Evangelist Graham Preaches on Christian 'C.E.O.' Lifestyle

TORONTO – American evangelist Franklin Graham boldly preached about the cost of calling oneself a follower of Jesus Christ and the absolute obedience God expects from His people on the closing night of MissionFest Toronto.

The son of Billy Graham – renowned preacher and one of the most admired people of the 20th century – began his message proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that God loves man and sent Jesus to die on the cross for the salvation of humanity.

However, the message was not focused on love, grace and the pleasant aspects of Christianity, but on the cost and sacrifices that everyone who calls himself a follower of Jesus Christ must be willing to accept.

Using the acronymn C.E.O. – standing for cost, excuse, and obedience – Graham presented the requirements for a mature Christian life.

Graham’s message centered around several passages in Luke beginning with chapter 14 where Jesus said to His followers that they must hate their father, mother, wife, children and life to be called His disciple

“Now this does not mean hate your mother,” explained Graham, “But you have to be willing to put Christ before your mother, over your children and your wife.

“There is a cost in following the Lord Jesus Christ,” the evangelist emphasized. “You see, you have to be willing to give it all up. You got to be willing to turn your back on everything to follow Him. He has to be Lord of your whole life – every bit of it … He has to come in first – not second place, not third place but He has to come in first.”

Graham pointed to characters in the Bible that said they wanted to follow Jesus but failed because they were not willing to give up everything. Examples included the young rich man who was not willing to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and the man who turned away when Jesus said the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.

The president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association next spoke on “E” or the excuses that people make why they cannot follow Jesus.

“Is Jesus being insensitive when He said to a man follow me and let the dead bury the dead?” questioned Graham.

“This is not what this is all about,” explained Graham, recalling that the man said he will follow Jesus after his father dies and he has fulfilled his responsibilities.

“I need to stay at home and run the farm. I need to pick the olives or take care of the fig trees … but you can count on me as soon as my father dies,” said Graham.

“It was an excuse … Jesus doesn’t want an excuse, OK?” said the preacher with a straight-forward attitude. “He wants you to follow Him. And when He calls you, He wants you now, not later.”

Graham’s last point was on absolute obedience and the blessings that result when one obeys the Word of God. To illustrate obedience, Graham used the story of Peter letting down his nets where Jesus told him and catching so many fishes that the nets broke and the boats began to sink.

“A life of obedience leads to blessing and when you obey you realize that it is not about you but it is all about God,” said Graham. “Peter recognized this and fell to the ground.”

The evangelist also highlighted that Jesus did not want the “smelly fish” or the money they could earn by selling the fishes. Instead, Jesus wanted Peter to follow Him and to turn their backs on their life of catching fish to learn how to be fishers of men.

“There is a cost and what is that cost? It is everything,” concluded Graham. “Are you willing to pay that price to follow Him and be used by Him?”

Following his message, Graham accepted an honorary doctorate degree from Canada Christian College.

MissionFest is the largest mission conference in Central Canada, bringing together some 200 exhibitors, prominent Christian speakers and musicians. More than 20,000 people attended the Mar. 1-3 gathering with featured guests including Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Henry Blackaby, and Grammy-winner Rebecca St. James.