There is an old adage, often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, that says: Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. This adage is intended to describe the power of innovation in the marketplace.
When preaching God’s word, innovation is never a good idea. God particularly frowns on anyone changing the gospel, due to its unique nature in evangelizing non-believers. In fact, anyone changing the gospel is under His curse.
Billy Graham, the icon of American evangelicalism in the twentieth century, has made a lifetime of preaching a false gospel message. He has done this by adding conditions that change the gospel from the Good News of how God has provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ, to bad news of how we must add to Christ’s finished work on the cross with our own commitment and faithfulness.
Unfortunately, the prince of this world (Satan) uses men like Billy Graham to keep people lost. This world offers praise, accolades, fame, and worldly success to men who corrupt the gospel. On the other hand, Jesus taught that people who lived for Him would be hated in this world.
In his latest book, “The Reason for My Hope”, Billy Graham has made some of his most ardent false claims to date.
Consider the following quote, in which Graham states that faith in Christ is not sufficient to receive eternal life:
I am afraid that many Christians, in their zeal to share their faith in Christ, have made the Gospel message of making disciples for Him too simple. Just to say “believe in Christ” can produce a false assurance of the hope of Heaven. Jesus spoke often about the gift of eternal life. To make it clear, He said, “Count the cost.”
Here Graham mixes the concept of receiving eternal life through simple faith in Christ with the cost of following Christ in discipleship. “Counting the cost” is never mentioned in the Bible as a condition of receiving eternal life.
Next, consider this innovative twist on the gospel message:
Giving up something to follow Christ is not earning salvation; it is giving up what keeps you from salvation. When we hold on to something that is dearer to us than receiving the greater gift of salvation in Christ, we lose.
Graham has subtly changed salvation from a “free gift” to “a greater gift.” In this way, Graham suggests that what man “brings to the table” in exchange for salvation is but a pittance, compared to the greater gift of salvation that he receives in return. This view dishonors the blood sacrifice of Jesus as being sufficient to take away our sins, and changes the nature of Grace from being a gift to being a trade.
Teaching that salvation is received as a trade, rather than a gift, is nothing new for Graham. His tract entitled “My Decision” includes the following under “How to Receive Christ”: “Be willing to turn from your sins, and ask God to forgive you (repent).” This is followed by a salvation prayer, aptly entitled “PRAYER OF COMMITMENT”.
Being willing to turn from sins is not a requirement for receiving eternal life. Nor is asking God to forgive you, nor is our commitment to Christ. Eternal life is received by Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Nothing more and nothing less is required. Billy Graham’s additions to the gospel create a false gospel that cannot save.
A recent exhibit at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte coined Graham as the self-proclaimed “God’s Ambassador to World Leaders.” Presidents and potentates seek his spiritual counsel. Presidential candidates “kiss his ring” to attract voters. He has been called the “Protestant Pope.” In April of this year, North Carolina’s House and Senate each approved resolutions naming Billy Graham as “North Carolina’s Favorite Son”. Millions of people have flocked to his crusades. Hundreds of millions have watched him on TV. 21,000 churches are participating in Billy Graham’s upcoming “national outreach campaign”. Is your church one of them?
So, has the world beaten a path to Billy Graham’s door? It would appear so.
Has Billy Graham been caught by his own trap? Does he really believe what he says?