Monday, April 25, 2016

Dr. Peter S. Ruckman: the Nonpareil

The greatest Bible scholar of the past century went Home to be with the Lord on April 21st.  He is survived by his loving wife, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren ... and by thousands of students he personally trained, who now serve the Lord throughout the world, from the Ukraine to the Philippines.

Peter Sturges Ruckman was, in his manner and in his presentation, no one's idea of a "scholar." He came from a rough background: before receiving Christ and being born again at the age of 27, he had worked as a drill instructor in hand-to-hand combat in the United States Army; a drummer in dance bands in the 1940s and 50s; a street artist in the French Quarter of New Orleans; and a disc jockey in Pensacola, Florida. When he came to Jesus Christ, he became a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), but all of his subsequent training and education never "civilized" him.  He was polite in polite society, but he was most at home casting a net in the waters off Pensacola, or playing with his beloved German Shepherds, or tending the goal in amateur hockey - - - a sport he loved passionately, but didn't take up until he was 68 years old.  He played with his students, men from the ages of 18 to 40, and he only quit playing at the age of 84.  He was the epitome of what was once called "muscular Christianity," which has all but disappeared in our effeminate, Laodicean age. 

He became an expert in Biblical languages at Bob Jones University in the 1950s; the founder of that school said that Ruckman was "the most brilliant man who ever walked onto this campus." After earning his doctorate, he worked as an evangelist or pastor for over a half century.  In 1964, he founded the Pensacola Bible Institute, for the purpose of teaching young men the Authorized King James Version of the Bible - - - God's final, perfect propositional revelation to the English-speaking world.  He also taught his students Greek, Hebrew, Church History, Advanced Theology, and homiletics - - - or, "how to preach."  He preached and taught all over the world, and at this moment his students are planting and pastoring churches from Mexico to Korea and beyond.  He was the world's leading expert in the area of manuscript evidence: the background of the King James Bible, as well as all modern translations.  He knew the various Greek texts and editions of the New Testament like no other living man.

But, because he would not abandon his belief that the Authorized Version is God's uniquely preserved and authoritative word, he was a "renegade." He was hated and rejected by the "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists" who  make their living by exploiting the technical ignorance of the average Christian.  These "scholars," who regard themselves and their own preferences as the only final authority on earth, hated Dr. Ruckman with a perfect hatred. And they were not fit, spiritually or intellectually, to water his dogs, or mow his lawn.

He has written verse-by-verse commentaries on over 40 books of the Bible, with others slated for future publication, as well as the Ruckman Reference Bible, any or all of which can be purchased from the Bible Baptist Bookstore in Pensacola.

I studied under Dr. Ruckman, in Pensacola, from 1986-1991; I have known him since 1985. Apart from his rough exterior, he was one of the most generous men I have ever known, and any of his students can attest to his grace and mercy in his personal dealings. And every man or woman who sat under his teaching came away with one paramount precept, written in bright lines: Dr. Ruckman is not the "final authority."  The Authorized King James Bible is the final authority.


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In my brief 66 years, I have been personally acquainted with three men who I believed to be authentic geniuses: Francis Schaeffer, William F. Buckley Jr., and Peter S. Ruckman.  All were gentlemen and scholars.

But Peter S. Ruckman was the wisest and the kindest man I have ever known.  Millions around the world have been blessed by this delightfully simple, impossibly complicated servant of Jesus Christ, with Whom he is now face to face. 


November 19, 1921 - April 21, 2016
Saved March 14, 1949

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day, 2017

Friday of this week is "Earth Day," and as certain elements of the world's population concentrate on environmental issues, it seems appropriate, as a renegade Christian, to reflect for a moment on what the Bible says about the earth (since the Bible doesn't capitalize the planet's name, neither will we).  Pardon the blood-red typeface, please: I'm a bit tired of the color green in this context, and red is its opposite among the primary colors.
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First, the most basic and obvious facts.  On this, Bible believers and skeptics alike have some basic agreements.  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth .... and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:1, 10).  The skeptics won't admit the "creation" part, but they'll certainly agree that the earth was "good:" that's what "Earth Day" is all about.  Hooray for earth!  Go, Blue! ...

