Eight Evidences that Jesus is God

Mark Driscoll

As a young Christian one of the most influential preachers/theologians, regarding mary-martha-and-jesus-1354812-mmy own theological development, was Mark Driscoll and so despite a quite spectacular and public ‘fall from grace’ I still possess a fondness for Driscoll and the material he has produced.

It was somewhat ironic, then, that just as I reached one of his books on my reading list there was a bit of a stir online about Driscoll preaching again. As it transpired there was such a kick back to the prospect of his preaching again that in the end Hillsong uninvited Driscoll. However, that did not deter me from reading Vintage Jesus.

Unsurprisingly Driscoll uses some vocabulary, turns of phrase and illustrations which cause a little discomfort in Vintage Jesus. The book is of course vintage Driscoll (being published in 2007). However, as J. I. Packer comments in his recommendation, ‘This book reveals Mark Driscoll as a highly powerful, colourful, down-to-earth catechist’.

I found one section of this book particularly helpful – the list of evidences that Jesus is God. I have not included all of them, but here are the eight I appreciated most:

  1. Jesus said he came from heaven

Driscoll remarks, ‘Jesus did not merely claim to have peeked into heaven…Instead, Jesus boldly claimed to be God who lived in heaven but came down from his eternal home to visit the earth as a man’ (pg. 17-18). Moreover, the ‘claim to be God incarnate has never been made by the founder of any other world religion’ (pg. 18). Therefore, we have a unique claim, by Jesus himself, that he is indeed God.

It is perhaps in John 6 that Jesus states this most explicitly when he says ‘I have come down from heaven’ (v. 38). Those listening grumbled “How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (v. 42). Is Jesus God? Well, he said he came from heaven.

  1. Jesus called himself the Son of Man

The title ‘Son of Man’ is an Old Testament title which carries many connotations. Among these are the concepts of Messianic rule and Deity. Speaking of himself, Jesus taught his disciples, ‘Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Mt. 24:30). For the disciples, who would have known their Old Testament’s very well, this was an inescapable claim by Jesus that he was God. Is Jesus God? Well, he said he was the Son of Man.

  1. Jesus performed miracles

Saying is one thing, but doing is another. Indeed, some of Jesus’ ‘miracles are without human precedent. For example, the Gospel writers tell of the disciples, men who were seasoned fishermen, terrified by a raging storm and begging Jesus to rescue them. He rebuked the storm with one powerful command and there was immediately quiet calm. Creation obeyed the command of Jesus.’ (pg. 20-21) The fact that Jesus demonstrated his Deity through miracles is further supported by the admission of his enemies that he performed inexplicable miracles (Jn. 11:47). Is Jesus God? Well, he performed many miracles.

  1. Jesus said he is God

Driscoll correctly notes that ‘Jesus clearly, emphatically, and repeatedly said he was God…He was not killed for his nice deeds or pithy parables, but for claiming to be God’ (pg. 21-22).

For the Jews listening to Jesus teach, one of starkest claims that he is God came as Jesus stated ‘before Abraham was, I am’ (Jn. 8:58). Effectively Jesus pronounced to the Israelites ‘I am YHWH’. The personal, covenant God who led you out of Egypt and into the Promised Land – I am He. Is Jesus God? Well, he gave himself the title.

  1. Jesus said he was sinless

There is a careful caveat presented by Driscoll at this point. The claim to be sinless must be a credible claim. Others have claimed to be sinless, and yet these claims have not been credible. Perhaps the best way to offer credibility to Jesus’ claim is to note that those who knew Jesus most intimately, Peter, John and James, testified to his sinlessness (1 Peter 1:19; 2:22; 3:18; 1 Jn. 1:8; 3:5; Jas. 5:6). Moreover, even some of Jesus’ enemies testified to his sinlessness (Mt. 27:3-4; Lk. 23:22; 23:47). Is Jesus God? Well, he said he was sinless and a lot of others (both friend and foe) agreed with him.

