, “You think God likes baseball, Herb?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means someday you’re gonna meet God, and when He inquires as to why you didn’t take the field against Robinson in Philadelphia and you answer ‘It’s because he was a negro,’ it may not be a sufficient reply.”

I found it interesting that Rickey brought God into the argument to show that the way Robinson was being treated was very displeasing to God. The reality is Jackie Robinson was not only chosen because of his athletic ability but the colour of his skin and his willingness to resist the attacks that Rickey knew would come.

JR white boyWhen Robinson asked why he did it, Rickey explained that he loved this game of baseball and that he had given his whole life to the game. Then he referenced the past unfairness he saw when he was a player and their Negro catcher, Charlie Thomas, “a coloured boy was laid low, broken, because of the colour of his skin and I didn’t do enough to help. I ignored it.” He continued, “There was something unfair at the heart of the game I loved, but the time came I could no longer do that.” As a manager Rickey chose Robinson to bring change to the game. He told Jackie how he watched some kids playing and said, “I saw a little white boy up at bat … you know what he was doing? … pretending he was like you … little white boy pretending he is a black man. You made me love baseball again. Thank you!”

Branch Rickey was motivated to bring Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, not just to win the pennant but to influence culture.  It is said of Jackie Robinson that he helped change attitudes and led the team in more ways than one! In fact, in the baseball world, April 15 is “Jackie Robinson Day” when players wear the #42 on their jerseys in honour of this Hall of Fame hero!

Back to our vacation … Typically when we travel, we try to have a reason beyond just rest and relaxation. On this trip, we were able to visit with some old friends that we hadn’t seen for many years. I believe our visit helped to lift spirits more than we actually realize. Our trip back “home” was very fulfilling, mainly because it wasn’t just about us having a good time; we were able to have a positive influence on others. Remember, in all you do, life is not meant to be only about you!

Be sure to listen to this song at the end of the movie!! Take a few minutes to watch and listen.

 

A Hidden Truth Re: Dunkirk

My wife and I recently watched the new movie released about the evacuation at Dunkirk during World War II. Even after watching the movie, I did not realize that “Dunkirk is not simply a gripping story; it is also a thought-provoking one because even today the word ‘miracle’ hangs over it.” I was amazed to read this “behind the scenes” account.

I love watching movies that tell a story from history and expose more of the details behind the event. Here is the background that J. John Canon revealed in his blog: “On 10th of May, 1940, Hitler unleashed a military onslaught on France and Belgium. Within days, the British Army – outmanoeuvred and unprepared – along with soldiers of other Allied nations, found themselves (some 400,000) with their backs to the sea and hemmed in by enemies.”

Here is what I did not realize: On 23rd May, King George VI requested that the following Sunday should be observed as a National Day of Prayer. On that Sunday of prayer, the call was made to rescue these stranded men, with about 800 private fishing boats and vessels responding.

Here is the kicker: In a decision that infuriated his generals and still baffles historians, Hitler ordered his army to halt. It is no wonder that Churchill referred to this as the miracle of Dunkirk. How impactful was it that a nation was called to pray? The calming of the winds (so the vessels could rescue those stranded), the ceasing of the attack for this time of calm, sounds like a miracle we would read about in the Bible or hear a pastor reference in a sermon.

Dunkirk

I find the tag line of the movie “the event that shaped our world” to be an interesting one. Many in our society discount God’s involvement or even His existence, but when I see the hidden details of this story, I cannot help but think that He is likely more involved than we realize. Some may argue about war itself and also about those who lost their lives asking, “Where was God for those people?” While I can’t claim to have all the answers, I do know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. This verse (1 John 5:19) has answered many of my questions and helped me realize that the events we often call “acts of god” are in truth, acts of the god of this world, or the evil one, not the acts of a loving God.

However, from time to time we do see a miracle like Dunkirk and it can help restore our confidence and trust in a God who can intervene in the events of this world. When I watched the movie, I saw a rescue, but after learning the hidden details of the story, I see a miracle!