November 18, 2020 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Will Graham (’97), a son of Franklin Graham who serves as vice president and associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), became the third member of the Graham family to speak in a Liberty University Convocation this semester on Wednesday, using a short Bible verse to launch a message calling students to be ready to serve God on any scale.
Will was preceded on the Convocation stage this fall by his father on Sept. 16 and sister, Cissie, on Nov. 4. The Graham family has a longtime association with Liberty, dating back to Billy Graham’s work with the university’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, and Will is among multiple members of the family who have attended Liberty. Will is also a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees.
Graham’s message focused on a short verse, Romans 16:22, the Bible’s only mention of Tertius, who transcribed Paul’s dictated letter to Rome when the apostle’s eyes had deteriorated. The verse only states, “I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord,” but Graham used it to illustrate the humble approach to work and ministry that God asks of his followers.
Tertius’ name in Greek means “third,” Graham explained, and he was also the third in line in the moment of writing Romans; he was serving Paul, who was serving God. Tertius was given the task of recording one of the most influential books of the Bible, and he was ready to work and seize the opportunity without reservation.
“Tertius saw this as a God-given opportunity, a sacred moment in time … and he wasn’t about to waste it,” Graham said. “He had no agenda except to be faithful in doing what Paul asked for (him to do). He accepted his supporting role with faith and maturity … and all of history remembers his one act, his one moment in history, to faithfully write down one of the most important books in all of the New Testament.”
Graham elaborated on the fact that Tertius was available to respond to the call, he was prepared both with the supplies and the work ethic, and he was dedicated to what God asked of him. As a result, Tertius was given the opportunity to sit directly under Paul’s teaching.
“He learned about law and sin, how to be sanctified and have his mind continually renewed on a daily basis, and he understood the redemptive work of Christ and what Jesus did on that cross,” Graham said. “He learned that even as a Gentile he was part of God’s plan.”
In closing, Graham outlined ways students can learn from Tertius’ brief, yet impactful, role in God’s plan: authentically embrace being “the third” in service of God, be available and loyal to what God asks of us, and “be faithful in the little things.”
“It’s not about being No. 1 because you’ll never be No. 1 — God is No. 1. So I want to encourage you to be that faithful third,” he said. “When we are faithful in those things, we’ll get the honorable mention by God himself when He says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’”