Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why I Believe Jesus Existed

I find myself at odds with a number of my fellow skeptics on the question of Jesus’ existence. Perhaps it’s a cop-out, but at the top of my list of my reasons for believing he existed is that almost all the experts (historians and scholars of the period) agree he existed.

Since I’m not an expert, the chances of my having some important inside information or consideration not known to the experts are vanishingly small, so I defer to their expertise.

It’s the same reason I accept the finding of 97% of climate scientists on global warming, virtually all geologists and biologists on the age of the earth and evolution, and almost every doctor on the efficacy and safety of vaccinations.

I don’t mean to suggest that expert consensus can never be mistaken, but historically it’s very rare indeed for laypeople to be right when they oppose the experts.

Nor am I suggesting we blindly accept expert opinion; we owe it to ourselves to study and understand to some extent the reasons why the experts have adopted their position, along with reasons why a minority opposes them.

A couple of reasons I’m convinced Jesus existed:

1) The Jews did not expect a Messiah who would suffer. Without any known exception, they expected him to be an earthly, triumphant king who would save them from their physical oppressors. There’s no known record of Jews interpreting Isaiah 53 (the suffering servant) as pertaining to the Messiah prior to the time of Jesus. It’s hard to believe they would have made up his crucifixion if it hadn’t actually happened. And if he was crucified, he existed.

2) If Jesus hadn’t existed, it’s likely that those who invented him would have had him grow up in Bethlehem (to fulfill OT prophecy) rather than in the obscure, virtually unknown town Nazareth in the backwaters of Galilee. Matthew and Luke were no doubt aware he was from Nazareth and sought to explain how he could have been born in Bethlehem (in fulfillment of OT prophecy) while ending up in Nazareth. Matthew narrates Jesus’ family as originating from Bethlehem and fleeing to Nazareth under duress from Herod, while Luke has Jesus’ family originating in Nazareth and temporarily relocating to Bethlehem for a census. In both cases, the effect was the same: Jesus ended up in Nazareth, an unlikely and awkward place for a messiah who was supposed to originate from Bethlehem.

I’m aware that mythicists (the minority who believe Jesus didn’t exist) have objections to these arguments (one of them being the disputed claim that Nazareth didn’t even exist at the time), but without the training to evaluate every nuance, I defer to the experts.



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My Views on the Bible and Wealth as a Believer

While I was a believer, I strove as much as possible to take the Bible at its word and to understand what its authors (and ultimately its divine Author) intended to convey, unfiltered through the lens of my evangelical Christian community. Sometime during my four years at evangelical LeTourneau University, I began to sense that the modern evangelical church’s standard teachings on wealth conflicted with what I was reading in the New Testament.

You can learn the modern standard teaching quite easily: Go to just about any predominately white, middle-class, evangelical church gathering and ask them whether it’s okay for Christians to be rich, and you’ll likely hear some variation of this response, “Wealth can be a danger that takes us away from God, but wealth in and of itself isn’t wrong. You can be rich as long as you don’t let your wealth get between you and God, and as long as you use your money responsibly and give generously.” You can learn the same thing from evangelical self-help books on money management, for example, those by the unapologetically wealthy Dave Ramsey.

I’m not sure what precipitated my college-years realization that this party line didn’t jibe with at least a face value reading of many passages in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. It could have started as I was reading the Bible on my own. Or the seed could have been planted as I was reading about the lives and teachings of Christian leaders in a magazine I subscribed to at the time, Christian History. Or I might have been stirred by the teachings of Tony Campolo, a progressive evangelist who visited and spoke to us LeTourneau College students during a chapel session in 1998. In any case, I subsequently set myself on the course of studying what the Bible and church history had to say about wealth, and it became a minor preoccupation of mine to try to convince others that the standard evangelical teaching was misguided.

When we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators with the aim of bringing the Bible to a language group in the Sahara Desert, we were required to raise support from churches, friends, and family for our living and ministry expenses. On top of that, we had to raise money to contribute to our retirement fund. After reading Jesus say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,” I wrote to a Wycliffe administrator and asked for an exemption. In retrospect, I’m glad the administrator refused my request, because these savings did allow us make the down payment on our first house after we left the mission field.

