The funeral of Dr. Billy Graham will be held today at noon. About 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend the private ceremony at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can watch a live stream of the service here.
Following the service, he will be buried beside his late wife, Ruth, at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Library’s Prayer Garden.
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the service “will be held under a large tent that has been constructed in the main parking lot in front of the Library. The tent serves as a reminder of how Mr. Graham’s ministry launched under ‘The Canvas Cathedral’-a white canvas tent during a 1949 Crusade in downtown Los Angeles, where 350,000 people heard him share the Gospel over a period of eight weeks.”
Spokesman Mark DeMoss explained: “It was Mr. Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message he preached for more than 60 years.”
Meanwhile, a more permanent memorial to Dr. Graham’s life and legacy is being planned.
The National Statuary Hall Collection in the US Capitol Building is comprised of statues donated by the fifty American states “to honor persons notable in their history.” One hundred statues have been contributed.
North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation in 2015 calling for a statue of Billy Graham to replace that of Charles Aycock, a former governor. However, those honored must be deceased. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has now asked Congress to grant his state’s request. If approved, the statue would serve as a permanent memorial to Dr. Graham’s life and message.
Permanent, but not eternal.
Billy Graham’s final public message
When Dr. Graham turned ninety-nine last November, his son Franklin released a video that turned out to be his father’s final public message to the world. Here is my transcription of Dr. Graham’s message:
“I’ve been praying that we might have a spiritual awakening. But I think that becomes possible only as individuals surrender their lives afresh and anew to Christ and live the Christian life wherever you are.
“First, we do everything we can to follow in the steps of Jesus. We’re to live a life in which we love one another, we help one another, we live according to what Jesus lived.
“The Holy Spirit is the one that helps us live that new lifestyle, which is one of love, gentleness, and patience, and all of these things that are the fruit of the Spirit.
“Secondly, you read his word every day-the Bible. I know it’s very difficult, but you need to start somewhere and I suggest you start with the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament start with the very first verse-‘In the beginning, God.’ And study those passages.
“And the third thing: go to your knees and pray, until you and God have become intimate friends. I cannot describe to you the joy and the peace that he gives to you as a result of that daily routine that you have in prayer.”
More than 3.6 million people have viewed the video. I encourage you to join them and to watch the video to the end. The final image of Dr. Graham’s face at ninety-nine years of age reflects the joy and peace he invited us to experience.
“Well done, good and faithful servant”
Now Billy Graham has stepped into the presence of the One who is the source of all true joy and peace. I’m certain he has heard his Lord’s blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
And as the cartoon below depicts, I believe he has heard from the multitudes who are now in heaven after hearing the gospel from him.
If Billy Graham could come back from heaven to earth to speak to us one last time, I know what he would say. He would thank us for all the tributes that have come from around the world. He would ask us to pray for his beloved family upon his homegoing.
But if he could deliver only one message, it would be this: “You must know Jesus. You must repent of your sins and make him your Savior and Lord. Then you must know him personally and intimately. He is truly the way and the truth and the life. You must know him today.”
Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Post, Common Call, and other publications.