A Declaration of Biblical Convictions

by Bill Rudge

Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).

Those with strong biblical convictions will not participate in activities and conversations which dishonor our Lord. We will not sit by in silence as Jesus Christ is maligned and ridiculed. We will not compromise our standards to please others or refrain from witnessing while people around us wander in confusion – dying before our very eyes. We will not just sit there passively and watch our loved ones be seduced by the spirit of this age. We will – we must – speak up and say something – even if it offends. It is better to offend others and be disliked now, than to be praised for conforming to the world and compromising convictions, but to be hated later for not warning them and telling the truth.

The Word of God calls us to be loving, gracious and non-judgmental to those without Christ, but to rebuke and correct those who claim to know Christ yet deny Him with their words or behavior, thereby leading others astray. When conversations become unprofitable, photos become crass or behaviors become licentious, we will excuse ourselves. Likewise, when professing Christians flaunt their supposed liberties for alcohol consumption … or display immoral conduct – all in the name of freedom – we will quickly depart.

Tolerance is not compassion and being non-judgmental is not the same as love. In the face of potential disaster, love compels us to warn of impending consequences. Our hearts are troubled and grieved as the moral values and lifestyles of our culture drift further and further from God’s standard. At the risk of seeming antisocial, we will not participate in unprofitable and degrading conversations or involve ourselves in behaviors and lifestyles that dishonor the Lord, even though our culture accepts them as normal.

Through Christ we will stand strong in the midst of accelerating apostasy and intensifying persecution. We will not compromise our biblical values or commitment to Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that we remain faithful to the end, being powerful and effective witnesses to those who have ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to receive what the Spirit and Word are saying to this end-times’ generation.

The White Stone

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The apostle Paul sets an example for believers in Jesus Christ to stand firm with conviction in regard to what the Bible has to say on sexuality. Yet, countless Christians are clueless concerning what it means to live a holy and righteous life. Many youth and young adults make their decisions about what is right and wrong based upon the relativity of circumstance rather than the absolute authority of God’s Word.

The message of the Gospel is compromised and weakened because of the sexual immorality among professing Christians. For example, a Muslim soccer coach confessed to me that he closed his ears to the Gospel message because of the rampant immorality that plagues the lives of many supposed Christians he has met.

If the church is unwilling to repent and continues to tolerate immoral behavior, its ability to be the “light of the world” will fade into extinction. Our Lord Jesus warned the church at Pergamum not to tolerate teachings that endorse sexually immoral behavior (Revelation 2:14-16).

Like the church at Pergamum in the first century, the church today needs to repent of its immorality. If we do, then just as Pergamum was promised a white stone for overcoming, we too will be given a white stone (Revelation 2:17). What is this white stone? An athlete at that time, after winning a competition, was awarded a white stone – an admission pass to the winner’s celebration. So too, believers who overcome will receive a white stone; their admission pass to Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

From Christian to New Age Spirituality

by Bill Rudge

During a recent flight I sat beside a woman who had graduated from a conservative Christian College where she met her husband. They first attended a Baptist church, then a non-denominational community church for many years. Yet, along with her profession of faith in Jesus and the Bible, she embraced New Age spirituality. I wanted to know why.

Meditation and yoga were the doorways through which her beliefs and practices were completely modified. Diane and her husband no longer attend church because “nature is her sanctuary.” She said she still has encounters with “Jesus” through her meditation and trance channeling. Judgmental people and “negative energy” are something Diane avoids, so if I was going to have an opportunity to share with her, it had to be in a non-confrontational manner. Several times she said how much she enjoyed conversing with me because I was such a positive person and also respectful of her beliefs.

Diane listened intently as I emphasized the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the amazing credibility of the Bible through examples from history, archaeology and prophecy. She agreed, but went on to say that I was limited by the Bible: by looking within, through meditation, and to spirit beings, through trance channeling, she felt she has tapped into knowledge and experiences that surpass and transcend the Bible. In reality, however, her scope is limited to subjective experiences, while I possess the unfathomable depth and riches of God’s Word with its amazing evidence in backing up its authority and truth. It will take an eternity to discover the magnificence of God and the wonders of the universe He has created!

