Tag Archives: Social Gospel

Kevin DeYoung: ‘Rethinking the Mission of the Church”

The link below is for the audio version of a message Kevin DeYoung gave at the recent Pastor’s Conference for Sovereign Grace Ministries.  In his talk, Pastor DeYoung provides a biblically balanced look at the Church’s primary role and how the “Great Commission” shapes that role and provides her direction.  He also shares concerns with language such as “social justice” and “missional”.  Likewise, he mentions Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice, which I discussed earlier this week.  Please consider listening to this message.  He gives a thorough analysis.

Rethinking the Mission of the Church

His conclusion:

So what is the mission of the church?

The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.

In other words, the mission of the church is not equal to everything God is doing in the world, nor is it everything we do in obedience to Christ. The mission of the church is the Great Commission. As Andreas Köstenberger says, “The church ought to be focused in the understanding of its mission. Its activities should be constrained by what helps others to come to believe that the Messiah, the Son of God, is Jesus.”*

Video – The Great Commission: Social Work, Political Action, or Evangelism?

Last week in a book review of Radical, I made a statement that author David Platt perhaps had an “overemphasis” on the ‘Great Commission’ and because of that he should have developed his idea further, giving readers direction and guidance on how to proceed in this biblical mandate.  A point of clarification: in stating this as an example of ‘Great Commission’ overemphasis what I meant was that it seems a common practice these days among evangelicals to latch on to a verse in order to form support for a movement, mission, agenda, etc.  This is often done to the neglect of the remainder of the Bible and as such tilts the scales in living a biblically balanced life.  The ‘Great Commission’ is such an example because it is often used as a platform to promote missional agendas, social work, or political action, as we looked at yesterday in “Is Social Justice Biblical?”, and doing so can actually cause us to miss the passages meaning entirely.

In this brief video, Pastor John MacArthur provides a clear answer as to what the ‘Great Commission’ (Matthew 28:16-20) is about and how we as Christians are to implement it.

When the liberal/social “gospel” intersects the One True Gospel

Friday I included a small blurb and a couple links to a story bucket drop about author Ann Rice’s “leaving” Christianity.  Since then, I’ve also included an excellent blog post from the folks at Pyromaniac’s (Frank Turk) that takes an objective, Biblical response to not only Ms. Rice, but also Russell Moore from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose post I also included.  In the blurb I included the following statement, “I’m not one to judge her heart, but it sounds like she has either been damaged by those who claim Christ, but may not be believers themselves or she is having a difficult time herself understanding the true Gospel.”  What I meant by this was that it’s common these days for false professors of Christ to spread messages so contrary to the Gospel of Christ they actually become a stumbling block unto themselves.  Now I don’t know who Ann Rice fellowships with (in fact, before this story I wasn’t even sure who she is), but rest assured if she is involved with a body of true believers, then this shouldn’t be an issue, because as I wrote on Friday those of us on the front lines are in a constant battle against false prophets, teachers, and slanderers of the name of Christ and if anything it encourages us to stand up for Christianity and our fellow believers to ensure that the true Gospel is represented.

 

With that said, it’s with the second assertion in my comment that I must expound, namely I’m not sure if Ms. Rice understands the true Gospel.  With these statements from Rice’s announcement, “As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of . . . Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen,” it became evident to me that Rice, like so many these days, has confused their “liberal/social gospel” with the One true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The liberal gospel attempts to give homosexuality a minority status, either defining it as an endowed right of choice or a biological result of birth.  As such, any opposition to this idea is either unethical or intolerant.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes quite a different stance. 

 

The Apostle Paul writing in I Corinthians 6:9-11 makes the following declaration, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Despite Paul’s exclusively discussing male homosexuality in this passage, he includes both sexes in Romans 1:26-27, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”  Paul uses language such as immoral, dishonorable, unnatural, and shameless to describe homosexuality, quite the contrary to the liberal gospel stance.  Additionally, Paul states that homosexuals will not, “inherit the kingdom of God” and instead will receive, “due penalty for their error.”  This Biblical view is so dissimilar to the liberal gospel that it’s understandable how someone holding onto the views that are accepting of the sin of homosexuality, such as those that Ann Rice stated, might have their belief system rocked when they encounter the truths of the Word of God, as quoted from the Apostle Paul above.  It’s important to note here that in the passage from I Corinthians that Paul details God’s magnificent and amazing grace in that those who once practiced homosexuality have been justified and sanctified, having been washed by the blood of Christ upon accepting Him as Savior.

