In His fear.
That excludes no part of life. We know that God is ONE and we have ONE Lord, therefore the life of the saint must also be ONE in fearing and serving God, not only here and there, now and then, but everywhere, always.
That includes also what we call social life, our life in the married state, labor, industry, business, economics, politics, etc.
We intend to apply this idea of the fear of God to this aspect of life, and thus attempt to bring to the surface somewhat the Sociology of Scripture.
Is that what we want?
By all means, no.
There is a clamor today for such a social gospel.
“Foundering civilization” has tried most everything, from the brilliant orations of eloquent statesmen and the detonation of the A-bomb; it seems now to have turned its eyes to the church, and saying to her, If there is any Christian message for a foundering civilization, it had better be proclaimed now”.
We find the present situation challenging the clergy with such words, “Should a clergyman stick to the Psalms and keep his nose out of such mundane things as wages and hours. . . .?” And as proof that the clergy is revolting against “this theory which limits the ministry to a narrow Sunday morning orbit”, a National Conference was recently staged in Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Federal Council of Churches, representing some 25 Protestant Churches and some 27 million members. The theme of the Conference was: “The Church and Economic Life”.
Flattering themselves with the honor so generously bestowed upon them, and they themselves also eager to find a way out of the present confusion, the Churches have begun as never before to develop some kind of Sociology which will meet the demands of the hour. Misquoting the passage in Esther, many clergymen are eager to come to the kingdom “for such a time as this” and prepare some scheme for bringing order out of chaos.
If one read the Saturday night paper, at least in our larger cities, and one turns to the church page, one sees how energetically many churches accept the challenge and offer a “Christian sociology”. The advertisements remind one of Maxwell St.
There is a clamor today for a type of preaching which fixes its attention primarily upon man, upon a new world-order, and, if possible, to bring peace and prosperity to this world. Some try it along one way, others try it along another way, but all agree on this thing, that the cause of man is the important thing.
Time To Speak.
We have been challenged: If there is a Christian message it had better be proclaimed now.
It is time to speak.
The Christian message has been proclaimed as long as there has been a true church in this world. The Bible carries the message and has carried it for all these hundreds and thousands of years, and the church which has been in His service has proclaimed this message all along.
It is not because there has been no message, that men challenge us today to give a message if we have one. . . .no, but the clamor is for some other message, some other sociology than that wlimh Scripture produces.
But it is time to speak, indeed. Not to speak some new message, but the old, old message.
Today’s social gospel?
It is no longer a gospel.
It has ceased to be the Gospel of God, of Christ, of glory, of the promise. It has been cheapened into a philosophy about a god, whose world has fallen into confusion and eagerly desires the help of man to restore it to normalcy.
We reject today’s social gospel as a figment of man’s imagination, calculated only to deceive the Christians and to wean them away from Christ and His kingdom to something else.
We Have a Message.
Although we reject the idea of a social gospel, we by no means infer that the Gospel has nothing to say about social spheres, as e.g. wedlock, labor, industry, politics, economics, etc. It surely has. As child of God you are part of a social unit, you cannot but be in contact with your unit, and we may not exclude any phase of life from the calling to walk in the fear of God.
We know of no antithesis between nature and grace, between grace and things mundane. We are in the world and must live in the world. There is an antithesis between sin and grace, indeed, wherefore our conduct in things mundane must be regulated, not by sin and lie, but by grace and truth. And in order that the lives of the saints might be regulated by grace and truth, God has given them in His Holy revelation an expression of His will in re things mundane and our conduct in the midst of them. Therefore there is a message, a gospel message concerning the things that are under the sun.
Scripture does not treat wedlock, economics, politics, labor etc., as various branches under some sort of social science, but the Scripture does declare and exhort the manner of life which becomes them who are regenerated.
Then it touches on all these matters.
Let me illustrate this:
Rom. 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth.
Matt. 19:6 What God hath therefore joined together let not man put asunder.
Eph. 5:22, 25 Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; Husbands, love your wives.
LABOR AND INDUSTRY:
II Thess. 3:10, 11 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Eph. 4:28 Let him that stole, steal no more but rather let him labour.
Coll. 3:22 and 4:1 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh. . . . masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
I Pet. 2:18 Servants be subject to your masters in all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
I Tim. 6:6-10 Godliness with contentment is great gain, having food and raiment let us therewith be content, but they that will be rich fall into temptation, for the love of money is a root of all evil.
Eph. 4:28 . . . .working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
I Tim. 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.
CAPITAL AND LABOR:
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Phil. 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Rom. 12:9 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Matt.
5:39 Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
James 5:7 Be patient therefore brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.
Rom. 12:1 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God.
Rom. 14:6, 7 For, for this cause pay ye tribute also, for they are God’s ministers, …. render therefore to all their dues.
Rom. 13:8 Owe no man anything than to love one- another.
First of all we notice that these exhortations are addressed, not to the Town Council of Colosse, nor to the Mayor of Ephesus, or the Clerk of the City of Rome, but to the Church, to the beloved in the Lord, the called saints. If various present ministers had lived at that time they would very likely have written to the City Aldermen of Ephesus, to the Board of Economics at Thessalonica or the Rotary Club of Athens instead of to the called saints congregated sometimes in houses.
From which, in the second place, it is evident that the purpose of the Gospel is not merely social, nor general, nor national, but spiritual. Scripture is not interested in a mere social science but Scripture exhorts the redeemed to reveal themselves in this world as the peculiar people which they are, to rise up in this world as the party of the living God and show themselves as Servants of God, upholding, defending, and representing the cause of the Son of God in the midst of a world which lies in darkness and enmity.
The issue of social and economic well-being is not important, what IS important is that the saints shall thus be in the midst of this world representatives of the cause of the Son of God.
There IS a social Gospel, but it is so highly spiritual that it is foolishness to all but the saints, and so “otherworldly” that when the saints begin to live according to the sociology of Scripture they appear to the world as fools.
(To be continued).