Social Gospel

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1-5, John 16:33
Christianity is facing its greatest crisis. Many of the historic beliefs of Christians are under ruthless attack. They are being attacked not only by the traditional enemies of Christianity but by their supposed friends and supporters. This broadcast looks at these issues in more depth and addresses the concept of a social gospel.
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Christianity is facing its greatest crisis. Many of the historic beliefs of Christians are under ruthless attack. They are being attacked not only by the traditional enemies of Christianity but by their supposed friends and supporters. Betrayal of Christ by one of His disciples carried out so many centuries ago in the Garden of Gethsemane is being reenacted today on a vastly wider scale. The kiss of Judas is being planted today by students in theological seminaries, preachers in our pulpits, and newspaper articles and magazines which claim to be Christian.

The basic moral principles which Christianity has always represented are today being eroded away by those who feel that they are making Christianity more acceptable to the modern mind. This new theology, very much like situation ethics, takes the position that no act (even if condemned in the strongest possible terms by Scripture) is really wrong. Thus, it contends that under certain situations it is all right to steal, to lie, to cheat, to commit adultery or incest, murder or any other crime, if the circumstances are right. The rightness or wrongness of any act must be determined by the individuals involved in a given situation. Clearly such a philosophy affects every inter-human relationship, because if this philosophy is true, it involves the business world, the educational world, the political world. If there are no unbreakable rules, there is no list of things which are sin per se; if this is true then under certain circumstances it would be morally right for a thief to steal, for a businessman to short-change a customer, for a student to cheat on an examination, for one nation to double-cross another. It is not "might makes right;" it is "situation makes right." This cult is simply an avenue which many people have chosen to follow in their search for peace and happiness. People today confuse lust with love. They reject the accepted moral standards of the Christian world and endeavor to establish standards of their own. They like to be non-conformists, but in reality they simply conform to another set of standards. The new approach is really nothing but old-fashioned immorality, simply philosophized in a little different way.

This so-called new theology claims to place a higher emphasis on the individual freedoms. The individual is given the opportunity to choose his own norms rather than subscribing to a set of norms established by God, Scripture or anything else. Moral values are determined by experience, they say, not by a book. Truth must be determined by consensus of opinion, if everybody does it, it cannot really be wrong. Let me ask you something: Would you be willing to follow that philosophy in going to your family physician? Your child comes down with whooping cough. The physician says, "Don't worry about it, over 50% of the children have it and it will be all right." Would you continue to go to that kind of a physician? Then would you be willing to accept as moral principles the thinking of a group who use that kind of thinking?

It is interesting to note that Americans today take 52 million aspirin tablets every day. Aspirin produces about the same effect as a mild tranquilizer. Historians of the future may call this the age of anxiety. Although in some ways we have less to worry about than previous generations, we seem to worry a lot more. Although we have it easier than our forefathers, we have a great deal more uneasiness. Although we have less cause for anxiety, we are more anxious. Calloused hands were a badge of the pioneers, but furrowed brows are the signs of the modern man. Pioneers complained that they were run down from physical exhaustion. Our trouble is that we are all wound up from tension.

The inescapable fact is that the devil, the arch enemy of God, in order to compete with God for the dominion of this world (by the way Jesus called him the prince of this world) has been forced to go into the religion business, and he has done it with eminent success. He is the god of this liberal theology. He is the father of the new moral standard.

Let me remind you of something. The implication of a counterfeit is that a genuine exists. You have never seen a counterfeit 25 dollar bill in your life; and you never will, because every counterfeit bears witness to the true. Just as there is in our world today a counterfeit religion, make no mistake about it, friend, there is a genuine. God is still alive. He is still able to offer salvation to those who come to Him on His terms. When most major church bodies have an annual convention today, they pass resolutions and pronouncements on matters concerning every thing under the sun from disarmament, federal aid to education, birth control, the United Nations, and other social problems. What a refreshing and amazing thing it would be to hear a church convention today pass a resolution that had something to do with the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Our trouble today is that our moral standards do not match our intellectual advancement. Because of this, our misuse of science may be greater than our use of it. Man's knowledge has surpassed his wisdom. We are afraid of what we know.

