My Personal Christian Blog

Thanks for sliding into my blog site. This blog bog is a spin-off from my website at Call me a Night Owl, as my full-time mission and hobby are jabbering from midnight until 8 a.m.ish with chatter bugs across the world. Hoot, hoot! Being a retired newspaper guy and a Curious George, I've written and assembled a whack of stuff that I hope you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. Check out the Stories bar on the right side, below, for all my articles - from my web site and this blog.

February 23, 2012

Does the Social Gospel get our vote?

By NiteOwlDave

We often hear that the way to Heaven is by a being a good person as in working for the betterment of mankind. It is a social or good-works gospel, and it is taught in many church pulpits.

We have to applaud anyone who tries to help others and works to improve our world. However, we must keep in mind that the Bible says our marching orders are first and foremost to share the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Solving social problems must be given second place.

The Bible says entry into Heaven is by accepting what the Lord Jesus Christ completed for us when He died, shed His blood, and rose again from the dead. We must believe that, as in getting “saved.” We are not saved by what we do but by what Christ did. Salvation is not earned; it is a free gift that must be accepted.

From a human perspective, works-based salvation sounds correct. From God’s perspective, as explained in His book, the Bible, this belief crashes and burns.

James 2:17 points out that good deeds are evidence of our salvation. Good deeds do not earn us a place in Heaven. That tells us we should establish our commitment to Christ, first as a believer and then to help others, second.

As harsh as this may sound, the good works gospel actually dishonors God's Word. Although trying to make this earth a better place is noble, the Bible gives no commission to followers of Christ to fix the problems of the world.

Jesus did all the works necessary to secure salvation for our sin without our help. He didn't pay for some sins and then require sinners to pay the remaining balance with certain rituals or with good works. He paid for all our sins -- past, present, and future.

That principle is the guts to true biblical salvation. Those who attempt to gain Heaven any other way have eternal short-term focus and are headed to Hell.

They fail to grasp this Bible pronouncement of Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end, thereof, are the ways of death."

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast.”

The many problems we see in the world today are symptoms. The root
cause is sin. When Adam and Eve chose to sin, Satan was given the opening he needed to cause chaos and social injustice. We are now stuck with the fallout; starvation, droughts, wars, diseases, etc.

Because of the sin root, God does not forgive us nation by nation. God makes us Heaven worthy – if we ask for it – one person at a time. Salvation does not remove the damage brought on by man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. That will not go away until God makes all things perfect again in His time.

Conservative radio and print journalist J. D. Longstreet notes, "Unfortunately, many of our mainline denomination pastors preach feel good sermonettes about the environment, and things like social justice. In my opinion, that is not the mission of a church that purports to follow Christ. In fact, Christ Himself spelled out the mission of the church in what we refer to as the Great Commission."

The commission is stated in Matthew 28:16-20 and says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

As Longstreet sees it, many pastors in America are fearful of preaching the Scriptures and pointing out man's failings. They are concerned that they will be accused of slander, or sued for libel. Longstreet admits that's a real threat in America -- and that is why he is suggesting churches that hold true to the gospel may be forced underground.

It is well stated that the social gospel is a deadly disease for "people of faith," says Dave Hunt, a senior statesman of the faith, author, and speaker.

“Prevalent among many religious leaders who profess to be evangelical Christians (i.e., Bible-believing Christians) is the promotion of a gospel that is acceptable to, and even admired by, people throughout the world. Today, the most popular form of this is the social gospel.”

Such teaching reinforces the belief that salvation can be attained by doing good works, putting aside differences for the common good, treating others the way we want to be treated, acting morally, ethically, and sacrificially – and that doing so will endear humans to God.

No. These are self-deceptive strivings that spurn God's salvation, that deny His perfect standard, and reject His perfect justice.

Ephesians 2:8-9 nails it: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The social gospel not only promotes "another gospel," it helps prepare a kingdom contrary to the teachings of Scripture.

Philippians 3:20 points out, "For our conversation (citizenship) is in
Heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Reader response
From Paul Tatham

Good article, but I would recommend a different slant.

"Social gospel" is a little hard to define. From what I can ascertain, it is taken to mean at least three different things:

1) Believing that it is the duty of Christians to rid the world of social problems--disparity of income, crime, racial tensions, sickness, etc.
2) Believing that good works are necessary for salvation
3) Believing that good works are vital when giving the gospel

Each one is a problem and should be addressed in a separate article. #1 is quite pervasive. #2, thankfully, is not too widespread, although it is growing. Your article tackles this view. #3 is the main one I have issues with, and I think most needs to be addressed.

My beef is that I see sooooo many attempts to "share the love of Christ" as that only--an ill-defined, mushy effort to love people into Heaven. The good-works side of evangelistic efforts too often vastly overshadows the actual giving of the simple gospel.

Passing out sandwiches to the homeless in a park, unaccompanied by any attempt to link it to the gospel, has replaced passing out tracts. Yet it is widely heralded as fulfilling the Great Commission, and Christians are lulled into thinking they have done their part.

I have no problem with putting a little bait on the hook, but in most efforts there is no hook whatsoever. Even when such efforts are first launched from the pulpit, the actual gospel is never mentioned. Instead, it's all about
the sandwiches.

When pressed, promoters claim that such do-goodism will prod the
recipients to ask the all-important question: "What makes you so good?" Of course, such a response is indeed rare. But that doesn't stop every evangelical church in the country from plowing tremendous resources into trying.