A Visit With Bill Bright During His Last Days (Part 1) - Bill Bright

Co-founder and President of the largest Protestant, non-denominational missionary organization for over 60 years, Bill Bright.

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Lessons Learned
Day 1 of 3
 
Guest:                    Bill Bright
 
From the series:   Reflections of Life:  A Personal Visit With Bill Bright
 
 
Bob:                Throughout his life and his ministry, Dr. Bill Bright has had a single focus – The Great Commission – that Christ would send us into all the world to preach the Gospel to all men.  Here is Dr. Bill Bright.
 
Bill:                  The average Christian does not realize that his loved ones, neighbors, and friends, are going to hell.  Now you say – would a loving God send people to hell?  No – God has put a cross at the entrance of hell, and the only way anybody can go to hell is to reject God's love and God's forgiveness.
 
Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 19th.  Our host is the Executive Director of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Today we talk with the man who has made The Great Commission his life's objective, Dr. Bill Bright.
 
                        And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  It was not long ago that you and I had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a Christian leader and, frankly, two years ago if you had said we would have had that opportunity in the fall of 2002, I would have said it won't happen, because the Christian leader, in this particular case, Dr. Bill Bright – well, everyone thought that he would not live much longer.
 
Dennis:          Right, and there were a number of us who wrote Bill letters, tributes; we made phone calls.  I still remember a great conversation I had with him that I thought would be my last, and he asked me to speak at an event, and I thought, "You rascal, you've done it again.  You've gotten one more thing out of me.  You're not even going to be here then," but Bill Bright is a great man.  His life is not over.  He is showing us how to finish strong, all the way to the end.
 
He only has about 40 percent of his lung capacity due to the disease that he has, but he's writing books, he's doing interviews, he's taking a limited number of speaking engagements and, Bob, I came to you a few months ago, and I said, "It's time we went to Orlando and sat in Bill Bright's living room and talked with him again.  He's now lived for a couple of years longer than either you or I thought he would.  Let's go find out what he's learned."
 
Bob:                And that conversation that we had in his living room in Orlando was just a relaxed conversation where we peppered him on a variety of subjects, but it was so refreshing.
 
Dennis:          Yeah, and it was really a sweet time.  For those who don't know who Bill Bright is, and there are some who perhaps don't – Bill is the founder and past president of Campus Crusade for Christ.  He is the author of the "Four Spiritual Laws", which has – I suppose there are billions of "Four Spiritual Laws" that have been reproduced around the world – people sharing their faith.  Bill has been used mightily by God to touch the world, to touch nations, but he also was used mightily in my own life and yours, too, Bob, and I think by the time our listeners listen to this interview, along with the next couple of days, Bill Bright will touch you deeply as well.  Let's listen to Dr. Bill Bright.
 
Bob:                You've talked about being on your way to the grave.  You know, there are some who are surprised that we're even having this conversation today, because there was a time just a few years ago I remember hearing you and Brant Gustafson together talking about being ready for heaven and, of course, Brant is there, you're here.  How have you processed all of that over the last several years?
 
Bill:                  Well, just before Easter a year ago, I came home from California to die.  I said to Vonette that I was choking and fainting and all the first signs of what they told me what happened at Mayo's and the Jewish Institute in Denver and my local doctor –"What you have is horrible."  He tried to get my attention, and when I received word I was dying, I said, "Praise the Lord," because, you know, you can't lose with a believer.  It's win-win.  If you die, you go to heaven; if you stay here, you keep on serving Him.  So I had begun to praise the Lord.  He thought I'd lost my sanity, and he said – then he really began to rebuke me – he said, "You have a horrible disease.  You're going to die the most horrible kind of death" – he's a heart specialist and been my doctor for 30 years – and he felt he could tell me that.  Most doctors wouldn't.  And he said, "It's worse than cancer, it's worse than heart trouble, you're just going to choke to death."
 
                        And so I was choking, and I came home to die.  So when I got off the plane, a couple – Jack and Pearl Galpin [sp] had befriended this Russian doctor, and they insisted that she come and examine me.  Now, here's a Ph.D, a research scientist, seven years in charge at Chernobyl, and she had no place to live except the home of the Galpins, who befriended her.  So she came to live in our home, treated me three times a day, and by the end of the 30 days, I began to have new life, and I’m awed at how good I feel.
 
