The ‘Religious Affections’ of Billy Graham’s Evangelism

On the evangelist’s 99th birthday, we look at the role desire played in so many decisions for Christ.

Deciding for Christ

In the fall of 1958, Billy Graham returned to his hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina, for a five-week crusade. He was just thirty-nine years old, but he already had ten years’ experience preaching around the world to the largest crowds ever to hear an evangelist. By the time of the Charlotte crusade, he knew exactly what to do at the end of his half-hour sermon. With the organ softly playing the hymn “Just As I Am,” he closed with these words:

I’m going to ask all of you in this building to get up out of your seat right now. … And say tonight, “I want Christ. … I want him to fill my life. I want him to help solve my problems and forgive my sins and lift my burdens. I want him to come in and be closer than a brother. I want him to come in and help me and forgive me and cleanse me. …” I’m going to ask you to come right now. … Now you come, quickly.

Nearly a half-century later, an eighty-seven-year-old Graham was in Baltimore where he gave one of his last public sermons. With the piano softly playing “Just As I Am,” he ended by saying,

I’m going to ask you to do something that we’ve seen thousands of people do in different parts of the world. I’m going to ask you to say, “I do want my life to change. I want to be certain that if I die I’ll go to heaven.” I’m going to ask you to come and make this decision. Make certain that you know Christ as your Lord and Savior. You may want to rededicate your life. You come.

Thus, Billy Graham concluded his sermons with more or less the same words for more than sixty years. He invited his listeners to get out of their seats and come forward to show that …

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