Is The Gospel Social Justice?

Have you ever found yourself visiting a church and after a few months realizing that the gospel of Jesus Christ had never been defined or mentioned even once? Instead, you get powerful testimonies laced with out of context scripture about helping the poor and promoting political ideology. If there is a message that the enemy wants to confuse, misrepresent, twist, and lie about, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a society rapidly distancing from Christian principles and values, it is common for the gospel to be erased, muzzled, and/or redefined. It is vital that christians know and understand the gospel so that they can faithfully articulate it, reflect it, and defend it.

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:19-20 ESV underline added).

Satan and his dominion have control of the world (Satan can only do what God allows him to do). With this in mind, who should define the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world (Satan) or the Word of God? Here is another interesting question: “Should the church (light) impact the world (darkness) or should we allow the world to impact the church?” Things to consider when joining a church…

Jesus’ Words,

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14: 1-7 ESV).

We know from the Word of God that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father. So the message that informs us on how to be saved (forgiveness of sins and entry into heaven to be with and to worship God forever) is the most important message ever given to human history.

This message is called the “gospel,” which means “good news.” It is this message, which according to the Apostle Paul has THE POWER!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

So what is the gospel?

The gospel as affirmed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:1-5 ESV)

Paul passes along the gospel message that he himself received! In the Greek, these passages happen to be in creedal form and date to the very early Church!

Both evangelical and critical scholars recognize that this creed dates within a few years of Jesus’s resurrection. Even critical scholar Bart Ehrman, a well-known agnostic leaning atheist, admitted such:

Paul came to know about Jesus within just a year or, at most, two of his death. Paul too preserves traditions that stem from the early period of his Christian life, right after his conversion around 32–33 CE. […] Paul claims to have visited with Jesus’s closest disciple, Peter, and with his brother James three years after his conversion, which is around 35–36 CE. Much of what Paul has to say about Jesus, therefore, stems from the same early layer of tradition that we can trace, completely independently, in the Gospels.[1]

His previous summary,

Moreover, the information about Jesus known to Paul appears to go back to the early 30s of the Common Era, as arguably some of the material in the book of Acts. The information about Jesus in these sources corroborates as well aspects of the Gospel traditions, some of which can also be dated back to the 30s to Aramaic-speaking Palestine.[2]

Reasons for the gospel & the gospel defined

We are all sinners deserving death and are in need of a rescue mission. God sent His only Son Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless and perfect life, to take the penalty of sin upon Himself by willingly dying on the cross. On the third day after He was buried, He victoriously rose from the grave defeating both sin and death. Then for a span of forty days, He was witnessed by many people until He ascended into Heaven where He currently sits alive and well at the right hand of the Father until the day when He will stand up to come judge both the living and the dead.

To be saved, we repent and believe in Jesus as Lord, which means we acknowledge our guilt before God as sinners and turn away from the world and our sins. We then turn towards God through faith in Jesus Christ placing our trust in Him alone. Anyone who believes in Jesus is saved from eternal punishment, will stand righteous before God at judgment (Jesus’ righteousness is credited to the believer), and will be with The Lord in Heaven forever!

A Problem

We live in a society that often, especially at public secular universities & the liberal arm of the church, tries to hijack and redefine the Gospel. This is usually done to leverage political ideology and to misrepresent God’s design for sex, marriage, gender, and race issues. The result is shifting hope away from the resurrection of Christ towards hope in social justice. This starts with man’s hollow worldly wisdom and ends with false hope (a lie).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10).

The Christian hope (our only True Hope) is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not social justice. This does not mean that God does not care about social justice. In fact God cares very much about social justice, so much so that the People of Israel were sometimes punished for avoiding it.

According to Ross Hickling, “God had a deep concern for those who had sold themselves into slavery. God was so concerned about the abuse of Israeli slaves at the hands of their fellow citizens that the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem as punishment for their cruel treatment of these slaves. As observed in Jeremiah 34:8-17, the activity of Yahweh on behalf of these oppressed ones gives us a hint at the disposition of God towards those who are deemed to be weak in society. He loves and defends those who cannot defend themselves. Jeremiah is not the only prophet who pens this divine concern for the downtrodden.”

