DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My friend just went through a major health crisis, and I thought it might make him finally think about God and eternity. But it didn’t, and he just laughs at me and says he plans to go on enjoying life. What more can I say to him? — K.S.
DEAR K.S.: I’m thankful for your concern for your friend’s spiritual condition. Jesus wept over the spiritual deadness of the people of His day, and we ought to have the same concern for those around us who reject Christ or do not know Him (see Luke 19:41-42).
You’ve probably already said almost everything you can say to your friend; he may even be on his guard against any attempts to lecture him or preach to him. Pray, therefore, that God will give you wisdom about this. As the Bible says, there is both “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Most of all, pray for your friend, because only God can make him open to Christ.
Remember, too, that our lives often speak louder than our words. Your example of love and patience could do much to help him realize that the Gospel is real, and that God loves him in spite of his rebellion.
It occurs to me, however, that if God opens the door for you to talk further with him about his spiritual condition, you might ask him something like this: “If Jesus walked into the room right now, what do you think He’d say to you?” His answer might be “off the wall” (as we say) — but it might not. Instead, it might reveal that he’s finally beginning to think about God and eternity. It also might give you an opportunity to tell him what Jesus really would say — that He loves your friend, and wants him to be with Him in Heaven forever.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My uncle (who’s been very successful in business) makes a generous donation to his church every month, but other than that he almost never attends (he says he’s too busy). We think he’s just trying to buy his way into Heaven. Are we right? — G.C.
DEAR G.C.: I don’t know, of course, what your uncle’s real motive is in giving so generously to his church; it may not be what you suggest. He simply might want to support his church’s social work, or he may have some other reason for what he does.
But I’m afraid some people do hope God will reward them for their generosity (or for some other good deed they’ve done), either by blessing them right now or by granting them eternal life. Lurking in the back of their minds is the idea that at the last judgment, God will weigh their good deeds against their bad deeds, and if they have more good deeds than bad deeds then God will let them into Heaven.
This, however, is a serious misunderstanding of what the Bible actually teaches. The Bible says that God is absolutely holy and pure, and even one sin — just one — would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. In other words, we all stand condemned before God, and no matter how good we are, we can never be good enough to win our way into Heaven. The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
This is why we need Christ, because He did something we could never do: On the cross He took upon Himself the judgment that we deserve. Now by faith and trust in Him we can be saved. May your uncle come to realize this and commit his life to Christ — and may you, as well.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: When is the world going to come to an end? I know scientists say it’ll probably be millions of years from now, but what if we end up destroying ourselves instead? That’s a real possibility, in my opinion. — S.C.
DEAR S.C.: Only God knows when the present world will come to an end — and only God will bring it about. Wars and disasters may continue to shake civilization (as they have in the past), but ultimately God is in control, and He alone has the power to intervene and destroy the whole world.
And someday He will, because He wants to bring about a new and perfect world! Our world is imperfect and riddled with all sorts of evils, and no matter how hard we try, we’ll never completely overcome them. But this isn’t the way God meant for the world to be. When God created it, it was good and free from all evil. The Bible says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
But then sin entered the world, and with it came death and sickness and every other kind of evil. We see this all around us today. But someday God will intervene; Christ will return, and the whole world will be restored to what it once was: perfect and good. The Bible says that “everything will be destroyed. ... But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11, 13).
Are you ready for that day? Even if Christ’s coming is delayed, are you ready to meet life’s problems with His help? Are you ready to meet Him when you die? Don’t make the mistake of ignoring Christ, but put your life into His hands today.
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 billygraham.org.