Wineskins Archive

December 16, 2013

The Body of Christ Given for You (Dec 2011)

Filed under: — @ 10:15 am and

By Edward Fudge

Most of the time at our church home, we receive the eucharistic bread and cup from a brother and sister standing down front, who frequently call us by name as they say, “the body of Christ, given for you,” and “the blood of Christ, shed for you.” It is a holy moment, profoundly moving to all involved, and a joyful highlight of our time spent together. (For a responsive meditation and prayers deeply rooted in history and in Scripture, click here.) The body of Christ as a symbol in the story of our redemption is the theme in Hebrews 10:1-10, about which I make the following remarks, excerpted here from ebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today (Leafwood, 2009, page 166).

Throughout his human life, Jesus Christ fully embodied God’s will by doing everything God wished, wanted or desired. By doing this, Jesus wrapped up God’s will, as it were, in his human body. Then he gave that will-of-God-done as a gift or present to God, by offering that body on the cross–that very body in which he had done God’s will throughout life, the body in which he had fully wrapped up the fulfillment of all God’s wishes, the body in which Jesus had embodied the fulfillment of all God’s desires.

Jesus accomplished all of that for his people. For them he did the doing of God’s will, wishes or desires. For them he did the dying through which he offered that present to the Father. God was totally pleased with this present, this offering, which provided everything he had ever wanted human beings to do and to be. And by this will of God, which Jesus had perfectly embodied throughout his life, and had given to the Father as an embodied present in his death, “we” have been “sanctified” or made holy. No wonder our author has mentioned time and again, as he does here, that Jesus’ offering occurred only “once for all!” (See Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26, 18, and 10:10.)

We who have been made holy are all of Christ’s people, every person who finally will be saved, regardless of when they lived or what revelation they were given by God. We have been made holy to qualify us to bring sacrifices to God–offerings of praise (Heb. 13:15) and good works (Heb. 13:16).

Copyright 2011 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

Christmas Prophesy Fulfilled (Dec 2011)

Filed under: — @ 10:14 am and

By Edward Fudge

This Christmas I am impressed anew that we are seeing biblical prophecy fulfilled before our eyes. Not the kind of prophetic fulfillment about which the sensationalists talk and write best-seller books for the gullible masses — about Middle Eastern conflict and geopolitics and world banks and bar codes at the supermarkets. No, something far more solid and biblical than any of that! God’s word to Isaiah 2,700 years ago has come to pass: “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

All you have to do is turn on the radio, or go to a mall. You will discover that throughout the Gentile world, in word and in song, people of all nations are celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah, the Light to the Nations, the descendant of Abraham through whom the whole world is blessed! “I make you a covenant mediator for people, and a light to the nations,” God said to Isaiah concerning the Messiah (42:6-7). “Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the LORD shines on you!” (Isa. 60:1) “Nations come to your light, kings to your bright light. Look all around you!” (Isa. 60:3). And so they have come — from the first Christmas, when Magi came from the East, until this very day!

This little e-mail message is traveling at lightning speed around the world — across North, Central and South America, throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, to the  British Isles and islands in the Atlantic and Pacific, to the Near East and Far East and the Pacific Rim, to countries predominantly Moslem and Hindu and Shinto and Buddhist and animistic and communist and theoretically Christian. To a world that once sat in great darkness, whose inhabitants worshipped sticks and stones, or the sun and moon, or forces of nature. A world which once did not know the Creator, did not enjoy covenant with him, did not hope in his promises. But today, in every one of these places, people are serving God’s Messiah, the Christ-child, who became a man and died for our sins and rose again, who is coming again one day to establish peace forever!

Have a blessed Christmas, my friends! May his Presence gently hover above the presents, and “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Copyright 2011 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

December 9, 2013

Good Reasons for Being Baptized (May 2012)

Filed under: — @ 1:47 pm and

By Edward Fudge

A gracEmail subscriber writes: “If we are saved by being believers, what is the use in being baptized?”

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We are not saved by being believers, we are saved by God’s grace — and we can only trust him for that (Eph. 3:24). We don’t merit any of God’s kindness. It is not a 50/50 proposition — as if half were deserved and half were a gift — or even 99/1. God’s favor and forgiveness are completely unmerited, entirely unearned, wholly undeserved. We cannot rely one iota on our performance, our obedience, our efforts, our knowledge or even our good intentions. We can only trust God to declare us righteous for Jesus Christ’s sake.

Our works have an important place. They demonstrate our faith, embody our faith, express our faith, bring our faith to full flower, in that sense “perfect” our faith (Eph. 2:10; Heb. 11:8; James 2:22-26). But our works, our obedience to God, do not add anything to what Jesus has already done. We do not trust God to some extent but bolster that confidence by a record of our own performance. We are not saved by faith plus works, or by faith without works, but by faith — which works (Gal. 5:6). If we focus on trusting God in Christ, the obedience and works will naturally follow.

The Bible says that “whoever believes in him has remission of sins” (Acts 10:43) and that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). It also commands believers to be baptized (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48) and promises that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:16). There is no contradiction in those things. When a believer is baptized, she or he is expressing trust in what Jesus did to save sinners. If someone is trusting in baptism rather than in Jesus’ atonement to save him or her, that one does not yet understand the fundamental message of the gospel.

Copyright 2012 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

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