I asked Diane by what authority she based her beliefs and eternal destiny? She said it was her inner peace from harmony with nature, a love and acceptance of all things (except biblical Christianity) and her experiences with the spirit entities.

“What about those who never heard of Jesus Christ?” Diane asked. I told her, “God is a merciful God who would move heaven and earth to reach anyone who has a desire to know Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’” I then shared some accounts of miraculous conversions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and others. “What would God have to do,” I asked, “to convince you that Jesus Christ really is the only way?” Unable (or unwilling) to answer she merely said that her experiences and the spirit guides she encounters through meditation and trance channeling affirm that all ways lead to God.

“Consider the possibility” I stated, “that according to the Bible, the entities you are encountering could be demonic beings who are propagating a deception.” She insisted this was an impossibility because they were so loving and peaceful in her experiences with them. “Besides,” she said, “I am also having encounters with Jesus through my meditation and channeling.” I responded, “The apostle Paul warned about another Jesus…” but she interrupted to say that Paul is negative and judgmental. I retorted that we all have to make judgments every day in the decisions we make concerning what we do or don’t do and what we believe or don’t believe.

I brought up the afterlife and the biblical requirement to enter Heaven. Diane indicated her belief in reincarnation. She will keep coming back until she gets it right just as Jesus was reincarnated several times before He became the Christ. I responded with Hebrews 9:27: “It is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment.” Yet Diane assured me she will see me in heaven, as well as everyone else who believes in peace and unity. I said, “If you are right Diane, I will make it into your Heaven because of my positive faith and lifestyle, but if the Bible is accurate (and I am convinced it is) then those who do not accept God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ will be excluded. No wonder Jesus said that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when they realize what they have forfeited.”

In reply she said, “God would never say to anyone, ‘No, no, you can’t enter.’ He will welcome everyone.” So I countered, “Suppose someone walks into your house and decides to move in. You will say, ‘I don’t know you, so please leave!’ Likewise, a righteous and holy God must exclude sin from His eternal Kingdom. Without Christ’s shed blood we all fall far short.” It was ironic that exactly when I said, “The blood of Jesus is our only means of salvation,” she spilled tomato juice all over her lap. As she wiped up the spill with napkins I said, “This will serve as a constant reminder to you that salvation is only through the blood of Jesus Christ.” She smiled squeamishly.

As we reached our destination, we were both amazed how fast time passed, enjoying our conversation for the entire two-hour flight. While she felt the universe brought us together to “expand” my mind and beliefs, I am convinced God put us together for a greater purpose. I pray God’s Spirit draws her back to Jesus Christ – not a New Age Jesus but the Jesus of the Bible. And I do hope to see her again…in Heaven.

The Temple of Artemis

A Lesson for Us Today from the Church at Ephesus
“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Rev. 2:7

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

214 Ephesus was an important seaport city of the Roman province of Asia. It was the home of the famous temple of Artemis. As one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the temple of Artemis attracted pilgrims from all over the Roman empire. The temple played a central role in the life of Ephesus, not only as a place of worship, but also serving as a bank. Those who lived in Ephesus were extremely loyal to Artemis as recorded in Paul’s encounter with Demetrius in Acts 19.

The apostle Paul commissioned Timothy to oversee the church at Ephesus. One particular problem that Timothy faced in addition to the influence of Artemis, was the infiltration of false teachings into the church. Paul admonished Timothy to remain steadfast to what he had been taught:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Paul knew it was the Word of God which would give Timothy and the church at Ephesus the spiritual discernment and strength it needed to remain true to the faith.

