Billy Graham recently told an individual struggling with the burden of their sin to take comfort in the reality that God is willing and able to forgive all transgressions - except for one.
In a Q&A published in the Kansas City Star earlier this week, the 97-year-old evangelist encouraged a reader, simply known as J.F.D., that God's capacity to forgive is endless.
"How many sins can you list that God won't ever forgive? I worry about this, because I know I've not been a very good person, and some of the things I've done are probably on that list," J.F.D. told the publication.
Graham responded, "Only one sin that can't be forgiven is on God's list - and that is the sin of rejecting Him and refusing His offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. This alone is the unforgivable sin, because it means we are saying that the Holy Spirit's witness about Jesus is a lie (see Luke 12:10)."
There are several reasons why it is so serious to reject Christ, Graham revealed.
"The reason, first of all, is because of who He was. He wasn't just another religious teacher; He was God in human flesh - but when we deny this, we limit Him and assume He is unable to save us. But the Bible is clear: "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known" (John 1:18)," he wrote.
The primary reason it's so serious to reject Christ, however, is because He is God's appointed means of salvation, Graham contended.
"Our greatest need is to have our sins forgiven; if we don't, we have no reason to expect God to welcome us into Heaven. But by His death and resurrection Christ provided the way for us to be forgiven and cleansed of all our sins."
The pastor explained that the most important thing an individual can do is confess their sin humbly before God and ask for His forgiveness.
"Don't turn your back on Christ or refuse His offer of forgiveness. Instead, by a simple prayer of faith, ask Him to come into your life today - and He will. Think of it: Before you go to bed tonight, you can know that God has forgiven every sin you ever committed! Commit your life to Christ without delay," he concluded.
The Kansas City Star often published such Q&A's between readers and Graham, who recently released his latest book, Where I am: Heaven, Eternity and Our Life Beyond.
Earlier in October, Graham comforted a reader struggling with the recent death of their mother, who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, reminding them that even if others don't understand their grief, God does.
"The hardest part has been having people tell me what a blessing it was that she died, since she'd suffered so much. Well, maybe so, but don't they realize how much I miss her? Hardly anyone ever expresses any concern for my loss," the reader, N.R., wrote.
Graham responded in part, "Even if others don't understand your grief, God does - and he wants to assure you of his constant love and presence. If you have never done so, turn to Christ and welcome him into your life. You can trust his promise: 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted' (Matthew 5:4).
He continued, "In addition, don't hesitate to share your grief with a few close friends or relatives. They'll understand your hurt, and they'll want to help share your burden. The Bible says, 'Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).'"
Although Graham has made very few public appearances due to physical complications related to Parkinson's disease, his son, Franklin, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren last month that his father's health is the best it has been in awhile.
"I think he's probably doing better now than he has in months. He's just got energy," Graham said. " ... This Sunday I walked in and I said, 'Daddy, this is Franklin,' and he said, 'Oh son, where have you been? It's good to see you.' He'll want to talk about different things, so he's doing pretty good."