You Can’t Be Christian If You’re Not Caring For The Poor

You Can’t Be Christian If You’re Not Caring For The Poor April 27, 2016
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Image courtesy World Vision staff photographer

People often falsely assume that the word Christian has a clear, singular, meaning but that’s not necessarily true.

There’s “Christian,” which refers to a particular religion of over 41,000 different denominations or sects who disagree on what Christian means. Then there’s “Christian” which can refer to a nationalistic religion prevalent in America.

And then there’s “Christian” the way I like to use the word: like Jesus. In fact, when the word first caught on in the early church, that’s almost precisely what the definition was.

Of the thousands upon thousands of people who belong to the first two types of Christianity, (approximately 78% of Americans), fighting poverty isn’t high on the radar. Various studies over the years have actually shown that the number of Christians who tithe amount to approximately 5-7%. This means that at least 93% of Christians don’t even give money to the church they attend, let alone give money to fight poverty.

And even among the 5-7% who do tithe, most of that gets sucked into ever growing church budgets, leaving the amount of money that actually ends up going toward helping people poverty negligible at best.

What does this mean? Well, to be perfectly blunt, it means that Christians in America statistically give very, very little to the poor.

But here’s the problem: You can’t be Christian if you’re not actively helping and serving the least among us. Sure, you can belong to one of the 41,000 Christian denominations and fail to do that, but you can’t be Christian—you can’t be like Jesus or a follower of Jesus– if you’re not actively serving those who are impoverished.

Honestly, I think we have a problem that we must face here in American Christianity: 97% of Christians (noun) aren’t Christian (adjective). Jesus taught his disciples to first take the beam out of their own eye before worrying about the speck in their brother’s eye, and I think it’s time we get a crowbar and start yanking this beam out.

For the one who desires to be Christian, we have a non-negotiable model to follow. Scripture tells us that Jesus lived his life in such a way that serves as an example for us to follow, and that we are to walk in his footsteps—even if that means sacrifice or suffering.

What’s the example Jesus left us? Well, Jesus spent his time preaching good news to the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and helping the lame to walk again. In fact, helping the poor and sick was so absolutely central to Jesus’s ministry, that he commanded his followers to continue this tradition—and even warned them that if they refused to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or welcome the immigrant, they would find themselves facing an everlasting punishment on judgment day.

Did you catch that? To Jesus, helping the poor isn’t simply a nice thing to do—it’s what often gets classified as a “heaven or hell issue.”

The fact that 93% of Christians in America are not doing something Jesus said was a requirement of being his disciple presents a major discipleship challenge for the next generation of pastors and teachers. It’s one that absolutely cannot be ignored—because you can’t be Christian if you’re not helping the poor.

While on one hand I think that we need to begin to acknowledge that American Christianity has a major, major oversight, this week I’m encouraged by the actions of some who long to follow Jesus. I’ve been traveling in the Dominican Republic with World Vision, and have been overcome with emotion at some of the stories I’ve listened to.

There was the mother who was sick and dying, but when World Vision came to check on her children in their program, they realized she needed help– and she got it. When she was well, they also helped her build a home, get some animals, and start a business– and today the family is not only intact, but she’s actually taken in foster children from the village.

Or, then there was the community who realized that they could improve the condition of everyone if they banded together and started a business. So World Vision provided training and resources, and today I spent the afternoon at their office where they make and sell shoes– providing a livelihood for at least a dozen families who would otherwise languish in poverty.

I saw it at the goat farm too– a group of folks who realized they could prevent families from splitting upD090-0231-121 and searching for migrant work if they could create a sustainable job for the whole community. Because of World Vision donors, WV was able to help them get the business going, and today they’re able to resist the urge to leave their families in search of migrant work where they could end up exploited or trafficked.

I have witnessed the beauty of what happens when God’s people do what Jesus said we should do– and I long to see more of it.

I believe one of the ways we can help the 93% of Christians become more Christian, while helping the next generation of Christians avoid the error of our own, is to encourage child sponsorship through World Vision. Sponsorship is just $39 a month, and as I have witnessed firsthand traveling with World Vision in Eastern Europe and the Caribbean, sponsoring just one child has the power to transform an entire community.

The letters you and your children exchange with the child you sponsor will both be a major source of encouragement to your sponsor child, but will also help teach your own about the beauty of being Christian and the beauty of giving.

And that money you give? Well, I’ve seen first hand the net results of sponsoring a child. I’ve been a guest in the homes of those who were once homeless, I’ve embraced healthy people who were once sick and dying, and I’ve bounced children on my knee who have beamed with pride over the fact they had a World Vision sponsor in America.

Yes, it’s true that we as Christians have had a beam in our eye, and that statistically speaking we have overlooked a core tenet of what it means to be Christian. But what’s also true is that it doesn’t have to be that way for another generation.

We don’t have to ignore it.

We can change. And as we change, we’ll change others.

And as we change others? Well, do that long enough and you just might change the world.

Will you join me today in sponsoring a child through World Vision? There’s no better time like the present, and you can select your sponsor child right here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Matthew

    Great points Benjamin.

    I think this topic may have been the tipping point for me when I was going through the process of leaving evangelicalism as defined in a conservative, American context.

    I remember often hearing the quote from the NT about the poor always being with us and this quote being used as an excuse for not engaging in social justice to the poor and marginalized. I also remember the over spiritualization of everything Jesus said about poverty.

    I no longer believe these arguments hold much water.

  • Realist1234

    Im an evangelical but I dont recognise what you’ve said, but then again Im a Brit not American.

  • Realist1234

    Whilst I still maintain that in the passage in Matthew 25 Jesus is specifically talking about our treatment of His followers, all Christians as a minimum should be giving money to charities such as Tearfund who work with the poor throughout the world.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Whilst I still maintain that in the passage in Matthew 25 Jesus is specifically talking about our treatment of His followers,

    Matt 25:35
    “35 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

    Notice he didn’t say, “You asked me if I was a follower, and then invited me in”

    So there is nothing in that verse to suggest that it is restricted to his followers. Jesus doesn’t care.

    He expects us to love and care for all.

    Yes, the least of my brothers. Who is my brother? Ask the Good Samaritan. He will tell you.

  • meadowhawk

    The poor will always be with you quote is from when a woman was anointing Jesus’s feet, the disciples were criticizing her for wasting money on the pricey perfume and Jesus told them to knock it off.

