Pastor Billy Graham, who is 96 now and arguably the most influential evangelical Christian preacher of the last 60 years, said the difference between the death of a Christian and a non-Christian was like the difference “between Heaven and Hell,” and added that when an “unsaved sinner” dies they are separated from God for eternity and go to “a place that Jesus has called Hell.”
“When Christians die, they go straight into the presence of Christ – to Heaven – to spend eternity with God,” said Billy Graham in the January 2015 issue of Decision magazine.
But “[a]n unsaved sinner’s destiny is separation from God, a place that Jesus has called Hell,” said the reverend. “I wonder where you are going. Have you given your life to Jesus Christ? Have you been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God?”
Graham, who is doing fairly well considering his age and that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, said it is an “immortal truth that the death of the righteous is unlike the death of the unrighteous.”
“I have talked to doctors and nurses who have held the hands of dying people, and they say there is as much difference between the death of a Christian and of a non-Christian as there is between Heaven and Hell,” said Rev. Graham.
“The death of the righteous is not to be feared – it is not to be shunned,” he said. “It is the shadowed threshold to the palace of God.”
He then talked about statements in the Bible that distinguish between the death of a Christian and the “death of a sinner who refuses or neglects to believe in Jesus Christ.”
For the Christian, death is a “coronation,” said Rev. Graham. “This world is not our home; our citizenship is in Heaven. To those who are faithful, Christ will give a crown of life.”
Pastor Graham then quoted evangelist D.L. Moody (1837-1899) who, when he was dying, said, “Earth is receding; Heaven is opening. This is my coronation day.”
“Yes, death is the Christian’s coronation,” said Rev. Graham, “the end of conflict and the beginning of glory and triumph in Heaven.”
Death also gives the Christian a “rest from labor” in this world and “marks the beginning” of our “journey to God,” said the reverend, adding that death also gives the Christian the opportunity to leave the fallen, “disintegrating” reality of this world, filled with “disease, pain and peril,” for “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
“The wandering wayfarers come into their own at death and are given the title to a mansion that will never deteriorate or crumble,” said Pastor Graham.
“There is no judgment, no Hell, for those who are in Christ,” he said. “You can confess your sins, turn your back on your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior now. At this moment, you can bow your head and say, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13). He will hear that simple prayer.”
In concluding his commentary, Rev. Graham said, “You can have the hope of Heaven today, so that if you died tonight, you would be ready to meet your God. You would go straight into His presence!”
Even if you are an elderly man or woman lying on a sickbed and you have never made your peace with God, it is still not too late,” said Graham. “The dying thief on the cross turned to Christ and said, ‘Lord, remember me.’ And Jesus replied, ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43).”
Over the last 60 years, Rev. Billy Graham has preached the truth of Jesus Christ to an estimated 2.2 billion people worldwide, at outdoor rallies and arenas, on radio and television, and through numerous publications, including more than 30 books, and web sites.
Graham is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which publishes Decision magazine. For the 58th time, Rev. Graham was ranked as one of the top 10 most admired men in the world by Gallup in its annual survey released a few weeks ago.
Billy Graham’s wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007. The couple reared 5 children, including son Franklin Graham III, who also is an evangelical preacher.