Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
And throughout Isaiah 53 a picture is painted of the God who suffers on His people's behalf and bears their suffering Himself. From a human viewpoint, suffering often seems unjust, as it did to Job when his suffering seemed out of all proportion to anything he might have done to deserve it:.
What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps? Job But the Bible also explains and many of us can testify to this from our own experience that suffering can be the very thing that drives us back to God when we have drifted away from Him:. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word… It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
Psalm , God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. And it turns out, to everyone's surprise, that suffering can even result in very good news indeed:. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. These considerations give disability a meaning which it lacks in almost every other religion and philosophy. For it turns out that disability is not karma, as some Eastern religions would tell us:.
As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. Affliction or disability are not hindrances to God's grace in our lives — quite the opposite:. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Jesus demonstrated this when a woman with a haemorrhage crept up behind Him to touch the hem of his robe. She was healed and He singled her out for special honour because of her faith Luke When a man with a contagious skin disease broke the law that excluded him from venturing into the city, and fell at Jesus' feet imploring Him, " Lord if you will, you can make me clean ", His immediate response was to stretch out a hand and touch this man whom the law forbade Him to touch, and declare, " I will; be clean.
When God chose to incarnate Himself in the person of Jesus, his attitude towards disabled people was quite revolutionary in His day, and if we're honest, in our day too. In the Bible, disability is not seen as caused by God, even though God is sovereign over it. When Job suffered, it was Satan who caused it, even though God permitted it. In fact, when Job said, " The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord " Job we're told that He didn't sin, but his unfolding conversation with God showed that he was mistaken; it was not, in fact, God who had taken away but it was God who restored to him more than he had lost.
However, although disability in itself is not caused by God, disabled people are created, valued and loved by Him:. So the Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Our Saviour chose to flash His credentials as Messiah through ministry to disabled people. We in our wheelchairs get to prove how great and how trustworthy God is. But positive images of disabled people in the Bible are not confined to Christ's ministry; they are found throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Perhaps the best known example is Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9. He was the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul. He became disabled when his nurse fell with him in her arms as she was trying to flee from danger. We don't know if he suffered injury to his legs or brain injury affecting the motor responses in his leg muscles, but either way he had a mobility impairment for the rest of his life.
When David became king, he made enquiries as to whether there was anyone left from the house of Saul to whom he could show kindness for his friend Jonathan's sake. When he found Mephibosheth, he did not single him out for his disability — he simply did what he would have done for any son of Jonathan. Nor, when he discovered his disability, did he recoil from honouring him; he treated him exactly as he would have done if Mephibosheth had been a powerful warrior. He welcomed him to his table, gave him Saul's land and provided servants to farm it for him.
This story becomes a powerful metaphor for the kingdom of God, where abled and disabled people sit together side by side as equals at the feast table. Moses is another example. He was too frightened to speak to Pharaoh because he had a speech defect Exodus We don't know whether this was an actual speech impediment, or whether he suffered from a disabling degree of anxiety.
Either way, God provided support for him in the form of his brother Aaron who was sent along to be his spokesman. Elijah was very impressive in public; he called down fire from heaven in front of all the people and shamed the false prophets of Baal. He had great spiritual authority and was unafraid to challenge the king's wrongdoing. And yet the day after his great triumph he was in hiding, suicidally depressed, and begging God to take away his life.
God's response, in 1 Kings 19 , is very tenderly to care for his physical needs food and sleep to take him to a place of safety, and to speak to him in a voice of the utmost gentleness. How is it, then, that so many Christians feel stigmatised by their fellow-believers when they experience mental ill health? In 2 Kings 7 there is a curious story in which the heroes are four disabled men — they are outcasts due to their physical condition, some form of skin disease or 'leprosy'.
The King of Aram has laid siege to Samaria. The people in the city cannot leave and no one can enter; consequently the people are starving. A donkey's head changes hands for an exorbitant amount, and people are even reduced to eating the bodies of those who have died of starvation. God supernaturally causes the Aramean army to hear the sound of an approaching assault force and they drop everything and flee. Four men with leprosy who have been excluded from the city because the laws do not permit them to live in the community with a contagious condition are discussing their future. They decide that their only two options are to die a slow death from starvation, or to surrender to the Arameans who might kill them, or might in fact imprison and feed them.
They decide the risk is better than the certainty of starvation. But on arrival at the Aramean camp, they find the place deserted and all the Arameans' possessions and food abandoned. They eat their fill, and then realise that they can't keep this good news to themselves; so they break the rules by returning to the city of Samaria, from which they are banned, and share the good news of their discovery.
The food is distributed and the Samaritans are saved from starvation by the action of these four men. This, too, is a striking living parable for the church — it is those who are outcast and stigmatised who contribute to the life and health of God's people. Of course, disability comes to most of us eventually; most of us are in our temporary, non-disabled phase! There are examples of people who, by reason of old age, have lost their physical faculties, but that is no barrier to them playing an essential part in God's plans.
