Generosity, Church, and Justice
Christians believe that poverty relief has to be always voluntary, never “mandated” by the church, as we have seen, it was not an altruistic option but a mandatory obligation of the faithful by virtue of the gospel message and Christian identity. The works of charity alms giving, sharing, hospitality, care taking of the poor, the afflicted, and the helpless—were not supererogatory “add-ons” but the works of justice and equity grounded in koinonia of God’s creation and imago Dei. Without them Christians could not claim their spiritual security and maturity in Christ but could incur the eschatological judgment of God due to their failure to love their neighbors. Protestants would have some uneasiness about linking ultimate salvation with “doing good” in any way as though it would undermine “salvation by grace through faith alone.” Yet this dichotomous grid is no longer helpful or sound; grace is opposed to the attitude of earning, not the action of doing good. “Doing good” is always part and parcel of salvation, which is God’s gracious, unconditioned gift, and which we are to work out with fear and trembling willed and enabled by God and already living in but also looking forward to his kingdom (see Phil. 2:12). Again, there are different options among the specific kinds and ways of works of charity and justice that Christian communities may choose, but the ecclesial duty to engage in such works seems nonnegotiable.
Book: Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich
author: Helen Rhee
Reaffirm who we are
Our first task is to reaffirm who we are. Evangelicals are Christians who define themselves, their faith, and their lives according to the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth. (Evangelical comes from the Greek word for good news, or gospel.) Believing that the Gospel of Jesus is God’s Good news for the whole world, we affirm with the Apostle Paul that we are “not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Contrary to widespread misunderstanding today, we Evangelicals should be defined theologically, and not politically, socially, or culturally.
Behind this affirmation is the awareness that identity is powerful and precious to groups as well as to individuals. Identity is central to a classical liberal understanding of freedom. There are grave dangers in identity polities, but we insist that we ourselves, and not scholars, the press, or public opinion, have the right to say who we understand ourselves to be. We are who we say we are, and we resist all attempts to explain us in terms of our “true” motives and our “real” agenda.
author: Os Guinness
We Americans are not well-known in the world as people who know how to blush. On the contrary, we are a very self-confident people. The last thing we want is to be told that we cannot do anything to save ourselves from the most serious problem that we have ever or will eve encounter-that we are entirely at God’s mercy. Apart from a miracle, religious success in this atmosphere will always go to those who can effectively appeal to this can-do spirit and push as far to the background as possible anything that might throw our swaggering self off-balance. When looking for ultimate answers, we turn within ourselves, trusting our own experience rather than looking outside ourselves to God’s external Word.
by: Michael Horton
For an example of what the second step involves, look at Isaiah 40:12ff. Here God speaks to people whose mood is the mood of many Christians today-despondent people, cowed people, secretly despairing people; people who have ceased to believe that the cause of Christ can ever prosper again. Now see how God through His prophet reasons with them.
Look at the tasks I have done, He says. Could you do them? Could any man do them? ‘Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?’ (verse 12). Are you wise enough, and mighty enough, to do things like that? But I am; or I could not have made this world at all. ‘Behold your God!’
Let us act with humility, cast ourselves at one another’s feet, join hands with each other, and help another. For here we battle not against pope or emperor, but against the devil, and do you imagine that he is asleep?
And Thou, O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee for Thy mercy’s sake, continue Thy grace and favor toward us: let the sun of Thy gospel never go down out of our hearts’ let Thy truth abide, and be established among us forever…. Apparel us thoroughly in Christ, that he may live in us, and so Thy name may be glorified in the sight of all the world. Amen.
One day the vindication certainly will come.
The times to come will be hard. Just as Jesus will suffer as Son of Man, so also the saints will be persecuted for their commitment to him. They will long for vindication, but they will have to wait for it. So Jesus exhorts them to pray always and not lose heart. Contextually, Jesus is speaking of not losing heart about the hope of vindication. He compares such prayer to the persistence of a widow nagging a judge. Her constant request was for him to vindicate her against her adversary, a remark that shows the eschatological vindication theme. The judge, who is no respecter of persons, will vindicate her so as not to be “beaten black and blue” by her continual coming.
It is this image that Jesus compares to God’s response. To make the point, Jesus uses a rhetorical question about God vindicating his elect who cry out to him day and night. The vindication will come. Will God delay over them? No, that vindication will come speedily. But apparently it will delay long enough that there is a question whether people will wait faithfully for that vindication. So Jesus concludes the unit by asking, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The parable affirms the speedy vindication of disciples, while also noting that the indefiniteness of the delay is long enough to cause the possibility that some will not endure with abiding faith. It is this very ambiguity that produced discussion about the “delay” of Christ’s return in the early church. Nevertheless, the parable reinforces the previous unit’s discussion of the day of the Son of Man and urges disciples to “hang in there” until he returns. One day the vindication certainly will come.
Book: Jesus according to Scripture
Author: Darrell L. Bock
the “already” and “not yet,”
John has often been understood to dissolve any so-called “tension” between the “already” and “not yet,” between the present and future, in favor of his emphasis on the present reality of the salvation and blessings of God. Yet even though “tension” may not quite capture the flavor of Johannine eschatology, there clearly is a definite “space” between the here and now and the future. This may also be seen in Jesus’ own journey to the Father-and his promise to the disciples that they will be where he is. Since he is returning to the Father, to the place and position that he had before the creation of the world, and since in the position he alone has seen the Father, the implication is that the disciples too have the promise of the vision of God. In this present life, because the Word of God has become incarnate, here is genuine knowledge of God; in seeing the Son, one sees the unseen Father. Yet the full vision of the unseen Father remains a future hope (see 1 John 3:1-2). Similarly, through the words and deeds of Jesus, one knows God and so has eternal life (17:3). Yet just as the Incarnate Word is fully God, yet not the entire fullness of God, and just as one sees the Father in the Son and yet does not see the Father in fullness, so to the life that the Word grants to human beings is fully the life of God, but not yet the complete fullness of the life. It awaits the resurrection. The very language of eternal life presses logically toward this end: life with the one who is the very origin and source of all life, the living and life-giving God.
Title: The God of The Gospel of John
author: Marianne Meye Thompson
This is why the apostles not only framed Christian faith in doctrinal terms but called for its preservation and protection in this form. There is no Christian faith in the absence of “sound doctrine” (1Tim. 1:10; Tit. 1:9), “sound instruction” (1Tim. 6:3), or the “pattern of sound teaching” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). It is this doctrine, or, more precisely, the truth it contains and expresses, that was “taught’ by the apostles and “delivered” to the Church. Is this message that is our only ground for hope (Tit. 1:9) and salvation (1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Without it, we have neither the Father nor the Son (2 John 9). Indeed, Paul says that we can grow in Christ only if we stay within this doctrinal framework, for its truth provides the means of our growth (Col. 2:6). It is no wonder that Christians are urged no to depart from the apostolic teaching they received “ in the beginning” (John 2:7,24,26, 3:11) or from what they had heard (Heb. 2:1), for it is the “faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Nor should we be amazed to read of Paul’s admonition to Timothy that it is only by adhering to this “good teaching” that he will become a “good minister of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:6). For all of these reasons, the apostles instructed believers to guard” this faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 4:3; cf. Tit. 1:9; Gal. 1:9), defend it (Jude 3), “stand firm” in it, not to “drift” from it, to become “established” in it, and to transmit it intact to succeeding generations.
Book: NO PLACE FOR TRUTH
author: David F. Wells