Nuggets of Fudge, A man, not a plan


The original founders of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (RM) had known, understood, and preached Jesus Christ. However, from the second generation forward, Jesus Christ himself gradually faded from view as the primary subject discussed week after week from the pulpits of Churches of Christ, to be replaced by “the Lord’s church” (or “The New Testament church”) and “the plan of salvation.” In his book titled The Core Gospel: On Restoring the Crux of the Matter (ACU Press, 1992), the late Dr. Bill Love, a Jesus-man and Bible preacher of uncommon giftedness, painstakingly documented, generation by generation, this gradual but undeniable change in the message preached by the most influential preachers within the RM during its first century.

In his mercy and from time to time, God raised up various men to call the Churches of Christ back to their proper subject–Jesus Christ. One such messenger was a man named K. C. Moser (1893-1976), who led out with an article entitled “Preaching Jesus,” published in the December 1, 1932 issue of the Gospel Advocate, the major Church of Christ publication of influence east of the Mississippi River. Moser’s title came from Acts8:35 which, in the older versions, says that when Philip encountered the Ethiopian eunuch, he “preached to him Jesus.” Philip did not preach a system of religion, or conditions of salvation disconnected from the atonement. He proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God who bears the sins of the world.

K. C. Moser simply pointed out that to do otherwise is to make grace void and to turn conditions of salvation into pure law. When Philip encountered the eunuch, Moser argued, he “preached not a plan, but a man.” That phrase, and its counterpart “the man, not the plan,” quickly caught on throughout the Churches of Christ among parties of both persuasions. “The Man, Not the Plan” remains the shorthand way of referring to this controversy among the Churches of Christ even today.

During the following year, 1933, Texas preacher R. L. Whiteside began a response to Moser’s teaching on Romans. Both men actively advanced their respective views in sermons, classes, and by every means at their disposal. Moser set out his Jesus-centered teaching on salvation in two influential books. The Gist of Romans was first printed in 1957 with a second edition in 1958. The Way of Salvation was issued some time later, and it was the catalyst that provoked publication of Whiteside’s commentary on Romans. Unfortunately, at almost every important point throughout Paul’s grand epistle, rather than explaining the text of Romans, Whiteside comes dangerously close to merely explaining Romans away.

Approximately a decade after that, my own first religious article to be published in a major brotherhood journal was a piece called “Emphasis: Christ,” Firm Foundation,LXXIV:45 (November 7, 1967). It was immediately attacked and denounced by articles in four or five other smaller journals. My crime, according to these critics? I was preaching the Man, they said, and not placing proper emphasis on the Plan. I thanked God that he had put me in the right place, and prayed that I would always occupy it. A few years later, I published a little book titled THE GRACE OF GOD, which was all about Jesus and salvation through trusting in him. I sent a copy to K. C. Moser, then still alive. To my enormous delight, he wrote back a hand-written note expressing appreciation for the gift, and stating that I was teaching precisely what he believed the Bible to teach.

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This from my esteemed friend Edward Fudge, EdwardFudge.com.

Edward is a gifted attorney, author of several books, thinker, scholar, and mightily used Bible teacher with a broad ministry to many groups in addition to his own beloved churches of Christ. His popular graceEmail is received by thousands each week and you can subscribe HERE for this free service.

Above all else Edward Fudge is a Jesus man, grace, gospel-man whom I am thrilled to call my friend.

Royce
Monroe, LA

The church building has no soul


Wstudley20church1e use the word “church” in a far different way than our first century brothers and sisters did. They never once said “Let’s go to church”. They understood that “church” was the gathered people who were believers in Jesus. We do use the word with that meaning in mind but we also use it to mean a building where we meet together once or twice a week, or what happens in the building. I don’t have a problem with saying “Let’s go to church”, I use “church” in that context and meaning frequently. But, there is another problem.

For some reason the building where we meet on Sunday has become a holy place to many people. In fact, many of our church of Christ folks believe the auditorium is more holy than the class rooms or the fellowship hall. For example, some churches will allow music with instruments in the sound track in the fellowship hall but not in the “worship center” or whatever name they have for it. And, some believe that women can speak in a class of mixed adults but not in the “worship assembly”. I have friends who would not dare come to worship on Sunday in the same clothing they would come to a Bible study in one of the class rooms. For some reason unknown to me people think the biggest room in the church building is a holy place.

Not any of these things come from the New Testament. There were no “church buildings” in the first century. People gathered in homes, temple court yards, by the sea, and I suppose any other suitable spot that was convenient. There were no pulpits, so the pulpit is no more a holy place to speak from than is a table in the kitchen.

