But the horrific events that put father and son in the hospital room in Fort Worth, Texas, opened a door to an unseen spiritual war, one waged beyond the church's familiar teachings on salvation and personal evangelism and rebellion and sin. For many, including Jack Graham, church and faith existed in the natural realm and "Spirit-led anything was relegated to the snake-handlers at the church down the street."
But that was before a thief bludgeoned his father with a hammer outside the hardware store he managed, and before the young preacher went to a hospital chapel, emotionally broken, asking the biggest question in life: Why Father, why did this happen?
The search for answers took Graham deep into this unseen world, a world that clearly exists in the Bible but one that is unfamiliar to many professing Christians. Is Satan real or merely a representation of evil? Is the Holy Spirit a true part of the Trinity or just a symbol of God's presence?
For Graham, the existence of the supernatural world is unmistakable, stirring led him to write "Unseen: Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell and Winning the Battle for Eternity" (Bethany House Publishers, 2013), his latest book and the one he calls his most important.
"There's more to life than what we see," Graham said. "And the world as we know it, as we see it, is passing away. But the invisible world with angels, demons, heaven and hell is forever."
The apostle Paul warned of "principalities and powers and rulers of the dark places" in the book of Ephesians, and Graham said he sees that battle in the culture wars of America today.
"I'm praying that God will use this book to wake us up to this war," he said. "Because you and in particular your family is in the killing zone…. The more you love Jesus and serve Him, the more you will find yourself in the battle."
For believers, facing these unseen forces is inevitable, Graham said.
"Life for the Christian is not a playground, it is a battleground," he noted. "And if we are faithful followers of Jesus, then we will face the flak, we will face the fire in our lives. Satan shows up every time we show up with the Gospel."
While Americans share a fascination for the supernatural -- from angels to superheroes -- people tend to tuck those into the world of entertainment and fantasy. Preaching the reality of the unseen world and all that is at stake in the battle is a far more difficult quest.
But Graham says it is crucial, and the rewards are beyond our imaginations. He offers the testimony of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as a great hope for believers.
As Stephen was stoned in the presence of Saul of Tarsus, battered with huge stones and rocks, Graham said "he's looking up into heaven and he said … 'I see Jesus standing! I see the glory of Jesus at the right hand of the throne, standing!'
"He looked beyond this world into the unseen world that is very, very real. It's all around us. But by faith, with the eyes of his heart, he looked into heaven, and in his suffering, in his dying, he sees Jesus, standing!"
Berta Delgado-Young is editor in Prestonwood Baptist Church's communications ministry. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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