Salvation: Easy as A-B-C and D

by Bill Rudge

I have experienced hundreds of exciting witness encounters using insight through creative ideas and illustrations. Every encounter has its own approach and conversational style, but the final message is as simple as A-B-C and D:

A – Admit you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. There is nothing you can do to pay the penalty of sin or earn your salvation (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is death, and only God’s righteous, sinless Son could pay that penalty. So, the only solution to your dilemma is to come to Jesus Christ in repentance, receive His free gift of salvation, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

B – Believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead. Just believing in something doesn’t make it true, no matter how sincere you are. Nor is it the intensity of belief that makes something true. It is who and what you believe in that really matters. Jesus said, “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). To “believe in” is more than merely acknowledging the reality of Jesus Christ; it means “to trust in and rely on” – a belief that results in committing your life to Him.

C – Confess with your mouth that Jesus died and rose again. Tell others that you have accepted Him as your Savior and Lord. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

When you sincerely act on A, B, and C, something amazing happens. God’s Spirit indwells you and begins to mold you into a new creation. Your name is written in the Book of Life! And when you depart this life, you will be welcomed into God’s eternal kingdom and receive all He has prepared for those who love Him.

D – Demonstrate your faith by growing in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ through regular Bible study and prayer, fellowshipping with other believers, and being a witness to those who do not yet know Him. Demonstrate a changed life as His Spirit and Word transform you, molding you into the person you were created to be.

No Greater Love

Knowing and living for Jesus Christ is a wonderful spiritual journey with life-changing experiences and eternal blessings. Your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will prove to be the wisest, most courageous, and most eternally significant decision you will ever make.

Examine Yourself

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The apostle Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see whether or not they were in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Many people base their confidence in trying to be a “good” person and live a “good” life. Others believe they are saved by merely reciting the sinner’s prayer or responding emotionally to an altar call – and then living any way they choose. Still others think salvation is simply an intellectual acknowledgement of beliefs in God, Jesus, and the Bible.

These views of salvation allow many people to believe they are on their way to heaven, when in fact, they may not be. Jesus clearly warns that many will stand before Him claiming to be saved and He will say: “I never knew you; depart from Me …” (Matthew 7:23). So in light of this sobering verse, it is crucial that each of us can answer the question, “Am I really a Christian according to what the Bible says about a believer in Christ?”

The apostle John provides the answer to this question in his first epistle, “These things I have written to
you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Consider the following points that John makes; indicators of the certainty of eternal life:

  1. Admit and confess your sins (1 John 1:8-9).
  2. Acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God (1 John 2:22-23; 4:15).
  3. Live a life of obedience and keep God’s commandments (1 John 1:6-7; 2:3-6, 29; 3:7-10; 5:2).
  4. Display love to others (1 John 2:9-11; 3:10, 15, 17-19; 4:7-9).
  5. Possess the hope and longing for Jesus’ return (1 John 3:2-3).
  6. Love other believers and enjoy having fellowship with them (1 John 5:1).
  7. Persevere in the faith (1 John 2:24).

What Is A Christian? – How You Can Know Christ

by Bill Rudge

Believers in Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). The testimony to Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) was so strong in Antioch (the largest city of the Roman province of Syria and a center for missionary activity) that His followers and disciples were identified as Christians (a term of derision in the earliest days of the church meaning “of the family of Christ” but eventually, followers of Christ came to love and adopt this name).

Today, Christian has a much broader and often entirely different meaning than its original use. Many believe
a Christian is someone who merely goes to church, believes in God, lives a good life, or tries to keep the commandments. While it is true that such things as church attendance, water baptism, living a godly lifestyle, and a loving attitude should definitely be marks of a believer, these should never be misconceived as the criteria for someone to become a Christian. We must examine Scripture and, based upon its authority, determine what it really means to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Not by Works

According to Scripture, doing good works or keeping God’s Law does not make someone a Christian. The apostle Paul explains that one of the purposes of the Law in the Tanakh (Old Testament) was to show us that we all are sinners and can never achieve the standards required by God. Because of our sinful nature, we continually fall short of the mark. This dilemma reveals our need for a Savior (Galatians 3:24; John 6:28-29).