Because of tradition ingrained over hundreds of years we have adopted ideas that are special to us and guard them as closely as Holy Scripture. The church building has no soul! It’s the people of God who are the “church”. If they meet in someone’s home, if they meet at a ball park, or in a picnic area by a lake, they are the local “church”. These closely held traditions have led men to make rules about what can and cannot happen in the biggest room in the building on Sunday morning. That is not a good thing. None of those man-made rules furthers the cause of Christ and the good news about Him.

We don’t go to “church” to be in God’s presence, we are in God’s presence all the time. If you are a true disciple of Jesus, when you move a part of the church is moving. And when you speak, the church is speaking. Our speech, our actions, and our attitudes should be no different on Saturday afternoon than on Sunday morning, where ever we are.

So let’s stop playing games. Let’s go to church and let’s be the church from Sunday to Sunday. A watching world needs to see genuine Christians living simple, loving everyone, and making much of Jesus.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

Our Christmas Tree


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You probably wonder about the Christmas tree. It closely resembles some of the trees my father would bring in the house and decorate when I was a child. He had the worst decorating tastes of any person I have ever met. As daddy entered a field of scattered pines, the first tree he saw that resembled a pine fell victim to his axe. Even if a couple of limbs had to be wired on to make it acceptable that was no problem. The same two strings of lights were used for perhaps 20 years. There were colored light bulbs with colored metal reflectors held in place by screwing the bulbs in through them. There were two strands of garland, one silver and one red, which after a decade or so began to look like shiny twine, not garland. Some of the early years would find daddy with some sewing thread, a needle, and a bowl of pop corn, stringing it up to add more color to the tree. At its best it was always only slightly more attractive than the one in the picture. Mom was blind so daddy got away with stuff most husbands would have been maimed for! But, it was Christmas and we were happy.

At least once a year, daddy would mention that Christmas for him, when he was a boy, was an orange, and perhaps a few pieces of hard candy. It was a true story. My grandparents had 13 children and lived a very primitive life back in the hollers and way up the creeks in Yancey County N.C. We had it good compared to those days and my parents never took it lightly.

My favorite Christmas memory was getting a bicycle one year. It was a hand-me-down from a 1st cousin that daddy had painted red with a brush and it looked like it. But, I was thrilled to have my own bike and it was a wonderful gift. My grandson’s haul, and the huge boxes that were mailed off to granddaughters, are a stark contrast to those days of finding so much comfort in just getting by.

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This is from part of a post I wrote in Dec of 2007. It brings back a flood of memories, good memories, ones I’ll cherish forever.

Sadly, working a full-time job has really limited my time to write, something I love doing. It seems that there is never enough time for it. Perhaps I need to make better use of the time I have. We’ll see about that…

Meanwhile I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and that you keep first things first. May each of us treasure Christ in our hearts above all else. Of all our affections He should be supreme.

Merry Christmas,

Royce Ogle

 

 

Now, But Not Yet


My study of Scripture has led me to these conclusions.

  • I “have” eternal life, but wait for it.
  • I  have been “made” righteous, but am unrighteous.
  • I have been “justified”, but wait to be justified.
  • I have become a “child” of God, but wait to fully experience that relationship.
  • I have been “sanctified”, but am being sanctified.
  • I have a “place” prepared for me to live in, but wait to live there.

All of this is to say I am “saved” , I am being saved, and I wait to be fully saved.

  • I  have eternal life as a present possession but being earth-bound and flesh- bound I will not fully live the eternal life I have until Jesus comes to finally complete his reconciliation of all things to himself (God).
  • I now am counted by God as righteous based wholly upon the worth and work of Jesus but I would be a liar, and be calling God a liar, if I claim I don’t still sin. I do, you do.
  • I have been justified, or ‘set right” with God though Chris,t but until I receive the immortality promised I will not have complete justification.
  • I am now God’s child but I have yet to literally sit at his table, to look Jesus in the face, and to experience all that is mine as an heir to all God owns. And, to share it all with my siblings.
  • I am now sanctified (set apart for God) but my sanctification will only be complete when the very presence of sin will be forgotten history. I’m not there yet but it’s certain I will get there.
  • There is a place reserved for me in eternity outside of time but I must wait to see it and experience it until the new heaven and new earth are revealed along with the sons and daughters that will inhabit them.

I live solidly and without doubt in the now of today, sure of the promised tomorrow. I do so with NO merit of my own. My promise realized is my promise sealed by God himself based not on me or what I have done, or will do, but wholly upon the sinless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ the righteous. When at last I stand before the Lord of all that is I can claim nothing but the blood of the Lamb poured out for ungodly sinners like me.

While I wait for my blessed hope I am content for Jesus to be my peace, my hope, my joy, my comfort, my righteousness, my advocate, and my promise of seeing the glory of God for myself. Christ is the vine, I am a branch. There is no me without Him. I’m working at abiding in Him.

Grace to you,

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA