Billy Graham has said it's important to believe in Jesus - and not just God the Father - because He is at the "very center" of the Christian faith, and without Him there is no salvation.
The 98-year-old evangelist shared his thoughts on the issue in response to a question posed to him by a reader, identified as "G.A.".
Asked G.A.: "I've always believed in God, but why do I also need to believe in Jesus? Isn't believing in God enough? I guess I don't understand where Jesus fits into the picture."
Graham contended that putting one's faith and trust in Jesus is crucial for two main reasons. First, it is important because of who He was - he wasn't just a great teacher, as Islam teaches, but God in human flesh.
"This may be hard for us to understand - but repeatedly the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was both fully man and fully God," said Graham. "Only Jesus could say, 'I and the Father are one. ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father' (John 10:30; 14:9)."
Second, it's important to place one's faith and trust in Jesus because of what He has done for humanity.
"We have sinned and rebelled against God, but Christ - who was without sin - took upon Himself the judgment and Hell that we deserve," said Graham. "He did this by dying on the cross in our place. As the Bible says, 'For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God' (1 Peter 3:18)."
Graham encouraged readers to "admit that you have sinned against God, and you need His forgiveness" and then "turn in faith to Jesus and trust Him alone for your salvation."
"Thank Him for giving His life for you - and respond by giving your life to Him," the Baptist pastor concluded. "By a simple prayer of faith commit your life to Christ, and then ask Him to help you to trust Him and follow Him every day."
According to a 2013 Harris Poll, while a strong majority (74 percent) of U.S. adults say they believe in God, just 68 percent believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72 percent in earlier years. Another 65 percent believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent.
Similarly, a 2015 Church of England survey found that four in 10 people did not believe Jesus was a real person, with a quarter of 18 to 34 year olds believing he was a mythical or fictional character. A 2017 survey conducted by the BBC for Palm Sunday in Great Britain showed that one in four of those who considered themselves as Christians do not believe the resurrection of Jesus really happened.
John Piper, Christian author and founder of DesiringGod.org, said the Bible greatly emphasized the resurrection of Christ.
"Indeed, there is a lot of emphasis on the demonstration of who Jesus really is, the promised one of God, that the eternal Son of God, the one who is Lord of all is precisely grounded in the historical witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ," Piper wrote.
He added that the Christian faith hinged on the resurrection, which established Jesus as "the reigning Lord."
"And all of God's sovereignty is mediated through Christ Jesus, who is the mediator of God's authority in every domain in this age until he has crushed his last enemy," Piper wrote. "And the last enemy to be destroyed, we are told, in 1 Corinthians 15:26, is death itself. And all of this hinges on the resurrection of Christ Jesus."