Isaac, by the end of his life, is too blind and too confused to be able to distinguish between his sons, or discern that a trick is being played on him. And yet the blessing which he pronounced on his younger son Jacob had lost none of its spiritual power, and the things which Isaac foresaw for his sons did indeed come to pass. Similarly, Jacob, renamed Israel, and, by the end of his life too frail to get out of bed, quite deliberately switched his hands over and placed his right hand, the blessing of the firstborn, on the head of the younger of his two grandsons.
Joseph, the boys' father, remonstrated with him, but he made it clear that this was no mistake; despite his physical frailty he had seen that God had particular plans for the younger boy, and like his father Isaac, the words he spoke in his weakness at the end of his life came to pass. The Bible is full of people whose disabilities were no barrier to them playing a vital part in the history of God's people.
In the New Testament, as well as Jesus' healing ministry to many disabled people, there are examples of disabled people portrayed in a positive way, and of God using disability for good in people's lives. Zacchaeus seems to have been of abnormally small stature; so much so that he had to climb a tree to see Jesus above the heads of the crowd.
He had a history of making himself feel 'big' by defrauding people when he collected their taxes. In many places, during the past few years, this has proved a success, bringing blessing to many, and increasing the flow of means into the mission treasury. As those not of our faith have been made acquainted with the progress of the third angel's message in heathen lands, their sympathies have been aroused, and some have sought to learn more of the truth that has such power to transform hearts and lives.
Men and women of all classes have been reached, and the name of God has been glorified. Avoid Worldly Methods. Here is a method invented by carnal minds to secure means without sacrificing. Let us stand clear of all these church corruptions, dissipations, and festivals, which have a demoralizing influence upon young and old. We have no right to throw over them the cloak of sanctity because the means is to be used for church purposes.
Such offerings are lame and diseased, and bear the curse of God. They are the price of souls. The pulpit may defend festivals, dancing, lotteries, fairs, and luxurious feasts, to obtain means for church purposes; but let us participate in none of these things; for if we do, God's displeasure will be upon us. We do not propose to appeal to the lust of the appetite or resort to carnal amusements as an inducement to Christ's professed followers to give of the means which God has entrusted to them.
If they do not give willingly, for the love of Christ, the offering will in no case be acceptable to God.
Bribed by Feasting and Merriment. It is a sad reality that these inducements will prevail when sacred and eternal things will have no force to influence the heart to engage in works of benevolence. The plan of Moses in the wilderness to raise means was highly successful. There was no compulsion necessary. Moses made no grand feast. He did not invite the people to scenes of gaiety, dancing, and general amusement. Neither did he institute lotteries or anything of this profane order to obtain means to erect the tabernacle of God in the wilderness. God commanded Moses to invite the children of Israel to bring the offerings.
Moses was to accept gifts of every man that gave willingly from his heart. These freewill offerings came in so great abundance that Moses proclaimed it was enough. They must cease their presents; for they had given abundantly, more than they could use.
And what impression is made upon the minds of unbelievers? The holy standard of the Word of God is lowered into the dust. Contempt is cast upon God and upon the Christian name. The most corrupt principles are strengthened by this un-Scriptural way of raising means. And this is as Satan would have it. Men are repeating the sin of Nadab and Abihu. They are using common instead of sacred fire in the service of God. The Lord accepts no such offerings. All these methods for bringing money into His treasury are an abomination to Him.
It is a spurious devotion that prompts all such devising. O what blindness, what infatuation, is upon many who claim to be Church members are doing as did the inhabitants of the world in the days of Noah, when the imagination of their hearts was only evil continually. All who fear God will abhor such practices as a misrepresentation of the religion of Jesus Christ. Man's Stewardship. Everyone who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God, is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him.
The apostle Paul said, "I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise. Presentation of the Spirit of Prophecy. New Believers to Have Clear Understanding. God's Present-Day Instruction. In these days He speaks to them by the There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will, and the course that He would have them pursue.
Frequently Neglected. Under their labors large numbers may embrace the theory of the truth, but in time it is found that there are many who will not bear the proving of God. The minister laid upon the foundation, hay, wood, and stubble, which would be consumed by the fire of temptation. Not to Take Place of the Bible. God's Word is the unerring standard. The Testimonies are not to take the place of the Word.
Great care should be exercised by all believers to advance these questions carefully, and always stop when you have said enough. Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed Word of God. Testimonies Not Ahead of Bible. The more we practice them, the deeper will be our understanding of them. Our position and faith is in the Bible. And never do we want any soul to bring in the Testimonies ahead of the Bible. Purpose of the Testimonies.
But notwithstanding all this, some who profess to make the Word of God their study, are found living in direct opposition to its plainest teachings.
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Then, to leave men and women without excuse, God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the Word that they have neglected to follow. The Word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the Testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles. The Greater and Lesser Lights. Illustration: Presenting the Spirit of Prophecy.
He presents the Bible so clearly that it is evident that anyone who differs must do so in opposition to the Word of God. Friday evening and Sabbath forenoon he spoke upon the subject of spiritual gifts, dwelling especially upon the Spirit of prophecy. Those who were present at these discourses say that he treated the subject in a clear, forceful manner.