While living in Niger, one of the most economically disadvantaged countries on earth, I struggled with the extreme poverty that pressed in on us from all sides, literally. One morning, as our family was driving through a police checkpoint, a group of children surrounded our pickup truck, begging for handouts. I tried to crack my door open so I could slip them a few slices of freshly baked banana bread, but they all pressed so hard against the door to be the first to win the prize that I wasn’t able to open it. In my frustration, I hit the accelerator and took off, leaving the children disappointed. This is just one of many encounters with poverty and guilt and exasperation I experienced living in Niger. How could we relate to the poor, those who seemed closest to Jesus’ heart, if we had a pickup, a sturdy house, plentiful food, medical care, and a ticket out of the country if things ever got too dangerous?

It wasn’t this issue alone that led me away from my former faith, but it was a small contributing factor. I saw how easy it was for evangelicals, including myself, to dismiss what seemed to me the clear teachings of the New Testament against wealth and in favor of poverty. And yet while dismissing these teachings, we routinely appealed to the authority of the Bible in other areas, using it as cudgel to beat others (gays come to mind) into submission. I couldn’t understand why so many couldn’t see the double standard this represented.

Following my deconversion, I no longer felt bound by the NT teachings on wealth, and I didn’t feel guilty about saving for retirement or spending money on some of the niceties of life. I think Dave Ramsey offers a lot of good advice for getting out of debt, saving for retirement, and giving generously. Nonetheless, I am convinced he ignores the distinct tilt against the rich and in favor of the poor woven throughout the NT, and he’s making a great deal of money convincing his followers that his teachings are biblical.

In the remainder of this post, I’ll include some of writings from 1991 and 1993 showing how I processed the NT teachings on wealth as a believer. These writings offer a window into my pre-deconversion devotion to God and my fervency in following what I believed to be his word.

I’ll start with a letter I wrote in 1993 to a pastor who presented the standard evangelical teaching on wealth.

Next, I’ll include some personal musings from 1993 related to leaders in church history who taught against wealth.

Finally, I’ll conclude with scriptural passages and quotes from church leaders that I presented to the student body of Columbia Biblical Seminary in 1991.


Dear Pastor ____,

On April 25 I attended your church and heard your message on greed from Luke 12.  I appreciated the things you said concerning the attitudes we are to have toward our possessions, though I feel I must respond to your position on Christians’ owning wealth.

I understand your position to be that it is not inherently wrong for a Christian to be wealthy as long as a proper attitude is maintained toward one’s possessions.  At one point you challenged the audience to find any instance where Jesus advocated a Spartan lifestyle.

In my readings of the New Testament I have never seen wealth spoken of in a positive light.  Mark 10:30 and parallel verses appear to be figurative since we can have only one biological mother.  And Christ’s parables about talents and minas cannot be viewed as an endorsement of wealth, since wealth is not the point of the parables.  It appears instead that Jesus and the apostles repeatedly warned of the dangers of wealth, even to the point of advocating a simple lifestyle.

Suppose a person were to read the gospel of Luke for the first time without the aid of a commentary or teacher to explain or interpret its teachings on wealth and the poor.  There would be little confusion about Christ’s general command in Luke 12:33 to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” after having read the statements “Blessed are you who are poor” (6:20) and “But woe to you who are rich” (6:24).  Nor would Jesus’ words come as a surprise to one who understood the significance of John the Baptist’s charge:  “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (3:11).  For how can one who remains in luxury obey this command fully while others eke out a bare existence (c.f. the Rich man and Lazarus, 16:19-31)?  And upon arriving at Luke 18:18-30 it would not enter the mind of our reader that Jesus was speaking only to this particular Rich Ruler or to those who merely harbored a wrong attitude about their wealth.  No such limitation exists in the text, so it would be natural to conclude that Christ desires those who are wealthy to “sell everything [not absolutely everything, I presume] and give to the poor” (v 22).

