Route 23 - The Social Gospel - Romans 14:17
The expression "social gospel" refers to a religious movement that arose in the United States in the late nineteenth
century with the goal of making churches more responsive to social problems.  It emphasizes the social, earthly or
temporal needs of man.  The result is not a gospel of saving the individual for an eternal home, but a gospel for the
salvation of the social ills of a society - "social gospel."  "The hereafter is lost sight of in the here and now.  
Preaching ceases to deal with sin, the soul, the Savior, and salvation, and turns to psychology, politics and social
reform." (The Contender, "The Social Gospel" by Kent Ellis, bulletin, Vol 1, No 4, May, 1970).




Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
23 - The Social Gospel - Romans 14:17
  - The issue is not over our geographical location when eating (eating in a church building), but what is the
     scriptural work or mission of the church?
  - As seen in a previous study on the work of the church, we learn from the New Testament that the church's
    organization and function are for spiritual purposes of saving the lost, worshiping God, edifying the saved, and
    providing benevolence to saints in need.
       - See 1st Timothy 3:15, 1st Corinthians 14:26, and 1st Corinthians 16:1-2
  - The church building should be used to fulfill the mission of the church, not for social and recreational purposes.

23 - John 18:36-37
  - The kingdom of Christ exists for the purpose of saving souls and must not be used as a sanctified entertainment
    or recreational institution.
  - It was purchased with the blood of Christ and therefore has great value.  See Acts 20:28.

23 - Hosea 4:6
  - When the church is charged by men with fulfilling a "whole man concept," it turns to the "material" instead of that
    which is "spiritual."
  - Time, money and effort are poured into activities that divert people from spiritual growth, leaving them
     increasingly ignorant of God's word while they become experts in parties, pizza and promotions.
  - Then, when faced with challenges of a moral or doctrinal nature, they are not prepared to deal with Satan's
    devices, and are destroyed.

23 - John 2:14-17
  - Earning one's living by the sale of merchandise is an honorable occupation.
  - What was the problem?  Men had taken the house of God (the temple) and used it for a purpose for which it was
    not intended.  What was its purpose?  A place of prayer and teaching.  
       - See Luke 19:46-47.  
       - Just as the use of the temple was perverted, the purpose of the church has been changed by men.  
       - The unauthorized innovations that will be attached to the church are limited only by man's imagination. (From
          pot-luck dinners to hospitals, baby sitting services, counseling, social services, dinner theater to hip-hop).

23 - 1st Corinthians 11:17, 20-22, 28-29, 34
  - Although the church at Corinth had been taught by divine inspiration, they had corrupted the purpose of eating
    the Lord's Supper by including a common meal.
  - Twice Paul insisted that common meals should be provided in the realm of individual responsibility and not
     church action. (verses 22, 34).
  - Thus, Paul distinguished between saints gathering to eat the Lord's Supper as a function of the church, and
     saints eating common meals as a function of the home.
  - He was not simply correcting the Corinthians' abuse of "fellowship dinners," he was correcting an abuse of the
    Lord's Supper.
  - When correcting an abuse of something legitimate, Paul never completely outlawed the practice; he regulated it.  
    See 1st Corinthians 10:25-33.
  - Paul never regulated "church dinners."  He placed all such social meals in the private sector.
  - He never said, "Let's go ahead and eat the Lord's Supper and then we can have a banquet after the dismissal
    prayer."

23 - Acts 2:42, 46
  - They met at the temple for spiritual feasting, and in their homes for physical sustenance.
  - The term "fellowship" has been so abused that men assign to it a social meaning that is not implied by scripture.
  - According to Nelson, fellowship means "Sharing things in common with others.  In the New Testament, fellowship
    has a distinctly spiritual meaning."  See 1st John 1:3 and 7.
  - Fellowship is that relationship which exists among God and His saints, sharing in spiritual things.  See 1st
    Corinthians 1:9.
  - It has nothing to do with coffee and donuts.

23 - Mark 16:15-16
  - When the Lord sent out His disciples to save a world that was dying in a lost condition spiritually, He did not
    make them responsible for organizing church youth rodeos or Fall Foliage Tours for the senior citizens.
  - People were dying condemned, and their obedience to the gospel of Christ was the only thing that would change
    that.

23 - Romans 1:16
  - If people will not come for just the gospel, they won't stay for just the gospel.  See John 6:26-27.
  - Gimmicks will not attract the heart that does not want the gospel, to the gospel.  See Luke 16:31.
  - Hearing and learning the word is how men are truly drawn to Christ.  See 1st Peter 1:22-23.
  - When men are drawn in this way, they will be genuinely converted to the Savior.

23 - Jude 12
  - From this simple expression of "love feasts," men have created such terms as "table fellowship" or "fellowship
    meals."  They claim spiritual fellowship is attached to common meals eaten together among Christians, and "love
    feasts" are describing a combination of "table fellowship" and the Lord's Supper intended to strengthen both
    physical bodies and the common spiritual bond in the local church.
  - 1st Corinthians 11:22, 34
  - The text in Jude centers around spiritual degradation of fallen saints seeking to contaminate the faithful saints by
    craftily entering in among them to deceive them to sin.
  - With emphasis on the spiritual threat among the saints it would seem strange that "love feasts" would apply to a
    literal meal.

Conclusion
"It is not the mission of the church to furnish amusement for the world or even for its own members.  Innocent
amusement in proper proportion has its place in the life of all normal persons but it is not the business of the church
to furnish it...For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its
mission.  It is to degrade its mission.  Amusement and recreation should stem from the home rather than the
church."  (B.C. Goodpasture, 1951 Gospel Advocate Annual Lesson Commentary.)
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