Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Saved by Grace...then what?

So i just finished a sermon brief on the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. While researching I found a website that had addressed the church's giving today. So here is the statistic found at empty tombs, inc. you can google it and look around, but here's what they say.

It would cost 30-50 billion dollars to meet most essential human needs around the world.
If church members gave 10% of their income they would raise $65 billion. Today the average giving per member is 3-4%.

We are saved by grace, yes, Martin Luther writes 95 theses and dismantles church authority and paying money for salvation and forgiveness ridding of "justified by works."
I hear this Scripture:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

It is by grace that we have been saved...and grace alone. Otherwise I am able to take credit for the work of salvation through Christ. I am able to be the provider and distributor of my own salvation. But what does Scripture say after the previous verse we read?

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"

So there is an after-party. Something follows justified by grace.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the audience was a group of Pharisees who saw wealth and riches as blessings for obedience and Jesus was showing the holes in this belief system by painting the picture of an ill and dying man who had just had dogs licking his oozing sores being carried to heaven. The rich man dies, is burried and ends up in hell. (note: this particular parable does not have any eschatological weight.) The rich man asks for water on his tongue. Abraham (father of all Israel) delivers the message of his irreversible fate. So, the rich man realizing his paralysis pleads for Abraham (God-figure) to send Lazarus back to earth to tell his brothers about this and prevent them from sharing in his pain.

This is the interesting part:

The rich man says,
"if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." Repent? repent from what?

Abraham answers,
"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

The rich man realizes that the way he has lived was wrong. He saw Lazarus out in front of his house dying and hungry and had no compassion. For this he is talking about repentance. Isn't it interesting the word "faith" is not mentioned? The message is pointed sharply toward the idea of stewardship and how we use our resources.

So we are justified by grace but "Grace" is a condition. If there are no symptoms of grace then there must be no condition present in our lives. Symptoms, in this story, specifically toward wealth and selfishness.

So what kind of things are mentioned in the law and the prophets(Old Testament)?

"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."
-Deuteronomy 15:11
There is a lot more in the Old Testament in regard to Social Ethics but I would need a lot more room to discuss this. So for now, Deuteronomy 15:11 i think is ok.

In conclusion: IT IS NOT THE AMOUNT GIVEN, RATHER THE CONDITION OF THE HEART THAT GIVES. WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY GRACE ALONE WITH SYMPTOMS OF Stewarship and helping the poor and needy. This is not to be confused with handing dollars to those on our street corners, it is funding projects in order to heal the root problems of social need wherever it may be.

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