In all Christ’s statements about wealth he never said, as I heard in your sermon, “Let’s get this straight.  We are not dealing with the possession of things but our attitude toward them.”  If this is the point he intended to make, he did not make it clearly, nor did he tell the Rich Ruler that it would be OK for him merely to change his attitude.

But even if all these commands failed to convince the reader that the possession of great wealth is not in God’s will, then surely at the least the reader must know that to live simply is to follow Christ’s example, who said of himself, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (9:58).  Though Christ loved them, he never sought out the rich but came “to preach good news to the poor” (4:18).

In a world where great social imbalances exist (not always because of the industry of some and the sloth of others), the evangelical church in America is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the eyes of the people.  This will worsen as long as churches continue to neglect their duty to the poor and those outside the white middle class.  And congregations will not be stirred to their duty until it is made clear that they are robbing the needy with their new luxury cars, extravagant homes, and unneeded toys.  How the message of 2 Cor 8 needs to be imprinted in the minds of more evangelicals!  We excel in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, but we fall short in the grace of giving (v 7).  Perhaps the world would take note if we were to follow the example of the Macedonian churches, who “out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  They gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (vv 2-3).  Note that this example cannot be followed by those who retain their wealth.  Paul’s desire was “not that others might be relieved while you [the Corinthian church] are hard pressed, but that there might be equality” (v 13).  Equality is not a term that comes to mind when I see the wealth of the evangelical church in America against the poverty of the church in developing nations.  Nor can equality exist when wealthy Christians keep their wealth, disregarding Christ’s several commands to sell and give it to the poor.  May I challenge you to preach Luke 12:33 as Christ preached it to all those gathered around him.  Many might leave your congregation, but Christ did not let such a possibility deter him from telling the truth to the Rich Ruler.

It may be objected that no man is the judge of another, and it is impossible to draw a line between enough and too much.  The same objection may be raised in considering a number of issues, among them standards of dress.  Women are told to dress modestly in church (1 Tim 2:9), yet the definition of modesty is variable from place to place and from generation to generation.  There is a line somewhere between Victorian dress and nudity, however, and it doesn’t take a trained theologian to know that there is something wrong with a woman attending Sunday morning worship in a bikini.  I don’t know precisely where the line is to be drawn, but as long as a Christian remains well within the limits there is no controversy.  In a similar way, I cannot tell you what constitutes excessive wealth, but I can say with confidence that one who owns several new and unneeded Rolls Royces cannot be living in God’s will.  And the farther one lives from the line of opulence the closer one will be to imitating our Lord, provided a spirit of humility is maintained.

It may be objected further that the Old Testament condones wealth through its teachings and through the examples of men like Abraham and Solomon.  I acknowledge this, yet it seems that a fundamental shift takes place in the New Testament, where spiritual realities are given more emphasis than physical forms.  The Temple and all its furnishings served as reminders of spiritual things, but they were no longer needed in the New Covenant.  Wars were fought with physical armies, but now we fight spiritual battles (Eph 6:10-20).  In the same way, material goods were given as a sign of God’s blessing to his chosen people, but now we are endowed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3).

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for your excellent preaching.  Know that I am in agreement with you on most matters except this, and I trust that you will correct me if I have erred in any point.


The following quotes are from Christian History magazine, issue 19.  They express, with few modifications, my current [1993] view (but not quite my practice; that is more difficult) on wealth.

His [John Wesley’s] position [at Oxford University] usually paid him at least 30 pounds a year–more than enough money for a single man to live on. . .  One incident that happened to him at Oxford changed his perspective on money.  He had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door.  It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold.  He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left.  It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money.  He asked himself:  “Will Thy Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’  Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold!  O justice!  O mercy!  Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?”

Perhaps as a result of this incident, in 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor.  He records that one year his income was 30 pounds, and his living expenses 28, so he had 2 to give away.  The next year his income doubled, but he still lived on 28 and gave 32 away.  In the third year his income jumped to 90, again he lived on 28, giving 62 away.  The fourth year he made 120, lived again on 28 and gave 92 to the poor.

Wesley preached that Christians should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of.  He believed that with increasing income, the Christian’s standard of giving should increase, not his standard of living.  He began this practice at Oxford and he continued it throughout his live.  Even when his income rose into the thousands of pounds, he lived simply and quickly gave his surplus money away.  One year his income was slightly over 1,400; he gave all away save 30.  He was afraid of laying up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in in income.  He reports that he never had as much as 100 at one time.

Consider also the words of Robert L Dabney (1829-1898), a Southern Presbyterian theologian, taken from the same magazine:

When a Christian man, who has professed to dedicate himself and his all, body, soul and estate, to the highest glory of God and love of his fellow-creatures, passes by the hundreds of starving poor and degraded sinners around him, the thousands of ignorant at home, and the millions of perishing heathen, whom his money might instrumentally rescue from hell-fire, and sells for a song his safe, strong, comfortable family carriage, and expends hundreds in procuring another, because his rich neighbor is about to outstrip him in this article of equipage; or when he sacrifices his plate [dishes] and china to buy new at great cost, because the style of the old was a little past; or when he pulls down his commodious dwelling to expend thousands in building another, because the first was unfashionable; is not this sinful waste?  When hundreds and thousands of God’s money are abstracted from the wants of a perishing world, for which the Son of God died, to purchase the barbaric finery of jewelry, as offensive to good taste as to Christian economy, jewelry which keeps out no cold blast in winter, and no scorching heat in summer, which fastens no needful garment and promotes no bodily comfort, is not this extravagance? . . . . .

I have yet to come fully to terms with how Christians should treat money, but I’m realizing more and more that it’s not our own.  According to Wesley, it is to be used to provide for the basic needs (food, shelter, clothing) of us and our family, spending the rest on those who are in need within and outside of the church.

We don’t usually think of John Wesley hating anything.  He was the one who always preached about love:  love for God and for neighbor. . .  But there was one word that Wesley hated.  He described this word as “idle,” “nonsensical,” “stupid,” “miserable,” “vile,” and “diabolical.”  He said it was “the very cant of hell.”  Obviously no Christian should ever utter it.  This exceedingly evil word was . . . “afford.”

“But I can afford it,” replied the Methodists when Wesley preached against extravagance in food, dress, or lifestyle.  Wesley argued that no Christian could afford anything beyond the bare necessities required for life and work. . . .

According to Wesley, God made us trustees of His resources so we may feed the hungry and clothe the naked in His name.  We should turn our extra money into food and clothing for the poor.  Just as it would be wrong to destroy other people’s food and clothes, so it is also wrong to spend money needlessly on ourselves.  “None can afford to throw any part of that food and raiment into the sea, which was lodged with him on purpose to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.”  But if we are determined to waste God’s money, Wesley argued that it would be better actually to throw it into the sea than to spend it extravagantly.  At least throwing money into the sea hurts no one, while spending it needlessly on ourselves poisons all who see it with “pride, vanity, anger, lust, love of the world, and a thousand ‘foolish and hurtful desires.'”


[2015] While attending Columbia Biblical Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina in 1990-91, I put together some passages of scripture and some voices from history on the subject of wealth. I don’t recall how it came about, but I was invited to present these passages (via an overhead transparency projector), along with my commentary, to the mandatory all-student chapel assembly one spring morning in 1991. A student leader approached me after the presentation and commented, “That’s powerful stuff; it’s where the rubber meets the road.” Below are the passages I presented, without modification (other than formatting). Apologies for the use of the KJV; I don’t recall why I used it, unless I was conscious of getting through to those in the audience wary of more modern versions.


Wealth of Abraham, Job, and Solomon

Proverbs 8:21  . . . that I may cause those who love Me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.

Calvin:  Just as the Lord adorned flowers with beauty, colors, and sweet fragrance, so also did He create precious metals and stones with appealing qualities which reflect his glory.  “Has he not given qualities to gold and silver, ivory and marble, thereby rendering them precious above other metals or stones?  In short, has he not given many things a value without having any necessary use?” (Institutes, Vol II, 32)

Proverbs 24:3  Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: 4  And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Luther: “For they [gold and silver] are not evil, even though they have been subjected to vanity and evil. . . .  If God has given you wealth, give thanks to God, and see that you make right use of it. . .” (Christian History, Vol. II, No. 2, 17).


