Nuggets of Fudge – Obedience and Trust as Fruit and Root

When I was a child, we often sang a hymn that admonished us to “trust and obey,” assuring us that “there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.” The two verbs go together: we obey because we trust, and because we trust we obey. Trust and obedience are well-suited companions, but more. Related, but more. They live in symbiotic relationship, each nourishing and being nourished by the other, each simultaneously drawing life from and contributing life to the other.

Trust initiates obedience, activates and motivates it. Obedience expresses, affirms, and confirms trust. Neither is found in its mature state without the other. Hannah W. Smith, the Quaker universalist author of the spiritual classic, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, had it right when she wrote: “Perfect happiness is perfect obedience to one in whom you have perfect trust.”

Of course, not everyone appreciates such nuances and niceties. We all have heard some for whom obedience seems to have gobbled up anything even slightly resembling trust. They argue that anyone who enjoys God’s fellowship, either now or forever, must somehow merit his favor. Their confusion is called “legalism,” and it leads sober- minded people either to self-deception or to despair.

There are other folks so infatuated with what they call trust or faith that they rarely mention obedience at all. They seem quite confident that God’s grace makes obedience all but superfluous. Their confusion is known as “antinomianism.” Think of legalism and antinomianism as deep ditches on opposite sides of the gospel road. Each ditch is hazardous to spiritual health. Both need to be warned against and to be avoided at all costs.

by Edward Fudge



Wisdom such as this shows up in my “inbox” every few days. It is one of the writing ministries of Edward Fudge. If you would like a free subscription click HERE to sign up. You’ll be glad you did. Learn more about Edward and enjoy his work by visiting his webhome

God’s Righteousness revealed in the gospel

 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:15-17 ESV)

Thinkers and theologians have discussed part of this passage of Scripture for centuries. Much of that inquiry is focused on this phrase, “ I am ready to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome“.

Paul wrote the letter to the believers at Rome in about 60 A.D. from Corinth. No one knows for sure exactly when, or by whom the church in Rome was founded. Roman Catholics claim it was Peter but there is not any proof of that claim. We can be sure that there was a large number of Christians in Rome by 60 A.D., and there had been believers there for several years (Romans 1:8). The Roman believers were mature (Romans 15:14) and were able to encourage Paul (Romans 1:12,13) should he get to visit them.

It is very clear that Paul’s letter was meant for the believers in Rome and not the general population, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). So the question is raised, why would Paul want to preach the gospel to the Christians at Rome? After all, isn’t the gospel about how to get people saved? That is the consensus of many writers and some have even assumed that Paul meant to do his gospel preaching to the sinners in Rome, not the saints. But the record is crystal clear, Paul intended to preach the gospel to Christians. In my view, if you read the book of Romans and understand the message, you will clearly understand why Paul would preach the good news about Jesus to Christians.

Now, back to my purpose for this post. I want to focus on this phrase, “For in it (gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed”. If you read Romans 1:16,17 carefully you will see this progression of thought.

Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Roman Christians. Why? Because he is not ashamed
of the gospel. Why is he not ashamed of the gospel? Because it is the power of God to salvation
to everyone who believes. Why does it have that power? Because in it the righteousness of God
is revealed. Paul arrives finally at the most important fact, “The righteousness of God has
been revealed“.

In the first case, the story of Jesus and his work for sinners (gospel) “is the power of God for salvation…” Salvation is more than the moment you become a Christian. Christians are “now” justified, are presently being “sanctified”, and will be “glorified”. Our salvation will not be complete until we receive the glorified bodies and inheritance as promised at the resurrection (Ephesians 1:14). So we can say of ourselves, “We have been saved, we are being saved, and will be finally saved”, and be precisely accurate.

It is the gospel that sinners need to hear. But it is the gospel that saints need to hear as well! If you follow the teaching of Paul through all of his speaking and writing you will know that Paul was never off topic. He was a gospel man! His calling, his life and work, was to preach Christ and the gospel. Many churches and preachers today have largely forsaken the gospel for nice devotionals to make folks feel good and messages designed to change the behaviour of the hearers. It is only knowing Christ and knowing him more fully that matures believers, changes attitudes and conduct, and causes them to love others. Why? Because in the gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed“. What does that even mean? How has the righteousness of God been revealed in the good news about Jesus and his work for sinners?

That God is “righteous” means that he is “right” and never wrong. Another way of describing this is to say God is just. He is always fair, always does the right thing. I believe his righteousness envelopes and includes some of his other attributes or character traits. For certain his love, grace, mercy, justice, etc, are included.

