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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Billy Graham’s Battle To Trust The Bible

Billy Graham on wikipediaWhy Trust the Bible?

At the beginning of his ministry, Billy Graham was confident that the Bible was the true Word of God.

But then he read some authors who did not believe the Bible was the Word of God.  And now his good friend Chuck Templeton was telling him that not everything in the Bible was true.

So this raised troubling questions for Billy Graham — questions he knew he needed to answer.

So what did he do?

Intensive Study

He began with careful study.  He read scholars on both sides.  And he studied what the Bible taught about itself.

He saw Paul’s statement that all Scripture was inspired, “God-breathed,” which means it is from God Himself (2Tim 3:16).

He studied Peter’s statement that prophets did not speak on their own, but as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21).

He studied Jesus’ statement that God’s words would not pass away (Matt 24:35).

These and other Scriptures strengthened his confidence that the Bible was the Word of God, which meant everything it taught was true.

But the battle was just beginning.

On The Rack

Both he and his friend Chuck Templeton were scheduled to speak at a conference in the mountains east of Los Angeles.

As they talked between meetings, Chuck openly mocked Billy —

Billy, you’re fifty years out of date.  People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do.  Your faith is too simple.  Your language is out of date.  You’re going to have to learn the new jargon if you’re going to be successful in ministry.

Chuck’s comments were not only painful, they also shook Billy’s confidence in the Bible.

But at the conference Billy also had the opportunity to talk with Henrietta Mears, who was the conference director.

She was confident in the truth of the Scriptures, with a deep understanding of the Word of God and an ability to answer questions about the Bible.

These conversations were helpful.  But still, as Billy put it: “I ached as if I were on the rack, with Miss Mears stretching me one way and Chuck Templeton stretching me the other.”

Alone In His Room

So one evening he went to his room to study God’s Word alone.

He saw how Jesus taught that the Old Testament was completely true.

He studied how Jesus said the stories of Noah and Jonah actually happened as described in the Old Testament.

He read all the verses he could find about the Bible’s truth and authority.

He saw again that the Bible did claim to be the perfectly true Word of God.

But he could tell the issue was not yet settled in his heart.

On His Knees

So he left his room and walked out into the forest.  It was a warm August night.  It was late.  The moon was out.

He came to a tree stump, where he knelt down, with his Bible on the stump in front of him.

And he prayed something like this —

O God!  There are many things in this book I do not understand.  There are many problems with it for which I have no solution … I can’t answer some of the questions Chuck and others are raising.

But even though he was praying sincerely, he could tell something was still unresolved.  And then he said the Holy Spirit finally enabled him to pray —

Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word — by faith!  I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.

Here’s what happened next —

When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears.  I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. 

Not all my questions were answered, but a major bridge had been crossed.  In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.

(Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, pp.135-139).

Take-Aways

Don’t be surprised if you sometimes doubt that the Bible is God’s Word.  When this happens, bring your doubts to the Word of God, look again at all the biblical and historical evidence for its truthfulness —

  • Eyewitnesses confirm that Jesus worked miracles and rose from the dead, which shows that He is God (John 20:30-31; 1Co 15:6; 2Pe 1:16).
  • Therefore we can trust Jesus when He says the Old Testament is the very words of God (Mark 12:36 and Luke 24:25, for example).
  • And therefore we can trust Jesus when He says that the New Testament authors (His apostles) will be enabled to remember all Jesus taught, and would be taught truth directly from God (John 14:26).
  • This is confirmed by how the apostles say they are writing truth directly from God (1Co 2:13 and 14:37, for example).

It’s also helpful to remember times when we powerfully met God in and through the Word.  Our experience confirms the biblical and historical evidence that the Bible is the Word of God.

We don’t need to answer every question or resolve every seeming contradiction, in order to trust the Bible.  The massive evidence for God’s authorship rightly encourages us to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.

So if you doubt the truth of God’s Word, take this seriously.  Fight the fight of faith.  Pray over Scriptures showing that the Bible is God’s Word.  Review the biblical and historical evidence listed above.  Pray “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  As you do this, God will help you.

Just like He helped Billy Graham.

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(Picture is from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.)

Category: Stories about Other People, Strengthening Your Faith

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12 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    And there’s the problem of one’s interpretation, one might say the Bible says one thing, and another will say it it means something entirely different.

    The Truth not only unites, it also unfortunately divides.

    I think we should accept each other as Christians, but we shouldn’t accept each others mistakes, about the truth of God’s word.

    Speak the truth in love, but I wouldn’t agree with someone’s interpretation that contradicts what God’s word actually is saying.

    It’s not loving to just accept someone’s mistaken interpretation, without showing them what God’s word actually says.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I agree that a part of love is helping each other carefully study God’s Word. Truth has consequences, and wrong interpretations can bring much harm.

      Blessings on you, brother!

      Steve

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement that even the spiritual leaders whom we look up to have at times struggled with trusting in God’s Word.

    Dan

  3. David says:

    God bless you brother, God is always true and faithful

  4. Beverly Wilson says:

    HELP … I have a friend, who is neither a believer nor an athiest, he posted this quote on Facebook as ‘something to think about’ and it’s driving me crazy … Here is the quote he shared: “It’s almost as if the Bible was written by racist,sexist, homophobic,violent, sexually frustrated men, instead of a loving God. Weird.” Ricky Gervasis.
    in all of my life, I have never looked at the Bible as written by men like this so I am not sure how to respond. Can you please point me to some reliable information regarding the people who wrote God’s Word?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s true that in the Bible God destroys ungodly nations, and punishes those engaged in homosexuality.