Click here to read, “Does the Old Testament God Care about Social Justice” by Ross Hickling

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

The scriptures are very clear that God is just in all His ways and we see Jesus as the perfect example of social justice as He brings the gospel to even the outcasts of society.

After watching a PragerU video on social justice that highlighted what liberals really mean by “social justice,” I found certain common terms on left – leaning websites promoting social justice toward a socially just world based on their concepts of human rights and equality:

  • Economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation
  • Income redistribution
  • Property redistribution

Note “egalitarianism”, “progressive taxation”, “income redistribution”, and “property redistribution.” These are the driving forces behind socialism and communism and ultimately remove individual freedom to make way for a forced bigger government that will also enforce the above. This definition of social justice is not biblical nor does it work. It assumes that every wealthy person took from the poor and that the haves have too much and the have – nots have too little.

Watch this video by PragerU:

 

Biblical social justice ends up being a natural result of rightly placing our hope in Jesus Christ. As we strive to follow Jesus over the span of our lives, we as individuals and the church become more like Him and become more obedient to Him. The result is individual Christians and the church helping the poor, comforting the hurt, and taking care of the needy (orphans & widows) etc. As we grow closer to Christ we become more selfless, reflect more of God’s love, and rather than allowing the world (darkness) to effect the church (light), the church effects the world with Truth.

False Hope

Hope in anything other than the resurrection of Jesus Christ is false hope. This false hope manifests itself in a variety of ways:

  • Spouse
  • Self
  • Unjust war
  • Fame
  • Education
  • Money
  • Social Justice
  • Diet
  • The health of our planet
  • Political party
  • Big or small government
  • Sex
  • Redefining Gods laws and/or design
  • False religions
  • Suicide
  • And the list goes on and on.

 

The Danger of Jesus without the Gospel:

A church missions team went to Mexico to build wells and new homes for the poor. While in Mexico helping a poor village, they stated things like “Jesus loves you,” and “We are Jesus’ hands and feet.” They point to Calvary, express amazing love, humility, and selfless service, but they left without actually proclaiming the gospel message to the village. After the missions team left, Jehovah’s Witnesses swooped-in to fill the need. The villagers, who gained a genuine interest in Jesus, are now being taught a false Jesus and some converted to the christian cult.

This was hypothetical, but let me give an example that actually happened:

I was walking through the Appalachian State University campus and noticed a group of christians from a local church manning a table giving away free hotdogs. A student dressed in Middle Eastern attire walked up to the table and asked, “What is the catch”? The christians manning the table said, “There is no catch, we just want you to know that Jesus loves you.” The student takes the hotdog and while walking away he lifted up the hotdog and said “Thank you Jesus.” Then I noticed that he was walked towards the Jehovah’s Witnesses who were also manning a table on campus.

What if, because of these christians good deed, that App State student became genuinely interested in Jesus and stopped at the Jehovah’s Witnesses table?  He would be led astray and given a false Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, christians giving away free food is a good deed and the Lord can use that for His purposes, but the act by itself is not the gospel. I am also not saying that what the christians were doing was wrong, but it is something to think about.

Brothers and sisters, we need to know the gospel so we can share it, reflect it, and defend it because there is no other Way.

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

 

Our Eternal Hope is in Christ!!!!  Praise The Lord!

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40)

– Greg Walker


  1. Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, (New York: HarperOne, 2012) 172, Kindle edition, ch. 4–5, “Evidence for Jesus Outside the Gospels” and “Two Key Data for the Historicity of Jesus.”
  2. Ibid.

Author: boonewalkers

We have recently become full time university missionaries at Appalachian State University with Ratio Christi. We have two wildly wonderful sons and live outside of Boone, NC.

1 thought on “Is The Gospel Social Justice?”

  1. Great post Greg. Glad to see that someone is making clear the purpose of the gospel. So many people are blurring the lines between the purpose of the government and the purpose of the Gospel. I think that Christians struggle to make clear the roles of the church and the roles of the government, thus failing to defend their Christian convictions about the church and the state. Keep up the good fight brother!

    Like

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