RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
"The Need of the World,"
by Dave Breeze
We live in troubled times.
There can be no doubt that this statement, echoed from the lips of leaders in every field, is true. It is possible to show that these are days of heightened crime, economic insecurity, the threat of revolution, the danger of global war and the specter of famine in many lands.
These and a dozen other unhappy characteristics have become, more than ever, the index of today's times, and a thousand voices continually remind people of the world's grave difficulties. Even within religious circles strident new calls come for programs that promise the solution to the world's problem.
But what is the problem of the world?
"The problem of the world is poverty!" say many. Therefore, everyone is called upon to believe that the need of the world is a redistribution of wealth. A well-known senator in Washington with Christian dispositions has introduced a new tax bill in which he defines the purpose of taxation to be that of economic redistribution.
Likewise, a new set of religious notions called "liberation theology," which has arisen from Latin America, names economic imbalance the essence of sin and calls for revolution against captitalism as the duty of every Christian. Many evangelicals are caught up in a call for Christian sympathy concerning poverty and are asked to give to social programs that promise to supply the human needs that money can buy. Christians might find themselves sympathetic and helpful, but there is just one problem--the ultimate need of the world is not money, for its ultimate problem is not poverty. Nor, by the way, does "free money" alleviate poverty [I hear Appalachia is still poor, after billions thrown at its poverty stricken people by the Lyndon Johnson administration's once highly-touted but now never-mentioned "War on Poverty"!--Ed.].
Others say, "No, the problem is hunger!" and they announce that the masses of the people in the Third World, sunk in long generations of soul-destroying paganism, are literally starving at the rate of many thousands every day. In violation of the Scriptures (Rom. 8:33), they press guilt upon believers and insist that their first responsibility is to feed the hungry as the primary call of Christ. It is possible that the statistics on world hunger are true, depending upon whose statistics one believes. There is little doubt that many are hungry and some will starve today. It is, therefore, surely a Christian's duty to "do good unto all men" to the extent of his reasonable ability. One shouldn't believe, however, that the ultimate problem of the world is physical hunger. It is not the primary responsibility of Christians to feed and clothe the world. [did you know that men in African societies, married or unmarried, commonly go from single woman to single woman, fathering illegitimate children, and live that way, never taking responsibility for what they do and or becoming honest bread-winners for these families they create? It is like the welfare state family in America spawned by the dishonest, self-serving Left--no fathers in the home (just brief, periodic visits by rutting males who drop their pants before any female who is wanting to increase her welfare check income), young women left or abandoned there having babies and caring more or less for their children, collecting hefty welfare checks! The only difference is that in America they are paid to do it, paid to spin the Wheel of Misfortune, the cycle of ignorance and poverty and crime in those depressed urban areas, whereas in Africa they have to fend for themselves, the elitest governments are generally too corrupt and nepotism-ridden to let any money go from the top down to the impoverished mass of citizens, as these criminally greedy governments don't need valid votes based on real social reform and can stay in power indefinitey by bribes to the right people, civilian and military, and mass bogus ballot stuffing--Ed.
"No, the problem of the world is ignorance!" say others, perhaps the more perceptive ones. They remind their listeners that millions on earth are illiterate and that many will never have the opportunity for even a minimal education. Therefore, they announce that it is the duty of the Church to set up educational programs across the world, so that knowledge will dispel ignorance with the resulting solutions to all other problems. Education, they insist, is the answer.
One shouldn't ever believe it [this comes from a highly articulate, learned, college-educated man!--Ed.]. The educational centers of western civilization have corrupted themselves to the place where they have become the fountainhead of newer and more agonizing problems than ever. Usually, the educated have become atheists, Marxists, hedonists, inventors of the most clever evil things mankind has ever seen. Ignorance of academic things is not the primary problem of the world, and the solution is not, therefore, vast educational programs [it is, increasingly, not education that is produced nor even a concern of the instructors, it is mass indoctrination and manipulation for social agenda set up by the reigning elite who have everything to gain by creating a mass of ignoramuses who all march lock-step to the beat of their socialistic programs and shouted Leftist/humanistic/secularist mantras-- Ed.].
"But no," others say, "the problem is war!" These often sincere ones tearfully remind the public that nation is rising against nation, and millions have died in the bitter cauldron of war. This, they announce, is the ultimate problem of mankind. They recite the grim statistics of the dead and the wounded, the shattered lives, the fatherless homes, the pain and heartbreak [and epidemic diseases and starvation] that are the inevitable results of war [Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front," could be a classic of this genre, but the bottom line is that peace doesn't pay off that well, but war is profitable to industrialists in the industrial/military complex, and so it serves these industrialists to keep wars going, however they can be kept going. Eisenhower warned America about this complex, and as a military man who knew it well, and later a civilian and President, he should have been taken seriously--but after a polite hearing, he was ignored, and the industrial/military complex continued as powerful as before, even increasing in size with each administration after Eisenhower's.--Ed.]. Everyone weeps together at man's inhumanity to man, and everyone is moved at the unthinkable prospect of global war.
Many of those, however, who believe war to be the ultimate evil, place their confidence in peace movements. To work for world peace, they announce, is to work for that ultimate good without which no other good can come to pass. Human conflict is,to them the world's basic problem and the solution is to labor--even to FIGHT--for peace. The ultimate problem of the world is not war, and even if were the ultimate solution would not be a peace movement. Peace movements do not prevent war.
WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE PROBLEM OF THE WORLD, AND WHAT IS THE GREATEST NEED OF MANKIND?
Up until perhaps 20 years ago , every evangelical Christian knew the answer to that question. Year by year, however, they have turned from that well-known answer to lesser, more costly, more dramatic, less effective answers. Consequently, one can see the impotence of much of today's Church that knows not the battle in which it is called to fight and, therefore, is unaware of the result that it is supposed to produce.
God help His people to think a moment before it is too late!
SIN IS THE PROBLEM OF THE WORLD
Believers can easily remember the nature of the world's problem when they recall the first fact of Christian theology. Presiding above the universe is a God whose primary attribute is holiness. Mankind, which God created in His image, is in a state of moral rebellion against God. Mankind has violated divine law, thereby offending the holiness of the Creator who made man. This offense to divine holiness is named in the Scriptures by that single, deadly little word--sin. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Mankind has sinned and every individual man and woman on the face of the earth is a sinner. "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccles. 7:20). The heartbreaking problem of mankind is well summed up in Isaiah 53:6: "All we like sheep have gone astray."
As long as man remains a sinner, no amount of food, clothing, money, education, housing or irenic [calls for peace initiatives at peace conferences] speeches can produce for him any permanent good. In fact, while he remains in his sinful condition, these "things" which are offered to the sinner by mamny well-meaning Christians may do him fearful harm.
One who is humanly aided while still in his sins may come to believe that the way of the transgressor is NOT hard. He may embrace a perverted version of reality in his own mind and decide that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he NOT also reap.
If he is made comfortable on the road to hell, his damnation may have been made more sure by those who attempted to do him good. One who is allowed to live in peace and comfort while he is yet a sinner has had a great injustice perpetuated against him. What doctor would prescribe aspirin as the proper medication for a cancer patient who could be saved only by surgery? To inflict the pain of surgery is a great kindness, if it will sustain life.
These propositions are simple and known to every Christian, once he takes the time to think and to remember. Thinking, however, and remembering the teachings of the Holy Scriptures has become an uncommon activity in the Church. Beguiled by the promoters of our time with their expensive and sometimes profitable panaceas, believers may easily forget the hard truth and may easily forget what is the world's real need.
BECAUSE MAN IS A SINNER, THE WORLD'S REAL NEED IS TO HEAR THE GOSPEL AND TO BELIEVE ON JESUS CHRIST WHO ALONE CAN SAVE FROM SIN.
Because man is a sinner, the world's real need is to hear the Gospel and to believe on Jesus Christ who alone can save from sin [repeated to emphasis this absolute simple truth, which is the Answer to the question posed, "What is the Need of the World?"--Ed.].
This simple truth has been forgotten by many, but without this nothing whatsoever will avail. Without the Gospel, man and society is lost! With the hearing and the heeding of the Gospel, however, the sinner, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, becomes the object of divine provision, divine enlightenment, divine help. He has embraced Jesus Christ who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that one could ask or think. Possessing the righteousness of Christ, he is now described by David's statement, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Ps. 37:25).
How glorious, therefore, are the results of the preaching of the Gospel of Christ! Conversely, how expensive and how usually futile are all other well-intentioned programs which do not make the preaching of the cross the first principle of their existence. A few dollars spent in the proclamation of the cross of Jesus Christ will accomplish the work of thousands expended in any other cause. [Our Federal government, and the states too, used to know this, but now they preach just the opposite, that more government is the answer, we just need more government control in everyone's life to solve the social and economic ills of this nation--this is the height of presumption of man and a recipe for a nation's self-destruction! Every tyrant in history has fallen, sooner or later, with his government, due to more and more grabs for power and turning more corrupt as the possibilities multiply for him with more power in his hands; how true what Lord Acton said: "Power corrupts, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely."--Ed.]
There are few remaining religious organizations in the world's scene, which, having given themselves to social problems, still remain true to the Gospel. Having redefined the world's problems in terms of social need, they have, despite divine prohibition (Gal. 1:18), invented a new message and program to answer that problem. Millions of naive Christians, still sentimentally associating many of these organizations with their godly founding fathers [World Vision is a prime example of late, turning publicly in support of same-sex marriage, then taking a 180 degrees turn back, reversing its decision, when struck by an avalanche of protests from disillusioned supporters, most of them Christians--Ed.] continue to support them. Trusting donors often neglect to read some of the very literature of these organizations in which they, by their own testimony [ever read the Salvation Army's current statement on abortion? It can be blood-curdling, and General Booth would have closed the doors of his own ministry if he had guessed or foreseen how it would go the world's way--Ed.], now preach a gospel of works, a salvation that is economic, a hope that is merely nutritional and a Christ who wouldn't have had to go to Calvary.
Apart from the preaching of the Cross, our human efforts are futile, for by this message alone has God chosen to save sinners. Whatever temporary social good may take place as a result of gospel preaching is a beautiful and extra dividend in a world that will soon pass away! The real purpose of our activity, however, is to bring to men who are lost the message that alone brings eternal salvation and the consequent ability to live significantly today.