Nuggets of Fudge – Reading the Bible Usefully


Of all the people I know, no one better exemplifies the Christ-life than my dear friend Edward Fudge. Those who know Edward will all agree that he is a Jesus-man. He is a gospel machine! One of the reasons I love Edward is that he keeps Jesus at the center of his teaching and living. Observing his life is a vital lesson on how to live and love for Jesus. And, Edward is also a Bible-man! He loves the Word of God and has studied many years mastering Greek and practicing that biblical language with a friend so he could better know what the Bible is actually saying.

With this introduction I gladly present a brief study on reading the Bible from Edward Fudge.

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For the person who follows Jesus, his body and blood are bread from heaven, the food of eternal life (John 6:48-58). This metaphor emphasizes the necessity of maintaining spiritual union with Jesus so close that his life sustains and nourishes us. But next to Jesus himself, the Scriptures are surely the best soul-food available here on earth. Here are three practical, scriptural pointers to help us maximize the blessing received whenever we read the Scriptures.

1—Begin with prayer. It often goes unstated in our humanistic culture, but Christianity is a supernatural way of life. Academic study, original languages, and all sorts of study “aids” can assist understanding when properly used, but none of those things can begin to substitute for divine revelation. Whenever we open the sacred writings, let us pray–as the Book of Common Prayer puts it–that God will enable us to “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” (John 6:45; Luke 24:45; Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:7).

2–Keep Jesus Christ central. Scripture’s very purpose is to lead us to him (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:47; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). To miss Jesus is to miss the point of the Bible. Randy Millikan, a physician and cancer researcher, and one of the best Bible teachers I have known, delights to say: “Begin anywhere in the Bible and head straight for the cross.” Ask yourself and God how your passage points to Jesus Christ.

3–Remember that the purpose of your reading is not information for its own sake but spiritual transformation. We cannot stop with knowing, but go on to doing and being. Jesus came to make disciples, not scribes. On the last day, God will not ask how many biblical facts we can recite. Read with the intent of becoming more like Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27; Matt. 11:25-26; Col. 1:9-11).

EdwardFudge.com is Bro’ Edward’s website.

gracEmail is one of Edward’s greatest ministries. Click on the link to read past gracEmails or subscribe to have one of his brilliant studies, or personal notes of interest about his life and family, or ministry, delivered to your inbox 3 times each week, free of charge.

When you drink the cup of the new covenant


The following passage from 1 Corinthians 11 is the most often read section of Scripture when believers are about to observe the Lord’s Supper together. It is a quote from the Apostle Paul and in the quote Paul quotes Jesus. Here is the passage.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

I think because this passage is so very familiar we often miss the message and deep meaning given in it. Before I move on to the main focus of this meditation I want to point out some things that struck me as I read and re-read this text.

First, Paul’s credibility. This is not something Paul heard from oral tradition, or some one said…, he makes it clear that he received this account from the Lord. He got this message from Jesus himself. So perhaps we should pay closer attention.

Second, Paul’s repetition. “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you”. This is obviously not the first time Paul has talked to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper. “Delivered” is past tense, he had said it before, and it is worth repeating!

Third, Paul’s reminder. When you do this you are preaching the gospel. “You proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” The gospel is covered. His death is the focus and we expect him to “come”. He could not come if he was still dead, so he must be raised from the dead! Each time we share in the Lord’s Supper we are teaching the gospel to one another, reminding one another of whose we are and the price paid, and of course that Jesus will come. We do it with that expectation!

Now to the part I want to focus on in this post.”This cup is the new covenant in my blood” said Jesus. So the question is raised, what then is the new covenant? Whatever it is it cost the blood of Jesus!

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)

There is no doubt the new covenant Jesus acquired for us by his own precious blood was very costly. Nothing ever could be more worth more! But what is it? Here it is from Jeremiah.

39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:39-31)

This is only part of what God said about the new covenant by the mouth of the Prophet Jeremiah, but it is a very, very good part. This, dear soul, is what Jesus purchased with his own blood for you.

God’s new covenant is amazing. The depth of his love is overwhelming! Read these verses over a few times and see what Christ has done for us.

A new heart! (Ezekiel 36:26) He gives us individually and as a community of believers the desire to fear Him “forever”. Right away we can see this is no temporary decree. It will be good for us and our children. It is the sort of grace gift that invades the next generations.

Next, God says this new covenant is “everlasting”. He will not change his mind about it. He says “I will not turn away from doing good for them”. God’s mind is set on doing good for you forever!

Next he says he will put it in our hearts to fear him. This is important enough that he repeats it. Why would he do this? Verse 39 “that they may fear me forever“, and in verse 40 “that they may not turn from me”. This is God’s doing! The new covenant is a “forever” covenant. You will not need God longer than forever.

Finally, God says something very special. It shows the depth of his love for those who are his own. He will rejoice in doing us good! With all his heart and soul he will delight in causing us to fear him and to be faithful to him.

Jesus said “This is the new covenant in my blood”. He, not us, is the strength and promise and power and purpose of the new covenant.