Dennis:          You know, there's a story I want to just tell real quickly, because I want our listeners to know this – there's a real sense in which God used a Russian doctor in your life to keep you alive, and that really can be, I think, tied back to something you did years ago with your retirement savings.  You actually – you and Vonette – actually gave away your retirement to start an outreach in Moscow when the Iron Curtain dropped.  You gave away your retirement, and now here, at the end of your life, what does God use to bless you back, but a Russian whose country had benefited from your sacrificial act of giving, and I think, you know, that's the kind of thing that God in heaven, I think, must have a big grin about.
 
                        He goes, "Bill Bright, you are a termite," you know, "Dennis Rainey, you are, too, but I'm going to show you what I want to do."
 
Bill:                  Oh, He's awesome.
 
Dennis:          I'm going to use somebody from that country to bless you.
 
Bill:                  You know, it's interesting – Vonette and I were led by the Lord to give my retirement pension to build a New Life Training Center at Moscow State University, and one day I'm sitting in the tent 15 years later, recuperating and enjoying the Lord as we're chatting together, and it is as though the Lord said to me in a way that – no question about it – "I sent Dr. Ivanova to help you because you made the widow's mite investment in Moscow State University." 
 
                        Now, I began to sob.  I was overcome, because, frankly, there was no question what he was saying to me – that he was pleased by that.  I didn't do it for credit, I didn't make a big issue of it, and I wouldn't have brought it up if you hadn't, but you cannot outgive God, and though, as a movement, we had spent tens of millions of dollars sending Jesus films and Bibles and holding teacher convocations all over Russia and the other republics, but the Lord didn't seem to refer to that.  He referred to what I did first, and that was awesome.
 
Dennis:          You undoubtedly have envisioned where you're going.
 
Bill:                  Oh, heaven is awesome.  
 
Dennis:          To your best extent – obviously, you've never been there – but you've read about it, you know the One Who resides there, you've been walking with the One Who resides there – share what you expect?
 
Bill:                  Eyes not seen, ears not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.  Heaven is going to be indescribably beautiful – it's not going to be, it is – and I remember as a lad, my precious, saintly mother would often say, "I can hardly wait to go to heaven."  Now, she loved her husband, my father.  She loved seven children.  She was the pillar of the community.  If anybody needed any help, they would always come to my mother.  She was truly a saint.  But I didn't understand what she was saying until I became a believer and now I look forward, with her, with great anticipation, to heaven.  Everything we experience here on earth – all the most elegant and opulent kinds of experiences – cannot compare with what awaits those who believe.  
 
                        Here's my logic – the God who spoke – and astronomers say at least 100 billion, 200 billion galaxies were flowing into space, and He holds it all together with the word of His command.  The same God became a man – the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, died on the cross for our sins, was raised from the dead, and now lives within us, and He said, "I'm going to go to prepare a place for you, and then I'll come back and get you."
 
                        Now, this God who created all this unbelievably beautiful, wonderful universe, you know is going to do a special creative job in preparing heaven.  Heaven is going to be the golden, golden gem of the universe, and whatever our minds can conceive of will fall infinitely short of what heaven is like.
 
Bob:                Were you disappointed when you started getting better?
 
Bill:                  Well, I must tell you, I was excited about going to heaven.  You know, when you heard the interview with Brant Gustafson and myself, we were on a race.  We both were looking forward to going, and we weren't sure – we were saying, "I'll beat you there."
 
Dennis:          Yeah, well, he beat you, didn't he?
 
Bill:                  Yeah, he did – and dear, dear Brant – he was a marvelous, wonderful friend …
 
Dennis:          … yeah, I love him, too.
 
Bill:                  A beloved brother – but here I am doing, in a sense, the most creative thing I've ever done.  In the last 18 months I've put almost 100 hours of the best of my 100 books and booklets on blue screen technology – video – where I can use it for interactive training of millions of people through the years long after I'm with the Lord, and Andrew Murray has been dead 150 years, is still influencing millions of Christians.  Oswald Chambers has been dead over 100 years, is still influencing even the President of the United States.  So here we are, I'm building up a library of books and videos, and I've been able to do that more since I learned I'm dying than any other period in my life. 
 
