Franklin Graham: Eternal ramifications hinge on Christians' faithful witness to the truth
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--The life of every Christian should be characterized by a desire to share the message of Jesus Christ with lost men and women, said Franklin Graham, the closing speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Indianapolis.
The Gaither Vocal Band, the four-member vocal group led by Gospel music legend Bill Gaither, preceded the message by Graham, who is president and CEO of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The main task of believers, Graham said in preaching from Acts 1:8 and Galatians 1-2, is telling people about the truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
"A witness has to tell the truth," Graham said. "The truth is that God sent His Son to earth. The truth is that Jesus Christ is God's Son born of a virgin. The truth is that Jesus willingly suffered and gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The truth is that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but though Him."
Though believers are powerless in their own strength, the Holy Spirit uses faithful witnesses to bring people to salvation in Christ, Graham said.
"We cannot evangelize the world on our own," he said. "... We cannot stand up and preach and proclaim the Gospel; we must have the Holy Spirit of God in us to do this. It's an impossible task when you look at reaching the world for Jesus Christ. We have to have the help of the Holy Spirit of God."
Because the world has adopted a pluralistic pattern of thinking, the Gospel has become an unpopular message, he said. But disciples of Jesus Christ must proclaim the truth even when it is not well received.
"When you tell someone that their goodness is not enough, when you tell someone that all of the good works that they have done and all of the kind acts are not enough, and when you tell someone that the only way they can come to God is though the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, ... that's going to be offensive," Graham said.
"But friends, you have got to tell the truth if we are going to be a witness. Even if it offends them, you have got to tell the truth."
One important forum where American believers must share their faith is in the public schools, he said. Instead of withdrawing from public schools, Christians should train their children to share the Gospel with their non-Christian classmates, he said.
In an effort to promote evangelism by public school students, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association plans to launch a website where children can complete evangelistic training, Graham said. When a student completes the training, he or she will become "a certified evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association."
"I want to see at least one child in every class in every public school in America who is trained as a witness for Jesus Christ," Graham said. "Let's not surrender public schools. Let's take them back."
Christians must be passionate and active witnesses because the task of evangelism has eternal ramifications, Graham said in concluding his June 16 message.
"Let's go out and start telling men and women about God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's be biblical witnesses. Let's tell them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life," he said.
"I want to tell them the truth because it's either heaven or it's hell. And this is serious business. The only chance a person may have at heaven is going to be because of you. Are you going to be faithful?"