But by Faith

It is by faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, that we are saved (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 9:30-33). Nothing
is more tragic than someone pursuing a false hope of salvation through his or her good works when Jesus offers true salvation as a free gift (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9; Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Romans 10:2-4).

Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ is forgiveness available and a restored relationship with
the Father made possible. Only Christ is the perfect sacrifice and substitute that satisfies a holy and just God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 9:22). The animal sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures were merely a foreshadowing of the death of God’s Son on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

So Jesus paid the penalty for our sins; He suffered and died in our place. We don’t have to “perform” for God out of fear and guilt, but are now free to serve and obey Him because we know and love Him (Philippians 3:3-9; Acts 20:24).

Good works done after accepting Christ spring from a heart of gratitude. Because of what the Lord accomplished on the cross, a believer is enabled to do good deeds. These acts are the fruit and result of salvation, not the cause of
it (James 2:14-26; Acts 26:20). The Bible is clear. We are not saved by dead faith (James 2:17) nor by dead works (Hebrews 6:1; 9:14), but by a living faith which results in “love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

We cannot expect to be accepted by God because of our own goodness. Romans 3:23 points this out emphatically: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This does not mean that we cannot do good, but according to God’s standard of righteousness, we all miss the mark.

In all the religions of the world, there are people seeking to establish their own righteousness to earn salvation. In Biblical Christianity, however, it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ which makes possible salvation as a free gift, through faith, to those who will receive it (Romans 1:16-17). Peace with God has been made possible by His own provision (Romans 5:1).

Religion vs. Relationship

The world is filled with religions, but salvation is found only in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:11- 12). Religion is an attempt to reach God through human effort, traditions and ideas, but true Christianity is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion is what one does for God, but salvation is what God has done for us (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Know the Lord

I was buying blueberries one day when the young woman selling them told me about the recent death of
her father. She was still grieving, so I asked if her father knew the Lord. I wanted to gain some insight in an attempt to provide her some hope and encouragement. She said, “Yes, he made his peace with God.” I asked, “How about you?” She informed me she went to church but was not close to the Lord.

I said to her, “You can tell me about your father and even show me pictures, and although I can know all about him, I will never have a personal relationship with him like you had.” I continued, “Most people who go to church know about God like I would about your father, but God wants us to know Him in the personal way you knew your father.” Her eyes lit up as she told me that this is what she desired. After prayer, she hugged me, tears streaming down her face. She said, “This was not a chance meeting; I was meant to talk to you.”

Scripture teaches that we must know the Lord by having an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A Christian is someone who has a restored relationship with God the Father through a personal faith and acceptance
of His Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross. True Christianity is not a lifeless, external form of religion, but a living, vital, personal relationship with the Creator of the universe who is knowable and seeks to be known.

The qualifying factor for us to be pardoned by God’s forgiveness and declared righteous by Him is that we “believe in” the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31). To “believe in” means to be persuaded of, and hence, to trust in, rely on, and be faithful to. To “believe in” is not merely acknowledging the reality of Christ, but a belief that results in your accepting His provision of salvation, having confidence in Him as the only way of salvation, and committing your life and eternal destiny to Him. It means trusting Him as your Savior and obeying Him as your Lord.

New Creation

Jesus informed Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, that one could not see or enter the Kingdom of God without spiritual rebirth (John 3:3). One must be “born again” or “born from above.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This does not mean that once you accept Christ you become perfect and no longer sin. It does mean that your attitude of rebellion and self-centeredness begins to change to one of obedience and Christ-centeredness. You begin growing and maturing in this new life as you develop a whole new way of thinking and acting. As you yield and submit to Jesus Christ through obedience to His Word and Spirit, He begins to mold and direct your life. He starts working in and through you to fulfill God’s ultimate goal for your life – being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

How good it is to know that your new birth is only the beginning of your new relationship with the Lord and the commencement of a continual growth process in your new life. You now have the assurance from Scripture that God “is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13), and that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

The Book of Life

This world is not all there is to life. Jesus Christ will return as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. You can either come to know Him as Savior and Lord
in this life or meet Him as Judge in the afterlife. Those who ignore or reject God’s provision of salvation—Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God—will be eternally separated from God’s presence. Those who receive Him will not come into judgment, but will pass through death into life (John 5:24; John 3:16).

When you accept God’s free gift of salvation your name is written in the Book of Life. Have you committed your life to Jesus Christ? Is your name written in the Book of Life? Revelation chapters 21 and 22 give a glimpse of the incredible things in store for those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ!

Experience His Reality

Years ago, by God’s grace, I chose to commit my life to Jesus Christ. Making a 180-degree turn, I began following Him as Savior and Lord. It is called repentance – dying to self and living for Christ. I asked His forgiveness for my life of rebellion and sin, and I acknowledged His rightful position as Lord of my life. I obeyed His Word by being baptized and developed a consistent life of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. I strive to live for the Lord with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength.

You, too, can have new life in Christ. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. As one whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you will inherit all that God has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word. Once you experience a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ, you will want to grow in this new relationship and begin uncovering the depths of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him and His Word.

I do hope you will join me and the millions of others throughout history whose lives have been dramatically changed through the transforming power of the resurrected Christ. Surrender your life to Him today. Experience His peace and the joy that transcends your circumstances – and have hope for the life to come.

Getting Our Attention

by Bill Rudge

Photo by Karen Rudge

With the non-stop stimulation of electronic devices and society’s increasing fixation with the pursuit of pleasures, how can God get our attention? For many, the eternal significance of having a relationship with the Creator is grossly underestimated.

While driving, it is common for people to listen to music or news on the radio. When walking or jogging many listen to their favorite playlists or podcasts. At home they watch movies, play video games, browse the internet, text and catch up on the latest “gossip” or newest trends on social media platforms. And consider how many people have fogged minds from sleep deprivation, poor diets, drug use (legal and illegal), abuse of alcohol, or overwhelmed by the stresses of life, family, and work.

Due to prejudice or hostility, some people alienate themselves from God because they feel He is indifferent to their pain and suffering, or because they condone lifestyles contrary to His Word. Others, with preconceived ideas and beliefs, seek to determine who or what they think God should be. And some pursue New Age spirituality, leading them down any number of paths away from the true and living God of the Bible.

Pain, Suffering, and Judgment

Often, trouble or tragedy is the wake-up call that motivates people to seek God for help. I have ministered to many who previously had little interest in, or time for, God until a life threatening disease, debilitating injury, loss of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or some other crisis opened their eyes.

Experience and history teach us that along life’s journey, God uses a variety of ways to get our attention and motivate us to seek Him. Nevertheless, today’s generation is hardening their hearts and moving in a direction that is diametrically opposed to what the Creator intended for us. No wonder it will take the worst judgments ever­—the cataclysmic events described in the Book of Revelation—to get the attention of this world. While many will be brought to repentance, most will continue to resist and rebel. Then, one day they will discover the shocking reality of a God who so loved them that He died for their sins, but having rejected Jesus’ free offer of salvation, He is no longer their Savior but their Judge!
Throughout their lifetime God attempted to get their attention and desired a relationship with them but was repulsed repeatedly. If we die still choosing to ignore or defy God, rejecting His provision of salvation in Jesus Christ, then at the Final Judgment, God will give us what we have chosen—eternal separation from His presence. In contrast, those who receive Christ will inherit all that God has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word.