And then God led a man by the name of James Davis and me to start, as a part of the Crusade ministry, Global Pastures Network, where our goal is to help start 5 million house churches in the next 10 years, and we're working with all major denominations.  We're working with scores of para-church groups, and it's not just a Campus Crusade for Christ project, though it's directed by Crusade under the leadership of Dr. Steve Douglas, but it's a partnership where the leaders of Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God, Presbyterians, and Methodists and many other groups – over 70 denominations and scores of para-church groups are involved.
 
So when I look back over what's happened in the last 18 months, I would have to say I'm glad the Lord let me stay here, and I don't want to stay one second longer than He wants me here.
 
Dennis:          You haven't retired?
 
Bill:                  (laughs) No – I've re-fired.
 
Dennis:          You have re-fired.  What are your dreams if the Lord gives you another 18 months?
 
Bill:                  Well, I would just want to see everything I'm now doing increased, expanded, developed.  But there's one very important thing that is really on my heart in addition to the others, and that is to call America back to the Bible and back to the God of the Bible.  I mentioned that Brad, our son, has written this book, "God is the Issue."  I've written a book on the attributes of God, " God Discovers Character," and "The Year of the Bible.  So we're working on a strategy to take those three – "God is the Issue," "The Year of the Bible," and "God Discovers Character," and do an evangelistic thrust in every community of America, and I can't think of any better way to announce it than your radio program, because, you see, if we get back to the God of the Bible, revival comes. 
 
                        And, you know I've fasted and prayed 40 days each year for the last nine years for revival for America, the world, and The Great Commission to be fulfilled.  So I am believing that God is going to raise up the kind of leaders that are necessary in every community of America to make this happen.  
 
Dennis:          Bill, you described heaven as a place you long to go for.  Your face lit up.  I want you to do something you may have never been asked to do – how would you describe hell?
 
Bill:                  Oh, oh, oh – I've just written a book, "Heaven or Hell:  The Ultimate Choice," and hell is an awesome, horrible, indescribably cruel, terrible place, and the average Christian does not realize that his loved ones, neighbors, and friends, are going to hell, and because he doesn't realize there is a hell that is so horrible there are no human words to describe it – this agony for all eternity.  Now you say "Would a loving God send people to hell?"  No.  God has put a cross at the entrance of hell, and the only way anybody can go to hell is to reject God's love and God's forgiveness.  Christ died for all people – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, everybody – and He's not willing that any should perish.
 
                        Peter writes, "God has delayed His return in order that more people might have a chance to receive Christ."  So God is not being unfair, but He is a just God, He's a holy God, a righteous God, and if we insist on violating His laws and disobeying Him, we are choosing to follow the kingdom of darkness – Satan – and I'm sobered by this.  Hell is a terrible place.  Heaven is an incredibly beautiful place, and as we read in Colossians 1:13 and 14, God has liberated us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan's kingdom and brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son Who bought our freedom with His blood and forgave us all our sins.
 
                        To everyone who is listening to me, take serious what I'm saying and what Dennis and Bob are saying – there are only two kingdoms in this world – Christ's kingdom and Satan's kingdom – and you and your loved ones are a member of either one of those, and you can't be a member of them both, and if you are playing footsies with the ways of the world and being enamored with the things of the world, you are being deceived by the enemy of your soul.  God prepared hell for Satan and his angels, not for you and me.  But if we insist on following Satan, we will go to hell where he is.  I just want to stand on the street corners and say, "Stop, stop, listen to me, you're on your way to heaven or hell, and there aren't any alternatives.  You're a member of one of two kingdoms – there aren't any other kingdoms," and we need to proclaim that.
 
Dennis:          And to that person, Bill, right now, who is listening, who is going, "I don't want to go there.  I don't want to go to a place of spiritual torment, of emotional grief and of judgment.  I want out of that kingdom.  I want to make sure I'm in God's kingdom – a place of peace, a place of beauty, a place of knowing God, seeing Him, and experiencing His love face-to-face."  What should that person do right now?
 
Bill:                  I'd like to ask everyone who has that desire to pray with me.  I'd like to lead them in prayer.
 
Dennis:          That's good.
 