  • Realist1234

    And yet Jesus never used ‘brothers’ to describe anyone except His followers. See Matthew 12: 46-50. But as I said, and I think I was clear about it, despite mine and many others’ view that the Matt 25 passage refers specifically to the treatment of His followers (which also makes sense given what He said to Saul – ‘Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME?’ Saul was in fact persecuting Jesus’ followers – in the same way in Matt 25 Jesus so closely identifies Himself with His followers/brothers that He can say ‘I’ was a stranger and you invited me in… ) Christians should always be helping the poor, regardless of your view of this particular passage.

  • Realist1234

    No that wasnt my point. It was the implication that that is the evangelical mindset, of making excuses for not helping the poor. As I said I dont recognise that within UK evangelical circles. In fact I find it is just such churches that do alot for the poor around the world as well as locally eg my local church supports a school and hospital in India, my local Vineyard church (which holds evangelical beliefs) runs a foodbank for local people who are struggling. I could go on.

  • Right. I also think Matt. 25 is talking about the way people treated his followers, but certainly an examination of Jesus’ treatment toward the poor as well as later apostolic commentary develop the idea that the kingdom of God cares for the poor in general.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    And yet Jesus never used ‘brothers’ to describe anyone except His followers.

    Except in Matt 25, as I just showed you.

  • In America, this is a big evangelical “defense” against having to take care of the poor.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I also think Matt. 25 is talking about the way people treated his followers,

    But he was talking TO his followers, and talking about how THEY were treating others, including “strangers.”

  • AJ

    World Vision, isn’t that the organization “Christians” threw a hissy fit about and stopped supporting because they said they would hire gay employees?

  • Realist1234

    No you have ‘assumed’ He is talking about everyone, whilst I have shown you by looking at His other words that He is not.

  • Realist1234

    Indeed. And I see you’ve been promoted! Please dont throw me out!

  • Realist1234

    Thats a shame.

  • He was talking to his followers, yes, but he was talking to them about the end of the age. At the end of the age, his followers will endure persecution, but God will reward those who give aid to his followers and cast away those who oppress his followers or ignore their plight. The passage is apocalyptic.

    Now, there are clearly other teachings of Jesus that extend beyond the reach of his followers. For instance, the parable of the Good Samaritan is probably one of those. And Jesus speaks against oppression of the poor and their upcoming exaltation more than once. Jesus definitely wants the poor taken care of everywhere regardless of their background or affiliation.

    But in Matt. 25, Jesus is telling his followers what the signs of the end of the age are, at least that’s how Matthew frames it. It’s entirely possible that teaching did not occur in that context and Matthew put it there to make his own theological point, but you’d have to go outside the text to argue that. In Matthew’s narrative, that’s where he puts it.

  • Thanks for posting this insightful commentary with examples from World Vision. We’ve supported impoverished families through them for about 45 years and am so thankful for a caring empathetic organization who works among the world’s poorest and most needy, and also fights for justice and human rights.

    The troubling question is why don’t most humans reach out to those in need like World Vision does?

    Instead, billions of dollars are being spent by U.S. Christians and secularists on bombing in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Yep. Some thousands of people declared that they’d rather let children starve than let money pass through the hands of a gay person to help them.

  • SamHamilton

    Thank you for this much needed reminder of Jesus’ instructions to care for the poor. Our sponsorships have been a blessing to us and a particularly good education for our children. Thank you for this first hand report that they’re making a difference “over there.” We all could do more.

  • Tim Bishop

    While I agree that the heart of a Christian should yearn to provide help to “the least of these,” I don’t agree with the over-the-top title of this post. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace not works. No act of service makes us Christian; nor does omitting an act of service strip the name Christian from us. Each of us becomes a Christian when we agree with God that we are a sinner in need of a savior, repent of our sins, believe that Jesus Christ is God and accept His sacrifice on our behalf, and ask Him to be our “boss.” If we get those steps right, He’ll lead us to ministries that utilize our unique giftedness, whether to care for the poor, defend the widow and the fatherless, evangelize the lost, and/or disciple other Christians. Let’s face it. Some people have little money to help the poor. That doesn’t make them any less Christian if they’ve already professed their faith in Christ.

  • SamHamilton

    Please know that not all “conservative evangelicals” in America use that verse (you’ll always have the poor) as an excuse to avoid helping the poor. There are plenty of conservative evangelical churches in the U.S. that help the poor, though sadly, I’ve run into people who mis-apply that verse too. I just don’t want you to get the wrong impression of American conservative evangelicals.

  • Realist1234

    Thanks and noted! I suspect a lot of these views come from ‘high profile’ evangelicals who appear on the media, rather than your average evangelical attending the local church.

  • caming

    I stopped reading after “The Bible clearly …”

    Just knock it off, already.

  • Al Cruise

    Loving the least is not works.

  • David

    Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

  • Jerry Lynch

    Very, very inspiring…and tremendously daunting. Again, the story line this is the true christian and this is not. Maybe that line needs to be drawn. But many other groups will redraw it as absolute dogma. The wishy-washy progressive overly concerned with righting social issues than serving the kingdom of heaven. I prefer what Jesus did: tend to their basic physical needs first, no questions asked and no demands made. Treat them as a brother or sister without question. Hold them in the simple esteem of a loved one. Look on them kindly. Listen. Delight in their presence. Be in that moment with them as if no other destiny or moment existed.

  • Matthew

    Realist 1234 and SamHamilton:

    You both are right. I used to attend a Vineyard Church in Florida and they had a food pantry. A Calvary Chapel I once attended near Philadelphia kept some donated items for the poor in the back closet. Your posts helped to bring those memories to the front of my brain. Thanks.

    That said, the point is I think overall it´s safe to say that most conservative evangelicals in America think the poor are poor because of laziness and a lack of values … not because of something systemic. My experience has also been that these same groups, when they do engage in social justice endeavors, use the ministry as a way to coerce people religiously speaking.

    My main concern is that although you both are correct — some conservative evangelical churches do indeed have ministries to the poor and marginalized — I still find that the overall mindset regarding the poor in these circles often lacks compassion, mercy, and understanding.

  • Realist1234

    Charming. No myth, but very REAL. I can understand if you insist on ignoring the gospel records as no doubt you view them as biased, but to also ignore anti-Christian writers among Jews and Romans is bizarre. But hey, continue in your delusion if you wish, but when you meet Him, what excuse will you have?

