Meet Your Friendly Apostate


I learned this morning that once again a loving brother in Christ has lumped yours truly in with other Apostates. The New Mexico preacher/elder Al Maxey emails his publication “Reflections” to hundreds of people each week. His studies and articles are well researched and written. Bro’ Al is one of those damned “change agents” who is speaking truth to our beloved church of Christ people and a few of them are not happy.

One of those people who are less than pleased with Al Maxey is a preacher from Alabama, one Caroll Ray Sutton, who has been the preacher at a small church of Christ for about 50 years. He publishes a paper titled “The Instructor”. In the Feb 2013 issue Mr Sutton has this to say:

“When apostates (and other false teachers) like Edward Fudge, Al Maxey, Max Lucado, Leroy Garrett, Rubel Shelly, Randy Harris, Royce Ogle, Jay Guin, Lynn Anderson, etc. contend that there is no pattern in the New Testament for us to follow in order to please God and thus be saved eternally, I am made to wonder how any honest, truth-seeking person would pay any attention to what they have to say” [p. 2].

What an honor to be named with that group of men. Each is far more able than I as teachers, preachers and writers. This is the second time in the past few months that I have been honored to have been mentioned along with some of these good men. What is it that makes men like Mr Sutton so angry and so quick to damn us to hell?

Each of those men named as “apostates” are guilty of the same infraction. Each of those men preach, teach, and write about the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ for the needs of ungodly sinners. They teach that his worth and work is quite enough to reconcile sinners to God. Not one of them teaches that people are saved because of how good they can be but rather because of the goodness of Jesus our Lord. And, each of them, from time to time, point out the false teaching of  some in the churches of Christ who teach “another gospel” of good works for salvation. Not one of us teaches against good works but that all good works have their source in our union with Christ by the Holy Spirit and that God plans and produces our good deeds. (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13) In the end the good news we preach leaves no room for human boasting. Our boasting is about the Lamb of God alone.

I remember the football player and former Congressman J C Watts saying once, “Dogs don’t chase parked cars“. How true! If the gospel we preach does not make religionists angry maybe we should make an adjustment. The good news (gospel) about Jesus is good news for those who receive it and believe it, and bad news for those who reject it and don’t believe it.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30,31)

Nuggets of Fudge – Losing to Temptation


Suppose you understand that temptation is dangerous, that the evil one is crafty, and that you cannot beat sin in your own strength. You know that Jesus died–putting him beyond Satan’s reach and jurisdiction–and that he arose from death with powerful life in a new dimension. You know that in God’s eyes you also died and arose because Jesus represented you and because God views you as “in Christ.” Finally, you recall from Romans 6 that in any moment of temptation, when God and Satan give you opposite instructions, you can say “No” to Satan and walk away unscathed–if you only will reckon all this to be the truth, then present or yield your body to God but not to Satan.

Knowing all that, a temptation moment comes and you decide not to “reckon” or not to “yield”–but sin instead. You are embarrassed, sorry, disgusted with yourself. You wonder how God can possibly forgive you for, what is it now, the five hundredth time? At this point, it is time to remember these words from John. “This then is how . . . we set our hearts at rest . . . whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20, NIV).

What does God know in this situation? True, he knows our weaknesses, our temptations, our mitigating circumstances. But that is all beside the point. What matters is that he knows this: that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; that God has forgiven our sins on account of his name; and that we live in him and he lives in us (1 John 2:2, 12; 4:13-16). We might forget those things momentarily, or forget their importance, but God does not forget. And when we do remember what God never forgot, our hearts are set at rest.

Martin Luther once said he was glad the Bible does not say that Jesus died for Martin Luther, for then he would spend his whole life wondering if there was another man named “Martin Luther.” Instead the Bible says that Christ died for sinners (Rom. 5:8). That is far better to read, said Luther. There can be no doubt that he is a sinner, and on that basis he knows that Christ died for him.

By: Edward Fudge
EdwardFudge.com

 

Nuggets of Fudge – CRAFTY TEMPTATION


What a refreshing change to see a well known leader in the Christian community being transparent. Just when I thought Edward Fudge couldn’t top what he has already said about temptation I received this in my “in box” a few days ago. This illustration points out that I am not alone in loving the praise of men. God has some work to do on me!

***************************************

Temptation first walks into the Bible story over a verbal bridge that links Genesis chapters two and three. As we noted earlier, the passage pivots on a pun. Mr. and Mrs. Dirt-Creature (“Adam” in Hebrew) are naked (literally, “slick”) but they are not embarrassed. And the serpent is more crafty (literally,”slick”) than any other field-beast. Although fully bare, before they have sinned the Adamses feel no shame.

Embarrassment is a subjective form of self-consciousness, not a true measure of reality. Guilt, on the other hand, is an objective characteristic, whether one “feels” it or not. The crafty serpent will play head-games with the Dirt-Creatures, fool with their feelings, confuse their perception of reality–and, in the end–watch them distrust and disobey the Creator who IS life and who gives life to them.

