Without Excuse

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I have met many atheists, such as my former college professor who vehemently denied the existence of anything outside the natural world. He spent the whole semester trying to demonstrate the foolishness of believing in God and the Bible. From his perspective, faith in God was devoid of sound reasoning and mere wishful thinking. Although I earned his respect and we had some profitable discussions, he died several years later as a lonely alcoholic.

Many atheists, agnostics and freethinkers claim they have come to their conclusion through rational thinking and by thoroughly examining all the evidence. Despite not having the ability to know everything and be everywhere at the same time, they are certain God does not exist. They often portray themselves as being enlightened and intellectually superior, while those who believe in the existence of God are, in their estimation, delusional and in need of a spiritual crutch.

Atheism leads to self-centered worship,

where man, not God, becomes

the center of the universe.

However, Scripture indicates they are the real fools (Psalm 14:1) and are “without excuse” for denying God’s reality. Consider the insightful words of the apostle Paul:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20).

As Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, not only has God instilled within each individual a conscience that bears witness to His existence, He has revealed His reality through His creation. On the Day of Judgment people will be “without excuse,” or anapologetous in the Greek (“without a defense”) for rejecting God because of a supposed lack of evidence. There is more than sufficient proof that He exists.

The Real Reason

While I have heard many arguments against the existence of God, most admitted their initial reasons for rejecting God were of a personal nature such as unanswered prayer, suffering and pain or unwillingness to change immoral behavior. For instance, while at a soccer clinic I met a man named John. Every time someone would bring up the subject of God, John would get very agitated and start yelling that God did not exist and all religions were false.

After a few days of his ranting, I had a chance to talk with John alone. During our conversation, I discovered why he was so hostile: He had family members who were survivors of the Holocaust, and he could not understand why God allowed this atrocious event to happen. Thus, behind all of his arguments and hostile feelings, John was denying God’s existence because of the pain and suffering his family endured.

The apostle Paul goes on to talk about the second step people take after rejecting God: substituting the worship of the true God to worship something within creation:

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25).

When someone refuses to acknowledge the true God, he sets himself up as God. In essence, atheism leads to self-centered worship, where man, not God, becomes the center of the universe. This is the way John lived his life: He became accountable only to himself. He lived a life of self-indulgence as he pursued all forms of temporal pleasures seeking to find lasting fulfillment. Despite all of his attempts, he admitted he still felt a void in his life and a yearning to find purpose and meaning to his existence.

As John and I continued our conversation, I was able to share with him why I believed in Jesus Christ. I explained how my faith was not a blind leap in the dark but was supported by evidence. I specifically detailed the various Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus as well as the historical evidence that surrounded His resurrection. When we were done with our conversation, this man who had been so hostile toward God and Christianity looked at me and said, “I never knew there was evidence to verify the Christian faith. In all my dealing with Christians, they never once took the time to share this information with me.”

As the week of the clinic moved on, I continued to build a relationship with John. A few weeks later I received an e-mail: John shared how much our conversation touched his life and that he was now open to further investigation. He closed by stating that just as in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey had impacted the lives of others; so too I had been a George Bailey in his life.

The following are three important principles I use when dealing with self-professing atheists such as John: First, be ready to give a reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). You never know when a John will come across your path. Second, speak the truth in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Your motivation should be to represent Christ, not trying to win an argument. Third, get beyond what is being said to understand why it is being said. Remember, behind every argument and hostile feeling is a person like John, who is hurting and in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 17).

From Planned Suicide to Salvation

The Bob Davis Story

by Darlinda McDonald

The seeds of faith that Bill Rudge planted in the 1970s bore fruit when one Sunday morning Bob Davis laid down his gun and decided to go to church. That very day he found salvation.

It has been 10 years this month since Bob Davis’ plan to end his life was foiled. Bob tells it this way:

057

Bill Rudge and Bob Davis sparring at Mt. Vernon YMCA in 1975.

In the summer of 2007, my wife Sally had started going to a local church in Mount Vernon, Ohio (Grace Community) but I chose not to go. I had started planning my own demise early in 2007 as I was just fed up with life. About two miles outside of town in the semi-flat farmland is a beautiful road known as Green Valley Road.

There is a one-mile stretch that is straight and then does a very hard 90-degree right turn. At the end of the straight stretch was a very large old tree and I figured that 85 miles per hour into that tree would solve all my problems. I decided to do a test run and much to my dismay discovered the tree had been cut down.

Later that summer, September 16 to be exact, after my wife Sally had gone to church, I headed out of town with one 9mm round that I had hand-loaded into my gun and written my name on with a Sharpie pen. As I reached the edge of town I suddenly began to wonder, “What am I trying to prove?” I turned around and headed to Grace Community Church. Three times I stopped but got there just as the service began. After the service I met with the pastor and found salvation.

Later that day the church was having a dinner in the park, which happened to be across the street from our house. I approached the pastor and gave him my “personalized 9mm round” which he still has and uses its story to help others.

Bob says there were three important “seed planters” in his life – his grandmother, his friend Jerry, and Bill Rudge. Bob’s grandmother planted seeds of faith throughout his life and often told her grandson that she knew he would be saved. However, she died in the 1980s and, unfortunately, did not live to see his conversion.

In the 1960s, Bob’s best friend Jerry asked him to join him in starting a band. Bob played the drums and Jerry sang in what evolved into the very successful band, Nomads. Jerry was another Christian who was a seed planter in Bob’s life.

It was in the mid-1970s that Bob met Bill Rudge. Bob was seeking a karate instructor at the time. When a friend told him about Bill, he said, “Who’s Bill Rudge?” Bob’s friend replied that Bill was a student at Mt. Vernon Bible College so Bob drove out to Bill and Karen’s mobile home right away. He took lessons from Bill who tried to “turn him onto Christ” but Bob says he didn’t care to hear about God at that time. Bill and Bob practiced martial arts together for several months as Bill continued to plant seeds of faith. These seeds took some time to grow but they did grow.

Bill graduated from Bible college and moved to North Carolina and then Pennsylvania. Bill would visit Bob every so often and give him the latest books he had written. Bob continued his martial arts training and became a Black Belt instructor before quitting years later.

Bob has experienced much pain in his life. Four of his six stepchildren have died, two before Bob became a Christian. His son, Kerry, was involved in drugs and committed suicide soon after he had an argument with Bob. In 1997, his son Greg died from lung cancer, 13 years after he was cured of thymus gland cancer. Bob became a Christian before his son Ted died of a heart attack in 2008. Then, on January 13, 2015, his daughter Gretchen died suddenly at work. An autopsy revealed a previously undetected defective heart valve. Over 1300 people attended her calling hours.

Earlier this year Bob had been praying that God would give him a sign that He was still with him. The next morning Bill unexpectedly showed up at Bob and Sally’s house in Mount Vernon. Bill had “suddenly” changed travel plans because he felt led to see Bob. In hindsight, Bob realizes that God has always had His hand on him and is grateful for the part that Bill Rudge has played in his life. Bob commented that Bill and Karen are two of the most faithful he has ever met and he thanks these “farmers” – sowers of seeds.

But Bill is even more amazed by the way Jesus has transformed Bob’s life. God’s grace has kept Bob and Sally steadfast through all their trials and tribulations. In spite of the many heartaches, Bob and Sally Davis faithfully serve Jesus Christ as they excitedly await His soon return.