  1. Jesus forgave others’ sin

On a number of occasions Jesus forgave sin (for example, Mk. 2:5; Lk. 7:48). In doing so he was making a pronouncement that his listeners would have understood only God able to make. As Driscoll writes, ‘In making this claim, Jesus is inviting us to confess our sins to him so that we may be forgiven through his substitutionary death and bodily resurrection. If he were not God, our sin simply could not be forgiven by him’ (pg. 25). Is Jesus God? Well, he forgave sin.

  1. Jesus taught people to pray to him

Driscoll understands this as beginning in John 13-17. On a number of occasions Jesus encourages the disciples to pray in his name (14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24), and by doing this encourages prayer to and through him. On this point I am not totally convinced. However, it is clear that the first disciples somehow understood that prayer was to be offered to Jesus (Acts 7:59). Is Jesus God? Well, Jesus taught people to pray to him, and they did.

  1. Jesus said he was the only way to heaven

In a very famous (and very offensive) verse Jesus proclaims ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn. 14:6). In other words, there is salvation, forgiveness of sin and passage to heaven found in no one else but me. This is yet another claim to Deity, as Driscoll explains: ‘Because heaven belongs to God, it is God alone who determines who is granted access to it and who will live with him forever there’ (pg. 26). Is Jesus God? Well, he said he was the only one who could take people to heaven.

Losing the Argument

I do not pretend to have presented an unassailable, apologetic response to sceptics in the above. Having Jesus say a lot of things, and his best friends write it down to back up Jesus’ statements, is very unlikely to convince someone that they are wrong. Indeed, if you are a sceptic the above will not make any impact on you unless the Holy Spirit takes his Word and plants it deep in your heart, shaping and fashioning you into the likeness of Jesus.

On the other hand, if you are a firm believer in the God of the Bible, in Jesus Christ as Saviour and the Scripture as the inspired Word of God, then the above eight evidences that Jesus is God should bring great joy and comfort to your soul. All that Jesus accomplished was accomplished because he was God in the flesh. He came from heaven, as the Son of Man, performing miracles to back up his claim to Deity, lived a sinless live, forgiving others’ sin, teaching people to pray to him and ultimately displaying that he is the way, and the truth, and the life.

So if you’re a sceptic I will have lost the argument, but if you’re a believer I trust I have whetted your appetite to pursue further these eight evidences that Jesus is God.

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Six Steps to Effectively Engaging Culture

Understanding Culture

Before we seek to engage culture, we must come to understand what exactly culture is. The reality is that the term ‘culture’ is actually a very difficult word to define. John Frame, in a series of lectures on the topic of ‘Christ and Culture’, offers the following definition:

[W]e use the term culture to describe anything that human beings work to achieve. So culture is not only what we grow, but also what we make, both with our hands and with our minds. It includes our houses, our barns, our tools, our cities and towns, our arts and crafts. It also includes the systems of ideas that we build up: science, philosophy, economics, politics, theology, history, and the means of teaching them, education: schools, universities, seminaries. Indeed, it includes all our corporate bodies and institutions: families, churches, governments. And culture also includes our customs, our games, sports, entertainment, music, literature, cuisine. (pg. 1-2).

He concludes, therefore, that ‘definitions of culture tend to be fairly comprehensive’ (pg. 2). In fact some scholars believe definitions to be so comprehensive that they are beyond useful. Carol Delaney in her book Investigating Culture argues that the term ‘culture’ should be dropped altogether (pg. 11).

Nevertheless, we need some kind of definition that serves our purposes of understanding culture so as to permit an attempt to appreciate how to engage with culture. Don Carson offers a succinct and useful definition in Christ and Culture Revisited. He suggests that culture, most simply, is ‘the set of values broadly shared by some subset of the human population’ (pg. 1).

Thinking about Engagement

Ed Stetzer, in a 2010 Christianity Today article entitled How should we Engage Culture?, asserts that the church must be ‘a biblically faithful, culturally relevant, the-crowd-810432-mcounterculture community’. We must admit that this is a difficult task and must be undertaken with great care. Indeed, as Stetzer continues, ‘[a]s I see it, it is both necessary and dangerous to engage culture’.

However, we must be cautious that we do not engage culture as an enemy. John Frame, in the lectures mentioned above, warns us that engaging with culture ‘is not warfare, pure and simple. There is a war, but the war is between Christ and Satan, Christ and unbelief, not Christ and culture’ (pg. 9). Scripture teaches us that culture is something God creates primarily through human beings – and for that reason is not inherently evil. What has become known as the cultural mandate in Scripture is Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them [Adam and Eve]. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Thus, culture us something that originates with God, and is developed by man’s filling and ruling the earth. It is not anti-christian because it is culture; it is anti-christian because it is tainted by sinful human beings.

The ultimate goal of engaging culture, then, is not to defeat it, or stop it. But rather the ultimate goal of engaging culture is to reach people with the life transforming grace of Jesus proclaimed in the gospel. As summarised by Don Carson at the end of his book:

To a generation that scrambles for the top and then looks around and asks, ‘Is this all there is?’ a biblical vision that focuses on Christ and his cross, on the links between this world and the next, on bold Christian living and faithful witness, and on a large scale vision that makes the world our parish while loving the neighbour next door, raises our eyes above ourselves, and delights in the glory of God. When our churches so taught thrust their members into engagement with the wider world, their members are far less likely to be snookered by the world to which they are to bear witness and in which they are to do good.’ (pg. 228).

Six Steps to Effectively Engaging Culture

With that groundwork laid we are now able to consider six steps to effectively engaging culture.

  1. Observe: We can very often get caught up in our own Christian circles. It is easy to soon find yourself at church 5 nights a week, spending Saturday nights with Christian friends and any other time is spent working. It is vital that we look beyond the church circle we find ourselves in. We must watch TV; read the local paper; listen to the radio; be involved in local events. We must open our eyes and ears to the world around us to see what consumes their time and energy; what impacts their emotions; to see what the world looks like to them.
  2. Reflect: However, it is incredibly dangerous to engage culture without discernment. We must think about, consider and reflect on the things we observe. We cannot not ingest all that we observe; there must be grid through which we pass all of the observations we make. That grid must be a Christian worldview. It is beneficial to ask questions such as: Is there truth in these elements of culture? Is sin being celebrated? Why does this particular issue provoke so much emotion? Where do I see illustrations of the gospel?
  3. Theology: Believe it or not, we are all theologians. But it is not enough to just be a theologian; we must endeavour to be good theologians. How can we acceptably engage with culture if we are weak on our theology? We must be immersed in our Bibles, reading good books, listening intently to good sermons, in discussion and debate with good Christian friends and thus constantly developing our theology.
  4. Courage: It is important to then have courage to speak into the culture. If we stop at step 3 we have only completed half the job – we may have understood culture but we haven’t engaged it. We must be brave enough to stand up for what we believe; to proclaim the truth of Scripture. However, this is not a megaphone stunt, but a door ajar through which we gently slide our hand. We cannot stand at a distance and yell at the culture, rather we must be close enough for people not only to hear what we say but see what it looks like. Nonetheless, this takes courage.
  5. Clarity: When we have been courageous enough to engage culture we must then speak into it with clarity. Christianese and Christian jargon must be retired. We are required to speak in a manner that the culture will understand. We must be careful not ramble of a load of Christian words that are ‘necessary’ in proclaiming the gospel. Our tone and vocabulary should not need to change for us to communicate the message of the good news about Jesus Christ.
  6. Love: This is the coup d’état. We must love those we are engaging with because they are people made in the image of God and Jesus has commanded us to do so. Engaging the culture must be undertaken with a love for the culture and people subsumed in that culture – otherwise it will be unproductive! People can very quickly tell whether your interest in them is genuine or not.

Further Reading

Although pushing 1,300 words this post does not even scratch the surface of the vast conversation that is cultural engagement for the Christian. Subsequently I find it necessary to point you in the direction of some further reading:

For a more popular approach: M. Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, Zondervan 2004

For a more technical, yet still accessible approach: D. A. Carson, Christ & Culture Revisited, Apollos 2008

For free reading see John Frame’s lectures here.

