Billy Graham was well known for his alter calls at his evangelizing events.
He would invite people to come forward to ask Jesus to be their Savior and then his assistants would pray with the respondents. In Moscow, in 1992, one-quarter of the 155,000 people in Graham’s audience went forward at his call.
The Holy Spirit is a book, not a sermon and yet when we get to the last chapter, his writing sounds like he is making an altar call. It is entitled “The Need of the Hour.”
The first part of the chapter describes an America that is in need of awakening. The Holy Spirit was published in 1978 and he describes an America that is turning away from religion. The country is distracted with materialism, the poor are covetous for what the rich have and the rich are flaunting their wealth for all to see. The nation is in the midst of racial unrest and the financial market is unstable, going up and down. Some would say this might sound a bit like today.
Then you read that Graham is not describing 1978; he is describing America in 1850.
Have things changed much in all these years? I don’t think so. The world is again in desperate need of a spiritual awakening in 2019. Graham laments “In the midst of the vast problems that face our world, Christians are strangely silent and powerless, almost overwhelmed by the tides of secularism” . We are called to be “the salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13. Then we read we are to be the light of the world in 5:14. We are supposed to give our guidance to a world that has lost its way. Philippians 2:15 states we are called to be “children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”
Let’s state a sad fact; today there are many instances of Christians who are being used by God to do Kingdom work but for every Christian who is being used, there are many more who are leading defeated, joyless lives. Of course a defeated, joyless person is incapable of winning souls for Christ.
Graham thinks that the greatest need in the church today is to discover the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians need that special touch so they can have revival and renewal. God can take care of all the needs of the age. He can reverse the course of evil in the world through the Holy Spirit working in the lives of individual Christians. God is all powerful but He works in us through our Helper, the Holy Spirit. He gives us wisdom that we normally don’t have. He gives us strength that we should not ordinarily possess. He gives direction and purpose to us in the midst of a lost world. Graham writes “only His Holy Spirit can bring true spiritual awakening which will stem the tide of evil and reverse the trend. In the darkest hour God can still revive His people, and by the Holy Spirit breathe new vigor and power into the body of Christ” [285-86].
Graham challenges us with the following statements and questions: “Our world needs to be touched by Christians who are Spirit-filled, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered. Are you that kind of Christian? Or is there in your life the need for a new touch of the Spirit? Do you stand in need of genuine spiritual renewal in your own life? If so, know that God the Holy Spirit wants to bring that renewal to you right now.”
The time for renewal is now. None of us knows how much time we have left on this earth. Do we need reminders? Most of us live lives that ignore this fact. We think we are going to have endless opportunities to do His work, but we don’t know that. Graham recounts the touching story of Billy Bray, a godly clergyman of old who was at the bedside of a dying Christian, a man who had been very shy about sharing his testimony for Christ. The dying man said “If I had the power I’d shout glory to God.” Bray said “It’s a pity you didn’t shout glory when you had the power.”
“If ever we are to study the Scriptures, if ever we are to spend time in prayer, if ever we are to win souls for Christ, if ever we are to invest our finances for His kingdom—it must be now” .
Come to the altar…