In this video, Don Carson, Tim Keller and John Piper discuss the potential disparity between mercy ministry and proclamation ministry. In other words, how do you keep compassion from sweeping away evangelism?
They hit the nail on the head when they insist that the safeguard rests in the clear proclamation of the gospel, not the pulling back from mercy ministry. We must hold fast to the reality of sin as offence to God, Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners, and justification by grace alone.
Keller is dead on when he makes a distinction between mercy ministry, which floes out as a necessary implication of the gospel, and the “social gospel” that collapses the gospel into nothing more than “we are going to make the world a better place.”
Piper, noting the reality of eternal separation from God in hell for those who reject Christ, quotes from their church’s statement which reads, “we exist to relieve all suffering, especially eternal suffering.” I love that. He says, “If i succeeded totally in alleviating all poverty in this age and didn’t solve the eternal problem I would prove, in the end, to be absolutely unloving and un-Christ-like.”
As I’ve said before here in Lakeshore,
“As we provide help and hope to hurting people through hundreds of projects, let us never stray away from the shadow of the cross. If we rebuild someone’s home, reroof their house, wire the electrical, hang sheet rock, lay down flooring, paint the walls with fresh color, add trim, install the air conditioning, and all it takes to move a family from tents and campers into a beautifully renovated house and shut our mouths concerning Christ our supreme treasure, what have we done? We must accompany our benevolent actions with explanations of hope. Let us do more than provide folks a comfortable home to go to hell from.”
from Disaster Relief Evangelism – Don A. Elbourne Jr.
I am greatly encouraged by the ministries of Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper and praise God for their clarity in this short video. May their words serve us well in Lakeshore.