“I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.” Ecclesiastes 2:13-14
Sergei Nikolaev, pastor of the Temple of the Gospel in St. Petersburg, Russia, knows Billy Graham well, having served as the evangelist’s translator during one of Graham’s missions to Moscow. Somehow the question came up: Why is Billy Graham so effective? Pastor Nikolaev said that in his opinion Billy Graham’s sermons are not profound. They are usually incredibly simple, so simple that learned scholars dismiss him because he doesn’t use high-sounding language or speak with theological subtlety.
What is the evangelist’s secret? “It is the way he presents his message,” Pastor Nikolaev answered. “When you listen to Billy Graham, he preaches it in such a way that you can only come to one conclusion: If I am a normal person, I must say yes to Jesus Christ.” Dr. Graham preaches so that the only logical, rational decision is to come to Christ. Therefore, Pastor Nikolaev said, the hearer must ask himself this question: Am I normal or am I crazy? If I am normal, I must accept Christ. So Dr. Graham is constantly bringing people to ask the question: Am I smart or am I stupid? Am I wise or am I foolish?
During one Graham crusade in St. Petersburg, a very brilliant architect, an atheist, came to hear him. Night after night he listened to the preaching of the gospel. He didn’t make a decision during the crusade. As he thought about the matter later, he realized the question was not “What should I do with Jesus?” but rather “Am I smart or am I stupid?” And so while he was taking a shower one day, it all came together for him. With the water splashing in his face, he looked to heaven and said, “Jesus Christ, forgive my sins.” In that moment, he was saved, and his sins were forgiven. He is now active in Pastor Nikolaev’s church.
So I ask: Are you wise or are you foolish?
Remember, you can’t help being a sinner. That comes by virtue of being a descendant of Adam. But God has made a way for you to pass from Adam to Christ. Your first birth put you in Adam; your second birth puts you in Christ. That’s why Jesus said, “You must be born again.”
Have you ever been born again? Have you ever passed from death to life? If you are in Adam, don’t despair. You don’t have to stay there. You can come to Christ right now. It’s the smartest move you’ll ever make.
Lord Jesus, I am trusting you and you alone as my only hope for eternal salvation. Amen.
Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.