THE GOSPEL OF COMMUNITY SERVICE

By Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

The gospel of community service, this is not the Apostolic gospel but another (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus’ Great Commission was not to go into all the world and perform “community service.” It was to preach the gospel to every creature. The New Testament church never met, nor was commanded to meet for the purpose of volunteering for social community service. New Testament congregations met to praise and thank God in worship and to build each other up in the faith. Members of these congregations pooled their funds into a congregational treasury to defray the expenses of corporate worship, preaching the gospel (including edifying the church), and supplying the basic needs of destitute saints with no other means of support. Like their Lord, individual saints made it their work to “seek and save the lost.” They were taught that they would have the poor with them always and as they had opportunity to do them good. It was not their mission to go into the world to “seek and feed” the hungry, or “seek and clothe the naked.” In the course of their lives as Christians they would come across such unfortunate people and would have such come to them. They were to be compassionate and supply the needs of such people as they had opportunity and ability – but this was not their mission in life as Christians, it was to seek out the lost and offer them salvation through the gospel. Yes, Jesus had compassion on the hungry and fed 5,000 and 4,000 on different occasions. But, his purpose was much deeper than using these feedings as a “drawing card” to bring people to Him. Like, his other miracles, this was done to furnish objective evidence (signs) that he was who he claimed to be – the Son of God. In fact, shortly after feeding the 5,000 (John 6:5-14) he made it clear that it made a difference to him as to why they came to follow him. He rebukes them:

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26 KJV).

They had missed the point of the feeding. It was not “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” approach. In this case it was through his miracles that furnished additional evidence of his deity. Later in the chapter “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (verse 66). If it makes a difference as to why one comes to Jesus, then it makes a difference as to what we use to draw people in. It is through a heart filled with evidence of the deity of Jesus and his work of redemption and not a belly filled with “meat that perishes.”

But, aren’t we to let our light shine so that men will be drawn to Christ by our good works? Jesus did say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 KJV) But, is this the same as using our good works as the drawing power to bring people to Christ? Or, is it that men seeing our good works and knowing we are “God-fearing” will glorify God by recognizing his power to make us into the persons we are. It may even cause them to be more willing to consider the gospel message after seeing what it has done for us. But, that is a far cry from using good works (community service) as a tool to draw lost souls to the Lord. It might draw them to a group of “good people,” but it will not draw them to the Christ. Only being taught of God through the gospel will draw people to Christ.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:44-45) 

 

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