Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 5

The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 1
The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 2
The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 3
The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 4
The Message of Jesus Has Nothing To Do With Material Poverty - Part 5


In the previous post I tackled what is the most difficult text of my thesis that the message of Jesus is not the alleviation of poverty, but the salvation of sinners. No doubt Matthew 25, at first reading, suggests charity saves but as we saw, but such an interpretation is inaccurate. But Matthew 25 is not the only text that threatens my thesis. We should also briefly consider: Luke 4:18 and Mark 10:21 (Matthew 19:15ff; Luke 18:22). In this post, I will seek to tackle each of these only in brief.


Luke 4:16-21

Social justice Christians argue that here Jesus begins His ministry suggesting he has come to help the poor, the imprisoned, the oppressed, and others. Yet this is a slight misreading of what Jesus is actually doing and saying. In these posts, we are not denying that Jesus served the poor. Certainly He did. But it is wrong to think that social justice is the gospel. That distinction is important.

In this passage, we dare not miss an important word: proclaim. Jesus has come to proclaim salvation - or liberation, good news, etc. Without going into what might be needed more detail, often the Bible describes sin as poverty and in many ways Jesus does that here.


Mark 10:21 and Parallels

I will not spend much time on this text, but the story of the Rich Young Ruler is often used by social justice but it clearly teaches something different. Jesus is not suggesting that the rich man would be saved because he sold everything. Rather Jesus is identifying what is keeping Him out of the Kingdom: idolatry.


Conclusion

Although more needs to be said about each of these texts, such a thorough exegesis would go beyond our goal in this posts. In conclusion, however, let us note that social justice Christians are guilty of confusing the narrow gospel and the broad gospel. The narrow gospel regards justification. But broadly speaking, certainly the gospel has implications that affect us deeply and charity and humanitarianism is one of those implications. Charity is not the gospel, but proof of it.
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