  1. In the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed because God will not tolerate sin. Because God is holy he cannot approve sin or allow it to go unnoticed or unpunished. God is very, very serious about sin. In fact he said “The soul that sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:20). God proved up his righteousness by sending Jesus to die for the sins of the world. Not one sin has been overlooked. Every sin of every age has been atoned for. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21). John the Baptist’s intro to Jesus went like this. “Behold,the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18,19) Make no mistake about this, God fully and finally dealt with sin at the cross of Christ. God cannot be righteous and tolerate sin.
  2. In the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed because God’s standard is perfect obedience. It is the Christ of the gospel alone who fully met that holy standard in his life on earth. The author of Hebrews said of Jesus,
    consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
    “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
    in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    ou have taken no pleasure.
    Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
    When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:5-10) John 6:38 confirms this. Jesus, above all else was in flesh, on earth, to do all the Father willed. It was the perfectly obedient life of Jesus that he offered in his sacrificial death for sinners. Jesus fulfilled the law, he kept every line, every precept was fully fleshed out by the obedient Son (Matthew 5:17-20, Romans 10:4).  Men try to make themselves righteous by doing good and not doing bad things. The best a man can hope for is “self-righteousness” by employing only his own efforts. The righteousness of men fall far short of God’s standard of righteousness which is his own holy character. Jesus Christ lived that perfect righteousness and now freely makes sinners to be accounted righteous when they trust Him.
  3. In the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed because God loves the ungodly! “ For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) “Ungodly” describes all of us. Not one human (except Jesus) fully met God’s lofty standards for doing right but God loved us anyway! 
  4. In the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed because God makes sinners righteous! “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). God makes sinners righteous by declaring them to be righteous based upon the person and work of Jesus. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,  just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
    “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
     blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:4-8)
  5. In the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed because Jesus is God’s righteousness!  “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26) In the life and work of Jesus God put on a show! He displayed his perfect righteousness! His “righteousness…has been manifested”, “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”, and twice Paul says in this text “This was to show God’s righteousness”, “It was to show his righteousness”. When God came in flesh he showed off his righteousness by who he was and what he did. Paul says it very plainly,  “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord“. (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) 

I can gladly say with Paul “I am not ashamed of the gospel.., for in it the righteousness of God is revealed”! There is no way to be righteous in God’s eyes other than by faith in Christ Jesus. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”.

Royce Oge
Monroe, LA

The God of the Valley

I am certain that some of you who read this will have heard gospel singer Vestal Goodman sing the following lyrics with her signature voice. Songwriter Lynda Randle wrote these words:

Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind, like you’ve never known
But things change, when you’re down in the valley
Dont lose faith, for your never alone
For the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night
We talk of faith way up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life”s at its best
Now its down in the valleys, trials and temptations
That”s where your faith is really put to the test
For the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley,
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night
The God of the day, is still God in the night

Is your God still God in the valley? Is he God in the night? Is he God when you are in the ICU waiting room? Is he God when you are sitting in the section reserved for family at a funeral?

We are quick to give God credit when we get the news that our loved one is now cancer free, but we have no answer when our prayers are not answered and the cancer kills. I think that we Americans, who for the most part have lived pretty cushy lives, have a skewed view of who God is. Our theology of God is more like a story written by some dreamy fiction writer than the God of the Bible. Many of us have completely bought into the idea that God’s ideal for us believers is that we should be always healthy, prosperous, raise successful children and have perfectly healthy grand children. The problem with that idealistic thinking is the Bible. The Word of God tells a different story.

I wonder sometimes, have we read the book of Job, or about the life of Joseph, or the life and ministry of Paul, or John the Baptist, or the last section of Hebrews? There are dozens of passages that come to mind but I want to focus on a familiar passage in Romans 8.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

There are some important truths we can learn from this passage. I doubt that you are much different from me in that I often read a familiar passage of Scripture such as this and take from it the meaning I am comfortable with, and fond of, and miss much of the meaning intended. So it is with this passage for sure!

The first thing we can know from this teaching is that even though things are pretty bad at times now, they will get better in the future. Verse 18 gives a huge contrast.

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us

The contrast is present sufferings vs future glory. To the suffering those realities are light years apart. But, God, through the pen of the Apostle Paul is building hope in us. We have something great to look forward to. There will not always be cancer hospitals and funeral homes, God’s future for us is His glory revealed to us. But even knowing this we still have questions. Why Lord? There are answers.