When binding off his work, he called for me. Give Time to Weigh Evidence. Others had no opposition, yet dared not take a decided stand in regard to them. Some were skeptical, and they had sufficient cause to make them so. All these things should have been taken into consideration, and wisdom exercised.
There should be no trial or labor with those who have never seen the individual having visions, and who have had no personal knowledge of the influence of the visions. Such should not be deprived of the benefits and privileges of the church, if their Christian course is otherwise correct, and they have formed a good Christian character. Some, I was shown, could receive the published visions, judging of the tree by its fruits. Others are like doubting Thomas; they cannot believe the published Testimonies, nor receive evidence through the testimony of others, but must see and have the evidence for themselves.
Such must not be set aside, but long patience and brotherly love should be exercised toward them until they find their position and become established for or against. If they fight against the visions, of which they have no knowledge; if they carry their opposition so far as to oppose that in which they have had no experience, and feel annoyed when those who believe that the visions are of God speak of them in meeting, and comfort themselves with the instruction given through vision, the church may know that they are not right.
Characteristics of a True Convert
Driven to a Premature Position. Some are unacquainted with me and my labors, and they are very skeptical of anything bearing the name of visions. This is all natural, and can be overcome only by experience. If persons are not settled in regard to the visions, they should not be crowded off. The course to pursue with such may be found in Testimony No. Ministers should have compassion of some, making a difference; others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. God's ministers should have wisdom to give to everyone his portion of meat, and to make that difference with different persons which their cases require.
Those who were, comparatively, strangers to the visions, have been dealt with in the same manner as those who have had much light and experience in the visions. Some have been required to indorse the visions when they could not conscientiously do so, and in this way some honest souls have been driven to take positions against the visions and against the body, which they never would have taken had their cases been managed with discretion and mercy. Overcoming the Opposition. White in particular. But this is only hurting themselves.
I believe souls will be converted to the truth. We are now turning them to the law and to the testimonies. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Judged by Their Fruits. What is the spirit of their teaching? What has been the result of their influence? All who desire to do so can acquaint themselves with the fruits of these visions. God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs, and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan.
My work. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. God Speaks Through Testimonies. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through His Word. He has spoken to us through the Testimonies to the church, and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. Presenting Health Reform. We are to remember that man has a body as Our work includes far more than standing before the people to preach to them.
In our work we are to minister to the physical infirmities of those with whom we are brought in contact. We are to present the principles of health reform, impressing our hearers with the thought that they have a part to act in keeping themselves in health. The body must be kept in a healthy condition in order that the soul may be in health. The condition of the body affects the condition of the soul.
He who would have physical and spiritual strength must educate his appetite in right lines. He must be careful not to burden the soul by overtaxing his physical or spiritual powers. Faithful adherence to right principles in eating, drinking, and dressing is a duty that God has laid upon human beings. The Lord desires us to obey the laws of health and life.
He holds each one responsible to care properly for his body, that it may be kept in health. A Part of the Last Message. The gospel of health is to be firmly linked with the ministry of the Word. It is the Lord's design that the restoring influence of health reform shall be a part of the last great effort to proclaim the gospel message. As a people we have been given the work of making known the principles of health reform. There are some who think that the question of diet is not of sufficient importance to be included in their evangelistic work.
But such make a great mistake. God's Word declares, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. The subject of temperance, in all its bearings, Fully Established in Health Reform. Sickly men and sickly women need to become health reformers. God will co-operate with His children in preserving their health, if they eat with care, refusing to put unnecessary burdens on the stomach.
He has graciously made the path of nature sure and safe, wide enough for all who will walk in it. He has given for our sustenance the wholesome and health-giving productions of the earth. Many have done the body much injury by a disregard of the laws of life, and they may never recover from the effects of their neglect; but even now they may repent and be converted.
Man has tried to be wiser than God. He has become a law unto himself. God calls upon us to give attention to His requirements, no longer to dishonor Him by dwarfing the physical, mental, and spiritual capabilities. Health Reform Progressive and Practical. Hold up the principles of health reform, and let the Lord lead the honest in heart.
They will hear and believe. Nor does the Lord require His messengers to present the beautiful truths of healthful living in a way that will prejudice minds.go
Justification: The Biblical Basis and Its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism
Let no one put stumbling blocks before the feet that are walking in the dark paths of ignorance. Even in praising a good thing, it is well Present the principles of temperance in their most attractive form. We must not move presumptuously. The laborers who enter new territory to raise up churches must not create difficulties by attempting to make prominent the question of diet. They should be careful not to draw the lines too closely, for impediments would thus be thrown in the pathway of others. Do not drive the people; lead them. Wherever the truth is carried, instruction should be given in regard to the preparation of wholesome foods.
God desires that in every place the people shall be taught by skillful teachers how to utilize wisely the products that they can raise or readily obtain in their section of the country. Thus the poor, as well as those in better circumstances, can be taught to live healthfully. Keep It to the Front. Teach the people that they can act as God's helping hand, by co-operating with the Master worker in restoring physical and spiritual health.