One day soon, Jesus Christ will return as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. Prophecies foretold in Scripture thousands of years ago are clearly lining up. Those who do not discern the end time “signs of the times” will be easy prey for the deceptive and seductive spirit of this age. They will be lured away from their only true hope—Jesus Christ.

Dreams, Desires, and Aspirations

Take time while you still have the opportunity to put down your phones and contemplate the reality of a Creator, ponder the meaning of life, and consider the eternal consequences of your choices. Questions such as: Where did I come from? Am I here for a reason? What happens after I die? If you truly examine the evidence for the claims of Jesus Christ and the Bible, you will discover undeniable proof just as Peter realized when he declared to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

God’s glory is displayed through the wonders of creation, and the knowledge of Him is revealed through His inspired Word. Although we are without excuse, He continues to pursue us through life’s circumstances, dreams and visions, and through pain and suffering—all in an endeavor to bring us back into relationship with Him—both here and now, and for all eternity!

Don’t waste your life thinking that if you only had this or accomplished that you would be happy; temporary happiness will always elude you. The only enduring solution is to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I made that choice and have never looked elsewhere for fulfillment, peace, and hope. True, there is still a longing in my heart—not for something or someone else, but to know Christ more deeply, to see Him face to face, and to witness all of creation return to God’s original intended glory. When that day finally comes and we are with our Lord and Savior for all eternity, we will witness the ultimate fulfillment of all our dreams, desires, and aspirations.

He Is Seeking You Now

You may feel that God has distanced Himself from His creation, but consider this situation: What would you do if your spouse disregarded you and instead pursued someone else? You would most likely distance yourself from them; the same is true with Christ. God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve until disobedience and rebellion severed their relationship. Likewise, all of humanity has followed that pattern. We continue to disbelieve, disobey and follow our own path. Today’s generation has distanced itself and mocked the God who created us and our universe. For a time God will give us our space, yet He is always ready to restore our relationship with Him.

Let us no longer remain disinterested in knowing God! Let us stop getting caught up in the frantic pace of life and the cares of this world. Let us not be trapped in the pursuit of pleasure and self-indulgence. Let us not be blinded by false spiritual and philosophical beliefs. Do not let constant distractions, diversions, the endless disturbances of technological advances, chemical dependencies, nutritional deficiencies or fixations, or anything else hinder God from getting your attention!

God graciously responds to our sincere cries of desperation:

In my trouble I cried to the LORD and He answered me (Psalm 120:1).

The LORD is faithful to His promise:

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Let your heart be as King David’s:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2).

Call out to God for forgiveness, and be assured by the Apostle Peter’s promise:

Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

The Bible, God’s holy Word, affirms:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Test the promise of Isaiah 40:31:

But those who wait on [hope in] the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

As Jesus Himself did, so God desires us to occasionally separate ourselves from the busyness of life to wait on Him in prayer, praise, and to reflect on His Word. Our times of fellowship with God will result in spiritual and physical rejuvenation, mental and emotional renewal, and blessings the psalmist discovered:

Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).

Do not wait until it is too late to offer God your time and attention. Get to know Jesus Christ while you still have the chance and the choice. Life is short and unpredictable; death is often unexpected. Your eternal destiny is in God’s hands! Right now you have the opportunity to accept His offer of forgiveness and the promise of a restored relationship with your Creator.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Receiving Him as Savior and Lord is the wisest and most courageous decision you will ever make. Living for Him will be the most exciting, challenging, and fulfilling life you can live.

Great White Throne Judgment

Bill Rudge

Artwork by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1982, 1992. Used by permission.

A terrifying encounter – indescribable and beyond comprehension – awaits those who do not receive God’s provision of salvation. It is an inescapable event that every human being on this planet should soberly contemplate – judgment will one day be a reality to multitudes who remain in the valley of indecision, indifference, or defiance toward Jesus Christ, the only means for a restored relationship with the Creator.