  • Matthew

    Thanks for this Tim Bishop.

    Your post helped remind me once again that the heart of the Gospel is not primarily about what we “do”.

    That said, I think it´s clear that if we understand the beauty of our justification it will lead us to be generous in our justice toward the poor and marginalized (borrowing from Tim Keller´s book “Generous Justice”). If not, then shouldn´t we question our justification?

    I do understand, though, that if we are always seeking a litmus test to determine the depth of one´s Christianity where does it all end?

  • Realist1234

    It is sadly true that in the UK, some people on benefits are lazy and do not want to work, though the majority do. Mankind was made for work and in the long term it is not good to sit on your ass all day literally doing nothing except watch tv and live off other people’s income – Ive known a number of individuals who have had that attitude. I would not view them as the genuine poor who can do little or nothing to change their circumstances. Ironically food banks here are often used by working people on short-term contracts who literally run out of food as their benefits havent come through yet following the end of their contract. This is why I give to charities such as Tearfund which works typically with local churches etc, and encourages people to take control of their lives, rather than simply giving money (though sometimes that is needed too). As someone has said, ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll be hungry tomorrow, give him a fishing rod and teach him how to fish, and he’ll never go hungry again’, or something like that!

  • SamHamilton

    Matthew,
    Thanks for your response. I don’t think it’s an either/or thing that determines poverty. There are systemic issues and poor choices/destructive culture/low education/etc. But that’s another issue that’s somewhat off topic.

    Despite many conservative evangelicals adhering more to the latter theory of poverty, that’s not evidence that conservative evangelicals don’t care about outreach to the poor. They may not talk about it as “social justice,” but I don’t think you’d really see much of a difference in the actions of conservative evangelical congregations in the U.S. and non-conservative evangelical congregations when it comes to actual actions to assist the poor. They might think about it differently, but the actual end result…probably not much different. I don’t think it’s helpful to divide American Christians into two groups: those that do their part and those that don’t based on conservative vs. liberal theology.

  • SamHamilton

    That could be.

  • Tim Bishop

    Thanks for your balanced comment. I think Ephesians 2:8-9 captures well that we can’t earn our salvation, nor do we need to question the free gift of it: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Then, verse 10 strikes at the heart of Christian service: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-13 also point to the simplicity of the Gospel. In my opinion, there’s a disconnect premised in the author’s title of this post, and it confuses an important point. God’s love is unconditional; there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any more or less than He already does, for God is love. His offer of salvation is a free gift to anyone and everyone. If we can’t accept that premise of the Christian faith, we run the risk of becoming our fellow man’s judge, if not our own. Jesus told us not to go there.

  • Matthew

    Thanks SamHamilton.

    I guess I would like to see some numbers. Who is really helping the poor the most and by how much?

  • Matthew

    I try not to divide the poor anymore between the “worthy” poor and the “unworthy” poor. None of us is truly worthy of God’s promises, but Jesus gives us everything nevertheless.

  • SamHamilton

    I think that would be interesting too, though I doubt the numbers are available. But it’s not a competition. We could all do more. We’re better off focusing on what our specific Christian communities could do better than focusing our attention on what we think other Christian communities could be doing better.

  • SamHamilton

    That’s too bad you get thrown off by word choices. You should have read on. He had worthwhile things to say.

  • caming

    No, he didn’t. He is a troll. There isn’t a serious academic theologian that would assert a library of letters, notes and poems written thousands of years ago ever conveys anything “clearly” to a 21st century audience. At the least, it’s foolish, misleading and without academic merit. At the worst, it’s blasphemous and a grave misjudgment of God’s word.

  • Matthew

    Hello

  • SamHamilton

    No “serious academic theologian” would assert that the Bible is clear on anything? Hmmm… There are lots of things that seem “clear” to me in the Bible. If there wasn’t, there’s no point in asserting that to be a Christian means to help the poor, as Mr. Corey does in this blog post. I see Mr. Corey has a couple degrees from a seminary. Does he not count as a “serious academic theologian?”

    There was nothing trollish about his comment. A trollish comment is one that is meant to stir up controversy without adding anything constructive to the conversation. This applies more closely to your original comment than Mr. Bishop’s.

  • caming

    Caring for the poor is a general statement and action, as made by Ben, that is THEMATIC throughout the Bible. Stating an opposing viewpoint under the premise “The Bible clearly teaches” is what’s trollish. Further, there are hundreds of books written on grace and works, so using your logic, Tim has it all figured out and all of those in academia — and their many thousands of words — are entirely without merit, because the Bible is “clear” on the issue. Are you serious?

  • SamHamilton

    It sounds like you’re agreeing with me that there are some things that the Bible is clear about – the admonitions for followers of Jesus to care about the poor being one of them. So to dismiss a comment because it begins “The Bible clearly teaches…” without reading on isn’t wise. Perhaps the person was going to go on to talk about one of those things the Bible is clear about.

    Of course, you obviously didn’t stop reading after that statement, you just had a desire to be snarky, which is quite trollish. A better response would be to explain to Mr. Bishop why you believe there is actually a way of interpreting the Bible to say that we are saved by our works. Contrast your response with Matthew’s.

  • Al Cruise

    Luke 19. 1-10 explains what happens when someone accepts the Grace of God. The result is not works, it becomes the normal behavior of someone who is now in Christ.

  • There have been studies (don’t recall the details offhand, but it’s well documented) that a lot of people naturally fall into a psychological trap where if they identify with the concept of helping others– through merely clicking links, merely buying a certain product, etc– then it seems to dull their senses a bit. Almost like a New York Yankees fan choosing to wear given hat and t-shirt, there’s this trick in the brain that makes one think that they’ve ‘done something’ meaningful for others when they seriously haven’t.

    It’s a cognitive bias that humans have being human, whether Christian or otherwise, that’s a tough nut to crack. Thing seem to boil down to a matter of confirmation bias. Person X believes that he or she is ‘good’, which is very well completely true, but then X gets stuck with the blinders of interpreting what he or so does as a big thing when its really not.

  • … seriously?

  • Brandon Roberts

    ah the no true scotsman fallacy. christians are christians i do agree we should help others though

  • I hear some of what you’re saying, but I think you’re still missing the difference between Christian as a noun and Christian as an adjective.