The circumstances we experience in our lives on earth are by God’s design. Now before you have a stroke see what God has to say. If we keep reading we find this statement in verse 20.

for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope

Because of God’s purposes not fully known to you and me He has caused the whole of creation to be subjected to futility. The text is very concise, the world we know with floods and tornadoes and blindness and cancer and war is not like it is “of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it…” You and I are focused on our present troubles (or blessings) but God is focused on his own glory. We are short-sighted but God is concerned not only with the present but with his future glory. What God has accomplished by the life and work of Jesus has made it so that we very frail and flawed people will be on display to demonstrate God’s glory, vs 18, 19, and 21. There is design and purpose to what God is doing.

Did you notice two words in verse 20, “in hope”? God subjected the creation (you and I and those we love included) “in hope”. We are not left to wring our hands and pace the floor asking “Why Lord”. No, we know why. God gives us hope! He gives us something to look forward to. The resurrection of Jesus makes it sure and certain that we too will live forever “on the mountain’ so to speak, but not yet.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved.

Though our destiny is sure, we are not fully saved yet. Our salvation is a work in progress. Even as we hopefully mature spiritually, each day is one day closer to the redemption of our bodies when there is no death, no tears, no disappointments, and only the glory of God. “For we are saved in this hope”.

There is more in the text that builds our faith increases our hope if we will only trust our God.

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. vs 28

Everything Lord? “Everything” includes some very painful experiences, “everything” Lord? Yes, God says “in everything” he is working for “good”. We must trust God, we must believe that he is for us! He is for us, not against us. Even when the most unimaginable tragedy befalls us God is at work, for our good and his glory.

To demonstrate his loving-kindness God has made a way to help us through the valleys of our lives. This remarkable statement should bring us comfort and cause us to praise our God who loves us so.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. 27 And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Isn’t this wonderful to know? When I am praying a selfish prayer for deliverance from some woe the Holy Spirit lovingly takes over and redirects and orients my prayer with words of his own that conform to the will of God. I am well aware that God’s ways are higher than my ways and that I am ill-equipped to always pray as I should but I need never worry about that. The God who is for you is the God who intercedes for you, “according to the will of God”.

In light of these precious promises and instruction from the Words of God we should face tomorrow with new confidence, with greater hope, and with more faith than before. I recall the Apostle Paul referring to his many troubles as “light and momentary”(2 Corinthians 2:14), he understood God’s loving design and was confident that mountain top living forever was on the horizon.

God loves you, he desires what is good for you. Our young children often have no understanding of why they can’t do some things because they are immature and lack the experience of their loving parents. So they fuss and cry. Let’s not be like that. God has explained just enough to us that we should be content and faithful even in the valley.

To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

Read more: Lynda Randle – God On The Mountain Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The “Joy” of Christmas…Got it?

Everyone wants to be Merry, or Happy all the time, but especially at Christmas. I sure do! The problem is life doesn’t always cooperate.

Circumstances that make you and I happy ebb and flow depending wholly upon what happens next, or what has happened in the past. If you were invited to the right parties, received that special gift you dreamed of, or the crazy aunt behaved herself when the family was gathered are some of the things that contribute to “happiness”.

Leaving the turkey in the oven far too long, having transmission problems on the way to grandma’s house, or your family misbehaving at the Christmas table are a sampling of things that tend toward us not being “happy”.

The truth is, for the most part, we simply can’t control our circumstances. Other people, mechanical things, the local news, politics, the economy and the list is endless of the things that are completely beyond our reach. So, if your goal is to be happy, good luck!

True contentment is deep-seated and unshakable, it rests not in our happenings but rather in our relationship with God through Christ. The joy he gives (a far more precious thing than happiness…) is unwavering. Knowing that the Creator is “for” you and that He loves you perfectly, produces joy the Bible describes as “unspeakable”, so my attempt to adequately describe it will fail.

The knowledge that without regard to what happens today, or Christmas day, everything will be all right because of whose you are and where you are going wells up in a heart of joy and confident living that brightens the day of those who observe your steadiness in troublesome times. I hope that this Christmas and the approaching new year you will know the “Joy” of Christmas and every day because of your total trust in the Joy-giver.

Because God loves us so very much He invaded our humanity to live among us. He was in every sense “God with us!” Yes, Jesus came to do what we could not, perfectly be obedient to all of God’s desires for humans. He finished the job well! Then, in the supreme act of love he took upon him the sins and failings of us all and died for us the death we faced. Then in 3 days he rose from the dead so now this gracious offer could  be announced.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

What a gift! I hope each person who reads this will cherish this love gift of God this Christmas and know the joy only He can give.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA