We are all called…

By Will Graham

As an evangelist, I have been called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ whenever and wherever I can, and I’ve had the opportunity to do that in many venues around the world.

Are you ready for the uncomfortable part? You, my friends, are also called to be evangelists. Just because your last name isn’t Graham doesn’t mean that you get a “free pass” on offering the hope that you have to your friends and loved ones.

While you may not preach in front of hundreds or thousands, you should still be able to put into action the words of 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (NIV)

There is an often quoted saying by St. Francis of Assisi that reads, “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.” I appreciate what St. Francis was saying. His desire was that people not just preach, but live what they are preaching. He also said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless our walking is our preaching.”

Unfortunately, I think many of us hide behind the mentality of “lifestyle evangelism.” We timidly think that if we live a good enough life, people will see our faith and will, in turn, make a decision for Christ.

On some level, that may be true. We are supposed to live in a way that the light and love of Christ shines through us. We want others to realize there is something different about us. But our calling to fulfill the Great Commission doesn’t end there.

In Romans 10:17, it is written, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.” (emphasis added; NKJV) Notice that the verse doesn’t say faith comes through a friend being a really nice guy. It doesn’t say faith comes from a positive transaction with a local businessman. It says “faith comes from hearing” – not showing.

What would you say right now if a friend called you and asked why you believe in Jesus? Do you have the words to say, and the verses to back it up? Further, do you have the heart of an evangelist in you; one that breaks for the lost souls around you who are dying without the hope of Christ?

That is your calling. We are all called to be evangelists. Are you willing to spend the time in prayer and in the Word so that you’ll be ready when those opportunities arise?

Yes, we should behave in a way that opens the door to conversations about our faith. Our actions should affirm our love for Christ and not be a stumbling block for others. But, on top of that, my friends, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Will Graham

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He currently serves as assistant director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

Asheville Next Generation Summit

On Monday, April 18, a group of youth pastors and student leaders from across the city of Asheville, NC, will meet at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. It’s a gathering for all who are willing to play a role in the mentoring of a generation. The group from Collision AVL has been praying together for almost two years for unity among the churches in the area in order to reach the youth and give them guidance and direction at a critical time in their school and community life.

We must reach the next generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are local, join us. If you are not, pray for us and organize something in your own community. Together, we can reach the next generation.

If you have questions, please visit www.collisionavl.com for more information.

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GUEST POST: The Call to Give an Answer

By Alex McFarland

Doubts and questions about God and the Bible are nothing new. There have always been skeptics. Some are sincere yet misguided, while others are unwilling to embrace the truth once they’ve encountered it. Others simply have an axe to grind.

A number of websites (many of which are aimed at teens) are devoted to debunking the Bible. Books like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or Bart Ehrmann’s Misquoting Jesus have generated media coverage for “the new atheism.”

Consequently, many of the questions raised by these high-profile skeptics are also on the minds of skeptics with whom I interact.  During the course of planning this special conference at The Cove, here is one of the more common questions on the minds of people I encounter:

What about those who haven’t heard of Christ?

The Scriptures are clear that those who believe in Jesus will be saved (John 1:12).  But what about those in un-reached people groups?

The fact is that God has not forgotten the un-reached peoples. I Timothy 2:4 clearly states that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Acts 17:26-27 says that God has determined the times and places for everyone to live “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Scripture and contemporary missionary evidence support the claim that those who seek God based on the light they have will be given the knowledge of the Gospel in some way, even if this is supernatural (like the Gentile Cornelius, found in Acts 10).  This conclusion has been held by Christian thinkers ancient and recent, such as Thomas Aquinas, James Arminius, to modern theologians like Ronald Nash and Robert Lightner.  This view satisfies the claim that a loving God would make salvation universally available, but it avoids the problematic claim of inclusivism that people can be saved without knowledge of the gospel.

A striking example from modern missions that supports such a position is related by Don Richardson in the book Eternity In Their Hearts.  A man named Warrasa Wange from the Gedeo people of Ethiopia cried out to “Magano” (his tribe’s notion of the highest and most benevolent Deity). Warrasa asked the Deity to reveal himself.

Almost immediately, he began having visions of two white men building shelters under a large tree in his village.  A voice in the visions told him, “These men will bring you a message from Magano, the God you seek. Wait for them.”  Eight years later, two Canadian missionaries came to Warrasa’s village and met him under the same tree he saw in his vision. The missionaries shared the gospel and Warrasa and many of his fellow tribesmen believed.  I believe that this is a compelling example of God getting the Gospel to a person who honestly sought after Him based on the “light” he had. But what is important is that his salvation was based on the gospel he believed, not just on the “light” he had.

Beyond this the Bible does not clearly teach what will happen to those who never receive the good news of the Gospel but do attempt to seek God. As C. S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, “The truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are.”  The best a Bible-believing Christian can do is to trust in God’s wisdom, mercy and grace, and to suspend judgment salvation of the un-evangelized.  As the editors of Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World conclude in their introduction, “These optimistic hints can never become a first-order control belief” because the Bible is just not clear on this subject.

In reality, there is only one person of whom you may speak authoritatively regarding the condition of their soul:  yourself.  As with so many things in the Christian life, C. S. Lewis offers practical wisdom for the situation: “In the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. . . If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them.”  The bottom line is that we can trust that God, who loves the whole world, will take care of the questionable situations, but our job as Christians is to bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarland

As a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.

