The Unknown Book

By Dr. William Blythe Robinson

If someone were to ask you what you thought was the most unknown book in the world, what would be your answer? What if someone told you that the most unknown book in the world was publicly recognized by one of the world’s greatest literary scholars (Mortimer J. Adler) as one of the greatest books in all of human history and is still the number one best seller in the world? It’s possible that people may know its name but have no actual first-hand knowledge of its contents. That book is the Bible, yet few know that it is God’s Divine Library of 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

Here are some facts: the Bible is miraculous in its origin from divine inspiration; it is the voice of God Incarnate. Its harmonious parts were written over a period of 1600 years, with about 40 different authors from different parts of the world with different languages. Yet, the Bible remains one book: one history, one story – His story. Its durability transcends the centuries of attacks upon it. Its transforming power for good over the lives of all who accept it, continues. Few realize that it is the most expensive book in the world. It has cost the lives of untold thousands who gave their lives through the ages to preserve it and pass it on unchanged to you.

I had never read the Bible when I was in school. That changed, however, when I was drawn to a very attractive Catholic girl. I thought I knew enough about the Bible to start a conversation with her because I had attended a few Bible-believing churches. However, I soon found myself disagreeing with her when she said that her church was the “only true church.” With great confidence I set out to prove that the Bible said, “Go to the church of your choice.”

I started reading Matthew and completed the New Testament never finding the verse I had so confidently proclaimed to be true. This was a life altering experience for me.

First, I made the profound discovery that all the issues that I had been arguing about and that seemed so important did not even exist in the pages of the New Testament.

The second unbelievable discovery was that New Testament Christianity was so totally different from today’s organized religion. Out of my experience came one unshaken conviction: the best-known book in the world was in reality an unknown book. This was a fact that I had never even considered until I had read it for myself. An attractive girl had attracted me to this unknown book. Now I love both the book and its author. Since then I have continued to learn its transforming story.

The third thing that I learned was that you can prove most anything by the Bible if you don’t truly know its contents for yourself.

The fourth thing I learned was that the Bible is all around us, often hidden away and unused, such as the Gideon Bibles that are tucked away, out of sight, in motel rooms. Today, the Bible is unknown in our society at large and in our schools and some of our churches in particular. Hosea 4:6 warns, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

The fifth thing that I learned was that the contents of those 66 books will judge all mankind someday as it says in Revelation 20:12: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened…and the dead were judged out of…the books according to their works.” Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The standard of judgment is found in John 12:48: “He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that will judge him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Revelation 20:15 is simply horrifying.

Today the Bible’s voice is but a faint echo in the halls of America’s history. Having been labeled “politically incorrect,” its message and prayers are banned in public schools. Yet our Presidents are sworn in on it in public in His name. In connection with this, it’s rarely known that in 1892 the Supreme Court declared America to be a “Christian nation” and this has never been rescinded. Why is the Bible, today, treated like an enemy that we must defy? What harm can its loving message inflict upon our children? What damage has it done to generations who were, in generations past, raised upon its teachings, both in our homes and in our schools, on television and in the older movies? What manner of life or course of conduct does it inspire that would not be desirable? Why have we turned our backs upon this book and left it alone to die? What qualities does it have to make it deserve ignoring? Why have churches turned from the Bible to creeds and theology? Why do so few carry it to church? Why have the ones who say it is God’s book denied its basic truth by their lives? Why are there so many ministers preaching sermons that leave us empty in our heads and hearts regarding the greatest book in the world? Regardless of how we got to where we are today, the Bible in America remains an unknown book to the multitudes.

About a week before his death, Sir Walter Scott said to his son-in-law, Lockhart, “Read to me from the Book.” And when Lockhart asked him from what book, Scott said, “Need you ask? There is but one.”

Long before his death Scott acknowledged the following:

  1. The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, doom of sinners, and happiness of believers.
  2. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
  3. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.
  4. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter.
  5. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.
  6. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disposed.
  7. Christ is its Grand Subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.
  8. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.
  9. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.
  10. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.
  11. It is given you in life, will be opened in Judgment and be remembered forever.
  12. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy contents.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

 

As a sophomore in high school, Bill Rudge was assigned Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” to read. Bill was a rebellious soul and the poem caused him to start thinking about taking the road “less traveled” rather than yield to the peer pressure of his friends. Even though Bill had not yet come to know the LORD, God was preparing him even then to learn how to stand alone.

