Do you ever feel inadequate when it comes to sharing your faith?
Cissie Graham Lynch does, too.
On her newest Fearless podcast episode, Lynch opens up about how she was hesitant to speak at an apologetics conference, believing she needed to “sound a little bit smarter.” The incident reminded her of a story featured in her grandfather’s autobiography, Just As I Am.
In 1955, a student group invited Billy Graham to speak at Cambridge University in England.
“He was getting nervous,” Lynch explained. “And he said, ‘I do not know that I have ever felt more inadequate and totally unprepared for a mission. As I think over the possibility for messages, I realise how shallow and weak my presentations are.’”
Graham wrote letters to two friends as he debated whether or not to cancel. One of them responded: “I can well understand your feelings of apprehension about Cambridge, but, Billy, do not worry. God has opened up the way so wonderfully and has called you to it. And so, all will be well. Do not regard these men as intellectuals. Appeal to their conscience. They are sinners needing a Saviour.
“Conviction of sin, not intellectual persuasion, is the need. So many preachers fail at this point when they speak to university men. So, Billy, keep to the wonderful, clear, simple message God has qualified you to preach.”
But sadly, Lynch said her grandfather didn’t listen to his friend’s advice.
“Because he said in spite, ‘I worked as diligently as I knew how to put the Gospel into an intellectual framework in eight messages.’”
One-fourth of the student body attended the conference, but Graham quickly became concerned because he was seeing very little spiritual impact on the students.
He said, “Then, I got on my knees with a deep sense of failure, inadequacy, and helplessness. And I turned to God. My gift, such as it was, was not to present the intellectual side of the Gospel. I knew that.
“What those students needed was a clear understanding of the simple but profound truths of the Gospel: our separation from God because of our sin, Christ’s provision of forgiveness, and new life and our hope because of Him. So, finally, on Wednesday night, I threw away my prepared address and I preached the simple Gospel.”
For Lynch, the simple Gospel message is one of the greatest things that her father and grandfather ever taught her.
“We can often get caught up a lot in the theology and debate over theology,” said Lynch, adding this has happened even in recent Fearless episodes. “Apologists can get so deep … into their intellectual that they forget the Gospel is what changes the heart of people.
“It’s the truth that will pull our friends, our family members out of the darkest pits of their life. It’s what will save them. … And it’s like my grandfather said that when he was trying to be fancy with his words and to be an intellectual—there is a time and place for that.”
So here’s your reminder: Don’t overcomplicate Gospel conversations, or be afraid of making someone uncomfortable.
“If God has presented the opportunity to share the Gospel and has prompted your heart, I would encourage you to be obedient to that,” Lynch said. “When we share the Gospel, [we should know] that the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.”