Reformed Theology: #1 Our Agenda
Just what is our purpose and agenda in life as Christians? Is it to build Christ’s Kingdom by preaching the Gospel and working to bring the secular culture under Christ’s dominion, as Reformed Theology teaches us; or is it to simply preach the Gospel and allow God to effect the changes in hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit, as Dispensational Theology would teach? I wish we did not have to divide Christians under those categories. Nevertheless, when it comes to the agenda of the church, that is a basic issue we need to have settled in our minds and hearts or we will accomplish nothing for God. Though we have these differences, we have much more that unites us as brothers and sisters in Christ and for that I praise God. But in this article I want to deal with the differences in agenda between those who hold to Reformed Theology and those who hold to Dispensational Theology. To illustrate the difference I take you to a story in the life of Jesus found in Luke 12.
As this chapter opens, large crowds are listening to Jesus preach and observing His miracles. Verses 13 and 14 record the story of two brothers who interrupt Jesus, asking him to settle a dispute over their inheritance. They ask Jesus to set things right. Jesus refuses to get in the middle and settle the dispute. Instead He deals with the sin of covetousness. What does this teach us concerning the agenda of Jesus and also of our agenda.? Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10. He came to die for sinners. That includes all of us. He did not come to set the world straight and establish His political kingdom on earth.
Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36 and I paraphrase, “My kingdom is not of this present world system. If it were, my servants would fight to help me conquer it. They would fight to keep me from being crucified. My political kingdom is yet to come. That will take place at a later time.” See my series on PROPHECY for the full story.
It is not our purpose to set the world straight and usher in Christ’s Kingdom. No, our business is to be ambassadors for Christ and bring His message of the Gospel to the world. Later when Christ’s kingdom is established, II Timothy 2:12 tells us that we will be involved in Christ’s Kingdom, reigning with Him. Reformed Theology teaches that Christians should presently be involved in kingdom building. Certainly they agree with us that we accomplish that through preaching the Gospel. We are helping to establish the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers. They would agree to that also, but they would add that we are also to be involved in being actively involved politically and socially in bringing in the Kingdom of Christ which they believe began with His resurrection two thousand years ago. . Dispensational Theology agrees that it certainly is our responsibility to be light and salt in this sin darkened and contaminated society. That is what we are to be, But our work involves being an ambassador for Christ. Our calling is to present the life transforming Gospel well summarized in II Corinthians 5:18-21 The Gospel does the work of saving the lost, changing their lives and bringing them under the rule of Christ. For that reason as a Christian, I have no other agenda but to be a genuine Christian and to spread the Gospel wherever I go. It is my only agenda. Our business as a church is not primarily to be actively involved in political, social or even moral issues in the world. Should we deal with moral issues within the church? Absolutely, but it is not our responsibility to deal with moral issues among the lost. See I Corinthians 5 on this matter. As individuals, the methods and the degree of our personal involvement in these matters should be as God leads.
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S AGENDA
Would you take a close look at the Apostle Paul? When he went to Corinth, a city involved in temple prostitution, and intellectual wrangling; note his agenda in I Corinthians 2:1-2 “And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Why did Paul not get involved in kingdom building? That was not his agenda. Wherever he went he just preached the Gospel and souls were saved and added to the Church. He spent the rest of his time teaching and discipling Christians, warning them of the dangers of false teachers and building them up in the knowledge of Christ.
Read carefully through Acts and the Epistles. Nothing is said of kingdom building. Throughout the New Testament there is only one dual agenda. 1. Evangelizing the lost 2. Discipling believers.
Nowhere do we find the early Christians involved in trying to change the political or social structures of that day. Not once did Jesus or His Apostles try to abolish slavery, the established economic system of the day. Read through the short epistle to Philemon, a letter Paul wrote to Philemon, a Christian slave owner, about his runaway slave, Onesimus, whom Paul had won to Christ. Paul tells Onesimus to return to his master and behave as a Christian. He writes to Philemon to take back Onesimus and treat him as a brother.
So in the story in Luke 12, Jesus does not get involved in political or social issues.. Instead, He deals with the covetous heart issues that precipitated the disagreement between them.
If you are a Christian, where are you going to devote your time, energy and money? Are you going to devote your life to trying to make a better world, or are you going to devote your life to evangelism and discipleship? The Liberals of the past century tried building the Kingdom and made absolutely no headway. The moral state of the world today is in far worse condition than it was a century ago. Liberalism has failed.
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