The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September, 2022, a renowned and unashamed follower of Christ, denotes the passing of the last of the four greatest international evangelists* of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. Billy Graham died in 2018, Reinhard Bonnke in 2019, and Louis Palau in 2021.
Always a committed believer, it was in the millennium year that Queen Elizabeth II began to proclaim the coming of Christ more overtly. Her Christmas broadcast in 2000 was heard by 28 million people and was entirely taken up with the subject of the impact of Jesus which, she said, “provides a framework in which I try to lead my life”. There are many other examples, particularly from the last two decades of her reign:
“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (2011)
“…we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.” (2012)
“The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.” (2013)
“Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.” (2014)
“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.” (2016)
Following in the faith of her father King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II had a strong Christian faith that was evident throughout her life in her words, her actions, her speeches, and in her position as ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’, which came with the role of monarch. But her personal faith was very evident well before she was crowned Queen.
A Godly Legacy
Queen Elizabeth II had a great example in her father. King George VI was of course responsible for the seven official days of national prayer called during the six-years of World War Two. It has been mistakenly assumed that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who announced the days of national prayer, had instigated them. The godly King called for the first National Day of Prayer in 1940 when the allied forces were besieged and cornered at Dunkirk.
When she became Queen, Elizabeth II asked the people of the Commonwealth to pray for her:
‘Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.’
The Queen’s personal faith prompted her to strive for peace and reconciliation both internationally and in her own family. In 2011 she said, “Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.”
Prince Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten, had been assassinated by the IRA, but this did not stop the gracious Queen from shaking hands with the IRA’s political leader Martin McGuinness in a gesture seen as a vital step in securing reconciliation between nationalists and unionists in the Northern Ireland.
Christ’s example and teaching were seen to be acted out in the dutiful and faithful life of the servant-hearted Queen.
In 2021, her own family life was rocked by an interview with Oprah Winfrey given by Prince Harry and Meghan. Queen Elizabeth responded with the same spirit of love and forgiveness she always portrayed saying, “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”
That same year she concluded what was to be her last Christmas broadcast by praying for her people and inviting all to give a practical, servant-hearted response to Jesus Christ’s message of love, peace and forgiveness:
“This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only Son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others. The carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter” ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service:
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man, I would do my part…
‘The carol gives the answer, ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.
The Biggest Evangelistic Event in World History
The death of the beloved Queen, who reigned for an amazing seventy years, proved to be her most powerful and far reaching message of all. Prior to the Queen’s funeral, the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics held the record for the largest global TV audience with an estimated 3.6 billion viewers. But the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on 19th September 2022 well and truly broke that record with 4.1 billion viewers across the world, including 37.5 million watching the event on TV in the UK alone. It is also the first time in history that over half of the world’s population (currently 7.753 billion) heard the gospel all at once! It was an evangelistic funeral service which she had planned herself, making it the largest sharing of the Christian gospel in world history. The Queen had chosen all of the Bible verses and Archbishop Justin Welby proclaimed the gospel clearly in his address:
“Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed… Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Powerful Bible Verses
The UK Prime Minister Liz Truss read the words of Jesus from the gospel of John chapter 14,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Baroness Scotland read the words of St Paul from 1 Corinthians 15,
“And so, ‘O death, where is your sting? ‘O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ …’
God’s plan is Life, not Death
The declaration given in the book of Deuteronomy is: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into the world and declared, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Twenty one years (to the month) before the Queen’s powerful message of love and life to over half of the world’s population, the cynical killers from Al Qaeda proclaimed a message of death to all who would not follow their rigid and oppressive version of religion by murdering 2,996 innocent people, including dozens of Moslems. Over 500,000 people have been murdered in terrorist attacks since 9/11. It was almost as if the day of the Queen’s funeral were righting a terrible wrong in the world, a lie that was cynically enacted in the name of “God” those twenty-one years before.
Jesus Christ came to show us all what God is really like. Christ is the epitome of love, life, selflessness, kindness and mercy. Queen Elizabeth II was determined to let as many people as possible hear the message of Christ and that is exactly what she did through her own funeral. What outstanding foresight she had.
Alongside the Queen’s proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ through her lifestyle, her words, and her position as ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,’ the sermon given by Archbishop Justin Welby was unequivocal. Along with the various passages from the Bible, the message seen and heard by 53% of the world’s population on 19th September 2022 was that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” and that nobody can be saved and enter eternal life with the Father in heaven except through putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the “Saviour of the World”.
St John (or ‘Apostle John’) was one of the twelve original disciples who lived and served with Jesus. John wrote:
“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:13-16)
The Last Great Gospel Proclamation?
The Queen’s funeral, with the Gospel (“Good News”) clearly preached to over half of the world’s population, could be the final mass proclamation of Christian faith to the world. Jesus said that we would not know “the day or the hour” on which He would come, but we will know the season. The state of the world during the time of his return is denoted in Matthew chapter 24, and verses 12 to 14 seem to be particularly pertinent to this ‘season:’
“…many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be out of control everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:11b-14)
If this amazing proclamation by HM Queen Elizabeth II has stirred in you a desire to seek the God whom she so faithfully worshipped, please refer to the pages “Our World” and “Contact” where there is guidance on how to pray to God and how to commit your life to Him.
Story by Ralph Burden
*evangelist: “Greek root euangelizesthai, meaning “bringer of good news.”
*Photo of Queen Elizabeth II taken by unknown photographer in 1959 for the Government of Canada. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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