The Word

During the past week God has graciously reinforced, to me, the precious and powerful nature of His Word.

So often I neglect the great privilege I have. On a bookshelf at home I have at least bible reading 2twelve different versions of the Bible. I have both a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament. On my mobile devices I have several translations. Moreover, I have many of these Bible translations in a variety of formats – chronological, without chapter and verse divisions, daily reading formats, etc. All of this is the living, active and powerful Word of God.

Dever, Deliberate Church and the Regulative Principle

It began with a group discussion on a section of Mark Dever and Paul Alexander’s book The Deliberate Church. The section under discussion was a section on the Regulative Principle and its application in church life. According to Dever and Alexander:

Briefly, the Regulative Principle states that everything we do in a corporate worship gathering must be clearly warranted by Scripture. (pg. 67)

Initially, to my mind, this sounded a little constricting with regard to Sunday corporate worship. My facetious nature immediately called to mind no chapter and verse for the use of PowerPoint, nor for sitting in pews, nor for applauding children waving to their parents from the front. However, Dever and Alexander’s application appeased my facetious nature.

Ultimately, they contend that the regulative practice applied in the Sunday corporate worship service is the Bible read, preached, sung, prayed and seen. Due to the nature of Scripture, it must be central to our corporate worship gatherings – large sections of Scripture read without comment display a high view of Scripture; passages of Scripture read, explained, illustrated and applied aid an understanding of Scripture; words, phrases and passages of Scripture set to music serve to increase our ability to memorise Scripture; the praying of Scripture communicates that we wish to approach God on his terms, not ours; and the visualisation of Scripture through baptism and communion give us a greater appreciation for Scripture’s message as there is a tangible portrayal of the gospel.

The Word is so important it must pervade our Sunday corporate worship.

Empty Words in the Blog-o-sphere

Later in the week I was then pointed in the direction of a blog…

I later thanked the person who pointed me in the direction of the blog for wasting 30 minutes of my life. There were plenty of words on the blog, some of them big, sophisticated words and yet through all of them the blogger succeeded in saying nothing. My exasperation was only exacerbated by the sad reality that the blogger was a church leader here in Ireland.

There is no power in our eloquent speech, intelligent vocabulary, or our apparently persuasive arguments. It is all empty, vain and fleeting; which was certainly the feeling I had after reading numerous blog posts on this particular blog.

The Word was certainly not present here.

Ezekiel 37

On the very same day as I read the blog, I read Ezekiel 37 in my daily readings:

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (vv. 1-14)

This is a wonderfully enticing illustration of the power of the Word. Things that are not just dead, but have been dead for a long time, are made alive by the Spirit’s powerful application of the Word. This Word contains the glorious gospel, the message of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice, the good news that God has acted to redeem a people.

The Word brings life.

The Word is living, active and powerful. It is a precious gift from God. Therefore, we should unashamedly treasure God’s Word; unwaveringly proclaim God’s Word; unfalteringly learn God’s Word; unshakeably live God’s Word.   How can you do so in the next week?

Old Testament Origins of the Second Coming

It’s No Secret

That the early church believed in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is no secret. According to James Montgomery Boice’s research (Foundations of the Christian Faith, pg. 705) the Second Coming is mentioned in the New Testament 318 times in only 260 chapters. In fact, Galatians, Philemon and 2 & 3 John are the onlyjesus-christ-755018-m books which fail to mention it at all! So prevalent is it that Bruce Milne (Know the Truth, pg. 313) is confident in asserting ‘[the Second Coming] lies on the surface of the Bible for all to see. Denial of the second coming can be viewed therefore only as a fundamental rejection of biblical authority.’

It is no secret that the early Church believed and taught that Jesus Christ would come again. However, what I propose to do here is to suggest that the origins of the Second Coming can be found in the Old Testament. I will do so by pointing to three separate texts, in three different genres (and sections) of the Old Testament.

2 Samuel 7

At the outset I wish to acknowledge that I am not following the tradition Jewish division of the Old Testament into Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim. Rather, I am following a more western division of Historical Books (including the Torah or the five books of Moses), Writings and Prophets. The first major section of our English New Testament is the collection of the Historical Books, and it is here that we find our first hint at the second coming of Jesus Christ in 2 Samuel 7.

