What Remains to Be Seen

 

The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. Joshua 6:17

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient Hebrews 11:31

One cannot read through Scripture without coming across the remnant theme – God preserving a trace element of faith. And, as you will read, nothing, not even man’s wickedness including that of an idolatrous harlot, will thwart God’s plan for His Creation. His kingdom is forever. Below are just a few of the verses which reveal the Lord’s dealing with man’s unfaithfulness and His deciding to leave a humbled and teachable remnant, as the prophet Ezra described,

“But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.” Ezra 9:8

 

Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. Genesis 7:23

“God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.” Joseph, Genesis 45:7

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. Joseph, Genesis 50:20

“Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 kings 19:18

But some of the poorest people who had nothing, Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard left behind in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at that time. Jeremiah 39:10

Likewise, also all the Jews who were in Moab and among the sons of Ammon and in Edom and who were in all the other countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant for Judah, and that he had appointed over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. Then all the Jews returned from all the places to which they had been driven away and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered in wine and summer fruit in great abundance. Jeremiah 40:11-12

…and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Please let our petition come before you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, that is for all this remnant; because we are left but a few out of many, as your own eyes now see us,…” Jeremiah 42:2

“But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.” Ezra 9:8

“After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt, since You our God have requited us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us an escaped remnant as this, Ezra 9:13

‘I am with you,’ declares the LORD. So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, Haggai 1:14

“The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.” Deuteronomy 4:27

“For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return; a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness.” Isaiah 10:22

‘One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them. “Ezekiel 5:12

As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, “Alas, Lord GOD! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?” Ezekiel 9:8

For thus says the Lord GOD, “The city which goes forth a thousand strong Will have a hundred left, And the one which goes forth a hundred strong Will have ten left to the house of Israel.” Amos 5:3

“Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9

“The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant and out of Mount Zion survivors The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 37:31-32

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. Joel 2:32

“Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. Isaiah 10: 20-21n; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. “Isaiah 10:22

Now let’s turn to last Sunday’s Gospel reading, John 6: 1-21. As I listened to the reading I was reminded of the persistent remnant theme in Scripture. This theme is clearly evident in the two events described by John, though the miracles are what usually capture people’s attention: the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on the water.

The feeding of the five thousand:

After multiplying the loaves and fishes of a boy’s lunch to feed a vast crowd, Jesus tells his disciples (the Twelve) to gather up the remnants. The remnants fill twelve baskets. Isn’t it interesting that God’s people Israel belong to twelve tribes? The remnants, the twelve tribes are later enshrined in the Holy City of Jerusalem:

It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Revelation 21:12

 

Jesus walking on the water:

The disciples are on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. A furious squall whips up. The possibility of capsizing terrifies the men. Then, they see Jesus walking toward them. He is walking on the water! (Jesus, the Creator, had just multiplied organic compounds – loaves and fishes – to feed the many and now he modifies water, an inorganic compound, to reach and secure the few). As the disciples reach toward Jesus to pull him aboard (where they perhaps thought he would again calm the sea) they immediately reach where they were going – the other shore. The storm is not quieted as before. But that is of no matter. What matters is that another humbled and teachable remnant is saved.

 

The recurring remnant theme tells me that God is sovereign. God oversees the works of His hands. Nothing escapes his attention. God is involved with you and me. He supplies food and sure-footedness. The remnant theme also tells me beyond any doubt that the wicked and evil will be dealt with and be removed to where they need to go. The faithful will be gathered up and brought safely to where they need to go. And, another humbled and teachable remnant is saved – me. Everything is under His control. And that is what remains to be seen …by faith.

The Theory of Social Gospel Relativity

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

Increasingly I hear about a new and ‘relevant’ kind of ‘gospel’ called “social gospel”. The marketers of this ‘qualified’ gospel are saying that our government must be the instrument to meet human need. Perhaps this social gospel policy is an extrapolation of James’ admonition to the church in Jerusalem “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” Perhaps it is an extension of the Good Samaritan parable or and maybe it is an inference to the feeding of the five thousand. In any case, it is a stretch to fit any of the Gospel texts to fit their meaning of ‘social gospel’ as a national domestic policy.

More to my point: I have recently been reading the apostle Paul’s letters, specifically Corinthians and Galatians. I see how very much Paul desired to maintain the purity of the Gospel at all costs. My first and only concern in writing this post is how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being used today to market social justice in the political arena. Especially after hearing a ‘Christian’ in that context say that “wealth redistribution is what Jesus would do”. This is completely false and misleading.

