Thoughts on the Resurrection

by Dr. BJ Rudge

Art for Bill Rudge Ministries by Louise Wieneke

If the resurrection had not occurred:
➔ The Christian faith is a lie.
➔ Jesus was just another person who claimed to be a messenger from God.
➔ There is no hope beyond the grave.
➔ We have no assurance we will see our loved ones again after death.
➔ The resurrection is a myth that has deluded millions with false hope.

If the resurrection really did happen:
➔ The Christian faith is true.
➔ Jesus is the Messiah, God incarnate and the only One who can give eternal life.
➔ Believers in Jesus Christ have a sure hope beyond the grave.
➔ We and our loved ones will rise from the dead and stand before our Creator to have our eternal destiny determined and receive our everlasting rewards.
➔ The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is the most significant event in history, inspiring millions with certain hope.

Christ’s death and resurrection are the means by which believers may
cling to hope in spite of the trials and tragedies of life. May you be strengthened by the love of Jesus. Never give up. Always have HOPE:

H old on to the promises of God (Revelation 21:3-4)
O pt to trust in God through the challenges you face (Isaiah 40:31)
P lace all your cares and concerns upon Him (Psalm 46:1-3)
E nter into the loving hands of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35)

Jesus Proved It

by Jim Weikal

Jesus told Martha at the funeral of her brother Lazarus that her brother would “rise again.” Martha, a devout Jew who understood the sacred scriptures, replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:23-24). She didn’t completely understand Jesus’ point so He became more specific:

I am the resurrection and the life and everyone who believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25, 26).

Jesus then follows His amazing declaration with a question, “Do you believe this?” Martha did. How about you? In case you may have some doubt about Jesus’ claim to being the resurrection, He proves it by resurrecting a dead body that is already in a state of physical decay (John 11:39). Standing near the tomb and over the noise of the crowd, Jesus cries out “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). Many of the Jewish friends of Mary who witnessed this amazing resurrection of Lazarus believed in Jesus (John 11:45).

So Jesus proved He could do it, didn’t He? If you believe this, tell someone about it. You may be the only voice to proclaim this truth to a lost soul in need of His resurrection power.

Walking in Obedience

by Bill Rudge

Photo by Bill Rudge

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we meet people who offered sacrifices and demonstrated the appearance of spirituality. However, God labels many of them as lukewarm, disobedient, stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious or apostate. Why? Because God is more concerned with the attitudes of the heart than with outward displays. God desires a people who are obedient and faithful.

King Saul learned the hard way that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Following Saul’s lame excuse for only partially obeying the Lord’s command, the prophet Samuel rebuked him with the following words:

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice… (1 Samuel 15:22).

It is very important that we not only talk our Christianity, but that we walk it. Titus 1:16 states:

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him….

All through the Scriptures we meet those who were tempted, tested, and confronted by obstacles. Some disobeyed, rebelled, and turned from the Lord. Others remained faithful – no matter the cost. Those who disobeyed suffered the consequences; immediately or in the not-so-distant future. Those who obeyed received God’s blessing and ultimate victory.

On Talking Back

When I was in gymnastics and my instructor would say, “Billy, climb the rope to the gym’s ceiling. Do a round off and several backhand springs in a row on the mat. Get on the trampoline and do a double back flip.” I did not say, “I don’t feel like doing that today.” I did it!

When going out for football and the coach would say, “Hit the sled and keep hitting it until I tell you to stop. Run the ropes. Take five laps.” I did not say, “Well coach, I am not in the mood to do that today.” I did it!

When, in karate, my instructor said, “Do knuckle pushups.” I did knuckle pushups. When he said, “You, Rudge! Come here. I want to use you for an uke and beat on you for awhile.” I did not say, “Not today, Sensei. Maybe next time.” No, I stepped forward and let him demonstrate strikes and kicks on me. When I was told, “Lay down and put this potato on your chest so I can slice it in half with this sword.” I did not say, “That’s a bad idea.” I obeyed. When he said spar and fight, I sparred and fought!

Should I obey any less the King of kings and Lord of lords, the God who created me, the God who came and died for me, who bodily rose from the dead, and who is coming again to rule and reign for all eternity?

When His Word and Spirit tell me to do something, how much more should I obey without talking back or whining or complaining or making excuses? I do not say, “Well, if I feel like it, Lord,” or “Maybe I will think about it,” or “I don’t know if I want to do that.” I obey! That is what it means to be submitted to Christ’s Lordship.

But is this biblical? In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks:

Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?

