In 1957, Billy Graham wrote an article asking what American Christians would do if they were to suddenly experience some of the persecution believers in other nations experience on a daily basis. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association points out that his words “ring true today.”
Graham explained, “The immunity to persecution that Christians in our country have experienced in the past two or three centuries is unusual.” After all, the Bible guarantees us we will see persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
So, in an effort to prepare for the persecution that, if we are truly seeking godly lives, will come, Graham offers five ways to “fortify yourself so that you will be able to stand in that day.”
Graham admonishes every Christian to make sure of their relationship with God. He reminds us that the “cross is the only place of refuge in the midst of the storm of judgment that is fast approaching.” In other words: Are you right with the Lord?
Walk With God
What does the day-to-day practice of your faith look like? Trouble is going to come on a daily level. After all, Jesus told us we would have trouble (John 16:33). However, Graham seems to encourage us to use the troubles that come as training for persecution. “If you are not strengthening the inner man or woman by daily walking with God now, when a crisis comes you will quake with fear and give in, having no strength to stand up for Christ.”
Billy Graham wants scripture to be used as more than just something to read during your devotional time. Scripture is to be like our daily bread. We’re supposed to ingest it and let it nourish us. Graham points out people who have suffered imprisonment and who have had their Bibles taken from them. The Scripture they had memorized became a source of great comfort to them.
Graham reminds believers that “earnest, fervent prayer preceded every major triumph” in the early church. Before Pentecost; before Paul and Silas were released from prison; and before large numbers of converts came to Christ, there was prayer. Graham admonishes that “the prayer meeting must become the vital institution it was when evangelical Christianity was the mightiest force in the world.”
Meditate on Christ
We must meditate on the person of Christ and learn to practice his presence. Christ must become real to us on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis if we are to prove loyal to him in the midst of persecution.
Graham concludes his article with the quintessential call to action we have come to expect from him. I’ll summarize it for you: Are you willing to stand for Christ? Are you willing to receive Christ as your personal Savior and let him become the captain of your soul?
Perhaps it is a little concerning that one of the thoughts Graham leaves us with (circa 1957) is: “The need for a return to God has never been more urgent.” How much more urgent is it today?