WWJD: In his letter, the Lord’s brother James describes a practical close-to-home “work” to help those who are not able to help themselves. The Good Samaritan parable tells me who my neighbor is: He is a person you meet with a need. The parable also shows me how I am to treat my neighbor when a need arises: use my resources to help and then followup. Jesus fed the five thousand as a sign of His Person and His Power. This sign revealed His ability to provide for me in any situation. I am to depend on Him. He controls the outcomes. He controls the government, even in a Democracy. Nowhere is it written or inferred in the Bible that a socialized gospel should become a government’s domestic policy. Nowhere is it written that people should be forced to pay for others. Jesus never pushed political agendas and He certainly never taught that coercion in any form was the answer to need.

At no time did Jesus offer to heal or feed the entire world. At no time did Jesus demand that the Roman government feed or take care of the entire world, civilized or otherwise. Of course, Jesus could have said and done these things but He did not. He did not infer that his disciples would do this. Jesus did talk about individual responsibility and accountability to God, His Father, and to one’s close-to-home neighbor. He never talked about collective compassion or wealth redistribution. He never said “it takes a village to raise a child.” He did talk about the widow who, without coercion, freely gave her mite unto God. This willing, sacrificial act, done in secret, was an act of love for God and for her neighbor. The current social ‘gospel-eers’ market their brand of ‘gospel’ on the main stream media.

Having read and studied the synoptic Gospels and the letters of the Apostle Paul many times over I do not see any form of socialized or collectivized gospel in any way, shape or form within these writings. What I do see now, though, is that the true Gospel is being used as advertising label for a type of religious social movement in the US. This branding, I believe, would attract many Christian college students. These students are ready to take on the world; they are chomping at the bit for worthy causes. The social gospel gurus are very eager to take them into their fold. Many of the gurus are sixties radicals, now recycled and looking to make something of themselves before they pass on.

At no time did Jesus ever speak to his disciples about being a disciple of social need. As a Christian, you are not a disciple of a political-social-economic system or of a community organizer. Being absolutely and singularly identified with Jesus and His Kingdom is the key here. The medium (Christ’s disciple) is the message, so to speak.

You should know that it was the disciple Judas, the community organizer, who wanted a social gospel. Judas thought that Jesus would make the perfect radical. He thought that Jesus could bring about sweeping political, social and economic change for the struggling people of Judea. Judas, as the disciple’s treasurer, controlled the purse strings of charitable donations. He controlled the money bags of what he hoped would become a social gospel. Judas believed in the power of wealth redistribution, especially for himself. This is no different from the social gospel being preached today: control money and throw money at a problem to make it go away. This is what today’s political progressivism is all about. And, that is exactly what Judas does at the end of his life – throw money at the feet of the Pharisees. Judas, as we all know,  had betrayed Jesus, a political neutral, because Jesus didn’t fit the social gospel paradigm desired by Judas. To Judas, Jesus didn’t do what radicals are supposed to do: revolt, reign and redistribute. Akeldama, the field of blood, is where Judas ended his cutting-edge version of social gospel.

Let’s make it simple: Social gospel is progressivism and progressivism is a form of paganism and this paganism says that “You don’t need God. You can have effective social engineering in place of religious belief. You don’t need Christ. You have us. You can have our ‘gospel’ policies to meet your needs. We will throw in Jesus for free. Why look elsewhere.” Clearly, this form of ‘gospel’ is a subversion of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and it wrought by the Evil One. This form of gospel is a synthesis of good and “sounds good” at its core.

The Apostle Paul makes it even simpler: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatian church.

May God give me the grace and the resources to help others as He shows me their need! Having said this, I do not want a progressive political social agenda enacted to determine my personal gospel outreach (and thereby make it vicarious) through a forced redistribution of wealth to the poor. I believe compassion and empathy are to be individual, one-on-one matters, separate from the government’s intrusion, imposition and inefficiencies.

Regarding the Church, the Body of Christ: The apostle Paul, speaking in his Corinthian letters, desires that the church keep itself pure and undefiled just like his desire for the Gospel of our Lord. To me, the church is becoming a political organism and the social gospel I’m hearing about is another gospel – a gospel for a utopian society. The Lord knows what His Body needs. He will do what is necessary.

This post is not about being cruel and unkind to people. Rather, this post is about keeping the Gospel of Jesus Christ pure and undefiled by the world.  The pure and undefiled ‘religion’ of Christianity is about helping widows and orphans in their distress.  It is about offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.  This ‘religion’ is not to be synthesized into a government policy.  We as Christians should seek and pray that government will stand back and let us do good works.  We must maintain our liberty and freedom from government and its coercion (being unjustly taxed to pay for social programs) in order that we may continue to help those in need, freely, with love.

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For more information see my 09-15-2010 post about Stolen Goods.