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 great strides in this area, the language and actions displayed by many Americans clearly shows 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. These situations only deal with the symptoms of racial discrimination, attempting to modify people’s behavior. In contrast, Jesus deals with the core issue that lies at the heart of sinful individuals. Thus, 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 continually 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 about a church that had dwindled to fewer than 10 people and faced the reality they would have to close its doors. Upon hearing of their situation, another church reached out to help them. While initially the tiny congregation was excited to work with the other church, they broke off all fellowship after they found out this church was comprised of various ethnic groups. They said they would rather see their church close its doors than 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).

Three Questions – Video

At the age of 18 Bill Rudge searched for the answers to three crucial questions. He didn’t think he needed Jesus Christ, but God had other plans. This challenging message was excerpted from the dedication of the Bible Discoveries Museum. To view video, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG9CYi9coL8.

It’s the Last Days…

… and you get drunk and abuse others (Matthew 24:48 – 51).

… horde vast amounts of finances and resources (James 5:3).

… squander opportunities to be a witness for Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:14).

… mock the coming of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:3, 4).

… live in wanton pleasure (James 5:5; 2 Peter 3:11; 1 John 3:2, 3).

But it’s not yet too late to heed the words of Jesus to the church in Laodicea:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19).

Also, God’s words to Solomon are relevant for us today:

When I [the LORD] shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14).

~ Bill Rudge Ministries

Will God Forgive Anything?

A man nearing the age of 70 who had squandered his life, told me he had asked the Lord to forgive him many times over the years. But after repeated failures, he felt he could never be forgiven for all he had done and was doomed eternally.

The Lord instantly spoke to my heart the following words – “There is no sin the Lord cannot forgive, except the sin that is not asked to be forgiven.”
This man who had fallen into hopeless despair for his wasted life, accepted, once again, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.

Bill Rudge

Out of Darkness

by Bill Rudge

The apostle Paul entreats us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13). As you see the Day of the Lord approaching, realize that each passing moment brings you closer to eternity.

New Levels of Depravity

Our decadent society is free-falling into an abyss of unrestrained, uninhibited, gratuitous sexual addiction. All limits have been removed as virtually anything and everything is acceptable. Today’s generation has adopted the attitude of the Israelites in the days of the Judges, when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

In various ways people in this day and age take the behavior of ancient pagan fertility rites to new levels of depravity. We live in a world given over to every sexual perversion imaginable as people, driven by an appetite for erotica, unsuccessfully attempt to satisfy their lust for sexual gratification. The Bible says –

Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19).

Many Christians and even pastors carelessly pursue practices and lifestyles that are destructive to their health and testimony, disastrous to their families and devastating to their congregations.

Broken lives, ruined marriages, traumatized families, diminished health and damaged testimonies could be avoided if a fruit of the Spirit – self-control – is exercised. However, those who refuse to repent and do not endeavor to develop discipline, then God’s discipline – whether it comes from reaping the consequences of seeds sown or through remedial judgments – will clean up many in the Body of Christ who tolerate or flaunt immorality.

Come out of Babylon

Time is running out as this nation and world rapidly disintegrate morally. Collapse seems imminent. Priorities and pursuits need to change. Each person must repent of the sin and vileness in their lives and homes. God exhorts each of us to resist the pervasive spirit of apostasy and wanton immorality. He is calling His people to come out of Babylon “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

The apostle John encourages everyone who lives in the hope of Christ’s return to purify themselves (1 John 3:2, 3).

The apostle Peter tells us to live holy and godly lives as the day of the Lord approaches (2 Peter 3:9-14).

The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to remain faithful.

Challenge to God’s People

In spite of an increasingly corrupt world, Jesus is coming back for a Bride without spot or blemish. So it is time His Church cleans up her act. This is a day and age for believers to evaluate our lives; examine what we are entertained by, contemplate what our minds are exposed to, consider the words we speak, and ponder the meditations of our heart. It is a time to purify our minds and bodies.

Each of us will be tried and tested in our pursuit of holiness and purity. The enemy will use every opportunity and method to pollute our minds with vile images and tempt us to compromise our lives with sinful behavior. We can and must resist by the might of His Spirit and the command of His Word.

The Church does not need pastors who merely tell us how human they are by confessing all their flaws and dark secrets. We need ministers who will show us how they overcame them by the power of God’s Spirit and the authority of His Word. We need Christian leaders who will lead by godly example in a darkening and desperate world. We need those who will inspire us to maintain disciplined lifestyles so we can be effective witnesses with testimonies that shine brightly for His glory.

While God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who will believe and receive, it is imperative that we seek to walk a path of strength and wisdom in pursuit of purity, maturity, and righteousness as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Mark of a Life

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The founder of a church which gained worldwide attention because of their protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, homosexuals and celebrities, passed away several years ago. While only God can judge this man’s heart, his life did not reflect that of a true follower of Jesus Christ, but a life affected by hatred.