But then Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, and what Christians call "the Fall" took place: and the earth was utterly shattered. We can't begin to imagine how beautiful this planet was before the Fall; but, even afterwards, it remained magnificent.  But so much of its current beauty is the result of catastrophe: think of the Grand Canyon, or mighty mountains pushed up by volcanic activity.  Some of the most breathtaking sights on earth are the result of violence .... and the violence came as a result of Adam and Eve's rebellion.  In other words, earth started out perfect, and man almost immediately set about ruining it - - - and he's been ruining it ever since.  Fundamentalist Christians and radical environmentalists can agree on this part; the latter just leave out the "God" stuff, which they find inconvenient, many of them also being radical theophobes. 
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The Bible describes earth's current condition, and does so without the help of Al Gore or "Friends of the Earth:" For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22). Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes: the planet is suffering.  And it's suffering because of man's rebellion.  The reason that the lion and the lamb aren't lying down together, yet, is because man destroyed God's perfect environment through sin.  And man will not restore that perfect environment through pantheistic orgies like "Earth Day," or even by the most dedicated "science."  It will be restored by God, at a time of His choosing, and not until.  
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(Actually, as Francis Schaeffer pointed out, it's not quite accurate to call today's radical environmentalists "pantheists."  Pantheism is the belief that nature is the manifestation of God, or is, quite literally, God: that God consists of the rocks and trees and star clusters.  But the "Earth Day" types don't, as a rule, believe that God exists at all.  They don't believe that everything [pan-] is God, because they don't believe God is there in any form.  So, as Schaeffer said, they should be called "pan-everythingists."  They don't believe that everything is God; they believe that everything is everything. They just haven't worked out the absurdity of their presuppositions.  And I'm not picking on the "Earth Day" people: Al Gore didn't invent pantheism.  Hindus and Buddhists and Native Americans have pantheistic elements in their ideologies; but at least they connect the visible with some sort of Deity, which the modern, educated Westerners simply don't.)
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There are, to be sure, professing Christians who are terribly concerned about the state of the planet .... infinitely more concerned, I might add, than they are about the state of other men's souls.  These liberal "Christians," who predominate in the mainline denominations (Roman Catholic and most Protestant groups), will weep, and weep sincerely, over the destruction of a species or the clear-cutting of a forest, or beat their breasts over "fracking;" but they won't shed a tear over millions of people going to Hell every week because they haven't heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They will yammer about "stewardship," and say that Adam and Eve (in whom they really don't believe) were put here to be "stewards" of the Garden.  Which is true; but they don't talk about the Fall, and how sin changed everything.  When the Bible refers to "stewardship" in the New Testament, it is not talking about "preventing global warming." That's a political position; and clergymen who present it as the Gospel are traitors to their calling, if they've been called at all.  They're infidels, and they literally don't give a damn about the souls of men and women.  If that offends you, go ahead and let your blood pressure shoot up: it won't affect your "carbon footprint."
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So, what about "global warming?" (That term isn't used so much any more; as it's gradually being discredited, the pan-everythingists are talking about "climate change.") Not being a scientist, I'm not going to enter that discussion, but as a middling student of the Bible, I can tell you God's plans for the earth.  At some point in the future (I believe the very near future), Jesus Christ is going to return to this planet, in the Flesh, with the scars showing, and sit down on David's Throne in Jerusalem, to rule the world with a rod of iron.  The planet will be restored for a thousand years; that's when the lion and lamb will lie down together, and the toddler will play, safely, with the rattlesnake and the anaconda. 
The planet will be ruled, politically, by the Jews: not the "Messianic Jews" or the "former Jews," but the Jews. And at the end of that time, there will be a final Judgment, the Great White Throne judgment of God, where every man and woman who hasn't received Jesus Christ will finally get his or her "day in court."  (I won't be there; my sins were judged at Calvary.)  Then, Satan will be bound and cast into Hell ..... and the human race will finally see what "global warming" is all about: 
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But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).   
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God burning earth
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And eternity will continue, and Heaven and Hell will continue ... and you and I will continue, in one of those places.  The earth will be, for some, a memory; others will have more wonderful things to think about.
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What is the current significance of the planet earth?  It's a place of great beauty, but also great ugliness; great joy, but also unending heartache.  But, as someone said, many many years ago:  "This earth is all of Heaven that an unbeliever in Jesus Christ will ever see - - - and all of Hell that a believer will ever see." 
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Enjoy "Earth Day," if you like.  Make yourself feel good by "caring for the planet."  But if you care about the things that are really important, like your relationship with the Creator, why not make this the day to actually meet Him, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ? But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).  Forget the politics and the fads and the fashions, and learn what life is all about!  You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

THE END OF THE BLOG AS WE KNOW IT

Hello there, brethren!  Forgive my long absence from this blog; I haven't truly been absent, but I have done very few posts in recent months.  As I said in a post on December 7 of last year, some of my inactivity was due to a series of surgeries and medical procedures, all of which (by the grace and mercy of God) were successful and had very positive results for me.  Since then, my posts have been limited because of my work on a major book-length manuscript; I'll share the details of this project as soon as possible.  (It's the last thing I ever expected to write: a Young Adult novel, thirty chapters in length, aimed at Christian teenagers. The manuscript is complete, and I'm in the process of finding a publisher; I would greatly appreciate your prayers.) But this blog is about to undergo some major changes - - - although it'll still be the blog you're used to.

To be completely honest, the platform for this blog (provided by Google), which has served me well since 2011, is becoming increasingly difficult and even unpleasant to use. Google, that mammoth corporate monstrosity which seeks to enfold us all in its smothering embrace, is constantly changing policies and rules, and I've decided, after praying about it, to move to another platform.  I won't be starting from scratch; I'll gradually re-post most of the important "Christian Reflections," as I continue to create new posts. I may be forced to change the title of the blog, but it will be recognizable.  Those of you who are "followers" of this blog will be notified by email when the change is made, sometime this summer, probably in June.

I thank you all for your interest and support, and I ask your prayers as I seek to follow God's will for this little blog.  God bless you all, and keep looking up!  The Lord might be back before any of these projects are completed! I leave you, temporarily, with these words from A. W. Tozer:

The will of God is always the proper goal for every one of us. Where God is must be the place of desire. Any motion toward God is a forward motion. Even repentance is not a retreat toward the past but a decided march into a more glorious future. Restitution is not a return to yesterday but a step into a blessed tomorrow. There is such a thing as going backward in the spiritual life. There is such a thing as a retreat from a spiritual position once held by us as individual Christians. And there is such a thing as denominations and missionary societies making a wholesale withdrawal from ground once won at tremendous cost. If we find that we have gone back, then we should immediately reverse the direction and again go forward. The great truths of superior spiritual experiences, of high levels of personal living, of rapturous communion with the Three Persons of the Godhead, of victory over the flesh, of the gifts and power of the Spirit: what has happened to these? Once they marked us out and made us peculiar. What about it today? These are fair questions and they demand an answer. If candid self-examination reveals a departure from the green pastures where once our fathers grazed, what then? Let there be no wasting of time in a futile mooning over the past. Rather let us arise and go! Let us go forward to a new and better place in God. The land lies before us. Let us go in and take it.