Christian leaders across the United States praised the life and work of America’s Pastor the Rev. Billy Graham, who was laid to rest on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, at age 99, and explained the gospel that Graham preached all his life.
“Billy Graham arrived on the scene at a time when the world was looking for solutions—and this young, wiry, son of a dairy farmer had the ultimate one: Jesus Christ,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said exclusively to Breitbart News. “From the Cold War to the civil rights movement, Billy played a significant role in bringing evangelicalism to the mainstream of American life. It was a mission that endeared him the world over.”
“He did that preaching a message that some would call hostile or offensive today: that Jesus loves and died for us all,” Perkins continued. “For 99 years, his greatest testimony was his own faithfulness to preach and live the word of God. Today’s evangelicals are, I believe, the product of that example and they too want to live out their faith in every area of their lives.”
“Billy Graham affected millions of lives for good and is a hero because he openly shared his faith with all,” First Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford offered exclusively to Breitbart News. “I can think of no greater way to honor his memory than to fight for and keep religious freedom for all, so many more can follow in his footsteps, blessing others.”
“Billy Graham showed what faithfulness to God’s calling looks like in a world full of distractions,” former ambassador, presidential appointee, and longtime elected official Ken Blackwell told Breitbart News in another exclusive interview.
“He could have run for Congress, or parlayed his global fame into a massive business empire that would have brought him enormous wealth—he could have done almost anything,” the Liberty University professor explained. “Instead, he felt God’s call to preach the gospel and seek the salvation of as many people as possible.”
“So instead of pursuing wealth or power, or spread himself in different directions to move the needle on many political or policy issues, he used his unmatched platform solely to preach Jesus Christ,” Blackwell continued.
That reference is to the gospel Evangelical Christians believe: All human beings are sinners who are naturally under the judgment of a holy God. But God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be born as a man, live a life of perfect holiness and obedience to God, revealing God’s will to humanity, then die a brutal death on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem around A.D. 30. Three days later God resurrected him from the death, after which he appeared to hundreds of his followers. Forty days later he ascended physically into heaven, and he will one day return in glory as the king of kings.
Billy Graham’s life was devoted to preaching that any person who repents of their sin and turns to God, placing their faith in Jesus and what he accomplished on the cross and in his resurrection, receives forgiveness from God and will spend eternity with him. He preached that gospel to 200 million people across the world over more than 70 years, more than any other one man in world history.
Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas said that his mother “was saved at a Billy Graham crusade in 1954 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas before I was born.” He added, “Simply put, I am a Christian today and pastor of First Baptist Dallas because of Billy Graham.”
“When journalists ask me what Billy Graham would say to those who have heard the news of his passing,” Jeffress continued, “I tell them for sure what he would say for the message of his life was the message of John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.