 

The next point from her statement is that of “anti-feminist” most likely refers to the lack of female leadership within the Church and could be directed towards Paul’s letter to Timothy in which he states, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” I Timothy 2:12  Leadership, quite simply, begins in the home.  In Ephesians 5:22-28 Paul outlines the marriage roles between a man and a woman, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”  Paul isn’t describing this relationship between husband and wife as something to belittle women in saying to submit, in fact quite the contrary.  What is exemplified here is the relationship that Jesus has with His bride, the Church, and that pattern should be modeled within our homes and churches.  Men are called to be the spiritual leaders within the home and church, just as Paul outlines to Timothy regarding overseers:

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

 

Additionally Paul outlines the office of deacon in I Timothy 3:8-13, but specifically he states in verse 12, “Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.”  Are these guidelines anti-feminist?  This simply cannot be the case as God’s design in creation, namely in creating the male first and then the female, is significant in understanding the leadership role of man.  This is consistent with Paul’s explanation in I Timothy 2:13-15, where he follows up the bold statement from vs. 12 listed earlier, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

 

A third point, secular humanism, which Rice states she supports, is a philosophy which advocates human rather than religious values.  This is diametrically opposed to the Gospel.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  While Proverbs 21:2 reads, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”  By nature we are children of wrath, as Ephesians 2 states, we are born sinners like David declares in Psalm 51, and we suppress the truth about the knowledge of God, as Paul laments in Romans 1.  How then can secular humanism attempt to establish values based on human intellect or moral goodness?  We as humans are inherently sinful so to base any kind of moral or value system on ourselves is to create a flawed and sinful system from the start. 

 

Several of her other statements really make no sense.  Claiming the Church is anti-science I can only assume is some kind of reference to creation by evolution, which in any form or fashion is in direct contrast to Biblical creation by the hand of God as detailed in Genesis 1-3.  I’m unsure what the “anti-life” statement might be in reference to, but it seems to contrast her statement about “anti-democrat” since that political party is widely known for its support of abortion.  I can only assume that some of the other “anti’s” that Rice outlined, such as anti-artificial birth control, are directly aimed at the Catholic Church, at which point I will defer to the following response posted in Frank Turk’s post:

 

“The first measure of one’s approach has to go back to the problem of Catholicism — a problem I suspect Dr. Moore would minimize. Could it be that Mrs. Rice was an honest-to-God Christian inside Catholicism? Of course — I think I am famous for saying that there are many lousy Catholics who have great faith in Christ. But it seems to me that her faith is fully informed by Catholic dogma, and that the flaws in her acting out in faith are frankly the flaws of all thoughtful people inside Catholicism: because you have to disassociate so many unbiblical teachings from your core faith, you wind up dismantling your ability to respect right-minded religious authority. Because the only authority she has says it is infallible but in truth it is riddled with falsehood, she applies her skepticism of claims to infallibility to the Bible and makes it her own buffet of truths. What Mrs. Rice first needs is to be disabused of Catholicism to recover her faith in the church and in God’s authority over her moral and intellectual life.”

 

There are a lot of things going on here in these statements from Ann Rice; a lot of which I think are common thoughts/feelings from those who subscribe to the pervasive liberal/social gospel.  As I’ve stated, I cannot judge her heart to know whether she is truly a Christian.  Perhaps her statements are out of frustration and her beliefs stem from an immature relationship with Christ and a lack of knowledge of God’s Word and ultimately God Himself.  As I finish John Owen’s book, On the Mortification of Sin, he points out 3 types of man, some are merely “natural and rational”, understanding facts that God exists and that He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross.  Others have a “superadded conviction with illumination”, meaning they realize the difference between right and wrong and that God is offended and displeased by sin.  While the third group is truly regenerate having also those qualities of the former 2.  Based on her statements, one has to wonder (at least on the surface), which category Ms. Rice falls into.  She indeed needs to return to God’s Word to find out what He says about some of the issues she raised and quite frankly she needs prayer, that her eyes might be opened to what the true Gospel of Jesus is all about. 

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31