This work bears the signature of heaven, and will open doors for the entrance of other precious truths. There is room for all to labor who will take hold of this work intelligently. Keep the work of health reform to the front, is the message I am instructed to bear. Show so plainly its value that a wide-spread need for it will be felt. Abstinence from all hurtful food and drink is the fruit of true religion. He who is thoroughly converted will abandon every injurious habit and appetite. By total abstinence he will overcome his desire for health-destroying indulgences.
I am instructed to say to health-reform educators, Go forward. The world needs every jot of the influence you can exert to press back the tide of moral woe. Let those who teach the third angel's message stand true to their colors. Total Abstinence From Liquor and Tobacco. The victims of strong drink and tobacco are corrupted, body, soul, and spirit. Such ones should not be received into the church until they give evidence that they are truly converted, that they feel the need of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
The truth of God will purify the true believer. He who is thoroughly converted will abandon every defiling habit and appetite. Conversion the Secret of Victory. Many come to our meetings and are converted who for years have not attended meetings in any church. The simplicity of the truth reaches their hearts. It touches all classes. The tobacco devotees sacrifice their idol and the liquor drinker his liquor. They could not do this if they did not grasp by faith the promises of God for the forgiveness of their sins.
Is Begin Reform at the Foundation. As we face these things, and see the terrible consequences of liquor drinking, shall we not do all in our power to rally to the help of God in fighting against this great evil? At the foundation of liquor drinking lie wrong habits of eating.
Those who believe present truth should refuse to drink tea or coffee, for these excite a desire for stronger stimulant. They should refuse to eat flesh meat, for this too excites a desire for strong drink. Wholesome food, prepared with taste and skill, should be our diet now. Those who are not health reformers treat themselves unfairly and unwisely. By the indulgence of appetite they do themselves fearful injury. Some may think that the question of diet is not important enough to be included in the question of religion.
Because of wrong habits of eating, the world is becoming more and more immoral. Personal Labor for Intemperate. It includes personal labor for those who have abused their health and have placed themselves where they have not moral power to control their appetites and passions.
These souls are to be labored for as those more favorably situated. Our world is full of suffering ones. The indulgence of unnatural appetite, whether for tea, coffee, tobacco, or liquor, is intemperance, and is at war with the laws of life and health. By using these forbidden articles a condition of things is created in the system which the Creator never designed.
This indulgence in any of the members of the human family is sin. The eating of food that does not make good blood is working against the laws of our physical organism, and is a violation of the law of God. The cause produces the effect. Suffering, disease, and death are the sure penalty of indulgence. The Quest for Pleasure. They crave something which they do not have. They are spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not.
The hungering, thirsting soul will continue to hunger and thirst as long as it partakes of these unsatisfying pleasures. O that every such one would listen to the voice of Jesus, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. Christ, the wellspring of life, is the fountain of peace and happiness. God bestows various talents and gifts upon men, not that they may lie useless, nor that they may be employed in amusements or selfish gratification, but that they may be a blessing to others by enabling men to do earnest, self-sacrificing missionary work.
Shows and Theaters. The experience and The Lord has given evidence of His love for the world. There was no falsity, no acting, in what He did. He gave a living gift, capable of suffering humiliation, neglect, shame, reproach. This Christ did that He might rescue the fallen. While human beings were instituting schemes and methods to destroy Him, the Son of the Infinite God came to our world to give an example of the great work to be done to redeem and save man.
But today the proud and disobedient are striving to acquire a great name and great honor from their fellow men by using their God-given endowments to amuse. Working for Pleasure Lovers. He offered the woman something better than anything she possessed, even living water, the joy and hope of the gospel of His kingdom. This is an illustration of the way in which we are to work. It is of little use for us to go to pleasure lovers, theatergoers, horse racers, drunkards, gamblers, and scathingly rebuke them for their sins.
This will do no good. We must offer them something better than that which they have, even the peace of Christ, which passeth all understanding. These poor souls are engaged in a wild chase after worldly pleasure and earthly riches. They have no knowledge of anything more desirable. But games, theaters, horse races, will not satisfy the soul. Human beings were not created to be satisfied in this way, to spend their money for that which is not bread.
Show them how infinitely superior to the fleeting joys and pleasures of the world is the imperishable glory of heaven. Seek to convince them of the freedom and Instructions on Dress and Pleasure. Faithful, Christian men and women should have an intense interest to bring the convicted soul to a correct knowledge of righteousness in Christ Jesus. If any have allowed the desire for pleasure or the love of dress to become supreme, so that any portion of their mind, soul, and strength is devoted to selfish indulgences, the faithful believers should watch for these souls as they that must give an account.
They must not neglect the faithful, tender, loving instruction so essential to the young converts, that there may be no half-hearted work. Instructing New Converts on Idolatry of Dress. Let the new converts be faithfully dealt with. Are they vain in dress? Do they cherish pride of heart? The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life.
In most cases, submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress. There should be no carelessness in dress. For Christ's sake, whose witnesses we are, we should seek to make the best of our appearance. In the tabernacle service, God specified every detail concerning the garments of those who ministered before Him. Thus we are taught that He has a preference in regard to the dress of those who serve Him.
Very specific were the directions given in regard to Aaron's robes, for his So the dress of Christ's followers should be symbolic. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. But the Word of God gives no sanction to the making of changes in apparel merely for the sake of fashion,--that we may appear like the world.
Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments. The words of Scripture in regard to dress should be carefully considered. We need to understand that which the Lord of heaven appreciates in even the dressing of the body. All who are in earnest in seeking for the grace of Christ will heed the precious words of instruction inspired by God. Even the style of the apparel will express the truth of the gospel.
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All who study the life of Christ and practice His teachings will become like Christ. Their influence will be like His. They will reveal soundness of character. As they walk in the humble path of obedience, doing the will of God, they exert an influence that tells for the advancement of the cause of God and the healthful purity of His work. In these thoroughly converted souls the world is to have a witness to the sanctifying power of truth upon the human character.
In Keeping With Our Faith. To dress plainly, and abstain from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind is in keeping with our faith. Are we of the number who see the folly of worldlings in indulging in extravagance of dress as well as in love of amusements? If so, we should be of that class who shun everything that gives sanction to this spirit which takes possession of the minds and hearts of those who live Conformity to Christ or the World.
Before accepting the truth, she had followed the fashions of the world in her dress, and had worn costly jewelry and other ornaments; but upon deciding to obey the Word of God, she felt that its teachings required her to lay aside all extravagant and superfluous adorning. She was taught that Seventh-day Adventists did not wear jewelry, gold, silver, or precious stones, and that they did not conform to worldly fashions in their dress.
When she saw among those who profess the faith such a wide departure from Bible simplicity, she felt bewildered. Had they not the same Bible which she had been studying, and to which she had endeavored to conform her life? Had her past experience been mere fanaticism? Had she misinterpreted the words of the apostle, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God, for whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"?
D, a lady occupying a position in the institution, was visiting at Sr. Said the other, "Why do you sell it? I would wear it if it was mine. Surely they are contrary to the teachings of God's Word. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. In answer, the lady displayed a gold ring on her finger, given her by an unbeliever, and said she thought it no harm to wear such ornaments. Our people have been overscrupulous in their opinions upon the subject of dress.
The ladies of this institution wear gold watches and gold chains, and dress like other people. It is not good policy to be singular in our dress; for we cannot exert so much influence. We inquire, Is this in accordance with the teachings of Christ? Are we to follow the Word of God, or the customs of the world? Our sister decided that it was the safest to adhere to the Bible standard. Will Mrs. D and others who pursue a similar course be pleased to meet the result of their influence, in that day when every man shall receive according to his works? God's Word is plain. Its teachings cannot be mistaken.
Shall we obey it, just as He has given it to us, or shall we seek to find how far we can digress and yet be saved? Would that all connected with our institutions would receive and follow the divine light, and thus be enabled to transmit light to those who walk in darkness. Conformity to the world is a sin which is sapping the spirituality of our people, and seriously interfering It is idle to proclaim the warning message to the world, while we deny it in the transactions of daily life.
A Work of the Heart. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, "You don't dress as you should. Those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of His love and compassion, present His example and sacrifice, reveal His Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion.
Although our agreement is not total, it is substantial, and we have been given grace to face our disagreements with charity. This statement is a summary of the consensus which has emerged, but it makes no attempt to conceal our differences. Although participants have not been asked to endorse it individually, they thoroughly scrutinized its first draft and amended it. We now publish it with the desire to share with others the fruits of our discussion and in the hope that they will be stimulated, as we have been, to more conscientious evangelism and social responsibility.
The stated goals of the Consultation indicated that we would focus first and foremost on Holy Scripture. We have been determined, therefore, to let our minds be formed not by any human ideology but by the Word of God. We have found it a struggle, however. The problem lies rather within our minds as we read. How else can we explain some of the painful anomalies that soon came to light in our discussion?
To give a few examples: we heard of some Christians in a Confucian culture who, because of its assumption of the ultimate harmony of all things, have surrendered their belief in the uniqueness of Christ as Saviour. Under the pressure of religious pluralism, others have fallen into universalism. In some parts of the United States there are churches which still close their doors to blacks, and remain oblivious to the indignities to which discrimination has brought them, while at the same time proclaiming the love of God.
In South Africa, social policy and legislation are built on the theory of the inviolable diversity of the races. Many churches, whose members are sincere Christian people, nevertheless share this view of racial irreconcilability, while continuing to preach the Good News of reconciliation. In Europe and North America, secularism—which is a child of the Enlightenment—has even invaded the lives of Christians and effectively banished the reality of God from much of what they do.
It is easy to censure fellow believers in distant parts, however, and to occupy ourselves with removing splinters from their eyes while failing to perceive the logs in our own. It has become apparent during our Consultation that those of us who live in affluence do not feel the pain and humiliation of poverty as readily as do those who live among the poor. To the former, social responsibility may remain a topic for academic debate; to the latter, it is a self-evident Christian obligation. Yet moral blindspots are not peculiar to white or black, affluent or poor, north or south.
