“The Poor Have the Gospel Preached to Them”

Jesus teaching

The common perception by people – from within the religious world and outside of it – is that churches are charitable organizations designed to help the poor. Denominational churches spend much time, energy, and money helping the poor. Those who are in need (or claim to be in need) often visit churches seeking a handout.

We are certainly to be concerned for the poor (Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:28; James 2:15-17) and, as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10), help those with legitimate needs (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either”). Yet the Lord’s church is not a charity. He did not design or ordain it to be one. Instead, He designed and ordained the church for another purpose that is far more important than mere benevolence.

When John sent some of his disciples to find evidence that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 11:2-3), one of the proofs that Jesus cited was that “the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). Jesus did not mention feeding the poor, clothing them, or giving them money. Instead, the proof offered to John’s disciples for Jesus’ identity was the fact that the poor were taught the good news of salvation.
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The Mission of the Church

Church building

There are many different churches all over the world. Why do these churches exist? What is their mission? That answer will vary from church to church as men fashion their churches according to their own desires. We will consider a few possible answers later in this article.

But what is the mission of the church of our Lord? The answer to this question will not be found in human opinion or tradition, but in the word of God that has been revealed to us in the Scriptures. So let us see what the Scriptures say about the mission of the church.
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The Application of Wisdom: Teachings About Neighbors

Notes on Proverbs

We have already studied what the book of Proverbs teaches about our relationships with family and friends. But there are many people we interact with on a regular basis that are outside of these relationships. So let us consider the words of wisdom about our dealings with neighbors.
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“Whatever a Man Sows, This He Will Also Reap” (11/25)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Galatians 4-6.

Paul warned the saints in the churches of Galatia of the importance of sowing the proper seed in order to be able to reap the desired harvest.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

When he told them not to be deceived and that God was not mocked, he warned them not to think that they would prove to be the exception to the rule. If we wish to reap spiritual rewards, we must sow “to the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8).

In the first ten verses of this chapter, Paul mentioned three examples of how to sow in order to receive a reward.
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"Consider Your Ways!" (9/20)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Haggai 1-2.

The following passage about the neglected house of the Lord contains a good reminder for us to be sure we have our priorities in order.

Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. ‘You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house’” (Haggai 1:3-9).

The point of this message was not to say that the people were wrong for having their own houses in which to live. Nor does this passage teach that it is immoral for one to be prosperous in life. In fact, the Scriptures teach that whatever prosperity we enjoy is a gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
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Why the Righteous Do Not Beg

Workers

The psalmist had an interesting observation regarding the state of the righteous and how they were blessed by God.

I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

This is not to be interpreted as an absolute statement. There may be times when godly people are in such dire straits that they have no other option than to beg. Lazarus was one example of this. We know he was righteous because when he died he was “carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” to enjoy a place of paradise (Luke 16:22). Yet during life, he was “a poor man…covered with sores” who longed “to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table” (Luke 16:20-21). After he died, because he was righteous, he was “comforted” in a place of paradise (Luke 16:25).

Although there are exceptions, generally speaking, those who are righteous will be far less likely to have to beg than others. Even now when God no longer operates miraculously as He did during Bible times, the psalmist’s statement is generally true. Why is that? There are several reasons we can find in the Scriptures that explain why the righteous, in general, do not beg.
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"Leave Them for the Needy" (2/19)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Leviticus 19-21.

Sadly, helping the poor is a contentious issue in our society. It is not so much that people do not want to help the poor – most good, moral people want help to be provided. The issue is over how to best help the poor and whether this help should come from individuals, churches, charities, or government agencies.

The Law of Moses contains a way to help the poor and the stranger among the people. While we do not live under the same Law or with the same circumstances, there are principles that should help us determine how we can best help those in need.
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