Ultimate and Final

Scripture informs us that following Christ’s millennial reign on earth (during which believers will rule with Him) the Great White Throne Judgment occurs. The bodies of all unbelievers throughout the ages – even those whose ashes were scornfully spread hoping that God would be unable to judge them – will be re-materialized to stand before Him. Every person who is not part of the “first resurrection” will be part of this “second resurrection” – those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be raised from the dead to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

This Great White Throne Judgment is the ultimate and conclusive decision – bringing greater trepidation and eternal significance than any other decree throughout history. White typifies the perfect holiness and purity of God and assures that true justice will be determined and pronounced. There is no rainbow around this throne (unlike the throne in Revelation 4:3) nor any mention of the Lamb because the rainbow and the Lamb exemplify God’s grace, mercy, and redemption. At this judgment the Door of Salvation is closed.

During the Tribulation period when Jesus opens the sixth seal, the sky recedes like a scroll when it is rolled up (Revelation 6:14). However, before this Great White Throne Judgment, earth and heaven (physical universe) flee away (disappear) from the presence of the One seated on the throne (Revelation 20:11). There will be no place to hide as people do with the opening of the sixth seal when they hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains (Revelation 6:15-17). The contaminated universe will be “uncreated” – going into a temporary nonexistence for God’s final judgment foretold many times in Scripture (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36, 41, 42; Luke 10:14; John 12:48; Acts 17:31; 24:25; Romans 2:5, 16; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; Jude 6).

The Books

Two books will be opened for every individual appearing before the Great White Throne Judgment. First, God will examine each person’s deeds as recorded in the Book of Works containing the record of the thoughts, words, and actions of every unsaved person who ever lived. The truth of the matter is that all have sinned, violated God’s commandments, and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without Christ, no one is found worthy to enter into the Kingdom of a holy, just, and righteous God.

Second, the Book of Life (similar imagery to the registry of citizens kept by ancient cities) is opened to see if the names of the condemned are recorded there. Since they did not receive God’s provision of salvation (those before the time of Jesus Christ looking forward to the coming Promised Redeemer and those after the cross looking back to Christ’s sacrificial death for the sins of the world) they must be forever banned from God’s presence (what many of them supposedly wanted anyway). Without having accepted Christ as Savior, they are without hope.

There will be no excuses, no exceptions, and no exemptions; no future appeal from God’s final verdict. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire because they did not believe or receive God’s clear pronouncement:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Millennia ago the psalmist warned that the ungodly would not be approved in God’s judgment:

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous (Psalm 1:5).

Jesus made an even more alarming statement that should make all of us stop and ponder whether He is truly our Savior and Lord:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7: 21-23).

Kneel or Stand

You can kneel before Jesus Christ as Savior now or one day stand before Him as Judge. It will be far more fearful to stand alone before the Creator at the Great White Throne Judgment than it is to live for Him in our world today. When King Belshazzar of Babylon merely saw fingers from God writing of his impending judgment and the end of his kingdom on the wall, “his face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking” (Daniel 5:5-6). What will it be like to see God, your Judge, face to face, knowing that He is about to pronounce your eternal destiny?

Those who reject Christ’s sacrificial death as their only means of forgiveness will discover the reality of Hebrews 10:31: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Yet, today is still the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)! My prayer for you is that you make certain that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and that your name is written in the Book of Life.

The Invitation

Immediately following the Great White Throne Judgment, John saw a new heaven and a new earth and the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2).

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city…. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost (Revelation 22:14-17).

The preceding is excerpted from Bill’s upcoming book on The Last Days.

Just As I Am

by Karen Rudge

There may be times you feel the Lord has failed you or is not listening to your cries. Maybe you feel like Charlotte Elliott. She had just turned 30 and her health began to deteriorate. She was in severe pain and became an invalid. She’d always had a sweet disposition but now was getting irritable with people.

One day a minister visited her. She asked him, “Why has God treated me like this? Doesn’t He love me?” He replied, “… You are holding on to hate and anger towards God because you have nothing else to hold on to. You need to come to Christ just as you are and find salvation in Him.”