  • Thanks for sponsoring, Sam. I can promise you this: it is making a difference.

  • The numbers are very low- a max of 7% of Christians overall (and that’s a really high number. I’ve seen some studies showing as low as three). Of those who do however, conservatives tend to give more, which I think is a blind spot of myself and my fellow progressives– which is why I bring it up so often.

  • I find myself saying this often when someone brings up “No True Scotsman,” but be mindful not to invoke the fallacy’s name in vain. There are many statements that fit the format of “no true Scotsman” which are not in the least bit fallacious — for example, “no true vegetarian would eat a steak.” The key is that, in the non-fallacious instances, it’s a matter of defining an identity.

    Which is precisely why I would say you shouldn’t invoke the fallacy here; Ben is arguing that a certain thing (i.e. caring for the poor) is a vital aspect of a certain identity (i.e. Christian). To invoke “No True Scotsman,” we would first all need to agree that the thing is not an important aspect of the identity, which is begging the question.

  • Paraphrasing Fred Clark, “The Bible is very clear about X. The problem is that the Bible is also very clear about not-X.”

    So yes, we are absolutely saved by grace, not works.
    Except we are absolutely saved by works and grace.
    And are absolutely saved by works, not grace.

    Scripture is the greatest teacher and leads the faithful to God.
    Though you shouldn’t bother with scripture, as it blinds you to God.

    With that in harmonious agreement, let’s have a drink. It’s fine as long as we don’t drink to excess, or have a drink.

  • I don’t disagree that many Christians don’t behave as Christians, but I’m not so quick to latch on to that 93%. What do you do about the Christians who don’t give because they themselves are already in dire poverty? The people who wish they could give but don’t have the resources to — the ones who refuse to be charity cases even though they’re the ones we want to help. Because the maxim has it backwards — in a culture that equates wealth with virtue, it is far more difficult to receive than to give.

  • I like these as alternatives — the “giving to the church” as the sole criteria seemed a bit reductive. (Can I carry extra lunches to share instead?)

  • Matthew

    Now I´m a bit confused.

    We chastise the conservative evangelicals mostly for their attitude(s) toward the poor and marginalized, yet they tend to give more to them?

  • Bones

    Maybe…..

    Conservatives are against welfare and have some weird idea that churches should be providing welfare, not government.

    But then I live in a country which is fairly generous with welfare especially for families. An unemployed family with 6 kids would be getting just under what I earn with 6 kids including free health. And I don’t have a problem with that.

    Certainly in my country the problems the poor have are more social than economic especially within our indigenous communities.

    Also conservatives also give to evangelical groups which tie in evangelism to charity. I know the church I was going to tied in giving food to hearing the gospel.

    Personally I sponsor through the Catholic Organisation, Unbound. They have low admin costs and their ceo’s are paid low wages in comparison to others even though I’m not Catholic. And the people they sponsor don’t have to be Christian.

    I actually think Christians should start sponsoring Muslims (with no expectation to convert) – to build bridges.

    I mean you can’t go past liberation theologians for Christians who actually work towards ending the oppression and poverty of others..

    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” – Fr Dom Helder Camara

    But yeah we need to put our money where our mouth is….

  • It is confusing to a degree, because the data doesn’t tell us everything we ultimately need to know. We do know that conservative evangelicals are more likely to give to their church, but that the max number is about 7% of them.

    We don’t know how much of that goes toward the poor. But we do know they generally oppose policies related to the government helping the poor.

    On the flip side, we have liberals who do support the government helping the poor, but give less to charity than conservatives.

    How it all shakes out, I’m not entirely sure, but I am confident that the 7% number is an indictment against both sides.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Benjamin and Bones.

    It´s a good question … just how much of the 7% is actually going directly to the poor and marginalized?

    From the conservative evangelical side, I can´t imagine a lot given the building programs and the pastor´s salaries in some of these churches for example.

    I remember a relatively large conservative evangelical church in Florida with an 8 million dollar building program that included a bowling alley for the youth — SHOCK!

  • Bones

    Not to mention Franklin graham is making squilions out of Samaritans Purse.

    It used to fricking annoy me when we’d watch church videos and Joyce Meyer would beg for money. The woman is a multi-multi millionaire scam artist.

  • Matthew

    Thanks.

  • gimpi1

    Sadly true. However, that reaction was part of the spur for outsiders like myself to sponsor. I don’t know if we made up for the drop…

  • gimpi1

    i agree. I’ve gotten more from my sponsorship than I imagined. I’m so glad I finally got off the dime and signed up with World Vision.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Can someone explain to me why a some of the comments below seem to be using “works” as a kind swearword, and seem to think it necessary to somehow clear helping the poor of the dreadful accusation of being “works” before Christians are permitted to do it? What makes doing good bad because it is “works” (whatever they are) and where is this in the Bible?

  • Blame it on the Reformation :-P

    For as far back as my memory of Church history can recall, it’s been a given that Christians believe that we are saved by grace, Christ’s faithfulness, and/or faith in Christ. This was made particularly clear in the theological debate between Augustine and Pelagius. However, for a very long time the Church held that belief in tension with the equally important Scriptural notion that those who believe in Christ are then charged with following after His example (e.g. “a tree is known by its fruit”).

    But around the time of the Reformation, when the Church was essentially selling salvation through the form of Indulgences, the Reformers and Protestants pushed back, and this was the beginning of “works” being truly considered a dirty word. This was amplified by American Christianity and particularly the American response to the English Reformation (or rather, the response of those English people who would become Americans), leading to the belief especially in the Americas that anything that even hints at being “salvation through works” is heretical and evil. Thus, having to prove that you’re not preaching a works-based salvation before you can talk about how it’s good to help people.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    There seems to be almost a suggestion that actually doing any “works” is also heretical and evil, not just preaching that they are required for salvation.
    I can see that you run into problems if a preacher suggests that what is needed for salvation is a shopping list of tasks to complete (particularly if the principal task suggested as required is giving money to the preacher) but when did it become anything but straightforwardly spiritually uplifting and good for the soul to be about doing good for our fellow man as God told us to do?

  • Bones

    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” – Fr Dom Helder Camara

  • Shawnie5

    Go back and read the whole Mount Olivet discourse. It was basically a larger scale repeat of Jesus’ comissioning of the disciples to evangelize the towns of Isrsel in Matthew 10, only this time to the nations. Much of the same language is used, and again there is the same promise to hold people accountable for how they receive and treat His messengers whom He is sending out with nothing but the gospel.