      But the reason is because these nations were terribly wicked (burning their babies as offerings to idols, and so forth), and because homosexual actions are sinful.

      But while God does judge and punish sin, the overwhelming story of the Bible is God’s mercy in Christ. Anyone from any nation can be saved (think of Rahab the prostitute). And God saves those who have been engaged in homosexuality (see 1 Cor 6:9-11).

      The issue is not the men who wrote the Bible. They simply wrote down the history of God’s actions.

      But when you read the whole Bible you see that God is slow to anger, and abounds in love and mercy and grace in Christ.

      I hope that helps.

  5. James,Isle of Man says:

    Hi Steve, I hope this post reaches you well brother, thank you for the encouragements regarding Billy Grahams struggles with the truth of Gods Word at the beginning of his ministry. I have found the post helpful and very timely personally. Ive been a believer since childhood. Am 39 now. No issues accepting the Bible as THE Word of God, inspired by God and life changing to those who believe. Recently ive really felt battered by satan in ways I never anticipated and which have truely rocked my faith. I say this as one who until recently would say my faith was solid, willing to say “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” in those areas which needed that. I truely believe God is the creator of this universe, for what its worth I would be in the young earth creationist camp (not that it gives any more or less weight to this posting…!), but I guess let he who thinks he stand take heed, lest he fall. I do believe everything in the Old Testament becaus, as is The New, its the Word of Go…but…..”those passages” keep coming back to nag at me, play with me and satan has come at me recently and said to me “has God said..?” and caused me to doubt WHY are certain words and verses and narratives in the O.T which are either so difficult to understand (wife who defends her own husband by grabbing the attacker by his genitals, having to have het own hand cut off as punishment…..I am being made to think this is harsh or even cruel), passages that are seemingly perverse and unhelpful in their graphic nature such as the lady who likes men who are well endowed like a donkey and who can emit semen with great ferocity like a stallion. Im also being made to question seeming contradictions in Gods nature, so where He says He is the same yesterday, today and forever and we also know that Jesus and God are ONE in person and character, so why would Jesus say the pynishment for anyone who harms a little child will be harsh yet He as God harmed millions on babies and boys by circumcision..? (Watch a video of circumcision if not aware of how painful it is). Why if the only reason circumcision was done was for a sign of the covenant, a sign which was NEVER SEEN by anyone, so no one knew who was chosen or not unless the guys exposed themselves, why was not a more appropriate sign chosen rather than one which mutilates a child? Also ive had it placed in my mind to question why God would say for men to kill all the women who have already had sex but to “keep for themselves all the young girls, virgins who have never had sex”, of which there were thousands..? How can that be explained without it sounding like God was saying that the women of that day who had had sex were worthless but the young girls (how young because if, which is highly likely it was less than 16 then that is as of today a court offence)…..who had not are nothing more than sex pieces for the men the pleausure themselves with because nothing is said of any of the girls having to have other virtues such as holiness, godliness, wisdom etc…. how can this question be answered with credibility? I will leave you with these for now. I appreciate you may come back and say that these things are unknowable, but when my faith is being sorely tested and my once held deep reverence for god is being undermined ..then I really hope you can answer these positively.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi James —

      Thank you for sharing your story, and your questions.

      I’m not able to go through your examples one by one. But I do believe each of them can be answered by studying each passage in context, understanding that descriptions of what happened are not necessarily commands we are to follow, that sort of thing.

      I would encourage you to read John Piper’s recent book “A Peculiar Glory,” on how we can be confident of the truth of God’s Word. I’ve found it very helpful.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • James says:

        hey Steve, thanks for getting back to me and I can totally see where you are coming from regarding the importance of trusting in Gods Word. Have been thinking a lot about these issues recently and have been wreslting with the age old problem of trying to reconcile things in Gods word which can never, nor were ever intended to be reconciled by humans. I do feel however that last night as I was talking these things through with my better half, that a light kind of switched on especially in regards to my trying to understand everything about circumcision in particular. A word popped into my head that helped me understand the real nature of my problem…pride. it started to dawn on me that I was on dangerous ground which was rooted in my own pride. I was never really questioning things in Gods Word, rather I was questioning Gods Word possibly because of pride in my own heart which was saying “I’d not have done it THAT way….” ….err, so all that means is I’d have done it the wrong way…! I did feel I had a sense of revelation regarding circumcision in that God never takes joy from seeing and hearing baby boys go through so much pain, the pain of having the promise of the covenant marked out in their flesh…..BUT this pain they went through to have the mark of the promise of Gods covenent was nothing compared with the pain suffered by the one who actually came to fulfill the promise of the covenant when He took our sins upon His own body….and I have never had that impressed upon me at all until last night after I posted my first comments to you. I think to, as an aside perhaps that maybe God has left a number of thing in his word that were cultural etc…and which yes we will find hard to understand now…but thats the point perhaps….?wedont understand them but we can bridge that spiritual gap with faith in the creator who has ALL things in control and who has sid He will never leave us neither forsake us and everything is for our own blessing, His Praise and ultimately His glory…!! Love to hear your response and hopefully a load AMEN brother!!

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