DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My brother and I are only two years apart, and our parents were very devout. Over the years, my faith has meant much to me, but my brother has always been very rebellious and hasn’t wanted anything to do with God. Now he says it’s too late to change. Why did we take such different paths? — J. McL.
DEAR J. McL: I’ve pondered questions like this for years, and I don’t honestly know all the reasons why some people decide to believe in Christ but others reject Him. It even happened to Jesus; on one occasion, the Bible says, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
What is clear, however, is that when someone deliberately turns their back on God and chooses to live without Him, they alone are responsible for that decision.
They may blame others; they may blame their parents; they may blame the hypocrisy of Christians they’ve known, but ultimately they can only blame themselves for rejecting God’s love and salvation.
The Bible warns, “The one who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
The Bible also makes it clear that sin has consequences, and we can’t escape them, either in this life or the life to come.
We may convince ourselves that we don’t need God and we’ll always be happy without Him, but eventually we’ll pay the price in heartache, insecurity and judgment.
But the Bible makes one other truth very clear: God still loves us, and He wants to forgive us and put our feet on the right path, if we’ll only repent of our sins and open our hearts to Christ. Pray for your brother, that he’ll realize the folly of his ways, and realize, too, that Jesus died and rose again for him just as much as He did for you.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: How bad does a nation have to get before God steps in and destroys it? Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t getting close to that line. — Mrs. S.T.
DEAR MRS. S.T.: You are right to be concerned about this, because the Bible clearly tells us that God not only judges individuals, but also judges nations that rebel against Him and turn their backs on His righteousness and justice.
It happened most clearly in the Old Testament, when God eventually allowed the enemies of ancient Israel to invade and destroy it. First came the Assyrians, a cruel and heartless nation that destroyed the northern tribes of Israel; later the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and captured the southern tribes. Repeatedly, God sent His prophets to warn of judgment and urge the people to turn back to God, but they refused, and eventually God allowed their nation to collapse. God said, “Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you.... But you have not paid attention or listened to me” (Jeremiah 35:15).
No one can say exactly when that might happen to us (or any other nation) because God is patient, and He doesn’t give us what we deserve. But we must never ignore His warnings or assume He doesn’t care what we do — because He does. Sin is an offense to Him because it’s a deliberate rejection of God and all the good things He’s done for us.
Pray for our nation, and pray for those around you who don’t know Christ or have turned their backs on Him.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I’ve really messed up my life. The doctor says I’ve caught a sexually transmitted disease that probably can’t be cured. No one will ever want to marry me now. Why didn’t someone warn me about this? Or maybe they did and I just didn’t listen. — R.M.
DEAR R.M.: One of life’s hardest lessons is that the decisions we make always have consequences, and when those decisions are bad, the consequences will also be bad. I often quote the Bible’s warning: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).
Do I sound harsh or insensitive to you and your problem? I hope not, because that’s not my intention at all. Yes, you are paying the consequences for what you’ve done (as I’m afraid countless others are doing, in spite of constant warnings about the dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases). But God has not changed in His love for you, and the most important advice I can give you is to turn to Christ and make Him the center of your life. You are valuable to Him, so valuable that He gave His life for you.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-877- 2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.