  • Shawnie5

    True that, Realist. I think most ministers know this, but they allow the popular misinterpretation to stay in place because it encourages generosity. However, there is plenty of exhortation to generosity in the NT without distorting the gospel into a works based scheme that confuses everyone about the nature of grace.

  • Noah

    Well, to be fair many conservatives would argue those government policies don’t actually help the poor.

    I can say with full authority that there are many who take advantage of all the ‘free’ stuff that others have provided. (the same as any successful business would)

    In a different life I’d not feel the need to report all my under the table income. Taxes hurt a lot this year!!

    lol

  • have you ever listened to the song: the Rebel Jesus
    by Jackson Browne? I highly recommend! here are some lyrics that reminded me of your post. *~!!!]:D

    We guard our world with locks and guns
    And we guard our fine possessions
    And once a year when christmas comes
    We give to our relations
    And perhaps we give a little to the poor
    If the generosity should seize us
    But if any one of us should interfere
    In the business of why they are poor
    They get the same as the rebel jesus

  • the way it’s working for me so far is this: in my young adult life (i’m 65 now) I was introduced to Jesus because I was failing to thrive in this culture of death. I was the most needy I have ever been, at that time, and have never forgotten what it feels like to have people care for me when I could not care for myself. generally the people I’m talking about have also suffered much. I didn’t ever ask if they considered themselves Christian I just thank God that whatever motivated them to help me motivated me to hope that things could get better for me. today I find that people who are encouraging and helpful in a multitude of ways appropriate for one in the circumstances one finds oneself indisposed and incapacitated are the very ones who take seriously the Mandate of Jesus and find his face looking at them through eyes of gratitude when fed, when visited, when clothed not because of some intellectual checking off the list of somebody’s interpretation of ‘good works’ and thus a status symbol of one’s inclusion into a brand of religion but is an outward habit & behavior of an inward connection to conscience, a genuine connection with people, an expression of empathy and the guidance of the holy spirit that does not need to be controlled by any human interpretation.

  • Realist1234

    Indeed, if anyone’s salvation depended on ‘good works’ we would all be doomed without exception. But God expects us to show love to all, particularly to those in need, which by definition means action. That is why ‘works’ show the reality of salvation – in the end we are simply trying to do what our Father is doing.

  • when I think of ‘no true Scotsman’ I think about them eating haggis as a way to interpret their authenticity as in ‘no true Scotsman would NOT eat haggis’ *~!!!]:D

  • it’s hard to love those who don’t love themselves isn’t it? I suppose the beauty of the connection of the holy spirit to my spirit that is that if I am willing and open minded and stay willing and open-minded when in the presence of a self-loathing individual or group I can allow the Holy Spirit to use me as a channel for his love. yes I think this is the way it’s working for me. most often when I am used like this I have a feeling of completion in the comfort of closure so I have done the appropriate right thing in the right and appropriate way and I have the Shalom of God restored to me. I find in this world it’s always ‘batter up!’ pretty much all I have to do everyday is suit up, show up and wait for my turn to play out the drama (sometimes comedy) that is set before me in my daily walk with the Lord. *~!!!]:D

  • From what I’ve seen, they arrive at the latter result by conflating tithing with charitable donations. This is potentially very inaccurate because those same tithes are used for maintenance, acquisitions, renovations, pastor salary, etc.

  • What went through my head:

    For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

  • It’s a good thing Matthew 25 is all about how Christians have no duty to the poor.

  • Ron McPherson

    Beautifully stated!

  • RonnyTX

    Good one Charles! :-) And here’s another good one, that I thought of lately and found the lyrics online.

    WOULD JESUS WEAR A ROLEX
    (Margaret Archer / Chet Atkins)
    Ray Stevens – 1987

    Woke up this mornin’ turned on my TV set
    There in livin’ color was somethin’ I can’t forget
    This man was preachin’ at me.. yeah.. layin’ on the charm
    Asking me for 20 with 10,000 on his arm

    He wore designer clothing and a big smile on his face
    Selling me salvation while they sang Amazing Grace
    Asking me for money when he had all the signs of weath
    Almost wrote a check out.. yeah.. but then I asked myself…

    Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car
    Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star
    If he came back tomorrow there’s something I’d like to know
    Would Jesus wear a rolex on His television show

    Would Jesus be political if he came back to earth
    Have his second home in Palm Springs.. yeah.. but try to hide his worth
    Take money from those poor folks when He comes back again
    And admit He’s talked to all those preachers who said they’d been-a talking to Him
    Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car
    Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star

    If he came back tomorrow there’s something I’d like to know
    Could ya tell me – Would Jesus wear a rolex
    Would Jesus wear a rolex
    Would Jesus wear a rolex on His television show
    Would Jesus wear a rolex on His television show

  • Obscurely

    The responses below are excellent, but the New Testament takes your question head-on — 1) my interpretation of Jesus cursing the fig tree without fruit (Mark 11:12-14; 20-25) is that he’s showing us how important the ‘fruits of faith’ are, and 2) the 2nd chapter of the epistle of James says this:

    “14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

  • Bones
  • Steve Pazsitzky

    I could say “alright, let’s help them by giving them fish”. Or, would it be better to give them the knowledge of making a nets? In either way, because of religious doctrines of the faith, we will not be able to sustain life on earth, because of overpopulation. Unless we get rid of religions, we will not be able to save mother earth…

  • Even better to go with your check and experience the poor: that will change someone’s life AND ours. Shane Claiborne said that when he took the gospel to the poor they brought the gospel to him. Good article. From an African Christian.

  • Anyone with half a brain should realize you need not have even heard of gods or religion to care about those that are less fortunate. It is empathy which enables this concept of caring and has nothing to do with any god or doctrine.
    Religion has simply appropriated this idea and under false pretenses from the human psyche.