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:

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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.

Racial Reconciliation in Tumultuous Times

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

It is apparent as we watch today’s national news coverage of current events that we still have a far way to go as a nation with racial reconciliation. Even though we have made many great strides in this area, the language and actions displayed by many Americans clearly show that we have room to improve. Of course, it’s easy to identify a problem; the challenge is trying to determine how to solve it. While there are many proposed answers (changing laws, addressing poverty, better education, etc.), it is my opinion that none of these solutions will ultimately succeed unless Jesus Christ is at the center. Only He can truly bring reconciliation and peace in this world. In fact, through His death and resurrection, the entire world will experience reconciliation (Romans 8:20, 21).

While total reconciliation awaits His future return, this does not mean that we cannot experience Christ-centered reconciliation now. In fact, this is the charge that is given to the body of Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; see also Colossians 3:11). The application of this verse is seen in the book of Acts as the early church had to address the issue of racial reconciliation. Here we find the church growing from those who were predominately of Jewish descent to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The climax of this occurred as Peter received a vision and then is called to share the Gospel to Cornelius and his Gentile household (Acts 10). The outpouring of the Spirit upon Cornelius’ household confirmed for Peter that God shows no partiality but accepts people from EVERY nation who fear Him and does what is right (Acts 10:34, 35).

Just as the early church did, the body of Christ today needs to continue to strive toward Christ-centered reconciliation. In fact, we can never expect a change in the culture around us unless it first starts with us. I have witnessed positive and negative examples of how the body of Christ has exemplified Christ-centered reconciliation. On the negative, I heard of a church that had dwindled to fewer than 10 people. Facing the reality of having to close its doors, another church hearing of the situation reached out to help them. While initially this tiny congregation was excited to work with the other church, once they found out this church was comprised of various ethnic groups, they broke off all fellowship. They said they would rather see their church close its doors then have to worship with people from contrasting ethnic backgrounds.

In contrast to this situation, I spoke at a church in Los Angeles. This church truly exemplified Paul’s admonition in Galatians 3:28. Not only did the congregation include members of numerous ethnic backgrounds, but so did the leadership. In this church, these believers were truly united, regardless of their external differences, as brothers and sisters in Christ. They were evidence of Jesus’ prayer being fulfilled, “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20, 21).

So how do we function as a body of Christ where we live out Christ-centered reconciliation? I think there are three things to consider:

First, we need to remember that truth in who Jesus Christ is as revealed in the Word of God is what unites us. In other words, our unity as believers is directly connected to our faith in Jesus Christ. This is the case because it is Christ through the Spirit who baptizes us into one body (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13).

Second, we need to make sure that our unity is maintained by walking in accordance to what Jesus taught. In other words, if we allow sin to permeate our lives, it will begin to erode our fellowship as a body of Christ. As the apostle John taught, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6, 7).

Lastly, our relationship as believers needs to be motivated out of love. As Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How do we love each other? Jesus goes on to answer this in the next verse as He says that we are to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus Himself gave us the clearest demonstration of this type of love, as He went to the cross to take on the punishment that we deserved. What a revolution would happen in our world, if the body of Christ exemplified this same type of love, a love that seeks to put others before ourselves and strives to seek God’s glory in all things.

If we want Christ-centered reconciliation, then let us never forget the words of the apostle Paul, for they remind us what is foundational to all of our relationships, “… SUBMIT to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).

 

The Miracle Continues

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Karen and Bill in the early days of the ministry.

Forty years ago God led Bill and Karen Rudge to begin an incredible journey of faith. In August of 1977, with no money or facilities – only a God-given vision and determination – they began a ministry that was destined to become an international outreach.

While most people thought the goals of this young couple could never be achieved, Bill and Karen believed God would fulfill what He led them to do. God used the very determination Bill had for lifting weights and karate before becoming a Christian and miraculously increased and redirected it for His purpose.