In John 14:15, 24 Jesus said:

If you love Me, you will obey what I command. He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus states:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

1 John 2:3, 6 says:

We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.

And the manner in which Jesus walked was in humility and obedience (Philippians 2:8).

Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ which is being expanded for its third edition.

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.

Living with Hope and Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Making a New Life Resolution for 2019, part 6

In the previous blog, I shared with you my seventh and eighth New Life Resolutions:  7) Reflect in an authentic way to others the transforming power and reality of Jesus Christ in my life; 8) While I should grieve over the wickedness in the world, I will still approach non-believers with the same love and grace that Jesus has shown me. Let us now examine the final two New Life Resolutions.

Resolution 9:  When I face difficulties and challenges, I will think of those who face daily persecution and have given their lives (martyrs) for their faith in Jesus Christ.

Since we live in a fallen world, all of us will experience pain and suffering. While we cannot avoid this, we can choose how we respond. Will we respond like the children of Israel who grumbled and complained, or will we respond with hope and joy? As Peter encouraged those Christians who were facing persecution,

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4)

A book that I recommend every Christian read is “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” It details the many men and women throughout history who have given their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ. Their commitment and love for Jesus in the midst of difficult challenges is truly inspiring. One such example is a girl named Mary who, along with her family, was given the choice to renounce her faith in Jesus or die. In their refusal to deny the very One who had given His life for them, they were all shot. Mary would be the only one who survived but would be paralyzed by the bullet that had severed her spinal cord. In response to this tragedy, she makes the following profound statement, “Everyone has a vocation. I can never marry or do any physical work. So I will offer my life to the Muslims, like the one who cut my father’s throat, stabbed my mother while cursing her and tried to kill me. My life will be a prayer for them.”

The lives of those who have faced persecution and even death have provided me with a resolve to approach the challenges in my life, which are much less, with the same faithfulness and trust. I have come to recognize that these challenges be opportunities for spiritual growth, to help encourage others in difficult times, and to show others that the God of the Bible is faithful. This life is but a moment in comparison to eternity and one day the pain and brokenness we experience will forever be wiped away:

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying,

“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them   He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:3, 4).

Resolution 10:  At my death my family and friends will rejoice over the life I have lived, and that I will have the ability to say with my final breath, “It is finished”; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

I recently had to visit a friend who is facing terminal cancer. With only months to live, he shared with me how many regrets he has as he approaches death. Full of remorse for wasted time and making poor choices that have negatively impacted both his children and grandchildren, he is now trying his best to redeem what time he still has left.

Reflecting upon what my friend said made me want to have the resolve to not approach my death full of regrets. I want to live my life like Jesus who, not distracted by the insignificant things of this world, lived his life with resolve to fulfill the will of His Father. Thus, with no hesitation in His voice, He was able to say with His final breath on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I also want to live my life like the Apostle Paul who, despite the obstacles in his life, took the Gospel to every corner of the Roman Empire. As a result, in the final letter he wrote to his dear friend Timothy he was able to say,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Conclusion

My prayer for all of you is that you will choose to live your lives with resolve. A resolve where you seek His glory, desire His presence, and live for eternity. Regardless of where you are in your journey with Jesus, remember these words:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

Mary and Joseph Were Good Parents

by Jim Weikal

Jesus’ mother Mary not only had the privilege of giving birth to the holy infant, but she and Joseph had the responsibility of instructing Him as He grew. They needed to know the Torah and Judaism to teach the maturing Jesus its divine commandments.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

This teaching process was more than transmitting information. It was more than sending Him to a religious school for someone else to instruct. It was a process of living a righteous life as an example. The circumstances of daily living were an opportunity to show the child how to live a God-honoring life.

Luke tells us that Jesus “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom” (2:40). A large part of His growth came from His parents (who were obedient to the law), as well as the teachers of Israel. We know He had a lot of questions for them at Jerusalem (Luke 2:46-47).

If you have children at home this Christmas season, make a commitment to teach them in the ways of the Lord “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” In today’s culture, can you afford to do anything less?

What Child is This?

by Wendy Wippel

Wendy Wippel is a molecular biologist who specializes in genetics. She has conducted research for the University of Cincinnati and the Center for Disease Control. She focuses on medical writing, but she also does a lot of writing concerning biblical topics. This article first appeared in The Omega Letter in 2013.

Thoughts for the Christmas Season

It’s the Christmas season, and amid the baking and the bustling and the bows, it’s easy to lose sight of what the fuss is all about — a baby. As the old carol asks, “What child is this?”