The crafty devil is still at it today, and I speak from personal experience. I had been invited to read a paper at a particular scholarly meeting that I considered a great honor. Driving the night before to the city where the conference was being held, I was praying when my thanksgiving began to morph into self-congratulation. I heard my voice saying words I did not know I meant. I thanked God for this honor, which not only was well-deserved but long overdue. I thanked him that I finally was getting some of the attention that He, as the just judge of the universe, fully understood should come my way.

Suddenly I was flooded with feelings of guilt and appropriate embarrassment for my hubris. My sinful pride was obvious and outrageous. Scripture is full of warnings and admonitions regarding this sin that God hates. My self-centered thanksgiving quickly turned to a prayer of confession and request for forgiveness. I poured out my heart in sincere repentance. Then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. Again it came–only asking a question, a question one sentence long. But the content of that question could have but one source–the crafty serpent we met in Genesis 3. This was the question: “Wasn’t that the best prayer of repentance you have ever heard?”

Edward Fudge – gracEmail

Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation, A Wrap Up.


This post is the conclusion of a series of posts by my friend Edward Fudge. There is far more to be learned from these posts than about the subject of temptation in the Christian’s life. As usual, great biblical truths are a part of everything Edward writes. This series is no exception. They are jam packed with great doctrinal truths that we all need to know and appropriate.

The previous posts can be found here. Temptation (1), Temptation (2), Temptation (3), Temptation (4), and in this issue parts 5 and 6. I hope these lessons will bless you as they have me.

To subscribe to Edward’s gracEmail click here and you will blessed with Edward’s wisdom, scriptural insight, and news about what is going on in his life and other things he finds interesting.

Now, Edward writes:

________________________________________________

OVERCOMING TEMPTATION 

As these mortal bodies remind us, we have a fallen nature, and “natural” for us now includes a tendency to sin. As explained in Romans 6, the only way we can beat temptation is to die. People might sin in a cemetery, but the people who do so are not the folks who belong there. Whoever dies is liberated from sin and its appeal. Expect the devil to claim otherwise, but the truth is that sin’s power ends at the grave. But how does this help us, since we are still alive?

The answer is all about Jesus who rescues us from sin. Not only from its penalty, but also from its practice, and finally from its presence as well. He rescues us by becoming our high priest, standing in for us, taking our place, acting as our formal, official representative before God. But let us be specific: Jesus died–I died. Jesus was buried–I was buried. Jesus arose from the dead–I arose from the dead. These things really happened to Jesus, and because he is our representative, they also happened to us.

Fast forward now to the present. Satan comes tempting, reminding us that we humans, when left to our own power and to no other, cannot consistently resist sin. But Romans 6 interrupts. You died with Jesus, it says, and you moved past the jurisdiction of sin’s power over you. You were raised with Jesus, and you now live in righteousness–from a new power source that also empowers Jesus himself.

We can consider or reckon, calculate and conclude, that these things are really true–they truly describe the new reality in God’s new creation. In this new creation, whenever sin comes calling, we can say “no” to sin and present ourselves to God to do through us what he wishes. Sin’s power is broken–a new creation has begun and we are God’s righteous handiwork as he gradually makes us more and more like Jesus Christ himself.

JESUS’ RESURRECTION CONQUERS TEMPTATION 

The devil’s constant message and greatest lie is an attack on the very character of God. “God cannot be trusted,” Satan whispers. “You best keep an eye open if you really expect to be safe.” If we look closely, we see that all temptation to sin finally involves distrusting God. Not surprising, in the Gospels, Jesus’ saving ministry on earth begins and ends with the spotlight on this core issue. Can God be trusted to keep his promises?

“Since you are God’s son,” Satan literally begins in the wilderness (Luke 4:3). He dares not contradict the heavenly voice (Luke 3:22). Jesus would never fall for that. The issue is not Jesus’ divine sonship. The issue is the Father’s faithfulness. Can we trust God–and therefore obey him without fear or reservation–or must we look out for our own interests when dealing with the Father? Once, twice, then three times, Jesus deflects diabolical doubt. God’s word gives life, he affirms. Only God is worthy of our worship. Do not put him to the test (Luke 4:4, 8, 10). Jesus passes this test and Satan leaves him “until a more opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

The devil returns in Gethsemane, unseen and unnamed, but he brings the same haunting question as before: can Jesus really afford to trust God? The Father has said that Jesus is about to be slaughtered, then rise again on the third day. But can the Father be trusted to do that? Jesus’ prayer is not to avoid the cross, but rather to be rescued out of death. “Take this cup away from me,” Jesus prays; “yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:39-46). To drink God’s cup of wrath is to undergo divine judgment. For God to take away the cup is to be restored again to life in God’s favor (Isaiah 51:17, 21-22).

Jesus faces the same temptation to doubt the Father’s character when from the cross he cries out words from Psalm 22:1–“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22 closes with the godforsaken one alive and praising God with his brothers and sisters. Can Jesus trust that to be the case? In the end, faith triumphs over distrust, and Jesus dies with the words: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” God is faithful to anyone who trusts in him. How do we know? We know because God raised Jesus from the dead.