Billy Graham saved the best for last.
In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving 2013, the ordained Southern Baptist minister and long-time servant of the Lord gave his final sermon to the American people from his home nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina.
The sermon was a powerful message about why many have turned away from Almighty God in these challenging times, because they don’t want to be confronted with their sins, followed by an appeal from Graham for those people to accept the greatest gift of all, salvation that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, purchased with his blood shed on the cross of Calvary.
On this holy Resurrection weekend, I thought it would be a good time to expand on Graham’s final message that may be needed now more than it ever has before.
When you and I entered this world, we did so in a state of being spiritually stillborn, carrying the original sin of mankind, disobedience, from when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
This rebellion by mankind against the Almighty led to us losing Peace on Earth, including the inner, spiritual peace we had with our Creator.
The Almighty did not cast us aside or give up on us, instead He started to instruct us, beginning with the Old Testament Law that He used to show us our numerous imperfections and to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
God set up a system of sacrifices to instruct the Hebrew nation about the seriousness of sin and how sin wasn’t easily excused. Our Heavenly Father also instructed the Hebrews about His grace and mercy. Instead of being put to death for their own sins, He was willing to accept a substitute.
The Old Testament system of sacrifice centered around the offering of animals and the shedding of their blood on the altar of the Tabernacle and eventually the Temple in Jerusalem.
This system of sacrifice was not perfect, because it did not purify, and it never truly dealt with sin and judgment.
So, the Almighty took matters into his own hands and in displaying his love of mankind, He sent us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless and righteous life in human form, perfectly fulfilling the law (John 3:16).
Jesus was betrayed and turned over to the Romans, who tortured him with a flagrum, a lead-tipped whip, designed to weaken a person about to be crucified. After being denied by the citizenry of Judea, Jesus had to bear the cross that he would have his hands and feet nailed to and He was crucified, where all of our sins were transferred to Him.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Jesus asked of His Father from the cross (Matthew 27:46).
In that moment, the Son was separated from the Father as He bore the sins of all mankind out of compassion, mercy and love for us.
Moments before his death on the cross, Jesus then uttered, “it is finished and then he gave up the ghost (John 19:30)”.
Jesus Christ had just completed his mission, as he came into the world to pay the ransom and secure the release from our bondage to sin, restoring Peace on Earth between His Heavenly Father and mankind.
You and I belong to the most inclusive club in the history of mankind, for we are all sinners. Remember, we carry that original sin of disobedience and are spiritually stillborn.
To receive the greatest gift of all, we must be born again and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, as Jesus told Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, when he sought out Jesus one night after dark (John 3:5-7).
This is where we are confronted with our sins that Jesus had to bear on the cross to pay the price for our salvation. To admit that we are sinners requires us to humble ourselves before the Almighty.
When we admit to our sins, we admit that we have missed the mark, came short in our duty and ultimately that we failed to do what we should have done.
Those who have trouble coming to Christ can fall into one of two categories.
Some like to think that we are good, when in fact our works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) to the eyes of the Almighty.
As Jesus observed in the gospel of Luke (18:18-19), only God is good and we certainly fall well short of that. We have sinned both in thought and by physical action.
Then there are some who don’t want to admit that the sin they are committing is in fact a sin and wrong in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
When we admit that we are sinners and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the blood of Christ cleanses our souls from sin and makes our souls right before the Almighty. The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts to help us in our daily lives as Christians.
On this holy weekend when we celebrate the Resurrection and Christ’s victory over sin and death, I am thankful to proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
If you have not accepted Christ, I know the late Mr. Graham would ask you to search your heart and soul and see if you are missing something, a relationship with the Holy One of Israel and his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.