Remember the ministry of Jesus? He avoided very skillfully social and political issues of His day. Never did Christ make pronouncement upon the hottest issues of His day. Remember the man who came to Him and told Him that his brother was cheating him out of his share of the inheritance. What did Jesus have to say about it? He never did answer the question. A moral issue? Yes, but a family problem that called for more than financial arbitration. Jesus was here to make known the Gospel of Salvation. But today churches have become blundering social physicians, giving medicine here and putting ointment there on the sores of the world, but no cure. Oh friend, how we need the Great Physician! And if we in the church want a cause to fight, then friends, let us fight sin. Let us leave the political problems with the politicians. To the hungry, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." To the thirsty, He said, "I am the water of life." To the tired, He said, "Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." To the guilt-laden one, He said, "Your sins are forgiven." And even to the dead, He said, "Arise."

Tragically, churches of our generation have substituted good works, community action, social reform and religious ritual for a personal salvation as taught by the Lord. This brings me to a couple of questions I want to share with you today. We try to paint a picture of two things: 1. The attempt of modern man to invent a religion of his own. 2. We have sought to contrast this very briefly with the gospel of Jesus. That brings us face to face with this question: With two opposing philosophies, with two opposing ways of life, which is right? Which should I follow? Which will bring me the greater happiness and the greater peace of mind?

Well, let us compare this modern theology with the gospel of Jesus in its final test. Not in its philosophy, but in what it actually does. For instance, the new theology discards the moral code of Scripture. Says it is too old fashioned, too out of date to fit in our present world. Go to any high school principal and ask him the percentage of unmarried high school girls that give birth to illegitimate children in America today. Then go and visit a few of the girls. Is this bringing happiness? As a preacher maybe I am in a better position to answer that than some other people are. Take my word for it, it isn't.

The divorce rate in America would certainly belie the fact that the gospel of free love, as they wish to call it, brings happiness to modern man.

Let's take another area. This new theological code tells us that we need feel no personal responsibility or obligation to any law, God's or man's. That is the way they live. If they think it is right, it is right. It doesn't make any difference what God or man says. I am sure that you realize America today teeters on the virtual edge of anarchy. Our law enforcement officials are literally hand-cuffed. They don't dare arrest anybody except under the most extreme circumstances for fear of ending up themselves on trial for their efforts to enforce the law. As a simple illustration, if after this broadcast, I go down and by illegal means break into a local food store and steal a loaf of bread, I am subject to arrest and imprisonment. But if I get all of you to go with me, under the guise of a riot, we can tear the place apart and none of us will be arrested. Oh, one or two maybe, but they will be turned loose if I can convince the authorities that it is a riot, it is all right. You see what I mean when I say that the standard of man today doesn't bring peace or happiness. It only brings trouble.

But the advocates of this new approach would like us to believe that we must have the liberty to establish our own standards. Let us say that we do, for the purpose of argument. We will give ourselves the liberty to establish our own moral standards, our own rules of right and wrong. We will do what we believe is right without regard to the laws of God or man. Suppose you operate a grocery store. I come to you as a customer. You sell me a quart of milk that contains only three cups, not four. Will I be satisfied with that? No. You sell me a yard of cloth that is only 30 inches rather than 36. Will I be satisfied with that? No. When it comes to my business transactions with my fellow men, I want to know that they use the same system of measurement that I do. Right? That is the only way I have any hope of getting a fair share in the bargain.

If we are that particular with our relationship with our fellow men, don't you suppose that God has a right to establish for His children a standard of right and wrong which He knows is best for us? I believe I have a right to know that my fellow men deal with me by a standard of values which is generally accepted in our society. I think it not inconceivable that the great God whom we worship has a right to establish for us a standard of right and wrong which is for our best good.

Someone is going to say, "Preacher, in this mixed-up world in which we live, how can we ever find out what is right, or what is wrong and how God wants me to live?" That really isn't a very hard question for a preacher to answer. The answer is right here in the Bible. It is a rather big book and parts of it are rather difficult to understand, but let us try. You know the apostle Paul looking down through the stream of time to our day made an observation in the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:1-5: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

Sounds like our day doesn't it? All these things which he mentioned we recognize as problems in our world today. These are not new things to us. These are every day experiences. This is a sign of the times in which we live. Is there any way out? Is there a solution to man's problems? Is there a way that even a Christian today can find peace in this peace-less world? Yes, there is. There is a way out and you can have peace. Let's answer both questions but in the reverse order. First of all, your Bible says in the New Testament that you can have peace. John 16:33. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world."

Where can you have peace? In Jesus Christ. Never in this world. Jesus said that in Him you may have peace and that is the only place you will find it. You will never find peace by following the philosophy of man. You will never find peace in this world in which we live. Peace comes only in trusting Jesus. Because, you see, He tells us in His Word that there will be trouble. He told us that these sins which we see around us on every hand would exist in our world today. More than that, He told us that some day soon it is all going to end, and a better world is going to be ushered in.

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