  • In my humble opinion it’s the chicken before the egg proposition. I think you are probably in a opposition to this but never the less I know God. I know God Made me and God loves me!! Don’t ask me for proof because there is no proof. I have only my subjective experience to share.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee2a00ed15e56217624e404bbcb17a3ca27ee9d997b9f2f3108ed167545c371a.jpg

  • I love this!!
    //when he took the gospel to the poor they brought the gospel to him.//

  • There you go speechifying in a tedious, pompous way, an unprovable, unloving and totally homicidal equation!! You, sir, are thinking only in black and white us versus them. Is your identity wrapped up with violence toward others with whom you know nothing about except propaganda of which you’ve heard somebody else with hateful motives who are trying to groom you and control you into committing murder? Please take this opportunity to examine your antisocial behavior, for in my humble opinion, you are being tempted to do exactly what fascists do which is identify a scapegoat whom you can blame for what’s going wrong in your life and whom you can eventually arrive at the conclusion that you can justify killing without conscience.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d6748f583ba2cf42d1ba3d82efa0fad059a2e3e2155893399c4d16e15a6c946.jpg

  • Medusa Jordan

    I take your points and agree with many, but you do seem to have forgotten that there will be a proportion of American Christians who are themselves poor, sick, or otherwise needy. And surely there must be many who do not tithe, but do charity work, or just give to people in need when they can.

  • Medusa Jordan

    I think that the point of this article is that Christians to be truly followers of Christ should give to the needy in some way. What the issue is here is not whether you are more giving as a Christian than as a non Christian, but that millions of people who call themselves Christians do not give at all. Which is rather shocking, but not at all surprising.

  • billwald

    Best way to help low wage workers is to support labor unions.

  • You miss the point entirely. What is important is to realize what is actually true. That no one needs god belief or religion to be a caring person. God belief and religion are at best diversions from helping people and at worst get in the way of it entirely.

  • Medusa Jordan

    No, I take your point, but was trying to point out the articles point. The article addressed Christians. Of course I know that religion or faith is not necessary to be a giving person!

  • The author of this article is someone that says he has an interest in missiology, which is the study of religious (typically Christian) missions and their methods and purposes. The real purpose of Christian missions to to spread lies and detrimental ideas to gain power over the gullible and ignorant for the gain of the one spreading the lies and the organization. This is a despicable person and his article is based on lies and deceit.

    Always fact check the author.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Really. And what “facts” did your fact checking produce on which you based the above?

  • Pascal’s Wager, as if you even know what it is. Very poor.

  • Karin Isbell

    Amen!

  • Lang Ding

    When Porch meets Jesus. Porch knows he is in heaven :)

  • Lang Ding

    I like the last bit of what you say ! and frankly , you do not need to be religious being guided (and controlled) by holy spirit to do all that. What you have to do is just be yourself and go along with your untamed innate consciences and un-suppressed intelligence. Most Atheists do just that…. . and as someone once says: ” If you don’t and can’t do good for others, that it is because you are lacking of empathy, not religion. ”

  • Gary Roth

    The point is well-made, but unfortunately, based upon a faulty premise – that Christians can be defined as a portion of “tithers.” The end of it is unfortunate as well – becoming nothing more than an infomercial for one Christian organization, however good that organization may be.

    He is correct, in saying that the majority of Christians are what has been elsewhere referred to as “cultural Christians.” They are nominal Christians, by any evaluative means – their knowledge of their faith, their beliefs, their participation, etc. They call themselves “Christian,” largely because they think being called that means that they are acceptable, good people. Even the average Christian attending a church on a regular basis could be included in this group – the average giving is about 2-3%, the average attendence is 1-2 times per month, the average they spend in their Bible is maybe an hour or so a month, etc. Most of them could not be differentiated from the rest of the culture, regarding their philosophy of life, and their idea of “following Jesus” still means, to them, being nice to others and keeping one’s nose clean.

    Even among many of those who give heavily to churches, these attitudes prevail. While giving more heavily to churches and Christian organizations (by the way, many churches have wonderful outreach programs, and while they have constrained budgets, give more in the way of direct services than many major charitable organizations – he is wrong about that as well) has a relationship to peoples’ committment to Christ, it is not definitive of that relationship. Generally, however, those who are heavily committed to discipleship will also be heavily committed to giving monetary resources as well, as part of that commitment.

    I wish the author had made these points as he made one good one: that being a Christian means being a disciple of Jesus Christ – which, among other things, means sacrificial giving of oneself for the sake of others, especially the poor, the stranger, the broken and broken-hearted.

  • Gary Roth

    A rather silly and biased statement. While some parts of some religious faiths do, in fact, still hold the idea of “more people is better,” most do not ascribe to that. Most religious organizations also do both – giving “fish” and teaching to fish. Human beings are inherently “religious.” You aren’t going to get rid of them. The challenge is to address the misuse of religion – those things that harm both people and the planet. As a Christian, I cannot address all other religions (although, for instance, pantheism, which sees God in everything, has a great deal of respect for both people and the planet), but can address, for instance, the vision of Genesis, which sees the creation as “good,” and worthy of protecting; and human beings being placed here to care and tend it as stewards of God. That seems to me to be a rather positive thing.

  • Ian Palmer

    I appreciated Corey’s analysis. First, the life of Jesus has to be a Christian’s role model, and its pretty clear he spent a lot of time helping the poor and disadvantaged (lets call this missions for now). Second, in many churches, helping the disadvantaged is not a priority for most attendees. When challenged about giving to NGO’s like World Vision, they look blank and then try to recover by saying, “But I give to the church, and the church gives to missions.” When you examine church budgets, its a tiny percentage that goes to missions. You know where a church’s priority lies by the number of sermons that address mission (maybe 1 out of 52). Third, in a typical home Bible study at prayer time the requests are for family and close friends. I challenged one such prayer time recently by pointing out the famines that exist in places like South Sudan and Yemen. Can we also pray for these and the people dying, I asked? Blank responses, as I don’t think anyone else in the room was aware of the famines. Fourth, home Bible studies are great, with lots of energy going into teasing the meanings out of this verse, or this sentence. But rarely is discussed examples of when they helped someone this past week (beyond their own families). The danger is Christians becoming introverted. Fifth, we in the USA don’t try to help strangers here or the poor overseas because we are simply unaware, or too busy, we don’t trust the NGO, or we are uncomfortable about helping strangers. I can imagine a starving child in Haiti or South Sudan crying out to American Christians to send some relief. “You have so much…… we just need a loaf of bread.”

