Christianity Today’s First Issue

At about 2 o’clock one morning in 1953, Mr. Graham rolls out of bed with an idea. As he describes it: “My idea that night was for a magazine, aimed primarily at ministers, that would restore intellectual respectability and spiritual impact to evangelical Christianity; it would reaffirm the power of the Word of God to redeem and transform men and women.”

The magazine became a reality when Christianity Today’s first issue was published in November 1956, with a key article from Mr. Graham himself. Though it was written over 60 years ago, the topic applies directly to what Matthews in My Hope with Billy Graham must remember as they share their faith with the people in their life. Here’s an excerpt:

The Word of Confession

In 1949 I had been having a great many doubts concerning the Bible. I thought I saw apparent contradictions in Scripture. Some things I could not reconcile with my restricted concept of God. When I stood up to preach, the authoritative note so characteristic of all great preachers of the past was lacking. Like hundreds of other young seminary students, I was waging the intellectual battle of my life. The outcome could certainly affect my future ministry.

In August of that year I had been invited to Forest Home Presbyterian conference center high in the mountains outside Los Angeles. I remember walking down a trail, tramping into the woods, almost wrestling with God. I dueled with my doubts, and my soul seemed to be caught in the crossfire. Finally, in desperation, I surrendered my will to the living God revealed in Scripture. I knelt before the open Bible and said: “Lord, many things in this Book I do not understand. But Thou hast said, ‘the just shall live by faith.’ All I have received from Thee, I have taken by faith. Here and now, by faith, I accept the Bible as Thy word. I take it all. I take it without reservations. Where there are things I cannot understand, I will reserve judgment until I receive more light. If this pleases Thee, give me authority as I proclaim Thy word, and through that authority convict me of sin and turn sinners to the Saviour.”

Preaching From the Bible

Within six weeks we started our Los Angeles crusade, which is now history. During the crusade I discovered the secret that changed my ministry. I stopped trying to prove that the Bible was true. I had settled in my own mind that it was, and this faith was conveyed to the audience. Over and over again I found myself saying “The Bible says.’ I felt as though I were merely a voice through which the Holy Spirit was speaking.

Authority created faith. Faith generated response. And hundreds of people were impelled to come to Christ. A crusade scheduled for three weeks lengthened into eight weeks, with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. The people were not coming to hear great oratory nor were they interested merely in my ideas. I found they were desperately hungry to hear what God had to say through His Holy Word.

Today, people are just as hungry to hear God speaking to them, and the answer is the same, the Good News of Jesus Christ. My Hope with Billy Graham is a simple way you can present the Word of God to your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and fellow students, and God will supernaturally use it to speak directly to their hearts. Mr. Graham closed his article with this plea, “Preach the Scriptures with authority! You will witness climactic changes in your ministry!”

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