Renowned evangelist Billy Graham led an extraordinary life sharing the uncompromised Gospel with the lost. His personal integrity and global ministries attested to his service to the Lord. While his passing is a sad loss to this world, Graham is now home with his Savior Jesus Christ. For this, and the faithful Christian legacy Graham leaves behind, we celebrate.
As I reflect on how best to honor this remarkable evangelist’s Christian legacy, I can think of no better way than to cite Graham’s 1985 ever-relevant sermon titled, “Living on Death Row” delivered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1985. (You can watch the entire sermon below.)
“The vast majority of my life has already been lived,” Graham professed, “My record has already been made. I don’t have very much longer. I know that. We all die. I’m not going to escape it. I don’t want to escape it. I want to go. Because to be with Christ is far better, than to be even in Florida.”
Graham explained Christians need not view the end of this life as a frightening event. He encouraged:
In Christ the judgment is passed. The storm is over. The Hell is past. If you know Christ, there’ll be no judgment for you. There is therefore now no judgement to them that are in Christ Jesus. There is no hell for you. You will live eternally with the Lord Jesus Christ and with the saints of all the ages. By his death he destroyed death. In Christ we no longer regard death as the king of terrors.
It was death’s judgment for non-believers that gravely concerned Graham. Quoting Amos 4:12, Graham asked his audience again and again, “Are you prepared to meet thy God?”
“You don’t have long,” Graham warned. “You’ll be in eternity soon. And the decision you make tonight will determine where you’ll be.”
One notable point in Graham’s “death row” sermon was his recall of death-bed experiences for Christians versus non-Christians. “It’s a wonderful thing to die as a believer. I’ve seen believers die and I’ve seen those that don’t know Christ die. And there’s a vast difference in the way they die,” he shared, recalling memories of his mother hearing angelic music when near death.
At the end of the sermon, and while the hymn “Just as I Am” sounded in the background, Graham welcomed individuals to approach the alter to publically commit their lives to Jesus Christ. No doubt Graham’s honest discussion of death and judgment ministered to many hundreds of people in Fort Lauderdale that night.
As the world remembers Billy Graham today, watch his uncompromising, ever-relevant sermon on death and please ask yourself, “Are you prepared to meet thy God?”