STICKING TO THE OLD PATHS
Billy Graham died last week. I have been impressed with the outpouring of praise and sentiment for this man. I have seen no negative comments or sneering criticism about him (though I have not read or seen everything that has been published). When so much news and social media is filled with denigration and caustic attacks these days, it is refreshing regarding this man’s passing, people are focusing on positive, helpful things he did in his life.
I never met him or heard him speak in person. My only “connection” to him was that I attended a college in Temple Terrace, Florida that was located in the same place where he had attended college (it was a different school when he was a there). He was a counselor to seven U.S. presidents, many other political and powerful leaders including the Queen of England. According to reports, he preached to 210 million people over 60 years. He eschewed pressure to found a college or seek political office or other means to increase his fame, influence or legacy.
There was an early 1970s musical play about a new preacher who came to work with a church in the South when racial prejudice was still rampant. In one of the songs, the preacher is touting his new way of thinking and how he would be just the one to change the hearts and minds of both whites and blacks. The line that always sticks with me is when he proclaims, “Move over Billy Sunday, move over Billy Graham, make way for a new-fangled preacher man!”
Sadly, “new-fangled preaching” has become the norm these days. Church-goers, it seems, are more interested in being entertained, having their egos stroked and their feelings validated. Gone from pulpits today are the Bible-based lessons about Christ the Lord, faith based upon the unadulterated word of God, and sin as the great divider of man and God. The Old Paths are not something for which we should be demanding and following today. Times have changed!
I don’t endorse all that Billy Graham preached (or didn’t preach), but he was solid in his proclamation that the Bible is man’s only guide, that we all will answer to God for how we have lived our lives, and that Jesus is our only hope. This gospel is what the world needs and must hear.
We cannot just go along with the flow of modernistic thinking and accept the heretical concept that God and His word change with our current societal mores. New-fangled preaching and doctrine have always been a curse for those who embrace it. Paul’s rebuke of the Galatian Christians (Gal. 1:6-10) who were turning to a “new gospel” serves us well in showing that there is no different gospel.
“Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16).
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).