Many of you are witnesses to the miraculous ways the Lord has worked in and through Bill and Karen’s lives and ministry. You are aware of the numerous “giants” and impossible circumstances they have faced and how God intervened to overcome them.

The testimony of Bill and Karen is that the God who called them is faithful. He has protected, provided and fulfilled everything He has led them to do. Bill has documented these throughout the years in various newsletters and for an upcoming book entitled The Impossible.

First Samuel 2:30 says “…those who honor Me I will honor….” From the beginning of this ministry Bill and Karen’s heart desire has been to honor the Lord, obey His Word and be led by His Spirit – and His blessings have surpassed anything they could have ever imagined. Our God is truly amazing and awesome!

The Vision

At the inception of Bill Rudge Ministries (1977), the Lord clearly put on Bill’s heart the vision of a local, national and international ministry. It seemed preposterous in light of their circumstances, but they still shared this dream way back in the January 1979 letter. One excerpt follows:

Our goal for the first five years is to establish a strong foundation and a strong local program that is effectively reaching out to area youth and adults so that within the next five years this ministry will be reaching out on a national level – and within 10 years to reach out on a worldwide level. God will bring this vision and dream to fruition. Many will dream, but few are willing to go through what Bill has and will go through to make this dream a reality. This is our goal and our dream. With your prayers and financial support we will continue to attempt it.

Bill’s Reflections

Many of the people who began supporting us in the early days of the ministry continue to this day. Some have gone on to be with the Lord. Virtually all of our family (parents and siblings, as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins), along with numerous ministry friends, have stood with us throughout the years and made our dream their own.

Karen has worked side by side with me and supported me each step of the way. Our daughter and son have been actively involved from their youth through the present (BJ, as my executive assistant and Tabitha, as a volunteer). Some of the grandchildren assist with the obstacle course and help out in various other capacities.

As we celebrate the ministry’s 40th anniversary in August, we rejoice at how God has done the impossible in fulfilling this miracle. There is no explanation except the Lord’s provision through the generosity of our supporters and their earnest prayers on our behalf. They have had a part in this incredible venture of faith. Karen and I will continue to work for the Lord until He returns or calls us home. We are very grateful for all of our ministry friends and partners.

The Nearest Battle

The following thoughts are by Richard C. Halverson, Former Chaplain of the U. S. Senate (Excerpted with permission from the June 2017 issue of First Assembly of God newsletter, Vol. 20, Issue 6).

Want to be a Winner?

Want to be a winner? Compete against yourself, not somebody else. Beating your partner at golf doesn’t necessarily mean you shot your best game. Outrunning your rival doesn’t mean you ran your best race. You can win over another and still not fulfill your potential.

It’s true in all of life. To be your best, you must compete with yourself. It’s life’s biggest contest.

A loser is a winner…however many his losses…if he conquers himself.

A winner is a loser…however many his victories…if he loses the battle with himself.

Alexander the Great conquered the world, and cursed his own lack of self-control.

Victory May Contribute to Failure

Victory over others may in fact be the very thing that contributes to the winner’s failure to conquer self. Winning makes him proud, arrogant, independent, thoughtless – and sometimes cruel. To put it another way, it isn’t what happens to you that makes the difference, but how you handle it. The one who stops maturing spiritually because he thinks he knows more Scripture than others or has had more success in ministry, is still far from being what Christ has planned for him. If you must compare yourself with another, compare yourself with Christ. Let Him mold and fashion your life into the full potential, the divine original He intends.

On the Upward Way

by Bill Rudge

DSC_0484Recently, our family and friends decided to “rough it” on a two week journey through the western United States. The trip was challenging and oftentimes extremely difficult. However, all the inconveniences were worth it because of the breathtaking landscapes, incredible experiences, and bountiful witnessing opportunities.

This is a reminder to me that although we may face many challenges and difficult times, our lives are also interspersed with unexpected beauty and many blessings. It is a picture of the hope that we will someday inherit all that God has prepared for us, making any suffering or difficulties in this life pale in comparison.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”