  • //you do not need to be religious being guided (and controlled) by holy spirit to do all that.//
    you, lang ding, may now at this moment suppose you do not need to be religious being guided…by holy spirit to do all that.
    Let me make it clear to you that I do not feel that I am controlled by holy spirit to do all that. The holy spirit is a friend who came alongside when I was completely helpless and out of control possessed by multiple substances and destructive behaviors. I was at the point of suicide!! He continues to be a good friend come to comfort and my loneliness has turned to a blessed solitude. Also others do not see she is with me he is within me as is the Kingdom just like Jesus said. It has never been a question of his taking control of my life!! I admire you, for, if you are at a good place in your life and not tempted to let substance abuse or other addictive behavior control your life you are extremely blessed. You do not need to be liberated and you do not need a liberator as I did apparently. May you continue to be at Liberty for the rest of your life. May life be a blessing to you. May you be a blessing to others.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/52cb6ad47e3f743488c090da2a144fc77473c8405b1348d929c35c5c64ba4d4a.png e be a blessing to you. May you be a blessing to others.

  • Ed Senter

    Hey, let’s all take a vow of poverty and we can all starve together. Ha!
    The first church in Jerusalem sold everything they had and put the proceeds in a common kitty. Pretty soon, they were all hurting and begging for help. They even begged Paul, that when he took the gospel to the gentiles, to remember the poor folk back in Jerusalem.
    Corey’s understanding of Christianity is all screwed up. Jesus Christ taught Himself. He was the bread of life. He did not teach a way of life.
    Jesus taught that whether rich or poor, all men are the same in the eyes of God. He condemned those who believed they were special because they had more than others. The only thing the Bible teaches about helping the poor is to let them glean the fields.

  • Bones

    Yeah let’s ignore the bibles teaching on the poor but not on bum sex.

  • Ed Senter

    Corey says, “If you care for the poor, you will be a Christian”.
    But the Bible says, “If you are a Christian, caring for the poor is in your nature”.
    Subtle difference and that difference is huge.
    Now, eva, go back and read those verses you provided with that difference in mind and you will see that unless you are in Christ, everything else is meaningless. Spiritual imitation is not the goal.
    Preach Christ- live your convictions.

  • slochmoeller

    James 1: 22 – 25 “22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

    James 2: 14- 26 “14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

    25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

    So Faith is the “body,” deeds is the “spirit.” interesting.

  • Luke Holton

    Well seeing as being a Christian has nothing to do with works and everything to do with believing on Jesus for salvation, I’d say you are wrong. Yes we should give to the poor, but who are you to judge? We are also to be good stewards with our money. You act like if Christians aren’t giving what you consider enough, then they aren’t really Christians.

  • Luke Holton

    But works aren’t what makes you saved. You misunderstand James if you think that giving to the poor or works makes your salvation valid, it is believing on Jesus alone. It is a gift not of works least any many should boast.

  • slochmoeller

    You seem to be alluding to ephesians 2:9. Look what happens when we quote verses 8, 9, and 10: “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

    Look, I know, this can be tricky. I do believe in justification by grace. But works have to come in. The book of James seems to be written as a full warning against people who think grace is a reason not to do works.

    Tl:dr, Ed Senter seemed to be arguing that without faith, works are dead. I wanted to point out that James says that it’s entirely the other way around,

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “You Can’t Be Christian If You’re Not Caring For The Poor”

    Bible sez:

    2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “You Can’t Be Christian If You’re Not Caring For The Poor”

    This shouldn’t be a problem, according to the Bible any Christian with faith should be able to take care of the issue.

    Matthew 17:20 For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

    Matthew 21:21 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

    Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    John 14:12-14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    So, what’s the problem Christians? Why haven’t you taken care of the poor/eliminated cancer/eliminated birth defects, all diseases, rape, murder, theft, war, famine, etc etc etc

    Is it you have zero faith?
    Is it the Bible is wrong & Jesus never said those things?
    Is it the Bible is right, Jesus said those things but Jesus was wrong?
    Is it the Bible is right, Jesus said those things but Jesus was lying?
    Is it the bible is just a collection of poorly written fables & myths?

  • Luke Holton

    See the issue with your theology and understanding is this, yes works will come once you are saved, but what kind of works? And how much in terms of works shows you are saved? That is the issue that many Lordship Salvation types miss. They think that ohhh you will know them by their works! And they start becoming fruit inspectors. While yes as we grow closer to Jesus we will do works, but in terms of salvation itself it has nothing to do with works. Works comes as a result of relationship not simply being saved. I mean you have some Christians who love the Lord but say are going through hard spots of depression or are sick and can’t do works, what about them? So if someone isn’t able to do works they aren’t saved? And you misunderstand the part about faith being dead, it doesn’t mean salvation faith. Because James would be contradicting Paul, read the scripture you posted, *Through grace not by works so that no one can boast. Yes we will do good works after salvation, but in terms of faith without works is dead I believe he is meaning you aren’t using your faith if you do no works. Nothing at all to do with salvation, but more to do with, you are not doing what you are suppose to be doing. Your faith is dead because its inactive.

  • slochmoeller

    You keep focusing on “What get’s you saved.” I think that’s the wrong question. Because without works, faith become “intellectual assent.” Just believing in your head a fact is true, so that it doesn’t affect your behavior. Mars is the fourth planet? Yeah, seems legit, I agree with that. But how are you living out that belief? Does it affect what you do at all? Here’s an article that get’s at it from a secular perspective http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-60-second-guide-to-bullshit-free-life/ You do, you work through, what you actually believe in. There is no separate category of “I believe these things are important, but I spend my time doing these other things.” Doesn’t work like that. and I think God understands it. As to why I believe this, Read Mathew 25:31-46 again. This is Jesus literally explaining how He will decide who get’s into heaven. What criteria does He use?

  • Ed Senter

    What “being in Christ” means to me is the same thing that it meant to Paul. You are in Christ when He is in you. “Christ is formed in your heart by faith”. The only thing any human can do is faith. Most of the church world has fallen for the lie of Satan: “You will not die; in fact, you will know good and evil and be as God.” Since the garden, humans have been dying ever since. And, what Paul taught in Romans 7 is that the law was given to proof the devil wrong. We can know good and evil and still not do it.
    There is no such thing as a “sin nature” as if that was something that you could overcome. The truth is we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. We sin because we are sinners. And we are sinners because we ain’t God. Then as Paul concluded, “Who will delivery me from the body of this death?- Thanks be to God for our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    Then in Romans 8 Paul teaches about being in the Spirit as opposed to being in the flesh or living by the Law. The true “born again” experience is when Christ is in you. God deposits His life in you when you faith and you can not stop from changing. Paradoxically, the goal is not the change whereby we all become a bunch of fruit inspectors judging one another. We are all in the same boat. Stop judging including judging yourself. You become a Christian by not TRYING to be a Christian.