There’s a lot riding on your answer. Because that baby is the central figure of human history. Human history, in fact, is divided into two eras (BC and AD) by His existence. (Your birth date? Counted from His.)

• He never traveled more than 100 miles from home, but His followers permeated every country in the world with His story.

• He never wrote a book, but more have been written about Him than anyone else in history, by far.

• The first book about Him, the Bible, has been translated into more than 500 languages, and portions of it into more than 3000 languages. The first runner-up, believe it or not, is Pinocchio. Only 260.

• He had only 12 disciples, but billions of people discuss His teachings every day. According to one Harvard professor (not a Christian), the Sermon on the Mount alone represents the “most luminous, most quoted, most analyzed, most contested, most influential moral and religious discourse in all of human history.” The professor adds, “This may sound like an overstatement, but it is not.”

• He was homeless during His public life, but most of the world’s most beautiful buildings were built in His honor (Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Hagia Sophia, Chartres, St. John’s Cathedral, and so on.)

• He died as a criminal, but today thousands of names of cities and countries memorialize His life. (San Salvador, for example, which means Holy Savior.)

• He never married, but more wedding vows have asked His blessing than any other.

• He never had kids, but there’s a really good chance you’re named after one of his family or his friends.

• Untold numbers of people throughout history have willingly gone to their deaths rather than renounce His name.

It begs the question, “What Child IS This?”

Author Ralph Waldo Emerson (an atheist) observed that the name of Jesus was not so much written as ploughed into the history of the world. And author H.G. Wells (also an atheist) said this:

An historian like myself finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man . . . The historian’s test of an individual’s greatness is . . . did he start men to thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him? By this test Jesus stands first.

Jesus is recognized by skeptic and saint alike as the turning point of history. What child IS this?

We’ve had 2000 years to speculate: A really moral man? A great philosopher? A champion of social justice? A pacifist? A mythical figure? A revolutionary? A fruitcake? An example for all of us to follow?

Those really aren’t the right questions, though. The real question is “Who does He think He is?” And Jesus, tellingly, said none of the above. Jesus said that He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus said that He came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In fact, He said that He came specifically for one moment in time, His crucifixion (John 12:27). And Jesus said that He came to be the make-or-break issue in your life and mine: “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind” (John 9:39).

What child is this? We all have to answer that question for ourselves. And eternity rides on our answer. Why? Because God created humans to be with Him. But you probably know what happened next — Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule that God established, and humanity became tainted with sin. And as descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherited that condition.

We’re all SIN positive.

The problem is that sin can’t survive in the presence of the holiness of God. But that same God still loves us and wants us to be with Him. So Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. We’re what was lost.

Some Christmas carols call Jesus another name: Emmanuel. It means “God with us.” And Jesus, God in the form of a man, came to earth to make a bridge. A bridge described in a lot of different places in the Bible:

To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).

For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great for you, but it’s just not my thing.” Or, “I have my own faith.” Or, “We all worship the same God.”

Then what child is this? One that made some pretty amazing statements:

I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the father but through me (John 14:6).

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).

Nobody else said things like this. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Not Joseph Smith. Nobody.

People these days say that makes Christianity exclusive. Except that Jesus also said that whosoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Whosoever.

So what child is this? You can call Him a liar. You can call Him a lunatic. Or you can call him Lord. “Undecided” isn’t really an option. He didn’t mean for it to be.

Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be the Messiah, a Messiah described in Isaiah as “wounded for our transgressions,” whose chastisement made peace for us with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life as a ransom for many. Nobody else said that. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Not Joseph Smith. Nobody.

That’s what sets Jesus apart. Only He laid down His life for your sins and mine. And when He died on that cross (a fact documented in Roman records) it would have certainly seemed that was the last history would hear of Him.

But the cross that He died on is now the world’s most common symbol, engraved on tombstones, mounted in and on churches, scattered on hillsides and hung around a whole lot of necks. (And at Ground Zero — at least for now.)

So what child is this? That’s the question. And the answer, as G. K Chesterton observed:

Since Jesus died on the cross it has never been quite enough to say that “God is in His heaven and all is right with the world,” since, according to the Bible, “God left His heavens to set it right.”

God, in the form of Jesus, left heaven to seek and save that which was lost, meaning you and me. When He died on the cross, God was saying that He loves you. He Himself came to earth to give His life as your ransom. It was the God of all the universe, whispering into your ears, “I do.” And that God, who still loves you, stands at the altar, waiting for your answer. He’ll wait. He has all eternity to do so. Do you?

Article from The Lamplighter magazine, November-December 2018. Used with permission.