“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 21&22 – THE GOSPEL
Each month I receive articles and mail from those with whom I differ when it comes to God and the Bible. You might wonder why I don’t tell them I don’t want their stuff. Well, since it costs to mail me their papers it allows me to feel that I’m doing my part to shut them down.
In a recent editorial, the author, a man who is well-known for his narrow view of scripture, examined evangelism and benevolence. He said the “first priority of the church was to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” He then described the gospel as, “conveying to the lost the will of Jesus on many things relating to salvation, including faith, repentance and baptism”. I’m not sure what he would include in “many things relating to salvation”.
He then began to warn of the return of the “social gospel”. He complained that at the turn of the twentieth century, some churches placed social concern ahead of evangelism, and that this had lead to straying from the path into social activities such as temperance, civil rights for minorities, women’s voting rights, early education, job training, etc., which, according to him, lead to political liberalism. He did not mention, but it could be assumed, that the opposite leads to political conservatism.
Of course, as we tend to do to prove a point, he quotes selected scriptures to back up his position, all of it defining the gospel as evangelism. He never seems to get what Jesus called the “good news”. He fails to mention that when Jesus announced his purpose for coming in Luke 4:14-21, he said, quoting from Isaiah, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The “evangelism” in that declaration is quite different from the man who wrote the article.
To justify his position, he sites J. C. Bailey, who was a missionary in India fifty or so years ago. He tells how Bailey and his wife started out relieving the hunger and suffering as much as they could. But then, Bailey, realized they were feeding people who would be “hungry again tomorrow.” They would be filled, but die lost. So he helped the poor as time allowed after preaching what he concluded was the “gospel” to them.
You see, that’s the problem with folks like him, it is either/or, instead or both/and. James 2:14-17.
When Jesus sent out his followers, every time they were told what the good news was. It was “The kingdom of heaven is near”. And in doing that they were to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons”. Was that not a “social gospel”?
I know someone would remind me that Jesus said, “I must preach the good news to other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Lk. 4:43. He said about the same thing in Mk. 1:38. However, these statements merely show that Jesus did not stop in one place with his message, the same message he said earlier in the Luke passage was his “good news”.
There is a place in the article where a Freudian aberration surfaces. The author, in defending evangelism as of first importance, says, “The very act of evangelism will help many people fare better in this life. In becoming Christians, sinners cast away many wasteful and foolish habits. Money once spent on alcohol or tobacco, gambling or mind-numbing drugs is now available for food and clothing. Time formerly spent in laziness or carousing is now available for earning a living.” Now we can see his real feelings. These “sinners” aren’t really poor or in need. They have what they need, but they are lazy and wasting it on drugs, alcohol, tobacco and gambling. While that could be true in some cases, the starving children in Somalia are not dying because the money (?) was spent on such things, although I can almost hear the author’s claim that it is somehow their fault.
Jesus refused on more than one occasion to assess fault in illness or human need. He even warned that in so doing, those who did it were in danger of perishing. Lk. 13:5. Jesus came to announce that God’s kingdom was coming to the earth. He said that we pray for God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When he was able to display that kingdom, it was always about making the lives of the living, better, both physically and spiritually.
The gospel of Jesus can be found in any of the versions of the Sermon on the Mount, (Matt) or the sermon on the plain. (Lk.) It would be very difficult to love ones neighbor as ones self and be passive about their needs. We would not sit in church singing and praising God while the house of the folks next to the church burns down, saying, “Don’t bother me now! I’m worshipping God!”
When Paul is quoted, “We preach Christ crucified”, we need to ask what “Christ Crucified” means. Is that what Peter preached to Cornelius? What did that sheet let down in front of Peter mean if it didn’t mean social barriers were coming down and equality before God was going up? What about baptizing a eunuch? What about Paul integrating the Jewish church with Gentiles? What about, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”? These were major social issues that were always a point of contention as they are today.
What about social change like slavery? There was no immediate future for the first Christians. In I Cor. 7 Paul gives his rules for living in the present, soon to end, age. Read it. You will find he tells the unmarried to stay that way. He tells women they can leave their husbands, but not for another man. He tells everyone, including slaves to stay right where they are, because he says, “the time is short”. The imminent return of Christ influences the social view of the NT. But as time passed, Christians began to do the “gospel” on earth, as Jesus described it, while looking forward to heaven.
CONCERNS: Wilma Cullum now has a private room. It is room 22, South Roanoke Nursing Home, 3823 Franklin Rd. SW, 24014. Eleanor Crush, Helen Nicklas, Wayne Phlegar, Two of Connie Crites brothers has cancer. One is waiting while the doctors look at available treatments. The other is receiving chemotherapy. Her father is about the same as he deals with his heart. Keep the daughter of Judy McWhorter’s friend in your prayers. Her name is Tooney, and she has cancer. Also Alma Martin, Mike Breeding and his wife, Joni Beach’s mother, Jenni Cullum, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and the work at the Ezell Clinic, the children at the ABC program and Bread For A Hungry World and Roger Fisher and Teryn Gaynor.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 22-27
Monday: Hosea 11:1-9
Tuesday: Matthew 10:24-39
Wednesday: Exodus 16:1-36
Thursday: Luke 7:36-50
Friday: John 13:31-38
Saturday: Psalm 103:1-22
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUG. 29-SEPT.
Monday: Matthew 6:1-18
Tuesday: Psalm 96:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 6:19-34
Thursday: Luke 23:26-43
Friday: James 1:5-18
Saturday: Romans 8:26-39
Our sympathy is extended to Teryn Gaynor in the death of her father. He died on August 12, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The body was cremated. The family will have a memorial service Labor Day weekend.
This weekend the young people are at the Floras enjoying another annual Crazy Country Christian Challenge. It started on Saturday, August 20, at 9:30 AM and will conclude this afternoon. If you want some idea of what they will be doing, see the pictures on the downstairs wall.
THE ANNUEL BAR B QUE
It’s just about two weeks until the Bar B Que. We plan to start cooking even earlier this year so the meat can be slow cooked, smoked and tender. There will be beef brisket, pork and chicken. Some of our regulars are going to be out of town this year, so please let us know soon how many of you are attending. A sign-up sheet is on the foyer table. We will eat about 4:00 o’clock. Remember to bring all the fixin’s and we’ll provide the meat. It all takes place on Saturday, September 3.
THE PEANUT BUTTER
The stack of peanut butter for the local food bank is growing. It will be delivered at the end of the month. When you shop, pick up a jar and place it on the table in the foyer, or the one downstairs This is one other way we can help feed those in need in our area.
HELPING THE TROOPS
We now have a contact in Afghanistan through Erma Williams. We will be sending such items as individual packets of water flavors, crystal lite, etc., slim jims, wet wipes, cracker snacks, small toys for the children and of course, home made cookies. We already have a contribution for this and so we are moving ahead.
Today 8/21 is Super Sunday. Our monthly meal will follow the service. If you are a visitor, please consider yourself our special guest for this meal.
HOME FROM GUATEMALA
Mike, AC and Susan are back safely from working at the Ezell Clinic and we hope to have a report from them very soon.