How can you know you are truly in this covenant with God? Day after day, month after month, year after year you fear God and are faithful to him. You do those things Jesus commanded. You love him and your neighbor. You will not do it perfectly but you will desire to please the one who purchased your redemption with his own blood.

Now rest in and rejoice about your standing with God. Make no mistake about this, the strength of the new covenant is God, not how well you can perform. This kind of love demands humble surrender and unending joy from the beneficiaries of Jesus’ love work for sinners like you and me.

When you drink the cup, remember the Lord. It is the cup of his love.

Good News about Jesus


This is part of a comment I posted on a friend’s blog.

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The good news about Jesus’ work for the ungodly is not about our “doing” but His “done”. God was in Christ reconciling the cosmos to himself. We have been (past tense) reconciled to God by the death of His son. In Adam the law of sin and death reigns. Even those who had no law sinned and died. Just as Adam represented us in sin and death, the second Adam (Jesus) represented us in defeating death, hell, and the grave. When he died we died with him and just as a widow is freed from her marriage by death, so we are freed from the penalty of the law by the representative death of Jesus for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made righteous.

The gracious offer of the gospel is the free gift of being set free from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and finally the very presence of sin. Sinners hear the good news, they repent of their unbelief, and beginning with confession and baptism, try the best they can to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Jesus said he came to seek and to save (only he saves…) that which was lost. He also said he did not come to condemn, and he didn’t appoint anyone else to condemn either.

Royce

Knowing Christ is the only cure for racism


One day each year Americans officially acknowledge our racist past. On Martin Luther King Day government offices and schools close and black folks have parades and speeches and white people and others go play golf, do some chores around the house, and see an editorial in the local newspaper about racial reconciliation or the lack of it.

Our beloved United States of America has a history of racism that us both ugly and undeniable. We hear far more about how badly African-Americans have been treated than any other because it is more current. But God help us if we forget how our forefathers treated the indigenous Indians who had lived on this continent long before they arrived here. And, let’s not forget the way we treated the Japanese and other Orientals after Pearl Harbor. We rounded them up like cattle and stripped them of their dignity and freedom. Even though our actions were driven by fear in their case, and greed in the case of the Native Americans, it was nonetheless racist.

Some you who are young adults might not know this but Americans didn’t invent racism. I could give a short history lesson about Europeans, Africans, the middle east and on and on but the fact that racial problems exist is well established, and on that we can all agree. Even some of our most quoted and admired Biblical characters were guilty.

Peter was a Jew and loud and proud. He was not unlike almost everyone he knew because his friends and closest associates were all Jews too. God would change that. In the Bible in Acts 10 is the story of God giving brother Peter a vision that would rock his world.

Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:9b-16)

Standing at the gate were messengers from an Italian army centurion, a Gentile named Cornelius. When Peter heard what they had to say he invited them in.

The first lesson for Peter, and for us about racial differences is this. What God has made clean, do not call uncommon. This object lesson was not only for Peter but for others as well including you and me. God made a decision that Peter would go preach Christ to the Gentiles and that they would believe. (Acts 15:7) It was God who chooses sons and daughters from every tongue and tribe and place and those who are chosen are “one” in Christ.

It was none other than Jesus himself who modeled what Peter and others of God’s people would eventually do. Remember the story of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well? He went out of his way, (literally) to meet that woman who was not a Jew and had a sordid past and was at the present time living with a guy who was not her husband. God chose her to make clean.

In what I think is the most remarkable prayer in the Bible, Jesus prayed that his followers would be united, that they would be one. After Jesus had interceded for his followers he then prayed for you and me. He prayed for us!

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me,that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)

You see, only in Christ can every difference be either put aside or celebrated.  Someone has said “The ground is level at the foot of the cross“. I get it. When we stand there with people from other races, from other faith heritages, we stand in grace. It is our common union with Christ that joins us with others. In Him alone teeming millions are made one.

News outlets report daily of the slaughter of people whose only offence is wrong race or wrong religion. It is as old as human history and it will not end until God makes everything over. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” and when the result of that work is fully realized there will be no more fighting over racial differences.

Until then, we must guard our hearts and do the hard work of loving people different from us. Peter started off well. He was obedient to his calling to take the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles. And, he defended them and God’s plan to the church leaders who were themselves pious yet wicked sinners. But, as time went on Peter fell into the trap of loving the praise of men more than the will of God. Paul tells the story in his letter to the Galatians.

11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Peter was a hypocrite. I am sometimes a hypocrite too. If we care more about what the leadership of the church thinks, or some family member, our a boss at work than what God has said and modeled we are headed for trouble.

The Christians across town, or in my pew, doesn’t have to look like me, or dress like me, or sing like me, or…..anything else to be my spiritual siblings. If our dialogue with our brothers and sisters centers more on Christ and his grace and less on religion, politics, and culture we will be far closer to being the people God intends.

As followers of Jesus you and I don’t have the luxury of choosing who we will love and accept. Our marching orders are to love everyone!

Let’s be aggressively loving like Jesus did. We will be better for it and our part of the world will be a better place to live. I’ll end with one more Scripture passage.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:5)

Royce Ogle