We are called as believers to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20, Acts 1:8). Certainly, in the process of doing this some people will be offended and reject what we say (John 15:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22, 23). However, while we share the truth of God’s Word and who Jesus Christ is, if we do this without love, then as the apostle Paul said, we are nothing more than a meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Jesus’ life was defined not by hatred but by love. In fact, His love for mankind is what brought Him to this earth to give up His very life setting us free from our sins (John 3:16, 17). This is what drives us in sharing the truth of the Gospel message: love for God and a love for others (Matthew 22:37-39). We should not alienate non-Christians because of their sin (1 Corinthians 5:9-11), but rather seek to lead them to Christ and trust God’s Holy Spirit to clean up their lives.

As Christians we recognize the eternal reality that awaits every single human being who rejects Jesus Christ (John 3:18, 36) and lives a life contrary to His will (Ephesians 5:5). Therefore, if we are to be an effective witness, it will be displayed through selfless acts of love and compassion:

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27, 28).

Peace in Bethlehem

Peter Kennedy

During the French and Indian War the French incited the Indians to attack non-French colonists. In 1755, at the French fort, Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh, colonists suffered a bitter defeat from French and Indian forces. Then, in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the Conestoga Indians wiped out the Moravian mission at Mahanoy. The Moravian colonists at nearby Gnadenhutten fled to the neighboring fortified village of Bethlehem.

Christmas was fast approaching and everyone in Bethlehem fully expected the Indians to attack. Night after night cries could be heard and fires burned brightly on the surrounding heights.

On Christmas Day, despite imminent attack, the colonists gathered together for worship. Fearing for their lives they sang praises to Christ with more feeling than ever before. The fighting men had hardly returned to their posts after worship when they saw the Indians break camp and leave.

When peace was made years later, the Indians told why they had not attacked. Their war council was preparing for the attack when they heard the sweet sound of Christmas carols. Those blessed tunes soothed the angry warriors. So in the songs of praise to Jesus Christ the colonists found deliverance.

Generation to Generation: Devotional Thoughts Drawn from the Past (www.devotional.com) Used with permission.

How Should Christians Respond to Today’s Culture?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the hottest topics of discussion several months ago was the Grammy Awards. News headlines were saturated with stories about the weddings that took place, the revealing outfits worn, and a performance that had many people claiming she was promoting witchcraft, demons, magic, and Satanism. While I did not watch the Grammy’s, I believe that what went on merely reflects the mindset of a worldly culture; the declaration of independence from the God of the Bible.

This desire for independence began back in the Garden of Eden. Once Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God, he was able to plant the idea that they no longer needed to look to God to determine what was good and evil (Genesis 3:1-4). In other words, they no longer needed to live under God’s authority: Man can be free from God. This notion of living your life “free” from the God of the Bible is the very spirit that now permeates our culture.

So how do Christians respond to this? Some Christians embrace this culture, ignoring or downplaying any conflicts while being entertained by movies, television shows, and popular musicians openly endorsing and living anti-biblical lifestyles. As one Christian friend said to me, “It is just entertainment and nothing more.”

Other Christians disengage completely from the culture. They stand back awaiting the day when God will finally judge this world and destroy those whom they feel, in their own mind, are not as worthy as they to receive God’s grace and mercy. You will find these people being more preoccupied with endorsing their own political views than with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Both of the above approaches fail to provide a biblical response to our culture. Instead of embracing our secular culture, or completely disengaging from it, we need to follow the example of Christ. What this means is that we do not conform our lives to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but live our lives in such a way that shows our culture how true, personal freedom is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, if we live by the standards of our culture, we really no longer have a unique message to bring to our culture.

The Grammy’s should be a reminder to all of us that this world desperately needs to hear the news that Jesus Christ has come to set the captives free. Let us live out this message in both word and action.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5, 6).

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).

“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

More Police?

by Bill Rudge

The world is becoming increasingly difficult, dangerous, dark and deadly.

The more the Bible is removed from our society and God is expelled from our schools, the more police are needed to patrol our streets and protect our students and teachers. It has accurately been stated that “Most Americans have barely noticed their descent into a police state, but the ‘land of the free’ is clearly moving in that direction.”

David Ettinger stated in the June 2019 edition of Zion’s Fire magazine:

An acute blindness is permeating the world. A thick darkness is descending upon the hearts and souls of the human race.

The more we demean Jesus Christ – ignore and violate the truth and principles of God’s Word – the more we need therapists to deal with hurting people, broken relationships and devastated families. Someone astutely said, “The more we resist reaching up to Heaven, the more our world falls into chaos and despair.”

Jill Martin Rische accurately stated –

So many know nothing about how great civilizations fall. They don’t connect the historical fact that the rejection of God always leads to the rise of evil. Today, we turn on our TVs or computers and see the glorification of everything vile that crushed ancient Israel and Rome…. Today, clinical depression is a way of life in America and a billion-dollar drug industry sedates us, but cannot stop suicide rates from climbing. (March 22, 2019, http://www.olivetreeviews.org)

Only the spiritually blind person does not recognize the significance and blessing God has shown our nation. Only the foolish person wants God removed from our social and personal lives.

We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity. ~ Franklin Roosevelt

May our nation repent and once again discover the truth and reality of Psalm 33:12 –

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

Why?

by Bill Rudge

Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of mass shootings. Our ministry prayer team prays for the families of those whose lives are cut short, as well as for the recovery of the injured and traumatized. The impact these senseless tragedies have on so many lives and families is incomprehensible. We are grateful for those who “miraculously” survive and for those who prove to be heroes – wounded or killed – while protecting others.

But WHY these insane, cowardly acts of carnage? The answers can be elusive and complex – but are most revealing as to where our society is today. The triggers for acts of violence and mass killings can be anything: seeking revenge for being bullied or fired from a job, experiencing the breakup of a relationship or some other emotional trauma, merely being pulled over for a traffic violation, plotting suicide while killing others, obtaining notoriety…. Some get a twisted pleasure from seeing others suffer or just enjoy killing with little or no remorse.

Many shooters fill their minds with graphic visuals of violent crimes, explosions, shootings, blood splattered victims and walls, people hunted down and murdered by crazed killers. Violence is portrayed in countless movies as every imaginable weapon and technique are used to kill, torture and mutilate. Scenes of terror such as vehicles and buildings being blown apart, pools of blood and other scenes of horror are proliferating. These vivid sights and sounds implanted in one’s mind can (and will) have adverse mental, emotional, physical and spiritual consequences.

Violence in the media and the breakup of families, definitely contribute to these horrific acts of violence. However, another crucial consideration – often overlooked – is that when God is no longer revered or feared, disastrous consequences result from confusion and hopelessness. We have dealt in previous newsletters (and will do so in future ones) about the ramifications of a society losing its faith and respect for God. This abandonment of God and the rejection of biblical moral values, has resulted in segments of society embracing amoralism, atheism, mysticism and occultism – opening the door to a dangerous dilemma: the demonic dimension.

The Demonic Dimension

While my previous research into bizarre behaviors gives some insight into the twisted psyche, there is a realm not frequently considered.

In some cases the only reasonable explanation is found in the demonic connection – and all the more as our society drifts further and further from faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ.

Mental health workers (some of whom had previously thought that belief in angels or demons was delusional) have called me about cases they were dealing with which, they said, defied psychological explanation or latent human physical or mental potential and phenomena. They felt they were dealing with something sinister and supernatural.

I am certain that some mass shooters and others who commit heinous acts are influenced or controlled by demonic entities. After the deed is done, if not dead already, the evil spirit motivates them to take their own life or departs from them, leaving them frightened and confused; wondering how they could have performed such an atrocity! Many who were apprehended after committing violent murders have confessed that they heard a voice telling them to do it; some said they felt controlled by an evil force.

While it is inaccurate and unwise to attribute all problems and phenomena to the demonic dimension, the other extreme of unbelief in the existence of Satan and demons, makes it virtually impossible to recognize their activities. Undetected satanic activity negates the possibility of effectively dealing with it.

The Bible records several accounts of Jesus, the apostle Paul and others, encountering demon-possessed individuals. Without sensationalizing the demonic realm, Jesus and the Bible clearly acknowledge its reality.

The Connection

There is always a “connection” – a “trigger” – that makes a person vulnerable to demonic forces which desire to kill and destroy those created in God’s image. Human beings are like defended castles having a wall of protection that shelter them from the demonic realm; however, many let down the drawbridge and open the door to the spirit world through various means (to be addressed in a future newsletter). Those who step outside God’s protection and willingly violate, disregard or defy His mandates put themselves in a perilous position.

The Bible identifies two people possessed by Satan himself: Judas and the future Antichrist. In hindsight we see, concerning Judas, that he had some “issues” which made him vulnerable to be Satan’s tool in betraying Christ to those who wanted to put Him to death. But nothing – even his greed – alerted the disciples to the dastardly deed conceived in his heart. The disciples thought Judas was a “nice guy” (as has been said about some of the shooters) until he actually betrayed Jesus.

Satan, taking advantage of this “connection,” entered Judas who then carried out the religious leaders’ scheme to betray Jesus. Once Satan was done using Judas to put Christ to death, he departed from him – leaving Judas so distraught that he hung himself.

From foresight provided by prophetic Scripture, we discover that the Antichrist (coming to power through false promises of peace and prosperity) will unleash the greatest bloodbath in human history! Scripture foretells a dramatic increase of violence, demonic activity and phenomena in the end times. Just as the book of Revelation foretells, there will be a level of violence never seen before in the history of the world. We definitely appear to be moving in that direction.

Transformed through Christ

The only way to prevent senseless tragedies such as those happening across this nation is either by prevention (often a near impossibility) or for the potential perpetrator of the crime to be truly transformed by the love and forgiveness that comes through a restored relationship with our Creator. Having a life of meaning, purpose and hope (in spite of one’s circumstances) is the best deterrent to prevent someone from wasting their own life and ruining the lives of so many others – including their own family.

Coming to know Jesus Christ by receiving His offer of salvation (conveyed through the pages of the New Testament) is the only hope for a darkened soul in need of the Light. No one who has truly received Jesus and His message of love will participate in acts of cruelty and senseless violence. Those transformed by the power of God’s Spirit will be the solution to society’s problems and not the perpetrator of them.