Bill:                  Just, phrase-by-phrase, you quote after me.  Now, Jesus promised us – before we pray – "If you hear My voice and open the door, I'll come in."  If He is speaking to you through this program or any other program, don't you hesitate for a moment.  You may never have another opportunity like this, because God's grace does not always continue.  There's a time when He says, "I will withdraw My blessing from you."  Now, I ask you, if you really want Jesus in your heart, pray this prayer with me, phrase-by-phrase.  Pray it aloud if you're in a position where you can do so – if not, silently – "Lord Jesus, I know You're the Son of God, I know You died on the cross for my sins.  Come into my life, forgive my sins, change my life, make me the kind of person You want me to be."
 
God bless you.  Don't miss out on His plan for you.  He loves you.  He died for you.  He reaches out to embrace you.  Now don't turn Him away.  Follow Him to your last breath, and He will never fail you.  God bless you.
 
Bob:                That, of course, is Dr. Bill Bright, who has shared those sentiments over the last 50 years over and over and over again – calling men and women to faith in Christ and then to service to their Master throughout their lifetime.
 
Dennis:          That's right, and I have to turn to the audience right now and say to that woman who is listening, that man – if you do not know where you will spend eternity after hearing an 81-year-old man who is nearing the end of his life, give you an eternal perspective that there are two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, of the devil, wouldn't you like to be sure you are headed toward the kingdom of God?
 
It's a gift.  It's a gift that comes from God by His grace if we will yet receive it by faith in Him and His Word and basically Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins.  We must receive Him.  We must trust Him.  We must ask Him to be our Savior, our Master, our Lord, and I would just challenge you, right now – if you've not made that discovery, if you do not know the Creator of the Universe and are not walking with Him, there is no better time than right now.
 
Put aside excuses, lay aside that obstacle, that burden, that person in the church that has kept you from receiving Christ and come right now.  Just come to Him and kneel and ask Him – Lord Jesus be merciful to me, a sinner.  Come into my life, forgive my sins, be my Master, my Lord, and begin to make me who You created me to be.  Pray that prayer right now in faith, and I just want to remind you, it's not the words of your mouth, but it is the attitude of your heart of coming to God that I believe establishes a relationship with the Almighty God.
 
Bob:                If you want to know about that relationship with God and want to know what it means to be in a right relationship with God, call us and ask about a book we'd like to send you called "Right With God."  It's a book that will explain to you how a man is made right with God and what it means to be a follower of Christ.  Ask for a copy of that book.  We'll send it at no cost to anyone who prayed along with Dennis, anyone who wants to give his life to Christ today.  Call 1-800-FLTODAY and ask about the book, "Right With God."
 
                        Let me also mention that we have our entire visit with Dr. Bill Bright available on audiocassette or CD.  If you'd like to hear the entire conversation with Dr. Bright – we've had to edit it here for broadcast purposes – but you can hear the unedited dialog on cassette or on CD, and in our conversation with Dr. Bright, we had the opportunity to ask him about the books that he has written, and he said that his favorite of all of those books was a book called, "God: Discover His Character," a book about the attributes of our great God, and we have that book available as well.  If you would like to deepen your understanding and your knowledge of who God is, and I'll tell you, all of us can benefit from that exercise, get a copy of Dr. Bright's book.  Again, it's called "God:  Discover His Character," and you can ask for a copy when you call 1-800-FLTODAY or you can request a copy online at FamilyLife.com.
 
                        We always enjoy hearing from our listeners, Dennis.  We just recently heard from a number of our Legacy Partners, many of them writing to request prayer on a variety of subjects, and we do pray for you when you contact us and let us know what your needs are, and we appreciate those of you who are able to help with our financial needs as a ministry, either as a Legacy Partner or as a FamilyLife Champion.  If you would like to make a contribution to FamilyLife or if you'd like to contact us so that we can be praying for you, you can write to FamilyLife at Box 8220, Little Rock, Arkansas.  The zip code is 72221.  Once again, write to FamilyLife Today at Box 8220, Little Rock, Arkansas.  The zip code is 72221.  You can also donate online at FamilyLife.com or you can call to make a donation at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
 
                        Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to hear excerpts from our recent dialogue with Dr. Bill Bright, the past president and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.  I hope you can be back with us for that.
 
                        I want to thank our engineer today, Robbie Neal, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today. 
 
                        FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
 
 
 
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