Billy Graham: You Cannot Be Neutral

Billy Graham: You Cannot Be Neutral

In many parts of the world there is a spiritual and moral vacuum. People seem to have no purpose for living, no motivating challenge. They are restless. They want a cause. They want a flag to follow. 

Jesus Christ doesn’t call us to be bystanders or spectators. The word Christian actually means a partisan for Christ. It means that you have chosen Christ and you are following Christ. Partisans are not neutral. 

Are you a Christian? I mean a true Christian, a real Christian. Many people have a wrong idea of what a Christian is. They say, “A Christian is a person who prays.” Christians do pray, but prayer doesn’t make a Christian. Or people say, “A Christian lives by the Golden Rule.” But living by the Golden Rule doesn’t make someone a Christian. 

A person may be sincere, but that doesn’t make him a Christian. When I was a little boy, my mother was sincere when she once gave me what she thought was cough syrup for my cold. Instead, she had given me iodine. She quickly called the doctor, and he said, “Give him some cream.” We had a little dairy farm with about 60 cows, and she almost filled me up with cream. 

Some people think a Christian is one who keeps the Ten Commandments. I have never met anybody who has kept all of the Ten Commandments. Everybody has broken the commandments. The Bible says that if we break one commandment, we have broken them all (James 2:10). So we have broken the whole of the Ten Commandments, and that is called “sin” in the Bible. 

Some people say, “A Christian is a person who goes to church.” Yes, a Christian ought to go to church, but attending church doesn’t make someone a Christian. 

I am talking about a real, genuine, personal relationship with Christ. Do you have that? 

What is a Christian? First, a Christian is a person who has made a choice. Second, a change has taken place in his life. And, third, he has accepted a challenge. I want to emphasize those three things. 

First, a Christian is a person who has made a choice. All the way through the Bible, we are asked to make choices. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden made the wrong choice. They rebelled against God. They chose to try to build their world without God, and they made a terrible, tragic mistake (Genesis 2-3). Our first parents broke God’s law and passed the results of their disobedience on to you and to me. 

We are all capable of sin, and we all sin. David said, “In sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We were born in sin. We are sinners by choice. We are sinners by practice. 

We have to choose. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). He said that only a few people are on the narrow road that leads to Heaven. The vast majority are on a broad road that leads to judgment, destruction and hell. Which road are you on? 

It is what you do about Christ, His cross and His resurrection that counts. If we enter that narrow gate at the cross and the resurrection and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe; I turn from my sins; I’m willing to change my way of living,” we will walk on the narrow road. It may be rocky and rough and tough, but at the end will be Heaven. On that road God will give us new resources—a new power, a new joy and a new love. 

Second, a Christian is a person whose life has been changed. That is done by the Holy Spirit. The moment you receive Christ, the Spirit of God comes to live in your heart. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Christ is the One who performs that act in your life. Has a change taken place in your life? 

People are changed by the renewing of their minds. You act the way you believe. To change from a defeated, problem-oriented person depends on your changing your mind. I’m asking you to change your mind about God, about Christ. Follow Him and find the peace and satisfaction that He gives. 

Third, a Christian is a person who has accepted a challenge. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). In other words, we deny self—our own selfish ambitions, our own selfish, sinful pleasures. Then we turn and take up our cross. What did Jesus mean by that? He is saying that when you go back to your school, back to your neighborhood, back to your work and tell people that you have received Christ, they may laugh at you. They may make fun of you. Maybe your peers and your friends will no longer have anything to do with you. You will pay a price. 

Many of the people who followed Jesus quit following Him when He talked about death. They didn’t understand the deeper meaning of His death and resurrection. They didn’t realize that when He died on the cross and rose again, that was their only hope to have their sins forgiven and to get to Heaven. Christ is the only hope that we have in this life, or in the life to come. 

Some people resist the idea of a choice of any sort. They don’t want to be called “narrow.” But Jesus taught that there are two roads, and you have to choose which road you will take. There are two masters, and you have to choose which master you are going to serve. There are two destinies: Heaven or hell. You have to make a choice. 

God gave His Son, who offers to forgive our sin and give us eternal life, and He sends His Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. We can say “I will,” or “I won’t.” Which will it be for you? That’s the decision we have to make. We cannot travel both roads. Jesus does not allow us to be neutral about Him. He demands that we decide about Him. 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). And Jesus affirmed that declaration. 

Some are reluctant to make a choice because they are not sure that anyone can prove God. No one can prove God. We can’t go to a scientific laboratory and say, “Here is God in a test tube.” We accept God by faith. 

The Bible tells us that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). He created the world (Genesis 1:1). He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). He said, “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). 

But the Bible also says that God is love (1 John 4:8). He loves you. He has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30). He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). And He wants to forgive you. He wants to come into your life and into your home and into your work and into all your relationships and help you. 

Some people raise questions about the Bible. “Can we trust the Bible?” 

Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). God inspired the Bible. I don’t understand everything in the Bible. I accept the Bible by faith as the Word of God. It has changed my life, and it feeds my soul. Every time I read the Bible, it speaks to me. 

I remember the night that I committed my life to Christ. It was at an evangelistic meeting. I went forward, because I deeply wanted Christ. I knew that I really didn’t know Christ, that I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. 

That night I got on my knees beside my bed and I said, “O, God, I don’t know much about what I’ve done tonight, and I certainly don’t know much about You. But what little I do know, please change me and make me a new person.” 

From that night on, I was different. God had taken over my life and began to move in my life in the most marvelous way. 

Some people refuse Christ because of the church. They say, “The church is full of hypocrites.” But there are hypocrites in every area of life. The church is for sinners, saved by the grace of God. In my own power I’m not worthy to be a member of the Body of Christ. But Christ Himself founded the church, and its purpose is to glorify God. 

But I think the main reason people don’t come to Christ is because they don’t want to pay the price. Christ will not compromise. He will not negotiate. You either come by repentance and faith, or you don’t come at all. Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Suppose you had all the wealth in the whole world and lost your soul. Would it be worth it? No. 

You see, your soul is that part of you that will live forever. The decision that you make about Christ is your soul’s eternal destiny. Some people put off that decision. But the Bible says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). 

What do you have to do to make this choice? You have to be willing to say, “God, I’m a sinner.” That is repentance. You have to be willing to turn from sin. Then, by faith, commit your life to Christ and put Him first from now on.  ©1986 BGEA

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. 


When it comes to your eternal destiny, there is no such thing as being neutral. It will either be Heaven or hell. God has made a way for you to know Him and spend eternity with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ. What do you need to do? First, confess your sin and turn away from it. Second, receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, putting your faith in Him alone to save you. You can do that right now. He promises to live in you and transform your life. You can have a new life, a new beginning, if you will surrender to Christ.


You can pray a prayer like this:

“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sin. I want to turn from my sin. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe He died on the cross for my sin and You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”


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Christian Guidance Department

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 

1 Billy Graham Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28201-0001 USA

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Toll-free, 24/7, at 855-255-PRAY. 

Photo: Russ Busby / ©1984 BGEA

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