Archive for the 'Missions' Category

Does the Gospel have a Social Mandate?

The gospel should be the dearest thing to the heart of the redeemed. That God would save a sinner such as I should never cease to amaze me. That there would always be some who stretch the gospel to include things that it does not should not surprise me.

For the last sixty or so years we have heard new evangelicals stress “social involvement.” Harold John Ockenga characterized fundamentalists as being indifferent to the physical needs of people. He and other new evangelicals promoted a positive social message. Their view of a contemporary kingdom of God provided a foundation for engaging the culture and advancing a social element in the Gospel. Ockenga claimed, “There need be no disagreement between the personal gospel and the social gospel.” Fundamentalism was portrayed as leaving out an important part of the Bible message. The push for the Gospel to have a social relevance gained acceptance in both liberal and new evangelical circles. This emphasis has appeared in many different forms, but has never gone away.

Today there are groups which claim to be defining the Gospel. The Gospel Coalition is gaining popularity among new evangelicals and some fundamentalists. I wholeheartedly agree with the Gospel Coalition that salvation is “received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone” (Gospel for all of Life: Preamble). But in the same document they claim that Christian living is supposed to impact the arts and improve living conditions.

“Developing humane yet creative and excellent business environments out of our understanding of the gospel is part of the work of bringing a measure of healing to God’s creation in the power of the Spirit. Bringing Christian joy, hope, and truth to embodiment in the arts is also part of this work. We do all of this because the gospel of God leads us to it…. Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their neighborhoods through service even as they call individuals to conversion and the new birth” (Theological Vision for Ministry, V, 5).

Those who wrote the Foundation Documents for the Gospel Coalition lament that they do not “see enough individual churches that embody the full, integrative gospel balance we have outlined here” (Theological Vision for Ministry).

In 1976 Ronald Sider wrote, “Social reform and social welfare are aspects of proclaiming the gospel.” That has been the rallying cry of most new evangelicals for decades. The Gospel presented in God’s Word calls men to turn from sin and trust the finished work of Christ. The lost must see that they are spiritually bankrupt, and the God of all grace provides salvation through Jesus Christ alone. That’s the Gospel message. Our work is soul work. We should beware of any man or movement that removes repentance from the Gospel, and we should be aware that many are preaching social action as part of Gospel work.

I’m always wary of any movement that presses for evangelism but has little or no use for biblical separation. Historically fundamentalists have warned of an inclusivism that claims we can focus on what we have in common with compromisers for the sake of the Gospel. While some have rejected the terms “fundamentalist” and “new evangelical”, differences in agenda and emphasis still exist. Always look behind the curtain of any “coalition” to see who started it, who’s supporting it, what they are stressing, and what they are leaving out.

The mandate of the Gospel is repent and be saved. A social consciousness is not part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord.

June 2010


Faith, Leading, and the Will of God

“I’ve been ministering in this church for three years and have seen no fruit. Most days I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall, but I’m never going to quit because I have faith God wants me to be here.” Maybe you’ve heard a testimony like this from a missionary or Christian worker and walked away encouraged by their resolve and spirituality. But maybe the conversation went like this: “We have tried everything we can think of for three years. We have prayed, we have worked, and we have prayed some more. God is leading us to another ministry.”

Which person was actually doing God’s will, the one who stayed or the one who left? Is there any objective way to find out? How do I know what God’s will is when I am faced with a similar situation?

Continue reading ‘Faith, Leading, and the Will of God’

The Image of God in Man

The crowning achievement of God’s creative week was different than anything he had already created. He saved the best for last. Genesis 1:26–27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Notice that there is nothing else in the creation account or anywhere else in the Bible described as being created in this way. People are the only thing about which the Bible ever says, “made in the image of God.” As we will see, this means that there is a fundamental difference between humans and all other creation. Also, we did not evolve from monkeys or amoeba. We did not crawl out of a pool of organisms and teach ourselves to walk upright. The world and man did not begin with a big bang, it began with “In the beginning, God.” God spoke, and creation happened. But what does it mean to be made in the image of God? The Bible says Adam and Eve were in the image of God—are people today still made in the image of God? If we are still in the image of God, do we have any responsibilities that come along with being made in the image of God?

Continue reading ‘The Image of God in Man’

The Independent Church and Its Missionary Program

Periodically we reprint articles from past issues that offer helpful insight for us today. Roger Bixler pastored Westerville Bible Church from 1963 to 1996 and now serves with Gospel Fellowship Association as a mission representative.

feature-article.gifSomeone has made the statement, “The church is missions and missions is the church.” Every local church is, or should be, interested in missions. Rarely does a week pass in which the pastor does not receive some inquiry from a missionary desiring to present his work to the people of that church.

Continue reading ‘The Independent Church and Its Missionary Program’

Christian-Muslim Unity?

Unless we’re prejudiced like Jonah, every Christian should have a heart that beats with love for Muslims. Unless we’re consumed with Joab’s appetite for perpetual warfare, every Christian should long for and pray for more harmonious relations between Muslims and Christians. Unless we’re disobedient to the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul, every Christian should think through strategies for pursuing peace with all men, including Muslims. On the other hand, unless we’re as perpetually gullible as Samson, every true Christian should have serious concerns regarding the recent well-publicized dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

Four significant stages of Christian-Muslim dialogue have taken place between September 2006 and November 2007. Before one can rightly respond to the situation, it is essential to have a fair understanding of what is actually happening.

Continue reading ‘Christian-Muslim Unity?’

Stewardship In Foreign Missions, part 2

Continued from the Previous Issue

feature-article.gifThe New Testament Preacher is to Maintain a Blameless Character, which includes the Primary Qualification of Freedom from Covetousness (1 Tim 6:6–11; 1 Pet 5:1–3; 2 Pet 2:2–3, 14–17; Jude 11, 16).
One of the most important qualifications for the preacher of the gospel is a blameless testimony concerning money. American churches should realize that receiving foreign support, especially in the Two-Thirds World, often results in a covetous desire for money and power. These wrong desires lead to number of problems in the national church:

Continue reading ‘Stewardship In Foreign Missions, part 2’

Stewardship In Foreign Missions, part 1

feature-article.gifShould Foreigners Support National Leaders?
Much of contemporary evangelicalism embraces the practice of supporting national pastors and evangelists on the foreign mission field. One mission director claims, “More than 140 organizations are now built on the premise of gathering and sending money, not people . . . One of the largest money-gathering agencies reports that it now supports 3,300 full-time workers in over 50 countries.” A popular Christian magazine advertises for donors to help support national pastors on foreign fields, reporting that “thousands of native missionaries in poorer countries take the gospel to un-reached people groups in remote areas that are extremely difficult for American missionaries to go . . . Your church can send 10 missionaries for $500 a month. That’s a mission budget that will amaze your missions committee and it’s good stewardship too.”

Are these examples really a good stewardship of missions money? There is increasing momentum in our fundamental churches towards financial partnerships with national pastors and evangelists. Fundamentalists need to think through this issue biblically, especially with regard to the doctrine of the local church. Care must be taken to avoid unbiblical pragmatism.

Continue reading ‘Stewardship In Foreign Missions, part 1’

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