In 2 Samuel 7 we find Nathan the prophet communicating Yahweh’s promises to King David. He tells David:

Thus says the LORD of hosts… When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me. Your throne shall be established for ever. (Vv. 8, 12-16)

This may not initial seem relevant to a discussion on the Second Coming of Jesus. However, it is. Old Testament theologians have termed this passage the ‘messianic seedbed’. It is from this promise that all of the messianic hope in the remainder of the Old Testament grows, develops and buds. Verse 16 (in italics above) is of particular interest to a discussion on the Second Coming of Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament this promise seemed to have failed, indeed for vast periods of time there was no Davidic king on the throne. Even though Jesus came from the Davidic line, he is not visibly ruling and reigning, although he is seated on the throne.

The reality is that this promise has certainly been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ; however it has not been consummated for all to see. When will that happen? It will surely be consummated when the Messiah appears again.

Psalm 72

The second major section of our English Old Testaments is the Writings. Here we find poetry such as the Psalms and Song of Solomon and wisdom such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Psalm 72 is almost certainly an enthronement song. It was likely either sang as a prayer when a king ascended to the throne or sang annually as a continued prayer for the already reigning king. However, the reality is that this Psalm cannot be reduced to speaking of only an earthly king. There are two features in particular which point to a greater king then any earthly king.

Initially, the duration of the reign exceeds anything that an earthly king could manage, and even any earthly dynasty could accomplish together:

May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him! (Vv. 5-11)

The duration spoken of here is eternal – as long as the sun endures, throughout all generations, till the moon be no more! As one commentator contends that this is ‘a hope to be realised only in the universal kingdom of Christ’ (Kirkpatrick, quoted in VanGemeren EBC: Psalms, pg. 551).

Secondly, we note that the character of the king transcends the character of even the noblest king:

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight. (Vv. 12-14)

The expresses great compassion here, that is surely characteristic of God in the flesh.

Once again it must be acknowledged that the kingdom of God – a kingdom which will endure, and exhibits compassion – was inaugurated with Jesus first Advent. However, this kingdom will not be consummated until Jesus’ second Advent.

Joel 3

The final major section in our English Old Testament is the Prophets. It is here that we note a repeated mention of the ‘Day of the Lord’. Many people take this to automatically be speaking of Jesus’ first arrival on earth, but Boice warns that we are often too quick to do this with Old Testament prophecies (Foundations of the Christian Faith, pg. 705). Rather, these verses often speak of the final reckoning to be executed on Jesus Return.

This ‘Day’ is referenced at least twice in Joel 3:

Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision. (v. 14)

And in that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the stream beds of Judah
shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
and water the Valley of Shittim. (v. 18)

It would be easy to speak of these verses as being fulfilled in Jesus’ first arrival. However, the context of the chapter leaves no doubt as to the timing of these events. The nations have been gathered into the ‘Valley of Decision’ to hear God’s judgement pronounced. After the pronouncement of that judgement, in other words ‘in that day’ God’s people will then receive the blessing of verse 18. We are all too aware that this has not yet taken place, that it is indeed to be executed only on Jesus’ Return.

A Matter of Perspective

I do confess that the Old Testament does not say Jesus Christ will come to earth once and then leave and then come again, in so many words. However, it is clear that there is this expectation of an Anointed One (the Hebrew word is Messiah) coming to rule and reign. In ruling and reigning he is then expected to execute God’s judgement on His enemies and bring God’s blessing on His people.

As we approach the New Testament though it becomes clear that what the Old Testament authors spoke of as the Advent of the Messiah, is understood as two Advents (G. E. Ladd, Eschatology in the New Bible Dictionary, pg. 386). It is like looking at two candles perfectly lined up. From the perspective of the Old Testament authors there only appears to be one candle – but from another perspective, that of the New Testament, there are clearly two candles.