They are a symptom of that Fall in which we have all participated. It is our sin, as it comes to expression in our various cultural assumptions and tries to find justification in them, which often blinds our eyes to what God wants us to see in his Word. God created and redeemed our world in order to reveal his infinite majesty and his eternal love. Therefore, the primary sin is to refuse to honour him as God or to give him thanks Rom. From this adoring and loving encounter with God, there immediately flows a desire to share his love with our fellow human beings, both by telling them how God in Christ has loved them and by serving them in deeds of mercy and justice.
Only in this way, too, can evangelism and social responsibility be kept from degenerating into merely human activity and even propaganda. The mission of any church can fall into this trap. When we met at Lausanne in , we calculated that more than 2, million people were still unevangelized. Now, eight years later, we believe that the number has risen to three billion, and that this comprises many thousands of people groups. We cannot think of them as statistics, however. They are human beings like ourselves. Yet, though created by God like God and for God, they are now living without God.
The tragedy of this is painful, and the task of overcoming it is enormous. It calls for concerted prayer and evangelism on an unprecedented scale. But what is evangelism? This is the definition given in the Lausanne Covenant Paragraph 4 :. To evangelize is to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand.
But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his church and responsible service in the world. We heartily endorse this statement, and we wish to emphasize that reconciliation to God lies at the very heart of the Good News.
Our only criticism is that the statement sounds somewhat impersonal, since neither the evangelist nor the evangelized is characterized in it as a person of flesh and blood. Yet that is what they both are, and evangelism involves a personal encounter between them. The most essential qualities of gospel messengers are loyalty to the biblical gospel and personal authenticity. They must embody the Good News they proclaim. Few things repel people more than hypocrisy, and few things attract them more than integrity.
As for the persons who hear the gospel, we acknowledge the need to approach them with great sensitivity. Many will already have been convicted of their sin and guilt, and it will be possible at once to share with them the Good News of forgiveness. Others will be oppressed by a different sense of alienation.
There are many incentives to evangelism. To begin with, there is simple obedience to the Great Commission, and to the Lord of the Great Commission, to whom all authority has been given Matt. Yet we believe that the most basic of all motives lies in the very nature of God himself, and in his saving work by which he revealed himself. We do not exaggerate when we affirm that the living God is a missionary God. Between these two missions lay his death and resurrection. He died on the cross for the sins of the world, and was raised and exalted to be Lord.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit is a missionary Spirit, and Pentecost was a missionary event. He gave his people power for witness, as Jesus promised, and thrust them out to the ends of the earth, as Jesus foretold Acts This Trinitarian basis for mission is primary. If he yearns in his love for his lost world, we his people must share his yearning. Commitment to world mission is unavoidable, and indifference to it inexcusable.
We are appalled to know that about million people, or one-fifth of the human race, are destitute, lacking the basic necessities for survival, and that thousands of them die of starvation every day. Many more millions are without adequate shelter and clothing, without clean water and health care, without opportunities for education and employment, and are condemned to eke out a miserable existence without the possibility of self-improvement for themselves or their families.
The oppression of others is political. They are denied fundamental human rights by totalitarian regimes of the extreme left or right, while if they protest they are imprisoned without trial, tortured, and killed. Yet others suffer discrimination on account of their race or sex.
And all of us are oppressed by global problems which seem to defy solution—conditions of overpopulation and famine, the exploitation of non-renewable resources of energy, the spoliation of the environment, community violence, war, and the ever-present threat of a nuclear holocaust. All these are rooted in the profound sinfulness of humankind, and they demand from the people of God a radical response of compassion. Only the gospel can change human hearts, and no influence makes people more human than the gospel does. Yet we cannot stop with verbal proclamation.
In addition to worldwide evangelization, the people of God should become deeply involved in relief, aid, development and the quest for justice and peace. We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression.
Because mankind is made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive.
Although reconciliation with man is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist.
When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead. Again, as in evangelism so in social responsibility, we discern the fundamental basis for our actions in the character of God himself.
He is the God of justice, who in every human community hates evil and loves righteousness. He is also the God of mercy. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. We recognize that we have neither the authority nor the power to do everything God does. Nevertheless, since this text shows us the kind of God he is, and since these concerns of his were further expressed in the demands of his law and prophets, it is indisputable what kind of people we should be, seeking justice, freedom and dignity for all, especially the powerless who cannot seek it for themselves.
It is no surprise that Jesus reflected this lovingkindness of God his Father. He had compassion on the hungry, the sick, the bereaved, the outcast. He had compassion on the crowds because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. And always his compassion issued in appropriate action.
Moreover, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love Gal. It is therefore he who gives his people a tender social conscience, and impels them to immerse themselves in humanitarian relief, development, and the search for justice. Thus we find that there is a Trinitarian basis for our social duties, just as there is for our evangelistic outreach. We who claim to belong to God and who worship him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, must express our worship in these activities. Orare est laborare. The Relationship between Evangelism and Social Responsibility.
It appears to us that evangelism and social concern have been intimately related to one another throughout the history of the church, although the relationship has been expressed in a variety of ways. Christian people have often engaged in both activities quite unselfconsciously, without feeling any need to define what they were doing or why.
So the problem of their relationship, which led to the convening of this Consultation, is comparatively new, and for historical reasons is of particular importance to evangelical Christians. The Great Awakening in North America, the Pietistic Movement in Germany, and the Evangelical Revival under the Wesleys in Britain, which all took place in the early part of the l8th century, proved a great stimulus to philanthropy as well as evangelism.
The next generation of British evangelicals founded missionary societies and gave conspicuous service in public life, notably Wilberforce in the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery itself, and Shaftesbury in the improvement of conditions in the factories. It seems to have been in over-reaction to this grave distortion of the gospel that many evangelicals became suspicious of social involvement.
And now that evangelicals are recovering a social conscience and rediscovering our evangelical social heritage, it is understandable that some of our brothers and sisters are looking askance at us and suspecting us of relapsing into the old heresy of the social gospel. Another cause of the divorce of evangelism and social responsibility is the dichotomy which has often developed in our thinking. We tend to set over against one another in an unhealthy way soul and body, the individual and society, redemption and creation, grace and nature, heaven and earth, justification and justice, faith and works.
The Bible certainly distinguishes between these, but it also relates them to each other, and it instructs us to hold each pair in a dynamic and creative tension. In wanting to affirm that evangelism and social responsibility belong to each other, we are not meaning that neither can ever exist in independence of the other. Nor is Philip to be blamed for preaching the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot and failing to enquire into his social needs.
There are still occasions when it is legitimate to concentrate on one or the other of these two Christian duties. It is not wrong to hold an evangelistic crusade without an accompanying programme of social service. It was similar in the days of Moses. There is another justification for sometimes separating evangelism and social action, in addition to the existential demands of a particular situation: namely, the distribution of spiritual gifts.
Characteristics of a True Convert
The church is a charismatic community, the Body of Christ, whose members are endowed by the Holy Spirit with different gifts for different forms of ministry. Whatever our gifts may be, we are neither to depreciate them nor to boast of them 1 Cor. So seven men were appointed to perform this social service, although Stephen and Philip also did some preaching Acts ; This left the apostles free to concentrate on the pastoral ministry for which they had been commissioned, although they also retained a social concern e. Still today, Christ calls some to pastoral, others to social, others to evangelistic ministries; in fact, there is a wide diversity of spiritual gifts, callings and ministries within the Body of Christ.
Having seen that both particular situations and specialist callings can legitimately separate our evangelistic and social responsibilities, we are now ready to consider how in general they relate to one another. What has emerged from our discussion is that there is no one relationship in which they are joined, but that there are at least three equally valid relationships.
First, social activity is a consequence of evangelism. That is, evangelism is the means by which God brings people to new birth, and their new life manifests itself in the service of others. As Robert E. This effectively highlights the serving dimension of Christian conversion and commitment. We can go further than this, however. Social responsibility is more than the consequence of evangelism; it is also one of its principal aims. Good works cannot save, but they are an indispensable evidence of salvation James In saying this, we are not claiming that compassionate service is an automatic consequence of evangelism or of conversion, however.
Social responsibility, like evangelism, should therefore be included in the teaching ministry of the church. For we have to confess the inconsistencies in our own lives and the dismal record of evangelical failure, often as a result of the cultural blindspots to which we have already referred. This has grave consequences. When we do not allow the Word of God to transform us in all areas of our personal and social life, we seem to validate the Marxist criticism of religion.
Secondly, social activity can be a bridge to evangelism. It can break down prejudice and suspicion, open closed doors, and gain a hearing for the Gospel. Jesus himself sometimes performed works of mercy before proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom. In more recent times, we were reminded, the construction of dams by the Basel missionaries in Northern Ghana opened a way for the gospel, and much missionary medical, agricultural, nutritional and educational work has had a similar effect.
As a result, we were told, a number of people came under the sound of the gospel who would not otherwise have come to the crusade. But we have to take this risk, so long as we retain our own integrity and serve people out of genuine love and not with an ulterior motive. Thirdly, social activity not only follows evangelism as its consequence and aim, and precedes it as its bridge, but also accompanies it as its partner. They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of a bird. This partnership is clearly seen in the public ministry of Jesus, who not only preached the gospel but fed the hungry and healed the sick.
In his ministry, kerygma proclamation and diakonia service went hand in hand. His words explained his works, and his works dramatized his words. Both were expressions of his compassion for people, and both should be of ours.
Evangelism and Social Responsibility: An Evangelical Commitment (LOP 21)
Both also issue from the lordship of Jesus, for he sends us out into the world both to preach and to serve. Indeed, so close is this link between proclaiming and serving, that they actually overlap. This is not to say that they should be identified with each other, for evangelism is not social responsibility, nor is social responsibility evangelism. Yet, each involves the other. To proclaim Jesus as Lord and Saviour evangelism has social implications, since it summons people to repent of social as well as personal sins, and to live a new life of righteousness and peace in the new society which challenges the old.
To give food to the hungry social responsibility has evangelistic implications, since good works of love, if done in the name of Christ, are a demonstration and commendation of the gospel. It has been said, therefore, that evangelism, even when it does not have a primarily social intention, nevertheless has a social dimension, while social responsibility, even when it does not have a primarily evangelistic intention, nevertheless has an evangelistic dimension.
Thus, evangelism and social responsibility, while distinct from one another, are integrally related in our proclamation of and obedience to the gospel. The partnership is, in reality, a marriage. This brings us to the question whether the partnership between evangelism and social responsibility is equal or unequal, that is, whether they are of identical importance or whether one takes precedence over the other. Although some of us have felt uncomfortable about this phrase, lest by it we should be breaking the partnership, yet we are able to endorse and explain it in two ways, in addition to the particular situations and callings already mentioned.
Justification: The Biblical Basis and Its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism
First, evangelism has a certain priority. We are not referring to an invariable temporal priority, because in some situations a social ministry will take precedence, but to a logical one. The very fact of Christian social responsibility presupposes socially responsible Christians, and it can only be by evangelism and discipling that they have become such. If social activity is a consequence and aim of evangelism as we have asserted , then evangelism must precede it.
In addition, social progress is being hindered in some countries by the prevailing religious culture; only evangelism can change this. Seldom if ever should we have to choose between satisfying physical hunger and spiritual hunger, or between healing bodies and saving souls, since an authentic love for our neighbour will lead us to serve him or her as a whole person. The choice, we believe, is largely conceptual. In practice, as in the public ministry of Jesus, the two are inseparable, at least in open societies.
Rather than competing with each other, they mutually support and strengthen each other in an upward spiral of increased concern for both. The three relationships between evangelism and social responsibility need not occur in isolation from each other. Instead, they often blend together in such a way that it is difficult to distinguish them. This was made clear to us as we listened to a number of case studies. In one respect, it is simply an expression of love, the natural consequence of the knowledge of Christ which the gospel has brought.
In another, it has been a bridge to evangelism. Their reserve was melted, and they became ready to hear the gospel. God himself was loving them, one of them said, through the preaching of the gospel and the meeting of their practical needs. Medical, agricultural and educational development have gone hand in hand with evangelism and church planting. We also heard about some nomadic Maasai people of Northern Kenya who had come to Christ.
Amidst dancing and singing, they were being welcomed into the church by the Anglican bishop. As they celebrated, however, he noticed that half of them were either blind or nearly so. Next, we were told of an Indian couple, both doctors, who have laboured for more than 20 years in Jamkhed, Maharashtra. They trained despised outcaste widows in the elements of pre- and post-natal care, proved their credentials as healers by establishing a small operating theatre, and taught out of the Gospels how Jesus gave dignity to women. As a result, child mortality has been reduced almost to zero, social justice has increased and fear has diminished, and many people in seventeen villages, which for 50 years had not responded to the Good News, are now turning to Jesus.
In addition, we learned about the Voice of Calvary ministries in Mississippi, where for 22 years the gospel has been shared, and the physical, spiritual, economic, social and material needs of people have been met. Evangelism, community development and racial reconciliation through the church have gone hand in hand. The reason for this holistic ministry is that its pioneer came face to face with the cycle of poverty in which the people were trapped.
They were so preoccupied with the struggle to survive, that they could not attend to spiritual realities. It would have been almost impossible to offer Jesus Christ to them and ignore their other needs. So the gospel of love is verbalized and actualized simultaneously. Having suggested three ways in which evangelism and social responsibility are related to one another, we come to an even more basic way in which they are united, namely by the gospel.
For the gospel is the root, of which both evangelism and social responsibility are the fruits. So what is the Good News? No simple answer can be given, since a variety of models is developed in the New Testament. At this Consultation, however, we have concentrated on two comprehensive models. It begins with new life. Salvation continues with the new community.
For salvation in the Bible is never a purely individualistic concept. As in the Old Testament, so in the New, God is calling out a people for himself and binding it to himself by a solemn covenant. The members of this new society, reconciled through Christ to God and one another, are being drawn from all races and cultures. Indeed, this single new humanity—which Christ has created and in which no barriers are tolerated—is an essential part of the Good News Eph. Thirdly, salvation includes the new world which God will one day make.
We are looking forward not only to the redemption and resurrection of our bodies, but also to the renovation of the entire created order, which will be liberated from decay, pain and death Rom.
Of this cosmic renewal the resurrection of Christ was the beginning and the pledge. Having agreed on these three dimensions of salvation personal, social and cosmic , we went on to pose a further question: is salvation experienced only by those who consciously confess Christ as Lord and Saviour? Some of us do not find salvation-language inappropriate for such situations, even when Christ is not acknowledged in them.
Most of us, however, consider that it is more prudent and biblical to reserve the vocabulary of salvation for the experience of reconciliation with God through Christ and its direct consequences. It is well known that Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God. According to the Synoptic Gospels, the kingdom was the major theme of his sermons and parables.
Hence our decision to focus on it. As the Creator, he is both King of nature sustaining what he has made and King of history ordering the life of nations. Over themselves Israel knew that Yahweh reigned in a special way. For even after the people had demanded a king like other nations, Israel did not cease to be a theocracy. So he began to promise through his prophets that one day he would send his own king, anointed with his Spirit, to reign in righteousness and peace over all peoples and forever.
Thus Jesus brought the kingdom with him. The kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future expectation.