  • Ed Senter

    The writer of James was a Jew and he never quit being a Jew. He was a Judaizer who believed that the Law must still be enforced. On the other hand, Paul revealed the Gospel of Christ. That is, Christ fulfilled the Law and we were no longer bound to it. By faith is the only way to live.
    James is not even logical. Abraham never did sacrifice Isaac which would be the “work”. As the writer of Hebrews revealed that by faith, Abraham believed God would resurrect Isaac had he indeed sacrificed him. Because God had told Abraham that through Isaac would the promises be fulfilled.
    You simply can not reconcile James with Paul and remain intellectually honest. Works righteousness is simply the opposite of faith. Faith is an action based on belief sustained by confidence that when God said it, He does it.

  • slochmoeller

    Okay, I guess you are one of those cafeteria Christians who doesn’t take a high view of scripture, if you’ve just committed to writing off and explaining away a whole epistle because you don’t like what it teaches. Fair enough, just know that’s who you are. What about Jesus and Mathew 25: 31-46 though?

  • Ed Senter

    Jesus said, “You go up by going down; you become first by being last…” It is a paradox shrouded in mystery. For example, giving is an example of spiritual fruition. However, if you give with the expectation of reward, that becomes spiritual imitation. The church world is full of spiritual imitators.
    Jesus never lead by example, that is, He never taught an ethic apart from Himself. Jesus taught Himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”. He never said, “do as I do.” He said, “follow Me.”
    What is sin? John- a Jew- said, “sin is a transgression of the Law.” However, Paul- the first real Christian- said, “that which is not of faith is sin.” And the most complete definition of sin is found in Isaiah 53, “all we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone to his own way…”
    Now what does God want from us? -perfection or for us to trust Him? Being a Christian takes absolutely no effort. Quit trying and just trust Him. No one is keeping score.

  • Ed Senter

    On the contrary, my friend, I study scripture in its entirety. James, along with the epistles of John and Peter, expected Jesus to return immediately and set up the restored Kingdom of Isreal. Why else would the first church in Jerusalem sell everything they had? They eventually became destitute. Why did Jesus call Paul? Because those Jewish Christians did not quite understand. Jesus came first for the “lost sheep of Israel”. The gospel of John said, “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” Jesus, however, will not return until the nation of Israel cries out for their Lord whom they had pierced.
    About Matt 25- did you also read Matt 24? There, Jesus was explaining the prophesies given to Daniel. The nation of Israel will fall for a false christ- then all hell will break loose. It all culminates at Armeghedon where the enemies of God are destroyed, Satan, and the false prophet are locked up, the nation of Israel will realize their error and cry out to the Lord. Jesus will set up the Kingdom of Israel for a thousand years. At that time, the gospel of Christ will be preached to all the world. Then, Satan will be released for “a little season” and will deceive God’s enemies again.
    The judgment in Matt 25 is the same white throne judgment in Revelation 20. The sheep and the goats are nations of world that either helped Israel or fought against her. Why do you think there is such a detailed record in the Old Testament? Israel is God’s oracle people for the rest of the world.
    Of course, you could read Matt 25 like most mainstream denominations and use it as some kind of legalistic edict, and thus lose all of its meaning.

  • slochmoeller

    The parables across matthew 24 and 25 suggest to me a more universal application. But I still don’t see why you think these moral commands only apply to the “tribulation” even if that was in context of what christ was discussing. He doesn’t say that behavior is just about israel in those times.

    I’ll be frank, you annoy me because you seem to have a way of handwaiving away everything in the new testament that calls for moral action. So yeah. You keep saying the church screwed up by selling off everything. Square that with Mathew 19:21 please.

  • Ed Senter

    Jesus said, “Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too!” Matt 23:26
    I tell you this truth, unless you shed this notion that Jesus was “calling for moral action”, then you will never have the scales removed from your eyes. You will remain stuck just like the Pharisees and most of the church world today.
    The dialogue in Matt 19 began with Jesus correcting the rich man and proclaiming that “only God was good”. It ended with “what is impossible with men; is possible with God”. Jesus got to the man’s heart and revealed how corrupt he actually was. Even his disciples wondered “how can anyone be saved?”
    It was Paul who revealed the gospel of Christ. What the Jews thought as foolish and the gentiles thought as nonsense, to those being saved it is the power of God. IChor 1:23 It is through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that we are saved. You clean up the inside then the outside (your behavior) will take care of itself. That is called spiritual fruition. Most of the church world only knows spiritual imitation.
    There is only one way to clean up the inside: that is to be in Christ. You are in Christ when He is in you. “Christ is formed in your heart by faith.” Romans 10, Ephesians 3:17

  • Lang Ding

    The dangerous of the religious is exactly where , people fall for it don’t believe they are being control and manipulate. just like those to believe in fortune telling do not think they are being cheated .

  • Matthew

    I just got back yesterday from a short trip to Wittenberg, Germany. It´s was really great to be there as it´s the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year. Having been a former Roman Catholic, I cannot tell you how freeing it was to hear the Reformation Gospel for the first time some years ago.

    That said, having studied some about the new perspective on Paul as well as having my own questions about sola scriptura, I can say that for as much as I think what Luther discovered offered a very needed correction in the church, I also know that Luther too was a work in theological progress who was simply a man living in a particular cultural context at a particular time.

    Where are the Luther´s of today I ask? Where are the words of the modern day prophets to be found in our post modern world I ask?

  • Matthew

    I´m wondering where you heard that doing any “works” is also heretical and evil?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “and all our good works do is make us unacceptable to God.”
    “God will not accept our works because they are an attempt at self-justification and Jesus warned about those who trusted in themselves and in their own righteousness.”
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2017/05/08/are-christians-no-longer-sinners/
    (Just in case there is any doubt, I disagree with the above: I can’t see how a good God could be anything but pleased at even our cack-handed attempts to do good.)

  • Matthew

    I thought of that verse in Isaiah (I think it´s in Isaiah) also. I´m wondering how to properly understand it though …

    Thanks.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Which verse in Isaiah? There’s one about sacrifices being hateful to God, if that’s what you mean: that one actually says to do good instead.