We do not, and cannot, find a clearly defined eschatology (as we understand it) in the Old Testament. But, I would suggest that we very clearly find the origins of the Second Coming in the Old Testament – promises, hopes and prophecies that can only ever be fully met in Jesus’ triumphant and emphatic second Advent!

International Rescue

Children in Need

Yesterday I had the great privilege and challenge of teaching a group of children, in DSCF1040a local church, on their Sunday School day. Throughout the year they had been thinking and learning about children in Mongolia, who are being reached through AsiaLink. For that reason I had been given the task of teaching on the subject of children. As I considered what I would talk about I began to recollect all the experiences I have had with children across the world. It has been my privilege to visit a few different countries, on a couple of continents. In these countries I encountered many children with great needs.

In 2006 I visited Peru. There I met children from a very dark town, spiritually speaking. In this place there was much evil taking place, and consequently much sadness in many families and individuals lives. The gospel has unsurprisingly brought much welcome relief, but still there are many children there and they need protection, security and love.

In 2008 I visited Morocco. There I did not meet indigenous children, but I did observe them and was taught about them by workers in that country. In this place there were children who were sent to work instead of school and children who lacked adequate food and clothing. These children need schooling, clothing and food.

In 2012 I visited Zimbabwe. This country is home to hundreds of thousands of orphans (if not millions). Here I witnessed poverty unlike I had seen before: children with no parents, food, clothing, housing, care, education, but for the kindness and sacrifice of many Christians. These children need someone to care and provide for them.

Further to these experiences, the sad reality is that I have met children all throughout Ireland in exactly the same situation as those in South America and Africa: children without parents, without food, without schooling, without clothing, and without adequate housing.

A Universal Need

Despite the vast array of physical and emotional needs all across the globe, the Bible tells us that there is one need which affects all of these children. Moreover, this need is not specific to children, indeed it is not specific to any age group, people group, or social group – it is universal.

Scripture is really quite explicit. Writing to the Romans Paul quotes two Psalms (14; 53) in arguing that there is a universal need. He writes:

None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one. (Rom. 3:10-12)

The universal need arises in that no one is good – in more theological language, all are sinners! The need that all people have is to be rescued by Jesus from their sinful nature and its consequences.

International Rescue

I’m sure many of us remember the dodgy puppetry, ‘huge fires’ (which were clearly a match burning) and the very visible strings on the classic show Thunderbirds. It was great childhood Saturday afternoon television. The individuals and their Thunderbirds were the masterminds behind International Rescue, an organisation dedicated to saving human lives.

But this tagline, International Rescue: an organisation dedicated to saving human lives, sums up nicely what Jesus achieves for us. In another letter Paul puts it this way, ‘Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age’ (Gal. 1:3-4). By living a perfect live, Jesus could die for other’s sin, and in the rising again and ascending to heaven he was vindicated. In this way Jesus is capable of an international rescue. This is the gospel, and it is a message which transcends cultural boundaries – it is the universal solution to the universal need.

Which need?

In an era in which social justice has rightly become more central to the discussions concerning evangelism and mission, it necessary to take a moment to pause and consider just what the above paragraphs mean when it comes to children in need.

Standing in front of those children in Peru, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland, the physical and emotional needs are the most obvious in many instances. It is almost impossible to overlook those needs, and it is equally as easy to be content with the ‘help’ you have offered if you can meet those physical and emotional needs quickly.

But have I fulfilled my duty as a Christian if I neglect this universal need?

It is vitally important, imperative that we demonstrate our Christianity (Jas. 2:26). But this must not be where we leave it – the universal need is not remedied by food, clothing, housing, care and love. However, on the other hand, the message of Jesus giving himself for our sins will inevitably find more welcoming ground whenever the messenger has been seen to be giving of themselves in a variety of ways.

I do not propose to give any definitive answers social justice versus evangelism/mission here (I have done this previously on the blog). My intention is merely to remind ourselves that the universal need is rescue from our sin by Jesus’ giving of himself. Nevertheless, this is not a license to ignore the most immediately apparent needs.

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If you wish to pursue this concept of serving the needs of children across the globe by both helping physical and spiritual needs I would encourage you to visit compassionuk.org.