That night Charlotte pondered his words about coming to Christ just as she was, and gave her life to Him. Years later on the anniversary of accepting Christ she pondered again the words the minister spoke to her the day he visited and she penned the words to the hymn, Just As I Am.

Are you holding on to anger, hate or hurt because of difficult circumstances and wondering why God is allowing this to happen? Consider if you have sincerely given your life to Christ and made Him your Lord. Then come, just as you are. Jesus is waiting.

Tombstones, Spiderwebs, Ghosts; Oh My!

by Jim Weikal

“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Personally, I think it’s gloomy to strategically place tombstones, spider webs, and ghost shaped pillow cases in a front yard. But, “Hey, that’s me.” I’m not the independent arbitrator of spooky curb appeal. That’s up to each person.

But isn’t it great that when Christians think of death, it’s not in terms of retail merchandise from the Dollar Store or seeing death as “the last bitter hour.” We have Christ’s physical death on the cross once to assure us of salvation and a resurrection to eternal life where sin will be banished . . . expelled, forever and ever! Jesus swallowed up death in victory and He took away its sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).

Victory, Triumph, Eternal Life, Oh My!

Two Men – Two Destinies

by Bill Rudge

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant physicist – but the intricate prophecies in Scripture and the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ far surpass any human knowledge or ability. The psalmist stated, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The human conscience and the Creation point with definitive clarity to a magnificent Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The prophet Isaiah declared, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me” (Isaiah 43:10). Moses wrote, “There is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

If Stephen Hawking was right about God, then he and Billy Graham lost nothing. However, if Billy was right, then he won everything and Stephen lost everything. In other words, Stephen Hawking had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Billy Graham had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The apostle Paul makes it clear that when we stand before God we will have no defense for rejecting Him.  He states in Romans 1:20, “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.”

Jeremiah the prophet precisely stated, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God will move heaven and earth to make known His way of salvation to anyone who seeks Him with a sincere and humble heart. Each of us has both the freedom and opportunity in this life to determine our eternal destiny.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

Instead of discounting a creator and replacing Him with a faulty system of evolution that ultimately leads to a dead end, you can come to know the Creator in a real and personal way. Once you do, your endless hours of studying theories that continually change and dissipate can end and you can look at this amazing Creator’s creation through eyes of gratitude, hope and assurance.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Two Rising Stars

by Bill Rudge

The Coming Antichrist and False Prophet

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Psalm 101.3

The pages of history are laced with accounts of new movements generating such enthusiasm and momentum that a nation – even the world – was swayed.

As a teen in the late 1960s many of my generation got caught up in the sexual revolution, race riots, and rebellion against authority. Very few of us really thought about why we were involved or where these movements were headed. We were seized by the emotion of the moment and went with the flow of the crowd.

Hitler’s media propaganda and hypnotizing speeches influenced a nation and changed the world. Today, terrorists use slick social media to motivate youth and adults to join a regime that commits unbelievable atrocities.

The time is nearing when a prominent person will arise on the world scene. Carnage from terrorism, devastation from natural disasters, threat of nuclear annihilation, and the need to solve other potential global crises is motivating an increasing number of voices to cry for a global leader.

The majority of people on our planet will blindly submit to this compelling leader (revealed in prophetic Scripture as the Antichrist) who promises peace and prosperity. The Antichrist will appear to be the savior of the world and will acquire “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). The masses will also readily embrace his cohort – an influential religious leader promoting love and unity, but Biblically identified as the False Prophet.

There is no denying that our world is ripe for such visionary leaders who will astound with apparent solutions to global problems. Their hypnotizing charisma, persuasive words, powerful speeches, pleasing promises, inspiring media visuals, moving testimonies, euphoric music, cheering supporters, incredible popularity, and displays of supernatural power will mesmerize the multitudes. According to Scripture these two “rising stars” will be demonically energized. They will take the reins of this world through deception and intrigue to ultimately lead humankind in a unified rebellion against the God of the Bible.