What is a Worldview?


Photo from Flickr by sittered.

Do you know what it means to have a biblical worldview?

Our friend Alex McFarland says this of worldviews:

A worldview is exactly what it sounds like; it is how someone sees the world. That sounds simple enough when the term is first heard, but it is much more complex when all that it includes is thought upon. A person’s worldview entails a set of truth claims that are embraced to the extent that it becomes reality. Because the worldview is reality, it drives what and how a person thinks, acts and feels.

A worldview provides the foundation from which one discerns and makes all moral and ethical choices throughout an entire lifetime. Therefore, a worldview choice is extremely crucial due to the influence for each person, since it determines how a person deciphers right from wrong and from where his truth derives.

What does having a Christian worldview mean to you?

Friends, Join Us for SeniorCelebrations!

By Cliff Barrows

To say that we are excited about the first 2011 SeniorCelebration we are planning for April 11-13 at The Cove is putting it mildly! Bev Shea, Tom Bledsoe and I are looking forward to being with many of our friends and prayer partners who have been so faithful in their loving, prayerful support for Mr. Graham and the team throughout the years.

And, The Cove is the perfect place to meet. It is one of the most beautiful Christian retreats anywhere in the world.

Cliff Barrows and Ann
Cliff Barrows and his wife Ann at The Cove

In addition to lots of great fellowship and good food, we will be singing some favorite hymns, and a few new songs, too!  We may even find out the source of Bev Shea’s longevity – 102 years old! And, he just accepted a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY®! You’ll meet his wife Karlene, and my wife, Ann. It’s going to be a happy time.

We will also search God’s Word together to find out how to get the best out of the rest of our lives. We are planning so many good things and your presence will make it complete. I urge you to make your reservations right away.

Accommodations are limited and are on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made by calling The Cove at 1-800-950-2092.

As our dear colleague and friend, Billy Graham, would always say at the end of the “Hour of Decision” radio broadcast, “May God love and bless you real good.”

See you at The Cove!

For more information on senior events at The Cove, click here.

Cliff Barrows

Clifford Burton Barrows (born April 6, 1923 in Ceres, California) is the longtime music & program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has been a part of BGEA since 1949. Barrows is best known as the host of Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program, and the songleader and choir director for the crusade meetings.

See Cliff at The Cove

GUEST POST: Apologetics – An important part of evangelism today

By Alex McFarland

Alex McFarland
Alex McFarland

“Christian apologetics” is the practice of sharing reasons why we believe what we do. If you’ve witnessed to unbelievers you’ve probably heard various objections to the gospel message. Some people are under the false impression that the Bible contains errors. Others wonder how God (if He exists) could allow natural disasters. Whether a listener has a legitimate question about God or tosses out a thinly veiled excuse for unbelief, we must equip believers to support their faith with evidence and sound reasoning.

Apologetics means “a defense.” Its Greek root, apologia, appears several times in the Bible. For example, 1 Peter 3:15 encourages believers to “be ready always to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have.” Translated answer and reason, apologia is an ancient legal term meaning—you guessed it—“a defense.” That same word is found in Philippians 1:7 where Paul said he was prepared to defend the gospel. The principle is also echoed in Jude 3 as believers are encouraged to “earnestly contend” or “stand up for” the faith.

Each of us has been given the assignment of not only presenting the gospel but also explaining and defending the truths of our message to the world around us. There is plenty of evidence to support what we believe. The Bible reminds us that the good news about Jesus is not just based on human opinion or someone’s personal preference. Christianity is truth, not mere fables or myths (2 Peter 1:16). Romans 1:4 says that Jesus’ resurrection shows He was the unique Son of God. Acts 1:3 says that, after His resurrection, Christ showed He was alive by many undeniable proofs.

Christianity is unique in that it is the only faith system based on historical facts that can be thoroughly investigated. We have verifiable words and events, including the bold claims of Jesus Himself. When a non-Christian says “You have no right to judge me” they are absolutely correct. But Jesus has evaluated the entire human race and His Word sums it up for each of us: “You must be born again” (John 3:3-20). It’s there in black and white, yet people risk eternity by trusting their own opinion about what it means to be in right relation to God. If we hope to reach them we need to be armed, not to win arguments but to win souls.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarlandAs a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.

Welcome to Our Blog!

We are very excited to launch this new blog. The idea came from a genuine need to have a place for not only sharing in more detail about what God is doing through this ministry, but also providing you additional access to our speakers and leaders.

For more than 20 years, The Cove has developed seminars and programs specifically designed to encourage and strengthen the walk of Christian pastors and lay people – all in the serene surroundings of the mountains of Asheville, NC.

We wanted to create a place where you could get a detailed view of The Cove and encouragement in your walk with the Savior – through the eyes of our guest speakers, our staff and other believers who have experienced The Cove for themselves. On this blog, we’ll offer guests posts from seminar speakers; posts from Will Graham, evangelist and assistant director of The Cove; sneak previews and recaps of seminars; and more.

We encourage you reach out to us and let us know what you would like to see in this blog. We’d love to see you in person at The Cove, but in the meantime, we’ll look forward to connecting here!

The blog of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove