What is the law of Christ?

What is the law of Christ?

Answer: Galatians 6:2 states, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (emphasis added). What exactly is the law of Christ, and how is it fulfilled by carrying each other’s burdens? While the law of Christ is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:21, the Bible nowhere specifically defines what precisely is the law of Christ. However, most Bible teachers understand the law of Christ to be what Christ stated were the greatest commandments in Mark 12:28–31, “‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’”

The picture in the upper left of a homeless person has become a symbol of the new “Social Gospel” for some. This is not what Jesus was speaking of here. – Mike

The law of Christ, then, is to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Mark 12:32–33, the scribe who asked Jesus the question responds with, “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In this, Jesus and the scribe agreed that those two commands are the core of the entire Old Testament Law. All of the Old Testament Law can be placed in the category of “loving God” or “loving your neighbor.”

Various New Testament scriptures state that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law, bringing it to completion and conclusion (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15). In place of the Old Testament Law, Christians are to obey the law of Christ. Rather than trying to remember the over 600 individual commandments in the Old Testament Law, Christians are simply to focus on loving God and loving others. If Christians would truly and wholeheartedly obey those two commands, we would be fulfilling everything that God requires of us.

Christ freed us from the bondage of the hundreds of commands in the Old Testament Law and instead calls on us to love. First John 4:7–8 declares, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” First John 5:3 continues, “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome.”

Some use the fact that we are not under the Old Testament Law as an excuse to sin. The apostle Paul addresses this very issue in Romans. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). For the follower of Christ, the avoidance of sin is to be accomplished out of love for God and love for others. Love is to be our motivation. When we recognize the value of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, our response is to be love, gratitude, and obedience. When we understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and others, our response is to be to follow His example in expressing love to others. Our motivation for overcoming sin should be love, not a desire to legalistically obey a series of commandments. We are to obey the law of Christ because we love Him, not so that we can check off a list of commands that we successfully obeyed.

Is the Social Gospel the Whole Gospel?

Another in the Frequently Abused Verses Series 

by Cameron Buettel /  Monday, July 22, 2019

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused VersesThe following entry from that series originally appeared on October 7, 2015. -ed. (For other articles in this series just type Frequently Abused Verses into the search bar on the right). 

Is the Social Gospel the Whole Gospel?

You wouldn’t tell your children, “Bathe regularly; if necessary, use water.”

Nor would you advise a friend, “Be a faithful husband; if necessary, love your wife.”

Those redundant instructions defy logic. They also beg the question about what other means you would employ to accomplish those goals. You might as well tell someone, “Stay alive; if necessary, breath oxygen.”

And yet many Christians rally around a similarly illogical statement when it comes to evangelism. “Preach the gospel; if necessary, use words,” is a mantra that is a darling of social gospel activists. That quote, wrongly attributed to Francis of Assisi, is wielded when it’s time to poke zealous evangelists in the eye, or rebrand social work as a form of evangelism. Social gospel advocates like Rick Warren [1] and Jim Wallis [2] love to use it.

And let’s face it, there is a winsome ring of truth to the idea that my lifestyle can be a testimony of God’s saving work. Moreover, there is a built-in rebuke of evangelists who fail to walk their talk. Their hypocrisy—faith without works—is a reproach on God, His Word, and His people (James 2:14–17). But it’s absurd to turn that hypocrisy into an argument for the primacy of good works apart from the clear proclamation of the gospel.

The Necessity of Words

Paul never said, “How will they see without a preacher?” He said, “How will they hear without a preacher” (Romans 10:14). That is because every time the word “preach” appears in the New Testament it refers to vigorous verbal proclamation. It is verbal in its testimony of the works of a Savior who fulfilled the law that we have continually broken (Matthew 5:17–18; Romans 3:23), suffered the punishment that we could never bear (Isaiah 53:4–6; 1 Peter 2:24), and defeated the grave (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14).

And because Christ’s people depend entirely upon His unique work done on their behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), there is no way to fully demonstrate it through actions alone. As Voddie Baucham points out: “For me to think that I can live the gospel is to put myself in the place of Christ.” [3]

So where does that leave works of social justice such as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and caring for the oppressed? No one would argue that they are bad things to do. Indeed James defines them as integral to pure religion (James 1:27). But do those acts of mercy have any role to play in a person’s salvation?

Advocates of the social gospel argue yes, and appeal to Matthew 25 as their apex argument:

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:34–46)
Was Jesus saying that our eternal destinies hinge on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked, and visiting the oppressed? And how would that square with salvation by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9)?

The Whole [Other] Gospel

Tony Campolo is one of the most prominent advocates for the social gospel. His handling of Matthew 25 typifies the wider movement. While not explicitly denying the gospel of grace alone, he argues that it is our treatment of the poor and oppressed that will determine our eternity:

I place my highest priority on the words of Jesus, emphasizing the 25th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus makes clear that on Judgment Day the defining question will be how each of us responded to those he calls “the least of these.” [4]
The recently closed Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE), of which Campolo was founder and president, clearly defines who he thinks “the least of these” are:

That Jesus was homeless and taught that we may encounter Him in “the least of these”—the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, widow, stranger and imprisoned (Matthew 25:35-40), is the basis of what Tony calls the Whole Gospel and informs EAPE’s holistic ministry.  And it raises questions for the Church and every Christian: what should be our response to the homeless and to “the least of these”? [5]
Note Campolo’s use of the term “Whole Gospel.” He is implying that proclamation of the good news is only a partial gospel and must be accompanied by social action in order to become a complete or “whole” gospel. But his imbalanced emphasis betrays his mishandling of Matthew 25:35–40.

The Bible repeatedly teaches that good works are ultimately God’s works because they are the natural fruit of salvation; never the cause (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27; James 2:14–17). And in Matthew 25you don’t see judgment based on works, you see works revealing who is truly saved by faith. John MacArthur is emphatic on this point:

The good deeds commended in Matthew 25:35–36 are the fruit, not the root, of salvation. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that they are not the basis of entrance into the kingdom. Christ will judge according to works only insofar as those works are or are not a manifestation of redemption, which the heavenly Father has foreordained. If a person has not trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, no amount of seemingly good works done in His name will avail to any spiritual benefit. [6]
Who’s Who Among the Judged

Another critical issue in understanding Matthew 25 is to recognize that the division Christ makes is not between the church and the pagan world, but between true and false Christians. While the pagan lives in open unbelief, the false Christian is an impostor who has blended in among God’s people. False Christians are the recipients of Christ’s most terrifying judgment:

So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:20–23)
Matthew 25:34-46 makes a similar division between those who have genuine faith and those whose faith is false, according to the evidence of their works. Note carefully that both groups of people think they are Christians because they address Jesus as “Lord” (Matthew 25:37, 44). Both groups are also surprised by the verdict. The surprise reveals humility among Christ’s people (“when did we,” Matthew 25:37–39) and self-righteousness among those who are faking it (“when did we . . . not,” Matthew 25:44).

Who’s Who Among the Lowly

Finally, the beneficiaries of these good works are not the disenfranchised people of the world, as Campolo suggests. The word “brothers” (Matthew 25:40) is vital to understanding where our benevolence is to be directed. Jesus is saying that the fruit of genuine faith is evidenced in the way we care for fellow believers who are suffering (cf. John 13:35; 1 John 3:10–11). MacArthur brings this point home:

The King’s addressing these people as brothers of Mine gives still further evidence that they are already children of God. . . . Because of their identity with Christ, they will often be hungry, thirsty, without decent shelter or clothing, sick, imprisoned, and alienated from the mainstream of society. [7]
Conclusion

This is not to deny any duty we have to love the disenfranchised people of the world. But if proponents of the social gospel were serious about Scripture, they would target passages that refer to loving our neighbors—even loving our enemies (Matthew 22:39; 5:44). Christ’s words in Matthew 25 have nothing to do with the social justice they advocate.

Matthew 25:34­–46 was never written as a blueprint for salvation through social work nor should it be employed as such. It’s not an argument for preaching the gospel through our actions alone, but rather that our actions authenticate the gospel we preach. And those actions must be prioritized towards our suffering fellow believers. So please, care for other believers because Jesus commanded us to. Realize that a lack of care may point to a lack of saving faith. And preach the gospel with words because they’re always necessary.

SOURCE

 

I Was There…

I Was There...

A dear friend, Pastor Fred’s article shows that the “new” social justice movement may not be so new after all. He clearly points out that Scripture is not open to man’s individual interpretation for it is Scripture Alone that interprets (or explains) scripture not mankind’s emotions. – Mike

 | MARCH 29, 2019

I was there. I experienced liberal theology’s social gospel and social justice ideas more than 45 years ago. It was at the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS; Southern Presbyterians) Synod meeting in Charlotte, NC, in 1973. The speakers and attendees said things that sounded biblical at first, things like “the church is the body of Christ … we are the example of Christ to the world … Christ in us must be lived out in the world through social justice.” Many desired that the PCUS unite with the liberal UPCUSA, the Northern Presbyterians. They rightly argued for equal “civil rights” but also for backing liberation theology in El Salvador, the Black Panther Movement in America, and Angela Davis, etc. Little did I know at the time that the Northern Presbyterians already had funneled some defense funds to the Black Panthers’ and Angela Davis’ trials. Their idea of becoming a Christian was like Rudolf Bultmann’s “Christ” experience of enlightenment against all forms of prejudice and bigotry against others. To him, believing the facts of Christ’s death and resurrection were optional. To him, believing in Christ was to have a crisis of “enlightenment” or “awakening” over racial and cultural prejudices (the “Christ” experience) to emulate Christ to the world.

I had studied liberal theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (M. Div. ’74), but now these views had real faces on them. Some argued for women elders, gay marriage, and social justice reparations. I was quite taken aback that those who professed to hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith held these views. I asked myself: “How can we be united together with Christ if we have such views?” The PCA was just beginning to form at that time, and part of its reason for forming was a reaction to this liberal form of social justice. Now I am astonished to see some “conservative” Presbyterians adopting such views.

I saw another face of liberalism in 1977 when I returned to the Baptist fold. I met with the Alabama (SBC) official involved in recommending pastors to churches. He asked me why I went to RTS instead of an SBC seminary like Southern. I told him that I was an inerrantist and felt Southern Seminary was too liberal. He then said, “Then, there is no place in the SBC for you if you cannot fully support all the programs.” This was the covert liberalism of the SBC at that time which opposed biblical inerrantists. Of course, by God’s grace, Dr. Al Mohler was used of God to expose and remove liberal theology from SBTS in the 1990’s…for which I thank the Lord. It is no secret now that liberal theology had led to unbiblical social justice ideas at SBTS.

In 1988, I met another face of liberalism in a TCU doctoral seminar required for my PhD. This was a highly respected professor among liberals from the Disciples of Christ (Christian). He was a very nice man and cordial to me. After reviewing various hermeneutical approaches to the New Testament, however, he advocated “reader-response criticism.” His particular hermeneutical approach had elements of Rudolf Bultmann’s existential “Christ” experience and Karl Barth’s idea of finding “truth” in the Scriptures only when we “experience” God’s Word. To Barth, the Bible contained truth, but it only became true when the individual experienced something upon hearing the Bible. As one reads the text of the Bible, the reader has a response to its words, and that response is its meaning. This subjective experience with the Bible, then, becomes the actual “truth” to live by. Reader Response Criticism cares not for the historical biblical texts’ truthfulness. Truth is what you “feel” while reading the “story” in the text. What is “true” to me may not be “true” to you. But if you do not agree with my “truth” about social justice issues, then you are sinning. Starting to sound familiar?

So, you can imagine my horror when I discovered that some speakers and writers in the current Social Justice Movement have begun to sound like my past experiences with liberal, modernist and post-modernist views. My problem with today’s “conservative” social justice writers and speakers is that they exhibit the same faults in biblical hermeneutics and exegesis as did the liberals I encountered in the past.

For instance, they both use the Parable of the Good Samaritan to justify the churches’ responsibility to administer social justice to the poor and oppressed (Luke 10:25-37). The only problem is that the text explains that Jesus was defining “who is my neighbor” to an individual, a Jewish lawyer. Jesus’ answer was the picture of a Samaritan individual who providentially comes upon a robbed and beaten Jew (racial and religious taboos). A Jewish priest and a Levite already had passed him by. So, the Samaritan goes out of his way and uses his own money to take care of him at an inn … one person to one person. Our Lord concluded ironically that the Jew was the Samaritan’s neighbor; and he loved him as himself. He told the lawyer to go and do likewise. Surely this was offensive to the lawyer, giving him the example of a good Samaritan for him to emulate! This is certainly a call for individuals to keep the second great commandment to other needy individuals whose path they cross.

But, according to grammatical-historical-theological hermeneutics, does this parable teach that the local church as the body of Christ is called to organize its efforts to relieve the distressed and oppressed of society and the world? No, it does not. We must be careful of making historical narratives the foundation for sound doctrine. Christ spoke to a particular lawyer (an unbeliever, by the way) about how to gain eternal life by loving your neighbor and keeping the Law. The lawyer, seeking to justify himself, asked, “and who is my neighbor?” So, Jesus answered a particular man who was not yet a believer, and told him that this lawyer’s neighbor was anyone he providentially encountered in distress and oppression, even of another race and religion. Jesus was convicting him of his violation of God’s Law and need of repentance. This is about a real man who needed to know who was his neighbor to fulfill the commandment “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Since the lawyer was not a church being instructed by Jesus, the only thing we can rightly apply from this parable is that God holds all men accountable to His Law to love the people they encounter, especially those in trial and have the ability to help. It certainly has implications for the racial differences between the Jew and the Samaritan, but it is not a doctrine of Social Justice to the organized church to seek out the oppressed and to take care of them and to fulfill their physical and social needs. Nor did Jesus call the Jewish lawyer to make reparations to all Samaritans because he hated them as a class. There is no such command or example of the church doing so in the NT. The parable is a call for the Christian to help others in need as their neighbors whom God has providentially brought into their path, regardless of race or creed. We must love our neighbor as we would wish to be loved.

For proponents of Social Justice to use the Scriptures sloppily for their “reader-response” applications makes no headway with those whom they are either trying to reach or to criticize. A recent article was a travesty of biblical interpretation. It misused Zacchaeus’ benevolent giving to the poor and biblical restitutions to particular individuals whom he cheated, to bring guilt upon “white Baptists” as a class to provide reparations to the black community (black Baptists?). This article unbiblically calls “white Baptists” to view modern-day apostles and prophets of social justice at the same level of authority to the biblical prophets and apostles. That is staggering and absurd. Scripture alone is the Word of God for our conscience today. Scripture alone is the authority for any kind of “good works” we are called to do. Scripture alone defines what is the mission of the church for today, not “reader-response” feelings which are not based upon biblical hermeneutics and applications.

What may seem to be a “logical consequence” of the Scripture you read may be so affected by one’s own feelings and tradition that you have moved yourself, and desire to move others, beyond the authority and sufficiency of Scripture alone. This error reaches the level of an unfettered subjective allegorical interpretation of Scripture. If our Social Justice brothers sincerely wish to engage other Bible believers with their applications of Scripture, they need to remind themselves that the Reformation’s “formal principle” was Sola Scriptura, the Bible’s final authority and sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, not new revelations of new “prophets” of the “reader-response” mind!

I was there. I saw the zeal. I saw the consequences you can see today in liberal Presbyterianism, Methodism, Episcopalianism, and some Baptists. Now, again I see biblical language behind “reader-response” ideas pre-conditioned around one’s experiences and environment, casting aside the evangelical and reformed hermeneutics that brought us out of Dark Ages and into the light of biblical authority and sufficiency. Every time in history that professing Christians have messed with the final and unique authority and sufficiency of Scripture alone over the conscience of man, they have been led down paths like universal salvation, justification by faith plus works, state churches, authoritative ecclesiastical pronouncements over the local church’s authority, racial and ethnic hatred, divisions, slanders, gossip, self-righteous condescension, and new divisive categories of who is “an enemy of the gospel.”

When will some of the “new” theologians of the Social Justice movement ask themselves: “Is this really what the Scripture says in the text? … Is my logical extension within the bounds of Scripture Alone?” And when will they answer those who challenge their conclusions with the biblical hermeneutic and exegesis which was the unifying power of the Reformation and the foundation of historical Baptists?

I hope to see you in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 14-16, as we seek to examine and sort out the heart of the gospel and the mission of the church in these new (but really old) challenges.

SOURCE

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2019 NATIONAL FOUNDERS CONFERENCE

  Louisville, Kentucky

The Problem Isn’t the Great Commission

The Problem Isn’t the Great Commission

 | MARCH 13, 2019

This is another thought provoking article about the modern social justice movement in evangelical circles. I have posted the opening and closing sentences you will have to go to the source (which I highly encourage) for the rest) – Mike

Anthony Bradley has been a loud voice in the social justice movement among reformed and evangelical Christians in America. He actually helped awaken me to the threat of this movement to the gospel….

…The problem isn’t with the great commission. The problem is with those whose cultural agendas have so shaped their perspectives that they fail to appreciate the significance of what it means to make disciples of all nations.

Source: The Problem isn’t TGC

 

Weightier Matters of the Law

Matthew 23:23–24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees…you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (v. 23).

The Social Gospel movement, which arose in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries under the inspiration of theological liberalism, downplayed sin and reduced Christianity to feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and other acts of social justice. There was a justifiable backlash against this movement in the churches and an exodus of people who affirmed the essential truths of the Christian faith. Unfortunately, some theological conservatives were so afraid of falling prey to the Social Gospel that works of charity ranked at the bottom of their priority list, if they were done at all.

Those who neglected acts of social welfare for fear of looking like liberals were guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Though the parallels between this historical example and today’s passage are inexact, Matthew 23:23–24 warns us that it is possible to become focused on one set of God’s demands at the expense of another. The scribes and Pharisees tried to obey God’s law scrupulously; they tithed their herbs even though the Torah did not specifically require the giving of such (Deut. 14:22–23). However, their obedience did not include the weightier, and more difficult, matters of the Law. It is easy to count out a tenth of one’s cumin seeds, but it is much harder to help needy people in a substantial way. Sacrifice of time and leisure might be required to show mercy to the one who is downtrodden. Faithfulness may mean the loss of one’s job or reputation as the result of bearing witness to Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees were not wrong to tithe their smallest things; in fact, they rightly gave God a portion of all they had (Matt. 23:23–24). They erred in following the Law superficially, concerned with its letter, not its spirit, and mistakenly focused on minutiae at the expense of the duties to which tithing, and every other commandment, pointed: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, a fourth-century defender of Trinitarian orthodoxy, warns us: “God laughs at the superficial diligence of those who measure cucumbers” (On Matthew 24.7).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin writes, “The Law is kept only when men are just, and kind, and true, towards each other; for thus they testify that they love and fear God, and give proper and sufficient evidence of sincere piety.” Commitment to justice, mercy, and faithfulness demonstrates commitment to Christ (James 2:14–26). Thus, our care for the poor and oppressed must be as evident as our concern for doctrine. What sacrifices are you making to help the poor and marginalized?

For further study: Zechariah 7:8–14

For the weekend: Isaiah 31–34

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Where was Jesus on the issue of the Social Gospel?

Oh, this is a good one for sure and an issue bound to cause some Christians to cringe.

And while this post is not a position against social justice, I do assert that the message of Jesus was not about social issues at all. The message of Jesus was about SALVATION.

Continued at source  Where was Jesus on the issue of the Social Gospel?

Here is my comment to this article: As you already know from my previous post on this subject we are in complete agreement. The further we have moved (my opinion) from the Regulative Principle of Worship to more modern day its all about making self feel something we have become a society driven by this social gospel. At the same time (I am sure you will agree) we are not in any way advocating for Christians to turn their backs on those in need (Good Samaritan, Love thy neighbor, etc.)