Just like Timothy, we find ourselves being bombarded today by a panoply of spiritual teachings; we are surrounded by a smorgasbord of beliefs. In the midst of this plurality of teachings, how do we spiritually discern what is and what is not of the Truth? People I encounter often use the “Jesus rule,” trying to answer this question. As long as what is being taught mentions Jesus enough times, then surely it must be right! Others appeal to their subjective experience and conclude that if it makes them feel better or closer to God, then it must be right.

However, proclaiming the name of Jesus and subjective experience are, in themselves, insufficient to avoid the deception of false teaching. An objective standard by which to spiritually discern the array of teachings and practices around us is required. In the case of the Christian, God has given us this objective standard — the Word of God. Just as Paul urged Timothy and the church at Ephesus to be equipped with the truth of Scripture, so must believers today.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to go to Turkey and visit the ancient city of Ephesus. I was amazed at how this leading city of the past was merely a pile of rubble. All that was left of the temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) was a single standing column. As I looked upon the stone and marble, I realized that the church at Ephesus, which once stood for the Truth in this city of religious pluralism, was now among the ruins of the past.

Many Christians today are caught up in the various spiritual teachings of our time. With little or no discernment, they run from one idea to another and from one mystical experience to the next. This lack of spiritual discernment by the church today will come to a sad end — just as in Ephesus. Unless we are grounded in God’s Word, we will not have the spiritual maturity needed to escape the spiritually counterfeit dangers of our time.

Lest we suffer the same tragic fate as the church at Ephesus, we must maintain a love and passion for Jesus Christ by never leaving our first love (Revelation 2:4). My prayer is that all believers discern and reject the infiltration of false teaching. We must study, search and reflect upon Scripture, then apply it to our daily lives. It is reassuring to know that biblical Christians are overcomers who will be granted the right to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).

Strive for Integrity

“May integrity and uprightness protect me.”   Psalm 25:21

Bobby Jones is considered one of history’s greatest golfers. But more than all his victories on the golf course, he’s famous for what happened in the 1925 U.S. Open. He inadvertently touched his ball and assessed himself a one-stroke penalty, even though no one else saw him touch the ball. But he couldn’t violate his conscience. And by assessing himself that penalty, he lost the Open by that one stroke. When tournament officials tried to compliment him for his integrity, Jones simply said, “You might as well praise me for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play this game.”

Bobby Jones played by the rules. Period. And in doing so, he honored the integrity of the game. One sportswriter wrote, “In the opinion of many people, of all the great athletes, Bobby Jones came the closest to being what we call a great man.”

Jones could have won the tournament, but he would have lost his integrity. And winning the U.S. Open wasn’t worth a one-stroke penalty on his integrity. That’s epic integrity! And that’s something to be celebrated. We live in a culture that celebrates talent more than integrity, but we’ve got it backwards. Talent depreciates over time. So do intellect and appearance. You will eventually lose your strength and your looks. You may even lose your mind. But you don’t have to lose your integrity. Integrity is the only thing that doesn’t depreciate over time. Nothing takes longer to build than a godly reputation—and nothing is destroyed more quickly by one stroke of sin. That’s why your integrity must be celebrated and protected above all else.

The Word For You Today, Bob Gass Ministries

Do You Have Abilities God Can Use?

by Jim Weikal

“Select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will give them this responsibility.”  (Acts 6:3)

Do you have any abilities God can use? Too often believers shrink back from a “God-calling” because they feel less gifted than others. But think about these points:

1. Do you share our Lord’s interest in the kingdom of God? . . . Yes.

2. Do you have a sense of loyalty to Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for your sin? . . . Yes.

3. Do you desire to see God’s kingdom grow by adding repentant sinners? . . . Yes.

4. Do you trust God’s wisdom in selecting people to work in His kingdom? . . . Yes.

If God put these positive responses in your heart, wouldn’t He equip you with the ability to fulfill them? The church needs Timothies and Tituses. Not everyone needs to be a Paul or Peter. It needs unknowns like Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia. Please put your abilities to work for Christ. You will be glad you did!