It is clear that a scenario is unfolding to create a global system of political power, economic control, military might, and religious unification. As Revelation foretells, we are moving toward a global society with a one-world government, a universal economy, and an ecumenical religious system offering tolerance and acceptance for all religions – except one, biblical Christianity. There is a growing movement of globalism, religious unity, and the celebration of diversity – along with a growing intolerance for biblical Christians who believe Jesus is the only way of salvation. Those who use the Bible to speak out against the immorality in today’s society and culture are often accused of bigotry and hate crimes with the aim to be silenced or eliminated.

Underlying the Antichrist’s facade is his ulterior motive to attain control over and receive worship from every human being on this planet. The False Prophet will attempt to help him achieve this – Satan’s ultimate goal.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast [the Antichrist] — all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

It is interesting to note that only two people in Scripture were possessed by Satan himself: Judas, when he betrayed Jesus, and the Antichrist, as he seeks to gain control over and obtain worship from everyone on this planet.

The Bible reveals that the Antichrist’s and False Prophets’s true intent will be concealed under a cloak of intrigue, diplomatic deceit and cunning manipulation. When the layers of glitz and glamour are peeled away, the shocking remains will be far removed from what was promised or anticipated. They will lead a world of undiscerning and biblically illiterate people down a deceitful path to global chaos and unprecedented devastation and destruction.

Words of Hope and Admonition

Although the days in which we live are becoming increasingly dangerous, treacherous, corrupt, and confusing, those who know the Lord in these end times will demonstrate wisdom and strength:

…the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 11:32; 12:10).

Do not be seduced by the spirit of this age – whether it is in the political arena, social media, pop star realm, religious circles or any other venue. Do not be impressed, influenced or deceived by a well-turned phrase or the surface appearance of those who have ulterior motives and agendas. Do not reflect the values of an amoral society. Do not be a cultural Christian, motivated by feelings, desires and impulses, or influenced by every new and exciting trend or phenomenon that comes along.

Make certain you are, and remain, aligned with Jesus Christ and God’s Word. Follow the genuine leading of His Spirit. Be discerning. Examine all things carefully. Hold fast to that which is good and true. Live by the standards of Scripture. Stand rock solid as a biblical Christian in this day and age when Biblical prophecies of the end times and Jesus Christ’s return are rapidly lining up.

I close, as did Paul to the Corinthians:

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all you do be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14).

Another Jesus Is Being Offered to the World

By Bill Rudge

There is an accurate saying that Satan will use nine truths to get one lie across. The primary lie he attempts to propagate concerns the identity of Jesus Christ – the One before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Satan’s ultimate deception is to suggest you do not need to accept Christ, or try to cause you to follow “another Jesus” other than the Jesus of the Bible (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4).

While some demote Jesus to merely a great teacher or prophet, others say we all have the potential to become another Christ, still others will simply substitute Jesus with someone or something else. Attempts are made to minimize, distort, deny or replace Him: All have eternal implications (John 8:24). Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, God incarnate in human flesh and the only way of salvation can be scripturally identified as a false prophet or teacher (1 John 4:1-3; 1 John 2:22, 23 ). As Jesus ascended to heaven, two angels said to the disciples:

Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

Please notice, it will not be another Jesus or a reincarnation of the Christ spirit, but the same Jesus who ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. He will be returning in all His glory. At His Second Coming, biblical evidence, cataclysmic signs and physical transformation of believers will undeniably confirm Jesus Christ to be the true Messiah.

The time is soon coming when “the kingdom of the world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15). Jesus will establish His righteous Kingdom wherein true believers will rule and reign with Him for eternity and inherit all God has prepared for those who love and obey Him. Do not settle for an imitation or counterfeit when you can know the TRUE ONE Who leads to eternal life.

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.

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.