BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION
CORRESPONDENCES RE: THE GOSPEL OF ETERNAL LIFE
April 16, 2001
Christian Guidance Dept.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
1300 Harmon PL Minn.,
"Thank you for calling us and spending time with a prayer partner. We are happy to learn that you took the initiative to make the contact, and we wish to offer further help. Due to the great volume of mail received daily, it was not possible to answer sooner.
It is interesting to learn that you were saved long ago through Dr. Graham's crusade in Madison Square Gardens. Surely it changed your life, for you have been teaching and evangelizing ever since.
When you talk to people, you tell them that the only step to salvation is to believe. Actually, this is true, but the word "believe" may not be a clear enough word for some people to make a commitment to Christ.
When the Bible speaks of believing in one's "heart," it means that we believe with more than an intellectual faith. It is more than just head knowledge. Rather, it is a commitment of one's entire person to Jesus Christ. It is a faith that affects every aspect of one's life. When we are converted to Christ, it involves our emotions as well as our intellect and our will. We now love many things we once rejected, and we reject the things we once loved. We hate sin and we love righteousness.
Confession and repentance are both involved in salvation. Confession means to acknowledge as being true, and repentance means to change one's heart and mind. Confession is to acknowledge one's guilt for sin and need of forgiveness. Repentance involves the mind, emotions, and will - - the whole heart. It is not something done in a person's own strength. When a person listens responsively to the gospel message, the Holy Spirit enables him or her to repent (turn from sin) and have faith (turn to Christ). "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The result of conversion is a new life of fellowship with God and growth into the likeness of Christ which will never end.
We would encourage you in your work for the Lord with this promise from Scripture: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58, NKJV).
April 28, 2001
Christian Guidance Dept.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
1300 Harmon PL Minn.,
Thank you for your kind response to my phone call. I've read your letter carefully and am looking into what Scripture says on the matters that you have addressed.
So far I've found dozens of salvation passages that stipulate that the moment you believe in Jesus Christ as Savior you immediately have possession of eternal life forever [since it is eternal]. Nothing else is asked of one to do in any of these passages in order to receive eternal life.
Since the bible is certainly trustworthy, it would seem then, that faith is all that is required: a moment of believing that the Son of God has been given for you [to pay for your sins] and you have eternal life. None of these passages required repentant behavior, nor confession, nor some kind of commitment, nor some special kind of believing other than the normal meaning of the word = intellectual assent. Since the bible is certainly trustworthy, and considering the many passages that say faith alone in Christ alone unto eternal life, it would seem then that a simple moment of faith is all that is indeed required to go to heaven. And that is just what the High School teacher taught to me at the crusade in Madison Square Garden so many years ago. I took a closer look at the verse (Jn 3:16) he used to explain salvation to me in view of what you say in your letter:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life."
Jesus simply tells us that believing in Him being given for us [our sins] results in receiving eternal life. He did not ask anywhere in this entire passage of John chapter 3 that we repent of our sins or confess anything or do anything but trust in Him being given for us with the result of immediately receiving eternal life. The believing here and in dozens of other salvation passages is limited to a simple intellectual assent = accepting the fact that God has already and completely provided everything needed for our salvation through His one and only Son. No contribution of any kind on our part is stipulated in any of these passages.
Now, on the matter of what believing means, I found that Scripture equates head faith and heart faith - no distinction. For example, 'Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind' (Psalm 73:21). There is synonymous parallelism here. That is, the two halves of the verse are saying the same thing using synonyms. To be grieved in your heart is to be vexed in your mind. The same thing is evident in Hebrews 8:10, 'I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.' Mind and heart are used synonymously there. Another example is found by comparing Luke 24:25 and Luke 24:45: 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.' 'And He opened their understanding [lit. mind], that they might comprehend the Scriptures.' Those two passages are talking about the same thing. The disciples were slow of heart to believe the prophetic teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures regarding His resurrection. So what did Jesus do? He opened their mind that they might comprehend those Scriptures. There is no difference whatsoever here between believing in the heart or believing in the mind. Compare also 1 Samuel 2:35; Psalm 26:2; Jeremiah 11:20; 20:12; and Ephesians 4:17-18.
So salvation according to Scripture seems to be a simple matter of accepting as true the testimony of God about eternal life being in His Son and upon believing that what God has said is true = an intellectual assent, you have eternal life forever:
[Compare 1 Jn 5:9-13]:
(v. 9) "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son.
(v. 10) Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son.
[Notice that accepting the testimony of God, i.e., trusting that what He said is true = believing in Gods testimony, an intellectual assent = having this testimony in ones heart]
(v. 11) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
(v. 12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(v. 13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you many know that you have eternal life."
[Note that at the moment of intellectual assent, John writes, one can know that he has eternal life]
EMAIL FROM TOM WINKELMAN
Sunday, January 05, 2003 1:12 AM
Was I impressed tonight by your good friend BG. Yep! Carol was channel surfing and hit TBN. A fellow was telling about his son who had been shot 5 times at age 24. Key was that he stressed Eph. 2:8-9 and salvation/eternal life a gift. Then very lamely wound up suggesting people do what was going top be asked of them. I suspect he knew that what he had so emphatically said about salvation was not going to be the same message in a few minutes!
Carol asked if I wanted to listen to it. "Sure, I want to hear BG." Besides I needed to evaluate my old impressions.
Was I impressed!
BG mentioned the cross and Jesus dying for sin once. I had been reading a book on him and plan to use a few quotes from it. One is that they carefully determined to use the word "Commit" as how to be saved!
In that book someone told BG early on that in one of his messages he had not ONCE mentioned the cross and he must since it was important. So yes, BG did mention the cross....once.
Next I was impressed that he quoted verses. That showed man as sinners. He used Rom. 6:23 but only "For the wages of sin is death." Somehow the rest didn't fit his theology for salvation by commiting.
He said repent was to change your life and ways as well as being sorry for it and your sin. (No verse quoted now). Then it was on to that you must come to the front to prove publically you have totally given your life and every part of it to Jesus. "To commit your life" meant exactly what the words mean, that he will now rule you 100% and all of you will be given to that! (No verses quoted here)
Mixed thru the message was an implied life in hell, lack of going to heaven, and the promise of peace, joy, love, and happiness now.
The last part was "asking Jesus into your heart and life." It was impressive how he could mix that in and still keep the thought flow to commit without breaking his rapport.
Impressive was the change from his few verses quoted early in the message to none once he started on committing.
When that one pentecoatal preacher on TBN a couple years ago said "Where would BG be if he used the Bible?" was exactly correct! What still amazed me is that some preachers do know that but still support the guy! I think they believe that anything can be used by Holy Spirit to save and that because of all the activity he must be okayed by God!
Hey, I got an idea for you. I'll try to attach it. It started as a joke and then I decided it may be a good tool if something was added to the backside. So I started playing with it tonight.