Deuteronomy 28:1  And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe [and] to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. 3  Blessed [shalt] thou [be] in the city, and blessed [shalt] thou [be] in the field. 4  Blessed [shall be] the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy herds, and the flocks of thy sheep. 5  Blessed [shall be] thy basket and thy store. 6  Blessed [shalt] thou [be] when thou comest in, and blessed [shalt] thou [be] when thou goest out.

Deuteronomy 28:15  But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: 16  Cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the city, and cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the field. 17  Cursed [shall be] thy basket and thy store. 18  Cursed [shall be] the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy herds, and the flocks of thy sheep. 19  Cursed [shalt] thou [be] when thou comest in, and cursed [shalt] thou [be] when thou goest out.

Ephesians 1:3  Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:


Luke 14:33  So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34  Salt [is] good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35  It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; [but] men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Anthony Campolo: “I’m asking you to become followers of Jesus.  You say, ‘You mean I can’t own a Rolls Royce or a BMW?’  Of course you can’t!  Not and be a Christian” (Lecture at LeTourneau College, Longview, TX, March 24, 1988)

Luke 6:24  But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25  Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

Luke 9:57  And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain [man] said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58  And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his] head.

Luke 12:16  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry. 20  But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21  So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

William Jennings Bryan:  “No one can earn a million dollars honestly” (Christian History, Vol. VI, No. 2, 4)

1 Timothy 6:6  But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.


James 2:1  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. 2  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

1 John 3:17  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?


Luke 3:7  Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8  Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 10  And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

St. Francis of Assisi:  Money intrinsically evil; would not permit disciples to touch it with their hands.  Resolved to become poorest of all men, trading his clothes with those of any beggar whom he found to be dressed more poorly than he.  “I think the great Almsgiver world account it a theft in me, did I not give that I wear unto one needing it more” (Christian History, Vol. VI, No. 2, 14).

Luke 12:32  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33  Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Augustine:  “That bread which you keep, belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy.  Wherefore, as often as you were able to help others, and refused, so often did you do them wrong” (Christian History, Vol. VI, No. 2, 35).

Luke 16:19  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence. 27  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Ezekiel 16:49  Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

John Robinson:  “God could . . . either have made men’s states more equal, or have given everyone sufficient of his own.  But he hath rather chosen to make some rich, and some poor, that one might stand in need of another, and help another, that so he might try the goodness and mercy of them that are able, in supplying the wants of the rest” (Christian History, Vol VII, No. 3, 17).

Luke 14:12  Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor [thy] rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13  But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

Isaiah 58:5  Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6  [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7  [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.

Schaeffer, FrancisThe Church at the End of the 20th Century.  Inter-Varsity Press:  Downers Grove, IL  60515, 1970.

Let me say it very strongly again:  There is no use talking about love if it does not relate to the stuff of life in the area of material possessions and needs.  If it does not mean a sharing of our material things for our brothers in Christ close at home and abroad, it means little or nothing (73).

“Don’t start a big program. . . .  Start personally and start in your homes.  I dare you.  I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. . . .  I want to ask you something if you are white.  In the past year, how many blacks have you fed at your dinner table?  How many blacks have felt at home in your home?  And if you haven’t had any blacks in your home, shut up about the blacks. . . .  Open your home to the blacks, and if they invite you, go with joy into their homes. . . .  How many times in the past year have you risked having a drunk vomit on your carpeted floor? . . .  How many times have you risked an unantiseptic situation by having a girl who might easily have a sexual disease sleep between your sheets? . . .  How many times have you had a drug-taker come into your home?  Sure it is a danger to your family, and you must be careful.  But have you ever risked it?  If you don’t risk it, what are you talking about the drug problem for if in the name of Christ you have not tried to help somebody in this horrible situation!  If you have never done any of these things or things of this nature, if you have been married for years and years and had a home (or even a room) and none of this has ever occurred, if you have been quiet especially as our culture is crumbling about us, if this is so–do you really believe that people are going to hell?” (107-109)


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